don't click here

Confusion over S2HACK and S2BETA history... help with proof of dates?

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by saxman, Nov 20, 2022.

  1. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    I don't know if I can adequately explain this or not, but I'm going to do my best:


    Supposedly, Simon Wai made the Sonic 2 beta ROM available to the English-speaking world on January 3, 1999. At one point, I also saw an archive.org entry of Simon's page detailing this fact (can't seem to find it right now though).

    Andy Wolan offered me and Simon the opportunity to join the Sonic Stuff Research Group in early January. My page of course was the Sonic 2 Hacking Guide. And I remember both the Sonic 2 Hacking Guide appearing on SSRG literally hours after Simon Wai's page.

    The history of the Sonic 2 Hacking Guide is that it was first released to the public as a simple text file sometime in December of 1998. The original text file even has the December 1998 date in it. It was put into HTML format once I agreed to join SSRG.

    I'm struggling to determine *where* I made it available. My fuzzy memory tells me I sent it to Simon Wai to be put on his page (before it was moved to SSRG, obviously). But if the beta ROM was made public (and subsequently a website created for it) on January 3, 1999, that would call the December 1998 date into question. So either I shared it somewhere else, or that beta release date is incorrect. In fact, I may have shared it on two websites, but I'm not totally sure.


    Hopefully I haven't lost anyone so far...


    I know for a fact that I didn't have a computer at home to use for several months in late 1998. The work I did on creating the Sonic 2 Hacking Guide began using a computer at my dad's business. My grandad bought me a computer before Christmas. So my guess is that was maybe mid-December. One of the first things I did when I got it up and running was share my Sonic 2 hacking notes with either one or two websites.

    I remember that I had missed out on a lot that was going on around the internet for the months I didn't have a computer. When I checked my buddy SSNTails' website (at this point, it was SegaSonic.Net) for the first time in a while, he had the Sonic 2 beta title screen logo at the top, which I found stunning since it was different than the final Sonic 2. It was at that point that I began to follow the trail to what ended up being the Sonic 2 beta ROM.

    What I'm ultimately saying here is I am having difficulty proving these dates. Archive.org has a lot of missing entries (did they remove some stuff??). Is anyone willing to help track down some of this missing history? Did Simon Wai actually make the Sonic 2 beta ROM available in December of 1998? Was my Sonic 2 Hacking Guide actually made available in January of 1999? Is anyone able to make heads or tails of this?


    For reference, I can tell you the old SSRG URLs were as follows:
    * http://www.emulationzone.org/sections/sonic/s2beta
    * http://www.emulationzone.org/sections/sonic/s2hack


    Any assistance in trying to clear this confusion up would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

    Oldbie
    697
    405
    63
    One small tidbit I recall is the original website claiming that you could "win" a copy of the beta Rom by hitting a certain view number on the website back in the day (this was when public view trackers were all the rage on the 90s internet), I.E. BEFORE the public release date. My memory is fuzzy on the details, but I recall seeing the screencaps and wanting it so badly and being teased with the prospect of playing it a bit before it came out.

    Is it possible the S2Beta was privately passed around to a few people prior to Jan 3rd 1999, thus that allowed for your documents to be formed earlier?
     
  3. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    I'm not 100% sure, but I think you may be thinking of SoStH. Andre Dirk apparently had two cartridges, one being the Simon Wai version, and one apparently being like the final, but missing the Sega logo at the beginning (or at least I think that's what he told me). I don't remember the thing about winning it, but I do remember him attempting to sell them for a large amount of money. This was before the beta ROM release.

    The Sonic 2 Hacking Guide was only created with the final ROM in mind. The significance of the beta is I thought it was already released by the time I put the document out on the internet. And I feel like I had it posted on Simon Wai's page. But I may have had it shared on two different websites... can't remember for certain.

    Unfortunately, my memory has fused together certain events from 24 years ago. I only remember the beta ROM being available with Simon Wai's page on tact. Which leaves me to conclude either one of the dates (S2hack-December or S2beta-January) are wrong, or they're right and my memory of when certain surrounding events happened are misaligned. It's really quite shocking to me there isn't a better record of this stuff, or at least one that I can find.
     
  4. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

    Oldbie
    697
    405
    63
    http://sost.emulationzone.org/oldsosth/oldsosth/sonic_2/s2p1.html

    I remember SoSTH, but I am not sure if this was the only site that had that early info. Did Wai have his own page back then, and if so, what was it?

    Internet archives only goes back to 2004.

    It's still a trip to read this one though. That "hoaxes" section in particular takes me back, as those were all the rage on just about every page back then.

    http://sost.emulationzone.org/oldsosth/oldsosth/hoaxes/hoaxes03.html

    Now I remember I still want a Knuckles in Sonic Spinball hack. What the heck, guys? I've been waiting 24 years!

