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Posted by Cless on 1/9/2013
While the glitch with sorting the Collector's Book alphabetically remains unfixed, I have just created a pre-v1.1 patch for Tales of Phantasia that fixes a minor mistake in the sound test voice list and also fixes couple of late-game script formatting issues that causes some text to repeat itself. Get it here.


Posted by Cless on 1/6/2013
So, Tales of Phantasia's been out for a week (it's still a bit hard to believe even for me). And the burning question is... Where do we go from here? Which project's next? Actually, I'm not sure there's a clear-cut answer to that.

Well, first, there's the long-forgotten and not-especially-loved Tales of Phantasia: Narikiri Dungeon, so let's get it out of the way. This game has always been a pain to work on with all of its limitations. Nothing has been done with it in years. It's on hiatus and I have no idea when or if it'll be resumed. Perhaps many of its limitations could be overcome with some extensive program-code-level hacking, but there really isn't a whole lot of personal desire to go back to it at this point. The game has also since received a Tales of Destiny-esque ground-up remake for the PlayStation Portable, which is, in all likelihood, the better game by countless orders of magnitude.

So...that leaves Tales of Destiny: Director's Cut and Tales of Destiny 2. I think, for the time being, it'd be best to consider them becoming active simulatenously. There is quite a bit of crossover between them, not just because they are connected at a story level and share terminology, characters and things, but also because they're so similar on a hacking/technical level. A lot of things we can do with one can be applied to the other.

You might remember last year that I worked on some back-end restructuring for ToD:DC during some Phantasia downtime. That still needs to be finished up and it's what I intend to work on first. With just some light modification, most of that code can be recycled for ToD2. I think it makes the most sense to just concentrate on finishing that up for ToD:DC, and then begin the porting to ToD2. Therefore, I suppose it will appear on the surface as though ToD:DC will be taking the spotlight.

That being said, I did mostly finish up the restructuring of the main script and skit script stuff. What needs to be done now is the menu/interface text. I actually did get a head start on it during my recent community absence. The whole thing's actually a bit more complicated than the script stuff, mainly in regards to text strings whose pointers are embedded in the program code. In a nutshell, program-code-embedded pointers make it difficult to relocate their corresponding text strings terribly far from their original position, and with what I have planned, I need to be able to relocate them anywhere. I've devised a method to make doing this easier, and its implementation is mostly finished. I need to take it slow and careful though, because a mistake could be disastrous.

After that, IF I'm not forgetting anything, I'll just need to make new text dumping and insertion tools for the smaller things that remain. Shouldn't be a big deal. I suppose once we reach this point, the menu patch for ToD:DC ought to be around the corner. I hope, anyway. I won't be giving any ETAs until we at least reach this point.

Then comes the ToD2 stuff as mentioned before. There's not much more needing to be said about that project except that the translator situation hasn't changed since the December 2011 news update. I hope we can get that sorted out. I'll be looking into doing some additional ASM hacks on that game and will definitely be giving it a new font--I finally managed identify the font that ToD PS2 uses, and it's what I'll be implementing for some nice consistency between the projects.

As useless as this might be, I would like to remind people that none of this is going to happen overnight, even with ToP not being there to hold us back anymore. Don't expect frequent updates. And definitely don't freak out when we're not updating every week. Translating games isn't a job, nor is it our only hobby.

I've also decided I don't want to continue doing news in the same way we had been doing for ToP the last few years. No more short forum posts about every little thing we've done. No silly "twitter-like" thread to dump that kind of stuff into as that "to-do list" thread kind of became. We'll mostly be returning to the occasional, detailed front page update kind of setup.

Posted by Cless on 12/31/2012
I...really don't know how to begin this. I've never been good at this kind of stuff. This might all be a bit rambly and incoherent. It's been one day short of twelve years since this website launched. Back then, the number of available Tales games could be counted on one hand. Tales of Eternia, the third mainline game in the series, had graced the PlayStation just several weeks before. Countless spinoffs, ports, remakes, new mainlines, and failed (outsourced) mainlines have collectively been released since. Several of those even managed to get official localizations.

