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03 November 2014 8:12PM
Neverending Projects

Lots of things have been going on at TransCorp since the last update. And I bet you thought we were sitting around doing nothing, well… :P. I’m still working on clearing out the backlog of old overdue tasks, as well as continuing to move forward with current projects. Life has been especially difficult again in recent weeks, but I’ve still been able to keep a good pace going. Work is progressing much better than the past few years and that carrot of work completion is dangling within my sites! First, we’ll look at what’s new with the old projects.

Dual Orb 2, Wozz, Emerald Dragon, OH MY!

This has been a long time coming, but I have blown the dust off of all of the old projects to give them the tender love and care they deserve. All 3 have received new patch updates to take care of some long standing things that needed taking care of. Every now and then, I like to enhance or improve my old releases. I never truly abandon them and they are never truly done. In addition to the new patch content itself, I took this opportunity to also add xdelta patches to the distributions for superior patching to IPS (IPS is still included for cases where it is needed). The new patches are also now licensed under the Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) Deed in an effort to standardize and legitimize the distribution as much as possible for this type of work.

It was brought to my attention some time ago that there were some issues on some flashcarts with the splash screen intros. This caused all kinda of havoc to figure out. Earlier versions of BSNES indicated no problems, and I had previously tested my translations on real hardware via a copier I had. So, it wasn’t until more recently that I was able to decipher the issues. First, there was a crazy issue with my sound driver. The way I was handling the FLG register, echo registers, and ordering/timing of the two caused varying problems on some hardware from distorted to no sound (even locking the game from starting). After running what seemed like billions of tests, I better understood the timing requirements of the DSP’s FLG, echo registers, and their associated functionality. I Just needed to reorder a few register writes, and add some proper delays and it was golden. Secondly, I have always tried to use a minimal initialization of the main system, but it has always gotten me into trouble. What is the minimal initialization? Well, without a real cart with immediate, direct virgin access to the hardware, it’s hard to say. All other devices (such as copiers and flash carts) influence the initialization process by running their BIOS or boot code first. I thought I had figured out the minimal answer for what I was doing, without owning a means for such access. However, it turned out I was still wrong. So, I abandoned the minimal idea and did it the right way, as I should have done years ago. Live and learn, right? Now, the splash intros are pristinly done and have been tested on a virgin cart just to be doubly sure. As an added bonus, I made the intros skippable! Now it can be properly preserved SNES software throughout the ages.

Dual Orb 2 saw an update that finally translated the monster weaknesses for the scan spell. That was something that was missed years ago. I never got to that in the last release either because it was too difficult of a fix to do years after the fact. This time I had a small breakthrough deciphering some of my ancient work that allowed me to more easily do it. I also fixed a small ‘blipping’ issue present while the 8×16 was printing. That one had annoyed me for years. It was a crazy minor tile mapping issue that I’m sure nobody ever noticed but me. I also addressed a few minor reported inconsistencies that I’ve collected since the last release. Every so often detail oriented players come along whom pay very close attention and find some new things no one else before them did. That’s a great feat all these years later after many, many people have looked at it! Congrats! The least I can do is address such issues as a reward. :)

Wozz had previously never gotten a follow-up patch. So, now it has received a new patch update that fixes all of the reported issues to date. Nothing major here, just the usual assortment of minor mistranslations, consistency fixes, etc. There was a pesky missed battle string from Vangas that has alluded me for years that I finally got. I had just a single screenshot of evidence someone sent long ago. I was never able to see this string myself nor find it via searches. At long last, I found it! It had some extra data bytes mixed in the string which hid it from all my previous searches. I never searched for the right combination. Could this be the string that would give new meaning to Vangas, Wozz, or even my life? The excitement from my conquest quickly turned to disappointment. The translation of the missed string was simply that of a generic battle cry… Boo.. Hiss… Oh well, at least the project is now at a status of no known issues. Since it seems I continue to work on my projects years and years after the fact, perhaps one day I’ll revoke the promise to myself of never touching the 8×8 again and do something nice for it. Never say never! Ha!

