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Old 05-09-2005, 12:04 AM   #1
ZeaLitY
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Default Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

Original article at http://www.chronocompendium.com/Stories/6

[image]http://www.chronocompendium.com/images/wiki/9/97/TFA1.png[/image]

by ZeaLitY, May 8, 2005

One of the most enduring aspects of the Super Nintendo, its equivalents, and its predecessors is their easy modification. When the first rom dumps appeared on the internet, it was only a matter of time before the curious and the skilled began dissecting their codes and attempting to edit the games. These starting points—such as Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, and other platformers—are still regularly hacked and edited today, and many modifications have been released with all kinds of purposes in enhancing the games. The restructuring of the more complicated games—RPGs, a staple of the systems' history—has been less inviting, requiring much dedication, skill, and determination to attack its comparatively complicated design and workings. The primary reasons for attempts in the past have been translation (or retranslation, since Nintendo of America censored material in the 90's). However, it is more apparent than ever that the ability to edit one's favorite RPGs is being extended to everyone. What used to be locked up in rom hacking communities and had to be opened through hard hex editing is now being transferred to the fingertips of fans everywhere—and the greatest step in this direction is Temporal Flux, an editor for Chrono Trigger whose second version is about to be released.

Temporal Flux is the brainchild of Michael Springer (a.k.a. Geiger), who set out in 2003 to make the ultimate Chrono Trigger editor. With the help of his compadres in the rom hacking community who donated tons of information and undertook beta testing, and thanks to his large portions of personal time devoted to the project, it was completed almost exactly a year later in November 2004, where it was met with joyous exclamation and appetite for applying it. It then underwent a round of bug fixes prior to Geiger's departure to focus on his Snes9x Debugger. Once again, the Chrono community is going to be wooed—for Temporal Flux 2.0 is planned for release at the end of this month. 2.0, a leap forward from its already impressive predecessor, has improved upon the former version's features as well as completed new options. The most easily recognizable and fun, of course, remains the Locations editor.

[image]http://www.chronocompendium.com/images/wiki/a/a2/TFA2.png[/image]
Porre Mayor's House—now the Porre Barracks

The basic location editor allows users to move around, touch up, or completely erase and begin anew any area in Chrono Trigger. Locations in the game draw upon map data, and have their own event code that actually makes them operate. The map itself is built off three layers—Layer 1, objects, decorations and overlay, Layer 2, actual architecture and ground, and Layer 3, auras and glows that come from light sources. When a location is selected, Temporal Flux renders all three layers and allows the user to select between them. Swatches that show all the tiles at the fan's disposal are available on the right, while the actual palettes and swatches available can be chosen on the left. Tile properties such as solidity, height and exits, which gets its own subsection, are available from the Maps dropdown menu. When Temporal Flux was initially released, however, it did not allow editing of certain map properties, Layer 3 editing, and a few other special effects that round out all possible modification to the game. These are present in force in the new version.

Early in Temporal Flux's development, full and half color addition and subtraction posed a problem that was resolved with assistance from the Snes9x emulator developers. A short search for palette information later, and Layer 3 Editing was a reality. Users can now add at will glows, light sources from windows, or other auras to maps, or remove ones left over from a map revision. This completes gritty map editing, as no faculty is left unavailable to fans in restructing and redefining Chrono Trigger worlds. Rounding out locations editing as well are scroll mask editing and map resizing. Chrono Trigger often places several locations on a single map—e.g., most Truce, Porre, and Choras buildings are grouped together. The only way to prevent the player's view of the game from accidentally scrolling into another shack (which could be miles away in another town) is through the scroll mask. With its editing inclusion in the new versions, players can make their own expansive maps—and if size is a problem, any map can now be entirely resized. This means that, for example, the paltry "Prehistoric Display" map at the Millennial Fair—the equivalent of 256x256 pixels—can now become a 1024x1024 giant, allowing enough creative space for anyone to exhaust themselves. This feature can be accessed from Windows > Locations > Map Properties.

[image]http://www.chronocompendium.com/images/wiki/2/2d/TFA3.png[/image]
Exits of Kingdom of Zeal; move or make your own

Binding all the locations together into a playable game are the Overworlds, of course, and Temporal Flux 2.0 also makes advancing strides in that area. The original releases were simple in editing design, allowing basic mapping and exit placement (which was unfortunately off to a rocky start due to early versions causing the addition of an extra exit to lock up the game). The new version fixes another exit placement bug, and provides essential tile properties, but doesn't stop there. Recall how music on the Overworld changes when the player, say, enters the Truce area. Not only this—where music transitions and what songs are played—but many more aspects can now be changed around. Geiger has completed the Overworld event editor, allowing fans to master the effects that animate the worlds as well as specific events, such as Lucca's dragging Robo from the Factory to the Proto Dome for repair, and the ferry's route in 1000 A.D. However, a fair bit of skill is required at this time, as the Overworld Editor is still in vitro, and the event code can appear very formidable.

[image]http://www.chronocompendium.com/images/wiki/4/44/TFA4.png[/image]
Rearrange .spcs, or edit strings with ease

These developments in Locations and Overworld editing offer virtually previously unknown opportunities for editing to casual Chrono fans, and the chance to create modifications and masterpieces for the obsessed and skilled. If these do not expand the possibilities of rom hacking enough to users, they can opt to use the Expand ROM option, which adds more space for editors to fill using 48 Mbit expansion. This adds around 48% more space in the ROM for Temporal Flux to save to. It's done by simply adding more space at the end of the file; adding at the middle would disrupt the game's structure. The ROM keeps a list of pointers that tell the CPU where to look when getting data; for instance, if you execute the Luminaire command in battle, the SNES will use a pointer to find the relevant animation and get things going.

[image]http://www.chronocompendium.com/images/wiki/c/cf/TFA6.png[/image]

Things like graphics that are kept in the middle of the ROM's data cannot be limitless, as they'll push other data down and off their original addresses that the pointer tables refer to. Unlike the NES, the SNES can read extra space added at the end of the ROM as if it were there in the first place. This is where the Expand ROM feature comes in; it frees up this space. A user will know he needs it when he's edited to his heart's content, but simply needs more. Good notes of editing is required in this case, so that others do not overwrite work if several people are contributing to a single hack with an expanded ROM. More support is on the way in the future.

The list of improvements over the old Temporal Flux does not stop there; interleaved roms are not supported (but caution is advised if they are not interleaved according to the usual standard), and the internal code has been revised to make the actual .exe smaller. Two ASM patches are also available in the File menu, one of which allows Dactyls to use the Epoch's No Landing Zones as well. The best is saved for last, however—strings are now expandable, meaning you type dialogue to be as long as you desire. This makes lengthy journal entries or grand soliloquies possible without using up several string locations. The music instrument table editor is also available, though moved under the Locations Window. A few of the .spc instruments have been named, and further help in naming them is appreciated.

If a complaint could be attempted at the progress Temporal Flux is making, it might come from Linux users or customers of other alternative OS's. While it may work on Linux with the correct software package (Mono and other freebies won't work), compatibility otherwise is limited. However, there is much justification for this, and given the common preference of Alt-OS users to run a dual boot machine with Windows, it should pose no problem. Forging cross-compatibility would not only tax the resources and time of Geiger (who would rather add support for the Chrono Trigger Prerelease if given the choice between the two), and Geiger also offered these words: "When you pick any OS, you have to take all the benefits and all the issues together. Windows has stability issues. Linux has compatibility issues. You pick your own poison."

[image]http://www.chronocompendium.com/images/wiki/1/17/TFA5.png[/image]
Shot from the Temporal Flux Teaser patch

While the dream of a centralized Chrono Trigger editor is still far off, Temporal Flux 2.0 is the true heir to that which was once just a fantasy. While the original program lacked more "complete" versions of Locations and Overworld editing, its successor sports these and more, blowing the lid off editing. Wild domains can now be sculpted, and countless inhabitants can be given life. Already, two large rom hacks have been planned—Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes, a joint effort by the Chrono Compendium to tell the events between Chrono Trigger and Chrono Cross, and the Chrono Trigger Extension Project, which aims to expand Chrono Trigger through new graphics, sidequests, missions, and dialogue. While these big projects may take a year or longer to complete (even Geiger has speculated he may attempt a sequel that takes place after Trigger and Cross), appetites have in the very least been whetted by the Temporal Flux Teaser Patch, which cultivated excitement before the first release, and Chickenlump's recent battle patch that pits the player against Queen Zeal, Schala, and Magus. These are just a sign of things to come, as the pulse of the Chrono and rom hacking communities intensify. Good things are on the way, and with the power afforded through Temporal Flux 2.0, anyone can participate in modifying Chrono Trigger and rediscovering its magic all over again.