I started the Tales of Phantasia PS1 project for the simple reason that I really wanted it in English. I liked it so much more than the Super Famicom original that it kind of killed me back then to see only the "inferior" version available in English, so I felt like something had to be done. Thus I did the crazy thing and announced a project for a game on a gaming platform that was basically uncharted territory for the ROM hacking/translation scene. I was pretty much on my own, and...very lost. Help fortunately arrived, and though things started to unravel and go at a nice clip for a little while, a wall was soon hit which prevented the project from really going anywhere particularly meaningful for another four to five years.

Better tools for deeper level hacking were finally being made available for PS1, and rapid progress began getting made on the technical front, but we hit another wall, this time in terms of script. Translation and localization editing. An existing partial translation was donated and the remainder was finished some months later. Localization editing definitely took much, much longer than it reasonably should have. It took three inexperienced people, a lot of time, and a lot of effort to beat the script into the shape it is now and what I hope is of an acceptable level of quality, what I hope has managed to strike an ideal balance between readability and accuracy. I won't claim it's "perfect"; in fact, I can still think of ways to improve it even more, and there are still some things I'm feeling a bit iffy over, but I definitely want to move on now. And I wouldn't doubt there are plenty of others who feel the same way.

The Tales series as a whole has evolved so much since this project began. This game is quite basic comparatively and it's a lot harder for me to go back to after being spoiled by the growth seen in later installments. I really don't put it on a pedestal like I used to, but it still has some considerable nostalgia value. Though I've had my long battles with burnout at times, I think that's one of the reasons why I continued to give this project everything I had and see it to release.

I'm not so sure I would call this the true end of the project, though. Anything more is certainly far less of a priority now that it has finally reached a stage that I think is acceptable for prime time, but there are still some things currently in the programming pipeline from Habilain. Some sophisticated tweaks to improve presentation in a few areas, but also somewhat more important things like adding subtitles for voices in tiny corners that remain unsubbed. And just coming from beta testing, it's come to my attention that some of the skits in the game are entirely unused, while several others seem misplaced, and Habilain's looking into a means of integrating the unused ones seamlessly into the game and possibly moving the seemingly misplaced ones into a more sensible place. As long as he continues to stick around, I'm sure these will materialize eventually. Besides me, he's been around the longest of anyone still actively on the team, but is unfortunately often short of time. To be sure, I've had my share of frustrations with that, especially in the last few years, but I'm very grateful he's stuck around.

Of course, I would like to thank everyone who helped make this project come to fruition over the years, as well as those who've kept the faith and waited us out patiently.

As for the future... Well, we've obviously got two more big Tales games to finish up. With the experience gained from ToP, I'm hopeful we can get these out much more quickly now that they won't be held back by another project. I've also gotten an idea for a possible translation project of a somewhat prolific game that's perhaps a bit more niche than a Tales, but I don't see myself announcing what that is anytime soon, if I even decide to go ahead with it.

That being said, here is the patch you've waited so many years for. And again, here are the patching instructions.


Posted by Cless on 12/29/2012
Beta testing turnout has been smaller than I'd hoped. But things continue to be just fine as I do my second run through the game trying some things I didn't during my first. The patch is definitely still on track for 2012.

Anyway, the main purpose of this post is to help people prepare for the upcoming release. Back when we released the demo, there were some reports of people having problems getting the patch to apply. Apparently, even from people claiming to have used an original disc as a source. They probably received the XD3_INVALID_INPUT error. The fact is, the patch format we use, xdelta, requires the file being patched to be a 100% bit-for-bit copy of the one it was created from in order for it to function. It's a great deal more sophisticated than the old IPS format which is nothing more than a simple list of differences which doesn't support insertions or deletions.

