The Death of Originality

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

  1. Challenge accepted (once I can actually get around to it lol). In the meantime, I'll just be making green hill 207,568,341 by taking nothing more than the pieces sonic team gave us, and seeing how good of a new stage I can make. Hopefully I'll have a demo out soon (and yeah, I did recover my hack. Swapped some bin files around and was good to go).
     
  2. Ravenfreak

    Ravenfreak

    Is actually a guy. Tech Member
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    Hacking Sonic Drift, Writer at Sonic Cage Dome
    There are hacking tools for Tails Adventure made by Suppertails. There's also a disassembly for 3D Blast, though it's the mega drive version and can only be opened in IDA pro so it's not a split disassembly. Tails Adventure would definitely be the easier game to hack for newbies. I think only a few people made hacks of Tails Adventure, Bakayote (which I think he goes by Binbowie now) and LordXernom come to mind.
     
  3. Jase

    Jase

    ~~(_ _C^> Member
    I'm a major lurker, but I thought this would be a good opportunity to share some stories, thoughts, and experiences that I have had.

    I often visit Sonic Retro throughout the 10+ years I've been here (I am 26 now, I feel like I've known this forum forever), it's one of the only forums/websites that I have remained interested in for so long. I used to regularly visit SFGHQ, but the compulsion to visit that website dwindled away mannnyy years back.
    Even if the forums here are a bit quiet for a while, or if life gets me distracted, I find that at least every month I'd come back and check out every new post/thread on this forum - hacking, fangaming, Sonic news, even threads about Sonic games that I don't have an inherent interest in or connection with (e.g. 8-bit Sonic games, Sonic Forces, heck I'd read about Sonic Labyrinth if there was discussion about it).
    I say all this to show that I have strong passion! I thrive off of passion and ambitious project ideas, much like many of us here do!
    I lack a lot of hacking knowledge, I haven't picked up a programming language in all these years, and I do have a full-time job, moved out and live with my partner, but I feel blessed as I DO have the free time and some energy each evening as my day job is not too mentallly/physically taxing (low-stress IT Staff with friendly staff) and I have weekends free! So each evening and weekends (except for social times or chores), I have a couple of hours to mess around with creative endevours.
    I'm currently working single-handedly on a fangame every day for a non-sega IP, but I do have the interest to hop back into SA2 hacking and making actual mods and level edits and such.

    I have split my post into Hacking and Fangames.

    Hacking

    This is all based on Sonic Adventure 2.

    I love seeing the new SA2 and SADX stuff that's coming out lately, the "Unleashed maps in SA2" project really amazed me and it suprised me how far the SA2 engine can be pushed, and I closely want to follow that project and support it (as a silent lurker, with the odd supportive comment now and then maybe!). I'm so glad that SA2 got ported to the PC and made it much easier for everyone to hack and mod, there's just something truly magical about SADX and SA2 and I never lost interest in those games.
    I love learning about the history and lost content of this game too, Speeps made it so much easier to consume content like this - I rewatch their videos every now and then to brush up on my knowledge. I am REALLY hoping and excited if they might do a huge datamine dive into the new SA2 Preview that got released recently alongside the Sonic 1 proto! I saw what they've popped on TCRF already and I'm just so curious what else lies beneath, maybe more Chao Playground information? More beta/test stuff? Oh it just gets me SO curious I could read about this stuff for hours.

    So back before the PC port existed, I really loved the idea of making creative hacks for SA2 on Dreamcast through an emulator.
    I tried making "Online Multiplayer" in SA2, but I gave up very early, although I had it slightly functioning - I think it synced your X,Y,Z position, and that was it lol.
    I also tried making a "First-Person View" mod by positioning the camera where Sonic's eyes would be, scaling Sonic down to 0,0,0 , and then for the camera angle, I think I had a variable that was clamped between 0 and 360 and wrapped around if it went above or below those values, and then any horizonal mouse movement would increase/decrease this variable, and then I'd write this variable to the "Camera Rotation" address in SA2's memory. There ya go, mouse movement in SA2 using the Demul emulator!... It didn't work too well lol, very choppy and unplayable and laggy.

