« June 2006 »
1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
The Do-It-Yourself Corner
Watercrown News
Blog Tools
Edit your Blog
Build a Blog
View Profile
Watercrown Productions DevBlog
Saturday, 3 June 2006
A Taste of Things to Come...
Topic: Watercrown News

Work has been proceeding, although I must confess not for the entirety of my...what, almost two-week absence? Wow, that probably deserves an apology.

Sorry to keep you waiting. There, I've apologized. ^_^

Anyway. I stamped out a stubborn glitch that showed its ugly mug when I used an Infinite Dream Points cheat code to buy all the furniture (I'll provide it for anyone who's interested...just drop me a comment!)...nothing to do with the code, but everything to do with a jump instruction I somehow managed to miss. If you've bought all the furniture items, the "You ended the day with X Dream Points" dialogue is skipped (in fact, this may be another bug in the game, although this one I can fix: the scene where Aster wakes up in bed is skipped as well and only her "dialogue" is displayed); in my translation, however, the game crashed instead. Until just recently, when I fixed the bug. Now the game is, to my knowledge, 100% playable (albeit only about 80% in English)...but knowing this job, there's still probably a bug or two lurking someplace.

Anyways, if you're a regular on either Romhacking.net or SFCCE, you probably already know the big news I have here: I've completed a title screen logo for Sylvanian Families 4 and inserted it. The subtitle, "Tapestry of the Seasons", is still in Japanese, but that won't last long. ^_^

Behold: original...

...and extra crispy!

(Oddly enough, the title screen was completely uncompressed in the ROM...)

I've already taken a look at the print routine for Sylvanian Families 4...convoluted as heck, but I've got some vague ideas as to how to bend it to my will.

Until next update.

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 11:39 PM PDT
Saturday, 20 May 2006
We Apologize For Any Inconvenience...
Topic: Watercrown News

Still no progress to report, ladies and germs. Just posting to let you know I'm not dead, and neither is the project.

I'll be back to work as soon as I feel like it, which hopefully will be very soon.

On a side note: really, it wouldn't hurt you people to comment every once in a blue moon. I know you're reading this...I can't tell who you are yet, but I know how many hits my site gets a day. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 11:25 PM PDT
Saturday, 13 May 2006
And coming in at #25, it's...DEVBLOG!
Topic: Watercrown News

Time again for the not-quite-regular, weekly-ish progress report. Which is, for the second time in four weeks, no progress at all to report.

Apologies. I've been working on this project practically nonstop since my last break and I've been a bit burned-out lately. Progress will resume as soon as my work ethic returns from vacation.

On a side note, I've been honestly thinking about changing the font yet again...it'll be a fair bit of work, but as long as it's not terribly different from the one I'm using, the change will be mostly painless. What can I say? The Final Fantasy GBA font looks nice, but I'm wondering if it's too much "Final Fantasy" and not enough "Sylvanian Families". Besides, by the time I'm done with this patch, Final Fantasy III for Nintendo DS will either be out or dangerously close to it, and it uses the exact same thing. ^_^;

I'm not saying it's 100% guaranteed I'll change the font, but I'm seriously considering it, and if you have any candidates for a nice 8-by-whatever VWF font you'd like to see in the patch, please tell me. You don't have to pay or register or sell your soul to Kagutsuchi or whatever to comment, darn it! I know there are people reading this, and I need your input! And if you came here by mistake, well, comment anyway! I wanna know how you got here!

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 10:01 PM PDT
Monday, 8 May 2006
It's been a long road, getting from there to here...
Topic: Watercrown News

It's been a long time...aaaaand you know the rest. ^_^

(Man, I love that song.)

Crimony, it's been almost two weeks since my last less-than-regular progress update. Don't worry, people: it's been time well spent. I've been working on cleaning up the hard-coded text in the game's graphics. Here's a small taste of what I've accomplished:

The Status Screen is now wholly in English. This, believe it or not, took a lot of trial-and-error to accomplish...I had to expand the whitespace to accomodate the English text, which is now printed instead of hardcoded. Neat, huh?

I've also been working on the Seeds and Furniture screens, and I've done half of the credits already. The title screen is going to be a bother...I drew up one a long time ago, but it doesn't quite seem to fit anymore, especially now that I know there's an official English logo to begin with. The subtitle will be the bigger pain: "Otogi no Kuni no Pendant" doesn't seem to sound right as anything but the fairly kludgy "The Pendant of Fairyland", and completely nixing it doesn't sound right, either. Any suggestions?

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 9:55 PM PDT
Friday, 28 April 2006
Better Late Than Never.
Topic: Watercrown News

As of this post, every last single bug in my VWF has either been crushed or spot-welded into submission. The shop and furniture list menus work completely now. All is well. Translation will continue.

