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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 4:18 am 
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SylarDean wrote:
UGH! twice my message got deleted as I posted here about D-D doing a 'Verne World' translation.. I cant be arsed with what I have to say about it now.. you guys probably wouldnt have liked what i had to say (or probably wouldnt have cared) any hows, dodged a hurricane there.. (me and you) LOL!


Verne World was Bongo`s baby, while I could probably get the files and text dump from him. I still wouldn't expect that project to ever go anywhere. Or if it did, it wouldn't be anytime soon. I want to get back to learning assembly, but I would want to use that to fix things we've already released and are going to release first and that is assuming I find or make time to do so. I have spare time now and then, but I won't lie my motivation after all these years is a bit lacking at times these days. We still have every intention of releasing what we have translations for. If and when we change that, we'll release it to public domain so someone can, but that shouldn't be an issue on most projects. I plan to do that at some point for Ranma 2 Gameboy actually.

Unfortunately, some of them might be out now but Wildbill really is buried with life changes and most projects are in his hands at this time. Heck, many projects left he even personally translated. Anyway, when he finds time, he'll be getting most of them out.


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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Thu Sep 03, 2020 6:46 am 
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There's no need to worry about Verne World. Since Tom came back into the translation business, I've asked him if he's still planning to translate Verne World and he said yes. :) I'm thinking about playing the Shell Monster Story games. I'm hoping that you guys eventually decide whenever or not to release part 2.


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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Sun Sep 06, 2020 3:36 pm 
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akualung wrote:
SylarDean wrote:
UGH! twice my message got deleted as I posted here about D-D doing a 'Verne World' translation.. I cant be arsed with what I have to say about it now.. you guys probably wouldn't have liked what i had to say (or probably wouldn't have cared) any hows, dodged a hurricane there.. (me and you) LOL!


To say the truth, and as some DD members have stated in previous posts, I fear without a romhacker it will be very difficult to take on any new project (that's why I hope most emulator developers consider the alternative of implementing a "Retroarch meets Wanderbar" style of translation in their emulators).

About Verne World, this summer I tried translating the dialogs from the first minutes of gameplay (up until things start going haywire) using DeepL, and I have to say that a full translation of that game seems feasible with just a minimal knowledge of the language and relying on DeepL But of course, without a romhacker that has enough knowledge to expand the rom, decompress the script if it uses compression, and all these technical things I don't really understand very much, there's nothing to do.

Moreover, translating the full script would take a lot of time, which I do not have. It's a pity, because every time I've translated rpg dialogs with the help of DeepL to grasp the general meaning and then fixed things by myself here and there, I've enjoyed it IMMENSELY. Boy, I wish I could receive a monthly payment so I didn't need to work full-time for a living and spend all that time translating the huge backlog of jp-only snes and PCE games (translating the Tengai Makyou PCE games starting with TM:Manjimaru would be like a dream to me).


Start a Patreon. You won't make a killing, probably, but it might help here and there? Could cover your hobby costs at least. You could also try creating/selling strategy guides for the games, perhaps comparative literature. Lots of little ways to be legit [i]enough[i] if you think about it. One thing's for sure: those games won't become popular by any effort of their original creators.

I think there's really something to the idea of emulator-assisted translation. For one thing you eliminate the repo problem and the associated issue of people buying retro knockoff consoles (at original sale price) to play fan translated games. The downside is the nastiness of the platform purists, who insist on "hacking it the right way". My experience is the platform purists tend to think themselves able to profiteer off of platform reintroduction/knockoffs anway. Not long ago in PC-98 community there was a guy calling himself Retronomicon who was talented enough to do both the translation and the hacking. However to save time he made his hacking emulator dependent (wouldn't run on actual PC-98s) and also cut some translation corners here and there. He was excoriated over 4-chan as a fraud and frightened into quitting, but not before he'd produced translations for 6 different games in like, 4 months? The PC-98 fan community (which mostly overlaps with the Touhou scene) was incredibly vicious and uncompromising.


