Yumina the Ethereal

ss (2013-07-07 at 02.37.39)

So Yumina’s finally gone gold master. I came onto the Yumina project pretty late, as a result of my involvement in Seinarukana and Trample on Schatten I was asked if I could also work on the code for Yumina to resolve outstanding text formatting and interface issues. Over time, it ended up ballooning into a whole lot more as more issues were uncovered. It’s been pretty tricky getting this far, but I think the results are worth it.  Here’s a little of what I’ve done while on the game.

Note that there’s a lot of nitty gritty details about the internals of the game. While they’re not story spoilers, they might spoil some non-obvious aspects of the game.  Since this post is all about technical issues and fixes, it might not come off as very flattering. I don’t really want to give the game a bad reputation, cause it’s a lot of fun. Please keep that in mind while you’re reading. I’ll be off praying I’m not breaking NDA by talking about this stuff! Read more of this post

Mad Haxing, and Other Busy Work

Sorry about the lack of recent updates, I’ve found myself in a situation where I’ve got a lot of stuff on my plate all at once.  I figured I’d take a moment to show off all the fun and interesting things I’ve been working on.

Mangagamer Titles

I did testing for this game, Harukoi Otome. It’s cute, but like Koihime, holy sh*t is it long. Too long for my poor attention span.

I wrote a post over at the Mangagamer blog when I was first getting started, but I’ve been doing a variety of work for Mangagamer recently, including testing and more interestingly, programming and script work.  I’ve been working on all the titles that have been coming down from Softhouse Seal, doing engine localization and text insertion.  It’s pretty grunt level work but I can automate a lot of the text stuff and focus more on engine details.  So far ‘Sexy Demon Transformation’ and ‘Boob Wars’ have been released (If you encountered the crash bug in the original release, that was my mistake), and I’ve mostly finished up on SSSS – Super Secret Sexy Spy.  There’s more in the pipeline I’m sure, but I haven’t started working on any of the newer titles.

Mangagamer’s decision to go with the Softhouse Seal titles is interesting.  I’ll be the first to say that they aren’t exactly masterpiece games, but they are relatively fun for what they are (which is a attractive looking – compared to say magical teacher- sexy romp with a lighthearted story and a wide variety of sexual scenarios).  I actually liked Sexy Demon in particular, since it had some pretty creative scenes. While I’d rather see higher quality titles get translated, these titles are fairly quick to localize and sell pretty decently.  I don’t think these nukige are replacing the big name titles that MG does, they’re just filling in some of the gaps between releases.  They don’t sell as much as those flagship type plot focused titles, but they do require only a fraction of the translation muscle to localize.  I hear Boob Wars is actually selling fairly well, at least well by normal sales standards.

I’m also working on a separate title, one that’s been requested fairly frequently by MG’s fans.  I’m not allowed to give it away, but it’s being given quite the treatment.  I’ve been tasked with completely porting the game from it’s original game engine over to the Kirikiri game engine, the same one that runs the seal games, Kara no Shoujo, Jast’s Girlfriend is the President, and a whole bunch of other titles (it’s a very common free open-source game engine).  I must admit, my experience with the game engine before hand was quite limited, but I’ve gotten pretty good at using it.  It really is a quite advanced engine, and you can do a lot of things with it, but damn, it can be a little fickle at times.

Doing a full port is really quite interesting, but there’s a lot of work to do it.  Like, a LOT of work.  It’s a bit strange, since the original game engine wasn’t too bad for English text, but the company doesn’t have any staff available to support us since they’re all busy working on their new title, so porting seemed the best option in order to make the project feasible.  Relying on the Japanese companies to do a lot of the technical work can be difficult sometimes since they often don’t have dedicated staff to handle our concerns (and often it wouldn’t be economical to do so).  Doing things on our own gives us a bit of leeway and speeds up the process a lot. Anyways I’ve gotten kind of attached to the game, having put in so much time working on rebuilding it from the ground up.  It’s a big undertaking, and I will probably write a bit about the process once they actually announce the title.

On another note, I’ve also been doing some testing for Mangagamer.  I’ve worked on the re-edit for Koihime for the voice patch (which arguably made the game’s text bearable), and Harukoi Otome.  They’re both decent games, but holy cow they are long.  I do have a spare free game coupon that I don’t really need, maybe I’ll just drop it on the /vg/ VN thread or something.

Trample On Shatten!!

Probably the first time I’m mentioning this one, I’ve gotten involved with Moogy and Makoto over at JAST to do work on their recent acquisition, Trample On Schatten.  The original game engine is a spectacular train wreck when it comes to English text, so I will be porting this game as well to the Kirikiri game engine.

Schatten is a fairly action heavy game, as opposed to the Mangagamer title and there’s a lot of fancy on screen effects, movement and transitions, which complicates the porting process a lot.  Effectively what I did is I built a tool that compiles the original game scripts into equivalent Kirikiri scripts, and then work in all the functionality into Kirikiri that the original game requires to run.  If that sounds like it’s hard work, you would be right.