    The thing is, how did I do this?...by using Multimedia Fusion 2, would you believe.
    I haven't used MMF2 in like 6+ years, but I think I was using MooClick (or maybe Lacewing) with MMF2, along with a "Memory Editor" plugin that functioned just like Cheat Engine but you could use MMF2's event editor to manipulate variables and such or get mouse inputs/keyboard inputs.

    I really wish I knew where to go to find the resources to discover new hacks or content. I limited myself for years by only using Cheat Engine and never picking up a programming language or looking into other tools such as IDA Pro (nor do I know if IDA Pro would have been useful to me as I still don't quite know what the software would allow me to do in terms of "SA2 Dreamcast hacking"). I would love to know how SFX are stored in SA2, how 3D models are stored, how to extract all this stuff and import it back in, I absolutely want to tear this game apart.

    I stuck with Cheat Engine as it was very visual and gives feedback quickly; you can pick up any game and quickly have yourself phasing through walls and such, maybe finding a debug value or hidden menu by looking around the common HUD memory addresses, etc. So I used to think Cheat Engine was the most powerful tool. But I wish I knew more beyond Cheat Engine, such as - how would I even begin to figure out how to make level/map edits or porting maps from other games? Do I learn about general 3D modelling, or do I learn how the dreamcast specifically handles 3D models? Do I learn about compression/hashing/encryption in general to understand exactly what PVM/PVR files are, or do I need to learn about specific compression that only the Dreamcast uses? What programming language would be more efficient at helping me produce tools to make extractors/importers and such?

    Even with Cheat Engine being my only tool, I tried to think creatively, such as: If I wanted to find where grind rails are stored in a map file, I thought "Hey how about I stand on the very edge of a rail, use Cheat Engine to view the X and Z position of Sonic (ignoring Y as Sonic's height might ruin this idea), then maybe round the values in case I'm not at the very edge, then try and find this with a Hex Editor looking through the map file for this specific coordinate (knowing that it's likely ordered as X,Y,Z so I would not search for X and Z together, but I separately searched for the X and Z, as the rail's coordinates would usually have a unique value that likely isn't anywhere else in a map file like Z = 10255, surely I'd only find a couple of matches in the map file?), then I could readjust this and start making modifications to the map?"... I didn't get any success out of this. But hey, I was trying.

    Nowadays, there are methods to make level edits in SA2PC! I looked into it months ago but I wasn't really able to find the information I needed and wasn't sure if I wanted to pester people or spent a lot of time hunting for information.
    Some questions I start thinking are: If people are making map edits by using Blender or 3DS Max, then how do you place water? Or grind rails? Or how do you define which walls are diggable/climbable? Is this all stored as variables per polygon in 3DS Max? Is there a separate collision hull overlapping the map? How does one remove/add invisible collision, such as the invisible walls in City Escape? Is porting a map from another game relatively straightforward as long as you can get the map into 3DS Max/Blender?
    Perhaps the answers are out there already but I haven't come across them yet. I want to get the answers, but I also don't want to pester people by asking so much, and I don't know if I should be posting huge amount of questions on the forums here, so I typically research or browse forums or occassionally check Youtube or GameBanana (I never got into Discord, perhaps a lot of hacking content is in a Discord server somewhere, but I really don't want to have to scroll through masses of unrelated conversation only to MAYBE find what I'm looking for, if that's how Discord functions).

