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Final Conflict CD

Concept idea from someone who knows nothing of modding

Discussion about this excellent Game Gear RPG.

Final Conflict CD

Postby Roareye » Thu Jul 20 2017 10:21pm

Hey guys, I'm new to the forums but have been a long time visitor to the site. My knowledge of SF starts with SF2 back in the early 90s, and I'm still in love with the series.

Having played Shining Force CD for over seven years, I finally had time to complete it and assumed I'd therefore played the Gaiden trilogy. Now I know I'm wrong.

With Shining Force CD available in ROM, with SF2 available for the background art, and with Final Conflict's English script available I'm surprised a fan recreation never appeared. Is there a reason why this never materialized?

It'd be great to take a Game Gear title and increase its output to a bigger machine without removing from the original (as the music matches SF2 for the most part).
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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby Wiz » Thu Jul 20 2017 10:54pm

Hi Roareye,

The main reason for this not being materialized yet is that we still lack the proper tools to make a whole new game from the SF2 or SFCD engines.
Current SF2 tools may allow to edit existing maps and battles, but not cutscenes I'm afraid. So we're quite far from beeing able to recreate whole new cutscenes and maps easily.

I am currently working on such tools around the SF2 engine, with a disassembly approach, which takes time but I can guarantee that at some point, a project like this remake will be feasible.

This could be a very good community project, actually !
People could split tasks like map creations quite easily ... hmm ... Ah, I wish I could spend more time and produce all the tools we need in a few weeks only ! :)

So, yeah, your idea is great and we should think about it more thoroughly at some point ! ;)
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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby Roareye » Fri Jul 21 2017 8:43pm

Wiz wrote:Hi Roareye,

The main reason for this not being materialized yet is that we still lack the proper tools to make a whole new game from the SF2 or SFCD engines.
Current SF2 tools may allow to edit existing maps and battles, but not cutscenes I'm afraid. So we're quite far from beeing able to recreate whole new cutscenes and maps easily.

I am currently working on such tools around the SF2 engine, with a disassembly approach, which takes time but I can guarantee that at some point, a project like this remake will be feasible.

Ah, that certainly makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks :)
I agree that having the SF2 engine available for complete repurposing would be best, especially as it would advance the scope from a simple remake to a Deluxe version possible (adding the option of the SF2 style open world gameplay - though that would require far more effort and care to match the original dialogue and style).

This could be a very good community project, actually !
People could split tasks like map creations quite easily ... hmm ... Ah, I wish I could spend more time and produce all the tools we need in a few weeks only ! :)

I'm up for assisting on a SF:FC Redux. I have some skills in sprites and pixel art, and well as writing (though story-wise the dialogue is already accounted for). I'd happily try to learn map layouts, as I'm quite invested in the idea.

What we would have to consider audio-wise is how to tackle music not in SF2 etc. To my knowledge, the Game Gear has the sane audio chip as the Master System with the added benefit of stereo sound. The Mega Drive used the same chip too, so possibly the files would work directly, otherwise the missing music could be played via redbook audio on Mega CD. Or we try conversion. But I dunno anything about audio myself.

Ultimately there's an argument for direct remake vs expanded redux. But either way we go with it lends itself to making the title vastly more accessible.

So, yeah, your idea is great and we should think about it more thoroughly at some point ! ;)

I'm well up for the idea, but the whole thing starts with an engine and a vision of next steps. I'm able to help visually and discuss direction, but audio and coding goes beyond my abilities.
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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby Wiz » Sat Jul 22 2017 11:46pm

OK, this is great to have someone with such motivation ! :)

Audio and coding happen to be quite exactly my business, as I reverse-engineered SF2's sound driver a few years ago.
The Megadrive may include the Game Gear's PSG chip (3 tone channels and 1 noise channel), but this is only a minor and secondary sound chip for the MD.
A direct conversion would not make much sense, compared to the rich sound of SF2's music, which rely on both the YM2612 chip (6 4-operator FM channels, including one that can be used for PCM samples like drum sounds) and the PSG chip (only 2 tone channels used).
So yeah, to me, the proper direction is to re-compose music for SF2's sound driver, from scratch, for the best coherence.
This will imply some work on my part ; probably not a whole music editor, but at least the ability to import/export stuff for an existing Megadrive music editor (TFM maker, Deflemask and/or FMDrive).
I'll be glad to work on the composition myself once I feel my work on tools is finished, but that will not be the case before a looong time. :D

About using redbook audio with the SEGA CD, while this is technically feasible, I will not work on it myself as I don't like the idea very much (I'm too nostalgic of SF2's sound ! ;) ). But any motivated ASM programmer is free to implement the SEGA CD Mode 1 in SF2's disassembly really.