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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Mon Sep 07, 2020 1:03 am 
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Sorry to shoot your idea in the foot but making an auto-translator for an emulator would be highly difficult if not absolutely impossible. The reason it works on PC is there is a standardized encoding scheme for text. Shift-JIS or UTF-8 or something. That does not exist on consoles of this era. Maybe it exists on some newer 32 and 64 bit machines but not these older 8 bit, 16 bit and most 32 bit ones. All text in a game is just a byte or two which is used to point to a graphic in the game. Computers also generally work somewhat similar but the encoding is mostly standardized to a specific scheme. However on consoles, these graphics while usually stored in the same general layout for English are almost never exactly the same and they almost never are in a specific order for Japanese, especially if it has kanji. The emulator has no way of knowing what graphics are where or how a program chooses to point to those graphics. Is it 8 bit or 16 bit. Even if you know that you still do not know what corresponds to what letter. Sure if you have the graphics the layout will likely be in order of the code but that code can still be pretty much anything. Maybe your graphics start with a reference of byte 20, or maybe they start at byte 80. Point is, you can't be sure. An emulator would have to OCR those graphics, figure out what order they're in and then run a translation on them. And that is assuming the game isn't using even more trickery for things like DTE or such. Even if you hooked onto video memory to bypass thos tricks assuming something in there is going to be standard uncompressed text, you still have to work out what that something is. That isn't likely to ever happen. That is one of the reasons why auto-translators also don't work for every PC game. Not all of them use standard encoding. When they don't, that text hooker just won't work.


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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2020 8:32 am 
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AI isn't a cure-all. It can be useful but must be applied intelligently.

In my time hacking and making tools (for PC-98 and 88 especially) it's become clear to me that games often have elaborate designs and internals, especially when produced by large firms. Large firms compartmentalize design elements and this compartmentalization means dedicated tools and, often, dedicated bytecode and lingos. A game may rely on as many as six or seven different different macro languages, or even more. It is understandable to be awed and intimidated by the realization that seemingly simplistic mechanics are underlied by such arcanity. Added to the complexity is SNES' various graphical systems and capabilities -- windowing, add/sub, the 5 layers of sprites/tiles, Mode 7 -- which make its internals seem all the more arcane compared to a system like say, the NES with its dedicated mappers, or Windows and Java with their straight-to-the-point device calls.

A book, or a wiki, about hacking SNES games would probably be beneficial. There is a lot of talk about communities and their importance, but people in the hacking community like each other less than ever these days. There will always be those who prefer to learn by conversing in chat rooms and those who prefer to learn at leisure with documents. We've got lots of technical docs but still not many dedicated to translations from Japanese to English. We have even fewer disassemblies... the SNES looms like a formidable, impenetrable gray box.

With respect to the difficulties of Japanese, it might help if there was a database of common phrases. Perhaps if translated game scripts were uploaded to this database alongside their untranslated counterparts, with the phrases as discrete elements, and a user could type something in and do a search for phrases that were similar to or inclusive of what they typed? Even solutions such as this belie the basic difficulty of actually expressing a Kanji with a western keyboard. Maybe a simple little app that allows the easy construction of these?


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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Wed Sep 09, 2020 4:49 pm 
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taskforce wrote:
Sorry to shoot your idea in the foot but making an auto-translator for an emulator would be highly difficult if not absolutely impossible. The reason it works on PC is there is a standardized encoding scheme for text. Shift-JIS or UTF-8 or something. That does not exist on consoles of this era. Maybe it exists on some newer 32 and 64 bit machines but not these older 8 bit, 16 bit and most 32 bit ones. All text in a game is just a byte or two which is used to point to a graphic in the game. Computers also generally work somewhat similar but the encoding is mostly standardized to a specific scheme. However on consoles, these graphics while usually stored in the same general layout for English are almost never exactly the same and they almost never are in a specific order for Japanese, especially if it has kanji. The emulator has no way of knowing what graphics are where or how a program chooses to point to those graphics. Is it 8 bit or 16 bit. Even if you know that you still do not know what corresponds to what letter. Sure if you have the graphics the layout will likely be in order of the code but that code can still be pretty much anything. Maybe your graphics start with a reference of byte 20, or maybe they start at byte 80. Point is, you can't be sure. An emulator would have to OCR those graphics, figure out what order they're in and then run a translation on them. And that is assuming the game isn't using even more trickery for things like DTE or such. Even if you hooked onto video memory to bypass thos tricks assuming something in there is going to be standard uncompressed text, you still have to work out what that something is. That isn't likely to ever happen. That is one of the reasons why auto-translators also don't work for every PC game. Not all of them use standard encoding. When they don't, that text hooker just won't work.


