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Posted by Cless on 8/12/2009
Four months later, we have a ToP release! Not the one everyone's waiting for, but a demo that spans the first part of the game; the present. Visit the releases section of the ToP page to download it, with some links to patching software and patching instructions.

Some screenshots from the demo:






We've spent some weeks preparing this. Perhaps you might think that that time could have been better off spent working on the final release, but we didn't really have to go much out of our way. Almost everything that went into this demo is essential to the final anyway.

I decided on releasing this for a multitude of reasons; one being that I wanted to show the world that this age-old project is, in fact, not vaporware, or anything of the sort. The hacking and main script editing is far enough along for me to feel pretty comfortable releasing something covering this section of the game.

I would say this release is pretty close to how the final will look. There are still some hacks that need to be finished, the dialogue text needs a bit more manual formatting, the current descriptions for things like items are mostly placeholders (most are taken from official US Tales games, but we've decided we'd rather do our own thing with them. The edit for the menu text is still not finished, and the ones we had before the copypasta were mostly in a somewhat embarrassing state).

Check out the readme.txt included with the patch for more specifics on the patch itself.

So, where are we now? The third draft of the main dialogue script was finished at the very end of April, and the fourth draft was completed in the middle of June. We're getting pretty confident that the main script is in its final stages at this point, and no more major drafts should be necessary from this point. I'm still in the process of reviewing and inserting the fourth draft, and as I go along, I'm still finding more and more things to tweak.

The skit script is lagging behind the main script a bit. nusakan0 just finished the second draft of that. When I finish inserting the fourth draft of the main script, I'll do a third draft of the skits, and I expect it'll need at least one more draft from nusakan0 after that.

gogs now has much more free time than he's had in last couple years or so. With this, we should, at last, see the menu text completed soon!

Habilain's gotten around to implementing some useful special text codes to do fun things like centering, right-aligning, figuring out whether it's best to use to use 's or just an apostrophe (if a character's name is called in a possessive context, like Cless' House, it'll just use the apostrophe if the character's name ends with an S, and 's if it ends with anything else) and selecting a substring before a word (especially useful to improve grammar when getting an item from a treasure chest).

So, yeah. Finishing the insertion of and addendums to draft 4, a couple more drafts for the skit script, completion of the menu description text edits, plus perhaps some more technical enhancements, we should have this thing completely done with, at last. I wish I could say how long it's going to take to finish these, but everyone on the team has their own schedules. The current target I'm aiming for is sometime this season.

Posted by Cless on 4/1/2009
April Fools' Day tends to be pretty annoying. So, in spite of the rest of the Internet, and that we've even put up a horrible joke in the past, I'm posting a real news update on the front page today. It's been a little while and the Tales of Destiny announcement is ancient by this point, and frankly, it's bothering me every time I load this page.

I've been talking about it on front page updates for awhile, so it's about time I finally get that long overdue Tales of Phantasia update out of the way, for those who don't bother reading the news forum. Before I talk about it though, why don't I post some new screenshots? Hot off the press; not even forum readers have seen them. Dialogue screenshots even, based on the in-progress third pass of the script edit. Nearly all previous dialogue screens released publicly were from before any serious editing began.

These are all from the first few hours of the game. As usual, all text is still subject to change by the time it's finally released. When the script truly reaches its final stages, I will be doing a bit more manual formatting of the text to help make some of it look a little better.

The main focus of this year and last year has been script work. The translation was finished last year in late July. Nusakan0 joined the team as main script editor in the same month. Nusakan0 began submitting edits to the script in September and finished the first draft in December. He finished the second draft in February.

After reviewing and approving the second draft, I started testing it in-game, with the goal of ensuring the script is a smooth, natural read. Some things include catching any flow problems and previously undetected translation issues, and some general rewriting to make things more believable in English. This whole process has been a lot larger than I anticipated, and I've actually found myself rewriting countless lines of dialogue; I'm pretty sure I've rewritten around 50% of the lines I've come across. I'm still working on it at the moment, and I'm around 70% through it. I've done far more than I expected, and now consider this to be the third editing pass even though I'm not the main editor. That said, Nusakan0 asked me to provide him a copy of my third pass as I had it at around 50% complete, so he has been getting a head start on the fourth.