    I do wonder how people cracked the model formats and such, like the exact process and knowledge that people had in order to figure this out.
    MainMemory is someone I absolutely look up to in this area. I remember figuring out why exactly Knuckles was glitching when popped into City Escape, (iirc something to do with hunting characters map boundaries being set to Infinity I think, therefore when you move, the players position gets set to Infinity too, causing crazy issues). I discovered this by using, you guessed it, Cheat Engine! I fed this information to MainMemory, and within like an hour or so (iirc), MainMemory shared a quick and easy hex-edit method where you modify the EXE of SA2PC to permanently allow hunting characters to play these stages. What!?!? HOW!? I wish I had that power, holy crap, I'd be making so many weird touch ups to the EXE if I knew how!!

    All in all, I have the want, passion, desire, but I don't have much direction on where to get information for hacking SA2 specifically, unless I communicate more with people I suppose, but I really feel like I'm going to start annoying people if I start doing this, hence why I choose to lurk.

    Regardless if I can/can't discover more information to contribute to the hacking side of SA2, if a tool came out that makes level editing very straightforward to do, I will definitely start using that instantly and will produce a bunch of level ideas/ports from other games, and I will try to refine this as best as I can and try not to produce sloppy results. Anyone that is considering making such a tool, you have my support!

    Fangames

    Making games is so much FUN, I do think I have some original ideas that I am confident that I could execute well these days, but I'm working on another non-sega IP fangame as of now. In some ways I got burnt out of my last project as I learnt too late how inefficient I was designing things, so even a basic level would get framerate drops below 60fps on a mid-range i5 PC. I know exactly what to do next time, but maybe in the future! I also got burnt out from having a terrible experience working on a project with someone else (who was extremely pressuring to work with) which burnt me out hardcore.

    I love what Lapper is producing - I used to love the "Sonic DIY" project that was made in The Games Factory so many years ago (no way is it like 15 years ago?), and what Lapper is producing has such a high level of polish, love, passion, and care put into the project.

    I love ambitious projects, there's "Sonic Battle R" that I think is VERY ambitious and has a long way to go with polish and detail, but what an idea - a Sonic Adventure MMORPG almost! Wander around to ANY map and just hang out? There seems like such potential there!

    I do wonder why I've not come across an honest attempt at a Sonic Adventure fangame as of yet, one without camera-mouse-movement and a somewhat close feel to any SA game, with the camera that points forwards where you need to go but lets you wander off to the sides of the map if you desire (just like SA).

    So here's a story that happened in 2020, this isn't exactly reflective of everyone, but:
    I stopped working or posting about Sonic fangames about 5 years ago, but last year, someone randomly invited me into a Discord group about "Sonic fangames using Construct 2". It was a bunch of younger people that all wanted to make a Sonic fangame or make their version of "Sonic Worlds but in Construct 2", but everyone seemed very unsure about how Sonic movements are implemented (360 movement with angle detection), and they relied on a C2 plugin that was slightly buggy, limited, and the plugin developer had abandoned it years ago.
    As I have the knowledge of a few ways to implement decent angle detection and I have used C2 for a huge number of years, I decided to try and offer help, and allow anyone to ask any question about Sonic movement and implementing this in C2. Even if someone wanted to ask "so uh, whats an angle?" then sure I'd start from there and I made sure everyone knew that I was happy to answer anything or point them in the right direction.

    ...Well, noone asked, at all. People asked for project files a lot. Fair enough - I learned that way too by tearing apart the "Sonic Worlds" MFA file back in the day, turning things off and on.
    So what I decided to do was make a VERY basic project file, with the ceiling collision missing deliberately. I explained the logic on everything and what each event does and why we need it, why we use SIN and COS at points (as this usually intimidates people), and I gave instructions on how to quickly pop the ceiling collision in (which, honestly, this was me explaining to copy+paste one of the wall-detection events and paste and change about 3 values).

