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Messages - elmer

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1
I hope there'll be the some news from the Legend of Xanadu next year, it's been a while.

From what I understand the Xanadu translation, specifically the fandub since the actual translation and hacking are complete, went on a break for a while due to SamIAm having his second child. However, a few weeks ago they said they were back to making regular progress on the dub.

Yep, there is progress, but it is going very slowly because family and real-life comes first. SamIAm just doesn't have the spare time that he did in his bachelor days. I'm sure that most people here can understand that.

It's a bit sad that we've had two fully-translated games sitting on hold for over a year now, but we need to finish the dub so that players will be able to appreciate the full stories that Falcom created.


From what I recall elmer has been working on Seiya Monogatari for a while, so perhaps that one will see the light of day eventually.

The game scripts have been extracted, but there's been no reason to move forward from there when my translation-partner is still busy on the LoX dub.

On the (massively) positive side, this game doesn't need a dub, because all of the VO is subtitled, which means that the translation should come together pretty fast when we finally get to it.

On the negative side, the game's scripting system is a bit ugly to work with, and there are 286 script files (over 4MB of data) for the translator to wade through.


Anyway, I think it's much more likely that the HuCard games will get translation patches first, for what they're worth.

It is far easier to hack HuCard games, since you can just add extra ROM space to the translation, as you do on the SNES, and you don't have to worry about doing a dub.

So yes, you'd think that there would be more HuCard translations.


I'd like to get into to some PCE hacking eventually. I even have one PCE backburner project, but it's just a matter of time and priorities.

It doesn't help that I'm not a huge fan of Mednafen's lack of GUI, especially for the debugger.

Personally, I'm very happy that I don't have to deal with any GUI when I'm using Mednafen for translation hacking. I find it faster to just use the keyboard.

But everyone has their own preferences.

For me, the problem with Mednafen's debugger is not that I have to remember a few keyboard commands, it is that the debugger display is (IMHO) ugly and hard to read.

So I changed it ... thank gawd for Open Source software!

There are patches and a build script on github ... mednafen-happyeyes

If anyone is interested, then I could upload binaries here. I already provide links to Windows versions in my "PCE Programming Links" thread, but that is on another forum.


Dave Shadoff has recently started writing some articles/threads on how to hack PCE-CD games, and I've taken the opportunity to start hacking the 2 Tenshi no Uta games so that I can provide my slightly-different perspective on how to go about translating a game on the PCE platform.

To go along with the new translation-hacking, I have made some more changes to Mednafen, such as adding "Disassemble to File" and "Hex Dump to File", which are making my investigation and note-taking phase much more pleasant than it was with the LoX and Anearth hacking.


The folks here just doesn't seem to have much love for the PCE, so I tend not to post here.

Since the community-meltdown on the old PCEngineFX forum earlier this year, most of the active PCE development discussion can now be found on the PC Engine Bible forum.

If there are people here interested in PCE translation hacking/techniques, then I would be happy to post here more.

2
Personal Projects / Re: Tengai Makyou Zero translation project
« on: September 29, 2017, 11:29:24 am »
I'm just waiting on readme updates from DougRPG and Cargodin at this point.

Excellent ... it's getting so close!!!  ;D

3
I have asked an expert for PC Engine CD games and he replied:

Hmmmmm ... you could have just asked me the same question here on romhacking.net, and I would have replied.

Publicly cross-posting a screenshot of a PRIVATE Message from another forum seems a bit ... not-overly-polite.


FYI, I gave you the simple non-programmer answer to your question.

As a programmer, CyberWarriorX presumably already knows that the typical hard-coded-assembly-language anything-goes-anywhere structure of PCE games would be a very different challenge to the C-code or resource-file-based organization of some of the later consoles (Saturn/PSX).

Now ... it's certainly possible that the PCE's Langrisser developers took a more C-like (easier to hack) approach to the storage of their string data, but that's a question that's way-beyond a simple generic question in a PM.

4
Personal Projects / Re: 46 OkuMen - PC-98 Translations
« on: July 03, 2017, 01:06:58 pm »
Super cool stuff guys, thanks!  8)

5
Personal Projects / Re: Last Bible 3 Translation Project
« on: June 27, 2017, 05:22:29 pm »
I'm glad the in-dialogue pausing effect is popular. The more games that use it, the better!

Thank you for mentioning the pausing trick, you talked about it at the perfect time!  :beer:

I knew that I was missing something important in the LoX translations, but since the original game didn't use any pauses, I just couldn't figure out what it was that I was overlooking.

