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Messages - Flake

#1
One idea I've had for some years now: we hackers at all levels would definitely like to have a modular meta-utility to be used for producing game-specific hacking utilities for numerous different games.

The reason this comes to mind now is that while I've lately been working with my hex editors on mapping out Wisdom Tree's Spiritual Warfare (Version 6.1) for a future project, and I can't help noticing some remarkable similarities between some of its coding and that of Idol Shisen Mahjong. Two more dissimilar games for the NES than these would be difficult to imagine: Spiritual Warfare runs on Mapper 11 and is a Christianized Legend of Zelda-style adventure game; Idol Shisen Mahjong runs on Mapper 3 and is a puzzle game in which the prizes for which one plays are naughty pictures. Yet the name tables for various areas on Spiritual Warfare's game map work with a tiling-and-palette assignment system very much like the tiling-and-palette assignment system for the name tables on Idol Shisen Mahjong's naughty pictures.

If one were to design a map editor for Spiritual Warfare, it seems to me the editor wouldn't be that difficult to adapt into a picture editor for Idol Shisen Mahjong as well... provided, of course, that the hacker who programmed the first utility were to be programming the second as well; but how likely is that? The game-specific utilities various people churn out on here are programmed in different languages on different platforms using different methods. Even if these other hackers provide their source code along with their programs, one has to be an expert programmer to adapt any such editor for use on a different game.

If, on the other hand, there were some meta-utility with standardized modules, some program into which one simply plugged in hexadecimal addresses for the table one wished to edit and the tiles or blocks of tiles it uses (provided either from plugging in further hexadecimal addresses pointing to the relevant data, or from a chart the hacker builds and loads in separately) along with information about the palettes and compression scheme(s) it uses (if any), one could make a multitude of new game-specific editors for a great many different kinds of games from the same template. It's my understanding there's a French guy working on something like this already, though his NEStorLab is still in the early stages of its development; and of course, it'll need to be translated for us English-speakers too. From what I've seen of the beta he provides for download so far, it also seems to work only with graphics tables and ASM codes at the moment.

We've already got some multi-game utilities for games from specific companies such as Capcom and Konami, but what if we had a utility more comprehensive than that? At the very least, every NES game that emulators have been able to operate must be using some known common formats for its tables and compression schemes. The 16-bit SNES and Genesis systems presumably worked from a limited set of common formats as well. Seems to me some genius programmer who builds the wonderful utilities we already have on here ought to be able to program such a meta-utility for all the games of at least one of these old consoles...
#2
Remember, people: "Now Safe For Work!" is only one letter different from "Not Safe For Work!"

Of course, if your boss catches you playing this on the job, he's still going to fire you. Just sayin'.
#3
Well, it works that way on the Nester emulator too, so yes, that's probably a hardware limitation. I don't quite understand the finer points of old 8-bit programming and palette swapping, but I do know that various NES games from that era had some amusing screen-edge glitches in them that a player could sometimes exploit to his advantage.

For instance, Ninja Gaiden had what I called the "Incredible Disappearing Enemy" trick by which, if you carefully scrolled the screen forward while an enemy on a platform near the edge was stepping backwards, you could sometimes watch the enemy vanish off the platform altogether. (This was especially handy on Level 6, where there wasn't much of anywhere for you to stand otherwise.) At the same time, one of the more frustrating effects of this same glitch had to do with enemies rapidly re-spawning every time you destroyed them, especially the bird that consumed three (!) of your hit points every time it struck you.

Incidentally, yes, the edges of the screen would often be invisible to someone playing the game on the original console hooked up to an old Fullscreen CRT TV. When playing a DVD on one of those old televisions, I noticed that although the movie had black bars on its left and right due to being made with a European ratio (5:3) instead of an American one (4:3 or 16:9), these were cut off on the TV itself. Apparently, those old TVs shave anywhere from about 20-60 pixels off every edge. That's why the old game consoles could get away with so many of these shenanigans.
#4
Quote from: Dwedit on September 28, 2011, 01:25:44 AMJust tried out this hack... Why is Michael Moore following me?

Is that who "Mikey Obesephalus" is supposed to be? Well, I suppose Michael Moore does resemble Pokey (or Porky) from the original game in a lot of ways: he's disloyal, overpaid, fat, obnoxious, and parasitic.

Quote from: Dwedit on September 28, 2011, 01:25:44 AMEdit: I see a lot of copy-editing mistakes.  What's a "bread rolle", and why are many items now in lowercase letters?

That's odd. I see that a lot of items are in lowercase letters, but I'm not seeing that "rolle" typo in my copy. Which IPS patch and program did you use?

Quote from: Dwedit on September 28, 2011, 01:25:44 AMThere is awkward text when using PSI Lifeup A.  "Jenny invokes the Lifeup α!  Jenny maxes out the hit points!" sounds like something an outsourced call center employee would say.

Well, the original game had some pretty strange ways of saying things too, such as putting everything the characters do in battle in the past tense. I guess the new phrasing is just the hacker's style. I'm noticing that there are a lot fewer pauses in the dialogue and that the "PSI" prefix has been hacked off of the name of every spell or "miracle" as the game puts it.

Did you notice what that fourth member of the party looks like? Those "Don't care" names in the menu were all anime girls' names too. I recognize Nagi from Boogiepop Phantom, Aya from Ayashi No Ceres, and Lain from Serial Experiments Lain, to name three. I think the Hare Krishna guy has been dumped for a hot chick.