Monday, June 16, 2014

State of the Project 2014

Here is a full report of the project so far. It'll be the only update of its kind this year, as the name implies, providing a look at what has transpired, what's going on right now and also a look ahead.

And so, without further ado...

"My fellow useans..."

Past 

After a year of complete inactivity in 2013, the project entered its 5th year with no sign of improvement. For the last couple of years the project wasn't alive as much as it was on life-support.

And after a little bit of thinking, I thought of asking for help for the first time in years (ed.note: one last attempt). I finally had some time to dedicate to this project so I contacted a few fan-translators and posted about the project on a couple of boards.

In a stroke of luck, two knowledgeable gentlemen came forward and thanks to them the project was successfully revived. This crucial moment can be seen on our thread over at romhacking.net.

The first few weeks saw us working at a breakneck pace. It was mostly me and Dashman trying to figure out how the text images work in AC3 and making the tools that we needed to properly edit them. esperknight was also extremely important to the proceedings as he's the one who managed to extract all the TIMs from the game and decompress them for editing. The first milestones reached were the first successful translation of a cut-scene on March 8 and an almost complete translation of an actual mission on March 30.

Present

As of the publishing of this post, I'm working on the second half of Disc 1. I'm very satisfied with the way the English version is turning out so far, all things considered. What I'm doing is take the English script that we released back in 2010, cram in as much as possible, edit parts where necessary and then insert each block of lines (TIM) in the game.

While I'm not in charge of translating the game as I've never studied Japanese, I have done some translation work in the past, so I'm a little familiar with the way translations work and things that must be taken into consideration: space limitations, fixed timing, formal and informal ways of speaking with some technical and political terms thrown in as well. It's a serious undertaking that requires time, patience, care and a little bit of passion too. So while there's bound to be some trial and error, our standards are high and we won't settle for anything less than that. Anyone interested in seeing what we're doing is invited to watch the aforementioned demonstration videos on my channel. Comments, criticism and corrections are all welcome.

One thing worth pointing out is that Team NEMO is pretty much a skeleton crew. So if, for any reason, someone had to take some time off the project, like real-life concerns, then work on the game would be seriously hampered. In that regard we're a pretty small team considering the task at hand. It's worth keeping that in mind if you're following this project.

Future

High on our priority list is to find and decompress the TIM (text images) files for the radio chatter and communications that play during the missions themselves. Vis-à-vis all cut-scenes, both in-game and not.

The same goes for the "Search" files, critical not only to understanding the world of AC3 (terms, things) but they also provide back-story to the characters and give an overall better picture of the story. These files were not included in the source we used for the script so they still have to be translated. Some were translated by a fan named Jerng in 1999 but his translation is sometimes exceedingly inaccurate.

It's also worth pointing out that a few parts never had subtitles to begin with, such as dialogue that plays for most of M06, the first minute of M29 and the final lines of the hidden "true" ending, just to cite a few examples. I've already inquired about how to handle these and one solution would be to make an emulator plugin that would render soft-subtitles for the sections where there's Japanese dialogue but no box for subtitles to display in like the rest of the game.

And we haven't forgotten about the staff interviews, books and other material but right now we just don't have the manpower to tackle them. And since we rarely find people skilled in Japanese to help out, such material will probably remain un-translated for a good while. There's nothing we can do about it other than hope for someone to volunteer or for another group to work on them.

Also, to anyone who wishes to translate the game from English into their own language, keep in mind that this project's goal has always been to translate AC3 into English, and that's it. So, please, no more comments such as "If you need a *notEnglish* translator, I can help you!" or "I can help you guys translate it into *notEnglish*!" I'm all for it but I recommend contacting me only after we're done translating the game. My enthusiasm for a translation that uses English as its starting point would be severely diminished. I could give extensive support to any one who would translate the game from Japanese to, say, Italian, Portuguese and French in those languages and to a lesser extent German and Spanish.

Closing statement

One important thing: do not ask for updates on the project because that kind of query will remain unanswered. Rest assured that I will keep you all posted for as long as the project is going, just as I've done in the past, so that you're all up-to-date. My recommendation is to follow this project with caution as we haven't cracked the whole game open yet and there are some important things that are still unreachable as of June 2014.

Last but not least, there is no set release date, no ETA and no forecast for a translation patch and any kind of public patch release is still far off. This is still very much a work in progress and there's still a lot of work to be done. We will do everything in our reach to give this game a high-quality translation. Thank you all for following our project.

