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Yet another small interruption before we get to Shuusou Gyoku, but only because I've got a big announcement to make! Touhou Patch Center has just commissioned the basic feature set that would allow PC-98 Touhou to be translated into non-ASCII languages. 💰 And we're in fact doing it on PC-98, and don't wait for the games to be ported to other systems first.

How is this going to work?

This project will start sometime after I've completed the current big project of porting Shuusou Gyoku to Linux, so probably in the last few months of 2023. Similar to the previous MediaWiki update, this will bypass the ReC98 push and cap model: Touhou Patch Center is going to guarantee a minimum budget out of their Open Collective funds, which can be increased with further donations from the community, and I'm going to send an invoice once I'm done. In addition, I'm also going to keep in contact with all interested translators and backers via a Discord room throughout the process for additional technical quality control.
Since ReC98 hasn't really focused on text so far, the amount of moddable text-related code would be fairly limited if I started working on it right away. As of 2023-11-30, it only includes the following:

Therefore, I'll put any general and unconstrained reverse-engineering, position independence, or anything contributions that come in during the next few months towards covering everything that's still missing there:

In total, that's the next 6 general pushes that will go towards ensuring translatability of most of PC-98 Touhou, if possible. If you'd like your contribution (or existing subscription) to go to gameplay code instead, be sure to tell me!

What's the minimum guaranteed set of features?

The main feature will be a custom renderer for a subsetted, monospaced Unicode bitmap font, and its integration into any translatable part of the game. For the script files, this means UTF-8 support with Shift-JIS fallback. For the glyphs, I'll use GNU Unifont by default, but we could also use any other freely licensed bitmap font with 8×16 or 16×16 glyphs for alphabets of certain languages. Everything about this will be the real deal: The system will potentially support all of Unicode without font ROM hacks so that the translations will work on real hardware, and there will be no shortcuts for just a few Latin characters. And if someone wants to translate this game into a language with more complex shaping rules, I'll make sure that they look pretty as well if there's some budget left.
This will allow translation teams to build static translation patches into any language by editing the original script files, and using -Tom-'s existing tools for any images. Modifications of hardcoded strings would still require recompiling the binary, and each group would have to distribute and advertise the result on their own.

🌐 Which languages are we getting?

As of 2023-10-10, the following translators and teams have expressed interest:

Wait, Arabic?! On my PC-98?! What's the plan there?

The two challenges with Arabic scripts are transforming a text to use the codepoints for contextual glyph forms (shaping), and right-to-left rendering. Shaping requires not too much code, which is easily added to the font subsetting build step. Right-to-left rendering, on the other hand, must be a feature of the new PC-98-native text renderer, because there are several places in PC-98 Touhou where text is gradually typed character-by-character. So it will require a bit of dedicated budget, but not all too much from what I can tell. Bidirectional text would add a great deal of complexity here, but we most likely won't need to implement it – I'll simply pick a direction based on the first codepoint on a line, and ask translators to manually reverse any Latin-script runs of text in the middle of an Arabic-script line.

How much better could it all be?

You might remember most of this from 📝 my initial pitch back in November, but I did have quite a bit of additional ideas since then.

These features are mostly independent of each other, and it will be up to Touhou Patch Center to pick a priority order. That's also where all of you could come in and influence this order with your donations. So it's closer to a traditional crowdfunding campaign with stretch goals, where the sky is the limit, than it is to the usual ReC98 model. And while there can be no fixed prices for any of the goals, you can be sure that anything you invest will improve the quality of the final product.

:opencollective: Touhou Patch Center on Open Collective

From now on, this will be the only way of funding any translation-related goals; I've removed the respective options from the ReC98 order form. Looking forward to how many of these additional ideas I get to implement – but, as always, please invest responsibly.

Shuusou Gyoku finally coming this weekend.