On a thoroughly unrelated side note, if you're even remotely into gaming, you've probably heard the news about Nintendo's much-vaunted Revolution console. For reasons best said by Nintendo themselves, the Revolution's official name will be the "Wii", pronounced "we".

It's a name that's either patently ridiculous or endearingly quirky depending on your mood and/or state of mind. When I first heard of it, I immediately wondered if the people responsible for the name had any idea what they had done: the first thing that came to mind was the baby-talk word for urine. -_-;

Now, about 24 hours after the revelation, I've somewhat cooled down on the topic. "Wii" has its fair share of drawbacks, but as long as I think of it as a play on "we" with two "i"s representing a pair of those funky remote-style controllers, it makes a strange sort of sense. Or perhaps I've been playing with digital Sylvanians for too long.

I'll still miss "Revolution", but all things considered, "Wii" is probably a better name for a system than "Dolphin"...and if they make Mother 1, Starfox 2 and/or Castlevania: Rondo of Blood available through the much-ballyhooed Virtual Console, I'd buy it even if they called it the Nintendo Pheeceez.

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 11:24 PM PDT
Thursday, 27 April 2006
Dance, Watercrown, Dance!
Topic: Watercrown News

Time for my sorta-weekly progress report. This week, I have...

Holy cow! No progress to report! ^_^;

Yeah, this has been kinda a sidetracky week for me...lot of irons in the fire and the dawning realization that I'm gonna get scorched if I don't do something with them.

But at least I made up for my screenshot backlog, didn't I?

Anyways. The bug in the VWF seems to affect, of all things, only the furniture-related menues: the fairies' shop is in working order again, but it seems that from time to time it'll make the subsequent cutscene where Aster wakes up glitch a little (the first tile of the picture turns into a blank space and the first line of text is misaligned). The furniture menu, oddly, doesn't suffer any bugs if you have enough furniture to make the list take up more than one screen, but if it all fits on one, then the little "unused furniture" icon vanishes and the menu prompt gets misaligned. It's all very puzzling, but now that I've finally gotten up off my butt and noticed the connection, perhaps there's something I can do about it now. My best guess is that there's a case where my VWF code doesn't reset the width value properly...

If I have any progress to report, you'll be the first to know. (On a side note, you don't need to register for anything to comment...heck, you don't even need to leave an e-mail! Just come up with a snappy unique username and you're all set...)

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 11:51 PM PDT
Friday, 21 April 2006
He's Back, And He's Got A New Trick!
Topic: Watercrown News

Well, not really. But I do have...screenshots!

Apologies for, yes, the untranslated text in that last screenshot. It says "Furniture List" and it will be in English when the finished patch rolls out.

Thanks again to Margie for providing the catalogues and information about the three houses present in the game. Oddly enough, however, it doesn't seem that the game uses the entire list I've found: perhaps there is some way to unlock more that I haven't discovered (doubtful, though), but of the catalog of 45 items (including the houses) listed in the game's script, only 22 are actually available for purchase.

Seems I still have a couple of annoying bugs in the VWF to work out...but otherwise, work is progressing smoothly. A third block has been fully completed, and a fourth is nearing completion. These things take time, people, and most romhackers don't update nearly this often. Until next time, ladies, germs and Sylvanians!

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 10:57 PM PDT
Monday, 17 April 2006
No, I'm Still Alive.
Topic: Watercrown News

Since you've all probably been wondering where I've been and what I've been doing, I thought I'd pipe up before the consensus became "pushing up daisies".

As it happens, I've been battling some bugs, and not just in the game. Some infernal little freeloaders of the viral persuasion moved into my sinus cavities and stole my good humor, and as such I'vre spent my free time this past week keeping warm, drinking plenty of fluids, and slashing my way through the Dungeons of Doom in NetHack (my all-time best run thus far is 24077 points, ending on the eleventh floor at the feet of a mighty mumak. "That only counts as one!").

Every time I think I've got everything working, I turn around and something else has broken (this time it's the menu for buying furniture). Everything is interrelated in ways that are less-than-obvious, and it doesn't help matters that I keep accidentally having my considerably-enlarged scripts overwrite each other upon insertion.

In conclusion: Epoch's programmers are all genius madmen. Oh, wait. I came to that conclusion long ago. Nevermind.

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 10:18 PM PDT
Monday, 10 April 2006
I See What You Did There.
Topic: Watercrown News

So The Do-It-Yourself Corner bombed. Maybe I should've given it more than three tries, but crimony, nobody even read my blog when I put those posts up.