    The result? Noone even attempted to try this, and people started trying to use the file as a base for their Sonic fangame project. People asked me to fix some other bugs that popped up with the basic collision I had made, and someone asked me to finish the project file and add the ceiling collision in for them (despite the instructions I provided that were like, less than 10 steps)... Some wanted to continue using the abandoned plugin anyway even though it might make it very challenging for certain Sonic mechanics and isn't as customisable as an engine that you've made yourself.
    ... Yeah this crushed my short-lived interest in trying to offer help and I stopped being active on Discord again.

    I guess I understand that people think differently and want to just make their dream project and not learn a bit about the inner workings of their engine... but cmon, the creative power you get from learning as much as you can about how things work! You can do some very ambitious things if you have full control and knowledge of how your game works, and how the players collision works. You could fix that "annoying little bug" that might pop up like say you have a bug such as "the collision with item monitors sometimes doesn't register and Sonic lands on it as solid ground". Some may choose to ignore this or make a sloppy brute-force solution that might make the monitor break earlier or something, but it could be a very easily identifiable bug, likely the ordering of the code. It polishes your fangame and makes it feel solid and stable. But some people just don't care or can't see it.

    ...So yeah, not that this speaks for everyone, but this story taught me that it's perhaps a lot more rarer to find people that have passion to learn as much as they can about their craft. Maybe it's age? Maybe we get to a certain age and can reflect better on ourselves and know what we need to research and learn about? Coz I certainly produced a lot of rubbish when I was a teenager - however I always tried to challenge myself and make my own Sonic movement, rarely using an engine or plugin to do it all for me.
    Plugins are great at adding functionality you may never otherwise have, but a plugin to automate the entire gameplay of a game seems like a recipe for getting the feeling of "Oh that's a KnP/Clickteam/Unity/RPG Maker game, you can just feel it".
     
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  4. MainMemory

    MainMemory

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    Once again, this post is relevant:
    If you have any interest in SADX or SA2 modding at all, I implore you to please join one or both of those communities, and ask as many questions as you need, I promise we don't bite.
     
  5. Flygon

    Flygon

    Member
    I've been eying this topic for quite a while, and honestly been considering the nadir the scene has fallen into for the past decade or so for quite a while.

    I won't be able to put all of the thoughts in my head into this post - if not because there's too many of them to really put down inside a single post without it getting bogged down by its sheer size.

    The fact is, for the Mega Drive games specifically, I feel the big issue is accessibility. Not exactly in a "Everything must be done in assembly" sense, otherwise the comparisons of the Sonic hacking scene with the Super Mario World scene's modern achievements wouldn't be happening, given how intimidating tackling the 65816 is.
    But rather, an accessibility issue inherent in the game design of Sonic the Hedgehog's Mega Drive titles itself.

    Sonic the Hedgehog is not accessible.
    Sonic the Hedgehog is difficult to design new games for.
    Making an advanced ROM hack, with smoothly flowing level designs, unique gimmicks that set it apart from the pack, and brand new assets, is much harder than doing the same for Super Mario World. And many many other games, regardless of platform.

    The successes of the Sonic hacking scene in the 00s, and into the early-mid 10s, more than anything, I feel I attribute to sheer motivation on the part of the community.
    We may not recognize it now, but a lot of trash was produced back then. But the cream of the crop from the Sonic scene was the cream of the crop of the broader ROM hacking scene.

    Yes, other hacking scenes existed too. The Mario and Pokemon scenes were extremely active - but the tools available at that time, particularly disassemblies, simply didn't exist.
    In a sense, what the Sonic scene did was lay the groundwork for every other scene to follow.

    It is disappointing, then, that evolving beyond that groundwork has been an exceedingly tough act for the scene to follow.

    It's just that, unfortunately, outside of either extremely dedicated teams - which, unfortunately, we have seen disappear for one reason or another. Or insanely talented individuals - we all know who they are, there is simply not that convergence of sheer talent and directorial direction that can overcome the combination of both intimidation and actual difficulty producing even short hacks that demonstrate both good level design, good artwork, interesting gameplay gimmicks, and coherent directorial direction.

