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Don’t use the auto-tracer

As an addendum to my previous post on SCI smells, here’s why you shouldn’t use the auto-trace function. Check it out.

This is your brain:

This is your brain on drugs:

Don’t use the auto-tracer. Especially when your source image has a lot of dithering in it, it has no earthly clue how to efficiently import those. Plus, you don’t get any priority or control screen data from it so you’d have to trace that out anyway.

Use tracing images, sure. Get a nice pencil sketch and go to town on it.

We already know they did that back in the day from this hidden background asset in Quest for Glory 2:

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Smells like SCI Spirit

If you’re going to make an adventure game in SCI Companion (or gods forbid SCI Studio) there are certain things that you might want to look out for. Missing them may make your game look somewhat lazy to those who know what to look for.


  1. “Colors” setting: since the template is based on Leisure Suit Larry 3, it inherited the option to specify any combination of 16 window background and text colors.
  2. MT-32 patch: easily missed depending on what you’re testing with, early SCI0 fan games mightn’t have had any MT-32 testing done at all. Thus you might miss that the MT-32 patches are straight from Larry 3 (again), including the startup messages, and your background music may not sound as good as one might hope, with mismatched instruments.
  3. BriPro logo: instead of the Sierra mountain logo, the first character in three out of five included fonts is the letters BP, for Brian Provinciano.
  4. Template Guy: as I like to call him. The dude with the blue shirt and gray pants. He’s the default player character.

You might consider all that to be in the past, considering it literally is, but there’s still projects actively in development that target SCI0/01.


  1. Blueish grays: since this template is based on Space Quest 5, the original version used to have SQ5’s palette as opposed to, say, the default SCI palette. The later template, before I even all but took over the project, had this replaced.
  2. Template Guy: he’s back, and I myself specifically made him so you wouldn’t be stuck with Roger Wilco. Same things apply as in SCI0 though.
  3. The font: by default, the SCI11 template comes with three common fonts and one specific to SQ5, and uses this as the default. It has no distinction between upper and lower case.
  4. Status line: even to this day, the template game includes SQ5’s custom-drawn status line, with the raised border.
  5. Inefficient polygons: a bit technical, might have to go into detail in another post, but early versions of SCI Companion used a rather hackish way to import external polygon data (where can you go, like in my pathfinder woes) which ate a lot of memory for no good reason. Later versions allow you to use the &getpoly command that I added, a bit of syntactic sugar that imports the polygon data in such a way you can’t tell it apart from Sierra’s code if you were to decompile it afterwards.

There’s no BriPro logo in the SCI11 template’s fonts, it’s the Sierra logo, but on the other hand only Leisure Suit Larry 6 has a menu bar despite being an SCI11 game, so you’d rarely if ever get to see it. The MT-32 patch is Sierra’s own near-GM patch, and includes a “SIERRA ON-LINE” message.


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Rules for UTF-8 in SCI11+

  1. It won’t work in ScummVM yet, as nothing uses it yet so I see no reason to add it. Most of the rest of SCI11+’s gimmicks do though.
  2. The internal “draw a string” function, used to write literally anything on to the screen, is where the magic happens: if the current port’s current font has more than 256 glyphs in it, the input string is interpreted as UTF-8. If it does not, things work exactly as usual.
  3. Because combining characters and glyph substitution are not supported and general punctuation like “” and are all the way in the 20002044 range, the General Punctuation block’s glyphs take the place of Combining Diacritical Marks as 03000344.
  4. Similarly, CJK Symbols, Hiragana, and Katakana are moved from 300030FF to 020002FF, where some Latin Extended-B, IPA Extensions, and Spacing Modifiers should go.
  5. Those last two points apply to the font data, not the actual text.
  6. The new kernel functions UTF8to16 and UTF16to8 will always consider their inputs to be in Unicode, no matter what the current port’s current font says. Unless you built an SCI11+ with UTF-8 support disabled, in which case none of the above applies and all these two functions do is turn 8-bit values into 16-bit.
  7. The kernel function to turn a string lower or upper case, StrCase, unlike the two I just described, will check the current font and act like it used to same as the “draw a string” function.
  8. The functions to get the lower or upper case version of a character that StrCase ends up using, tolower and toupper, have been extended to cover the full 256-character range. Several maps are included and one can be chosen at build time. We have maps for code page 437, Win-1252, ISO 8859-1, and a fair bit of Unicode.
  9. In general, SCI11+ can be considered to use Unicode 1.1 on account of SCI 1.001.100 dating from 1993, going by the version numbers and release dates for Freddy Pharkas (1.001.095) nd Leisure Suit Larry 6 (1.001.115).
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Just don’t