Unfortunately, one of the quirks of the PS1 disc format to save space is to store streamed audio in Mode 2/XA sectors, which contain no error correction data at all. Therefore, damage to Mode 2/XA sectors is significantly more likely to result in bit reading errors and bad ISO dumps. Basically, ISOs that won't work with our patches.

So, if XA data can be messed up that easily, releasing a patch in a format requiring an exact twin may seem a tad awkward. Well, maybe. I personally like it because it ensures people will be playing the exact same copy I have. This helps eliminate tech support nightmares and the nightmares of tracking down bugs that may not even exist in a proper copy.

But none of that should matter too much anymore. I think I have landed on a solution to this for most people: PAR2. Traditionally, PAR2 has been used as a means to repair broken or incomplete downloads on Usenet, but we can use it here as a LEGAL solution to help ensure people with a bad dump of the game, regardless of how they obtained it, can still use our patch, and wind up with a functionally precise copy.

On the forum, I have posted a new patching instructions thread. If you had problems patching the old demo and/or just want to make sure the disc image you intend to patch will work, I encourage you to download the demo patch from the very outdated project page and test it with the new instructions. If it works out, you can be pretty much assured that the full patch we will soon be releasing will work just as well.

Posted by Cless on 12/21/2012
The major issues with Tales of Phantasia have seemingly been ironed out for good, and having just successfully completed a run through the game on real console hardware with all features intact, the patch has, at long last, reached the beta testing stage.

If you've never read the forum since the previous site update, this is probably slightly confusing, as I said we'd be putting out a feature-incomplete patch that would receive no traditional beta test. As the expected target time (early September) neared, Habilain suddenly started submitting fixes to the issues. I put the gimped patch on indefinite hold, as I'm sure you'd agree it's better to put out a feature-complete patch if it seems within reach.

Unfortunately, this wasn't smooth sailing. For every fix, something else got broken, for various reasons. It became a vicious cycle. After the initial expression of optimism, the cycle rearing its head brought frustration. I soon hit a breaking point and decided take a break from the community and keep quiet until I was absolutely certain things would actually be going somewhere. Seriously, I'd gotten incredibly fed up with the whole "well damn, a new bug that I can't fix myself has suddenly been encountered" delay cycle. And that actually would have happened a couple more times if I stuck around during the time of my absence. There's no news I've dreaded posting more than that crap. None.

So, just a little over a week ago, I finally had a build of the game without any known major problems that I couldn't fix by myself. After successfully completing the game from start to finish on that build, and being able to fix just about every significant issue I came across during that time, I felt it was time to return, beta this thing, and get it out the door, once and for all. I think any other technical issues with the patch would have to be quite obscure at this point.

Right now, I'm still committed a 2012 release.

Now, for a final little batch of screenshots:










Posted by Cless on 7/25/2012
Tales of Phantasia is soon to go into play testing. Let me repeat that for you: Tales of Phantasia is soon to go into playtesting. And provided no serious bugs I can't fix on my own aren't discovered, a patch will be released at long last. Yes, in 2012; not 2086. Sometime next month, in fact.

It should be noted however, that the patch to be released won't be full-featured. I've mentioned the bugs before. Unfortunately, Habilain continues to have difficulty making time for the project to finish his hacks to fix them, and at this point I'm getting somewhat desperate to move on from this. So, with everything else finished otherwise, I've opted to create a project fork that works around the bugs that exist in the hack on my end. What this means is that battle subtitles--the major feature--will not work at all in the patch to be released. Some features of lesser importance such as text alignment and other hacks to improve grammar in dynamic text will also not be used. It'll just look a little less polished than it ideally could in some spots.

There will be no traditional private beta test for this patch. Once I'm done with my test playthrough, and after whatever problems have been fixed to my satisfaction, the patch will be released ASAP. You could probably think of it as a sort of public beta.

It frustrates me a bit to release it like this. No matter how old and primitive this game is, this project was never a joke to me. I've always wanted the best for it. But like I said, I want to move on from it, and more than ever now. Should Habilain ever find the time to finish up his stuff, another patch will be put out. Let's hope it happens.

