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Nightcrawler's Translation Corporation - Established in 1997
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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

25 June 2010 2:15PM
Flurry of Activity!

Intro

The storm is upon us… the storm of activity, that is! Conditions improved enough for me start working again. I have certainly taken advantage of it! It’s funny how one thing leads to another. Shortly after returning to work on Tenshi No Uta, I was met with some additional non dialog text to dump. None was stored in a similar manner to any other text in the game. I grew a bit frustrated that I lacked some reliable generic tools to handle some of these text formats. So, I decided to take some time and start developing a better dumper, which led to my Generic Dumper project, which will likely be released to the community in some form. Read below for more details. While I started developing this project, I was beefing up my table file library. I realized we don’t have any official standard on table files and their features. So, work ignited on creating a rough draft for standardization of table files for myself and the community. Details can be found below. Next, the additional activity prompted Mattias to contact me regarding applying UVWF (Universal VWF project) to Terranigma and doing the text reformatting work. And thus one thing lead to another and another until a flurry of activity began! Now, on with the status updates!

Table File Standard

Draft of Standard

For years, ROM hackers have had to deal with countless incompatibilities amongst table file uses for various utilities. Even when developing my own utilities, I didn’t have a clear definition of the features supported in the table file format. I decided to do something about it for myself, and hopefully the benefit of the entire community. The document’s purpose is to document and standardize the table file format in hopes that ROM hackers can progress forward with compatible utilities, clear indication of format, and standardized features.

I have already written a first draft. The draft was created by reviewing documentation and features of various utilities throughout ROM hacking history, reviewing their relevance to the primary purpose of a table file, and update them to meet current needs. Basically; collect, improve, and standardize what we’ve been doing while touching on some tough issues such as UTF-8 encoding.

Obviously, for this to be of any use outside of myself, it needs to be adopted and accepted by others. I urge you to read the document, make some suggestions, present some ideas, and comment. It is my hope that we can start having compatible utilities, standard features, and pave the way for advancement!

Generic Dumper

Forum Topic with More Info

I’ve been working on a GUI based flexible, generic dumping (and hopefully insertion) program in recent weeks that would be able to do most everything that Cartographer can do and then some. I’m trying to eliminate the need for a custom dumper in as many cases as possible. I thought Cartographer and Atlas made some good progress in that direction, but lacked simplicity and ease of use.

Implemented Features so far:

  • Follows Table File Format 1.0 Draft for supported features.
  • Raw Dumping
  • Pointer Table Support
  • Variable Pointer Sizes (up to 32-bit Big and Little Endian)
  • Odd Pointer Spacing
  • Relative Pointers
  • Fixed Length Strings
  • Fixed Length Lines
  • Atlas Compatibility

UVWF (Universal VWF Project) - Terranigma

Forum Topic with More Info

During development of UVWF, I threw around the idea of Terranigma as a nice test case for useful implementation in a game other than Tenshi No Uta. I wasn’t big on doing the script reformatting work to make a project out of it. As a result, it didn’t go very far. Recently, Mattias (of Terranigma Swedish Translation fame) contacted me about doing the grunt work. He has the experience necessary, so I started taking a look at this.

Terranigma uses sprites for the intro text and some of the routine is shared with the standard dialog and menu text. It also takes advantage of color manipulation. The UVWF is not yet mature enough to handle these more complex situations. I do find it an interesting case to continue to look at for study and potential support for continued development of UVWF.

I think I may have to draw the line somewhere on the extents this project will be able to cover and what would require a custom VWF. As I’ve seen before, the more flexible I make it, the slower it becomes for time sensitive implementations. I’ve been playing with the idea of handling some cases like this in a modular fashion where various versions of a ‘RenderChar’ function would exist and you would use the appropriate one for the job. However, that complicates the work involved in implementing it and adds significant size. Originally, I had hoped it would be able to be implemented with very little assembly work by the user.

I will continue to try and adapt my design to meet my needs with these situations and see where it goes. It’s really just been one big experiment to take this concept for a ride and see what I could do with it. Certainly limitations and out of scope cases are going to exist. I just need to try and define what that is going to be. We’ll see where it goes from here!

Tenshi No Uta

I have a bad habit of underestimating the amount of misc. text/menu work to be done in my projects. I suppose that’s probably because it’s my least favorite part of the project. I found several sets of misc. and/or menu text that needs to be dumped in various formats. I grew pretty frustrated that I didn’t have tools to handle all of them. That spurred my Generic Dumper project. I did a little bit of work on dumping some of the needed text as test cases for the program. I have gotten off on a tangent with some other work mentioned in this news update, but expect to get back to Tenshi as soon as my Generic Dumper progresses.