If anybody wants to see more of The Do-It-Yourself Corner, I'll gladly provide, but I'm not going to waste my time writing something nobody's gonna read.

That time is better spent working on my translation. ^_^

Anyway. I had my first really big freak-out in a while just recently: I discovered that the Cleanup minigame inexplicably crashed if you made a mistake and restarted. As it happened, I missed a pair of jump instructions in a part of the script that I had absolutely no freakin' idea affected it. So the glitch is fixed and the translation continues.

Oddly enough, there are a few bugs in the game that aren't my fault at all.

1. There is a sign near the easternmost road up to the mountain that doesn't say anything. Press A in front of it all you want; this is the only sign I've found that doesn't give you a message of any sort.

2. After a certain point in the game, holes open up near your house that you can use to "teleport" to other areas in Sylvania. However, if you use the one that gets you across the river, the Drum Bridge rhythm minigame develops an odd bug. Seems that the flag that tells the script which side of the bridge you're on isn't set if you warp, and as a result you'll have to cross the bridge (by minigame or otherwise) twice to actually get to the other side.

There are probably more, but these are the only ones I can think of off the top of my head.

Another oddball glitch, introduced by my VWF, is that the icon for furniture that's not currently in your room (a tiny circle, as opposed to the large circle for furniture that is) vanishes if you select anything to bring up the "Move/Put Away" options. Seeing how it doesn't affect the other icons and its absence pretty much serves the same purpose, I may just remove the icon altogether...

Please read, please comment, and if you have a good reason not to do either, comment anyway and voice your grievances. I miss my readers...

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 11:12 PM PDT
Updated: Monday, 10 April 2006 11:12 PM PDT
Friday, 7 April 2006
The Do-It-Yourself Corner, Chapter 2: Are We Having Fun Yet?
Topic: The Do-It-Yourself Corner

So few people seem to be reading this...it's got me a little bit worried. ^_^;

DON'T PANIC!: The translation project is still proceeding. I haven't forgotten any of you. The final (to my knowledge) script block has been dumped and I'm formatting it as we speak. This particular one is full of all the little messages that you expect to see in RPGs when you pick up items or perform tasks.

I also discovered that my VWF has one last kink to work out: the VWF will be more or less perfected after I hone this final element. I think.

So without further ado, Chapter 2: Making the Table. Or whatever.

Like I said before: everything in a ROM is based around numbers. Those numbers mean different things depending on context: it's like having a language that only has 256 words, but their meaning and required grammar are completely different depending on whether our little 1337-speaker is, say, sitting in the bathroom, driving his car or ordering a cappuccino.

Unlike graphics, which are due to hardware conveniences usually stored in a format that someone somewhere has fully documented and fully implemented into a tile editor, there are as many possible ways to store text in a game as there are books in Borges' Library of Babel. Sometimes you get lucky, and a game uses an established encoding format: sitting down at Notepad, typing up a document, you are using in most cases the standard ASCII encoding system (interestingly, Sylvanian Families uses part of the ASCII set). Japanese also has many standards, such as EUC, JIS and its variants, and the variants and subsets of the Unicode system.

If you've ever cracked an alphanumeric 3-18-25-16-20-15-7-18-1-13, you're familiar with the concept behind a table. There are, however, three differences:

1. The encoded text will very likely not be signposted in any helpful way. You'll have to hunt for it in a sea of non-text gibberish data.

2. The cipher you're trying to crack isn't written in English: it's written in Japanese. The classic "Etaoin Shdrlu" will not save you.

3. You won't just be working out letters/symbols. Some numbers do not represent text, but are nonetheless significant. Line breaks, page breaks, text effects...all of these are represented with their own numbers, and are collectively referred to as "control codes." Ignore them only at your peril. (Sylvanian Families uses so many of these that its script can be considered a compiled programming language.)

Right. I won't insult your intelligence any longer with vague references to "numbers." If you know anything about computers, you know they don't count "one, two, three". These numbers I've made so much of come down to rows upon rows of tiny on/off switches. Natively, a computer "thinks" in binary, or "base 2": it uses the numbers 0 and 1 and a place value system to represent every number from 0 to whatever. (An old joke says that there are 10 kinds of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't.)

Of course, most of your work will probably never delve directly into the magical world of binary. Binary digits, or "bits", are grouped in sets of eight, called "bytes", which can individually represent every value from 0 to 255, and this arrangement paves the way for a stopgap between the base 2 world of the computer's brain and the base 10 world of ours: the hexadecimal (base 16) number system. It uses the numbers 0-9 as well as the letters A-F to represent the numbers 0 through 15, and place value to accomplish the rest. The "tens" column represents "sixteens": 10 hex is 16, 20h is 32, 30h is 48, all the way up to FF, which is (15 * 16) + 15, or 255. So FF, the highest two-digit hexadecimal number, also conveniently represents the maximum number a byte can represent. (Also conveniently, 100h comes out to a clean 256.)

