Ukagaka

Ukagaka (伺か) is a catch-all term for Japanese software which shares a single format and function:
to provide a pair of desktop buddies for the user’s computer desktop.
These desktop buddies can perform some useful functions such as checking e-mail or adjusting the clock of the computer,
but are most popular as an aesthetic add-on, which “says” weird things.
Characters are typically cute anime style like girls of original design as seen in the sample screenshot,
accompanied by a small monster or pet of some sort.
However, a variety of other subjects exist on the sidelines, from video game characters to 2channel memes.
Then 伺か is none of the official 2136 Kanji, but is a pun, similar used in european languages as something like a blended word.
Farther, each desktop buddy is called a "ghost" and is simply a module which runs with a base software.

BTW, the screenshot may still exist, because I did put it to commons (Kuronee_-_Bildschirmfoto).

Functions
Evil tongues claimed that the main function was to wastefully use PC memory and CPU power to watch Sakura (main character) and Kero (sidekick), who sometimes waged a fierce (usually humorous) exchange of blows.
At the time of origin regarding the existing performance of a standard PC but a topic. The problem may have been that the application under Windows95/98 often caused system crashes.
With more stable operating systems, only the application crashes and then much less frequently. The exchange of blows via balloons is described as follows:
  * Random Talk
When the user launches the application, normally the images of two characters (it may be one or three characters) will appear on the screen.
The randomly generated dialogue occasionally appears in ghost's balloons. The default setting of the frequency can be changed in the ghost-side menu, is there a certain extent of the standard selection points.
The section 'Random Talk' in the scripts contains a different number of lines, depending on the ghost. At certain intervals, one of them is selected and displayed.
Apart from an increase in the number of lines, the variability can be increased by the use of text modules (also as a random selection).

The functions designated as secondary by the evil tongues can be called up via the menu:
  * Menu
On the one hand, there is the respective program menu of the basic software, which can be called up completely with a right-click on the main character.
Furthermore, (almost) every ghost has its own menu, or even several, accessible with a simple left-click or double-click.
Touch zones can be defined, which trigger certain reactions when clicked on, amongst other things also calling a menu.
So the SSP program has a few branches, so a ghost-side menu can have many more levels.
Functions include an NTP client, POP3 receipt confirmation, ToDo list management, Windows 9x series memory cleaner, online update, SSTP communication, and more.
Furthermore, most Ghosts at full hours tell the time, which can also be provided with comments, even integrating a gong beat is possible.
The functionality of the menu can be extended.


Ukagaka History
  * Start of development
Kuroi Sabato (nick name), used Personaware (now: Chararina), published in October 1998, a few days, admired the man-machine interface with the virtual personal assistant,
which is the concept of Personaware, but felt equally dissatisfied with the actual performance of Personaware. Therefore, Kuroi Sabato decided to develop similar software completely new.
With irony towards Personaware named as 偽ペアア with "偽春菜" (Fake-Personaware with "Fake-Haruna") and published on 25 May 2000.
  * Fake-Personaware - slightly different than this
The big difference to personaware was, while in personaware characters (Virtual Personality) basically only one character can be replaced ("Haruna" comes with the basic software),
Fake-Personaware characters consisted of two characters, "Fake-Haruna" and "Unyuu" (character design: Saxyun), who were in the habit of talking to each other.
Fake-Haruna as a name and an appearance similar to Haruna (similar in clothing and hairstyle) and menu structure, language and dialogue have been generally a parody of Personaware and Haruna.
The "headline sensor", which automatically monitors and reports update information from news sites, was an innovative feature at the time and was widely accepted by many users.
Much of this was picked up on the Internet Bulletin Board 2, and the proliferation of fake-personaware was gradually taking place in the Internet community.
In December of the same year, the name of fake-personaware changed to あれ以外の何か with "偽春菜" (slightly different from "Fake-Haruna"),
because the program "Personaware" was responsible for a trademark registration and this software would be protected accordingly.
  * Release of something different than this - compatible software, release of the successor software
In short: There was a lot of trouble with the name, back and forth, discussions among users, renaming the software to あれ以外の何か with "任意" (something other than that with "Nin'i"),
culminating in Kuroi Sabato closing his website on February 20, 2001.
The situation calmed down when SAKURA Script Player (now SSP), compatible with "something different than this", has been released on February 21 by Doichan!, the day after the site closed.
For first, no own ghost has been included.
  * Renaming to Ukagaka
After that, the version update progressed steadily, the name was changed from August 14, 2001 to April 14, 2002 in 何か (Nanika),
then changed to 伺か (Ukagaka) and at the same time the authorship was transferred to "ls".
From this point on, a new standard ghost (main character called "Sakura" and sidekick named "Unyuu") with the design of "Suka" was added. Finally, on 22 June 2002, last version upgrade to 伺かperiod583. (materia583.exe)
Unlike SSP, which has become the de facto standard application with ongoing updates and high compatibility with Materia specifications.
A variety of ghosts designed in a way to present attractive characters and genre-specific conversations, or even the cuteness of the characters, etc. released by the users has been the result.

