Big Fat Greek Translation
This has been an exceptional past few months for TransCorp! I’ve accomplished more than I have in a long time. Even though I neglected to make frequent news posts, work has been steadily ongoing the entire time since the last update! The majority of time has been spent on taking Heracles IV to new heights, however I have also spent quite a bit of time cleaning up loose ends that have been hanging around for a few years.
As you can see from the screenshots, things have been progressing very well on Heracles IV. Let’s refresh: All of the dialog work is done and is ready for the testing/revision phase. We were about to go alpha, however I choose to do a monumental 8×8 VWF hack that broke every single menu in the game. So, I’ve been going through and hacking each and every one of them back to working glory! I’ve gone through about 100 so far. It just so happens this is one of the most menu heavy games I’ve ever seen on the SNES. There are still about 100 more to go!
They really are coming out beautifully though. It’s starting to look like a GBA/PSX level game now. Heracles IV is turning out to be my highest quality hacking work yet. As always though, the higher the quality, the larger the time investment. There is definitely been a huge price to pay time wise, and I was having second thoughts at one time. However, now that I have come so far along and it’s looking so great, I can’t imagine it any other way. I’ve gotten most of the main and battle menus all done, so the core game is becoming fully playable again. The remaining menus encompass the monster guide, shops, letters, diaries, and maps.
There have been constant hurdles along the way with VRAM management. This game uses multiple background layers for the menus, sometimes all simultaneously full of text. Text must remain there even if not visible on screen! This is due to the fancy HDMA effects which scroll in and out leaving other menus partially viewable, temporarily hidden, etc. Since the original was tile based, the game often shared tiles amongst layers too. This makes it even more of a hacking nightmare as there are instances where there is VRAM available, but it is inaccessible. It can’t be made accessible without a painstaking hack and relocation of all of the game’s existing loads and maps that used the old area. Ugh! These are the reasons I choose not to do this on my previous translations. It’s very tedious and time consuming. It’s probably not worth it if it can be otherwise done in an acceptable fashion (It can’t for Heracles IV).
It also deserves mention that FlashPV has been working on a nice looking title screen for Heracles IV, which you can see over at ROMhacking.net. We can now rest assured that the translation will have a nice English title screen to compliment the level of the rest of the project. FlasPV is amongst the best in the business when it comes to translated title screens, so I am happy!
I am setting a goal to try and be ready for beta testing by year’s end with Heracles IV. If there are no major life setbacks, I think I can do it. The end may be in sight after all!
Wozz, Emerald Dragon, Dual Orb 2
There will soon be updated releases for all of our existing translations. They were long overdue for a maintenance release to fix some minor lingering reported issues and address compatibility with some flash carts and SNES9x. I got a flashcart of my own which has been a big help. Also, BSNES/higan was fixed to match rather than give different results like it used to. So, I was able to work out some of the mysterious issues that were occurring with the sound driver, black screen, etc. As an added bonus, the intros can now be skipped. It was a bit annoying to not be able to do so previously.
WIP patches are available on the forum for regression testing before an official release is made.
I hadn’t updated on TextAngel in a long time, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been being developed. You can read about some of the more recent happenings over at the forum. I am trying to take care of the oldest backlogged TransCorp projects first, so a public release will come along after some other things are completed. In the meantime, it will continue to to be developed.
It seems to be the norm these days that every time I build up substantial momentum, life throws bricks at my head to try and stop me! Not all bricks are bad though. One of them landed me a new job this past summer, in July. It was a good brick for my career, family, and wallet. However, it was a bad brick for ROM hacking! I was kept busy for half a year with increased responsibilities and establishing my worth at my new position. The next brick hit me right in the face and really hurt. In December, a family member went terminally ill and recently passed away. As much time as possible was spent getting the family through it all these past few months. Plenty of other little bricks such as relentless snow, and other unexpected tasks came up along the way, but that’s just life unless you’re in the upper 1%!
Despite all of life’s bricks, I am determined to persevere as I always do! There have still been some interesting progress happenings of interest over the past several months. I’m not even sure if that’s grammatically correct, but I like the sound of it anyway!
Basically, this project was in the alpha stage and close to beta. However, it was deemed necessary go back a few steps and break everything in efforts of getting an 8×8 VWF (proportional font) in for as many menus and screens as possible. The quality of the translation would have really suffered without it. Normally I like to show nearly finished screenshots, but being that this is a large undertaking and things will be broken for awhile, I’ve shown some down and dirty work in progress screens.
As can be seen, much progress has been made. There is still much more to go. The 8×8 VWF conversion is very difficult in this game as the menus can sometimes span all three background layers at once. They utilize numerous HDMA tables, and are extremely cramped for VRAM space thanks to the game utilizing the same regions of VRAM for multiple backgrounds. The only way to make it all work is to go through each and every sub menu and manually address where it is going, and optimized it with the parent menus to fit nicely. The game is set up in such a way that there is simply no easy way to do it.
Work will continue onwards in getting the menus all back up and running with shiny new proportional rendering. There will probably then be a second pass for performance reasons where some things may need to be converted to static rendering. I am trying to set up all screens to use a universal 8×8 rendering engine, which leads me to the next area of progress…
I have been attempting to leverage and salvage my nuVWF project for Heracles IV. I had previously shoved it in the closet for a long while. I have taken this opportunity to redesign the project and make something worthwhile out of it besides a set of reusable routines. You can see an update and some details from the title link above (or simply go to the forums). I don’t know if this project will ever amount to anything worth releasing, but I haven’t given up just yet!