Sorry, long post ahead:

Well, in fact my idea didn't consist on going that deep into how the game is programmed (what you've explained is needed only if you want to actually modify the rom itself to insert the translation). My idea was something much more simple (and limited, but it does the trick), similar to this proof of concept I did with Jungle Wars 2 using Wanderbar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UWST-PPOZM

Wanderbar is basically a modified snes9x emulator glued to an html browser window (when you launch the emu, so does the browser). The only thing I did, (using a LUA script that wanderbar's creator already provided for me) is capture the line ID of every dialog in the game and then I create an html file, with the corresponding line ID, but with the dialog translated into English. What Wanderbar does is:

- every time a dialog bubble opens in the game (when you talk to an npc, etc), it captures the line ID of that dialog.

- then it accesses the html file and looks for the translated dialog that has that same lineID, and writes it on the browser window as html.

My point is that emulators could be somewhat modified to do exactly the same, but showing the translated text on an overlay layer(*) on top of the emulator screen instead of in an adjacent window as it currently does.

(*) think for instance when in an emulator you do a savestate and the emu shows a message saying "state saved in slot 1". I suppose it uses an overlay to show that message. The translation could be shown in the same way.

I know it's much more limited than hacking the rom itself, but it's also easier and in the end it's just an alternative way to translate the most important part of an rpg (the script dialogs) without having to modify anything in the rom. The only thing the romhacker would have to do is find out how a game identifies every line of text, which is much less complicated than modifying the rom, with all the complications it entails (dealing with compressed fonts, not enough space in the rom to put the English text, unexpected bugs). After that, a person with enough knowledge of Japanese can translate the whole game's dialogs without having to know a single technical aspect of romhacking.

Also, as tcaud had already stated before, the game could only be played on an emulator supporting this feature, so we would get rid of the pirate repro sellers problem, which have already made some people quit translating (aishsha, for instance, said something about considering quitting because of that). And regarding the purists that would complain for not being able to play the game on real hardware... well, if you like the game enough, you'd be willing to do a compromise and play it on an emu. I've played almost all my favourite snes translations on PC and I've enjoyed them practically the same as if I'd played them on its original hardware.


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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:04 pm 
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akualung wrote:
Sorry, long post ahead:

Well, in fact my idea didn't consist on going that deep into how the game is programmed (what you've explained is needed only if you want to actually modify the rom itself to insert the translation). My idea was something much more simple (and limited, but it does the trick), similar to this proof of concept I did with Jungle Wars 2 using Wanderbar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UWST-PPOZM

Wanderbar is basically a modified snes9x emulator glued to an html browser window (when you launch the emu, so does the browser). The only thing I did, (using a LUA script that wanderbar's creator already provided for me) is capture the line ID of every dialog in the game and then I create an html file, with the corresponding line ID, but with the dialog translated into English. What Wanderbar does is:

- every time a dialog bubble opens in the game (when you talk to an npc, etc), it captures the line ID of that dialog.

- then it accesses the html file and looks for the translated dialog that has that same lineID, and writes it on the browser window as html.

My point is that emulators could be somewhat modified to do exactly the same, but showing the translated text on an overlay layer(*) on top of the emulator screen instead of in an adjacent window as it currently does.