Summary

You know how these things go in the world of hobbyist work. Things don’t always go according to plan, time lines are thrown out the window, and surprises lurk around every corner! I certainly didn’t expect to be working on the things I am now. It has been a nice change of pace and some fresh air around here now that I’ve been back to more active work. I’m hoping conditions will allow me to continue this nice pace of activity!


-Nightcrawler

07 December 2009 7:28PM
Blood is Still Pumping

Greetings TransCorpians! 2009 is drawing to a close and 2010 will soon open. I for one am looking forward to a fresh new year in hopes of improved conditions for myself and TransCorp! It’s been a very rough year for me on a personal level with some physical disabilities impeding progress. However, progress has been made nonetheless when conditions allowed. While life’s lemons have seen to it that I could not bring you a completed translation to stuff in your stockings, I can sprinkle a little news and eye candy your way!

Tenshi No Uta has seen much menu hacking progress. When we last left off, we needed a new thin font and many tile map text routines converted over to VWF, using my ‘Universal VWF’ system in development. Thanks to Gemini, we have ourselves a fitting thin font that will allow us to take maximum advantage of all available screen space. It’s definitely necessary as some screens are fully used with no room for any expansions. Though I don’t show it in the screenshots above (some text systems are still not converted), there are many screens that utilize near 100% of the screen, mostly when full item lists are given along with several complex menus on screen at the same time. A thin font was a necessity to ever hope to squeeze full English in there.

We’re now up to seven different text engines in the game that have been hacked to use my ‘Universal VWF’ system. Five of them were tile map based. As I mentioned in my forum post in November, the practicality of the universal routine is starting to hit some walls. To keep it at a high enough level to be flexible and game independent, there’s quite a bit of overhead that gets added. Then there’s the fact that there are just so many possibilities and ways games handle text printing in tile map based routines. Again, you go higher up on the abstraction ladder adding more flexible code. What’s the result? Something that ultimately gets slower and slower. This isn’t too bad except for cases such as item lists where up to a full screen’s worth of data must be dynamically redrawn quickly and interact with user input. That’s when the lag starts to really show. So, while my routine is doing the job I set out to do with it, it may be more practical in some instances where speed is important to use something more game specific. At least I can rip and reuse parts of my system for these instances.

I’ve still got a ways to go with it. There’s a few changes I know I can make that will help in the speed department and I still haven’t fully hacked Tenshi’s menus to have full multi-routine screens in place to really benchmark and optimize the system. So, we’ll see where it goes. Its usefulness for menus and items will likely be a bit limited, but for everything else, I believe it should be able to be applied to other games easily. It’s been a fun venture so far nonetheless. I can also examine such things as further modular breakdown and other ‘big picture’ items when I get Tenshi fully converted and working. I haven’t hacked the battle menus yet which will have 3 or 4 more text engines from what I have seen so far. So Tenshi No Uta really is a spectacular test subject having more individual text engines than I’ve seen in any game I’ve hacked before. The total when it’s all said and done will probably be 10-12 routines.

I will certainly push forward with Tenshi when I can. However, I will likely be unable to work for a few months while I recover from an upcoming surgery. However, I’ll be back at it whenever I can. This old dog isn’t dead yet and passion for the hobby is as strong as ever. It may be at a snail’s pace, but I continue to march forward. Thank you for your ongoing support. It definitely helps me get through these down times quicker! TransCorpians, you rock!


-Nightcrawler

17 April 2009 11:48AM
In the Slow Lane

Things have been progressing even slower than usual. I’ve been in the slow lane for awhile now thanks to an injury I sustained last September that has caused me months of pain, months of therapy, and is still not better. I’ve been unable to play any games, and for many weeks was even unable to use the keyboard with two hands. This has been a real set back for me and has limited my hacking and related game playing time significantly amongst other things.

I was able to get some stuff done here and there. I continued on with menu hacking and the unified VWF core. Most recently, I added support for tile mapped text engines. The further I got into the menu hacking, the more routines I discovered that needed to be converted to VWF. It really is starting to get ridiculous. I have to assume this game was worked on simultaneously by different people who all wrote their own text engines for the pieces they were working on. I got some menus translated, but there’s still many to go.

As can be seen in the screen shot above, I am in the middle of working some things out. I have to find a new thinner font for the menus. What I have just isn’t going to work. I hate finding fonts. That’s why I have kind of kept the same few for all my projects. If anybody has any suggestions for a thinner font that might look good with Tenshi, let me know. I’ve asked around at RHDN and gotten on suggested font so far.

I am also running into speed problems. My unified VWF routine suffers from overhead as a result of being so flexible. I’ve got menu screens using 2 or 3 different text engines. Converting them all to VWF is showing some sluggish performance. I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do about it yet.

If you’re interested in any other details, check out the forum. I’ve made several posts over the past few months updating on things along the way. Unfortunately, due to my current situation and continued doctor visits, I wouldn’t expect much output from me in the near future. The verdict is still out on whether or not this will be a permanent injury for me. I’m hoping some more time might help, or continued doctor visits will reveal something that can be fixed surgically or something. I haven’t quit, and will continue when I can. In the meantime, I’m going to go enjoy my soon to be new wife and subsequent honeymoon cruise to the Carribean!


-Nightcrawler

07 December 2008 10:48AM
Holiday Treats

It’s that time of year again. It always seems to be a motivating time of year when it comes to ROM hacking. As you can see, I’ve been working on Tenshi No Uta in recent weeks and will continue to do so throughout the holiday season. I did a VWF hack for the game a long time ago, but as I picked this project back up I soon discovered there are at least 4 or more different text engines in the game that could use a VWF (Main dialog, cut scenes, menu, items, battle, etc.) It wasn’t going to be very fun hacking in several more VWFs, so I came up with an idea for ‘one hack to rule them all’ so to speak and spoof a line from Lord of the Rings.

After some conceptual discussion with byuu over at RHDN, I came up with a plan for a set of routines that will act as a ‘universal’ SNES VWF hack. By breaking down the VWF hack process into small enough pieces and setting up the various routines to use ’standard’ variables. They end up acting like macros. Low level and high level concepts meet. For each VWF hack, there are several lines of initialization code setting up locations of different items such as font, text, output, tile counters etc. and the routines work their magic from there using only those initialized parameters. Then, at the end, there’s a few lines of VWF specific code to handle special cases such as control codes, format conversions, or game variable updates. I’ve been successful so far with three VWFs working with this new code design. I’m hopeful with a bit more refinement, I can easily support the rest of the text engines in the game.

What’s even better is I’m planning on being able to use this set of routines and templates to ultimately be able to add a VWF hack to any SNES game with the least amount of work possible. That’s a little bit further down the line though. For now, it’s going great for Tenshi No Uta, and I hope to have some more screen shots showing several more text engines working soon!

In the mean time, I’m also continuing to work on menu hacking for the game and doing test insertions for English text as seen from the screenshots to really move this project forward. Hope to see you all around the forums during the holiday season! Be happy and be safe!


-Nightcrawler

16 November 2008 5:01PM
Emerald Dragon Version 1.1 Released!

It’s a little late to the table, but I finally got around to fixing and addressing all reported bugs and issues to date. That includes all the ‘NO BG3FREE’ and battle corruption errors that were previously thought to be emulation bugs only. It turned out they were in fact caused by the patch, however would only show up under certain circumstances. Emerald Dragon uses a very dynamic game engine, so each time you load a menu, or show a dialog window, the VRAM and RAM locations used are different. Under certain conditions and certain long strings such as Bagin’s Letter, the errors would manifest themselves. Special thanks goes out to Novalia Spirit for providing the much needed missing information I needed to be able to cause some of these issues to occur. I was previously unable to get them to happen in my testing.

In addition to those two big issues, which really were caused by the same thing, several other items were fixed:

  • Minor Item name adjustments for accuracy.
  • Bug in Elder’s Letter description fixed.
  • Visiting the dragon shrine near Kildale triggering battle corruption and NOBG3FREE errors fixed.
  • Fixed choice boxes for Husulnum that didn’t display properly.
  • Fixed Forbidden Fruit choice boxes that didn’t display properly.
  • Minor dialog revision for a few sentences that were found to be inaccurate.
  • Fixed Zham Fortress soldier choices that were reversed.
  • Fixed a few typos.

This should conclude the bux fixing releases. I’m happy with where things are now to continue forward with the rest of my projects. I’ll be resuming work on Tenshi No Uta again now.

Download Emerald Dragon Version 1.1


-Nightcrawler

29 September 2008 5:29PM
A Modest Update

Greetings TransCorp supporters! I am posting this update from my new house! As you may have guessed from that statement, that’s indeed the reason things have been quiet around here lately. Both the home buying process and moving itself have kept me very busy since the last update. As a result I never got to that Emerald Dragon bug fix release, however it is still on my radar to do. Instead, with the bit of hacking time I did have, I got sidetracked with some progress on Tenshi No Uta!

