The Death of Originality

Discussion in 'Engineering & Reverse Engineering' started by Selbi, Jan 16, 2021.

  1. MainMemory

    MainMemory

    Kate the Wolf Tech Member
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    It is important to listen to what people tell you about your hack, if a lot of people are telling you that something could be better, it could probably be better; but you also need to know what you want your hack to be. Even if things they say wouldn't work with your current project, maybe keep it in mind for something else.
     
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  2. Thanks for the advice guys! You won't believe this, I was digging around... and I found the old roms with the corrupted GHZ in them! Not only that, but I think they're recoverable. So I'm going to get this new development out of this thread and move it into an appropriate one, then seek help in reversing what I accidentally did. Honestly, just venting my frustration with the current state of things kinda sparked a new fire in me to finish this hack. We'll see how this goes! :D
     
  3. DigitalDuck

    DigitalDuck

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    I think "boo, don't ask others to do your stuff" has been misunderstood here. It's okay if you know the hack you want to create and are willing to put a lot of work into it, but need to ask people for help. If you have a game in mind and are willing to do e.g. the programming and art but struggle when it comes to music, then ask someone for help with music.

    But if all you have is an idea... well, you're out of luck, because newsflash: EVERYONE HAS IDEAS. The issue is when someone just says "I have amazing idea everyone make it for me". Why would people spend effort making your idea when they can make their own?

    You get what you give. If you give nothing, you'll get nothing.
     
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  4. qwertysonic

    qwertysonic

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    This may be off topic but I was trying to understand why we don't have a hacking thread for this new Sonic 1 prototype. Retro is the premier Sonic hacking/research community and we don't even have a thread about it in the reverse engineering section. My original thought was "what the heck we're better than this" But reading this thread made it make more sense.

    I've been in the hacking scene since 2005-ish when my only obligations were high school and a part-time job at a fast food joint. I'm nearly 30 now, like Selbi, I have a full-time job in engineering, I'm married, and have a kid on the way. I like to read Retro periodically and discuss games and news, but I don't care to spend large portions of my time making hacks of Sonic games anymore. When I get home from work I like to spend time with my family and chill in front of the TV. I think retro has just gotten older.
     
  5. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

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    You haven't gotten my point. I'm not saying the mindset about "show you've done something if you need help" is wrong, I completely agree in most cases not just by pure logic but also because I've seen it here a lot of times from newcomers, I got it even before creating my own account. No, what I was saying is that filter sometimes blocks people that actually deserves some faith because, of course, what do you have to judge them if you haven't seen anything from them before? And that people could offer something, but they'd need to find help from somewhere else, someone that actually knows what they can do, and... guess what? That's not remotely easy. So I'll say it again, the filter is ok, but it creates a really harsh scenario for going forward when you can be Yasuhara but not Naka or Oshima.

    In my personal case, I know what my talents and skills are, I have shown them to close and not so close people IRL and they have greeted me for my good work. I also have enough knowledge to code, do some pixel art, arrange some music and do a good job designing mechanics and levels, but doing it all would take me ages as I'm not good enough to do most of those things quick and pretty, and that's not even considering I have other more urgent projects to do which is the reason why the most part of my non-design fanwork happened during the great lockdown of 2020.

    I'll admit, on the other hand, that I tend to be a bit paranoid with the stuff I make and I probably could have a bit more trust in people and show some stuff, so maybe even with design notes and sketches I could get some help. But that's again my case.


    I'd rather say when there's enough time there's a way, read my signature for further reference. In any case, there are things more easily done on an SDK than a romhack, so sometimes the modern tech is not about doing bigger and better things, just about doing the same things in less time.

    ***

    Btw, I'll share an idea for free for everyone, as it's a "simple" concept I don't think I'll ever do but always looks funny in my mind. It's not a "do this for me", just sharing some random stuff so you can imagine it too. Here we go:

    The project would consist in make a complete overhaul of level graphics in a game without touching anything else with the goal to deceive mind a little: how would it feel to play a game you know well if what you see tells you otherwise? Would it feel fun even if you have no issue in noticing the "prank"? I thought two variants of this:

    Sonic 1:
    Swap art between levels, adding a corresponding change in zone names. My original idea was to reverse the level order, but it might not be the wackiest of all arrangements that could be done; either way, starting on a scrap brain that feels like a breeze and finishing your game in a green hill with fire coming out from the checkered ground and wooden bridges that open and close to let you fall to a death pit sounds really interesting to me. Labyrinth zone with lava pools and marble zone becoming atlantis instead of pompeii also sounds great.