(*) think for instance when in an emulator you do a savestate and the emu shows a message saying "state saved in slot 1". I suppose it uses an overlay to show that message. The translation could be shown in the same way.

I know it's much more limited than hacking the rom itself, but it's also easier and in the end it's just an alternative way to translate the most important part of an rpg (the script dialogs) without having to modify anything in the rom. The only thing the romhacker would have to do is find out how a game identifies every line of text, which is much less complicated than modifying the rom, with all the complications it entails (dealing with compressed fonts, not enough space in the rom to put the English text, unexpected bugs). After that, a person with enough knowledge of Japanese can translate the whole game's dialogs without having to know a single technical aspect of romhacking.

Also, as tcaud had already stated before, the game could only be played on an emulator supporting this feature, so we would get rid of the pirate repro sellers problem, which have already made some people quit translating (aishsha, for instance, said something about considering quitting because of that). And regarding the purists that would complain for not being able to play the game on real hardware... well, if you like the game enough, you'd be willing to do a compromise and play it on an emu. I've played almost all my favourite snes translations on PC and I've enjoyed them practically the same as if I'd played them on its original hardware.


Was looking thru Github and found a SNES emulator made in Javascript that would be excellent for the task, I think. Seems to hit all the right notes, though it doesn't yet support fastROM. see: https://github.com/elzo-d/SnesJs

The way I look at it, development process based around languages that have "safe" code is far more streamlined than around c/c++. And no easier or quicker, or faster to learn, than opening notepad.exe and typing out a file, suffixing it with "html", and pulling it up in a web browser.


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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2020 10:03 pm 
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akualung wrote:
taskforce wrote:
Sorry to shoot your idea in the foot but making an auto-translator for an emulator would be highly difficult if not absolutely impossible. The reason it works on PC is there is a standardized encoding scheme for text. Shift-JIS or UTF-8 or something. That does not exist on consoles of this era. Maybe it exists on some newer 32 and 64 bit machines but not these older 8 bit, 16 bit and most 32 bit ones. All text in a game is just a byte or two which is used to point to a graphic in the game. Computers also generally work somewhat similar but the encoding is mostly standardized to a specific scheme. However on consoles, these graphics while usually stored in the same general layout for English are almost never exactly the same and they almost never are in a specific order for Japanese, especially if it has kanji. The emulator has no way of knowing what graphics are where or how a program chooses to point to those graphics. Is it 8 bit or 16 bit. Even if you know that you still do not know what corresponds to what letter. Sure if you have the graphics the layout will likely be in order of the code but that code can still be pretty much anything. Maybe your graphics start with a reference of byte 20, or maybe they start at byte 80. Point is, you can't be sure. An emulator would have to OCR those graphics, figure out what order they're in and then run a translation on them. And that is assuming the game isn't using even more trickery for things like DTE or such. Even if you hooked onto video memory to bypass thos tricks assuming something in there is going to be standard uncompressed text, you still have to work out what that something is. That isn't likely to ever happen. That is one of the reasons why auto-translators also don't work for every PC game. Not all of them use standard encoding. When they don't, that text hooker just won't work.


Sorry, long post ahead:

Well, in fact my idea didn't consist on going that deep into how the game is programmed (what you've explained is needed only if you want to actually modify the rom itself to insert the translation). My idea was something much more simple (and limited, but it does the trick), similar to this proof of concept I did with Jungle Wars 2 using Wanderbar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UWST-PPOZM

Wanderbar is basically a modified snes9x emulator glued to an html browser window (when you launch the emu, so does the browser). The only thing I did, (using a LUA script that wanderbar's creator already provided for me) is capture the line ID of every dialog in the game and then I create an html file, with the corresponding line ID, but with the dialog translated into English. What Wanderbar does is:

- every time a dialog bubble opens in the game (when you talk to an npc, etc), it captures the line ID of that dialog.

- then it accesses the html file and looks for the translated dialog that has that same lineID, and writes it on the browser window as html.

My point is that emulators could be somewhat modified to do exactly the same, but showing the translated text on an overlay layer(*) on top of the emulator screen instead of in an adjacent window as it currently does.