Explanation of name
伺か (Ukagaka) hardly differs from 何か (Nanika), the difference is in this additional line over the rectangle in the left part of Ukagaka, the pronunciation, however, is clearly another.
First of all, Nanika translates to "something", we need a third kanji to get closer to the whole thing. Let's take 伺う (ukagau), translated: (modestly) ask;visit;listen.
That would at least explain the pronunciation reasonably, otherwise you can only guess, japanese people know exactly. So this way, no word about it on the japanese Wikipedia page.
So practice proven:
'Something' together with 'ask;visit;listen' means probably:
  1. Ask me something - ghosts with extensive menu
  2. Just visiting - rather quiet ghosts without much fidget, mostly just the main character
  3. Listen to me - ghosts with extensive random talk, chatterboxes
Perfect fit. The kanji 伺か is therefore composed of these two parts.
As cou can see, older names of the software are quite outdated. So also existing english Wikipedia article, already at the start in February 2005, and has never truly been updated.
Nin'i-tan (任意たん) or Nise-Haruna (偽春菜) as a software name did not exist very long and Sakura (さくら) has been only the name of a ghost or main character and then stands just for first letter of SSP.


Ghost
Ghost has the following two meanings, generally the latter:
  1. Script part including SHIORI
  2. Overall appearance including the script part and the shell data

Configuration
Ghost as a script part has the following three elements necessary as a minimum:
  * descript.txt defining Ghost
  * Dictionary files describing conversation as well as events and reactions
  * Configuration of the script files, so that they can be executed correctly by SHIORI
A ghost as general appearance must contain at least the two parts Ghost and Shell.
A SHIORI is often distributed with a template, which makes it easier to create a ghost, as long as you only have to change the shell and the content of the balloons.

SHIORI
SHIORI processes the content described in the script files and transmits requirements to the baseware. Implemented as a DLL. Above all, SHIORI simplifies the input,
operations can be controlled with a relatively simple script. The format of the dictionary files is not decided but differs for each SHIORI.
Sometimes written as "栞", the origin of the name should come from "Shiori Misaka" from the PC game/anime "Kanon", but may be the abbreviation of a longer term.

華和梨 (かわり)
  Author of Kawari is a team of developers.
  Derived versions like "Open KEEPS" (KEEPS - Kawari Easy Event Programmed Script) and "FUDS" (First Use Dictionary Set) are distributed including templates.
  * Advantages: Since shiori.dll (almost always so named) uses a simple scripting language, it is easy to understand. In addition, there are plenty of opportunities for expansions.
  * Disadvantages: Since the configuration is distributed over several script files, it is difficult for beginners to keep an eye on (intendent) things.

文 (あや) (aya)
The author is umeici. It has grammar structure like C language.
Development is finished, the YAYA (Yet Another AYA) development team now works on modified versions of "sentence".
  * Advantages: Rich in scalability, since there are also a lot of adopted ghosts, it is easy to reference the advanced script.
  * Disadvantages: Because of its unique grammatical structure, it is difficult for beginners and non-programmers to avoid errors that prevent the functionality of the ghost at all.

里々 (さとり) (satori)
里々 is quite tailored to the requirements of japanese written language, e.g. entering two characters on the keyboard to create a kanji.
  * Advantages: Furthermore, all anglicisms for functions and labels have been eradicated. This easy way of use for japanese ghost authors did result in about 70% of published japanese ghosts using this SHIORI.
  * Disadvantages: Older versions of satori.dll (until about 2012/13) are hardly executable on non-Japanese Windows versions, newer versions work - unfortunately not every ghost author did notice yet.
Older versions did not even run on Chinese Windows, as a result of which there are chinese versions of satori.dll. The main difference is, japanese script files are (99,9%) saved in ASCII, chinese mostly in UTF-8.

美坂 (みさか) (misaka)
Especially in the early days has been used more frequently, either by japanese, chinese and korean ghost authors.
The origin of the name probably comes from the surname of the sisters "Shiori Misaka" and "Kaori Misaka" from the PC game/anime "Kanon".
  * Advantages: The structure is simple and pretty good understandable by beginners.
  * Disadvantages: The development has been discontinued, and in order to have more complicated things done to extend the functionality you need programming skills.

There are some more SHIORIs like   eseshiori.dll, hisui.dll, niseshiori.dll, yuhna.dll - which have not been used very often.

SAORI
Abbreviation of "Supplemental Archive Onto Restricted Intelligence".
Plug-in standard for adding functions not installed in SHIORI, or its files. This standard was not formulated by the author of Materia so made by others.
As a result of different functions, there is no description about SAORI's content in a rush.
The origin of the name should come from "Saori Mizuki" from the PC game "Hajimete no Orusuban" (incidentally, she has a twin sister called "Shiori").


