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Core Dump

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Core Dump - Work In Progress

Episode 46

October 27, 1997 : Japanese version of the Core Dump promo

What have I been doing these last weeks? Well, I've been quite busy studying, but there is something really new to be found in a few days: an enhanced, and japanese version of the Core Dump promo! (...October has been a busy month.)

This is all due to Takamichi Suzukawa, the man who translated Solid Snake into English. Takamichi wanted to translate Core Dump into Japanese. Now, I had no knowledge about the japanese language, but I knew it would mean approximately 128 extra characters, and I'd already been running out of memory! But, intruiged by the prospect of a japanese version, I thought about it.

Where could I put 128 extra characters? For speedy output, they'd have to be in the VRAM. But that was full. Really.
Note that the normal characters (English font) is in VRAM. It can be displayed in any colour by using logical VDP commands. That is quite quick.
Another problem: normal coding (as in Screen 5) would require 4*8 bytes per character, meaning 01000h bytes. Too much, I needed all the space I could get.

After much thought I decided that the only way they could get in was by using bit-encoding in RAM, a bit like they way your MSX does it when printing characters in BASIC in screen 5. Using this method, the characters could be stored in 0400h bytes: 1 kByte. But I was afraid for the speed: could this method be quick enough?
So I designed a multi-colour decoding/printing routine that would be compatible with the ones used for printing English characters. When put to the test, it turned out that it was at least as quick as the English-character version. But there were errors...

And that was very weird, because the font-decoder only used local memory and didn't do anything strange at all. Still, no items showed up on the item screen, and other stuff went wrong as well.

In the end, it turned out that the reason for the errors was this: the English characters were printed using VDP commands, thus forcing a "wait for commands to end" loop at the beginning.
The new routines, on the other hand, used "vpokes", and then there's no need to wait for commands to end. But now conflicts can arise between both, as the synchronisation is omitted.
For example: you clear the screen using "fill" commands. Immediately thereafter you use vpoke to draw a line in the middle of the screen. Chances are, that the line had been drawn before the VDP has cleared the middle of the screen. The VDP, still busy at the time of the drawing of the line, then simply erases the newly-drawn line. Result: nothing on screen, although your line drawing-routine werks perfectly!

I solved the problem by waiting for VDP commands even though this is not neccesary when using "vpokes".

More problems

What I could not know was that there are line breaking rules in Japanese as well.

For the English version, I used a word-scanning procedure that makes sure no words are broken down at the end of a line. That did not work for the japanese version, as my procedure considered every line to be a very long word (japanese usually omits spaces). So, in a revolutionairy mood, I removed the word-detection. Problem solved.

erm...well, no. Takamichi informs me that there are line-breaking rules, called kinsoku. They ensure that no lines start with dots, a bit like in English, but also that accent characters do not appear seperated from the character they belong to. Ummmm... let me explain.

Let's say you want an exclamation mark above your "u". God knows why, but hey, you love the way it looks. Obviously, you cannot accomplish this in standard HTML without using pictures. So you and your friends, who know what this symbol means, decide on the following convention: an exclamation mark above a "u" is written as "u!".
That's where Japanese comes in. As the "!" really belongs to the "u", they should not be separated. So a line ending with a "u" should not start the next line with an "!", because you would want them to be together, for they are read as a single character.

So now you know Japanese! *grin*
(Well that are the line breaking rules, anyway.) So there's this new version of the promo now, that is completely in Japanese! Even "loading" and "pause" have been translated by Takamichi.

This has the odd side-effect that I cannot understand the new promo at all. I mean, I know what it should say, but I'm never quite sure anymore.

When? Where?

Anyway, this promo is going to be released (if all goes well) with NV magazine in Japan. After that, it will be put online here.

It's really like the old times: you get this game, don't understand a bit of it, and play it to death!

"The way SD-Snatcher felt the first time"

Go on...

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