Monday, November 19, 2012

Rotting engines

As you may know if you read dreammaster's blog, I'm currently giving a hand to dreammaster on Hopkins FBI, which is a gore adventure game. Thanks to the cartoon-ish look of the cutscenes, it's not too shocking though (at least for us)...

As you may imagine, this is an excellent excuse to avoid working on the engines "rotting" on my repository... Here is a little point concerning those.

- Adventures of Robin Hood:
The engine is more or less complete for the DOS version of the game. The game is scripted. Almost everything is scripted, even: the intro, the menus... Everything! So rewriting the game was pretty easy, as the engine was particularly small. It's currently possible to watch the intro, walk around, interact with objects and characters... and die, of course! The dragon is pretty efficient for that... Yes, there's a dragon in Robin Hood :).

There are some glitches and minor bugs left, but the really blocking part is the sound and music of the game. Peres kindly broke the compression/obfuscation used so I have now MID files, but some commands are still problematic, and SylvainTV and I were not (yet) able to hook something working. After sound support, a huge refactoring would be required before we may consider discussing about a merge. As I hate sound maybe even more than Dreammaster does, it may takes forever though :/

The Amiga and Atari ST versions of the games, sadly much more common than the DOS version, are booters and are currently not targeted by the engine.

- Mortville Manor:
We received the sources of the French DOS version of this game months ago, after some discussions with Lankhor right owners and DotEmu. They were in Pascal and Assembly code. After some a lot of work on it with Dreammaster, the game is now completable with almost no glitch left. Several things are blocking a merge discussion though: No sound support and only DOS French version supported.

The sound support is a nightmare. The only sound available in the original is generated speech based on phoneme synthesis. At the time, they were clever enough to add subtitles, so it was possible to understand something... But it didn't age really well, and what was extremely impressive in 1987 is now absolutely terrible, to the point that the game sounds much better without sound support!

The language support is of course the second problem. I created a partial English translation based on Atari and Amiga texts, but the dialogs are missing: in those versions, the speeches are not dubbed, and are not using phoneme analysis, so we have to translate it ourselves. Criezy started a translation, but it's a long and hard work, particularly considering he doesn't have much time for that. (Any help would be appreciated at this point!). A German DOS version also exists, but is currently not supported, and I haven't yet looked at the Amiga and Atari versions. All the other platforms are ignored on purpose, as the engine is too different (Amstrad CPC, Sinclair QL, C64, Apple 2E, ...)

So... If you want to give a hand on those engines.... Drop me a line! Translation doesn't require technical skills, everybody can help!

No comments:

Post a Comment