    The community growing older doesn't mean it's getting worse at making new hacks, it means that a lot of the trashy hacks we made as teenagers - goodness knows I made some absolute trash - aren't as common anymore.
    The talent ceiling is slowly being pushed higher. But much like back in the day, there's only so much of that significant talent pool within the community, and they can only produce so much.

    It's a shame, then, that the biggest producing team this community ever saw has fallen apart for one reason or another.


    None of this post accounts for the fangame community, however. A community that I'm less familiar with, but one that is producing some incredible works. A lot of talent that would have worked on hacks are instead producing fangames now - this is not a bad thing. This is a good thing. The pride we have had of running these games on original hardware may be lost, but the greater good in teams producing incredibly well done fangames is, well, incredible.
    In the end, I've learnt to accept that whilst the hacking community is being shown up by other hacking communities now, the legacy the Sonic hacking scene has produced has set the scene for the entire global ROM hacking scene, produced the team that created arguably the most successful Sonic game of the 2010s, and made the modern prototype hunting scene possible.


    Still, I have a few ideas under my sleeve...
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2021
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  6. Dragging up something from a few days ago, but I had completely forgotten about this one!

    I recently got a Mega Everdrive Pro, and fired this bad boy up. What a great game. I have only played the first couple of levels, but it was enojyable!

    The new cartridge, and the Quick Save/Load features have dragged me back in front of the big CRT for a few evenings this week.

    I have even had Sonic Megamix v4.0 + V5.0a running.

    I will simply agree on this one. The Sonic Hacking Community has grown up, there are a lot of talented people within this group, but in the last 10 years, I'm sure many have got married and had families. This limits the amount of time talented people can spend on their hobbies.

    It would be great if a dedicated and talented team could come together to build something these days, but it certainly isn't an easy task.

    Sonic Mania for example allowed some of the community to pursue their dreams. The hobby became the job, and therefore time was no longer an issue.

    I sure do hope we get to see more from Taxman, Stealth and co for Sonic's 30th.

    Will we see any further large scale hacks like we did back in the day? I'm not so sure. :/
     
  7. RetroKoH

    RetroKoH

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    I agree with all of Markey's take but this snippet stands out especially. I've not been wowed by something in ages, simply because a lot that we see now isn't well thought out, or just half-assed and fails to live up to potential. Honestly I think the last time I have honestly felt invested in a hacking contest was 2015. Since then I've moved on to hacking Pokemon, and working on original stuff, myself.
     
  8. Spanner

    Spanner

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    Sonic Hacking Contest
    So I have looked at this thread for a few weeks, trying to come up with some sort of response. What say here is my own views, nothing to do with anyone else who posted in this thread (even if they have similar views to me), or any involvement with sites or events.

    I will mention however, this will be getting cross-posted on both SSRG and Sonic Retro, so it doesn't pertain to one site specifically, unless otherwise stated.

    Has the issue been most people have done most things? Take a look at stuff at the Hack Database or the SHC Vault and see what you really think. There's always stuff out there that either haven't been done, or were attempted but never progressed due to various issues.

    One thing that strikes me out as a serious issue, to the extent that for YEARS I have tried to bring this up to people on multiple occassions to try and get something going, are the disassemblies. They are well and truly a clusterfuck for the most part, some dissassemblies are fine, others went too radical in their changes and put people off. It really shows you something that in 2021, there are still many people using a 2005 disassembly for Sonic 1.

    People need to realise that if we want to encourage people to take up ROM hacking, we can't overcomplicate every single thing because guess what? It puts people off! For years, I have proposed what should be done to address the disassembly woes - to try and agree a common disassembly structure that could be put in place across all the games.

    Settle on how to format the disassembly, how to assemble it, what's done for labelling, equates, macros, etc. And I get that it is a difficult thing to approach, but if this was done, I bet you things would go a lot better for things, because the major roadblock is dealt with. Because this is really a major roadblock, for well over 10 years since the SVN/Hg/Git/etc disassembles were made available. Unblock this and you can move onto the rest.

