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Melk the Game findings

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Melk the Game findings

This is a repository for archiving interesting things about Melk the Game, another game built on the JJ2 engine, since trying to record things in chat services will only result in them being buried and forgotten.

To begin with, to run the game you'll need a file "player_info.txt" in the Melk folder. The installer doesn't create one for some reason, so here's one created by A Goose.

Downloadable game files: gamefull.exe gamelight.exe patch.exe upgrade.exe
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Last edited by Stijn; Jan 28, 2024 at 12:50 PM.
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Here are the contents of Melk's data.j2d: judging by their filenames and filesizes, they are six palettes, one loading screen, and one textured background. They have not been looked at yet.

(data.j2d uses the same format as in regular JJ2, so that's nice and convenient.)
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Post PALs

Here are the palettes that are in the data.j2d as PNGs, The source code for the program is also attached (Python 3)
https://www.mediafire.com/file/oqux2.../pals.zip/file
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Here's Sky.Texture rendered using the following AngelScript (with Diamondus 1's palette):
Code:
	jjPIXELMAP texture(256,256);
	jjSTREAM file("Sky.Texture");
	for (uint y = 0; y < 256; ++y)
		for (uint x = 0; x < 256; ++x)
			file.pop(texture[x,y]);
	texture.save("Sky.Texture.png");

Yes, it's exactly JJ2's normal textured background. Appears byte-identical.

Except for Menu.Palette, all the palettes from data.j2d appear to be designed for showing this texture, since they all define colors only in the 176-207 range and are otherwise black.

Menu.Palette appears to be the same as JJ2's Menu.Palette, except the alpha bytes in every RGBA byte sequence are 255 (0xFF) in Melk and 0 (0x0) in JJ2.
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Jan 28, 2024, 12:37 PM
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The best source of information I've been able to find so far is an article about the game in a study association's magazine from 2001, by Marc Reekers. It's in Dutch, here's a lightly cleaned up machine translation:



Crash Masters was commissioned by Schaeffer Wunsch Has to create an internet site and computer game that is the central part of a new campaign to promote milk to Dutch young people: the 'Milk, the White Engine' campaign. We were called in by the advertising agency when they decided to create a real game, instead of making TV commercials starring a game character.

Paramount was that the game should be accessible to as many young people as possible. A game that can be downloaded for free from the Internet is an obvious choice. The requirements for the hardware had to be be as low as possible, without the game losing quality. Therefore, although SWH would would have preferred this, a 3d engine was not used, because that would leave out anyone who does not have a 3d card or a fast computer. Instead, an existing 2d engine was adapted, namely that of JazzJackrabbit2, a sidescrolling platform game. The adaptation was carried out by Lost Boys games, which is also responsible for the original engine. The integration of site and game was something that was paramount for Crash Masters from the very first moment. A game on the Internet, a web game, has usually has the function of generating more traffic, and to enlarge the stickyness of a site and the visitor's attachment to a product or company. Web games, however, are usually rather non-committal. There is no connection with the product or company beyond the fact that the logo or product might be visible. It is always the same games you come across: golden oldies like pacman, tetris or memory. The only bond the player can build with a particular game is trying to get on the highscores list. He might as well go to another site to play the same game in a different form. Crash's starting point is that a game on the Internet is more effective when it distinguishes itself in originality, quality and in offering extras on the site that increase involvement with the game.Moreover, the site, and not the game, is particularly suited to convey a message about the product. Although Milk the game is not a web game in the strict sense - you don't play it in a browser - the transition from browser to game has been made as "seamless" as possible.The game must be downloaded and saved to the hard drive, but it can only be started from the site.

In developing the site, the goal was to create a true 'Milk, the White Engine' site aimed at young people.The premise was that visitors should feel that the site is "cool" over and over again.There should be something new to find each time. This target audience is particularly enticed by the communicative aspects of the Internet. Chat is one of the most widely used forms of (Internet) communication. By offering it as an integral part of both the game and the site, it provides a good basis for a community.