I really like how the script is turning out. I'd like to believe it's nearing completion, but we continually get new ideas every time we go over it. A fun fact is that with our edits considered, the script has so far become nearly 10% larger than it was since it was translated. The script was very dry and fairly awkward before we started editing it. A lot of it didn't even make sense if you put a bit of extra thought into it. With all this considered, I hope the final turns out well enough to stand up there with the best the fan translation scene has to offer.

The skit subtitle script is also being edited quite a bit, though it hasn't received as much work as the main script yet. Nusakan0 completed the first edit pass back on New Year's Day. I believe he has done some work on the second. Several months ago I posted a video with a bunch of skit subs in action. Since it's old (and was also made before Nusakan0's first edit pass), quite a few of the more poorly-written lines have since been fixed.

The battle voice clips have been translated and subtitles for them have been inserted. Many of them are in need of editing and double-checking though, as quite a few of them are pretty awkward and might be victims of no context and/or have been misheard.

Habilain's been pretty busy lately, but has provided quite a few assembly hacks since the last front page update:

  • GROOVY Arche minigame improvements: Text is variable-width, some layout cleanups, and a very minor bug (that affects the original game) was fixed with the RATE display
  • World Map menu enhancement: All the shop and town names were originally represented with graphics in the World Map menu. This presented several problems (annoying to update if we wanted to change the name of something, limited palette, 12 pixel height limitation, one shop name is an arte name which couldn't be affected by the arte name selector). I wanted to use the dialogue font in these places, but said problems made it difficult to have it look good (height limitation forced us to cut off outlines, limited palette forced an ugly brown outline and no gradient). Habilain did a very extensive hack to change this to REAL text, rendered by the game's actual text routine, eliminating every single problem we had. Because it deserves mentioning, Habilain fought very hard with this hack to get it working on real systems. The problem was a real bastard to track down and it took five major code revisions to get it working properly--ouch!
  • Five lines a in a textbox: An increase from four lines, the extra line has made a huge difference for the script. With four lines, countless dialogue pages had to be split into two pages in order to fit. With five lines, only *one* page in the entire game needs to be split. In addition, the vertical space between the lines has been decreased by 3 pixels (down to 13 pixels from 16) as the font we're using doesn't really call for that much vertical space anyway. With that, the text box only had to have its height increased by 4 pixels to the fit the fifth line in comfortably. The text box at the top of the screen was moved up four pixels so that the added height doesn't obstruct the intended viewing area. Another option would have been to use a thinner font, but I don't think a thin dialogue font suits this game very well.

Habilain also created a tool which made it much easier to insert the skit script.

I implemented a couple things myself:

  • I applied the 13px height to the menu text routine as well, which affects all other text in the game, including voice subtitles. I redid some description window cosmetics because the big version of the item name and such can now fit there again. The inverted arte name (i.e. showing the romanized name if you're in localized arte name mode) no longer appears in artes menu descriptions. It just seemed pointless with the arte name selector (it was mainly only there as a reference).
  • Remember those crazy difficulty modes I added to the game (for second playthroughs and above)? Well, I decided that it would be best to make them a little more rewarding and less cumbersome. For your trouble, winning a battle in the added "Unknown" difficulty adds a 5x experience earned multiplier. A battle won in "God" difficulty earns 10x experience. The battles tend to drag on since the enemies have so much HP in these modes, and the 1x EXP rate just makes it feel like they're not worth the trouble trying to play. The original three difficulties do not have added EXP multipliers or any other bonuses; they function as they do in the original game. Regardless, the new modes are still beyond difficult with this addition...