About making a direct remake or using SF2's engine to expand the game, well, this debate has no influence on the roadmap, as we won't be able to think about expanding the game until we have remade the original content first. The direct remake will be be enough work already anyway ! :D

Now, about the vision of next steps, let's see ...
I don't know much about Final Conflict as I've not played it myself, but I guess the game's flow is the same as SFCD's scenarios : cutscene, battle, cutscene, shop/church screen, cutscene, battle, cutscene, shop/church screen, etc. until final cutscene.

So we need to edit the following main things from SF2's engine :
- Cutscenes :
I'll work on ASM macros to make them easier to write in a text editor, as a first step to play with the cutscene commands and figure out the unidentified ones. Maybe that will be practical enough to write whole cutscenes like that, but we'll have to figure out by ourselves in practice.
Update :
Dedicated topic ! https://forums.shiningforcecentral.com/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=41301
- Maps :
Again, I'll have to work on this. Currently I'm only able to decompress map tilesets.
Tile layouts also have their own compression algorithm that I'll have to figure out.
Then I'll prefer to import/export stuff in an existing map/tile editor, like Tiled.
- Battles :
Lots of properties to edit, too. The Caravan editor already does a good job at this so I hope to make "Caravan-compatible" ROMs from my SF2 disassembly. That could save quite some work ! :)
Update :
The SF2 Disassembly now produces expanded ROMs that seem to be quite compatible with The Caravan, at least when reading data. Need to edit battles to confirm !
- Music :
I'll have to make import/export functions with an external editor's format.
- Shop/Church screen :
No idea how this is implemented. Is this like in SFCD ? In any case, that will require specific ASM programming to implement something similar, but that's not a priority.
- Chapter screen :
I guessed there must be chapter end / new chapter screens also in Final Conflict, aren't there ? :)
SF2 doesn't have that so I'll have to find it in my SF1 disassembly and export code into SF2's engine.
Not a priority at all, in any case.
- Game intro with scrolling text :
Maybe re-use SF2's ending credits function ? Same type of scrolling text iirc.
- Game secrets :
https://forums.shiningforcecentral.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=5566
https://www.gamefaqs.com/gamegear/563049-shining-force-gaiden-final-conflict/cheats

I believe Maps are the main priority among these parts, to allow team work on this.
Awesome battlefield maps here :
https://www.gamefaqs.com/gamegear/563049-shining-force-gaiden-final-conflict/faqs

I'll work on cutscenes soon though, as I believe some people could play with cutscene macros and figure out remaining commands if I provide the proper tools and process for that.

Now, about more simple game assets : work on graphics can start at any moment without relying on the game engine, as we already know the format of most graphic items.
For example :
- Map Sprites :
They use the game's fixed base palette, and use 3*3 tiles.
3 directions (up, down, and side), and 2 frames per direction.
Image format : 16-color indexed PNG with 24*24 resolution.
Tool : https://github.com/ShiningForceCentral/SF2MapSpriteManager
- Background :
Specific 16-color palette of 32*12 tiles.
Image format : 16-color indexed PNG with 256*96 resolution.
Tool : https://github.com/ShiningForceCentral/SF2BackgroundManager
- Portraits :
Specific 16-color palette of 6*8 tiles.
Alternate tiles for eyes and mouth animation can go up to 2*8=26 tiles.
Tool : to implement
- Battle Sprites :
Specific 13-color palette (2 colors are reserved for weapon, and first color is transparent)
12*12 tiles per frame.
Optional second frame for idle animation.
Animations format to figure out.
Tool : to implement
- Reading girl screen :
Oh gosh, please someone upgrade that lovely elf up to a 256*224 16-color PNG file ! :excited:
- etc...

Awesome resources :
http://www.wolfgangarchive.com/sfg1-web/conflict/choose.htm
https://finalconflict.shiningforcecentral.com/pages/shining_force_gaiden_final_conflict.html

So yeah, upgrading graphics from FC's resolution/palette to SF2's standards should already be huge work ...

