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Author Topic: How to form a team  (Read 2400 times)

heliotrope

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How to form a team
« on: March 27, 2018, 10:05:34 pm »
First, this is not a help request, I'm not looking for help here.

This is more of a process question. I'm looking to start a ROM hacking project, and I'm thinking about getting a couple people together to help out with stuff, but there's something I'm not sure of.

This might be a stupid question, but what I'm wondering is how people usually deal with getting help from strangers on the internet for ROM hacking projects? Not how to find help, but how to know if it's good help. For anyone who's put together project teams before, how do you decide if someone who wants to help actually has the skills or ability to do well at something like editing or translating or writing (assuming they don't have a project history you can look at)? Or if they're trustworthy, or someone you'll get along with and work well with?

I feel like this sort of thing should be obvious, but I really have no idea. Any advice?

EDIT: This is sort of hypothetical. For the purposes of this question, I'm assuming that I already have something to show and that there are people interested in helping.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2018, 05:49:46 pm by heliotrope »

FAST6191

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2018, 06:49:56 am »
Nobody wants to waste their time. Nobody likes spam either. Avoid doing both and you will be ahead of the curve.

If I spend a weekend or two pulling apart a game and maybe making some tools to sort it all then I don't want to hear the one doing translation wandered off.

Equally nobody likes it when someone oversells their skills. This is more troubling in translation -- if someone can rip a script for a game then you can start making real headway into localising the game, you might need to find someone else before final release to do a variable width font (VFW) hack or figure out some problem that eludes the initial hacker but that is doable (if you have the script extracted, translated and starting to be inserted you are 85% of the way there and everybody generally agrees "more translations, more better"). If your translator on the other hand fails to live up to the task then yeah.
For testing translators then I really do like https://gbatemp.net/threads/densetsus-translation-toolbox.311523/ (go through the whole thread if you can). Machine translation is probably decades out of being able to do any good, to that end don't believe anybody that says they can do it or looks like they are using it for your test.

Testing hackers is easier still. Making a full hack is a lot of work, making a partial proof of concept is far less work -- translating a whole game is a lot of work whereas making a screen or two display lorem ipsum or something like that is a reasonable request. Similarly doing a full VFW hack is proper work and while I could possibly fake it a shot with some text closer together than the default/rest is doable enough as a test.
I should also say that while you might want to seek the services of a really good hacker for some aspect then also don't underestimate the little guys as well -- I know loads of techniques to figure out encodings in games but the thought of having to manually go through a 3000 character Japanese font... if a newer hacker wants to do that though and leave me to do something else they can quite happily have the credit for that one.

Also "I'm looking to start a ROM hacking project"
What skills do you bring to the party? We occasionally see people want to be project lead, a "series expert", script checker or something equally useless to the day to day. Most hackers and translators of any merit avoid such groups.

There are some people that will try to get an earlier version of the patch for whatever reason, and pretending to be able to help is a means to do that. I am less worried about this for things I do but others do quite justifiably care about such things. Depending upon what you are doing they may or may not need the earlier version of the patch, afraid there are no hard and fast rules as there can be some subtle things that make normally unrelated concepts clash (if the extra space someone needs for an unrelated graphics mod is also the space your hacker chose to stick the text spillover you have a problem, probably not a huge one but a problem never the less).

As far as "someone you'll get along with and work well with" then while nice to have I am not sure it is essential to be the sort of person you want to hang out with. Do what you say you are going to do, do by the time you said you would have it done, don't oversell your skills and don't waste people's time. Some will have greater or lesser tolerances for things there, and there will inevitably be things that get in the way (real life being a big one and having games throw a curveball from time to time is what keeps this sort of thing interesting) but if you have acted in good faith throughout it all then don't worry too much.

KingMike

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #2 on: March 28, 2018, 04:51:03 pm »
Let's give a much simpler answer: show what you can actually do on your own first. If people like what you're doing, then they might be more interested in helping.
Teams that force themselves together will very likely fall fast.
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filler

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #3 on: March 28, 2018, 05:21:06 pm »
Let's give a much simpler answer: show what you can actually do on your own first. If people like what you're doing, then they might be more interested in helping.
Teams that force themselves together will very likely fall fast.

This. It helps to just reach out to people too. Check help wanted ads. Find other people who are already doing good work and offer to help them. Do as much as you can on your own and share what you've done.

heliotrope

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #4 on: March 28, 2018, 05:48:17 pm »
Let's give a much simpler answer: show what you can actually do on your own first. If people like what you're doing, then they might be more interested in helping.
Teams that force themselves together will very likely fall fast.
This. It helps to just reach out to people too. Check help wanted ads. Find other people who are already doing good work and offer to help them. Do as much as you can on your own and share what you've done.

I agree with both of these statements, but it's not quite what I'm asking. That's my fault. Looking back at my question, I accidentally left out part of what I intended to ask.

