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Author Topic: Final Fantasy II/IV hack  (Read 5329 times)

SunGodPortal

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Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« on: November 09, 2014, 08:43:04 pm »
I'm not sure if this is the right section but...

I'd like to make a hack of FFII/IV that would be pretty extensive. The scope of changes would probably amount to what appeared like a different game that simply plays like FFII/IV. New story, characters, graphics, maps, weapons, etc. So...

The reason for this post is: There are a number of utilites for this specific game but none of them have reviews. For those who have used them, which ones did you like/dislike and what did you like/dislike about them? Are there any that are so buggy they should simply be avoided?

Possibly relevant: I'll be using a US ROM as I am most familiar with that version of the game.
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JCE3000GT

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2014, 12:49:28 am »
So far the easiest tools to use are a hex editor, a tile editor, FF4kster, and FF2usME.  That last one has a few bugs but can edit the basic stuff like characters, items, magic, and some monster data.  FF4kster is pretty good at editing about everything. 

I will let the others chime in now.  :)

chillyfeez

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #2 on: November 14, 2014, 09:09:46 pm »
FF4kster it definitely the utility with the widest scope of capability, and has the added advantage of being virtually bug free... As long as you don't edit your ROM any other way. It starts to get touchy if you use any other tools, though.
Also, I know of no tools out there designed specifically for editing the graphics of FFII/IV, so you'll need Tile Layer or Tile Molestor, or some other SNES graphics editor if you're going to create new characters. As FF4kster only has a map graphics preview, you'll want to get Zyrthofar's FF4 ROM editor to preview graphical changes... But DON'T EVER SAVE YOUR ROM with this editor. Your monster images will be forever destroyed if you do.
The greatest _currently running_ source of info about the game can be found at rb.thundaga.com.
The _actual_ greatest source of info is in the ffiv portion of the forum at slickproductions.org, which unfortunately has been down for almost a month now, but I've been assured it will be back eventually.
Close to 100% of what I know about ROM hacking has been learned hacking FFIV, and I've discovered quite a bit about it, so please feel free to ask me if there's anything about it you need to know. If I don't already know the answer I can probably help you figure it out.
Ongoing project: "Final Fantasy IV: A Threat From Within"

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SunGodPortal

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2014, 03:52:46 am »
Awesome. I thank both of you. I'm familiar with Tile Layer but I've never used Tile Molester before. I'll check it out.

Decided to play through FFIIUS again to see if I could milk some ideas from it. Just wanted to enjoy the story and re-familiarize myself with the game without having to grind, so I changed a bunch of weapons and armor you have access to in the beginning of the game to give a bunch of stat boosts. hehehe Used FF4kster. Seemed simple enough (for that sort of task anyway).

Right now my biggest challenge is not letting my ideas exceed too far beyond what is realistically possible for a lone individual. For example: One of my story ideas pretty much renders nearly all of the original graphics unusable. That means I'd have to create ALL NEW graphics on top of EVERYTHING ELSE that would have to be changed.  :o
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Lenophis

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2014, 09:28:45 am »
The _actual_ greatest source of info is in the ffiv portion of the forum at slickproductions.org, which unfortunately has been down for almost a month now, but I've been assured it will be back eventually.
At this point in time I'm waiting for my admin to dump the database back onto the board, so it's out of my hands. Once the dump is complete, it'll be a work-in-progress to fix the stuff I missed. :laugh: However, you reminded me that the front page should probably be put back up. :crazy:


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chillyfeez

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2014, 05:00:22 pm »
Awesome. I thank both of you. I'm familiar with Tile Layer but I've never used Tile Molester before. I'll check it out.

Right now my biggest challenge is not letting my ideas exceed too far beyond what is realistically possible for a lone individual. For example: One of my story ideas pretty much renders nearly all of the original graphics unusable. That means I'd have to create ALL NEW graphics on top of EVERYTHING ELSE that would have to be changed.  :o

I use Tile Layer myself, but I see people talking about Tile Molestor often.
I can't bring myself to use it - name sounds dirty.