On the technical front, this is what remains to be done:

  • One skit is currently impossible to subtitle, because the game locks up if you add any new scripting commands to it. Added scripting commands are necessary so that it can be subtitled properly. I think Habilain has an idea of how to work around it, but he hasn't had the time to implement it yet.
  • Adding subtitles to the little voice clips scattered around on map events (with no accompanying text box), and also for GROOVY Arche. Habilain isn't too sure how easy or difficult it will be to add them to these yet, though. If he finds it too annoying, they may not make it in.
  • Update to the prologue battle subs hack (nothing that really matters to the players; just a hack that'll let us include the battle subtitles text into the main voice subtitles text block)
  • Text centering in dialogue windows, without using silly work-arounds.
  • Automatic text formatting in game code. An external software text formatter is currently being used, but in-game code can be more dynamic and will work better with variable-length words (like character names. External formatter can only parse them as the maximum possible length without causing display problems).
  • A couple more text commands that can improve grammar in dynamic strings.
Aside from the skit issue, the rest of these are just gravy, and not completely necessary. Some of the others may not make it into the final. It'd be great if they could, though!

A few non-dialogue screens representative of current progress:


So, aside from the few technical things that need finished, it's really just about getting the scripts to a level we're all completely satisfied with. I still haven't received edits to the menu text yet, either. With some luck, it won't be too much longer until they're submitted. I'll continue pushing for this project to conclude within THIS half of the year.


Just so the Tales of Destiny games aren't left out in the cold, I have a few things to say about them as well:

The Tales of Destiny 2 menu text translation is actually finished now, thanks to tammaiya. She finished it about a month ago, but as I'm so busy with ToP, and with that being my highest priority, I haven't had the time to work on it. To try speeding things up a little, I'm going to try having someone do the grunt work of adding and formatting her work to the master files. I'm probably still going to want to review and edit it before I actually release the "final" menu patch, though.

I still would have prefered not to reveal Tales of Destiny Director's Cut when we did. Although I've tried to provide a reasonable time frame for the menu patch release, it's not going to happen quite that soon. I'm busy with Tales of Phantasia, so I can't edit the current translations, and though throughhim413 manages to do some translation work on it now and then, he's also a bit bogged down by his Tales of Innocence project.

We're trying. Sometimes we simply get burned out. Hell, I've collected a backlog of over a hundred video games in the last several years, and sometimes I like to play them with my free time. :P

Posted by Cless on 1/1/2009
Tales of Destiny Director's Cut cover I'm really not ready for this to be honest, but I've got something to announce: A new Tales game translation project. Why am I announcing this if we're not ready? Recent circumstances have pretty much forced it. What is this Tales game? Well, if the image to the left doesn't give it away, it's Tales of Destiny (PS2) Director's Cut.

I know, we have the unfortunate stigma of never finishing a project even after eight years, despite being active for most of it. So most people reading this are probably laughing it off and expect nothing to ever come of this. This is one of the main reasons it had been kept under wraps. I didn't want it to look like we had too many open projects that we'd never deliver on, and I wanted to either reveal it some time after Tales of Phantasia was finished, or announce it with a bang--a complete menu patch on the day of announcement. But thanks to the circumstances, we've just decided to reveal it today.

We began working on this within weeks of its release in Japan, beginning sometime in February of last year. For that matter, I am not working on this alone, nor do we need any other key staff at the moment. It is actually a joint effort between Phantasian Productions and Absolute Zero. Yes, the very same Absolute Zero that is currently working on Tales of Innocence and released their own patch for Tales of Phantasia PSX (yes, we're really not enemies!). I've been doing the hacking and progamming, amongst other things. throughhim413, of Absolute Zero is on as dedicated translator. It's also being assisted by gogs, Kajitani-Eizan and Carnivol.

Since this project hadn't been publically revealed, we'd been working on it at a very relaxed pace. We'd essentially only work on it when there was nothing else to do on our other projects, or just wanted a break from them. I myself hadn't actually touched it in months since I've been so busy wrapping up the Phantasia project. throughhim has worked on things on and off between his Innocence project.

