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Author Topic: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?  (Read 2950 times)

CM30

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How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« on: May 29, 2015, 03:29:04 pm »
It's a problem with pretty much all fan game related fields (team works are arguably not much more common for Mario fan games, SMB X or PC game mods for instance), but it seems like ROM hacks are hit most.

How come we see so few team based projects around here? Like multiple contributors working on the same game in different roles?  How come the great spriters, music composers, level designers and programmers don't seem to work together more often?

Is the ROM hacking world just kind of isolationist?
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FAST6191

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #1 on: May 29, 2015, 03:47:34 pm »
Translations are usually a team effort -- hacker-translators are quite rare, and even those would tend to skew one way or the other and farm some of the trickier stuff out.

RHDN seems to focus more on translation and improvement hacking too. Translation I already mentioned but improvement tends to be either of the form of basically translation again, injecting something from another version of the game/entry in the series or improvement within the realms of "programmer art" capabilities -- the only reason I have a clue what bellicoso means is because I learned Latin at one point in time, it does not stop me from altering relative volume levels in a song though.

Wander onto some of the game specific sites and team projects are reasonably common, though owing to the way they work it is usually more that a spriter will appear, do the work and then over the coming months a hacker might inject it in and sort out any fallout.

"How come the great spriters, music composers, level designers and programmers don't seem to work together more often"
As well as the above I would say for the same reason you do not see many truly extensive hacks -- ROM hacking to make a new game is an arse backwards way of making a new game.

Doubtless there is some isolationist tendency at play -- hacking might not necessarily be a solo effort but learning it usually is and being self sufficient does rather alter approaches that people take. I see it often in myself -- "I could pay the boys in the shop to fix this but I have the tools, the time and the inclination (and would enjoy the funds more for other things) so I will spend the 10 hours it is going to take rather than the 3 it would take someone that does this every day".

SunGodPortal

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #2 on: May 29, 2015, 04:14:02 pm »
In some cases it's difficult to have multiple people working on something because of the way the data is structured. For example, I work on Zelda III. Having more than one person working on dungeons at one time is a bad idea. The dungeon data does not have a finite structure in some regards, so if you add a bunch of stuff in one room, the data will shift. If someon else is working on room 200 and you made a bunch of changes to room 100, then all of the room data above 100 is likely to shift if the changes are drastic enough. One easy way for people to work together is by sharing and combining patches. In this case it probably won't work. It's better to have someone work only on dungeons and another person work only on overworlds or to do these things at different times.

That's one example of specific challenge regarding this subject.
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Synnae

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #3 on: May 29, 2015, 09:26:49 pm »
The only ROM hacking team project I know of is Rockman 6 Skype, but it's dead now.

It was being made by a team of Japanese hackers that would apparently get on a Skype group and work together, hence the hack's name.

It was a very extensive hack of Rockman 6, and it's a shame knowing they will never continue working on it.

Chpexo

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« Reply #4 on: May 29, 2015, 11:07:40 pm »
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« Last Edit: January 01, 2016, 09:02:51 am by Chpexo »

SunGodPortal

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #5 on: May 29, 2015, 11:34:45 pm »
I would also recommend working with someone else if possible. I have a perfect example why.

I picked up an old Zelda III hack and started working on it to polish up what I thought was a very cool game that gets very little attention because of how buggy it is and the crude state that it was left in before the author got sick of working on it (or too busy). When I originally started the project I was working alone but after I managed to fix one of the biggest bugs in the game (huge thanks to Conn and Puzzledude) KGP showed much more interest in working on the game again so we teamed up.

Fast forward a little bit and I'm attempting to rewrite all of the dialogue to improve whatever I can any way I can. Testing was a bitch. There seemed to be no good way to do it because of certain factors that could not be worked around. I came up with a solution to make the process only slightly better and mentioned this in a conversation with KGP. He mistunderstood what I was telling him and seemed to think it was a great idea and wondered why he hadn't thought of doing it that way. In saying this he happened to include the method he thought I was referring to. It turned out to be 1000 times better and the perfect solution!!! I'm not sure if I would have thought of it on my own and the only way I found the best way to test the new dialogue was because when talking about it KGP misunderstood what I said and reiterated it to me. Had this not happened I probably wouldn't have made a 1/4 of the progress that I have and I owe it all to that one little misunderstanding. You don't get things like that when you work alone.
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mz

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #6 on: May 30, 2015, 12:17:12 am »
Most ROM hacks or translations take several months to complete. It's hard to find different people interested in the same thing for so much time and make them commit to something that won't leave them much in the end...