Posted by Cless on 2/7/2012
This past month or so has been particularly significant for Tales of Destiny: Director's Cut, and I have almost nothing but good news.

Almost all of the work has been focused on the project's backend, which has been the highest priority for me since the hiatus ended. I thought it would be prudent to get as much of the backend stuff out of the way so that this project will become more organized and streamlined than it was before. The way things are presently going, it's not impossible that we could soon reach a point where the only thing to worry about is the translation and editing.

Even since around the time the hiatus began, it was very apparent that some approaches to things were dated by design and rather inefficient. The main script in particular is basically an unapproachable mess of duplicated conversations and debug messages when decoded straight into standard text. And that script is divided among 1080 or so plain text files, which is as wieldy as it sounds. The tool mentioned in December's update is our answer to this insanity, and the more major things it does (or soon will do) are as follows:

  • Converts and combines the plain-text script dump into several dozen spreadsheets. Fewer files to work on has a psychological effect of looking more approachable. Second, the spreadsheet layout is simply a great deal more organized. Spreadsheets can then be exported back into plain text for use with the script inserter.
  • Duplicated text string filtering. One of the key motivators for this change in format. This defeats a major chunk of the script's unwieldyness. The filter can be customized to leave very common strings (helpful ones such as a speaking character's name, and other, very short, but common clauses) intact.
  • Automatic translation. Used mostly for things which will never change, like a speaker's name or a generic NPC's label. Will save a load of keystrokes while keeping everything consistent.
  • Window size calculation and automatic text formatting. Dialogue windows are dynamically sized in this game based on the longest line. This data is calculated and added to the spreadsheet, and will be used by a text formatting function to help keep dialogue windows similarly sized to the original.
At this time, text formatting is not yet implemented, but it's the last major thing to add and won't take long to do. The automatic translation function requires a manually-created input file which isn't quite complete yet. Most, if not all strings that will benefit from this function have been identified and added to the list, and it's just a matter of throughhim finding some time in his currently hectic situation to get it finalized (according to him, it could still be around several weeks before things settle on that front). Once the file's complete, we'll able to generate a script that's fully prepared for serious translation and editing work.

Besides that, the spreadsheet format is also being used by the skit script, which is already in translatable form. It just so happens that the skit script is in the same format as the main script, but doesn't need anywhere near the same level of TLC. throughhim tentatively translated several of the skits, and the skit script inserter I just recently wrote has been tested with them and works great.

Things got kind of scary a few weeks ago. When testing a full script reinsertion (testing auto-translate and such), I noticed some funny stuff happening: Some NPCs wouldn't talk (just face you for a second then turn back), and then I finally ran into a place that would consistently freeze the game. So I did an investigation, and yeah, uh...found out this was something that would've been a big blow toward the full patch if it couldn't be treated. An assembly hack was absolutely necessary to get around this, and I was feeling fortunate to have been able to to pull it off with what I have. If it couldn't have been fixed, we'd have been forced to grab a digital butcher knife to do some 8/16-bit era-style hackery to shorten the script. Why the developers implemented script pointers the way they did just baffles me.

Speaking of assembly hacks, there was another little one I did to fix certain dialogue windows. The dialogue windows have a few spacing modes available: variable-width, full fixed-width, and hybrid fixed-width (half and full-widths). If a window is set to use full fixed-width mode, English text ends up looking wonderful like this. I worked a little bit of ASM magic to force such windows into using hybrid mode, where English text looks more like this instead. See: Before and After.

Finally, one more assembly hack: a simple text compression; a classic known around the translation community as dual-tile encoding (DTE), where two textual characters can be represented with a single byte. It's honestly not a terribly necessary hack for the game, but I wanted to challenge myself, and if it worked out, it would at least enable us to insert all menu text more tidily and not have do any relocation. I'm not really a fan of relocation if it can be helped. Thus far, I've gotten it fully implemented in two of three known text parsing routines, but the third one is having problems with one of the objects it handles (descriptions in menus), and I'm currently looking into another, more difficult method of implementation for it which should get around this problem.