Emerald Dragon just got the splash intro hardware fix. There was nothing else that needed addressing. :)

http://transcorp.romhacking.net/downloads/

Heracles IV

Most of the past few months for Heracles has been spent continuing on with converting the remaining 100 submenus to 8×8 VWF. I have roughly completed all of them now. I say roughly because a handful of them cannot be finalized due to some serious problems. Basically, the conversion has been impossible on a few of these menus. I have been trying to make the impossible possible by utilizing every trick in the book, but I still need to go back to the drawing board on some of them. The biggest issue in this game is the original NMI routine exceeds all available vblank time in many instances. Actually, I believe the original game only works properly by the skin of its teeth because most of the registers written to (illegally) after vblank is over aren’t immediately visible and/or fixed in subsequent frames (with legal writes). What does this all mean? Well, it means there is absolutely NO time at all for me to load ANY tiles whatsoever, let alone the tiles I need for 8×8 VWF.

In some cases, I could wait for less busy frames. In other cases, I made some hacks to trim the original NMI routine with optimizations and throwing out things that wouldn’t have visible consequences. Even with that, there are parts in battle that run 20 scan lines over allowed vblank time EVERY frame. I have not been able to skin off enough time to get near that. Even for the frames where I have some time, I can’t get enough time to transfer any large amounts, which typically rules out pre-rendering much. These menus have no loading screen between them either, so I can’t load it during black screen or forced blank without visible consequence. These are some difficult situations to work out.

If that wasn’t bad enough, the second major problem is lack of available VRAM for tiles. I’ve even tried the painstaking hacks of rearranging where in VRAM tilemaps and tile data go. However, thanks to the heavy usage of HDMA, the game typically uses TWO tile maps and TWO tile address spaces for EACH background as it changes them mid-frame. There’s just not enough VRAM available when you have to do it like that. Even with some serious new management, the game rarely reloads tile data. It loads a bunch of tiles very early and expects it to be untouched even when not used. So, even if you have gobs of free unused tiles on the current screen, if you use them, when a later screen which needs those tiles comes, they aren’t loaded. What am I supposed to do? I can’t sit there and figure out every tile data load in the game and load it myself when it is needed. That’s just maddening!

Other than these handful of menus from hell which have no solution yet, the game would be once again ready for alpha level testing, which I usually do myself before doing a second round of beta level testing with others. So, if I can get these remaining menus working somehow, we will be ready to move into the testing phase at long last! So, let’s keep hoping I can come up with some kind of solution to these problems…


-Nightcrawler

16 July 2014 6:48PM
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.

Heracles IV

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.

TextAngel

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.


-Nightcrawler

04 February 2014 8:41PM
Throwing Bricks

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!

Heracles IV

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…

nuVWF

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!


-Nightcrawler

23 April 2013 11:02AM
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! ;)

Text Angel

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!


-Nightcrawler

09 November 2012 2:25PM
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!


-Nightcrawler

31 July 2012 12:01PM
Hey, Is This Thing On?
  • Tap* *Tap* Anybody here? I hope my dozens and dozens of TransCorpians have found their way OK to our new home here at http://transcorp.romhacking.net. It is here that we begin a new era. It is on this day we look back… Got ya! I bet you thought I was going to start with a speech. Nope, we’ll wrap up the old era quickly by shedding a small tear to say goodbye after so many years, then wipe up and move on. If you’re not the crying type, just bow your head and fold your hands then. :P
  • Since Koitsu was such an excellent administrator, it’s taken me a little while to get things up to compatible speed running TransCorp on this server. As a result, there’s not much news to report on any of my projects. All of my TransCorp time was devoted to the move, upgrades, and making sure we live on for many more years to come. I think that’s a worthy distraction from the meat and potatoes, right?

    Let me know if you experience any issues. There’s sure to be a growing pain or two. Also take note that we have a new contact form on the left navigation bar to get in touch with me, since my parodius e-mail is now defunct.

    I’ll be sure to, you know, do some actual work before the next update! March on with the purple parade, TransCorpians!


    -Nightcrawler

    01 May 2012 3:12PM
    Life is Never Boring

    As always, life is never boring around here. There’s always more to do than time to do it. Time flies by, new events occur that you didn’t expect, and you’re left spinning your wheels trying to catch up. Every time I think I’m just about there, life throws up a new road closure and I’ve got to make yet another detour. Let’s get started with the news round up!

