Hello, soon-to-be detectives! Ribose here. It’s time for an update! It’s been a while, but things have NOT calmed down here. In fact, they have ramped up as we ready for a release, soon.
On My Way, Listen You Have to Obey, Magic Is Mine to Command, I’m The…
Now that it’s time for a new update, it’s time for us to say what has happened since the last one. The first reveal is that our friend, Sorcerian, is the one editing graphics for us! While omgfloofy did some graphics such as the location intro text, chapter title cards, and quartz/arts notebook pages, Sorcerian has filled in to give us the rest!
This includes a long checklist of notebook help pages, battle status and AT icon redraws, and 40+ textures of signs that needed to be adjusted for one reason or another. Addaberry, who provided the cursors, also edited a few sign textures.
Here are a few of the beautiful notebook help pages that Sorcerian has made for us.
And here are a few shots of various parts of the game. If you’re familiar with the game, see if you can spot all of the small adjustments.
A shout out is due, once again, to the almighty Dear ImGui library powering these user interfaces. By simulating the game’s behavior with text shadow and a background made out of the game engine’s window backgrounds, it should convincingly feel like part of the game! Mouse, keyboard, and controller support is, of course, still present, and should be better than before.
Now, it’s time to show off three core features of our patch that I may or may not have said were impossible in the past. These all rely on the incredible Dear ImGui library in some part.
#1: Individualizing Your Soundtrack
The first feature is one that was brewing for probably years now. We used a little-known (and not very great) UI library for a short time before finding and switching to ImGui for our UI needs. This “OST switch” existed as a (non-functioning) dropdown menu on THAT interface. So that pins it down to at least a year and a half ago.
With my work on replacing SOUNDARC with an emulation thread (a story for another day…) and JoseJL’s continuing work disassembling and finding out more about the game’s systems, and specifically its “t_bgm” table, JoseJL was able to complete this feature. I provided some much-needed UI work to make the selector easy to use and work with our Options overlay.
I also gave it one last touch: each item can be played on the fly! So, with that addition, this became more of a combination Sound Test and OST selection popup. The game will return to the track for the area you are in when the popup is closed.
I also edited the English translations of the song titles to align with our edited project. For song titles that were already in English, such as the famous Get Over the Barrier!, no change was made. If you want the original song titles (the mix of Japanese and English titles found on the official track list), then please check out our release in Japanese display mode.
#2: Button Prompt Icons For Everyone
If you look back at the notebook help pages I posted first, you may notice something. In fact, early experiments of this idea have been going on for at least a year. Old updates posted to this website contained button prompt icons hidden in them.
Now, this feature could require an explanation that could hog one or a few full-length blog posts! So for now, I’ll just state what it is, and leave the how it works for another day…
Button prompt icons are the icons that appear in the top left of the screen during battle and certain menus, as well as the “L” and “R” icons displayed on tabs, and, unique to our release, embedded in the scenario, non-scenario text, and on top of notebook help pages that need them.
Why are they so special? Well, on PSP, PS Vita, PS4, and practically any console out there, button prompts are hardcoded (technically, PS Vita and PS4 let you remap at the OS level, but games frequently do not even change to accommodate this remapping). By hardcoded, I mean that you only have one set of icons and their meaning is exactly what it shows. For example, the Circle button on the PSP was hardcoded to always mean “Accept” and this is irrefutable in that version of this game. It also always would use the Circle glyph and that was fine.
Then, Joyoland ported Zero no Kiseki to the PC platform and did absolutely the bare minimum to work with the platform. They changed the icons to generic DirectInput icons, but the icons did not change when rebound.
We can finally unveil that in this patch, we have fully-rebindable button prompt icons! Under Options > Display, you can choose an icon set (Xbox, DualShock, Switch Pro, and Default). Then you can rebind to your heart’s content! By default, the patch is configured to expect the default layout for each of the three controllers listed.
The other part to this feature is keyboard button prompt icons.
This feature will be expanded upon in a future deep-dive blog post. For now, know that you can select your icon set in the Display tab, and select your binding preset (or set your own) in the Controller, Keyboard, and Mouse tabs, and the game should display sane icons for most regular configurations. This should also provide parity with the existing Trails of Cold Steel PC ports!
#3: The Message Log
And for the final big feature reveal, let’s compare this game to the newest English release in the series, Trails of Cold Steel III. One day while that release was hot on our minds, Arvin asked the impossible question: I had an idea. How about a backlog for text? JoseJL looked into it, and ended up making it possible! He came up with the proof-of-concept, and then we refined it. I provided some UI programming work and improved the scenario parsing to include everything from color to embedded icons. Now introducing: the message log.
This message log of course saves text far into the past just as the game displays it, supports Japanese or English text (depending on your display mode), and displays text with full color and any icons. It also lets you replay scenario voices, if they are installed, and shows the speaker title and speaker portrait if present. It is also saved and loaded with the save file (in a JSON file stored in the save’s folder).
Is That All?
Of course not! There’s always more to this amazing project and it has been an absolute blast to work with the other Geofront team members as we continually make the impossible possible on this game that has become so important to us.