Anyway, I haven't done too much with the location tilesets, but I know their graphical data is at the very end of the ROM. They're all visible in 3BPP mode, EXCEPT the ship/airship graphics, which are 4BPP for some reason. As for the world maps... Your guess is as good as mine. I've searched for them to no avail. I think someone told me once that the world map tiles are two different tilesets laid over each other (I guess to get more than 16 colors?), which could theoretically make them even harder to find in a graphics editing program without at least some kind of lead.

I've done quite a bit with character and monster graphics, though they are much easier to find.
I did some extensive research on changing summon images, and "special" (non-rectangular) monster sprite arrangements if you're interested in that. I posted a full tutorial on slick, but I probably have the raw files that went into that if you want to see before the site gets fully back up and running.

Also, the project I'm working on edits a lot of aspects of the game not touched by any editors I've seen. (Shameless plug alert!) It's sort of a sequel to The After Years.
Here's the demo I put out a few months ago if you wanna try it.
I legitimately love helping people, so really, ask if you need help figuring anything out.  :)

At this point in time I'm waiting for my admin to dump the database back onto the board, so it's out of my hands. Once the dump is complete, it'll be a work-in-progress to fix the stuff I missed. :laugh: However, you reminded me that the front page should probably be put back up. :crazy:
No worries. You did warn me this was coming. Though I've been hurting for an outlet recently, as evidenced by my sudden activity on RHDN.
Ongoing project: "Final Fantasy IV: A Threat From Within"

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SunGodPortal

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2014, 06:49:35 pm »
Quote
As for the world maps... Your guess is as good as mine. I've searched for them to no avail.

Haha. That's funny because one of the things I was thinking of doing to set my hack apart was to set things up where an overworld wouldn't be accessible or even necessary.

Quote
Also, the project I'm working on edits a lot of aspects of the game not touched by any editors I've seen. (Shameless plug alert!) It's sort of a sequel to The After Years.
Here's the demo I put out a few months ago if you wanna try it.

Cool. I'm intrigued. Might just give me some ideas I never would have thought of otherwise. I'll try it immediately.

Quote
I posted a full tutorial on slick, but I probably have the raw files that went into that if you want to see before the site gets fully back up and running.

Would most certainly be useful, but what is this "slick" you speak of?

Quote
I legitimately love helping people, so really, ask if you need help figuring anything out.  :)

Awesome. Thanks. I suddenly feel a lot better about this project.  8)
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chillyfeez

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2014, 07:09:52 pm »
Sorry, "slick" is slick productions.org, or the forum therein, to be precise... Which (as mentioned above) is currently down for maintenance, but is the richest single source of information about FFII/IV.
Ongoing project: "Final Fantasy IV: A Threat From Within"

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SunGodPortal

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2014, 02:33:15 am »
Whoa. That demo was pretty cool. Since it IS a demo I won't nitpick, just encourage. >:D From what I've seen so far I'll probably enjoy your version over FFII US if this keeps going strong. It seems to expand and improve on the original in a way that makes the original seem kind of flat and inferior in comparison. Might seem like an overstatement considering it's such a short demo but I'm pretty familar with the original (found it in a pawn shop for $10, circa 1997, great buy) so I can assure you that it feels very fresh in comparison to the old, moldy original (hahaha). How far along is this project anyway?
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chillyfeez

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2014, 10:56:53 am »
If what you just got through is the first chapter, I'm nearly done with the second chapter, but saying that doesn't really tell the whole story.
Chapter two is longer in general and contains more boss monsters. Plus, it involves an "epic choice," which determines which bosses you fight, which bosses you'll fight later, and when certain characters (Palom/Porom) join your party. I also worked in the beginning of a chocobo-catching sidequest. Additionally, I've made major overhauls to the battle system:
-Limit skills are now somewhat elective. The limit break is still random when critical, but you get a message to "hold y" to activate the skill.
-World map monster encounters vary by terrain instead of by area alone, so you'll fight different monsters in the forest than you would on the field tile right outside the forest.
-I put in an option in the Custom menu to switch between seeing Max HP and ATB meter (which never existed before in FFIV) during battle.
-And the biggest change, monsters now become more difficult as the player levels up (a la FFVIII).

