Tutorial: Dialogue Part I – Viewing and Understanding AWL Dialogue Files

In this tutorial, I’ll review the dialogue files in A Wonderful Life, and how to open, edit, and save them.

Finding Dialogue Files

First things first, you’ll want to extract your dumped ISO file to an easy-to-find directory.

In the root of your extracted ISO, you’ll find several files ending in “.mes”. It’ll be easiest to sort by File Type to find these files.

Most of these files are named after the character that says the included dialogue (e.g. Nami’s lines are included in “nami.mes” and “nami_wife.mes”). Some characters are referred to by their Japanese names (e.g. Celia’s lines are included in “sepilia_wife.mes” and “sepilia_wife.mes”

Dialogue File Format

All dialogue files follow a similar format when viewed in a hex editor.

In this example, we’ll look at the “other.mes” file.

All dialogue files will start with a file header/identifier at 0x00000000 of “cd c3 b0 b0″.

At 0x00000008, there will be a list of indexes which denote where each “phrase” exists in the dialogue file.  In this example, the first phrase exists at 0x00000734, the second exists at  0x0000075c, and so on.

Opening Dialogue Files

For viewing dialogue, I recommend using Harrison’s MES Editor.

Despite the name, the tool can only view files (not edit) at the time of writing this tutorial.

Harrison’s tool will display all messages in both plain text and hex.  All characters (letters, numbers, etc.) in the game are encoded as hex values.  Below is the chart for these values used in AWL (note AnWL uses different values).

Going by the above chart, “He” would be converted to “8012 80dc″

Referencing this table will be integral to editing dialogue files later on.

Fortunately, Harrison’s tool can extract dialogue to easy-to-read plain text files which will make searching for phrases easier.  I’ve created dumps of all of the AWL and AnWL dialogue, which can be viewed at my A(n)PL GitHub repository.