Plato Finally Speaks in English
As promised, this update comes equipped with some fresh new screenshots of progress! Plato’s philosophies are finally in English! Wait, on second thought it would appear he is confused and suffering from an identity crisis! Well, rest assured that whatever he has to say will now be entirely in English!
Glory of Heracles IV
After Kay completed the first draft translation in the last update, much time was spent importing the whole thing into TextAngel, and getting the whole script inserted into the game. The full script is indeed inserted and working well! I even got the gobs of misc. blocks inserted that I found post-dump some time ago, as well as most menu text.
So, now we pretty much have the entire game in rough English. It’s now time for the long road of fixing issues and polishing. Although the main dialog is fine, we have a multitude of issues to work out with letters, songs, diaries, menus, saving, shops, battle, missed control codes, and many other special dialogs. I am trying to get the rest of the game in a state where the translator can at least play through (numerous glitches, but no major crashes) with proper in-game context for a second round script revision. That way he can work in parallel while I continue through with many of the aforementioned issues.
You’ll notice there are no menu screenshots. We still have much work to do on the menus. Much expansion and polishing work is needed there. They are barely functional as-is. At least they are in glitchy English though, which is progress nonetheless!
So, Heracles IV is definitely getting there. It’s still a good ways off from ready for beta testing, but we are coming around that mountain. We’ll see if life is kind to me and I can keep the momentum going. Life can be the difference of just a few more months to go, to ‘make sure you remind your grand-kids to keep checking for Heracles updates’! Only time will tell. In the meantime, join in on that Purple Parade, marching to the beat of that ‘other’ drum we all hear, but generally ignore! ;)
Heracles IV was a good first test exercise for TextAngel’s insertion abilities. Some development work and improvements were done on TextAngel along the way with getting the Heracles IV script inserted. It’s finally shaping up into something I am happy with. I won’t have to sit in my fickle, circular redesign hell any longer. The dumping and insertion core is working, and the project interface and supportive building blocks are coming along well enough to work nicely for this project.
There is still much to do here, but I will finally not be going backwards too much in order to go forward. I am still looking to finish implementing the latest draft of the Table File Standard for it. Full implementation is a big task for me, and Heracles IV worked fine with the partial draft implemented. It was more fun to concentrate on other areas of the program with more fruitful results.
It’s also given me a better vision of what I want to see the program do now that I am actually using it on a full scale project. I expect continued slow and steady development along side my project needs. It’s more enjoyable to develop the tool alongside a real world project, rather than remain in the test case world for so long. However, that means only features needed for the project get the real work while other areas don’t see much advancement. Part time development so-to-speak.
Nonetheless, although it is a large undertaking, I am no stranger to such projects and carry forward. I’m sure it will see an end basked in irony. By the time I finish this utility, there will probably be no more games left that need it! It’s probably about 10 years too late. It could have been revolutionary last decade! Hah! It’s an enjoyable personal endeavor nonetheless and I will at least get use from it! There’s still a number of projects that I may pull out of the hat from all these new tools I’ve been developing. We’ll see if anybody else does them before I get to them!
Climbing the Stairway
I told you I’d have some news to report when next I updated and I do! I didn’t finish enough to provide some juicy new screenshots yet, but I promise that I will have some for you on the next update. First, the big news:
Glory of Heracles IV
We now have a translated script for Heracles IV! In a turn of events from out of nowhere, Kay from Heracles III translation fame, offered to translate the script. After a mounting number of previously failed translators for the project, my enthusiasm was waning. I had some initial skepticism on Kay, but he knocked it out of the park and got it done with a commanding knowledge of the Heracles universe. I’m definitely glad to have given Kay a whirl.
Now we have a completed script and I’m working on trying to get that inserted. I only had insertion bug free for 15-20% of the game from the previous translator’s efforts. TextAngel has changed quite a bit since then, so I am trying to import the new script back into the latest version in order to move forward with full insertion. This will allow me to use all the new features I have at my disposal in TextAngel. I am currently working on this and expect to continue with good progress.
While things are going great with the main dialog, neither DaMarsMan nor myself have tackled any of the menu HDMA mess. Honestly, I’ve been procrastinating this in favor of less tedious work. I’d rather finish the script insertion and work some more on TextAngel before I get into this. It is currently the elephant in the room that we need to get to sooner or later. If anybody reading this likes to untangle many HDMA tables and do limited VRAM 8×8 VWFs, I’m sure we’ll let you in on the fun if you contact us! :P
TextAngel and Tenshi No Uta
Funny how life goes. I was turning full attention to this task when Kay offered to get into Heracles IV, which I had shelved for awhile. I had to do an about face and shelve Tenshi and brush off Heracles again. My plans for TextAngel then changed as I had to begin working on the importing and insertion side rather than polishing and finishing the dumping and exporting side. So, now I’ve got a crude dumping and inserting side, but nothing is polished or finished! Doh! I will continue on with the momentum on Heracles insertion and when I’ve got it far enough to insert that script, then I’ll finally get to go back and finish the dumping side so we can get moving on the ‘newly’ (by new I mean not in the original dumps) remaining misc. text dumps in Tenshi.
Oh, what a web I’ve weaved working here and there, jumping back and forth, and gaining and losing traction. Throw in the ever nagging health issues and hurricanes, and life is pretty damn difficult sometimes. This year has been plagued with major time wasting setbacks. I will survive. I will carry on. I will deliver screenshots when I next update. I will finish these projects so long as I live! The universe cannot stop me!