    TransCorp Moving?

    Many of you have probably heard the news that our host, Parodius is shutting down after many years of great service. Three cheers for Koitsu, whom has given more than his fair share to our community over the years. As we know nothing lasts forever and all good things must come to an end.

    So what does this mean for TransCorp? Well, it means I’ll be tied up at times with data transfers, server configurations, coding, and host issues for awhile and progress will be slow. In other words, nothing out of the ordinary for TransCorp! We’ll likely be migrating to the same server as ROMhacking.net, which coincidentally is also due to for new hosting in a few short months.

    Rest assured, TransCorp has lived for near 15 years and will likely continue to live for another 15. Let’s all hope I’ve at least finished my current projects by then! Ha!

    Table File Standard

    A new draft of the Table File Standard has been released and it is now in the final review stage after nearly 2 years! For real this time, I mean it! Barring any omissions, edits, or formatting items, it’s complete. So, head on over the linked message board topic above to read about the latest changes.

    I’d love to have a nice looking PDF of the standard in addition to our plain text version. However, I’m not too great at that kind of thing and my time is too limited. If anybody reading this happens to be good at it and would like to pretty it up some, let me know. :)

    TextAngel and Tenshi No Uta

    TextAngel is going to be the next hot item here at TransCorp now that the Table File Standard is in final review. Dumping and insertion user interface logistics are being discussion in the linked forum topic. Things should roll right along now with development for this with the next goal being to get back into Tenshi No Uta’s misc. text for which this utility was started for way back! It’s been one heck of a detour getting into a more wide scale program and the whole table standard, but I’m coming back around full circle and getting back to where I need to be. No more detours!

    Heracles IV

    This project is officially stalled. We have lost all translation support. So long as it doesn’t have any translation support, I’m going to let it sit for awhile to better focus on TextAngel and Tenshi No Uta. It’s a shame as the project had gained so much momentum. Well, if anybody wants to offer their translation services let me know, and we’ll see about starting things back up.

    Final Words

    I’ve been lazy on main page updates, but the forum does get updated more often with new developments. I’m still slow as molasses mind you, but progress does actually occur sometimes! Honest! OK, quit teasing! Go on! Get out of here! :P


    -Nightcrawler

    15 November 2011 2:48PM
    Churning Like Molasses!

    Ramblings About Life and Molasses

    I bet you were expecting to see ‘butter’ up there in the headline because you know, molasses doesn’t churn very well! Unfortunately, that’s about how quickly things here at TransCorp have been churning in recent months. Real life has really been whipping me hard. I know you’ve all heard that one before, but it really piled up all at once. I think you might get some amusement from the tale.

    There was a string of natural disasters at my home to clean up from over the course of many weeks (my house is OK thankfully). Since spring there’s been a tornado, earthquake, and record winter storm causing mass tree destruction around my property (I have a wooded area and several very mature trees). That last one also caused a several day power outage. There was hospitalization of close family members, which was unfortunately followed by two deaths. Back on the work front, I had a several week spout of overtime putting out some hot fires at work.

    Now, right before all of that, I had started an insulation project at home and finished ripped out all the old stuff, and of course got derailed from the earlier mentioned misfortunes at the worst time. Now winter is fast approaching and I’m throwing heat away with no insulation! In addition to that, my wife and I had also started a room renovation project we were derailed from. Lastly, to top it all off I came down with a cold, that led to a sinus infection, that led to lower respiratory problems. That took a month to recover from. Did I mention my car failed to start the other day? No, I don’t believe I did. Well, it did. I’ve got car issues on my plate too.

    FINALLY, I have grieved my loved ones, gone back to a normal schedule at work, cleaned up my property, and am back to getting insulation in my house and finishing the room renovation! It’s been an absolutely insane past couple of months the likes of which I’ve never seen in my life. It’s unsustainable, right? It can’t continue like this, right? Think positive! Wait a minute. I’m on TransCorp and not blogspot? Oops! Let’s move on to TransCorp happenings over the past few months. There have been some developments.