Links and resources from the article:

http://geigercount.net/crypt/ Geiger's Crypt, home of Temporal Flux and the Teaser
http://www.chronocompendium.com/Foru...opic.php?t=527 Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes
http://board.acmlm.org/thread.php?id=8800 Chrono Trigger Extension Project
http://www.zophar.net/utilities/patchutil.html Ouinja utility, for patching NINJA patches
http://www.chronocompendium.com/wiki...difications%29 Chickenlump's Zeal Battle

Additional SS's:

http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag...c/ca/TFSS1.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag...4/4c/TFSS2.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag...4/4b/TFSS3.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag...4/49/TFSS4.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag...9/92/TFSS5.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag...f/f2/TFSS6.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag...4/43/TFSS7.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag...3/32/TFSS8.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag...1/19/TFSS9.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag.../4a/TFSS10.png
http://www.chronocompendium.com/imag.../90/TFSS11.png


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Old 05-21-2005, 01:00 AM   #2
Dirtie
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Default Re: Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

It just gets better and better - excellent work! Just a question, would it be possible for you to include a tileset image export option, similar to your "Save map to PNG" option? If so that'd be great, if not, continue to keep up the good work!

EDIT: Talking to Evil Peer/Geiger of course :P

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Old 05-21-2005, 07:21 AM   #3
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Default Re: Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

> would it be possible for you to include a tileset
> image export option, similar to your "Save map to PNG"
> option?

A similiar option will be the focal point of the next major release after v2.0, but its kind of moot at the moment. I lost my job about a week ago. This and all of my other projects are on hold indefinately.

---T.Geiger

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Old 05-21-2005, 01:43 PM   #4
Dirtie
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Default Re: Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

I am sorry to hear that. Good luck with finding a new job and hopefully we'll see that new release of Temporal Flux soon.

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Old 05-22-2005, 02:41 AM   #5
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Default Re: Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

> A similiar option will be the focal point of the next major
> release after v2.0, but its kind of moot at the moment. I
> lost my job about a week ago. This and all of my other
> projects are on hold indefinately.

Wow, well good luck with that. I hope you get a new one soon, it sucks to be without a job. I know this from experience. <img src=smilies/erm.gif>

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Old 05-23-2005, 07:34 AM   #6
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Default Re: Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

> A similiar option will be the focal point of the next major
> release after v2.0, but its kind of moot at the moment. I
> lost my job about a week ago. This and all of my other
> projects are on hold indefinately.
>


Oh man... I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you soon find a better job.

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Old 05-25-2005, 04:37 AM   #7
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Default Re: Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

Yo, sounds great man. If I ever get back on my computer again, I'll check it out.

I just beat Chrono Cross with the shittiest ending btw

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Old 05-26-2005, 02:00 AM   #8
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Default Re: Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

> Yo, sounds great man. If I ever get back on my computer
> again, I'll check it out.
>
> I just beat Chrono Cross with the shittiest ending btw

Which one's that? I like the developers ending myself, there's so much odd stuff locked in there, like the mysterious key.


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Old 05-27-2005, 03:37 AM   #9
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Default Re: Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

The 9th Sage - I beat it without saving Schala or whatever her name is. All you get is the ending credits >_< I know how to use the Chrono Cross now, but I've been lazy to check out the true ending lol.

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Old 05-27-2005, 03:40 AM   #10
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Default Re: Temporal Flux 2.0 Preview

> The 9th Sage - I beat it without saving Schala or whatever
> her name is. All you get is the ending credits >_< I know
> how to use the Chrono Cross now, but I've been lazy to check
> out the true ending lol.

Ah right, I forgot you only got credits for not using the Chrono Cross. :P They really should have given you SOME kind of ending...at least a "And the world refused to change." kind of thing. :P


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