Shell
The appearance part of the characters.
Initially, a large number of image calls has been needed to realize animations, now various effects can be realized with less data volume, thanks to the combination of basic frames and sub-frames as a progress.
A ghost can have multiple shells or additional shells can be added. Here are to distinguish:
  * Original shell - created by the ghost author or the co-author.
  * Addon shell - also created by ghost author or co-author, but offered individually, however can also come from other artists and is assigned to this particular ghost.
  * Free Shell - which as the name implies, is available for any ghost and ghost author for free use.
    Especially for ghost authors who "can not draw but want to create ghosts". The scope of use varies by author, including modifications and extensions.

Configuration
Shell uses the following two as the minimum necessary elements:
  * descript.txt defining Shell
  * surfaces (frames of the shell)
Also, surface0 and surface10 must be stored.

SERIKO
SERIKO is finely divided in versions according to standards and uses made to realize simple animation. Before SERIKO was formulated, a large amount of images was needed to realize it on a steady basis using SAKURA Script.
Because of this inconvenience SERIKO was then formulated to make animations easier to realize, these are specific lines in surfaces.txt.
The name SERIKO comes from "Seriko", the first ghost with animations of this kind. Seriko obviously seems to be borrowed from Serio (HMX-13) from the PC game/anime "To Heart".

MAYUNA
MAYUNA is the name given to the standard of dressing. Dressing is a function to change the appearance of a character by the user arbitrarily changing costumes and accessories prepared on the basis of the character's surfaces.
Also specific lines in surfaces.txt, but also in descript.txt. Now part of the SERIKO specifications.
The origin of the name should come from "Mayuna Yūma", who invented clothes/dressup. Possibly also blended word of "Mayu" and "Nana", the first characters with more than one outfit.
The Kisekae Set System (KiSS for short) probably gave the idea for MAYUNA, the possibilities are of similar scope.


Compatible environment
Version upgrades of Materia have not been done no more so as mentioned above, but all the specifications were released, so a number of compatible environments could be developed.
  * Windows
      * SSP (currently recommended application)
      * C.R.O.W. (no longer downloadable, but there may still be ghosts bundled with C.R.O.W. to be offered)
  * Mac OS
      * Nanika on Apple (Classic Mac OS)
      * NiseRingo (macOS)
  * Unix based OS
      * ninix
      * ninix-aya
      * Ukagaka for Android
It should be noted that all listed programs as well as the user-created ghosts are freeware.


Well known ghosts
Sakura & Unyuu
Default ghost of Materia. Initially named as Fake-Haruna, later as 'Nin'i', in english 'arbitrary'. Because of the name disputes with Personaware the author temporarily had the name chosen by the users.
At some point, the main character was addressed in Random Talk by the minor character as Sakura, satirizing the relationship of Sakura Kinomoto and Cerberus (jap. Kero-chan) from "Cardcaptor Sakura" to each other.
A visual similarity was not given, but the relationship to each other as a generic term for main and secondary character was dependent. The design for Sakura has recently been changed to shorter hair and other clothing.
There could be more footage on Nini-tan than Sakura (as ghost) on the web.

Emily & Teddy
Default ghost of SSP. The design of the characters was changed at least three times, in the latter two Emilio was added as the third character.

Mayura & Black Unyuu
The "digital witch" was one of the first ghosts, but the distribution was discontinued relatively early. For a short time (2012) a re-release was available.
If the definition of "Zettai ryōiki" have stimulated, at least it is obvious.

Hana-chan
"Little Flower" is represented with some pictures on the web. May be misunderstood as a Firefox Avatar, which is definitely not the case. A foxgirl (Kitsune) in a school uniform.
The pictures on the web could be used to reconstruct the shell, the ghost is unfortunately no longer available.

FLELE
Rather known as "Desktop Music Player" with interchangeable skins.
In fact, the download (en/jp) of "FLELE PLAYER" includes an SSP distribution with FLELE as the default ghost. Therefore you should also start the program in the unzipped "Flele (English)" directory with ssp.exe.
A flele.exe, fleleplayer.exe or similar of course are not present. Apart from the "skins" for FLELE, which are also properly called shells, you can also integrate more ghosts.
The described cloning of originally one to several FLELE ghosts should serve mainly to be able to create different playlists, which can then be recognized by different shells.
It is recommended to save a thumbnail in the respective root directory, copied from the used shell, except meaningful names of the ghosts.
Conclusion: Special form of a ghost with special functions, may be some people use SSP only for this purpose.