    (Oh wait, I actually did submit 2 hoaxes on page 6. I think that was my first ever internet contribution too. Wild.)
    http://sost.emulationzone.org/oldsosth/oldsosth/hoaxes/hoaxes06.html
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2022
  5. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    ...I'm genuinely confused. It sounds like not only did he have the cartridges, but he had a ROM too (since he mentioned KGen; and some of the screenshots which must be taken from an emulator).

    If he had a ROM, why didn't he share it? Although in the Links section, he gives Simon Wai credit for finding ROM, which makes it more confusing.

    Maybe there's just a mix of old and new information going on here. Makes putting a timeline together very challenging though.

    Edit:
    To answer your question in Simon Wai, I don't think he had a website before the beta ROM. He created the website specifically for its release.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2022
  6. David The Lurker

    David The Lurker

    For some mysterious reason... Administrator
    346
    114
    43
    Andre Dirk did not have the ROM for the "Simon Wai" prototype. The original version of his Secrets of Sonic the Hedgehog website had photographs taken from his television, which were also rehosted on a website called Sonic Pandemonium (the only "officially sanctioned" place the images were rehosted). By December of 1998, Andre was "auctioning" the cartridge, of which one such update can be seen here. January 2nd, 1999 was when Simon Wai posted the binary on Usenet. His summary of finding it still technically exists on the wiki. A few years back, I remember looking on google groups and finding a post from a day or two prior of Simon asking in a non-Sonic group if anyone had the ROM, but I can't seem to find it right now. I think the moment he found the file, he made it widely available.

    If you guide was first put on the Simon's site, it couldn't have been before January 2nd. If it was put up somewhere else first, I don't recall. I don't know if this is much help, but there you go.
     
  7. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    This helps a bit yes. Thanks!

    Hmm, reading that Usenet posting, the dates is clearly posted. Pretty hard to dispute. January 2nd it is then.

    So that leaves me to resolve this December 1998 date. I've been saying for nearly 24 years now, over and over, that the Sonic 2 Hacking Guide was first made public in the form of "s2hack.txt" in December 1998. And yet, I can't quite seem to prove that with what I've been able to recall from archive.org. It's incredibly frustrating that so much isn't archived. I thought maybe I had it posted to SoStH, but I don't see any signs of it there. And filenames apparently aren't indexed on archive.org from what I am reading, which means I can't search for that filename.

    Thinking about it more, it had to be hosted on Simon's site for certain, because that's how Andy Wolan found it, and subsequently offered me space on what would soon be formally called Sonic Stuff Research Group.

    I still believe it had to have been hosted on another page too, or else that December date just wouldn't make a lot of sense (unless I've been wrong for 24 years).
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2022
  8. RDNexus

    RDNexus

    Member
    It's saddening how we folks tend to forget that stuff doesn't stay on the net forever.
    Even I only nowadays do think of trying to archive as much as possible of stuff personal or of my interest.
    But also, the 90s and early 2000s was a pretty hectic time for netizens, so it'd still be tough to work this all out even if we had always wanted to.
     
  9. Been going through some sites doing SA2 and a bit of Heroes research from back in the day. This topic had me digging a little further back for the SSRG and related too.

    I've noticed that a lot of Simon Wai related dates show 1998.
    https://info.sonicretro.org/S2Beta:Main_Page
    Beta page here does show a December 98 date.
    https://web.archive.org/web/20071108201726/http://www.s2beta.com/downloads
    And this Lists December 98 as well.
    Then there is this here.
    https://web.archive.org/web/20071108200647/http://www.s2beta.com/about
    So it does seem that there was discussion through December because of the physical copy of the beta and then very beginning of January Simon Wai just quickly finds the copy that was distributed. Which makes it weird the December date became attached to it then? He may have grabbed it right at the end of December so the file might have had a December date attached then?

    I wasn't able to find any earlier examples of the Sonic 2 Hacking Guide, so can't place it being published before January.
     
  10. RDNexus

    RDNexus

    Member
    Maybe he got news of the cart in December and built the site in preparation to when he had the cart in hand?
     
  11. Well, the old about page said Simon saw the discussion on usenet late december, and grabbed a rom online and even lists the site that he grabbed it from. Which he'd played a copy of it years prior so he had an idea about the Hong Kong dumping scene. It seems he may have undercut the purchase of the physical copy. So the site was just a quick build to document everything. Even the site footnote indicia state 99 for the site.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
    • List
  12. Overlord

    Overlord

    Now playable in Smash Bros Ultimate Moderator
    18,881
    732
    93
    Long-term happiness
    For what it's worth my original copy of MD8123.SMD has a modified timestamp of ‎30th of ‎June ‎1998, ‏‎00:52:58 - I know for a fact this would have been on the file when I got it because I didn't know this ROM existed until 2001.
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • List
  13. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

    Oldbie
    697
    405
    63
    This is what I was trying to point to before. Is it possible the rom was dumped from a separate source and circulated even earlier among a small group of users? I was under the impression that the bootleg carts had been circulating in the Chinese markets for some time, and that a rom dump may have actually just been found online in those communities. If the origin is actually a Chinese dump, that can lead to inconsistencies on who claimed to find it and when.