Visitors log into a chat environment, where they can connect with peers and play Melk the game. They choose an avatar and walk around in a consistently elaborated virtual world: a street in an indeterminate, but typically Dutch city, including (milk) bar, game shop, phone booth and residence.The design is consistent with that of the game. The avatar chosen in the chat environment is also the hero or heroine in the game. Services are available such as e-cards and a magazine where information about milk can be found, which are regularly updated.The services are embedded in the chat world in the form of a post office and a kiosk. Once visitors have played the game, all kinds of additional features are available in the chat world. For example, they can "rent" their own chat room, where they can meet up with other visitors and exclude anyone who is not welcome. They can decorate that chat room to their own taste. Milk cartons picked up in the game serve as a means of payment. They also offer the visitor extra possibilities when chatting; for example, they can pelt another visitor with a milk carton, so they then temporarily turn into a cow and every fourth word they say is replaced by 'meuh'.

In line with the chat environment, emphasis was placed from the beginning on the multiplayer game, in which several players play against each other over the Internet. Initially, a single player platform game was still chosen where levels had to be completed in a certain order to make a multiplayer level available. After the first test, however, the multiplayer level emerged as the strongest.In the end, the single player part was dropped completely and five multiplayer games were developed, all in a different setting in the Dutch city, where the player encounters not only the opponents but also the computer-controlled enemies from the single player version (the "monsters"). With the combination of human and computer-controlled opponents, Melk the game is fairly unique. Ensuring that the players and the monsters appear on the screens of all players without delay was the biggest technical challenge of Melk the game.

Most online multiplayer games are of the deathmatch type, or they are team games. In Milk the game, players can choose from a standard deathmatch, where they have to defeat each other and the monsters, and a standard team game, namely 'capture the cow' (normally 'capture the flag'), where they have to capture the other party's cow and throw it into a large meat grinder to score milk cartons. There are also three new game modes: 'milkman,' where players must hold the cow for as long as possible (they lose her if they are hit); 'milk hunt,' where as many milk packs as possible must be collected; and 'payback,' where the game continues until all monsters are defeated. To guarantee broad accessibility, explicit violence was dispensed with. Players pelt each other with milk cartons and fish bowls, and they can only be hit or bitten.

Crash did most of this job in-house. Outsourced were the programming of the game (engine was provided by Lost Boys games) and the site in Shockwave (Eric Adriaans and Martijn Voerman); the backgrounds were done by Anitime, and Hotel is responsible for the design and maintenance of the e-card service and the magazine. The various ingame characters were developed together with SWH. The music was commissioned by SWH and created by Thomas Krarup of Massive Music. Faried Verheul was responsible for the imple- mentation of his compositions within Melk the game.

Last edited by Stijn; Feb 3, 2024 at 05:23 AM.
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Jan 28, 2024, 12:47 PM
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You can change the character models by changing the `model=X` in the player_info.txt (1-6), and game mode as `type=X` in the same file! here are all the screenshots: https://www.mediafire.com/file/nnetw...chars.rar/file
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stijn View Post
Although Milk the game is not a web game in the strict sense - you don't play it in a browser - the transition from browser to game has been made as "seamless" as possible.The game must be downloaded and saved to the hard drive, but it can only be started from the site.
Ah good, I was wondering where the player_info.txt was supposed to come from and that was my best guess.
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Melk's Anims.j2a has the same format as JJ2's, with one major exception: every animation set has its own 256-color palette. COW has a different palette from FEMALE01, and so on. All the sprites within each animation set share one palette, but sprites across different animation sets have different palettes. This is entirely independent from the tileset's palette, and (as seen above) the textured background's palette. Understandably, the game only runs in 16-bit color, not 8-bit color. (The reverse of Battery Check.)

ETA: I've updated my j2a-extract fork to support this with an optional argument -m
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Last edited by Violet CLM; Jan 29, 2024 at 11:07 PM.
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There was some speculation that Melk was based on an in-development version of JJ2('s engine), based on a string "0.95" that appears inside the exe. I doubt this based on all the non-exe files, which look near-identical to TSF's file formats (the headers replace the words "Jazz Jackrabbit 2" with "Jazz Engine") and nothing at all like 0.98k's. Not only do the J2T files use TSF's 4096 tile limit, the J2L files use TSF's 256 animated tiles instead of 1.23's 128, even though the most animated tiles any of the levels actually define is 41. The formats used by 0.98k's LEV and J2 files are completely absent here. That would be a whole lot of coincidence. Also, the game's build date is March 2001.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Violet CLM View Post
Understandably, the game only runs in 16-bit color, not 8-bit color. (The reverse of Battery Check.)
Interesting. In that case its weird that they did not go all-out with the tilesets. It would have been cool to see 16-bit tilesets in some official manner.
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