judge russell is translating Xuanyuan Sword: Dance of the Maple Leaves (1995) for MS-DOS
November 08 2021
This one goes out to all the Japanese bots in my comments. I know I ""permit"" you commenting with no account... however in supplying this feature to this beautiful blog, I gave my trust up to anonymous humans to comment, because I trust humans to do the right thing. Yet, I did not factor in robotic commenters, whom I have zero trust for. When I'm feeling not-lazy-enough to get rid of this feature (or even better yet, add in some sort of verification), I'll do it. But for now, hello my hundreds of adoring roboto-japonic fans. I will tour your beautiful country as soon as the tourist ban is lifted. However, this post is not about you, but about something relating to one of those other islands you once conquered.
As hacking and translating practice (two skills I'd like to be better at), I decided to take on the task of translating the (apparently) high-regarded Taiwanese RPG 軒轅劍: 楓之舞 (XuanYuan Sword, Dance of the Maple Leaves). This game came out in 1995 for MS-DOS in Taiwan, and has since been released on Steam for 5 dollars in Traditional and Simplified Chinese. (However, I do have to tell you that the Steam version is just the DOS game + DOSbox ... and almost every Chinese dos game can be found here .... )
Anyways, I believe that the English speaking world deserves to at least know about these incredible RPGing efforts from this non-Japanese non-American part of the world, and although Softstar's other, prettier mid-nineties classic The Legend of Sword and Fairy has already been fan-translated, there's a hell of a lot of other games by them that have not been. This game is interesting (though I haven't played so much of it yet). It has a very old (420 BC blaze it) historical setting, utilizing real historical figures like Mozi, but also crazy bullshit like wooden automatons powered by mice. I think people will like it. So to make myself feel accomplished, and to allow exactly one (1) Spanish dude on the Steam forums to enjoy this game, I'm going to translate this whole-ass RPG and hopefully learn a lot.
I'd like to let you know that I have done some work on this, and I'm not just speaking out of my ass. For instance, I've found where the fonts were located (16 .DSK files which are attached to different parts of the game, containing Big-5 encoded Chinese characters, followed by 30 byte pixel data of the game's font of those characters. I then found where the script was located, (in 16 .EXE files that correspond to .DSK files, that contain text position, color, script, and character portrait). Next, I located where the code was to print characters 16 pixels apart horizontally, and changed that to 8, allowing a half-width, as opposed to full width font. (That code was in the main game executable RPG.EXE). I then drew out the GNU Unifont with 1s and 0s in sublime text and then popped it into a .DSK file, and I was able to get the results you see in the thumbnail! I've started translating some of the text too, regarding a strange mad genius who lives on a boat, but I didn't allow myself to do very much translating until I knew that I could hack this game to actually display English text. BTW thank god my English font only has 70 characters... these poor fuckers in 90s Taiwan had to literally make a whole ass 16x16 px font in their game, with thousands of characters!!
Anyway, I'm now late from working from home, soooo see y'all later. Updates soon.