    Sonic 2:
    Here I would propose an absolute overhaul, like having the hanging gardens of babylon above the green plains instead of, well... Chemical plant. The mega mack would become some kind of mist. Not a clue about what would I do with Hill Top, though.


    That's my textwall of the day, hope you enjoyed it.
     
  6. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

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    Wow, congratulations! :thumbsup:
     
  7. qwertysonic

    qwertysonic

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    Thanks a lot! He's due in March.
     
  8. Lostgame

    Lostgame

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    Oh, look; someone else is getting old and making (admittedly, by reposting the meme) the same post that has shown up here every year or other - 'there's nothing new to do', 'it's all variants of the same thing,' 'there is no originality anymore', while the rest respond 'yes, you're right - this is how things have always actually been and the only difference is you are just now noticing it.'

    South Park did a fantastic episode simply just titled 'You're Getting Old' (S15E07) in which Stan recites the OP and all the rest of the similar topics like this over the years, saying nothing is original anymore, etc; and it happens like clockwork in this community to the point where in 2 years I might as well make a variant of this post in advance.

    The only topic more cliché than this in this community is 'Sonic is Dead' / 'Sonic sucks now', etc.

    No, originality isn't dead. It either has always pretty much been dead, or we choose to - probably more correctly - define originality as a combination of non-original elements.

    You know what was pretty freaking original? The Sonic 1 Beta! Seems like some new original works can easily be made off of that, a legit combo Sonic 1 / Beta hack thing that's never been done before...

    There's no lack of originality. There's you running out of ideas - it's called 'writer's block', and that's that. :P

    EDIT: By the way - for the record - I'm 31, I do maintain a full-time job as a senior iOS dev with a major bank here in Canada, and while I've stopped doing Sonic ROM hacks, I do Saturn homebrew on the side using jo-engine (https://jo-engine.org) - I never seem to run out of original ideas - and if you want to talk originality, you should check out XL2's Project Z-Treme. Unbelievable.

    Just apply yourself, y'all.

    OP - I think you're facing some sort of existential writer's block combined with what sounds like a bit of an early-onset mid-life-crisis. I'd honestly watch that South Park episode if you haven't seen it. Because, based on experience; it sounds like you're just getting old. No offence meant - in all probability I am probably older than you, and trust me; the older you get the less old you wish you were, so that's not some sort of brag. XD It just indicates that I'm not trying to offend you and I understand what you're going through a bit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2021
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  9. LordOfSquad

    LordOfSquad

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    Yeah, I don't think there's any lack of originality in this field. I think it's more that the most impressive thing to do, and what most people would like to see, is full game overhauls with brand-new levels. But it's hard as hell to make just one really fantastic level as it is. People aren't starved for ideas and originality, we're starved for actual time to make these things happen.
     
  10. TheInvisibleSun

    TheInvisibleSun

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    I like this idea. The interesting thing about this to me though, is that parts of this project have been done before, to some degree; there's that one Scrap Brain hack that plays like Green Hill, Sonic Scorched Quest, which features GHZ on fire (not to mention that weirdo who decided to flood Marble Zone), amongst others I probably don't remember at the moment. Seems like a totally plausible, and worthwhile hack to work on, but I can understand the desire to speed things up via eliminating 30+ year-old hardware constraints.
     
  11. Lostgame

    Lostgame

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    Not only that, but making good levels in games takes a certain person with a certain skill set...that's why they get paid to do it.

     
  12. While yes, I agree that getting older contributes to it some... as someone who just turned 20 myself, hasn't been in the community for 25 years, and still feels the same thing, I think there's more to this than "midlife crisis". What that is, I'm not sure, but I do think it must be subjective if half of us feel one way and the rest differently.
     
  13. Lostgame

    Lostgame

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    You're right - it is more than that. We have been so oversaturated with things we feel nothing is new. It's really about how you present things, IMHO.

    Seems like a grand time to quietly drop Joseph Campbell's 'Hero With 1000 Faces' here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hero_with_a_Thousand_Faces

    Dan Harmon has some great stuff with his 'story circle', which I highly suggest you look up if you haven't heard of it re: originality - but I Joseph Campbell put it best:

     
  14. Prototype

    Prototype

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    I think a good route would be to expand upon ideas that weren't the core of the Sonic series. I'm not really knowledgable about programming for the Megadrive. The extent of my skills comes from mucking around with Clickteam products, though I did have some cool level concepts done using the Sonic Worlds fan engine.

