Chronicle of the Radia War
23 April 2000 - Reflection by Jair
One day back in, oh, early 1998 I guess, I went and downloaded all the old rom packs from Vertigo. I found an unbelievable number of bad Dragon Quest 1 clones and a few real gems. One of those was Radia, which I loved from the moment I first saw that yellow guy (Darus) and that blue guy (you) talk in the woods and get attacked by slimes. (It was one of the few I downloaded that looked like it was even TRYING to tell a story.) Then I realized that the battles were action style, too, and I was in love.
I found the project that CataclysmX (now [cx]) had been working on for a while. I think I assumed the project was stable and well in hand, so I didn’t contact him. Then that summer he announced he was quitting or going abroad or something, and I sent a panicked message asking about Radia and offering to continue his work. So he put me in touch with Mike (dreamless). I don’t think I even had anything to do at the start. As I remember, Mike already had the scripts and was working on translating them. I made a font, but in the end we decided it sucked and replaced it anyhow.
One day I was sitting around and thought, “You know, it would probably be really cool if we had DTE and could fit more text into the rom.” Then I remembered that I didn’t know crap about assembly or anything, and had only the most basic understanding of DTE itself, that thanks to a brief look at FF1e and some help from AWJ. But, being determined (meaning “foolhardy”), I got some technical documents and started. I searched for the values for a bunch of kana in a row, thinking they would be stored in a lookup table, and sure enough they were. (Which is kinda unusual, I now know, so I got lucky.) Then I searched for the starting address of the table and found it. Then I started my hilariously inept attempt to disassemble that bit of code and figure out what was going on. Shockingly, I did, after days of experimenting and head-scratching. Even more shockingly, I also managed to figure out a good routine to implement a usable English DTE. Someday I’d like to go back over my notes and write up what I did, but I don’t feel like it here.
Anyhow, that was neat, but the project wasn’t really any more done. A few months went by as Mike and I got distracted by school and stuff. Eventually [cx] returned, providing much-needed leadership and help. I’d stumbled my way through the game over break, so I edited the translated scripts to clear up ambiguities and stuff. Mike finished his substring program and put a test rom together. Of course, it had a few nasty problems, so it took a couple more months of tinkering before we had it fully working. Then I did a couple small ASM changes to tidy things up (more stuff I’d like to write up someday). We tested (although not all our beta testers finished, ahem ahem), tinkered, tested, and la!
Overall, I love how the project came out. It would have been nice to have more room for text, but nothing critical was lost and I still like the overall quality of the script. During editing, I tried to focus on giving each character a distinct voice, but even so I think that could have come out better. I was overjoyed that I succeeded in all the small ASM fixes I made towards the end, because without them we would have had 4-letter spell names, “Mea,” “Tus,” and “Bon” on the Prize screen, and other icky things.
Mike was great to work with. He was a good translator and he dedicated himself to getting the final script as good as possible. He also saved our butts with his substring-choosing program. (I tried to make one too, but mine would slow down and crash way before it was done.)
It was a joy to work on this game, in all respects. We had a team of three good people working on an all-around outstanding game that was even fairly easy to do ASM work on. This game was a labor of love for all of us, and I think it shows.