I've also done a number of other things that are harder to write ongoing text about. But yeah, the backend has has been coming along very well, and I expect it to continue that way. Once this all gets settled, work should resume specificially on the menu patch, with work on the full patch able to start immediately afterward.

With the way we're now approaching things, the menu patch could certainly become a better product than originally planned, since we'll be able to easily include translated puzzle hints, system messages, and other gameplay-related strings buried within the script.

Other backend things still to do or look into at the top of my head:
  • Get menu text into spreadsheets.
  • Find the remaining text yet to be located, and write tools to deal with it.
  • Fix Food Strap descriptions in Food Book menu. The game is coded to trim the first line of the food strap descriptions in this menu, but the information contained on that line in Japanese is a redundant waste of space in English regardless of menu. I expect a fix to be a quick and easy patch in assembly.
  • Cosmetic fixes? Hopefully, but I'm not that confident based on past experiences. However, I do like to think that I've gotten a little better at this since the last time I looked into this a few years back, so maybe there's a chance I'll figure something out this time. In particular, I'd like to fix the menu selection labels on the main menu; the smaller letters droop down further than I think they should.
  • Fix the renaming menu? It's an issue that's tough for me to put into words, but basically, the renaming menu was designed to work with double-byte text characters, and it doesn't exactly play nicely with the single-byte text characters we're using for the English text. I have some ideas, but I won't know if I can actually do anything until I have a good look at the assembly code.
Tales of Destiny 2
Still haven't touched this yet. But that's because I want to re-organize this project's backend in the same manner as I'm doing with Destiny DC.

I would like to get back to this game soon, though. With what I've learned tinkering with Destiny DC, I'm itching to see if I can implement a variable-width font into this game. It'd be delicious.

Tales of Phantasia
Still stuck at 99% complete. I have been in contact with Habilain and Avarice, whom both are still alive and well but also still having difficulty finding time to fix the bug and complete the final script proofread; the two issues primarily holding the release back. I don't have any ETAs.

Posted by Cless on 12/4/2011
Let's cut to the chase: The Tales of Destiny: Director's Cut and Tales of Destiny 2 (PS2) projects have officially been resumed. That's right--the hiatus ends NOW.

What about Tales of Phantasia? Wasn't it supposed to be released before ToD2 and ToD:DC came back into focus? Indeed...that was the plan. Unfortunately, ToP is basically being held back by the lack of a final script proofread and a significant bug that crept up which needs squashing. Both of these issues are pretty much out of my hands and I don't have a clue when the appointed staff members will find the time to address them.

Since I'm essentially out of stuff to do on ToP, and have no idea when the remaining stuff will be turned in, it simply made more sense to resume the hiatus projects in the interim. As much as everyone is sick of it, completing ToP is still my number one priority. Whenever that remaining stuff does get turned in, I will go back and have it finished off for good. Don't panic--there won't be much of anything holding the release back at that point besides beta testing. A month maximum should be plenty of time to get that out of the way.

At the moment, I'm not necessarily picking up exactly where we left off in 2009 on the ToD:DC menu patch front. Instead, I am currently focused on coding up a script conversion tool; something to convert the script into a much, much, much more organized, user-friendly format for throughhim and anyone else who will be attacking the script. It'll make our lives so much easier. I started getting ideas for it last year, and now I'm making those real, or even better.

Most of the functionality of this new tool is implemented, but there's still more to do. There are some input files for it that must be created manually, and I'm trying to work on them in my spare time. It's a pretty slow process as combing through the entire script carefully at least a few times is necessary. This sort of tool only needs to be used once, so the output needs to be as perfect as possible. I'm also trying to play through the game for the first time to get some context on a few things, which, of course, is another time-consuming matter.