I was more asking about how to sort out help offers after I've received them. I'm not entirely new to ROM hacking, but I've only worked alone before. I've received offers to help for things in the past, but was never sure what to do with them, how to tell how genuine they were, whether they would actually be helpful, etc. So for the purposes of what I'm asking, I'm assuming I already have something to show, and there are people interested in helping, which I wasn't clear on in the OP.
« Last Edit: March 28, 2018, 05:57:51 pm by heliotrope »

Psyklax

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #5 on: March 28, 2018, 06:14:51 pm »
I keep it simple: I don't work with other people. :D I translate and hack by myself, but if someone comes up with something that I can help with, I might consider it. I don't bother looking for people, though. You can't rely on people working for free over the internet.

The only times I've worked with anyone is with Filler (above me in this thread), and that was just because he'd finished a script for a NES game, and I'm pretty adept at hacking NES games, so I took the script and put it in the game. That way, nobody is relying on anyone else.

So, that's my advice: don't get a team. :) I mean, what do you even need a team for? Making a game, sure, but hacking/translating one? C'mon.

heliotrope

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2018, 09:32:51 pm »
I keep it simple: I don't work with other people. :D I translate and hack by myself, but if someone comes up with something that I can help with, I might consider it. I don't bother looking for people, though. You can't rely on people working for free over the internet.

The only times I've worked with anyone is with Filler (above me in this thread), and that was just because he'd finished a script for a NES game, and I'm pretty adept at hacking NES games, so I took the script and put it in the game. That way, nobody is relying on anyone else.

So, that's my advice: don't get a team. :) I mean, what do you even need a team for? Making a game, sure, but hacking/translating one? C'mon.
If the project isn't too big, sure. It's what I've done in the past. But if you want to translate a game with a ton of text, or replace a lot of art assets it can be helpful to split the work.

And I definitely disagree for translating. Any good writing project needs at least one editor, and that goes for localizing too. Translating something small and simple, it's alright to do it alone, but if it's like an RPG with a lot of dialogue, a good localization needs to stand on its own as good writing in the target language as well. And nobody writes well without a good editor. ;) Not even great published authors do that.

Squall_FF8

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2018, 04:48:38 am »
I keep it simple: I don't work with other people. :D ...
You can't rely on people working for free over the internet. ...
So, that's my advice: don't get a team. :) I mean, what do you even need a team for?
That's probably THE WORST advice you will see about romhacking. Everybody with at least 2 brain cells can give you tons of example why it is bad advice, so I'm not going to even bother.

Gathering a good team is much better then doing the hack itself. It require from each member patience, willingness to submit/humble yourself to the common goal. If you are the project leader, you must recognize each member strength and weakness - try to utilize the strength as much as possible and avoid the weakness part at all cost. Unfortunately there is no formula for this - all leaders have that invisible thing, usually called 'charisma' - an influence that people sense, trust and gather around.

You are either natural born with it or don't have it at all. You can't imitate it, you can't acquire it. But that doesn't mean you can't be part of a team. A good team is like human body - different parts/functions, common goal. If you are an arm, don't be jealous that you are not a head - you have important function, and you are not less then the head. Imagine how your body will function if you remove an arm... Also if you are a head, don't gather only arms (many/only of the same), what kind of functional body will be if it consist of arms only :o
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Psyklax

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2018, 07:06:55 am »
That's probably THE WORST advice you will see about romhacking. Everybody with at least 2 brain cells can give you tons of example why it is bad advice, so I'm not going to even bother.

You're welcome. :)

You know, there are plenty of excellent translations on RHDN that were done by one person, or maybe two (hacker plus translator). You can check out my contributions to the site, and since KingMike posted in the thread, I think his contributions go without saying - they're mostly done alone or with a translator.

I don't know what kind of translations you're thinking of that need a whole bunch of people. Sorry if I sound rude, but how many hacking/translation projects have you worked on, to suggest that my advice is terrible?

Just to rub my two brain cells together for a moment... ;) the more people you involve in a project, the more potential delays you can experience, due to those involved having Real Life to deal with. Sure, more people can help do things better, but as KingMike said, it's better if you can do as much as you can yourself, rather than pitching up at the forum saying "who'll join me?".

KingMike

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2018, 12:09:56 pm »
Also with translations, if you have multiple translators then you're likely to end up with inconsistent translations unless you also have someone to edit. (though still, multiple translators can end up with awkward text)

After reading Tomato's site, it sounds like Tales of (Bersaria?) had a decent translation for the main text but Namco-Bandai hired a pretty bad secondary (I'll assume cheaper?) service to do unimportant/sidequest stuff and it showed with various kinds of poor English.
Just an example of the sort of thing that can happen.
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darkmoon2321

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2018, 03:53:22 pm »
I was more asking about how to sort out help offers after I've received them. I'm not entirely new to ROM hacking, but I've only worked alone before. I've received offers to help for things in the past, but was never sure what to do with them, how to tell how genuine they were, whether they would actually be helpful, etc. So for the purposes of what I'm asking, I'm assuming I already have something to show, and there are people interested in helping, which I wasn't clear on in the OP.