    I could easily see a language barrier causing confusion. Especially on the more chaotic early 90s internet.
     
  14. Simon's claim was that he'd played it in 92 and that the Hong Kong scene had had it since. He just went online and quickly found a copy late 98 that may have been a dump from right around then. He just had an idea where to look.
     
  15. RDNexus

    RDNexus

    Member
    So one can surmise that Simon might've simply been the first person to recognize S2Beta's value to the fandom and researching & archiving community.
     
  16. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    I actually remember the Chinese website. I doubt it exists now, and I don't have the URL on hand. But it was basically just a page that had a really long list of ROMs, and the prototype was one of them. It was the MD8123.SMD file that Overlord mentioned. I think I have that very copy somewhere on one of my many file backups. So it doesn't surprise me it has a 1998 date on it since it would have already been dumped.

    However, it does appear January 2nd was indeed when Simon shared it based on the timestamp of that Usenet posting. Prior to that, none of the english ROM sites had it.

    The "December 1998" date noted on those other pages are probably a mistake. I know at one time -- for a LONG time -- I thought for sure it was discovered in December too. And I think that's me remembering having s2hack.txt hosted on Simon's page, and the fact that that document is dated December 1998, and the fact that that's when I finally got my own computer with internet access, and the fact that that's when I remember releasing it. But again, I think I probably also made it available on one other website of which I can't seem to locate.
     
  17. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    Ah, yes it helps when I read a little more carefully instead of skimming quickly.
    :thumbsup:

    So, I really know nothing about these groups. I know they were very popular, but I was never a frequent user of them. That said, I did find this:

    https://groups.google.com/g/alt.fan.sonic-hedgehog/c/CeMZWlDEo34/m/FvncRRadNyEJ

    That looks like what was shown on that link you posted. The timestamp is noteworthy, because it could be argued that it was revealed on January 1st considering it was 3:22am GMT. But that's not the timestamp for when it was posted on alt.binaries.emulators.sega.

    I'll also continue digging a little more to see what else I can find.
     
  18. saxman

    saxman

    Oldbie Tech Member
    05/18/1997
    A fun little conversation about Hidden Palace. There wasn't a Sonic hacking/secrets scene yet.
    https://groups.google.com/g/alt.fan.sonic-hedgehog/c/cW0ypRDBf60/m/a_twkMo482sJ

    ~~~~

    12/16/1998
    Andre Dirk announces he's auctioning off the beta cartridge.
    https://groups.google.com/g/alt.fan.sonic-hedgehog/c/vGfXeLg8RV8

    12/22/1998
    Beta cart update #1.
    https://groups.google.com/g/alt.fan.sonic-hedgehog/c/Ga0QiY1MhnY

    12/23/1998
    Beta cart update #2.
    https://groups.google.com/g/alt.fan.sonic-hedgehog/c/J3pOA9CHmIc

    12/24/1998
    Beta cart update #3.
    https://groups.google.com/g/alt.fan.sonic-hedgehog/c/v3NIw6eIs-k/m/yIm-9Og1KCwJ

    12/25/1998
    Beta cart update #4.
    https://groups.google.com/g/alt.fan.sonic-hedgehog/c/dR8EOHJGpo0

    ~~~~

    SSNTails re-created the Hidden Palace Zone in Click & Create right before the ROM hit. From what I have been told, everyone forgets he did this. He had a complete map either on or before 12/25/1998. He had a playable version by 12/29/1998. He further updated it on 01/01/1999. Sorry, I didn't get links for these, but they can be retrieved if anyone is interested.

    Best I can tell, nobody had played it before except through the recreation. By the time Simon made mention of the ROM on 01/01/1999 (or 01/02/1999, depending on the timezone), everything flipped upside down as we all know.

    As a side note, I *never* had any problems with Andre Dirk. We were always friendly. Some people clearly were annoyed by him, but I find some of the posts to be quite funny and actually makes me like him even more. Those poor saps had no idea the value of the beta and the massive following it would garner.
     
    • Informative Informative x 3
    • List
  19. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

    Oldbie
    697
    405
    63
    I think SSNTails recreation was based on all the existing screencaps/footage we had available at that point, and used those to guestimate the best layout, as I also remember playing it in the lead-ins up to the ROM's release.

    Man, wild to think that all of this happened within such a short time period then, as I remember all of this happening at some point, but not necessarily within a 5 week period.

    Here's a video playthrough of one version, for those curious: