Well, it’s been a while since I even looked at this project, but the tiny glimpse of Mass Effect Andromeda from E3 got me somewhat remotivated.
So I’ve started going through my proposed race changes, and updated all references in the ROM for each. Everything it, and in some cases has given me a few characters to play with when I redo the scripting. The only real problem was with the Elowan… Their name being somewhat shorter than “Salarians”, has had me refer to them as the “Salari”. I will try and take another look at this and see if I can extend some of the references. Luckily, in much of the conversational text I can reword things to buy myself the few extra characters needed, hopefully it’ll only be a minor canon-quibble in the end.
So now I have NPCs in the game claiming to be Mass Effect races! The script still needs changing – no self respecting Volus would meet you without calling you “Earth-Clan” – and the graphics definitely need changing, but baby steps!
Whilst hunting through the ROM for race names to change, I stumbled upon a piece of text test from the original development:-
THIS STRING TESTS IF THE NEW WRITEMESSAGE FUNCTION WORKS PROPERLY OR NOT. THIS MESSAGE SHOULD APPEAR CORRECTLY IN A WINDOW WHEN THE START BUTTON IS PRESSED PLANETSIDE. WHEN THE WINDOW IS FULL, THE USER PRESSES THE A BUTTON AND MORE OF THE MESSAGE SHOULD APPEAR. THIS IS TO BE USED FOR ANYWHERE THAT A MESSAGE COULD RUN LONGER THAN A WINDOW, FOR EXAMPLE IN THE ALIEN COMMUNICATIONS SECTION, WHERE ALIEN MESSAGES COULD BE SEVERAL WINDOWS LONG. SPECIAL CHARACTERS THAT ARE ALLOWED ARE: LOWER CASE R STANDS FOR RETURN, SO YOU CAN BREAK A LINE IN THE MIDDLErSMALL C IS c, SMALL T IS t, SMALL I IS i.rPUNCTUATION STANDARD ASCII: !+=-:?%#.,rANY ILLEGAL VALUE SHOWS UP AS A
In my previous meddling with the initial briefing text, I had already worked out that “r” would insert a line break. Now I also know that “c” and “t” do something! The “c” diplays as ©, and “t” displays as an up & down arrow in the same character – generally used in game as a “press to continue text” notifier. I can’t see either of these bindings being of particular use in game, but the list of supported punctuation characters definitely will be. No semi-colons for this game!
Also, I may hijack this part of the ROM for a hidden message of my own. The kids go crazy for hidden messages these days.
After doing the race names successfully, I moved onto the mineral elements. Starting out with the fuel source “ENDURIUM+”, I decided tochange this to Element 0, or Eezo. In official environments (briefings, trade centre, etc.) would become “ELEMENT0” (to fit into the character space of “ENDURIUM”), and in more conversational/informal settings (convos, discovered logs and the like) it would be replaced with “EEZO”, in keeping with Mass Effect usage. So I searched the ROM and updated as necessary, and loaded it up to see the change.
I’d forgotten about the “+”, which seems to have persisted. On the upside, this means I can replace “ENDURIUM” with “ELEMENT-“, and if I can replace the “+” with a “0”, it will eventually read as “ELEMENT-0”. However it was only ever showing as “ENDURIUM” in the ROM. Tracking down where the “+” comes from will be a greater challenge, as that lone character appears a lot in the code.
That’s slowed me down somewhat, so I’m going on a trial & error fishing expedition for this elusive punctuation mark!