    TextAngel

    Most of my time for TransCorp over the past few months has been spent developing TextAngel. It has come a long way since it’s humble beginnings and recently went in an entirely new direction. As the feature list became ever longer, it naturally evolved into a full project oriented utility.

    What that means is the utility uses a project and string oriented approach. Start a new project, add all the files you need. Then, add the necessary pointer tables, string blocks, etc. Now you can go to work and translate them right in the utility, or you can dump to full Atlas compliant text output, or even export to XML! It is now capable of handling many different types of text and pointer structures and can hopefully handle most needs for your entire project from the dialog to the item lists. Flexibility is achieved by allowing you to ‘build’ your script structures consisting of individual strings, blocks of strings, pointer tables, and pointer trees. When completed, it should be on of the most advanced dumpers on the market.

    To see early screenshots, the feature list, and more information, check out the link below!

    TextAngel

    Heracles IV

    Progress has been a roller coaster ride as translation support has come, gone, come, and possibly gone again. The momentum which led to insertion of some translated scripts from the last update have slowed down and stalled out. After declaring Heart permanently missing in action, we enlisted the services of another qualified translator named Rob. He started at the beginning and was going through Heracles III material and all item lists for Heracles IV for consistency and new translation efforts. However, it has now been a few months with no word and no response to my recent e-mails. So, we may have lost another. You’re guess is as good as mine. Let’s hope for the best!

    With the tedious HDMA menu system, DaMarsMan and myself being preoccupied with other life developments, and loss of translation support, the project has cooled down and will likely be on the back burner for a little while.

    Table File Standard

    A new draft was issued in June. In August, all remaining outstanding business was wrapped up and the standard should now be feature complete. Unfortunately, I have not yet had time to issue a new draft containing the final feature set. So, I would refrain from looking through the current draft as a number of items are now different.

    When I finish the next draft, it will be subject to editing changes only. I hope to have interested parties that contributed to it’s development sign off on it and give it a public release so anyone interested in using it can start doing so. So far, it will tentatively be used in a future version of Atlas, TableLib, Cartographer, and my own TextAngl utility. All combined we should have a nice little evolutionary step forward in translation tools. I look forward to the day!

    Follow the Table File Standard on the message board.


    -Nightcrawler

    06 April 2011 10:10AM
    Bunnies, Spartans, and TransCorp!

    It’s amazing how quickly time flies by. I meant to post a quick update a few months ago. I got swept away in the tides of life again with large home renovation project, building a new computer, and on-going medical issues. Oh yeah, I also found myself with extended hours at that pesky life interruption they call ‘work’! I *think* I have found my way back to shore again and can continue on! I’d love to start using these updates as an entertaining blog of my personal life, but I don’t want to scare away the dozens and dozens of TransCorp fans! So, I guess I’ll move on to actual TransCorp news! :)

    Earlier in the year, we had some great momentum on Heracles IV. The screen shots exemplify several bits of progress. First, numerous hacks were done to the dialog to add in those formatting control codes we needed. The in-game auto formatter was fleshed out to handle the new control codes, and work out several bugs and issues to produce what you see now. Lastly, I made some extensions to TextAngel to handle insertion for all of the main dialog. Along the way I discovered several new banks of text for various text from menus to letters in your inventory. This always seems to happen to me. Every time I think I found all the text, I discover some more, in some new format, having nothing at all to do with the text I already found. Fantastic, right? This my friends is why so many ROM hacking projects race away to 90+%, and then somehow the remaining 10% takes longer than the rest of the entire project! I got a little luckier this time as this new text does follow a similar format. So, it wasn’t all that hard to get some working insertion for this text as well. It is much more text for the translator though.

    Speaking of the translator, while Heart was chugging away like a locomotive the end of last year, I haven’t heard from the guy since! It kind of killed most of the momentum and steam we had built up. I inserted all translated text I got from him and we ran out! I guess it came at a decent time as I did get bogged down with more real life, but I fear for project. I’ve seen the disappearing translator act many times over the years. Hopefully Heart will read this update, or decide to respond to some of my e-mails so we can get the project back on track. Otherwise, I guess we’ll be looking for a new translator and things may stall out for awhile.