"...and God bless the United States of Euro-Asia!"

20 comments:

  1. That's awesome! I'm glad to see it is going well! I'm looking forward to this really much! I'm a big AC3 fan!

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  2. Really looking forward to it!
    Keep up the great work!

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  3. It would be a good idea to create a page on facebook of usea today?
    What do you think? : D

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  4. good news!! i'm an AC3 fan too, and i hope that will be translated soon!!!

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  5. Wish I could help, but with no programming skills, knowledge of the Japanese language and its translation process, all I could do is cheer you up guys. Hoping to see it before I get too old! Godspeed.

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  6. I want to edit the in game mission, but unfortunately I can't experiment with ACE.SPB, both in my iso they are cyclic error. Is it okay to ignore the error (perhaps bad iamge) and proceed? anyway Gipphe seemed can't unpack it, or is it me who can't find his post?

    This is what I've done :

    Open bitmap file in mission mode, so I can browse trough it:
    http://s16.postimg.org/ep3eckvxx/SLUS000.png
    http://s28.postimg.org/c4gnf25r1/SLUS001.png

    Using this method I could know the bytes number to access such text/bitmap:
    http://s28.postimg.org/vmfw8qs2l/SLUS000.png
    http://s14.postimg.org/lg3q260zl/SLUS001.png


    Even more the text that already in latin is easily edited (like you guys displaying team nemo logo):
    http://s15.postimg.org/leexvv42z/SLUS001.png


    Moreover I can display in-mission message (actually the trigger to speak and display caption), for example in fragile cargo, the UPEO commander guy only "speak" when the baloon had safely landed in water. I can trigger it so it will displayed anytime.

    This means huge leapstone, imagining kanjis could be way too long to be "stringed" by latin
    letter (unfortunately my native language isn't in latin letter).

    For example the text :
    The baloon has safely landed, now it's launching escape hydrofoil, destroy it.
    only need 1 "frame" (that is the caption displayed)
    BUT when translated to latin, perhaps it will fit in 2 to 3 frames!!
    So with this I could falsely use frame 1 to fake/replace the frame 2 and 3.
    By I mean falsely is : duplicate it and change its content.

    http://s18.postimg.org/caq9nnu89/SLUS001.png
    http://s14.postimg.org/sfmdf9qbl/SLUS002.png

    The real problem is here, I couldn't change the kanjis content or bitmap or ulz, beacuse I don't know yet how to unpack the SPB file.

    So what I need to do is know how to unpack the SPB file and repack it back. I already unpacked the BPB file using Gipphe's tool, but not yet able to repack it.

    Can I join your team? I'm eager to translate it to my native language, that is not english.

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  7. Great post, me. Here's our repacker (all our tools are public): http://www.romhacking.net/forum/index.php/topic,17658.msg258765.html#msg258765

    I recommend you register and take a look at our thread on romhacking.net: http://www.romhacking.net/forum/index.php/topic,17658.msg262672.html#new

    You'll find resources and much information on AC3's inner workings. It'd be great if you copy-pasted your comment there so that we can discuss and help each other out.

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  8. Allright, my efforts editing the dumped "in game mission" texts seems futile, because its base address changed for every mission, even if I use different aircraft in the same mission the address could change, phew! Say later to the dumped portion inside SPB file, now I tried to synchronize my pace with yours, that is editing the ULZ/TIM inside BPB file.

    So today I just doing one TIM editing, that is to put back my messed TIM as a foolproof, but I can't make the ISO playable. I have AC3E both disk and are authentic (that is acquired via reflect, I mean an imager tool named "reflect"). The format is BIN and it seemed the SPH and SPB file in both disk are corrupted. So I use isobuster to "ignore" error and copy them as raw. After all files extracted (including my edited and repacked BPB) I bundle it with Free ISO Creator from minidvdsoft. The resulting ISO causing my emulator to crash. It is bizzare because the original BIN does play fine on my emulator.

    btw thanks for the invitation, I already following your thread. I give you permission to copy and paste my posts, then I'll follow it wherever it'll be pasted.
    If something interesting happens (e.g I managed replying someone's post) then I'll post it here.
    It just, well, I prefer to dwell in here, because it feels more "usean" here rather than there, right? :]

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  9. Pity the in-mission text is giving you trouble, here's hoping you manage to make a breakthrough sometime in the future. For now I can show you our tools and how we use them in order to translate the game without errors.

