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Author Topic: ROM hacking video tutorials. What would it entail?  (Read 2882 times)

FAST6191

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ROM hacking video tutorials. What would it entail?
« on: April 27, 2015, 02:00:21 pm »
Many times now I have seen or had requests for videos detailing how to get into ROM hacking. Short version is a few people have attempted it but generally there are none I can point at that come to any text I have seen, and many, quite rightly I would argue, consider it a hard problem to solve.

Now I can watch hacking conference videos all day long
https://www.youtube.com/user/ChRiStIaAn008
https://www.youtube.com/user/DEFCONConference
Few of those cover anything like an introduction to a subject.

I can watch videos on machine tool operation, woodworking and similar such things all day long as well, indeed between this sort of thing and the previous it is how I spend most of my days. Video very much does work for some, possibly even a lot, of people.

At best the videos of ROM hacking remind me of various repair videos where I just want to be told something (I usually find it for repair videos -- "just tell me where the screws are and how not to destroy the ribbon cables within it, cover the rest later for those that need it") but instead have to listen to someone do it badly. I think my favourite one thus far was I was watching someone do some sound modding on the GBA (in this case the popular sappy sound format in that system) where they were using a tile editor to fix some basic header/pointer stuff (up to and including altering the default palette to dodge a duplicate colour issue).... yeah.

There are some basic things that video does well. Consider describing the basic task of OAM (or whatever sprite control registers/memory is on your chosen system) vs having a real time ram viewer and some animation on screen.

Going back to the earlier comments though for the hacking stuff it tends to assume a base level of knowledge and the machine tool operation/woodworking stuff is not that much more accessible. This might prevent some from being able to make the videos (at times the best person to teach being someone that has just gone through it) but some of the same do seem to be able to teach basic concepts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T5gjkYvMg8A , the guy doing the talking clearly knows his stuff, however the basics covered in that series and those from the same presenter on that channel are done very well.

Anyway I doubt I will be the one making such videos, though if you want a hand I will try as video making has long been a hobby of mine, but some discussion as to what ROM hacking videos might require, be it specifics or more general concepts, are what I would like those reading to speak on.

Gideon Zhi

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Re: ROM hacking video tutorials. What would it entail?
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2015, 02:37:07 pm »
I've been meaning to rehack Monstania on-stream for precisely this purpose. Just haven't gotten around to it.

FAST6191

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Re: ROM hacking video tutorials. What would it entail?
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2015, 03:03:35 pm »
Oh yeah streaming. Personally I do not much care for any streaming (if your post production does not exceed the length of the project* then you have probably gone wrong somewhere) but I would have even really considered streaming some hacking work -- me flicking back and forth through a hex editor, maybe resizing a window/adjusting line length does not make for compelling viewing, and if I have to slow down and vocalise it then it is not going to improve things.

*if you spent 30 hours making bumpers and filters and what have you but made them such that you can reuse them then I will happily take that.

BlackDog61

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Re: ROM hacking video tutorials. What would it entail?
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2015, 06:09:55 pm »
Indeed, just streaming the process would probably be bothersome to watch.
However... editing this exhaustive recording to show the key "understanding" and making moments would do great to educate the people as to what it takes to get to a working solution.
Let's rephrase a bit...

1 - state your goal: trying to translate Monstania
2 - describe what you know and what serves as starting points (including what matters to know about the platform)
3 - browse a bit through the game and comment what you catch as you go
4 - establishing the table file (this would be brilliant as many people ask for this in spite of the existence of documents)
5 - dumping
6 - planning for insertion
7 - insertion of the original language text (as proof of working concept)
8 - finding friends to translate
9 - finding friends to edit
10 - working on crazy menus & graphics while the friends enjoy the translating
(very interesting and educative part, if recent discussions on making menus translations universal are to be proof ;))
11 - insert & debug
profit.

Of course, this is just a person's perspecitve. ;D

Have fun!

FAST6191

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Re: ROM hacking video tutorials. What would it entail?
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2015, 06:43:42 pm »
That could work. Editing heavily is something that is all but mandatory but when doing that I now have to wonder about my failures -- you have the obvious "I  will just try this, it failed so it is clearly this other concept at play" but mixed in among that might be something that I abort after 25 minutes of toying but retain a few scraps of info from, or at least keep in memory as I start over.
On the machining/building stuff I do often see "here were my first attempts at something, [cut to quick shot of failed item]" at some opportune point. Something like that could work.

I wonder if screencapping an entire session and then replicating/"slowing down" the good bits would work. Combine that with some snapshots/version control and that could work well.

chillyfeez

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Re: ROM hacking video tutorials. What would it entail?
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2015, 02:31:57 am »
The conceptual problem with a hacking how-to video is that instruction of the basic concepts involves far more telling than showing.

That's why, I think, you've never seen a video that explains the process as well as documents you've read.

When I first got into ROM hacking, I watched a video that explained how to use a breakpoint to find pertinent code  using Geiger's SNES 9X, but that was only useful in that it showed me the connection between the debugging switchboard and the hex viewer (and the game screen), and what it looks like when a breakpoint is activated.

In most cases, hacking is best explained with written text and occasional appropriate illustrative visuals.
If a person is learning this from the ground up, there's a lot of jargon to become familiar with, and it can be frustrating to have to backup the video to hear something again. If I'm reading, I can just reread.

Ideally, video would be used as appropriate illustrative visual, and not as the whole tutorial. I'm thinking, like, a how-to web page with embedded video, where an explanation of a process is written, then the learner can click play to see 30-90 seconds of video that shows that process in action, but only when video would illustrate better than still pictures, which probably would be a minority of the time.

But... That's also just one person's opinion.
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