And what about ToD2? Well, I have a lot of material to sort out and review. The menu translation was actually finished soon after the hiatus began, courtesy of tammaiya. I believe she checked the existing translations on top of filling in the holes. This will need to be checked and edited before the real menu patch can come and replace that meh-tastic alpha patch some of you guys have been...tolerating?

ToD2's script...has had a big chunk translated, courtesy of Alyx, whom submitted it during summer. Pending review. Lanyn, known for her translation guide and the translated Youtube video walkthroughs, also joined the translation team quite a while back, but doesn't appear to be active at this time. The script translator situation needs to be settled.

Anyway, once I finish the aforementioned script tool for ToD:DC, I will be making a version of it for ToD2 as well. There's a lot of work to do. Just don't expect it all to happen overnight. One thing at a time.

That's about it for now. Sorry, the tool I'm currently working on doesn't magically create eyecandy for everyone to drool over, and I'm sure you would all love some after all this time, but just rest assured it'll go a very long way in helping these projects along. Remember that these games don't need much in the way of internal code modifications for functional translation patches (unless we run into something completely unexpected), so I don't personally expect a true repeat of the ToP situation.

Posted by Cless on 4/29/2011
The response for a new ToP proofreader has been going pretty well. Better than expected, to be honest. Six interested people have come forward. With that, I am ending the seeking process.

Next comes preparing a little test for everyone. That should be ready and sent out within the next few days.

Posted by Cless on 4/15/2011
*tap* *tap* Hello? Is this thing still working? Okay, good.

While I expect that most people get the news from the forum nowadays, I figured it might be worth posting a new help wanted ad up here. We're looking for another editor to do the final proofread of all the text in Tales of Phantasia. nusakan0, the editor that has been with us since mid-2008, has contributed a lot and has helped us out a ton, which I'm very grateful for. Unfortunately, life appears to have gotten too hectic for him in the past year to continue working on the project at a steady rate.

At this time, I, along with Sirius9, are busy preparing the final script. I'm a little over halfway done, and fully expect to be finished within a few weeks (liberal estimate). Sirius is currently a little behind, but she's recovering from an illness at the moment and should catch up quickly once she's back at 100%.

With nusakan out, we're seeking an English Major or equivalent to do a simple proofread pass at all the text in the game. The amount of all text in the game is around 850-900KB, which I estimate to be in the neighborhood of 125,000 words. While we expect spelling and grammar errors to be minimal, typos like missing and repeated words are very likely (since I commonly make them). Punctuation should be good for the most part, but, you know, how do I comma. Sometimes, anyway. Creative writing ability isn't terribly important anymore at this stage, but if you have it, I'd certainly be willing to entertain any input.

I have no idea how successful this news post will be, but I'll try to leave this open to any interested people to respond for the next week or two. By the end of that, I should have a test script or two prepared.

EDIT: No longer seeking potential proofreaders.

Posted by Cless on 6/26/2010
It's been almost a year since this front page was updated, but for those who don't read the forum, we're very much alive and well. The convenience of forum posting compared to working with this aging site design (which is essentially still 100% edited by hand and doesn't actually use a database) has taken its toll.

As most major milestones are long past, it's also become difficult to decide what, if any, Tales of Phantasia news is actually worth posting here. In a nutshell, there have been some new hacks applied, and a couple more editing drafts for the main script have been written (and it's starting to look so good now that I'm really seeing some light at the end of this long tunnel). For more details on these updates, read the ToP news forum.

I have also started a new thread on the ToP news forum with the goal of opening up to the public more by showing off a detailed to-do list of things leading up to the release of the final patch, as well as posting quick micro updates about happenings to get a feel for our progress.

As Tales of Phantasia is still not yet finished, Tales of Destiny Director's Cut and Tales of Destiny 2 projects are likewise still on hiatus. Though with Absolute Zero being almost finished with Tales of Innocence, throughhim413 will almost certainly be back and hacking away at Destiny DC text shortly after release. I've also gotten some ideas to help streamline these projects more when I return to them in full capacity.

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