Progress is pretty good so far.  At the moment the entire first chapter plays (more or less) correctly in the new game engine.  There’s a lot of features that are missing, important things such as save/loading, message history, the gallery, and the scene select system thingy the game has… but it’s coming along well.  Moogy’s plodding along with the translation too, so hopefully we can work this one out before dragging it into JAST TIME.

Honestly it is a little weird to be working for both players in the English VN market, and I’ve heard a couple of joking ‘working with the enemy’ comments too.  But both of them are pretty cool though and I’m actually pretty happy to be working with both of them.  The differences in process between the ways each works is intriguing, although I guess I have to be careful about what I say and who I say it to.

Grisaia no Kajitsu

Koestl has been making steady progress on the game’s translation, having completed Amane’s route, and nearing completion on Sachi’s route.  That’ll put the entire project’s translation progress at about 60%.  I’ve not been doing much work personally on this lately, since the tools are all pretty solid and no major technical issues remain.  There’s still some interface translation work and some work in entering modified images, but at the moment there’s not much that needs my immediate attention.  Koestl’s the real hero for his work on translation, it’s amazing that he can keep dedicated and continue steady progress after all this time.

Other Fan Projects

I created this glorious piece of art while attempting to get duel savior to load new images. It took a lot of wrangling to get it to this point, but it worked.

I’ve gotten asked to help out on a few other random projects.  I helped Pun-kun with some text insertion tools for his Majikoi S project, although it was a relatively minor contribution. I helped Aroduc with his duel savior project, wrangling with the massive nightmare that is giga’s game engine. I didn’t do the hard stuff, but I did do a bunch of exe hacking, which was fun.  I also had to reverse engineer the ps2 version of the game to get all the voice files out (shout out to the people who worked on the Tomoyo PS2 project since I was able to re-use the decryption routine with Duel Savior).  I couldn’t decrypt the image data though, so I think Aroduc actually ran through the ps2 version in an emulator and captured all the cg directly.  Crazy.  Working with Duel Savior was a huge pain since the game engine hates everything, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a huge number of issues still present.  I heard CG unlocks were still broken for destiny route… but there’s not much I can do.

There are a few other random projects I’ve done work on, although not much I can talk about. One of them had maids in it though.  Mmm, maids.  At some point they’ll probably get announced,  or may not.   The unfortunate thing about doing technical work for games is that a lot of the time the work is very front loaded on a project.  Translation on the other hand is often the opposite, and drags on a very very long time.  I’ve only been doing this for a little bit and have already run into doing work for projects that effectively go nowhere, but I’ve put in a whole bunch of hours on.  I can see why the VN scene loses hackers at a steady rate, since they probably get burned by failed projects a few too many times.

I’m lucky in this regard, working with JAST and Mangagamer at the moment, as it’s unlikely I’ll really run into the issue of projects getting canned or abandoned.  Working with Koestl and co as my first project has really been a great experience, and while Duel Savior was frustrating to work on, working with Aroduc was cool. I’m certain he somehow has more hours in a day than I do cause he somehow gets a huge amount of work done in a short period of time. The reception seems to have been quite positive, despite some of the remaining bugs.

Here’s hoping future projects will go as smoothly.

Aselia has Arrived!

So I finally got my copy of Aselia the Eternal (Eien Aselia) in the mail.  Between JAST sending it out two weeks after release even though I pre-ordered, and Canada customs being dinks, it took a good while, but it’s here!

Unfortunately, I have a bunch of other games currently on the go so I don’t think I’ll be able to dive into it right away, but hopefully soon!

Customs Declarations?

So I finally got my latest swag in from Japan.  This time I ordered from J-List since they had a good deal on a game I wanted to play from a looong time ago.  Customs didn’t open my package though, so I took a look at the declaration.  ‘See other invoice’ as a description of contents.  Are they even allowed to do that? I have a feeling that you aren’t. 😛

The other invoice itself is located below enough tape that it wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that it would be actually easier to open the box rather than actually extract the invoice from the envelope.  But anyways, lets look at the invoice.

I’ve seen a lot of unique invoice declarations, but this one is new to me.  I’m sure there’s a joke to make here, but it’s too much of a stretch.  I’m not really sure what to think about it. J-List isn’t unique here, everyone I’ve imported from has tried to play down the contents, including Amazon Japan.  It seems pretty standard practice, but this one is still unique.  It’s funny though, if absolutely everyone lies to the government about what they’re importing, I wonder what the point of it is?

The ‘glue’ in question.  Yeah, I’m like… 6 years behind the times, but it’s a game I’ve been meaning to play and the time may be right!

Well, they must have done something right though since customs didn’t open it.  They always open my games, Canada customs is pretty paranoid that way. It’s like they just presume that everything from Japan is immoral and need subjugation by the censorship cops.  I’m kind of amazed you can get away with declaring goods in that way though. Maybe if they catch you lying you’ll get in trouble, I don’t really know!