    DaMarsMan had done some more menu work until we hit some stumbling blocks on how to fit longer items and names on all the menu screens. The menu screens in Heracles IV make me ill. Two background layers and lots of HDMA glue smash them together to make up a difficult to edit display. We know how they work on a technical level. We’re just trying to determine the smartest and least tedious way to handle them. We’ve discussed several options and I think we know what we need to do to get it done right. However, I think we’d like to procrastinate a bit more before jumping into that! I always prefer dialog work over menu work. It just seems so much more rewarding for the time spent.

    We’ll see how it all plays out. It’ll all get done. I never quit. I just take a really, really long time to get there. I will go toe to toe with that energizer bunny any day! I will OWN him! I might be looking at another minor surgery in a few more weeks, so I’ll probably be laying low for awhile after that, but I’ll come back swinging when possible! TRANSCORP IS SPARTA! RAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!


    -Nightcrawler

    26 December 2010 9:30PM
    Stronger than Heracles

    Intro

    TransCorp is stronger than Heracles! Although Heracles resisted, TransCorp muscled our way to victory. Although there’s been no updates in the past several months, much progress has been made in our many endeavors. In TransCorp’s quest to show we are stronger than Greek Gods, progress has been made in: Heracles IV, the Table File Standard, and our text dumping utility (currently dubbed TextAngel). Read on for details!

    Glory of Heracles IV

    The most visually impressive feat of strength in this update is conquering text insertion on Heracles IV, as exemplified by the screen shots! Muscle was flexed by decoupling the game’s universal decompression engine from the font and dialog, tweaking the VWF engine for English glory, and smashing an in-game auto formatter in for the text! Some polishing is still necessary on the script inserter, as well as adding some formatting control codes, but it’s looking nice so far!

    Our translator, Heart, has made good progress translating several blocks of text. He’s provided some good material for us to insert into the game, and wet our taste buds for a new English Heracles adventure! I hope Heart has the ‘heart’ to forge through and conquer the rest of this translation!

    Partnership with DaMarsMan has also proved to be fruitful as he has done a good deal of work on the menu and misc. text end of things. 2011 is shaping up to look good for Heracles IV!

    Table File Standard

    Draft of Standard

    The standard has seen several revisions over the past few months, strengthening with each pass. After long talks with Klarth (creator of Atlas) and Tauwasser, the standard is shaping up to be very nice. We’ve added some very nice table switching ability that can be used for quite a few applications. I’d suggest taking a peek to get a feel for what kind of new things the standard hopes to provide.

    The main specification and content should now be complete. I don’t expect to make any more significant changes. It will now enter a period of final review with various interested/influential party members and move forward to a final edit and formatting revision.

    With Klarth on board to update Atlas to use this standard, and my own upcoming advanced dumping utility, this standard will enter the lives of many ROM hackers. So, if you haven’t taken any interest in this project before, I urge you to take a look and voice any suggestions you may have, so we can move forward with the best standard possible! Otherwise, you’ll just have to trust our judgment and deal with it! :P

    Generic Dumper (TextAngel)

    Forum Topic with More Info

    I’m currently calling it TextAngel, but I’ve been known to change my mind on titles, so it may change again before release. It’s seen much progress over the past few months and is quickly on track to be the most advanced dumper ever publicly released in our community.

    Most of the main features were mentioned last update, but I just keep adding more and more possible modes and capabilities. I even started adding some insertion ability (in addition to Atlas compatibility). I’ve already put it to good use on Heracles IV, and will use it on Tenshi No Uta as well.

    It’s going to be quite awhile yet before this utility is released for a few reasons. First, it uses the new table standard, which has been a work in progress. Second, I will need to start writing a small test suite for it due to difficulty in adequately testing all of it’s various capabilities effectively. Lastly, I’ve never been the greatest at user interface design, and it has undergone a few revamps, and I anticipate it will continue to change with some feedback from others.

    Nonetheless, it’s really shaping up to be nice and I expect it will be the most advanced dumper available upon it’s release. I’m sure it won’t be the be all, end all, but it should be a great tool for ROM hackers. I look forward to seeing how it might be further improved after it’s in field use. In the meantime, I will certainly be using it on my projects! I expect to have an update focusing on this project sometime soon with further screen shots of what you can expect. So, stay tuned!


    -Nightcrawler

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