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Author Topic: ROM hacking video tutorials discussion #13454365  (Read 2753 times)


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ROM hacking video tutorials discussion #13454365
« on: November 14, 2018, 11:47:22 pm »
So earlier today I saw

Over the years we have had many discussions on, or requests for, ROM hacking video tutorials. However despite both ROM hacking and video making being two things I am good enough to be dangerous at, and also having made a tutorial or three in my time, I am at a loss for how to do it.

Normally if I am watching a hacking video it will be a long form hacker conference presentation ( ). Such things are fine for broad overviews or narrow field specific things but not so hot for ROM hacking requirements which necessarily have to be quite broad; I can teach people text hacking but if I neglect to also cover a bit of text as image stuff then I figure I have done my would be students a disservice, and now I am also covering graphics hacking which probably means compression and so on and so on.
I quite like machining/engineering videos as well, and such things are usually around the 20 minute make for a short one and hour long efforts are nothing drastic, but their setup is reversed -- most things there are about the initial setup and thinking through (a highly technical and involved field with a lot of applied thinking), when it comes to the execution... there is a reason we typically give it to robots these days.

The video linked at the start is short (deliberately, presumably why it is the channel autoplay video) but I saw a longer one from them prior to that and it followed similar things.

I then tried to figure out what made it work. I am not interested in php debugging as a rule of thumb and watched it much like I would watch anything sort of vaguely interesting that would not hurt to have in my head.
Things I would note are the cutting to other things presumably to keep the audience awake, the option to pause (even if it goes unstated) to get more info on things like the command line sections, the cutting/fading/blurring away of extraneous information at a given point, and the occasional asides.

When making requests people frequently ask for basically a screencap of a hacking session, something I don't think would do much for the ways I work (and from what I am seen I am not much of a freak here). Things kind of have to be explained and I might note something in my head for later, or be looking at just one part of the screen for a pattern. Not to mention watching me fail 20 times before getting it right would be both very boring and only likely of use to someone looking to reverse the format showcased.
More scripted and edited than that, or simply setting out to purposely slow down and show things/vocalise thoughts, faces similar problems. The problems with narrow overviews were previously covered.

But anyway thoughts on that video, or maybe if you have something new to add on the oft worn topic of ROM hacking video tutorials then please do.


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Re: ROM hacking video tutorials discussion #13454365
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2018, 06:13:44 pm »
I think, in order to make them both accessible and useful, one would need to plan a series of videos. Possibly create them all at once, but certainly release them not too far apart from each other, at least per topic.

To take the example of text editing (and it could likely only be done for a single console at a time, I'll discuss in terms of SNES because that's what I know best), you could have:
* Lesson 1 - Font editing: Here you discuss using a graphics editing tool, how to pick the right mode to view your tileset, how to find the ROM's font tileset in the editing tool; then show some quick work, and compare the before-and-after of the edits
* Lesson 2 - Creating a tbl file: assuming the possibility that your audience is newbs, this would be a standalone lesson. Mostly anybody could grasp the info in lesson 1 with zero experience; for lesson two someone is taking a small but significant step of knowledge. You would have to show the tileset in the editor, briefly explain hexadecimals and their correspondence to the font tile array, then show the creation if a tbl based on that information. The lesson would end with importing the tbl into a hex editor and finding a place in ROM where practical text is now visible

... And so on in this fashion. I can imagine something as simple as text editing, presented soup-to-nuts, could be as many as five lessons. I would caution someone undertaking this to avoid asides and such. Someone serious about getting into ROM hacking should be prepared to deal with blandness. There is a whooole lot of it in the process here. Accessibility, I think, means clarity and brevity above all. The videos, I think, would have to be never longer than maybe five minutes at a time. To someone learning all of this for the first time, that five minutes could contain hours of information to absorb.

I imagine this hasn't happened because of the many boundaries to entry.
People who have done this long enough to have a level of expertise - even when well-intentioned - basically speak another language, and often forget how little an inexperienced person may know.
Creating useful and accessible content would be very time consuming (even for someone who is good enough at it to be dangerous), and there's no guarantee it would ever find much of an audience.
Also, as previously stated, different consoles' varied assembly languages would render a video for one essentially useless for all others.

Even as I'm typing this, the more I think about it, the more trivial a pursuit it seems to be.
Sure it would be nice if tutorial videos existed, but it's just way more trouble than it's worth.
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Re: ROM hacking video tutorials discussion #13454365
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2018, 01:58:19 am »
I'm making tutorials on YouTube, but I've only released one so far and it was a few months ago. Real life has made it rather difficult to do anything. Oh, to be young and single again... :D

The one video I've made covers the extreme basics of how a computer works, and my second video, which I've already scripted, goes into assembly. If I ever get a spare minute or two, I'll carry on. I think it's important to go to the basics because sometimes I see people on the forum who try to run before they can crawl, and don't really understand the underlying principles.

Anyway, hopefully I'll get the second video out before the new year... :)