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Author Topic: Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?  (Read 1042 times)

John Enigma

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Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?
« on: June 24, 2018, 10:34:30 pm »
With the advent of the slow rising compatibility of Xbox emulators, particularly Cxbx-Reloaded, Xbox emulation is starting to become more and more prominent than ever before.

Now I've been meaning to ask for a while now. I know that .xbe files are executables that can only run on the original Xbox, and that on each of those executables, there's an .iso version of the Xbox games called .xiso.

My question is this: is it theoretically possible to hack (or in certain cases, "mod") an Xbox game, for either translation, restoration, or bug fixing?

Like, let's say, there's someone that wants to hack Conker: Live & Reloaded as an example. That person's goal is to uncensore every known voice clip that got censored (ever since Rare got bought by Microsoft), restore references that were on the original Conker's Bad Fur Day but not on the remake, etc. only for the sole purpose of making this game more like if Rare made a faithful HD remake to the game, and not a botched product when they were bought my M$.

So, the question still remains: is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games (.xiso particularly, because I don't know if .xbe can be hacked/modded)?

Jorpho

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Re: Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?
« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2018, 01:52:48 am »
Anything is "possible".  Even if the data is encrypted or compressed for some reason, it would just be a matter of finding a means to decrypt or decompress the data.

Did you see something in particular to suggest that XBox game data should somehow be any less hackable than any other data? 
This depresses me. I feel like a goldfish right now...

John Enigma

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Re: Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?
« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2018, 04:48:11 am »
Did you see something in particular to suggest that XBox game data should somehow be any less hackable than any other data?

Well, these are games that were made for a console designed by a computer company.

Since Xbox emulation is still an uncharted territory, I don't know if these games can be hacked to the levels of PS2 and GameCube, which are somehow easy to do, especially in the translation department, and HD texture making.

FAST6191

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Re: Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?
« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2018, 07:19:16 am »
Xbox ROM hacking has been going on since the start on the hardware... actually here is a 2005 lawsuit that stems from people fiddling with things there http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/02/10/tecmo_sues_xbox_game_hackers/ .
There are any number of iso handling tools that will pull apart the isos, indeed many of the original scene releases are actually rips to get file sizes down. I tend to use the ones in the xbox-hq starter pack

The executables tend to be called .xbe rather than .exe (there being tools like XbeTool to handle them), file format wise it is similar to the PC of the era and other consoles of the era and slightly afterwards. Or if you prefer then the usual locations like http://wiki.xentax.com/index.php/Game_File_Format_Central and https://wiki.multimedia.cx/index.php?title=Category:Game_Formats will cover enough to get you going on various games. If said game also appeared on the PC (a distinct possibility when dealing with the original xbox) then do make sure to have a look at anything done there.
Debug wise then yeah with the emulators being what they are it is perhaps not as easy. There are some hardware options, and you might still be able to find some actual dev gear or ones people made into dev gear. There should be IDA modules somewhere for it all, but http://dxbx-emu.com/2010/11/04/dxbx-symbol-detection/ covers a few things that might also be of use and I might as well link http://www.eurasia.nu/wiki/index.php/XboxInfo and particularly http://www.eurasia.nu/wiki/index.php/XboxMakingDebugXdkEasyWay .

Sadly a lot of the old xbox sites like the xbox linux wiki have gone so I don't have a nice hardware spec to link beyond what I already have. Hopefully you have enough to get started.

John Enigma

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Re: Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?
« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2018, 08:40:50 am »
^Well, there is always the Xbox Dev Wiki.

filler

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Re: Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2018, 04:32:41 am »
Well, these are games that were made for a console designed by a computer company.

Since Xbox emulation is still an uncharted territory, I don't know if these games can be hacked to the levels of PS2 and GameCube, which are somehow easy to do, especially in the translation department, and HD texture making.

I don't think there is a game for any console I'd call easy to hack. There may be a PC game or two with developer provided tools, or script stored in easy to access editable text files, but even those are few and far between.

There are 4 Xbox translation patches hosted on this site, two of which are fully playable. So yes, it's entirely possible.

Psyklax

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Re: Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2018, 02:21:48 pm »
Well, these are games that were made for a console designed by a computer company.

:huh:

What difference does that make? PCs were designed by computer companies and last I checked, they were hackable.

Like Jorpho said, anything is possible. Open an ISO in a hex editor and change a few bytes. There, you hacked it. :)

The reason Xbox hacking isn't up to the level of the others of its generation is obviously due to the near total lack of emulation up until about a year ago, and even now it's not even close to useable. The reason for THIS is complex but has nothing to do with the manufacturer. Dolphin has been a major open-source success story for GCN/WII while the PS2 was always going to get attention given it's the biggest selling console in history with the biggest ever library of games. Most of the Xbox's best games are non-exclusive and the few exclusives worth playing have since been released in other forms. Add to that the complexity of that generation and you can see why the interest has been lacking.

FAST6191

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Re: Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2018, 04:03:12 pm »
:huh:

What difference does that make? PCs were designed by computer companies and last I checked, they were hackable.

Like Jorpho said, anything is possible. Open an ISO in a hex editor and change a few bytes. There, you hacked it. :)

The reason Xbox hacking isn't up to the level of the others of its generation is obviously due to the near total lack of emulation up until about a year ago, and even now it's not even close to useable. The reason for THIS is complex but has nothing to do with the manufacturer. Dolphin has been a major open-source success story for GCN/WII while the PS2 was always going to get attention given it's the biggest selling console in history with the biggest ever library of games. Most of the Xbox's best games are non-exclusive and the few exclusives worth playing have since been released in other forms. Add to that the complexity of that generation and you can see why the interest has been lacking.

I don't know if lack of emulation was the trouble -- hardware debugging was a thing and the consoles themselves got very nice and easy to do hacks towards the end, far easier than anything even to this day on the consoles themselves (both the PS2 and GC got some nice memory card things way after the generation was "over").
It may not have helped things but I would have put it far more at the feet of the lack of things that weren't ported to the PC, see also why Doom hacking on consoles is mostly seen as a kind of vanity project or of very limited scope.

Back when I blundered into the xbox scene (quite a bit later in the day, XBMC was already highly polished, or if you prefer I got a nice 1.6 xbox (the last iteration made) second hand for not a lot) there was a project to train every single game for it. I don't know if they ever got there but it was mostly just the likes of Norwegian version of [insert local kid's tv show game/crappy disney tie in game] to go.

I might even say up until quite recently with the rise of Dolphin or maybe the likes of Nintendont on the wii then xbox modding was streets ahead in general, and only some of the game specific stuff (thinking some of the Dragon Ball Z fighting games) for the PS2 rivalled it when it was all current.

Psyklax

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Re: Is it possible to hack/mod Xbox games nowadays?
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2018, 05:23:44 am »
I don't know if lack of emulation was the trouble -- hardware debugging was a thing and the consoles themselves got very nice and easy to do hacks towards the end, far easier than anything even to this day on the consoles themselves

What I mean is that good emulation is important to get hacking going on a machine. The homebrew scene on Xbox, and before that Dreamcast, was always strong, but I think there's a big gap between homebrew development and hacking. Many people can produce high quality hacks of games for older systems thanks to good debugging emulators, but wouldn't know where to begin with homebrew development (myself included). Not to mention that hardware debugging means you need the hardware, which can be a barrier for people to get involved.

If a system is well emulated with good software tools, hacking can flourish because the barrier for entry has lowered. There will always be hardcore enthusiasts, though.