    Thanks for giving your permission to re-post your findings. I understand you preferring to post here, I have nothing against it even though it isn't the best of places. Posting here is fine but try contacting me via e-mail for additional information on AC3 and the project: dragonspike[at]projectnemo[dot]net

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  10. My bad, I didn't read it enough, the BIN "maker" is configured via build.bat, that is I must put my ac3.bin inside cd/orig. Ok managed to translate it to my language, so far so good, but same like you : no in game mission stuffs translated yet. I tried to memorize the pattern on the dump (those are in game mission stuffs that I successfully edited) and search in every dat inside BPB using hex editor, and the result is none. None of the dat contains the pattern of in mission stuffs. Perhaps they are compressed in ulz. Is ulz decompressor works only for extracting TIM files? Tried to modify the code but seems I failed to make it work for arbitrary file type. So far I haven't found the in game mission text/textures/images yet inside the BPB.

    I also found some ulz inside the SPB, maybe it is in mission stuff or maybe not. I just scan the SPB file for ulz string, case sensitive. I don't know if it works, but scanning the XA on BPB before and after extracted seems worked. There are 6 ulz header inside the raw SPB, perhaps they are the not compressed one so they are visible from hex editor?

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  11. BPB TIM coordinates: http://tinyurl.com/pnxsnfx

    The BPB extractor and repacker made by esperknight we are currently using works only for pre/post mission ULZs. It extracts the TIMs from the ULZs, making them editable, then all you need to do is place the edited TIM in place of the original ULZ and run the build.bat.

    Last time I talked to esperknight he was going to adjust his toolkit so that it could successfully extract the in-mission TIMs from the ULZs that contain those but no results yet.

    So it's not even a problem of finding the right ULZs as I've already mapped most of the BPB already, it's only a matter of fine-tuning the toolkit.

    I can't comment any further as this isn't my specialty but last time me and esper talked we were both suspecting the presence of text files or cut-scene videos with embedded subtitles but, again, the kind of compression AC3 uses made it hard to investigate in a timely fashion.

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  12. If you mind, here is my updated version of the map. It's not complete yet :

    0000 : the 0004.dat contained narrator sounds like engage, bingo, bulls eye, MA, MF, MO, etc

    0005 - 0065 : every 0016.dat is sound archive, and no, not all sounds yet.

    0066 - 0102 : all ulz are not valid TIM, the dat file always contain T header, perhaps text? btw it is 46 folders, any relation to 52 missions?

    0103 - 0111 : contains solo TIM file, originally uncompressed (to flag the BPB file containing this? so we are "lured" to extract the BPB??)

    0112 - 0113 : the TIM files for AC3 icon (such displayed on memory card reader) are here. Contains some data swallow menu GUI, and Neucom logo here.

    0114 : dat inside contains the data swallow interface sound, all TIM files are used in data swallow GUI (such in menu texts, joystick control options, etc)

    0115 - 0126 : many dat file, and no, no in mission thingy, because just 11 folders?

    0127 - 0178 : see http://www.romhacking.net/forum/index.php/topic,17658.msg259580.html#msg259580

    0248 - 0400 : see http://www.romhacking.net/forum/index.php/topic,17658.msg259580.html#msg259580

    0409 - 0415 : zero bytes only, really pure zero

    0416 - 0463 : contains 47 player aircraft textures only, no 3D model. Tested by changing its dat and gives no effects on 3D model.

    0464 - 0573 : have the same pattern, there is one 0000 folder and two dat files inside, 0000.dat and 0001.dat
    judging by its size and content, they are similar. But wait, 110 folders? isn't it just 52 missions? So it is unlikely to contain in game mission data perhaps?

    anyway thanks for your speedy reply :]

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    1. No problem, I've been a lot working on AC3 lately, editing, testing and making videos so that I that I can check everything, so right now is a good time to discuss.

      A few comments: 0103-0111 are indeed uncompressed and, with one exception, those TIMs do not have CLUTs (unlike 99% of the TIMs). Those were the first TIMs me and Dashman worked on. Pity the rest of the text wasn't stored like this, would have made things easier.

      From 0127 to 0408 all pre/post mission text for all 52 missions is accounted for. This means Disc 1 has pre/post text for both Disc 1 and 2, I still don't know why. Also, I forgot to mention but our current BPB toolkit works only for Disc 1, Disc 2 may have other coordinates.

      0416-0463: thanks for confirming that, I had suspicions that these folders contained the in-mission text.