This is the "hex" in "hex editor": you will be looking at the ROM as byte data, represented in the form of hexadecimal numbers. Exciting, isn't it?

Now, down to business. Open up JWPce (or whatever) and load your ROM in Tile Molester (again, or whatever). Search the ROM for the font. Tile Molester should choose the appropriate format on its own, but on occasion you'll need to tweak it. SNES/SFC ROMs store graphics in a 4bpp format (you don't need to understand what that means right now), but the font is usually stored in a 2bpp format (the exact same one used by Game Boy, in fact). It might be stored in an unusual format, so if you don't find it using the default, try a different one.

If you can't find the font and you've tried all the different formats, then choose a different project. Its time will come. You are but a learner now, but when next you meet, you'll be the master...and you'll have a neat helmet, a red lightsaber and James Earl Jones doing your voice. Or something like that.

Games often have multiple fonts: if you find one that's not the main font, note its location anyhow. Sylvanian Families actually had me stymied for a while because even though I found the actual font the game printed, it was not in the same order as the game's table: another font elsewhere, however, was. Once we've found the font, which we will assume is in the same order as the table, we go on to the next step, which actually involves playing the game. ^_^

Even if you can't actually understand a word of it, pay attention for any patterns of characters in the game's text that are close together in the font. We'll need to know such chinks in the game's armor for our final step, which involves our hex editor's special power tool for table making: the Relative Search function. Relative Search takes a pattern of characters and searches for it in the ROM: if you searched for "king", it would search the ROM for every set of four bytes that have the same relation between them as the letters in the word (which, in theory, will help us determine what values represent what letters). For example, if all our relative search matches for "king" are identical, then it's safe to assume we've found the values for "k", "i", "n" and "g", and we can extrapolate the rest with the aid of the font.

The same thing applies here, only we'll be doing it with Japanese characters. We can't search for "king", but we can search for patterns. Let's assume our font has all the "plain" characters in order and leaves special characters such as dakuten and small kana outside the main run. For the sake of argument, let's say this is a "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" game and we've decided to use the name of those lovable, inescapable Tachikoma as our key. In Japanese, Tachikoma is written in katakana as "TA-CHI-KO-MA", which are close enough in the font for us to Relative Search. So let's take a look at the syllabary, and assign English letters to each one:


(Trust me, that "A-ko" isn't in there on purpose. I've never even watched it. >_>)

So the pattern we're looking for is going to be "GHAV". If we get results from the Relative Search that are all the same, we've found "TA", "CHI", "KO" and "MA" and can begin work on extrapolating the rest of the table. If not, we'll have to refine our search a bit, maybe choose a different pattern to look for...

But once we're sure we've found the correct pattern, we can start work on the table!

Table files are usually saved with the extension ".tbl", but they can really be any plain text format. WindHex seems to support Shift-JIS exclusively; Atlas and romjuice are fine with UTF-8. So we'll probably have to save it in two formats; no biggie for JWPce.

Let's first start with a blank table. Assuming there are 256 characters or fewer in the font, go into JWPce, switch to regular ASCII mode, then start with this:


And work your way through to...


And make sure there's a blank line at the end. Copy-and-paste helps a lot; just make sure you don't have any duplicates.

Switch back to Japanese mode and put down the symbol each byte value represents after its corresponding equals sign. Once you're done with that, work out the control codes: in the simplest case, you'll just have line break and page break codes to puzzle through. If every line ends in "FE" and a page of text ends in "FF", mark those values with "<line>" and "<end>" or whatever suits your fancy. If you're not so lucky, there will be more, but you can work them out by playing the game and taking note of what happens when text with those control codes appears on screen. Mark any unknown non-text values with the number in pointy brackets, like "<1F>", <CE>", "<D5>", "<42>", etc. There's a good reason for this, but it'll wait till another time.

There are probably people out there much better suited to writing a readme for romhacking beginners, and those same people are probably watching my silly, inefficient style and laughing. It's entirely possible I'm doing more harm than good by writing these, but I thought I'd fill in the space between major project updates by giving back to the online community. These are the techniques I've used, for the most part, anyhow, and they've served me in good stead.

Until next time, ladies, gentlemen, Demi-Fiends and you fuzzy things sitting on a shelf.

Powered by Qumana

Posted by Ryusui at 10:03 PM PDT

Newer | Latest | Older