The Death of Originality

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

  1. DeltaWooloo

    DeltaWooloo

    The sheep goes quack! Member
    Crosspost from SSRG:


    Whatever I'm about to say are from my perspectives, so if something said something above which I will mention again, I understand your opinions, but it's time I shared mine:

    I believe the leading cause is not encouraging people to make unique Sonic ROM hacks or hacks that have its taste in creativity or originality. What do I mean by that? Let's get a bit of backstory, shall we?

    The Backstory

    You see a time when there were a bunch of people dared to make any hack they would desire; thanks to split disassembles such as Sonic 1's Hivebrain disassembly from 2005 or Sonic 2's Xenowhirl disassembly from 2007. This impacted the way we can easily swap art and modify code. The only hack that tried to add features and art that turned out great pre-2005 was Sonic Gaiden from 2003-2004. We had useful hacks from then rather than art swaps of Sonic or awful palettes you would see in old Sonic 2 hacks. But what came in 2005, that also brought the community together alongside Hivebrain's disassembly? Sonic Megamix. The hack did blow people's minds by incorporating elements from different Mega Drive Sonic games such as Sonic 2 with the speed cap removed, including the options menu from the game and the ability to play as a new character or Sonic 3 and Knuckles with the elemental shields. It also brought a lot of when it came to the table such as ported music from a multitude of Sonic games which at the time, was challenging to do so due to the limitations of split disassemblies and tools.

    The Spread

    And what happened from that moment? Hacks blatantly copied the hack like how a particular virus is spreading globally. The first Megamix clone that came to the top of my mind was Sonic 1 Remastered as it had the features from Megamix such as ported music, elemental shields and new characters. And then it kept going until every hack we saw followed the Megamix train. Over time, people made blatant copies of the hacks such as Sonic AGX which adds the useless homing attack and music from Megamix but with unnecessary pitches. Hacks from there get repetitive and boring, like raise your hands if you do not give a shit with the jump dash or Sonic 3 music played again and again. We play Sonic 3 and Knuckles a bunch of time to listen to the music, why repeat it. To have a unique or awesome soundtrack? You want to have a hack with a distinctive soundtrack, look at what KCEXE and Mr Joker27 did with Sonic Revved Up; with many correctly ported music from different Mega Drive games. That determines that if you put you head down and do the work, you can make something memorable like with Revved Up's music rather than reviving Sonic Megamix with unpolished hacks and a useless Mania mod like reviving a dead horse.

    How do we see hacks today?

    To simplify, the word "originality." would only be popping in once every ten or so months. I will provide you with some examples of hacks I considered had originality somewhere. The latest I thought was original was two hacks that featured in the SHC 2020, one having a feature never seen before in Sonic hacks and one which feels like an indie game. What I'm talking about is Sonic 1: Point and Click and Pantufa the Cat. P&C, while feeling like Sonic 1, requires you to control the mouse similar to Mario Paint and Super Mario Maker (Wii U) and interact with (almost all) objects which is something original and never seen before in Sonic hacks. Pantufa the Cat, as I mentioned earlier, feels like an indie game, with the item blocks seen in Super Mario Bros and new gimmicks. Alongside that, it also has cute and wonderful art and original and remixed music and for the first time, FMV cutscenes at the end similar to Sonic 3D: Flickies Island's intro. In the past, some hacks attempted originality such as the Next Level with its distinct art and gimmicks and Big's Fishing Derby with you getting Big to find Froggy a la Sonic Adventure.


    What do I believe should be improved to boost original hacks?

    I believe there is a lack of resources to help newcomers understand the hardware to the Mega Drive, CD and 32X to know how everything works and test its limitations and features. So far, we do not have full documentation regarding the Sega CD yet, limiting the hacks' ability to use the Sega CD and its functionality. We also have MarkeyJester's 68k guide, which I use a lot, but it is not enough to understand how the 68k processor works in general. Also, there is a lack of tutorials provided, such as porting elements or making new objects (SCHG did not document how to create new objects in Sonic 2 or 3K). This is a shame since people can port objects improve it by adding more features.

    To conclude

    I believe Megamix was the cause of unoriginality as hacks spread like wildfire to be the next Megamix and guess what, they failed! It is also due to the lack of motivation and support we are providing them to go out and try to make something original, while it reuses assets from different Sonic games, it's OK as they try to expand upon the features but seeing how the community grew, not as much as I expected. When I created Sonic ReOne, I did not want to compete with anyone but be my own person and show the skills such as swappable controls, smooth camera and a multitude of songs unheard in any other game thanks to a few members within the community. To be honest, I regret making the hack because I realised that some features I made myself was really basic and can be done in 5 minutes. So for my final statement, please find a way to make the Sonic hacking community sparkle after so many years and let's prove to the Internet that we have the courage to do anything unique and original.

    Let's make originally shine once again~