Plus a whole bunch of other little things I either don't remember or are not significant enough to talk about.

As for the things you might nitpick, it would probably be helpful if you want to tell me.
Here's a non exhaustive list of what I KNOW is not perfect:
-The revolving earth in the intro sequence is glitchty. I don't know why or how to fix it, so I think I have to just live with that.
-Character portrait art is generally inconsistent, and Ceodore's just looks wrong, and Ursula's looks a little off. All that's easily changed, but I'm not sure I have the spriting talent for the endeavor to be worth the effort. I may make changes to the portraits, but that would be WAY down the road. Obviously, my talents are more in coding than in 16-bit art.
Ongoing project: "Final Fantasy IV: A Threat From Within"

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SunGodPortal

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2014, 09:49:36 pm »
Yeah, I figured the graphics would be ironed-out later. BUT... One little thing I'd like to suggest concerning the title screen... The subtitle ("A Threat from Within") font looks nice but I think something about it makes the "big picture" look a little off. I think either A: the subtitle needs a different font, B: the subtitle needs to be changed to all caps to match with the main title, or both A and B. Perhaps it might look nice if it were to mimic the font of the Square Soft logo that was originally at the bottom. (?)

Another thing I might suggest is when you're in Agart and have to find the correct combination of keys, rather than saying something like "Nothing happened" for the wrong selection, being notified that you have to find the correct order (or at least a slight hint) would be very helpful. When I got the 1st key right and it went back into the item menu for me to make a 2nd choice at first I thought it was the result of a glitch. It didn't immediately occur to me that it was suggesting "Okay. You got that one right, now which one comes next?". I kept trying that same key again and again because any other choices resulted simply in "Nothing happened". When I did figure out that ALL of the keys had to be used and that I had to find the correct order, I came to that conclusion pretty much by accident. LOL

The music for the sea port. I like that the bassline sounds like that boat theme from FFVII but that brass lead needs some work. The melody needs to be a little more concise and if there's a slightly "softer" brass sound in the game I'd go with it instead. Maybe simply lowering that part an octave might make it blend a little better. On the plus side, I'm happy that it didn't make my SNES screech like some of the custom tracks for Chrono Trigger: Flames of Eternity. :)

*Further comments*
While I'm not entirely sure I understand how it will be utilized, I like the idea of hiring extra party members. I recall something similar in Inindo: Way of the Ninja and that game was much better for it.

I like the changes/additions to how the existing/additional characters function in battle. That'll add a lot of depth to the battles and much needed variety for someone who's played the original inside and out. I look forward to exploring it someday in a longplay scenario.

What little script I had access to in the first chapter was much better than what was in the original, which seemed stilted and dilluted.

I'll play through it again to see if I can find/remember anything else that may prove useful.

I'm curious. Are you working on this project with others or are you trying to tackle everything yourself?
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chillyfeez

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2014, 11:59:24 pm »
The title screen was created by JCE3000GT, actually. It's one thing I don't really know how to change on my own, so that'll stay, at least until my interests turn toward actually figuring that out.

That's a good suggestion about the keys in Agart. "Fithos Lusec Wecos Vinosec" is a reference to FFVIII,  (that's what the choir is chanting in the Sorceress's theme music) but I imagine even people who have played that game might not get the reference (or know that). And that should be pretty easy to change/fix.

