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The Retro "PC Engine Offline Catalog" Returns Online!

Started by NightWolve, August 19, 2018, 11:11:17 PM

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NightWolve

https://www.pcengine-fx.com/catalog/

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Anybody remember this ? I do! :)

It was called the "PC Engine CD Offline Catalog," a rock-solid ~2003 Windows app by the now defunct French group "NEC-Ro-Pole" which barely exists in the WayBack Machine. Developed by RAPH99 and FagEmul in the heyday of French PCE groups, the group long ago shut down leaving behind impressive software like this and CD ISO/MP3 image extractors. I knew FagEmul from my Ys I Complete fan translation project for a bit actually, he's credited for helping with image work.

Why is it useful exactly, as there are already lots of sites you can browse PCE games on after all ? Basically, it's a super fast screenshot browser of the PCE library. It's just a rapid screenshot selector is all it is. You might find screenshots of CD games you've never come across before in random browsing with it.

With rapid scanning/scrolling of screenshots of PC Engine/TG-16 games, you find stuff you never knew existed and perhaps consider wanting - just as some people can only deal with short sound bites, this offers quick, 16-bit colorful eyecandy, visual bites, if you will, to get a "taste" of what the system has to offer. That's been my experience, like, "Wow, that looks cool, totally missed it." You just click on the game titles and then you can use the Up/Down arrow keys or PageUp/PageDown to quickly scroll through, you get the idea...

So anyway, on a whim, I decided to port it to JavaScript & DHTML for fun, see if I could host it on PCEFX to function almost ~exactly as the original app, sure enough it was only a 1-2 day project over the weekend! Using all the PNG image assets from their Windows app, and the text database file they built it with, they allowed for easy porting, pretty much was a piece of cake.

Notes: A download to the original retro app itself will be made available on the page too and I just rediscovered there was a HuCard version, so I can quickly port that now as well.

Open call: It could use some help/tweaking for missing screenshots or game titles, so if you wanna help in your leisure to make it 100%, lemme know! Use this thread to post about any missing games, screenshots, erroneous info, etc. Some existing screenshots weren't well done, so you can help replace them with better ones if it ever interests you. They should be in 256x224 standard PCE resolution and in PNG.



Updates:

https://www.pcengine-fx.com/catalog/music.html - Access to The Poor Man's PCEFX Jubebox separately. Testing for me, and for you, a separate version from the catalog viewer.

dshadoff

Cool stuff !
This is pretty much what I had been aiming for with PCECP (which, sadly, is offline now).

How easy is it to add stuff to this ?

I have a slightly perverse desire to try to translate some of the "easter egg/cheat" information from places like the Hyper Catalog extract that Chris Covell pulled some time ago:

https://www.chrismcovell.com/texts/PCE_Catalogue-Lines.html

Dave

NightWolve

Quote from: dshadoff on August 20, 2018, 07:30:15 AMHow easy is it to add stuff to this ?

I have a slightly perverse desire to try to translate some of the "easter egg/cheat" information from places like the Hyper Catalog extract that Chris Covell pulled some time ago:

https://www.chrismcovell.com/texts/PCE_Catalogue-Lines.html
Not terribly hard, I'm thinking of adding a Chris Bucci TurboViews review link on each one since Chris has almost reviewed everything. I'd add a BrothersDuoMazov.com review link too, but their fate is uncertain given the domain expiration while Chris' videos should always live on with stable YouTube video links.

Unfortunately, only the game name is truly the unique primary key in how their simple text database was designed. I use the 4 digit screenshot ID, but on a handful of them, there are no shots or only a cover shot, so then I use the ID of that image...

We have 99% unique IDs between 0010 to 4791, just for those missing cases basically. So, a simple extended data function that takes the ID as a parameter and returns a data string of links and other info is all it would take. We have to finish those remaining games though, assign a 4 digit ID to be of rid that complication.