    Then once you have the disassembly stuff sorted out, look at all the guides, look at the tools, look at what else can be improved upon, to improve the resources available. I don't think the door should be closed on a "Common Disassembly Rewrite Project", it needs to be looked at again, with a wider view of opinions, and then restarted from the beginning. If this had been sorted out years ago, just think of what we could have had for the S1 prototype disassembly, or any other recent disassembly release over the last year or two.

    There are people who want to talk about making things open source, of course that opens a whole load of worms there, whether it's the spoon feeding argument or encouraging people to have mostly the same things in their hacks which only increases staleness. But there will be people who disagree with what I say here, of course that's their opinion. We can still have a debate on this, because maybe things can change since how things were years ago.

    There is the other argument that people shut down a lot of new people from progressing with hacking, because what they show at the start is not so good, just look at recent SSRG threads for those examples. We shouldn't treat the place like a playground, but things could be improved, to show what the ideal hack should be like in 2021. A few years ago, SHC was going to show off an Example Hack to address the issues faced in 2016, but due to various reasons, was never able to be completed. Maybe it's something to revive, but for all sites.

    Yes, there has been a stagnation issue over the last few years. But ultimately, the issue is, has anything been done to address it? No, nothing was ever done. And that's a real shame as had things been sorted out years ago, hacking and modding would be thriving once again.

    But let's make something clear. A lot of people post about Mega Drive hacking, and the resources, tools, guides, research, etc are plenty for those (although rather disorganised at times, this could be improved in a number of ways, rather than having to trawl through the forums to find things).

    But when you look at what has been exploding in popularity the last few years, namely the 3D games, or the 2DPC (Mania, etc) stuff, where are the resources and discussions in these places? Barely around, so that's why all that kind of stuff ends up in various Discord services all of the place. Why should all that have to be obscured for the most part, instead of having public places be made here?

    And if Mega Drive stuff is at the point to where people feel "been there, done that" well why not look at the 8-bit stuff more? I get that it's a different environment, different programming language, still plenty to be done in terms of research, but why not start that?

    And I think that sites need to listen to their community regarding the issues that are being faced, and what can be done to address them. Listen to everyone, not a select few. Stuff like staff infighting or side choosing that goes on outright needs to stop before things suffer, and all staff need to work together to progress improvements that have been requested.

    Oh and one last thing, because we all know I was going to bring this up...

    To the select few who seem to put blame on the Sonic Hacking Contest, very much the only time the general community care about hacks and mods in the year, just like SAGE does for fangames, for the quality of stuff that gets made, let alone submitted, I just want to remind people that there is a quality control filter which last year, had to be used 25 times on Mega Drive entries - no other category (3D and 2DPC) had that much questionable material.

    The shredder was alive last year, people were lucky what they didn't see. When the stagnation issue is applying throughout the community, SHC can't be solely at blame for that. This year's contest will see a major change that should have been sorted out a few years ago, but now that it is going to be put into action, I think people will be confident in making submissions.

    If anyone has an issue with anything I've said, my PMs are open for discussion.
     
  9. I don't really have anything to add, really just agreeing that the genesis games, adventure 1, 2, heroes, gens, and mania shouldn't be the only games getting mod support. As I've said before, the advance games, rush games, and storybook games I feel have a ton of potential, but no one who has the ability to lay out the groundwork wants to (which, I guess, reinforces what you were saying about no one trying to fix the stagnation issue) :p
     
  10. Beamer the Meep

    Beamer the Meep

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    I'm not really involved in the hacking scene aside from a very very basic understanding of how to convert genesis music to midis using smps2midi (Thanks ValleyBell!), so this may seem like a simplistic outsider view of the whole situation.