(*) think for instance when in an emulator you do a savestate and the emu shows a message saying "state saved in slot 1". I suppose it uses an overlay to show that message. The translation could be shown in the same way.

I know it's much more limited than hacking the rom itself, but it's also easier and in the end it's just an alternative way to translate the most important part of an rpg (the script dialogs) without having to modify anything in the rom. The only thing the romhacker would have to do is find out how a game identifies every line of text, which is much less complicated than modifying the rom, with all the complications it entails (dealing with compressed fonts, not enough space in the rom to put the English text, unexpected bugs). After that, a person with enough knowledge of Japanese can translate the whole game's dialogs without having to know a single technical aspect of romhacking.

Also, as tcaud had already stated before, the game could only be played on an emulator supporting this feature, so we would get rid of the pirate repro sellers problem, which have already made some people quit translating (aishsha, for instance, said something about considering quitting because of that). And regarding the purists that would complain for not being able to play the game on real hardware... well, if you like the game enough, you'd be willing to do a compromise and play it on an emu. I've played almost all my favourite snes translations on PC and I've enjoyed them practically the same as if I'd played them on its original hardware.


That will work if you just show the whole translated file, but this isn't text. This is graphics. The emulator still has no way of knowing what is on screen when. So the only thing that will happen here is showing a whole file along with the emulator. Beyond that you still face the exact same problem I brought up before. Not knowing what is on screen when. Being in an emulator doesn't change the operations of the SNES or the rom code. And you still aren't hooking real text. You can get the emulator to tell maybe a text window opens but knowing what is in it isn't likely.


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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 2:47 am 
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Surveying statements by translation hackers over the years, the most difficult part of the hacking is compression and menus, not dialogue. Dialogue can be worked out pretty easily... SRAM investigation, finding the names of characters by examining the distances between letters and doing relative search based on those goes a long way to figuring out the dialogue coding. The dialogue itself can be obtained from RAM bit by bit during gameplay.

If it were all about the dialogue, we'd have all the games translated already. Unfortunately you gotta deal with GUIs and redoing those, and those compressed graphics ugh....


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Post subject: Re: Translation request if possible
PostPosted: Thu Sep 17, 2020 4:26 am 
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As far as hacking goes, yeah modifying the game code to show other languages can be difficult. Each rom is different from the next. Although, I'd assume translation eats a staggering amount of the time of total translation. The more complicated the rom, the more skill a hacker needs. I won't minimize the value of quality translation though. So let me say to you translators, you are invaluable.

However, I do want to talk on this further and truly explain with an example what this idea entails. When you say it is generally easy to figure out text by the distance between letters, that absolutely is not case at all. In an older game system, there is nothing that says what order a font has to be in. Japanese fonts especially. Remember, no standardized character scheme.

Let me put it simpler with an example.

Lets give letters a value for this example.

A B C D E F G H I
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

You know that H is always going to be 7 away from A. 8-1=7. G is always going to be 4 away from C. 7-3=4

So you go about searching a rom for these letters assuming this scenario. But what if the rom is instead set up like this.

B D I F A C H G E
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

A And H are no longer 7 apart. A=5, H=7, 7-5=2. Are roms likely to have the font and/or code setup like this. Not in English, but it also is not impossible. There are no standardized character schemes. But when it comes to Japanese characters, it gets a lot more possible and even a lot more likely than English this is actually happening at least to a minor extent. Hiragana and Katakana have a general order to them just like English. However, it isn't unusual to see an omitted character. Do they have marks or not. And lets not begin to think about Kanji, that is a completely different ball of wax with no set order in roms. No two roms will likely ever be the same that have Kanji unless they're the same series (and even then it is possible they aren't). Will the idea work for some games, sure. Will it work for all games, definitely not. Will it work for enough to make it worth while for emulator developers, probably not. If someone wants to tackle it more power to them. I just want to explain how daunting this actually is. It is in every way as difficult as actually hacking every rom individually.


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