At the very least, the status of the menu patch is this: the hacking and programming necessary for a full menu patch is already completed. The menu patch release is just pending the finished translation and a quick edit. Absolute Zero has a reptutation of being faster than us, so if throughhim picks up speed now that this is public, it may not take long for the menu patch to be ready.

Now, to make things clear: Tales of Destiny PS2 is intended to be a full patch eventually. We're handling it much like the ToD2 project--menu patch first, full patch later. The main script and skit scripts have already been dumped and can be reinserted. The main script is in a confounding format though, and still needs a little more thinking before a serious translation can begin on it.

Tales of Destiny PS2 is going to be a localization attempt, same deal as our other projects. Namco USA seems to have no interest in bothering with the Destiny series anymore, and since this is basically a reimagining of the first game, we're going to reboot a few things in regards to translation (which will be reflected in the ToD2 translation, too). Basically, we're going to officially reset the names of characters who've had their names changed seemingly pointlessly in the original's US version: Johnny (Karyl), Mighty Kongman (Bruiser Khang), and Woodrow (Garr) will be using their official Japanese transliterations. Stahn and Leon officially remain as they were in the original game's localization, so no Stan/Lion. We've left in the option to change them to the original localized or Japanese names if you absolutely must have either of them. For the sake of familiarity though, we'll leave some lesser important things the same as the original localization (such as town and dungeon names), as well as most of the storyline terminology (i.e. Aeth'er Wars, Aeropolis, etc).

With that out of the way, here are some current work-in-progress screenshots of our work, any and all text is subject to change in the release (click for larger):

Tales of Destiny Director's Cut main menu. Tales of Destiny Director's Cut Stahn artes menu (Auto).

Tales of Destiny Director's Cut Rutee Artes menu (Player). Tales of Destiny Director's Cut Items menu.

Tales of Destiny Director's Cut shop menu. Tales of Destiny Director's Cut status menu.

Tales of Destiny Director's Cut customize menu. Tales of Destiny Director's Cut dialogue 1.

Tales of Destiny Director's Cut dialogue 2. Tales of Destiny Director's Cut dialogue 3.

There are some minor imperfections in some of the screens, but you'll just have to deal with them until it becomes easier to hack PS2 code. We're fortunate enough the game features a very nice built-in variable width font and automatically resizes (most) text strings if they get too long to fit within the boundaries. It's almost like the game was made with localization in mind, but as of now, that's never happened.

It is important to remember that this patch is being created for the Director's Cut re-release only. There's really no point in doing the original since this version already contains everything in it. So, to make things clear, our patch will not work on the original version of the game. It's too much extra work to be worth it.

Also, once upon a time I stated that I wanted to do the PS2 games in the order they were released in Japan. For those who remember, I'd just like to state that a potential Tales of Rebirth project is by far not out of the question. In fact, there's a chance that Tales of Destiny 2's menu translation may be finished sooner than expected. Recently, a translator named Tammaiya approached me as is currently working on the holes of the ToD2 menus, and getting through it pretty quickly. Although she's currently away for a couple more weeks, she said she'd be interested in working on ToR's menus when ToD2's are done. It shouldn't be hard for me to hack that game if I take a good look at it.

Also speaking of Tales of Destiny 2, two more translators have offered their assistance with with translating the script! Please welcome Lanyn and Alyx to the project. With their help, we'll hopefully see much progress on ToD2 this year!

I've been planning a bigger update on the status of Tales of Phantasia for the main page for while. It is not ready yet, but things are still going well. If you haven't checked the forum for news on it in awhile, it might be worth it to do so. I'm still feeling pretty confident it'll be ready within the next couple months. After all, there's nothing left to translate. All that remains is polishing the rest of the text and dialogue, adding a few more code enhancements, and beta testing.

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