Also, most of us are very antisocial and with strong opinions, so the few teams around don't seem to last for too long if there needs to be some kind of interaction between members.
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Dr. Floppy

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2015, 12:39:53 am »
This topic has always intrigued me, as very few people are mentally ambidextrous (e.g., excel at both analytical/logic & artistic/creative tasks). It would seem that division of labor would be the common solution to this, even if split between just two people. And then it hit me: (almost) all of these games were originally produced by teams, so what's the biggest difference between them and us?

Money.

They got paid to produce those games. We do not get paid to hack. Moreover, all of the usual reasons group efforts fall apart or just don't get off the ground to begin with can be explained by the $ Factor. Motivation? Money's a prime motivator, easily on par with sex and euphoria. Territorial micturation? Money's a reliable ego-soother. Communication? When money's on the line, people tend to not hesitate in reaching out and touching someone.

The only pitfall of Group Hacking efforts not explained by fiduciary concerns is also the one not experienced by the original programming teams: Intercalation. We're working with a finished product; they weren't. Thus, if something about Game Element X conflicts or is otherwise affected by Game Element Y, it's totally our problem to deal with. The Zelda franchise is an excellent example of intercalation in play. Just coming off a major Zelda hack myself, I cannot overestimate the number of times I had to deal with graphics conflicting with palettes, palettes conflicting with level design, level design conflicting with game script, game script conflicting with music, music conflicting with sound effects, sound effects conflicting with graphics (yes, that actually happened), etc., etc., ad nauseum. Add raw 6502 assembly code to the mix (especially new routines), and the potential for conflict goes exponential.

OPT's didn't have that, at least not in the same way. If something done by Mr. Level Designer conflicted with something else done by Mr. Script Coordinator, it was hashed-out over lunch or the water cooler. Motivation to find a workable solution was maintained by $. Jilted egos and hurt feelings were massaged by $. Never underestimate the power of The Bottom Lineā„¢.


tl;dr- It's the difference between doing something for fun, and doing something for a living.

BlackDog61

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2015, 06:14:51 pm »
What do you call a team? Is 2 a team? Is it 4? Does there need to be some skills overlap for us to consider it a team with collaboration?
Like FAST said, it seems a bit too complex for a translation hack to be done by a single person - except for simplest games (or for very strong & available / persistent persons ;D).

I'm not an isolationist - I love friends.
There are just so few people who like Super Robot Wars enough to spend months having at it.
There are just not a lot of people ready to invest for a long time (especially in an era where everything is given for free quickly, and consumption of goods and services tends to be wait-less).
It does take skills to do these things.

Add all of these. The equation is tight.
But it also means we're lucky to see as many successful projects as we do!
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Dr. Floppy

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2015, 12:38:28 am »
What do you call a team?

More than one person working on a common/shared project = team.

dn

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2015, 02:36:34 pm »
Most people work alone because the community has become quite jaded over the idea of a "team." Most people looking for a "team" simply want to be able to do nothing while everybody else puts the hack together, and then claim to be a project leader. Most existing teams formed by people who already knew each other and who had a mutual goal. The Pandora's Box team comes to mind, for example.

snarfblam

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Re: How come ROM hacking team projects are kind of rare?
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2015, 05:42:43 pm »
In most cases, people looking to put together a team are people who are less experienced. They want to do something but they don't know what, or they don't know how to manage a project, or their goals exceed their capability. Add to that that in a hobby setting people are simply less inclined to adhere to their own role and fulfill their assigned responsibilities. Not generally a formula for success.

In my experience, (constructive) collaboration is something that is most likely to happen organically. A project is already started and people who know eachother or that already have some projects under their belt realize they have interests that align and skills that complement eachother's. I haven't done a ton of collaborative work, but when I've worked with others, it was when they already had something good going and I thought I had a way to make it better.

I don't think this is unique to ROM hacking, either. I thing it's something you'll see with most hobbies.