I kinda like the sea shanty. I'm certainly no composer, though. If someone came to me with a Midi of an original piece to use instead, I would certainly give it strong consideration. Programming new songs into FFIV is REALLY HARD, though. To my knowledge, I'm really the only one who's done it. I created a how-to doc that I meant to publish here, but haven't yet. The choice of instruments is pretty limited, too - that there might be a softer brass is a pipe dream. As a matter of fact, the "tuba" baseline and the "trumpet" melody are the same instrument in different octaves. The choices are pretty much brass, harp, guitar, piano, organ, wind (flute), synthetic tone (like, computer beep), cymbal, drum and whistle (like a gym teacher's whistle, used at the beginning of the black chocobo music).

The idea behind hiring is that the player will be allowed some variety in the "final" party (some of the permanent characters will be swappable as well). Did the demo I linked you have the part afterwards that allows you to try out all the playable characters? The game's engine doesn't really support unrestricted party changing, so hired help (inspired by FF Tactics) was a way to allow variety while still having it make sense that a character's experience and equipment is lost forever if they leave.

Regarding the dialogue, FFIIUS definitely had its translation problems (as did all Final Fantasy titles through FFVIII). My goal was to keep the JRPG feel, as well as any existing characterization (for the characters that carry over from the original and The After Years), but also make the dialogue, well, good. There will be more intentional humor than the original, plus some noticeable nods to longtime FF fans.

Aside from the title screen, this is pretty much all my work. I am of course using tools (mostly FF4kster) created by other people, but a significant amount of the hacking still needs to be done manually. I might want to get an experienced/talented spriter involved if possible. And maybe someone to compose some original music, though I can safely reuse much of the original music, since the game exists in an established universe. But, yeah, that's why fresh playtesting opinions are so valuable to me, so... Thanks!
Ongoing project: "Final Fantasy IV: A Threat From Within"

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SunGodPortal

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2014, 01:02:04 am »
Yeah. After I got done in Agart it took me to the little island in the underworld with a house wherein the playable chars were previewed and selectable. That's what I was refering to here:

Quote
I like the changes/additions to how the existing/additional characters function in battle.

I probably could have turned what I wanted to say there into a paragraph but I decided to cut it as short as possible since it was turning into a long post. That probably made it a little confusing. I'm not surprised if the meaning got lost due to my attempt to avoid becoming long-winded. :D

I would be very much interested in working on music or graphics but unfortunately I'm just getting back into ROM hacking after years of inactivity. Even before I stopped learning and honing my skills I was still limited to pedestrian graphics and text edits. Nothing too complicated. After such a long time and with so little experience I pretty much feel like I'm starting from zero. I'd love to help you any way i can but right now my skill set is probably too primitive to do you much good. Regardless I'd like to learn as much as I can and especially concerning FFIV since I'd like to hack it myself. So really, any resources you can suggest will be greatly appreciated.
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chillyfeez

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2014, 01:57:45 am »
That's cool. I was in that same boat a little over three years ago. I had done some very rudimentary NES hacking in college (probably before RHDN even existed), but nothing that came close to this.

I would say firstly, play around with FF4kster, as a lot can be done with that alone.
Also, keep checking to see when the slick forum is back up and running. Who knows how long that will be, but there's a whole lot there, and the small but enthusiastic community of FFIV hackers there are great to ask questions and bounce ideas.
If you have any questions about how to do anything specifically, as I said, I'm happy to help if I can.  :)
If Slick stays down for a while longer, that may end up being the motivation I need to post some tutorial documents here on RDHN for general consumption.
Ongoing project: "Final Fantasy IV: A Threat From Within"

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SunGodPortal

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2014, 12:11:44 am »
I just thought of a question. I guess it's actually a few questions but they're all related. It won't come into play until down the road but I'd like to get a heads up on it so I can make a decision about how deeply I want to reconfigure the characters (or their "profiles" I guess I should say, since I won't actually be using the same chars).

When I go to set up my characters I'd like to include some of the abilities that were disabled in the US version like Dark Wave and Build-up. How complicated would it be to mix and match the battle commands and/or restore some of the disabled commands that I'd like the impliment? Note: I'm not really worried about the graphical implications of such actions since none of the existing character graphics will be of much use to me.