Me: ..and what is Pinball Witch’s source for this bold claim? An article on themarysue. Disregarded like I don’t even know what.
Letrune: It is not true, it is just that it was a sudden reveal.
Me: Look, I don’t think themarysue is a good source on this
Letrune: …no it isn’t! They think Asimov got NO female characters, not protags, CHARACTERS

“Samus is canonically trans”, my fuzzy buttcheeks.

Look, I got no problem with trans people and such, just ask Letrune, but when your source is that ill-informed you probably shouldn’t take their claims for gospel truth.

Okay so sure, the manual for the first game called Samus a “he”, and the name works both ways. It’s called “not spoiling the surprise at the end”, thanks.

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On snakes

“Watch out! A poisonous snake!”

Who among us who have played King’s Quest V – Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder doesn’t remember this iconic line?

Thing is, it is of course wrong. The snake is venomous, in that it bites you and you die. Indeed, the narrator gets it right when you look at the snake: “A large, venomous snake blocks Graham’s passage to the east.”

I have nine different versions of this game and only two of them get it somewhat right.

The original diskette version with the separate “walk” and “travel” icons? Poisonous. The CD version? Poisonous, even with some script changes!

The Amiga version? Poisonous.

The v55 and v62 EGA releases? Poisonous.

The French diskette version? Venimeux.

The German diskette version that I acquired while I was composing this post? Eine Giftschlange.

Now, I myself am Dutch, and I can confirm that in Dutch too, something venomous and something poisonous are both giftig. If there was a Dutch version of KQ5, Cedric would likely say this:

(made with Foone’s death generator because it was quicker than modding.)

The Japanese PC-98 version?  毒, doku.

Even though doku means poison, a dokuhebi (properly 毒蛇) is very much a venomous snake.

(Note from December 15: this brings to mind a thing from Orphan Subs’ Stop! Hibari-kun! release about the word wani being both crocodile and alligator.)

Of course, there is one more version left – I only listed eight so far. The ninth is a real slap in the face.

Yes, let’s rewrite the entire game so it can run on the NES and not finally fix this while you have the chance.

So basically English is the only language I’ve seen KQ5 in where there’s separate words for “it bites you, you die” and “you bite it, you die”, and none of the English versions get it right!

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Kamen Rider Zi-O and the Konami Code

Or is that the Minako Code? Either way, Zi-O episode 3 had a particularly nice reference:

I’ve seen several people, including whoever wrote the episode’s page on the KR wiki, completely mess this up.

The Code is “up up down down left right left right B A”. This note is “down down up up right left right left, then press all keys at once.”

I’ve seen people say this note has the Code as-is, I’ve seen them say it’s got the left and right inputs reversed… it’s almost as bad as thinking “start” is part of the Code proper.

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No windows, but no DOS either

But why did AGI have that big black command line bar to begin with?

Because the original didn’t have popup windows:

By then the picture format and all that was pretty much set or something like that. With SCI, they could do it all from scratch, using their AGI experience as merely a guideline, and images could go up to 320×190.

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Mono modes had an underline attribute. Great for text.

CGA/EGA text modes both had colors. Please excuse the off-color brown.

VGA was much the same but allowed trading the blink attribute for bright backgrounds.

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