Language learning (pauses & subtitle switching) in CMI

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Language learning (pauses & subtitle switching) in CMI

Post by haulv »

I wanted to improve my very basic French by playing games. I am such a beginner that I needed to use a dictionary to look up some words in almost every line of dialog and thought it would be convenient to be able to switch between the French and English subtitles in game, as well as to automatically "pause" at the end of each line to give me a chance to think over what was said before switching the subtitles to find out the words I didn't know.

From these forums, it seemed that most games are fixed in one language, however the Curse of Monkey Island (I have the French version) also has the English subtitles in it. So yesterday I got the source (Windows only) and hacked away until it worked. I have only tested it on the Curse of Monkey Island. It may also work on The Dig, but probably not on other games.

Here's a quick annotated video I made of me using it.

In summary:
The game "pauses" after each dialog, in that, the next dialog doesn't start but music/animations/background threads keep going. It is necessary to press "." (full stop) to continue to the next dialog.
Pressing "l" at any time switches the subtitles/dialog choices between French and English (as this is the French version of the game, audio is fixed in French which is what I want).

I'm not if I should make a patch for it (and also I just downloaded the code, no subversion) to share or what? Or if anyone else would even be interested.

P.S. Thanks everyone who has worked on scummvm which enabled me to be able to do this. Nice code (much nicer than what I just wrote!)
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Post by md5 »

Hey, nice work!

Although this is a bit of an exotic feature, perhaps it could be added, if the changes to master are few and self-contained.

Feel free to create a pull request, and the team will check your changes out.
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Post by CaptainJei »

I've been using Scumm games to learn foreign languages for years. The usefulness of such a feature would be hard to overstate.
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Post by angryrooster »

I very much would like to have a copy of this code, if possible. This is exactly the feature I've been craving! PM sent with request :)
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Post by drexbrod »

Hi, I'm currently learning German and this would be really useful for me. In some games the text advances too fast or the game engine doesn't have the ability to pause implemented and since I read slow currently it's a pain trying to understand everything that's going on.

If you could share the code or the built version you're using in the video, it'd be greatly appreciated!

Edit: After doing some searching through the engine code, I've found a way to adjust the subtitles to be extremely slow. And it seems to mimic what he had in the video. So far I've only figured out how to slow subtitles only in SCUMM engine games unfortunately.

From what I can tell the 'fix' if you can call it that, only works in some SCUMM games, more or so learning towards the later talkie versions.

Change in sound.cpp in the engine directory 'scumm' talkDeley == 0 to talkDelay == 5000 and that should allow similar functionality to what he has in the video. In order to advance forward you're forced to click the period button or... wait the entire 83 minutes it'll be paused for. :)

Does anyone know if there is a way to pause the games subtitles in SCI games also or at least slow them down tremendously? I can't seem to figure out a way for that engine.
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Post by mortenbh »

I registered just to give a +1 for this feature. Also, I would love to have the code so that I can play CMI and learn Spanish. :)
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Post by Nowhere Girl »

Just letting you know that for me games were very important in learning - at least in case of English. Nothing to do with Scumm VM - at that point I just used plain DOS, no emulators required and Scumm VM didn't even exist at that point.
Timeline with some funny stuff (the numbers are my age):
5 (year 1986) - learned reading and writing (just in Polish)
6 - started learning very basic English
7 - first heard about computers
8 - first played a computer game
10 - got my first computer
11 - students from a school in Denmark came for an inter-school exchange, I still couldn't talk without problems in English
12 - became an avid adventure game player
14 - suddenly I discovered I could already communicate in English
I still think it had much less to do with learning English at school and more to do with playing games (and also listening to rock music while being an extremely verbally-oriented person). Games are great for learning a language without even knowing it.
In contrast to this, I learned German mostly at school. I was just lucky to have a very good teacher, who by the way worked so quickly that I was shocked and desperate after the first few weeks and first few close-to-failed mini-tests... But then I got used and the teacher also became a lot nicer after he had already "filtered out" those who couldn't keep pace and had to move to a class without extended German.
Now I'm learning Ukrainian, without any tutor, mostly by reading (articles and books) - the upside is that a person speaking another Slavonic language, especially one of the closest ones such as Russian, Belarusian, Polish, Slovak etc., can understand much even without having studied the language, provided zhe knows the alphabet.
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Re: Language learning (pauses & subtitle switching) in CMI

Post by takitam »

This is such a brilliant idea and great work done by the OP. Unfortunately it seems that the idea never actually materialized.

I had a similar vision for language learning myself but as I have no programming skills I've just been running two instances of the game in two windows - one in English and on in French. Unfortunately it gets a little bit tiring with all the pauses, switching and having to do every action twice.

So here's my plea OP - if you are still somewhere out there please share your work with others. I'm sure that quite a few people including me would really appreciate it!
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Re: Language learning (pauses & subtitle switching) in CMI

Post by OmerMor »

I also would love to have a feature like this.
I play adventure games with my non-English speaking kids. I have to translate it for the on-the-fly, and if the text would always pause it would be much easier.
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