Good news, bad news

You may have heard that Square-Enix announced that Dragon Quest Monsters will be remade for the 3DS. Isn’t that great? Now you have two versions of the game to look forward to! Naturally, we still hope that you look forward to the PSX version the most.

The announcement inspired us to work a bit on the PSX game since the last update. I’ve finished the total revamp of the menu system. There were still a few issues with background text appearing over foreground menus due to the way I initially implemented it. Now everything looks the same as before, but VRAM space is dynamically allocated and freed (and plenty of it is available, more than 3 times as much than before).

I’ve been thinking about writing a bit about the work and thought process that was involved during the creation of that menu system revamp.  It’s a very important hack which needed a lot of planning and many changes, yet it’s almost invisible to the user. It might be interesting to learn about the inner workings of a game and the hacking process. Is there any interest in such insight?

Aside from the menu stuff, monster and player names can now be 6 characters long, extending the original length of 5 characters. In order to do this, every character is encoded into 6 bits instead of the 8 of a full byte. More than this is unfortunately not possible as the saves are very tightly packed.

The biggest hurdle still left is the battle text. It’s a huge mess of variables and fragments of sentences that only really make sense in Japanese. It will have to be completely redone, and it will be a lot of work. Besides that, I think there are only a couple of menus left, a couple of graphics here and there, and probably other minor things.

Now, I will be honest. Some translations will be finished before others. Here is a small rundown of what to expect…

  • Dragon Quest Monsters 1&2 is very advanced and the most likely to be released next
  • Oriental Blue is also advanced, but still needs a lot of annoying work. It will probably follow after DQM
  • Super Robot Wars F… the translation has slowed down, and there’s a lot of editing to be done. It will still take a lot of time
  • Xenosaga 1&2 is similar, unfortunately. The translation is progressing very slowly lately, so don’t expect a release anytime soon

You might have noticed that there is one game missing from the list… and that game is Super Robot Wars D. I’m sorry to announce that, but the project is dead. It’s officially cancelled. The reasons are numerous, but largely come down to a serious lack of time of many people involved. If someone wants to continue it, I can hand him my stuff. I will, however, only give it to people who can prove their worth as hackers. Only people who can prove their experience and intention to finish it will be considered. There will be no support. Advanced low level knowledge is required.

As for the rest, time is still scarce for everyone involved. There won’t be any surprise releases in the near future, but there’s plenty to look forward to in the long term!

It’s over

It’s over. It has been a nice time, but everything must come to an end… After 8 months of a carefree life without posting news… here we are.
Everything is still alive. I don’t have all that much time anymore, and my interest is slightly fading, but I fully intend to finish any projects listed under my name on the translation page.

Now on to the updates.

Dragon Quest Monsters 1&2 has received a new menu text system. VRAM is now dynamically allocated and deallocated as the strings need it, giving effectively infinite space. It didn’t have any allocation systems previously (positions were hard coded for the translation), and had only very little space limited to half of a single VRAM page, so the improvements that can now be made are very nice.

The translations for SRWFF and Xenosaga 1&2 are still progressing slowly but steadily.

The hacking for Oriental Blue is also progressing. It had quite a few intense graphic formats that had to be reverse engineered, and they were shared by just about everything in the game… including every single map. Of which, incidentally, we need to edit about 50 due to japanese signs. It’s a challenging work, especially as we are very limited in what colors and how much VRAM we can use, so the process is very time consuming. Deets is doing a great job at the image editing front though, as we learned to expect. As said before, Oriental Blue will be the next translation to be released.

We’ll eventually release updated patches for Super Robot Wars J and Tales of Innocence, but don’t expect them anytime soon. All issues are minor and don’t get into the way of playing the games at all (except one crash in Tales of Innocence, but that can be averted by saving and reloading the game after receiving fabled recipes). The patches will fix all known issues and will be the final updates to those translations.

A new armips version will also be released eventually. It adds optimizations for some ARM opcodes (automatic conversions for: ldr=->mov/mvn, movmvn, bicand, cmpcmn) and fixes a couple of minor issues.

So until the next update, no news is good news.

Super Robot Wars J Release

What? Christmas is over, and we all fooled you just to laugh behind your backs? Well, Christmas shouldn’t be abused to play games featuring lots of giant robots, right? Despite all that, I’m now proud to announce the completion of Super Robot Wars J!

It has been quite the long ride, but I have to say that the final result is pretty satisfying. This is my second completed translation after Tales of Innocence, but actually the first I started. It feels great to have finished this old stuff now! I’d like to thank everyone everyone involved, especially Deets, without whom this translation would look nothing like it does now.

Reports of wrong names can be filed here. Be sure to read the included Readme file, too. And without further ado, enjoy the game and the translation!

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Note from Deets:

Now that SRWJ is out, I figured it might be a good idea to set up a direct avenue of communication between everyone playing the game and ourselves. Or just me, at least!

@srwaerie is a twitter account created specifically for any Super Robot Wars-related questions you may have while playing the patch. Reports of typos, glitches, and other assorted weirdness are welcome, but feel free to ask any other questions that may come to mind, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

I can’t really speak about Oriental Blue, or Xenosaga I & II, or so on and so forth. Those aren’t my projects! But everything SRW-related — or any other projects of mine that may show up in the near future — are completely fair game. Thanks a bunch, and happy tweeting!

armips v0.7c released

It’s been a long time since I released the last version of my assembler, so I think it’s about time for an update. This version has been in private testing for over a year and many mistakes were corrected during that time, some new features were added, and old features were enhanced. I’d say it’s a much bigger improvement than the version number indicates. You will need the VS 2010 C++ redistributable to run this version.

Changes:

  • macros can now contain unique local labels
  • area directive added
  • added missing ARM opcode variations
  • countless bugfixes
  • no$gba debug message support
  • full no$gba sym support

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There will be a bigger update next time, but I have no idea how long it will take. I will probably rewrite a good part of the core code to allow for more features and even more flexibility. One of them will hopefully and finally be PS2 support, and maybe even PSP support. If you have any feature requests, bug reports, or other things, just let me know and I will evaluate them.