Everything looks much nicer now that I've added that capability to the game code, and modified the script-compiler to generate the new script-codes.  :)

6
Personal Projects / Re: Last Bible 3 Translation Project
« on: June 22, 2017, 04:07:21 pm »
DDS increased the text printing speed, so the text doesn't slow to a crawl like in the Japanese version. I've also added slight pauses at commas and periods, to make the dialogue flow as it had been spoken out loud. (Maybe most people won't care about this, but as an auditory thinker, I really like this effect.)

Good point. I've noticed that one of the games that I'm working on has the pauses, and it really does help to make the onscreen language flow better.  :thumbsup:

Hmmm ... I'll have to see about adding that into the Legend of Xanadu translations.

7
Thanks for your reply. For track splitting, the tool I am using is "bincuesplit" by Francisco Munoz, is this an outdated tool?

I've never heard of bincuesplit, and can find no mention of it online.

bchunk is included in pretty-much-every linux distribution ... and I know that it has worked on my PC Engine games.


Quote
For hacking, I understand it's not for beginner and way beyond my level :(, but can you point me to some resources for beginner so I may pick it up someday? Is basic ASM a good start?

There is nothing wrong with being a beginner, we all were at some point. The question is one of how and where you start learning.

Personally, I recommend that you learn to program in assembly first ... that's the best way (IMHO) to get a handle on how games were put together back then, and give you the grounding in hardware that you'll need to be able to deconstruct games and extract graphics or data from them.

I generally recommend the original Gameboy as an excellent starting point. It's got all of the basics, and it's a simple design to work with.

Once you've got your head around one CPU in assembly language, it's pretty easy to switch to another CPU.

I imagine that other people would have different recommendations.


Quote
As for VRAM dumping, I can use Mednafen to examine and dump the memory but I have no idea how to tell which is which and extract relevant data :-[. According to the Mednafen documentation 0000-7FFF are for VRAM so is this 32KB the only part I need to concern? Now for an example, when a sprite is changing color on screen I notice there is a particular part in memory changing in same frequency, since it's so short I suppose it's the palette (encoding in RGB565?), but then I don't know how to proceed...

PCE VRAM is 32K words ... so 64K bytes. Honestly, I'm very sorry to be blunt, but I don't have the time to teach you the basics of how these old machines work.

Have you found the Archaic Pixels website yet? http://www.archaicpixels.com/Main_Page

The PC Engine is a very clean and logical piece of hardware ... but until you know the basics of these old machines, it is unlikely to make much sense.

If you join the forums at pcenginefx.com, there are people there who may be able to help you.

8
You've got two issues here ... (1) getting a good rip with the data and audio tracks separated, (2) getting the graphics out of the data track.

***********************

For ripping a PCE CD, you can use something like these on Windows ...

NightWolve's TurboRIP & TOCFixer
http://www.ysutopia.net/index.php?ind=downloads&op=section_view&idev=3

They contain a database of every PC Engine CD game, and can help to create a known-good rip.


If you've already got a rip as two files, a .cue and a .bin/.iso, then you can use "bchunk" to split it into data and audio tracks.

The problem is that most Windows builds of bchunk have a bug in their calculation of the sector lengths when splitting up the .bin/.iso into the separate .iso and .wav files.

I found/fixed this when building bchunk for use with my Zeroigar and Legend of Xanadu translations.

Here's the patch to fix the bchunk 1.2.0 source, and also to allow it to compile on Windows with mingw-w64 & msys2 ...

Code: [Select]
diff -Naur bchunk-1.2.0/bchunk.c bchunk-1.2.0-msys2/bchunk.c
--- bchunk-1.2.0/bchunk.c 2004-06-29 21:42:34.000000000 +0100
+++ bchunk-1.2.0-msys2/bchunk.c 2015-07-02 17:35:51.323496400 +0100
@@ -58,7 +58,11 @@
  */
 
 #include <inttypes.h>
-#include <netinet/in.h>
+#ifdef _WIN32
+ #include <winsock2.h>
+#else
+ #include <netinet/in.h>
+#endif
 
 #define bswap_16(x) \
      ((((x) >> 8) & 0xff) | (((x) & 0xff) << 8))
@@ -279,7 +283,7 @@
 
  printf("%2d: %s ", track->num, fname);
 
- if (!(f = fopen(fname, "w"))) {
+ if (!(f = fopen(fname, "wb"))) {
  fprintf(stderr, " Could not fopen track file: %s\n", strerror(errno));
  exit(4);
  }
@@ -289,7 +293,7 @@
  exit(4);
  }
 
- reallen = (track->stopsect - track->startsect + 1) * track->bsize;
+ reallen = (track->stopsect - track->startsect) * track->bsize;
  if (verbose) {
  printf("\n mmc sectors %ld->%ld (%ld)", track->startsect, track->stopsect, track->stopsect - track->startsect + 1);
  printf("\n mmc bytes %ld->%ld (%ld)", track->start, track->stop, track->stop - track->start + 1);
@@ -332,7 +336,7 @@
  sz = track->start;
  sect = track->startsect;
  fl = 0;
- while ((sect <= track->stopsect) && (fread(buf, SECTLEN, 1, bf) > 0)) {
+ while ((sect < track->stopsect) && (fread(buf, SECTLEN, 1, bf) > 0)) {
  if (track->audio) {
  if (swabaudio) {
  /* swap low and high bytes */
@@ -399,7 +403,7 @@
 
  parse_args(argc, argv);
 
- if (!((binf = fopen(binfile, "r")))) {
+ if (!((binf = fopen(binfile, "rb")))) {
  fprintf(stderr, "Could not open BIN %s: %s\n", binfile, strerror(errno));
  return 2;
  }
diff -Naur bchunk-1.2.0/Makefile bchunk-1.2.0-msys2/Makefile
--- bchunk-1.2.0/Makefile 2001-08-02 13:51:40.000000000 +0100
+++ bchunk-1.2.0-msys2/Makefile 2015-04-04 12:38:34.870112100 +0100
@@ -33,7 +33,7 @@
 BITS = bchunk.o
 
 bchunk: $(BITS)
- $(LD) $(LDFLAGS) -o bchunk $(BITS)
+ $(LD) $(LDFLAGS) -o bchunk $(BITS) -lwsock32
 
 bchunk.o: bchunk.c


You can find a prebuilt Windows copy of the fixed bchunk in my Zeroigar translation patch that's on this site.


***********************

Good luck on the next part, you'll need it!

There is no standard format for the data in the data track. There is no filesystem in there, unless the developers created a custom one for themselves, and even if they did ... you have no idea what it is.

You've already found that old thread. Read tomaitheous's post again ...

http://www.romhacking.net/forum/index.php?topic=17351.msg254052#msg254052

To find the graphics of most games, you'll have to hack the game itself to figure out the compression format ... and then you'll still have to figure out where the graphics data is stored in the decompressed data.

None of this is for the faint-of-heart.

Honestly ... for most things, you'll probably find it easier to run the game in an emulator like Mednafen, and then dump the contents of VRAM and main RAM when you see something that you want to extract.

9
It doesn't matter whether the system is "16-bit" in this case, what does matter is the # of bitplaes used in the graphics. Mega Drive and SNES uses 4-bitplanes graphics (exept for some status bar layers where they might use 2-bitplane). NES uses 2-bitplanes; the PC-Engine / Turbographx-16 and the Sega Master System use 4-bitplanes while being 8-bit. Most earlier systems were single-bitplane, while also being 8-bit.

It always amuses me to see the lengths that people go to to somehow wall-off the PC-Engine from the SNES & MD ... but ho-hum.


I'm also asking because I've been making some mockup screens of SNES (and other) to MD ports and frequently run into problems with 1-2 sub palettes of 15 colors not being enough for all sprites on screen or for the background. These Contra HC bosses are kinda what I'm looking for, except they seem to be using separate palettes for sprites that are joined together in a more obviously segmented way, each palette having some overlap of colors. Would it cause a bunch of flicker if it was done more like in Mega Man on NES?

Such is the world of development on the MD! Its lack of sub palettes is one of its stupidest hardware-design decisions.

Sure ... you can overlay sprites like you're suggesting, but then you can start to run into sprites-per-line, total number of sprites on screen, total number of sprites in VRAM, and VRAM upload-bandwidth issues.

Generally, the technique is just not worth the headaches. But sometimes, it can be useful, in controlled circumstances.

10
That sounds cool... but it's a CD game with Red Book CD audio (from what I can see). Totally different to the voice samples in this game, I'm afraid. :) I would love to do some voice acting too, looks like I was too late for that project (though it seems they got plenty of people to respond).

Actually, most of the VO in the first LoX game is ADPCM embedded in the data track, and not CD Audio ... but that's not really important.

Replacing sample data in the Knight Rider HuCard might not be too horrible. There are only a couple of sane ways to store it in a HuCard.

The "fun" would be in trying to figure out where it's stored, and how long it is.

If you're running Mednafen, then you'd put a breakpoint on the Timer IRQ or the HBLANK IRQ, and trace through the code to find out where the pointer to the sound data is stored.

It depends upon just how comfortable you are in assembly code.

Getting replacement data into the appropriate format is unlikely to be too hard.

Sample playback is usually much simpler than the font hacking that you guys had to do.

11
Extremely cool stuff, thanks!

It's always good to see the PCE get a little attention.

12
Huge thanks to everyone who volunteered to be a part of the dub, or who helped get someone else involved!

We had 40 candidates send in 330 auditions on the last day alone.

Now we're dealing with the unexpectedly-large task of sorting through the 195 candidates and their 1,500+ auditions in order to select the cast.

I have absolutely no idea how we managed to get this much attention, but we're incredibly grateful that so many talented individuals have applied.

13
There are just about 24 hours left before we close auditions, if anyone needs that last-minute reminder.

We've had a fantastic response - there have been over 150 candidates submitting over 1000 individual character auditions since we started the casting-call. The talent we've seen is equally incredible, and this dub looks like it's really going to turn out nicely.

As SamIAm mentioned last week, we've decided that while we won't accept new candidates after tomorrow, we will continue to work with existing ones and accept updates until the end of the month. This way, everyone gets a chance to respond to feedback.

Anyway, it really, really is now or never. We haven't made up our minds about any of the casting yet - every part is still wide open.

Don't be shy if you want to audition, or if you know someone else that might be interested in being a part of gaming history.

14
Personal Projects / Re: Tengai Makyou Zero translation project
« on: May 15, 2017, 01:01:01 pm »
All I ask in return is that people refer to the game as either "Tengai Makyou Zero" or "Far East of Eden: Tengai Makyou Zero," and definitely not Far East of Eden Zero.

Haha ... Good luck with that one, you've got a huge hill to push that particular rock up!

We gave up on the idea of trying to get people to use the translated-Japanese name "Xanadu: Legend of the Wind" instead of common "Legend of Xanadu" name.

Anyway, congratulations on getting everything finished and hitting the final beta-test phase!

15
OK, time for a bump!

There is a little less than 2 weeks left for anyone to get in their audition for the dub.

Even if you don't want to be a part of the dub yourself, please consider mentioning the project to anyone that you know who has an interest in voice-acting, especially middle-aged and older folks, of whatever gender.

We've had quite a few semi-pro or better actors/actresses send in auditions, and we have a decent *chance* of doing a good job on this ... but at-the-end-of-the-day, it really will depend upon the quality of the voice-talent that we can find to volunteer.

16
Anyway, I'm going to take a break from doing any more of these patches, at least for now.

Thanks for all of your hard work on these!

I, for one, really appreciate the work that you've done here in turning back the silly-changes that WD made to those games.

For all the wonderful thing that they did in actually making those Japan-only games available to a Western audience, the way that they went about it has always annoyed me.

17
Well, the project is now officially cancelled.
Long story, which i cant be arsed to type out loud.

Well, apart from the amusement of your choice-of-words making it sound like you're a fellow Brit ...

... I'm really sorry to hear that. I've enjoyed reading your posts in this thread and watching the progress.

Whatever has happened, I hope that you'll eventually choose to continue working on translations at some point in the future.

Thanks for all your work on this game!

18
I look forward to finally playing it; its been a long time coming.

I hope that you enjoy it!

It certainly feels like one heck of a long time to me, even though I've only been working on it since 2015.

I can only imagine how SamIAm feels after having worked on in since 2011, and having gone through the heartache of seeing it stall and fizzle-out in 2012-2013.

19
Let me give you a bit of an advice: You should always look for actors as well as asking them to come with you.

A few years ago there were some fandubbing communities, but it seems that groups like Voice Acting Club (No longer accepts fandubs) and Voice Acting Alliance (Dissappeared) are out of the question. There's another community called Casting Call Club, but I haven't seen too much. Take a good look at the fandubbing scene and post the advert at the websites/forums that you prefer.

Thanks for the advice!

Yep, we've already contacted a bunch of voice-actor forums, and are waiting for accounts or approvals at some others.

Voice Acting Club doesn't allow most fandubs, but there seems to be an explicit exclusion to that policy allowing for game translations. We're checking with the admin staff there.

Casting Call Club only allows 30-day-or-less auditions, and at this busy time of year we want to give folks a little longer, so we're waiting for a couple of weeks to post there.

BTVA is another voice-actor site that we've contacted.

As you say, VAA has died.

Can you think of any others that we should be contacting?

20
I shared this topic on Facebook for you, I have lots of friends on my side who are into voice acting.  :thumbsup:

Thanks, we really appreciate that!  :beer:

We'd like to get the word out as wide-as-possible, in the hopes of finding folks that might not normally  play videogames, or hang out around translation sites.

I know that a lot of folks, particularly here, don't love the idea of a fan-dub, and I totally understand that.

It's only because Falcom released the entire ingame music on CD, and that I have access to a rather-large sound-effect library, that I think that we have a chance at doing a good job of this without embarassing both us and the original developers.

Now it's a case of finding the right voice-talent to do justice to Falcom's stories.

So ... the more places that the casting-call gets posted, the better.

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