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Author Topic: Where does one even begin?  (Read 1038 times)

MadRoseArt

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Where does one even begin?
« on: July 24, 2018, 05:16:31 pm »
Is there a good website that would give the basics on what I'd need to know to start learning hacking? I want to make a practice rom for super mario rpg but dont know where to begin or even what coding language it is.

Psyklax

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2018, 03:12:13 am »
Welcome to the forum! :)

I would suggest, however, that your vague "oh woe is me" thread title will put other users off helping you... but I'll try. :)

Firstly, there's a recommended starter pack for newbies which has been mentioned countless times on the forum. If you search for "newbie starter pack" I'm sure you'll find it.

Second, I've started a YouTube series on hacking, but it starts from the very basics. I'll have the second tutorial up soon but here's the first one for now:
https://youtu.be/vuL0CZrxSYo

Finally, the best advice I can give you is that you should know where you want to go before you turn on the car's engine. That is, what do you want to achieve? You said you want to "practice" with SMRPG, but don't suggest how. Text? Graphics? Gameplay? What do you want to do?

Other than that, just use your initiative and you may be okay. ;)

EDIT: well, I couldn't find the starter pack for some reason, so here's the site's starter section:
http://www.romhacking.net/start/
« Last Edit: July 25, 2018, 03:30:19 am by Psyklax »

Jorpho

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2018, 09:36:47 am »
"Begin at the beginning, the King said, very gravely, and go on till you come to the end: then stop."
—Lewis Carroll

EDIT: well, I couldn't find the starter pack for some reason
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Mister Xiado

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2018, 04:00:17 pm »
I recommend starting with 8 bit games, and practicing things like editing sprites and text, before moving on to more advanced games. Having some programming knowledge (ASM, likely) under your belt would help as well.
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NERV Agent

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2018, 06:11:38 am »
I know I'll sound like a contrarian, but if OP wants to make a 16-bit console hack, then he should just start on that 16-bit console.

When I first started seriously ROM hacking, I wanted to start on the PSX. Everyone told me not to, but I did anyway. I wound up learning about PSX textures, CLUTs, ".TIM" files, etc. without having to learn extraneous details of NES graphics that I never needed to learn anyway.

OP, just get straight to the game you want to hack. Beginning somewhere else and then moving to the console you want to work on will just be confusing since you will have preconceived notions of one console that aren't applicable to the other.

I imagine that if I did start on the NES and tried to apply what I learned there to changing the textures in a PSX game, it would be confusing as Hell (as opposed to just start learning on the PSX instead).
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FAST6191

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2018, 07:55:57 am »
I know I'll sound like a contrarian, but if OP wants to make a 16-bit console hack, then he should just start on that 16-bit console.

When I first started seriously ROM hacking, I wanted to start on the PSX. Everyone told me not to, but I did anyway. I wound up learning about PSX textures, CLUTs, ".TIM" files, etc. without having to learn extraneous details of NES graphics that I never needed to learn anyway.

OP, just get straight to the game you want to hack. Beginning somewhere else and then moving to the console you want to work on will just be confusing since you will have preconceived notions of one console that aren't applicable to the other.

I imagine that if I did start on the NES and tried to apply what I learned there to changing the textures in a PSX game, it would be confusing as Hell (as opposed to just start learning on the PSX instead).

While I also find the push towards the NES thing strange -- barring it being the true motivator I absolutely would push someone from something that does not have a vaguely modern emulator outside MAME to a commonly hacked console, which pretty much means NES, SNES, megadrive/genesis, possibly master system, definitely GBA, DS and I reckon you could make a case for the PS1 and N64 (both have the tools, documentation, example hacks and talent but it is all very spread out and still a bit game specific at times*).

*nobody playing in the GBA or DS is terribly surprised at the scope of things being done either when they stumble upon a game/franchise that enjoys its own fairly dedicated hacking base or when they move out of said hacking base and into general hacking. I occasionally wander around PS1 hacking forums and game specific stuff and see people declare things impossible/hard that are well known on the other consoles mentioned and also seemingly to another group of PS1 hackers elsewhere. One time I was looking at a nice example of someone basically disassembling and documenting a RPG drop system I think it was but said same seemed to struggle with anything other than TIM graphics, conversely I saw next to no assembly approaches (despite them potentially being extraordinarily useful) but an awful lot of level and (3d) graphics ability in the Crash Team Racing modding scene.

Similarly I would not call the NES stuff extraneous. It is fundamental building blocks of 2d graphics, which also means 3d textures up until the fairly recent times or maybe whenever bump mapping took off. Similarly it does everything else in a perfectly recognisable way, compared to a lot of slightly older systems still where there was a bit of weirdness that might trip people up. You might not end up as au fait with file formats and file systems if you come through the NES but that is nothing drastic.

jonahstrix

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2018, 05:31:04 pm »
Honestly, I would say not to start with hacking a ROM. Check out RetroAchievements.com. This tool was used to create Achievements for old school games. This really just scratches the surface of find and dealing with the values. Their emulator allows you to monitor and change values while the system is running. If you aren't comfortable with examining how others made these achievements, more complex hacks may be be over your head. You can also use this tool to try to understand how gamegenie codes work. As others have mentioned, stick to the system of the game you want to hack as each system could be very very different.

If you can find a detailed ROM MAP for the game you want to hack, that can take you a long way. With the right hex editor application, changing values is quite straight forward as long as you understand HEX.

However the knowledge involved in traversing opcodes to find a value is several steps beyond that and the skill involved in making any script/function changes is several steps beyond that.

I really think you are going to learn more if you have other project to look at as a reference.

FAST6191

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #7 on: August 10, 2018, 05:28:24 am »
Honestly, I would say not to start with hacking a ROM. Check out RetroAchievements.com. This tool was used to create Achievements for old school games. This really just scratches the surface of find and dealing with the values. Their emulator allows you to monitor and change values while the system is running. If you aren't comfortable with examining how others made these achievements, more complex hacks may be be over your head. You can also use this tool to try to understand how gamegenie codes work. As others have mentioned, stick to the system of the game you want to hack as each system could be very very different.

If you can find a detailed ROM MAP for the game you want to hack, that can take you a long way. With the right hex editor application, changing values is quite straight forward as long as you understand HEX.

However the knowledge involved in traversing opcodes to find a value is several steps beyond that and the skill involved in making any script/function changes is several steps beyond that.

I really think you are going to learn more if you have other project to look at as a reference.

You would point someone at a 3rd party trophments creation site as opposed to cheat making? I guess they would learn something either way but that seems odd.

Maybe it is just my dislike of more mainstream trophments (I really do consider them a net negative on games) bleeding through.

Disch

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #8 on: August 10, 2018, 10:56:13 am »
I know I'll sound like a contrarian, but if OP wants to make a 16-bit console hack, then he should just start on that 16-bit console.

100% agree.

There's no need for stepping stones here.  Just dive in and learn to do it by learning to do what you want with the game you want.

MadRoseArt

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2018, 01:25:11 pm »
Thank you all for your help and kindness! I appreciate all the replies!

NERV Agent

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Re: Where does one even begin?
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2018, 06:42:48 am »
Don't let the console "bit number" intimidate you.
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