    For example, I had levels themed around other SEGA games of the time. I had a level themed around Columns, with gimmicks like falling gem bridges and a Chaotix-like focus on vertical ascent (still making use of physics with tight half-pipe pits to launch you), and a focus on some puzzle elements requiring certain coloured Gem objects to open certain coloured doors. This allowed me to implement a couple of different object-carrying modes similar to Chaotix, where you either carry the object or have it trail behind you with a Ringstar chain kind of like Yoshi eggs.

    Ultimately it opened up a lot of different puzzle ideas that broke up the game from simple "gotta go fast", without actually sacrificing it.

    Other level concepts were based around Golden Axe, with Chicken-Leg badniks, etc. but ultimately I never finished any of it.

    But going back to expanding upon lesser-used concepts, other concepts I tinkered with were adapting the pinball flipper mechanic from S2/S3 into full-fledged vertical pinball zones still themed after the regular levels. That is, a full pinball style Green Hill Zone/Chemical Plant Zone/etc. still working with regular Sonic ball physics.

    There are so many ways you can expand upon concepts, but I guess at a certain point if you're deviating enough, you might as well scrap the Sonic theme and make it an original IP.

    One thing I would have liked to see over the years was more mods of Sonic 3D Blast. The difficulty of implementing such a thing is apparent though. It's harder to create isometric graphics than simple 2D edits, though I suppose the ease of 3D modeling these days would make it simpler.

    I feel like Isometric platformers got stuck between 2D and the rush to "Sonic's Ass" 3D, and as such I don't think the isometric platformer genre ever got the love it deserved. Heck, the Flicky chain physics lends itself perfectly to a reimagining of the Sonic Crackers field level ideas.

    It would probably be easier to code something like that from scratch, however, rather than hacking a ROM, due to the limitations of hardware/software. Perhaps eliminating the FMV cutscene graphics and "SEGA!" scream would give you enough space to put in a second character?
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2021
  15. Yeah. Tbh there are so many sonic games that have awesome modding potential, yet the people who might know how to do it can't be bothered to start looking. I'd love to see mods of 3d blast, tails adventure, the advance games, the rush games, or even the storybook games. But I guess those are just pipe dreams. After all, if they were easily modable, why haven't we gotten started lol?
     
  16. MainMemory

    MainMemory

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    Pioneering a game that nobody's worked on before is hard. I've been trying to crack the files for the PC version of 3D Blast on and off for years now, and I barely know anything. But maybe it's just me, maybe it's because I'm exclusively trying to reverse engineer the code in the game, and someone else could figure the files out in a day. But I don't think anyone else cares.

    And like, what do you get from modding Advance that you can't do easier in the classic games or Mania? Why would anyone want to touch Sonic and the Secret Rings, it's trash! + - I would, but I lack the skills.  
     
  17. Prototype

    Prototype

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    Might be worth contacting Jon Burton for help. He did the original 3D Blast, but on his YouTube channel Coding Secrets he also tackles other games he didn't work on, so there's every chance he could help or at least point you in the right direction.
     
  18. MainMemory

    MainMemory

    Kate the Wolf Tech Member
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    He didn't work on the PC port.
     
  19. Prototype

    Prototype

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    I know. But my point was, given that he does focus on some games that he didn't work on, it could still be a viable option.
     
  20. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

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    Not necessarily, but what it's true is, the more we've been around, the harder we are to be excited due to having tried enough stuff. I haven't still tried this year's entries from the SHC, and I downloaded the ones I wanted to try after the party was over, on those few days when the contest site is still up as it was during that edition's week. And I don't think this year's entries are not interesting enough, it's just that I'm not really that interested in playing hacks. SAGE gets more attention from me, but I still have to force myself to find time to attend that the week it happens.


    This is only partially true. I agree in which are our expectations and how hard is to find time to do such big projects, but I also think there are two situations that usually happen:

    A) People trying to do too big things and giving up early in the process, thus giving us something small and either messy or lacking.
    B) People being discouraged to try big and/or bold things given the situation, thus thinking they better do something decent even if it's bland and samey to at least achieve something.

    The first one may be accused of being poor work, while the second one may be accused of being lazy, and that doesn't even always need the public to be like that, that pressure is already assumed and creators themselves resign. Rhythm Racoon expressed this feeling already.


    I think what we need is more people doing a first level that is not green/emerald hill or any of their iterations. That would feel original by itself.