Here's an example of the data string:

<option value="4791@cd@jap@NXCD1003@18/12/1992@Toaplan Co., Ltd.@Naxat Soft@4790@4791@4792@4793@4794@ ">Zero Wing
And with a simple split() function with a unique character to delimit, you can easily load it out.

var aGameData = GameInfo.split("@");
document.images[2].src = "images/" + aGameData[7] + ".png";
document.getElementById("ReleaseDate").innerText = aGameData[4];
document.getElementById("Publisher").innerText = aGameData[5];
document.getElementById("Distributor").innerText = aGameData[6];
document.getElementById("Notes").innerHTML = "Notes: " + aGameData[12];

The data file for the Windows app uses a CSV text format, except ';' delimits instead of a comma, but I got tired of escaping quotes and other characters, I needed to use '&', '"' or '"' type HTML entities, so I changed it to '@' for the JavaScript port for this data. Any email addresses I'd have to escape the '@' to '@' naturally.

(Check out the rest of the https://www.pcengine-fx.com/catalog/catalog.js JavaScript library file for how I ported the data.)

Anyway, yeah, I wanna link off translation projects on some of these, I fixed a bit of the broken English, added a few missing screenshots here and there so I do wanna extend the provided data somehow.

In the meantime, enjoy the latest version with the autocomplete HTML5 datalist element that was added. There's a quick search textbox that drills down to the game as you type it. Very easy to build something like this page with modern HTML standards. If you mouse over an image, it scales to 1.5 times its size, and even more if you hold the mouse button down.

I also made adjustments for a mobile phone based on low screen resolution, so you'll get one big table, and a drop-down combobox instead of a big listbox to the side which Android phones with Chrome won't render. Some adjustments needed for 5"-6" phones to actually make it usable for somebody to check out.

https://www.pcengine-fx.com/catalog/

dshadoff

Have you looked at SQLite ?  Self-contained database file, accessible from multiple many languages and with the ability for multi-table schema.

I started looking at this recently in order to move the data from Access in order to restart work on a translation project... I purchased a program which does a good job of moving data from Access to SQLite - but since it targets UTF-8, I needed to brush up on the various Unicode encodings.  (SQLite doesn't seem to have any such restrictions; just the migration program).

Meanwhile, I'll take your response as a "yes", and see what I can do to do a few sample Easter egg translations.

NightWolve

SQLite as a database backend replacement for my translation software system ? Microsoft Access is still "good enough" for what I do in that area to get by.

I know/remember, we talked about Access alternatives years ago, but with all the legacy code I wrote, the forms I designed, and completed projects, including what the criminal XXXSEED Games cheats hijacked (Ys PC), I don't care much anymore...

I don't plan many projects past Emerald Dragon with SamIAm and he's already familiar with my translation app. You know as much as anyone it's a thankless endeavor and gamers are a toxic bunch (including gamers IN game companies), so really hard to justify past projects let alone more in the future...

If you also mean it's worth looking at here too, I'd say it's not worth the trouble. I think it's cool to send all data at once in a 70KB JavaScript file like it is now and have DHTML that can search/scan it instantly. Only a few hundred to a thousand records here so not much trouble it appears.

Access is strictly 16-bit Unicode so the export process would have conversion to do if UTF-8 is what's needed. I'm surprised you need a third party app though, surely there is another in-between format you could export to that SQLite can more easily import (Excel or CSV).

Anyway, yeah, it won't be much trouble to extend the catalog data here. Just some minor issues with the key, I'll look at your results and figure how to work it in. There's space issues, like right now deciding how to embed a YouTube video. Thinking of a bottom row with video centered. I don't want too much trouble for this, I'll figure something out later.

dshadoff

I was just thinking about using it as the repository for the games database, on the assumption that it wasn't as small as it turns out to be.  I hadn't even considered the possibility that the data was actually embedded in the page download.  That's actually pretty cool (though some artifacts like images must be stored on a server I expect).