I won't start to think about character and enemy properties at the moment, as that's a whole subject to cover and I'm not documented enough about it to elaborate a roadmap. I think that should come only in the last part of development, because that's not the most spectacular part in terms of palpable progress. :D

Anyway, let's discuss all this while I continue my work on the SF2 engine ! :)
Last edited by Wiz on Mon Aug 07 2017 1:03pm, edited 7 times in total.
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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby MXC » Sun Jul 23 2017 1:16am

If there is ever a full set of tools to do this, I'd be willing to assist/ head it up. I learned my lesson with the Caravan though and won't agree to join until all tools are available to do it :)

I love the idea though. I recently played through FC on a whim and just really enjoy it, despite the graphical limitations. It really would be need to upgrade everything.
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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby Roareye » Sun Jul 23 2017 9:36pm

Wiz wrote:OK, this is great to have someone with such motivation ! :)

I have that, I just wish I had more skills XD

So yeah, to me, the proper direction is to re-compose music for SF2's sound driver, from scratch, for the best coherence.
...
About using redbook audio with the SEGA CD, while this is technically feasible, I will not work on it myself as I don't like the idea very much (I'm too nostalgic of SF2's sound ! ;) ). But any motivated ASM programmer is free to implement the SEGA CD Mode 1 in SF2's disassembly really.

Ah, thank you for explaining that in detail :) My only thought on using Sega CD sound was to basically play WAV files of the Game Gear music if it wasn't possible to have the game replicate it on the internal PSG, but I agree recomposing those tracks for a remake to use the same sound chips as SF2 makes a lot more sense. Just didn't know what was plausible.

About making a direct remake or using SF2's engine to expand the game, well, this debate has no influence on the roadmap, as we won't be able to think about expanding the game until we have remade the original content first. The direct remake will be be enough work already anyway ! :D

Yeah I can get ahead of myself, again through ignorance of the actual work involved, especially at the programming end. If we can at least replicate the game using the standards of Shining Force 2 that in itself will be a monumental achievement and connect the SF1 and SF2 titles more directly.

Now, about the vision of next steps, let's see ...
I don't know much about Final Conflict as I've not played it myself, but I guess the game's flow is the same as SFCD's scenarios : cutscene, battle, cutscene, shop/church screen, cutscene, battle, cutscene, shop/church screen, etc. until final cutscene.

I've not played a lot of it. In fact my play of it comes from an unofficial Master System conversion so the visuals and audio are reduced a little more than the Game Gear original. However, yes, it does play out as cutscene, battle, cutscene, shop etc... One of my main reasons for wanting the conversion is to play it on the big screen through a Mega Drive Everdrive system without damaging the integrity of the original (the MS conversion makes a right mess outside of the GG's usual field of view). However I can download and get on playing it in a more original state (With save files that actually work) via an emulator. I just don't have any emulators atm and play everything on real hardware.

So we need to edit the following main things from SF2's engine :
- Cutscenes :
I'll work on ASM macros to make them easier to write in a text editor, as a first step to play with the cutscene commands and figure out the unidentified ones. Maybe that will be practical enough to write whole cutscenes like that, but we'll have to figure out by ourselves in practice.
- Maps :
Again, I'll have to work on this. Currently I'm only able to decompress map tilesets.
Tile layouts also have their own compression algorithm that I'll have to figure out.
Then I'll prefer to import/export stuff in an existing map/tile editor, like Tiled.
- Battles :
Lots of properties to edit, too. The Caravan editor already does a good job at this so I hope to make "Caravan-compatible" ROMs from my SF2 disassembly. That could save quite some work ! :)
- Music :
I'll have to make import/export functions with an external editor's format.
- Shop/Church screen :
No idea how this is implemented. Is this like in SFCD ? In any case, that will require specific ASM programming to implement something similar, but that's not a priority.

You seem to be on the nose with all of that. On the question of the Shop/Church screen, it appears as a screen of its own with the Camp (Operates like the Camp/Caravan in SF2), the Shop and the ability to leave (for the next battle).
[youtube]https://youtu.be/e9WWpjP6NH8?t=17m41s[/youtube]
This video at 17:41 shows the town screen.