So what’s more? Well, a few shout outs first.
Shout out to all of our amazing testers! They are the real heroes, finding typos, finding strange bugs with the default input sensitivity of the Switch Pro controller in DirectInput mode, finding connections to things we missed from Trails in the Sky FC through Trails of Cold Steel III that they’ll never let us live down for missing, and just generally being collectively comprehensive and thorough like our limited number of eyes could never be. They will be fully listed in our credits on the project’s release day.
Shout out to the previous team’s translation work (that is, translators Guren and Yangxu and others). While we can say with absolute certainty that this project needed an editing pass, and we can also say that we have probably checked the original Japanese on literally thousands of lines, terms, and names, we wouldn’t be here without their first step.
And obligatory shout out to Nihon Falcom for such an incredible game. The story told in this game must be told to you guys. It’s worth the wait to see the humor, the intensity, the characters, the machinations…
Please, just wait about one month longer, for we hope to get this patch in your hands soon. Remember, it’s done when it’s done. We have a few bugs to sort out, but at the rate things are being completed, testing is progressing, and issues are being resolved, I don’t expect it to take much longer. We’ll have you know, we will probably be hard at work on this until that very last moment. There are so many parts to the project, it’s kind of unbelievable that a finish line is in sight.
We would like to remind you once more of the treasure chest messages form. Since that will be implemented into the game last, I expect to close that form in a couple weeks. Do get your submissions in!
We will be opening a channel on the Falcom Discord specifically for the discussion of our patch called #trails-from-zero-geofront.
We have a few other supplemental projects to detail and provide related to the game. Please look forward to them!
Now I would like to hand this over to Arvin.
Hey guys, Arvin here. I haven’t had the opportunity to write in one of these yet, so I wanted to start by saying hello. So… Hello…
Cool. It’s been about five months since I first started working on this project, and I have to say, whew, it’s been a heck of a ride. I dove into the game with almost no experience in any form of editing, so it was a bit of a struggle at first. However, I’m pleased to say that I’m in my comfort zone at this point, and any of my older, awkward writing was completely banished during the second pass.
On the topic of passes: The first pass essentially served as a means of rearranging the original script into more legible English. The second pass was initially meant to be our proofreading phase, but I felt that all of the writing could have used a bit of an upgrade. I spent a solid two months giving every single NPC a voice, so that they sounded like an actual ‘character,’ as opposed to just a translation. There were a few NPCs I had a ton of fun with, especially in Neinvalli Exchange, Guillaume Factory, and the Fisherman’s Guild. Part of me thinks I was actually born to write fishermen dialog. I also spent time getting down the voices of all the SSS characters, and I think I’ve done a great job of matching Zerker’s writing style to help give everyone a seamless experience. I am especially fond of Randy, if my avatar hadn’t already made it obvious.
P.S. Give me full credit for all of the funny lines, and blame Zerk for any bad lines!
P.P.S. Ouch! I’m funny sometimes! – Zerker
Beta Testing Phase
As you may have seen on Twitter or Discord a few times, we are now more than a month into the beta testing phase! What does that entail, exactly? Well, KillScottKill, Addabery, Zerker, Cata, and myself have been hard at work cleaning up the script. Scott and Adda are currently playing the game and combing through every single piece of dialog to find any spelling mistake, punctuation error, poorly written line, or anything that reeks of a mistranslation and/or inconsistency. Zerk and myself are correcting any mistakes, or rewriting any lines that call for it, while Cata retranslates any lines that seem off. It’d be safe to say the game’s script wouldn’t be nearly as good without Scott and Adda’s efforts, so thank you!
Often times, our discussions can revolve around a single snippet of text, sending us down a massive rabbit hole to confirm its accuracy. One of our more recent examples includes this line:
Could there really be just one Bracer Guild branch in all of Remiferia? Scott found that hard to believe, so we dove into every available script on trailsinthedatabase.com, as well as tried to reference Akatsuki (we know it’s not canon, don’t worry!) After painstaking research, we were able to determine that there are, in fact, at least two branches in Remiferia. Given that Arios is in contact with the Prince of Remiferia fairly often, it was safe to make the assumption that the Ardent branch of Remiferia was contacting them, as it is their capital city. Ardent is also mentioned by name later in Azure. The line now reads: “You see, I was just contacted by the Ardent branch in Remiferia.” You can imagine how easily this can become a time sink when it happens on multiple occasions.
So again, thank you to our testers and the rest of the team for putting in so much work to ensure this localization becomes one worthy of comparison to the official releases. I see measurable improvements to the script every single day, and I have full confidence it will be spectacular by the end.
I plan to play the game in its entirety once Scott and Adda have finished their current playthrough. I probably won’t adjust much, but I hope to add better quips. I’ve actually gone back and added in a few these last couple of weeks.
And Sign Off
Zerker here. It’s been a hell of a ride, but one I’ll never forget. We’re all extremely proud of the work we’ve done, and we hope you enjoy playing it as much as we’ve enjoyed working on it. You don’t have too much longer to go. Thank you for sticking with us. Thank you for everything.