      0464-0573: seems there is nothing of use here, which leads me to believe that the mission text could be located in the SPB.

      Either that or the mission text is in 0066 - 0102 of the BPB, but they're 36 folders so MAYBE Disc 1 has only mission text for Disc 1, unlike pre/post text where disc 1 has text from both discs (weird and useless). Could be a possibility as Disc 1 has 27 missions and the folders are 36.

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  13. Sorry, 0066-0102 is 36 folders, but I'm afraid if the BPB didn't contain any in game's mission data, or if it did, it would be compressed.

    So far I managed to locate the block of bytes in the GPU dump that is responsible for the text in the green message box. That means I could already change what's inside. Currently I'm not yet able to force the game to load additional TIM, even to add one new line in the same TIM I still can't. But here is what I've done. When I put zeros on those blocks, the result is :

    http://s17.postimg.org/bymaxjonj/SLUS000.png

    yes, the text inside the greenbox is gone, but the greenbox "wrapper" along with UPEO commander face is still there. This is not uninitialized text/content (it is happened if you take screenshoot too fast when the green box just appeared). The next 4 seconds after the first image, here is the second image, notice it is still empty (while commander's voice is still being played) :

    http://s27.postimg.org/4napkz2gz/SLUS001.png

    After that 4 secs, the green box dissappear and the voice stop playing, now it's Erich's turn :

    http://s28.postimg.org/wr8kybtvx/SLUS002.png

    Bored with zeros, I put arbitrary byte on those blocks, and here they are the results :

    When Erich say something after Fiona's radio been jammed.
    http://s13.postimg.org/fq611mz5j/SLUS003.png

    After the 4 NEU carrier destroyed in Awakening, here comes the UPEO commander talking about updating target.
    First "frame" :
    http://s8.postimg.org/5s2iv4sz9/SLUS004.png

    Second "frame" :
    http://s27.postimg.org/nok5ehbnn/SLUS005.png

    You may wonder why I always looking to the sky ? good question, because the "ground" texture is glitched, maybe the side effects of those zero bytes replacements. Of course it has to do with the GPU. I think it's just inappropriate to display it. I found the responsible bytes is around to 8.2 KB to 36.4 KB, depending on the amount of "frames".

    After that, I tried to refer to data in those blocks and do hex search inside the extracted BPB. Phew! after 9 hours of searching all possible pattern, I still didn't found any match on the extracted BPB files.

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    1. This isn't very related to both our translation projects but do you think you can you find out how the mission BGM works and change one track in particular?

      There is a programming mistake in AC3 where M29 "Betrayal" has the wrong BGM. This is something a knowledgeable fan and hacker could correct.

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  14. Sorry for the late reply, I'm busy with my lab work. Last week, I and my colleague just collecting data about C. elegans muscarinic receptor together with its related motor activity, and now we're trying to do an in-silico imitation using the already mapped neuronal data by previous researchers. This is just a coincident with the game's main theme. Anyway, the human's actual mind uploading is way too far from our resarch, so don't expect too much. But let's see if mind-uploaded worms will be existed soon, lol.

    Anyway, I'm not a fans whatsover, so I don't know what is the "true" music on particular mission. I just intrigued by this ace combat game because it was involving biotech thingy and I'm indeed interested in such stuff even before playing this game. Luckily here we are Team Nemo translating it, so not only people with japanese proficiency could understand the actual storyline.

    I recall that what I mean by "edit the in game mission", is editing the textual elements, not another resources to alter the gameplay. Now I announce that the in game's mission texts, and the in game's cutscene texts are ready to be edited. Please read my comment in your announcement post.

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  15. Great news, I cannot thank you enough for your efforts!

    I would have replied earlier but I only just got back from work (so tired too...). I've read your comment on the Progress Report #16 post and I've already downloaded and looked at the files from your RAR.

    I'll give you a more extensive reply to your two posts later on as right now I'm really exhausted.

    I'll begin testing tomorrow. Give me a few days and I should be back with some news, like during the weekend. Let's see how far we can get this time.

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  16. No problem, anyway there is a mistake in my post, I meant ''briefing"'s tim, not "debriefing". It is on the 0127/0003 one.

    and my file is .zip, not .rar anyway ;]

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  17. I've finally managed to replicate what you did as seen in your screenshots!

    Next, I'll work with Dashman to make the green text look properly translated.

    Let me know if you manage to edit green text or 3D cut-scenes on missions without a briefing.

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