Artificial incompetence
Most of these desktop resident applications have architectures that seek actions from users and responses to it. Although this is very easy to implement,
users must always have opponent inquiries, so it was often activated only when the user wanted to partner, although coupled with a small number of conversation patterns.
On the other hand, conversation is performed on the screen without user intervention (although it is also possible to intervene) by introducing the sidekick "Unyuu" and updating frequent conversation dictionary data online.

Well, the interactions are rather limited (so ghosts also are called faked AI), ghosts are generally not designed as a chatbot. As a desktop mascot, therefore, the focus is rather on appearance and amusing behavior.
Some Ghosts come with a kind of lexicon. For example 花咲案内人(FlowerGuide), but this (botanical) lexicon is simply displayed via random talk.
Different e.g. at "Taromati(/2)", where the user must call the ghost side menu. Contains even two lexica, "flower language" and "Birthday flowers".
More ambitious is "Fox Theory", where alone the possibility to display the menu and the Random Talk except in japanese (and/or) in english language can already be seen almost as a unique feature.
The full version already includes almost 400Mb as a download archive, of which could be about 3Mb the shell and the scripts and SHIORI (a common value),
the vast majority might consist of algorithms, which, as claimed, could actually enable a learning ability of "Lisa".   To be tested...


Internationalization
Apart from Japanese and Chinese, there are also a few Korean and some English Ghosts, other languages can also be used.
Although it is possible to change the menu language of SSP into english, so SSP is just a platform, changing the menu language does not change ghost's language.
On the page of Bugtraq Lab. not only can be downloaded the latest version of SSP, there also offered is a korean language pack and a link to the chinese version.
The russian(!) version does not seem to be available anymore.


Trivia
The origin of the names of some terms could not be clearly verified. In detail, one can at least record:
"Mayu" and "Nana" belong to a set of 10 of the earliest ghosts of the same author, with alternating participation as 'Sakura' or 'Kero', individually or sometimes both together.
"Saori" and "Shiori" have been realized as ghost, as well as another pair out of PC games by another author. These just mentioned 12 ghosts are no longer available.
Initially, the proportion of PC game characters and anime characters was, e.g. "Kanon" relatively high, but decreased over time as well as their availability.

Many ghost authors are also active in other fields. CG illustrations and manga or webcomics to mention nearby, where the characters of a ghost in other form can emerge.
So it can go the other way, from Ghost to PC game. There is even an anime with Nin'i-tan and Unyuu in supporting roles. Netrun-mon is a one-part OVA on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of NetRunner magazine.
For a ten-year anniversary for another reason, another short eight-minute film was created for a convention on Ukagaka.
However, this consists only of freezed frames of newly drawn illustrations of numerous ghosts as a slideshow with music background.
Videos are also available on YouTube, but if you look for 'Ukagaka', you will get at the moment almost exclusively 'Undertale' dedicated videos in masses.
Going there one must think, Ukagaka is the japanese translation of Undertale...

Other topic. There are (of course) some ghosts with 18+ content. Unfortunately, CG illustrations also run under the 'Ukagaka' label, as well as manga and PC games, but the latter are more categorized as 'Erogē'.
For illustrations, manga and PC games, even ghosts of this kind, there is a more appropriate word, namely 'hentai'. In particular, but not only for illustrations probably Rule34 applies.

Again: videos, manga, games, CG can be about Ukagaka, but not Ukagka itself, that's the software and components only!


External links
Baseware
      * Materia (jap.)
      * Bugtraq Lab. (SSP)
      * C.R.O.W. (jap.)
      * NiseRingo (jap.(en))
      * ninix (jap.)
      * ninix-aya (jap.)
Portal · Database etc.
      * Disc-2 (jap.)
      * ゴーストキャプターさくら (Ghost Capture Sakura) (jap.)
      * Encyclopedia of 伺か (jap.)
      * 何かゴーストセンター (Nanika Ghost Center) (jap.)
      * GHOST TOWN (jap.)
      * 伺かversum (multilingual, Listings, Manuals (de/en))
Manuals
      * How to use GHOST? (for Windows) (jp/en)
      * Full SSP + Flele w/ Miku Hatsune Shell Tutorial (english)
      * "NANIKA" (english)
      * Ghost/Ukagaka Walkthrough (english)


Related items
  * Chararina (former name: Personaware, gave the idea for the development of Ukagaka, not compatible) (jap.)
  * MaCoPiX (WindowSitter, perhaps gave the idea for the SAORI Osuwari.dll) (jp/en)
  * G★REVO | FAQ (SSP featuring FLELE as a "desktop music player")


References
      * Desktop Figur
      * Ukagaka | Prince Maker Translation Project
      * Ukagaka (Desktop Mascot Assistant)
      * SSP Emily romanization | maxufeiss
      * Ukagaka Magazines
      * Parodies: Ukagaka / 伺か - The Doujinshi & Manga Lexicon (only lists)
      * amazon/MoreBooks! Paperback

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