Last time, we looked at a problem that turned out to be far easier for hacking a PC game than a console one. Today, we’re looking at a problem that is really only an issue for PC games.
These older game consoles tend to have specialized graphical hardware that works in terms of sprites and tiles, so their graphics are stored in a similar way from game to game. The PC-98 is a business computer that’s really good at displaying high-resolution text, but graphics-wise, programmers had to roll their own solutions for everything. As a result, pretty much every developer created and used their own proprietary format for storing graphics. E.V.O.’s developer, Almanic, used a format called .GDT.
Hi! This is hollowaytape, the hacker/developer for 46 OkuMen. Today marks three years since we formed this group. We’re hard at work on some non-technical parts of our current and future projects, so I thought I would take this chance to write a little series about my prouder moments from our first handful of translation hacks.
First, I will describe the process of random flailing, blind luck, and help from others that led to the key breakthroughs of our first few projects. Then, I’ll step through a few of the more impressive technical things I could accomplish once I had a firmer grounding in x86 assembly. Finally, I’ll talk about some of the absurd technical hurdles I’ve found in games we haven’t picked up as projects, which I haven’t been able to solve.
They aren’t tutorials or rigorous technical documents. Instead, I’m hoping just to give you a taste of what PC-98 romhacking is like, give some advice if you’re tackling a similar problem, and share some amusing and dumb things I thought along the way.
Things have been quiet around here, but I assure you we’re still at it.
Appareden‘s translation draft is currently sitting at 79%, and all of that has been reinserted into the game. The worst of the bugs and crashes have been fixed, and the main assembly hacks have all been implemented, seemingly without breaking anything else.
We’ve begun work on translating and editing the images, too, after a painstaking process of ripping and unscrambling them all.
With that much of the game reinserted, we’ve been able to start an actual playthrough. Now the non-Japanese-speaking members of the team can see what the game is actually like! hollowaytape estimates he’s about 1/3 of the way through the game at this point. Here are a few things he’s seen along the way:
This actually happened yesterday, but between focus on real life and working on Appareden, we didn’t get this post out on the exact anniversary date. We’ll hit that date next year with something cool maybe. Or just another one of these posts, which should also totally count as something cool. Also, we didn’t post a one year anniversary post because we hadn’t exactly released any translation patches yet. Hell, we didn’t even have a group name until a month after that, and a website a month after that. That should give you an idea about how young the group really is.
In any case, let’s get to the meat of today’s post!
So if you downloaded our recent release of CRW Metal Jacket, you’ll notice that the patching process is a little different from what you may be used to. It doesn’t even resemble the patching process we ended up making for E.V.O.: The Theory of Evolution or Rusty either. Well, that’s because we decided to strip it down and make it as lean as possible to pass the savings onto you. But mostly just to make it compatible with as many computers as we could. The other thing we did was make the executable itself generic and take a configuration file as an input so that we wouldn’t have to build a new patcher for every single release.
Since this tool is helping us with our releases, we figured it might help others interested in the PC-98 to release their patches as well, so we cleaned it up and slapped a name on it, written some documentation for it, and now it’s available for you guys as an early beta version.
The first day has already wrapped up, but there’s still another day to go. Our very own SkyeWelse has a booth setup showcasing a bunch of retro Japanese PCs, and that includes a special setup to play E.V.O.: The Theory of Evolution in English on real PC-98 hardware.
That’s not all he has at his setup, but that’s probably the one you’re most interested in if you’re reading our page at the moment. He also has an MSX and x68000 setup alongside his multiple PC-98s, so it’s a pretty neat gathering of retro Japanese computers all in all. Check his Twitter account for some more pictures and information about everything he’s brought.
For more information about Vintage Computer Festival Southeast (VCFSE), such as where to find it, tickets and all that mess, check out their website. There’s a ton of cool stuff for Retro PC enthusiasts there, so chances are you’ll find some other things that you’re interested in addition to SkyeWelse’s booth. Definitely worth it to check it out.
If you do make it and find the booth, tell SkyeWelse we sent you!
And before we sign off for this post, have another quick picture from the booth.
We’ve updated our translation of E.V.O.: The Theory of Evolution! If you had trouble patching your copy of the game before, try it again with our new patching program, which works on many more builds of the game.
Hey everyone, been a little while since our last progress report. If you haven’t been following any of us on Twitter (kuoushi, hollowaytape, SkyeWelse), this news post will catch you up with everything we’ve managed to accomplish so far on all of our projects. No release dates in here, but it will be a pretty long post so get comfortable.
It’s been a little over a week since we released our translation patch for E.V.O.: The Theory of Evolution out into the world, and response from you guys has been nothing short of wonderful. When you spend a lot of time with a project you tend to start having doubts that anyone will play it. We were expecting maybe a couple hundred people to take an interest at the most, but our expectations have been exceeded by a fair amount. Before getting into that though, let’s get a few news items from us out of the way.
This is the official release announcement for 46 OkuMen’s English translation patch for Enix’s E.V.O.: The Theory of Evolution (46 Okunen Monogatari: The Shinkaron) on the PC-98 system. If you know what you’re doing, download the patch here and enjoy! Check out the project page for more information about the game as well as the links to the patch and the fully translated manual which has a bunch of cool and helpful information. There’s also more information about the history and process we went through in translating and romhacking the game itself, as well as references we found in the game.