I'm currently on the team working on the Deadpool hack of Ninja Gaiden.  Danger X asked if I wanted to join after I solved some problems that he had asked about in a thread on this forum.  I know another of our current lead team members started out by showing the team some graphical assets that he had created specifically for the project.  If somebody is both willing and capable of helping, they should be able to show you samples of their work/abilities.  If you have a specific problem or area in which you need help, I'd ask about it and see whether they could actually give you something.  One option would be to make a thread about what you need in the help wanted section, and if somebody offers to help you via PM or on another forum, you could just point them to the help wanted ad.  That way if they don't work out, other people could see the ad too and you won't have wasted time waiting on somebody unknown.

Psyklax

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2018, 04:07:25 pm »
One option would be to make a thread about what you need in the help wanted section, and if somebody offers to help you via PM or on another forum, you could just point them to the help wanted ad.  That way if they don't work out, other people could see the ad too and you won't have wasted time waiting on somebody unknown.

Alternatively, you could start the project yourself and make a thread in Personal Projects, while pointing out, "hey, I could use some help with xyz if anyone can give me a hand". By showing you have the main stuff dealt with, people are more likely to say "sure, I'll make you a title screen" or whatever.

I feel like if you're going to get a team, it HAS to occur naturally. I doubt any hacking teams start with someone walking into a (virtual) bar and saying "I'm lookin' to form a posse, who's with me?" Rather, you'll more likely find stuff you enjoy doing, notice someone else needs a hand with something you can do, one thing leads to another and you realise you've got a bunch of people with common interests and different skills. It just happens. :)

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2018, 06:12:14 am »
That's probably THE WORST advice you will see about romhacking. Everybody with at least 2 brain cells can give you tons of example why it is bad advice, so I'm not going to even bother.

This is probably THE WORST rebuttal you will see in this thread.

I have to side with Psyklax.

Start the project yourself, do whatever you can and learn as you go along. If you show real commitment - others might consider to join in on the project.

/dACE

FAST6191

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #13 on: March 30, 2018, 06:56:30 am »
For the record I would have defined team two or more people ostensibly working together -- I pull apart a game and write up what I found, 7 years later someone comes along and does some edits and that is not a team. I pull something apart, someone asks some questions from a position of some kind of expertise or creativity*, I respond or make alterations to suit them and we are them some kind of team. It gets more formal than that and we defer to each other in things and two people can easily be a team. It would be hard for most typical ROM hacking translations to not then be a team effort under my definitions if there are the hacker and translator roles**.

*a while ago I figured out how to repoint Tetris DS to make it play the classic tetris theme all the time (as opposed to the Mario theme), the same game also featured the Zelda theme so I could have done that too. That would not be a team effort.

**I have had games that are basically pointerless plain text or known/common encoding ini files. That could be done outside of a "team". Anything that involves some back and forth of font manipulation/availability, discussions of line length and the like is all but certain to be a team effort, and as that is very much what people expect*** when rocking up to translate a game then yeah.

***or if you prefer then "hope for easy, plan for something more than that".

Gi Nattak

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #14 on: March 30, 2018, 05:27:11 pm »
Well, contrary to what some others have said, forming a team for a hack that requires one would obviously be necessary for the different skillsets needed to make it, unless the person can field all of them of course...still a team is nice for saving time if the work load can be split up. Having a good proof of concept to start with is best, and joining relevant forums/befriending people in order to put together a genuine team - having the members of said team is much much better if everyone knows each other and gets along, it will then most likely be created someday instead of perish like some hacks I've seen. I agree that the person wanting a team should do a fair amount of work beforehand and build some hype with screenshots/videos in order to show they are serious and not wasting others time. Showing commitment to the project and not let it wither away into obscurity while the project leader goes vacationing for months. Also, make sure the hack is something that people would actually WANT to work on, as opposed to something like Bubsy. Good luck!

weissvulf

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Re: How to form a team
« Reply #15 on: March 30, 2018, 07:22:03 pm »
Looking at past completed projects is the best way to determine decent working partners. Usually, it's more about perseverance than knowledge. Skills can be learned, but perseverance levels tend to stay the same. As a test, it doesn't hurt to give a perspective team member a large, tedious, but necessary job to do. Most flakes will disappear before the task is complete.

Another method is to read their history of posts- if one exists. Seeing how they relate to others in generic postings is a useful indicator to determine how they will behave in a team.

I've had probably around 100 offers to help with projects through the years. I spend tons of time getting them up to speed only to have almost all of them disappear. I think Squall's 'pro team' opinion is very accurate, but unfortunately, it's very rare to find someone who follows through. That reality has left me with the same 'jaded' outlook as Psyklax; it's easier to just do the work myself.