    While yes, it probably is a good idea to agree on a common way of going about disassemblies, who's actually going to do or even has time to do it? For that matter, with less popular games in the franchise, there has to be enough interest to begin tearing those games apart, especially in cases where documentation is sparse right? At the end of the day, all of this is basically a hobby, not a day job. If there's a passion then great, but there's going to be the reality that some people just don't have the time or the interest.

    I do wish you guys luck in trying to address this "stagnation", but do try to remember that this is something done for fun and potentially educational purposes, not as a job. Perhaps part of the issue is people losing focus of that? Again, I'm not part of the hacking scene so I don't really know, but Spanner's post has got me wondering what's going on at other sites.
     
  11. Quickman

    Quickman

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    In fairness, the Advance games will be a massive undertaking - decompiling C code is a whole skillset, and the Pokemon decomps took years to complete. Revo (a well-known figure in the Pokemon decomp community) has already done the necessary research into what compiler was used - the hard bit is actually setting a project up and writing all that C.
     
  12. Dark Sonic

    Dark Sonic

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    I think we're about to see some refresh in the Classic modding scene. Now that the RSDK versions of Sonic 1, 2, and CD are decompiled, I think we'll start seeing some pretty amazing stuff once people learn more. Certainly seems like more can be done with these than hacking the Genesis versions (and ESPECIALLY Sonic CD, the original version was a nightmare to mod). Less limitations anyways.
     
  13. Strife

    Strife

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    I echo Flygon's sentiments - I think a lot of it has to do with accessibility and skill level, to the point that many of the more prominent developers grow so much through the course of creating their hacks/fangames that they either move on to bigger and better things before their work is completed or they convert their ideas into an original concept. I've personally found very little incentive to learn ROM hacking when I can develop the same idea in a custom Fusion or Game Maker engine in a fraction of the time.

    With that in mind, there are two things that I think would be a big help: better tools and programs, and a repository of open source examples showing newcomers how to do specific things. To my knowledge, there's no "all in one" GUI-based development suite for Sonic 1/2/3K that compares to the simplicity and accessibility of Super Mario World's Lunar Magic program, in which I was able to build my own SMW hack in a few months as a teenager with no coding experience. The closest equivalent I can think of is Lapper's in-progress Sonic Studio project; Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if that game serves as an introduction into the bigger modding scene for younger Sonic fans.

    Fortunately, games like SADX and Sonic Mania are rapidly approaching this point, and I think that's why we're seeing a lot more mods for them compared to the Genesis titles. I've gotten a lot of good help the past few months learning how to make SADX mods through the Discord server, and a few of the more prominent hackers have stated their intentions to make more programs and guides over the coming years. It's this sort of active development that will help cultivate interest in hacks/mods as a viable alternative to custom engines, and the less time creators have to spend on getting the fundamental parts of their mod to work, the more time they can spend experimenting with unique, exciting twists on the traditional Sonic formula.
     
  14. I agree with all of the above sentiments, aside from one point...

    We don't need full decompilations to mod games. Sure, it makes it easier, but it is not necessary by any stretch of the imagination. Apparently there's already a level editor for advance 1, and I'd love to use it... except there's next to no information on it that actually helps me. So until that's sorted out, I can't do jack squat. :/
     
  15. Flygon

    Flygon

    Member
    Funnily enough, there use to be tools like that - even if they had their own issues.

    Who else here remembers using Esrael's Sonic Editor II for their projects? It offered a fully integrated suite - even if sometimes fairly buggy.
    I do also, however, remember there being quite a stigma against people using it, which's why I ended up trying to learn SonED2 in the end.

    It just seems that the program got obsoleted by - ironically - the prevalence of split disassemblies.
     