Now, about more simple game assets : work on graphics can start at any moment without relying on the game engine, as we already know the format of most graphic items.
...

I can help with this section for sure, we might be able to pool experience on here for this, but as you say it is not top priority at this point, and by MXC's interest it is likely we are more able to get others on board once they know there's a chance of success (I don't know what Caravan Editor is, but it sounds like it didn't meet all the criteria it was originally meant to?)

So yeah, upgrading graphics from FC's resolution/palette to SF2's standards should already be huge work ...

I won't start to think about character and enemy properties at the moment, as that's a whole subject to cover and I'm not documented enough about it to elaborate a roadmap. I think that should come only in the last part of development, because that's not the most spectacular part in terms of palpable progress. :D

Anyway, let's discuss all this while I continue my work on the SF2 engine ! :)

Awesome. Well we appear to have a starting point, and while it may be a longer process than I initially thought (Again, through my own ignorance) it appears it may not be an impossibility.

I did get a Private Message from Caedmonball19 who suggested he was looking at remaking SF:FC with larger 32x32 sprites. I doubt these would fit into the project as a repurposing of SF2's engine, though, as the size is much larger and the colour palette more complex. However here's a link to his post of his spritework as he at least showed some interest to me personally about the concept of the remaster and he could be a useful artist for some of the pixel art for it.
https://forums.shiningforcecentral.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=25568&p=683199#p679798
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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby Wiz » Sun Jul 23 2017 11:26pm

Yes ! Caedmonball19's work is absolutely awesome ! It's a real shame that we can't use them in SF2's engine since map sprites are 24*24 in there.
Caedmonball19, your talent is more than welcome in this project. ;)

About "The Caravan" editor, you will find more information about it in the SF2 forums, but to put it briefly, this is a very ambitious tool with the target to edit everything directly from SF2's ROM file.
It's the work of BNC, who didn't update the program in a loooong time, but hey, we can always hope for him to come back and help us ! :)
Technically, his approach is different from mine (direct ROM edition vs disassembly), but in any case his awesome skills would help us progress a lot more quickly. I'm so slow compared to him ! :damnit:

So yeah, like MXC said quite legitimately, we need a complete toolsuite first, to convince people to work on this.
I'm working on this already, but having this project in mind with specific priorities will help me get some motivation to get things done as efficiently as possible for you guys.

So I'll try to make some reports here everytime I make progress significant enough for this project.
Next steps for me :
- Make project SF2DISASM able to build an 4MB-expanded ROM with the same ROM layout as Caravan-compatible ROMs. Let's hope that'll be enough to use the Caravan on SF2DISASM builds !
- Make cutscene macros and publish a testing process to ask for help identifying commands.
- Build a whole map-creation process.

Also, I updated the roadmap from my previous post to add the chapter screens which I guess must exist in Final Conflict. ;)
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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby LordOddEye » Wed Jul 26 2017 12:05pm

Well it may not be exactly what you guys are looking for but you should check out my work, Project Final Gaiden, I am actually remaking the game with Shining Force 2 / 1 Style graphics. :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

It can be found in the Fan game section of the forums and quite a bit of progress has been made.

Regards,

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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby Roareye » Wed Jul 26 2017 4:32pm

Sounds awesome LordOddEye, does the ROM play on a Mega Drive or is it rebuilt in your own engine?
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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby LordOddEye » Wed Jul 26 2017 5:32pm

Roareye wrote:Sounds awesome LordOddEye, does the ROM play on a Mega Drive or is it rebuilt in your own engine?


It's rebuilt in another engine you can find information about it here. :thumbsup: :thumbsup: :thumbsup:

https://forums.shiningforcecentral.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=40095

Regards,

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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby alex_man » Sun Jul 30 2017 10:55pm

Roareye you can help to LordOddeye's project :thumbsup:
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Re: Final Conflict CD

Postby LordOddEye » Tue Aug 01 2017 8:27pm

alex_man wrote:Roareye you can help to LordOddeye's project :thumbsup:


Any help is appreciated! Especially in regards to the spiriting department and designing of maps.

Regards,

LordOddEye
Creator of the Shining Force Gaiden Final Conflict Remake:

https://forums.shiningforcecentral.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=40095
Creator of the Shining Force Gaiden Final Conflict Remake:

https://forums.shiningforcecentral.com/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=40095
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