Also, if I added say, Black Magic to a character that didn't already have it would I then have to reconfigure their levels? Right now I'm assuming that spell learning functions something like this: at level 10 Rydia learns "spell X", at level 13 Rydia learns "spell Y". Is this correct?

I don't know if it's obvious or not but I haven't quite delved into the depths of the available documentation yet. Just thought I'd see if I could get a few quick and easy answers. heh heh At the moment I'm still gathering resources and trying to get an idea of what sort of scope would be realistic for a hack that at the moment (and likely for a while) only involves myself.

I keep checking the slick forum but I guess it's not up and running yet. It won't even let me register. How much/what sort of tutorial stuff do you have that's not already available for general consumption?
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chillyfeez

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2014, 01:23:15 am »
Restoring the dummied out commands is actually a piece of cake with FF4kster. They didn't actually remove them from the US version - they just disabled them (and literally named them all "Dummy"). FF4kster will allow you to rename the commands, as well as assign them to any specific character you choose. If you're having trouble figuring out which command is which (since all of the dummied commands are named Dummy by default), you can reference this, which is from The Final Fantasy 4 Reference Book (as mentioned before, a great source of info. The list of abilities in that document presents them in the same order they are listed in FF4kster.

You're absolutely correct about how characters learn spells at level-up. Changing the spell learning assignment is also a snap with FF4kster.

I don't have a whole lot written out that isn't already available somewhere on the internet. What I do have is a guide to hacking the music that I wrote out but never published, and a guide to changing summoned monster images, which is up on the slick forum and therefore not currently doing anybody any good. I can send you those files, but I wouldn't recommend making either of those projects your first foray into hacking FFIV. Both are extremely complicated and time consuming processes. I have those documents because those are things I can actually take credit for discovering how to do. Most other major things were discovered by other people, so while I have probably done them, I don't have anything written out about it.

Ongoing project: "Final Fantasy IV: A Threat From Within"

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SunGodPortal

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2014, 01:34:54 am »
I've been using FF4kster to change characters, battle commands, item and equipment properties and the like. I have yet to get into any of the event and trigger stuff. Do you know if FF4kster is capable of having the game skip the opening Mysida mission/castle scenes and just deposit the player in the town of Baron right after a new game is started? Or would that have to be done outside of FF4kster?

I don't intend to use the Baron castle or the overworld. The text scroll that occurs opon leaving the castle for the first time may be useful later but for a while I'd like to be able to simply start a new game and immediately be able to test out my "dungeons" and whatnot.
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chillyfeez

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2014, 08:15:22 pm »
Absolutely. Every new location loading at the beginning of the game is part of the "opening events" event. You could, in theory, just change the entire Opening Events script to read just, "Load Baron Town at (x,y)."
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SunGodPortal

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2014, 08:59:19 pm »
Awesome. I was hoping it would be that simple. Thanks again.
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chillyfeez

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Re: Final Fantasy II/IV hack
« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2014, 10:02:13 pm »
FYI, though, there's a bit of quirkiness in loading the world map when exiting a location (town, castle, cave, etc.).
The game stores in memory the most recent world map location, and when you exit a location, it places you back there. If you start the game in a location, then there is no "last position" in the world map, and you'll exit Baron to (I'm pretty sure) 0,0 in the Over world, which is in the middle of the ocean.
The original programming circumvents this issue by having a second opening event of sorts (Cecil goes to bed, has his midnight discussion with Rosa, meets up with Kain, exits the castle, scrolling text, load world map).
What you would probably want to do is create an "exit Baron Town" event (the entire script of which would be "load Overworld at x,y (whatever the over world position of Baron is)"), then line the town's exits (don't forget the secret exit in the back!) With event trigger tiles (walkable spaces that automatically trigger events), which call this "exit" event when the player steps on them.
That might sound complicated, but you'll understand what I mean by playing around a bit. :thumbsup:
Ongoing project: "Final Fantasy IV: A Threat From Within"

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