  16. Quickman

    Quickman

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    omg porjcet
    The problem with all-in-one tools like Lunar Magic, especially in the absence of disassemblies, is they constrain people to what the tool provides. Lunar Magic automatically patches Super Mario World without telling you about it (much like ESEII automatically expanding the ROM to four megabytes and repointing a bunch of data and graphics into the empty space) and then gives you an extremely capable level editor... but if you want to do anything it doesn't provide you switch abruptly from "the tool does everything for you" to "bake an apple pie from scratch" and have to do a bunch of learning that the tool provides no help with whatsoever.

    Split disassemblies by contrast frontload the difficulty, but once you get over the initial hurdle you can do anything you can write the code for.
     
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  17. Ravenfreak

    Ravenfreak

    Is actually a guy. Tech Member
    2,961
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    O'Fallon Mo
    Hacking Sonic Drift, Writer at Sonic Cage Dome
    Disassemblies are definitely the best way of hacking any game IMO. I was very happy once Pokemon Red and Yellow finally got proper disassemblies, since for years we had to rely on tools and really couldn't do stuff like add new attacks, and new Pokemon. I'd love to see the Sonic disassemblies become more organized like the Pokemon Red disassembly is. I know it took time, and any disassembly takes time but I think it would be worth it in the long run. Of course that goes back to the subject of finding time especially since most of us here probably have families and not a lot of downtime. Maybe once we're all retired with lots of time on our hands we'll have some awesome disassemblies. :P (Or of course the younger generation of hackers could come along and help better organize the disassemblies. :V)
     
  18. Xiao Hayes

    Xiao Hayes

    My name's Martin Member
    Funnily enough, I feel that way with fangame tools as well: Starting a engine from a scratch is quite a huge task, but GameMaker Studio feels like it went too far and handles stuff I would like to handle myself and won't allow me to do so. Well, I have the same issue with web development and Wordpress, so probably my evident pattern isn't a useful thing to talk about.

    Maybe the stuff Spanner talked about is too hard to sort out, but, where's a list of the ideal/best tools to use for the whole process of rom editing? By full I not only mean full development of the romhack, I'm also talking about what to use on each step of the learning process. Let's say if newcomers have to learn it all by themselves, at least the tools should be at hand for them.
     
  19. Jeffery Mewtamer

    Jeffery Mewtamer

    Blind Bookworm Member
    1,648
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    My only real experience with Sonic hacking is doing some texture editing for the no-music Windows version of Sonic R back in the XP days, but I can relate to the problem of finding tools that strike a balance between easy-to-learn, but limiting in what can be done with it and flexible, but with a high learning curve... and even when you find something that's both relatively easy to use and rather versatile in capability, it might not necessarily fit one's current work flow(e.g. finding a library or engine that saves you the tedium of coding everything from scratch while giving you the flexibility to do what you want, but it's designed to be used with Python, but your most comfortable language is C++ or you find an excellent tool, but it's Windows-only and you're a Linux user or it's graphical and you have a bias for command line tools).
     
  20. InvisibleUp

    InvisibleUp

    friendly internet ghost Member
    136
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    I'm a bit late but yeah, I agree with a lot of points here.

    I will say that the Genesis games really feel (to me anyways) as if they don't make much sense to hack. IMO, the great thing about ROM hacking is that there's already a pre-existing game with an engine and assets that you can tweak around and do new stuff in. But things like Sonic Mania and various fan engines are a lot more accessible and easier to work with than some hacking tools and a disassembly, if that's what you're after. And if you're just wanting to tinker around on the Mega Drive, you could just as well make homebrew so you don't have to deal with the legal grey area of hacking someone else's game. (Although tinkering around with an existing game has it's benefits too, as you aren't reinventing the wheel.)

    A large part of the reason why I personally gravitated towards Sonic R instead of the Mega Drive games was because I wanted to go through the process of reverse engineering and learning about a game from the insides out. (Well, that, and I felt back then as if making an MD game isn't worth it unless I'm at or near MarkeyJester levels of amazing.) But reverse engineering a game like that is a huge time commitment, and something that isn't feasible unless you're a teenager with a lot of time to kill and no social life.