I wasn't thinking about changing your existing translation software system... although if it were to be recreated today, I think SQLite might be a better choice, especially as the M$ tools lose compatibility before translation projects can be completed, and open software tends to have a better track record for backward-compatibility (and/or effort required to update).

The problem I had with export is:
- UTF-16 can include embedded '\0' characters which cause a lot of problems with anything not limited to UTF-16.
- other export methods such as CSV would struggle, as there are embedded carriage returns and commas within the text data, which cause imports to have trouble discerning end-of-column and end-of-row.

...So, it was either this or something else custom, and I felt that paying some money would be better than expending a bunch of effort.

Also, as I started to look at UTF-8, it overcomes the embedded-'\0' issue at the cost of multi-length characters, and this was probably going to solve some string-management issues in the first place.  Also, I realized that it's the same encoding as 16-bit Unicode (at its core)...  So a simple transformation after all.

I'm still playing around, but I feel I can make better progress on reinsertion efforts now (though I won't re-implement an editor in the event that edits are required).  Perhaps SQLiteStudio would be sufficient for those.

As soon as I have some easter egg text to play with, I'll PM you a sample.

NightWolve

Catalog Update: 9/2/2018 - Music time, should be 5"-6" smartphone-friendly to boot!!
https://www.pcengine-fx.com/catalog/

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* HTML5 Audio Player with "Best of PCECD tracks" randomized! :bonkthis: Rock'n'Rolling with Gate & Lords of Thunder Examples:
(These were slow-ripped from my original silvers at 8x with TurboRip, then I used Audacity to normalize them and export to MP3 with a VBR of 65-100Kbps)



Future plans/ideas:

* Convert all image assets to GIF, convert GIF to animation with 4 screenshots per file that alternate every 3/4 seconds... PCE Catalog should be the fastest PCE screenshot/eye candy bombardment! I figure instead of increasing the page width/height by adding more slots for screenshots, keep the 4 spots, but alternate times 4 with animated GIFs... It'd take a long time to convert all to GIF and collect more screenshots, but that would be the eventual goal - any help would be appreciated to give me 16 screenshots per game in your leisure.

* YouTube Reviews by Chris Bucci's TurboViews for as many games as he did. I still haven't thought of how to embed the video yet; where I put the audio player is where I was thinking of putting a frame for them. I think a centered popup window per-click would do the trick perhaps.

* Feel free to offer up any other suggestions. Oh, submit your Best Of selections from various PCECD games for consideration and I'll add them. If they're linked off of another server, even better so as to save space here. I won't be able to include every one, hence I want THE VERY best.

NightWolve

SMF AutoEmbedAV v1.00 (new) Test

(The old Aeva plugin was buggy/huge/too-complex, caused problems like ruining consistent formatting of quoted text, so I decided it'd be fun to delete/uninstall it, take a stab at writing my own [in PHP] for auto Audio/YouTube embed that's fast/compact)


YouTube embedding advancements:

-uses latest 2021 iframe embed code from YouTube.
-"lazy" loading, only fires http requests when iframe object is visible, so our big YouTube collection thread is less of a pain when browsing.
-16/9 aspect ratio with 100% width (aspect-ratio: 16 / 9;), mobile-friendly for the first time! I use the new 2020 aspect-ratio CSS4 draft attribute (support is not universal yet, Chrome/Firefox, not Safari), but also the old padding hack for old browsers.
-pre-loads the best thumbnail first (I didn't wanna rely on JavaScript, but it's the best way).
-playlist links with index work.
-time start honored (either in seconds or min syntax, e.g, ?v=xxxxxx&t=5m23s)
-trimming of breaks/spaces before/after, same formatting/placement every time and within 1 paragraph break (<p></p>).
-using lack of thumbnail as condition of a deleted/expired video, a red unavailable link is replaced instead of a big empty video container. Sometimes you can discover what the video was with WayBack or google searches with the video ID.
I think I did a better job than most SMF plugins now.

And reference link: our > YouTube viewing collection history <.