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Topics - LostTemplar

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Gaming Discussion / Games that are not emulated properly (or at all)
« on: August 19, 2013, 03:31:07 pm »
I'm wondering what the general state of emulating videogame consoles is. Especially after the conception of former bsnes, a lot was talked about accuracy and hardware preservation by means of emulation. There are many threads in several forums that discuss what the alleged most accurate emulator for each and every console is, so that's not what is of concern to me here.

Rather, I'd like to know if anybody of you knows some concrete examples of games that no emulator for the system in question is able to emulate properly, in the sense that there are noticeable differences to the original. It doesn't matter how different the experience is, so anything goes, from missing pixels and out-of-sync music to doesn't even start.

I'd love to start by giving an example myself, but alas, my experience mainly lies with the SNES (but that's part of the reason I want to "widen" my horizont). I have no idea if there's much to talk about, but if anybody knows any such games let me know.

(It doesn't really matter what system, but I'd guess newer systems (PS2 and newer) still have major compatability issues, so up to fifth generation - PSX, Saturn, etc - should be a good rule of thumb)

ROM Hacking Discussion / Arabian Nights - Technical Details
« on: December 26, 2012, 06:14:29 pm »
So we finally released Arabian Nights after a lot of hard work. Accompanying the English version I created a page about the technical details of its implementation. I'm sure there are people who aren't that interested in the game itself and hence won't read the readme/project page, but would still like to read about the hacking involved. So I decided to post this topic so they wouldn't miss it, as I put some effort into the the page and don't want it to go unnoticed:

Technical Details

If there are any questions or comments just put them here. This won't be the last game I've worked on so I'd also be grateful for any new ideas on how I could improve my hacking!

Programming / Quote on SNES programming from Blizzard ex-programmer
« on: September 29, 2012, 08:11:13 am »
I just stumbled upon an article that is basically about the development/history of StarCraft, but there was one part which I found kind of interesting:

Quote from: Patrick Wyatt
In the early years, when our games were programmed for 16-bit game consoles, our programming staff would review soon-to-be-launched Super Nintendo (SNES) titles, and would crowd around games trying to puzzle out how their developers had accomplished some feat of technical magic and derring-do. The SNES was an odd combination of a glacially slow 2.58 megahertz (not gigahertz) processor with a tiny 64 kilobytes (not megabytes or gigabytes) of memory coupled with exotic microchips designed to rapidly blast bits onto the screen — if you could figure out the right incantations to make it all work.

We’d stand staring at a game talking in phrases that only a few thousand folks in the whole world — most of them working for Nintendo — knew anything about. Someone would toss off an idea like “perhaps they’re using the hblank interrupt to set the scroll register to adjust the view distance in mode 7″, and we’d all do our best to wrap our heads around that idea, learning a great deal in the process. Our artists and designers would be similarly wowed by their own show-floor discoveries.

That's something I've been doing all the time since I became relatively proficient at SNES programming - playing a game and wondering how the developers achieved a particular effect. Only that today, we can just look at the disassembly without getting into too much legal trouble...

I think the most difficult thing to properly localize in FEoEZ is the following:

In the menu you are able to create four different 'strategies' where for each one you can assign each character an action that he/she should automatically do (or you can set him/her to manual).

The difficult part - as far as translating goes - is that each of these strategies can be renamed by the player. Out of 70 Kanji, two can arbitrarily be chosen.

Each of the strategies can then be picked in battle where the name is displayed as follows (notice how I renamed the right one to 流星).

This all makes perfect sense in Japanese, but in most Western languages it is difficult to adopt. Without heavily refactoring this part of the game, per name only 4*2 8x8 tiles are available. The easiest approach would certainly be to just ditch the renaming ability and give them fixed names and/or numbers; or maybe to give the player a selection of names he can choose from.

But if anybody has any better ideas, please share them :)

Personal Projects / Far East of Eden Zero Translation
« on: February 14, 2012, 06:11:30 pm »
First note that I have started a small homepage with an introduction to my project here:

I have been playing around with Far East of Eden Zero on and off for a few years now. After byuu had dropped the game, I thought about translating this game myself as I wanted it to receive a quality translation. Then, a few months ago, I documented my results so far and started working on it seriously. My philosophy is: After translation, the game should still be playable on the real hardware (that means e.g. no fancy ROM expanding), but nevertheless as few compromises as possible should be made. We will see how this will work out; I think if there are compromises to be made, it will be with the script size.

The German translation will be done by myself, but only after all hacking is finished. Any capable translators into other languages willing to translate the script are welcome; but be aware that it is huge.

I already finished the following tasks:
- 16x16 dialog VWF
- 8x8 menu VWF
- complete script dump
- some menu hacking
- inserter/dumper for the compressed graphics

Obvious things still missing:
- implementation of text compression (I consider arithmetic coding)
- ideas of how to localize the strategy naming

I am by no means an expert on compression, so if anybody knows a good (de)compression algorithm for text that can be implemented on SNES hardware, let me know (LZSS won't work - there's no RAM space left).

Here are a few screenshots of my results so far. These show a work in progress; everything is still subject to change. I'll start with a few before-after screenshots:

This one shows the equip menu where you can see the new 8x8 VWF in action.

Here I changed the line spacing in order to allow for longer sub-menu names.

I replaced the kanji with some symbols to demonstrate the insertion of compressed graphics (the right one is a bit darker because I made the screenshot with bsnes - Snes9x, which I use for debugging, still uses the graphics pack...)

These show the new 16x16 VWF implementation (the font will be changed for the actual translation):

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