As you can see from the screen shot above, I’ve expanded and put in a VWF for the main menu and done quit a bit of additional hacking work on the menus in general. While I did dump the script and get it translated quite some time ago, I neglected to dump the non dialog text including weapons/items and menu text! I find dialog hacking much more fun and rewarding, so I have a bad habit of avoiding the menu and miscellaneous work! In any case, I’ve gone and dumped much of this and sent it off to be translated, but I’ve still got plenty left to do there.

I’ve also been investigating the battle text and cut scene dialog. It seems both use independent text routines and thus will probably require separate VWF hacks in addition to the ones I’ve already done for the main dialog and main menu. It also pained me to see a separate 8×16 routine built into the menus for item names, character names, and other misc text. This will also require a separate VWF hack most likely. I will have to do some serious thinking on how I may be able to reuse code and resources amongst the various routines to make life easier!

So, that’s what I’ve been up to recently as far as TransCorp is concerned. I’m probably going to try and get back to the Emerald Dragon bug fix release next, though I wouldn’t be surprised to see myself get side tracked again on Tenshi or even Herakles IV! So, it’s anybody’s guess where things will go next! Until then, how about some chat on the message board? I’m usually there often and like to hear from you all! With a little luck and motivation things can speed up around here and be a little more active! Catch you all later!


-Nightcrawler

04 June 2008 7:11PM
Dual Orb 2 Version 1.5 Released!

Out of the blue comes a polished up and improved Dual Orb 2 Patch! Interesting little story here. After listening to byuu parade around Dual Orb 2 for years as an example of a translation patch not working properly on the SNES with the Yes/No bug, I decided to dust off Dual orb 2 and fix that issue so I could put an end to it! Coincidentally, a mere day after I got into fixing this, a guy named Deathlike2 contacted me out of nowhere with some bug reports on the Dual Orb 2 patch. One thing led to another, the timing was right, more bugs were reported, and out popped a much improved Dual Orb 2 patch!

Over 25 issues were addressed or fixed including:

  • Yes/No selections now display properly on copiers.
  • Cassius’ and Saladin’s names now print correctly everywhere and fit inside their battle windows.
  • Item and Magic descriptions were relocated and no longer overwrite the MP/Qty information.
  • Several misspellings and grammatical errors were addressed
  • Place Names were fixed up (2 were missing, 2 had display problems).
  • Several small issues were addressed in battle mode including Bargan’s ‘Sub’ command, item scrolling, and commands affecting all allies.
  • Some Magic descriptions were improved.
  • A few minor problems with some weapon/armor/item names were fixed up.
  • And more!

While a lot was done for this release, I’d call this more of a 1.5 release rather than a full second revision. I can no longer build the original project, so this was more of a hack of my hack. So I did everything I could baring items that would require doing a larger portion of the project over. The result is something I’m quite happy with to put away for another several years! So if you haven’t yet played Dual Orb 2, this is a great opportunity to give it a try. If you already have, it’s been a few years now since the original release, play it again!

I anticipate an Emerald Dragon bug fix release in the next few weeks as well that should address most reported bugs that aren’t emulator related. Until then, enjoy Dual Orb 2 better than ever before! ;)

Download Dual Orb 2 Version 1.5


-Nightcrawler

02 February 2008 9:43AM
Emerald Dragon Released!

The time for talk is over and the time for deliverance is here! Ladies and gentlemen, after over 5 years of work (periodic), the English translation of Emerald Dragon is out! At last, for better or for worse, the world has been graced with an English version of this game! It will be denied to you no more! So, cancel your plans, spread the word, and tell your friends. It’s Emerald Dragon time!

This time around, I’ve included a custom patcher, ‘TransPatch’ (Windows only), that will only allow you to patch the correct copy of the game with the correct patch. It’s about as newbie friendly as it gets. It will patch headered or non-headered games. Don’t you dare create a topic in the forums or send me an e-mail on patching help unless you’ve given this utility a try! For everybody else, you can apply the patch soft or hard, however you please.

This patch has been tested on the real hardware, so copier players rejoice! As for emulators, I’d recommend BSNES as it’s the only emulator that gets the sound right. It works OK on SNES9x and ZSNES, however notes stick in the music and sometimes instruments can be off pitch in certain songs. Otherwise it plays OK.

Please, as a personal favor to me for all my (and others) hard work, read the readme. Besides containing some important information, it contains plenty of information on the project, some of which you might find interesting, or even entertaining!

With that said, enjoy! I’m probably going on ROMhacking vacation for awhile until I feel like returning to action on Tenshi No Uta, Heracles IV, or whatever other interesting projects I may have up my sleeve!

Download the v1.0 Patch Now!


-Nightcrawler

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