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Author Topic: rom hack vs use a game engine  (Read 2231 times)

benman

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rom hack vs use a game engine
« on: June 17, 2020, 11:46:21 pm »
Some rom hacks are mind blowing amazing, and mind blowing effort went into it. For the serious high effort hacks, I wonder why rom hack when you could put similar effort to use a game engine and make a game? I've recently started playing rom hacks, currently playing conkers high rules tail, and it's amazing, it's an entirely new game. I'm curious to know from rom hacking perspective. Is it vastly less effort to create such rom hacks vs use a game engine? is it a sport? I'm just mind blown by how much effort people put into some hacks and make no money from it. Thank you to the hack creators as I'm enjoying the games.

Jorpho

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2020, 11:20:10 am »
There was some discussion of this not so long ago at http://www.romhacking.net/forum/index.php?topic=30392 .

If you are interested in making a Super Mario World hack, then maybe you can justify using the existing tools for hacking Super Mario World rather than building everything from scratch.  But that is the solitary exception because there has probably been more work done on Super Mario World than any other game. (Even then it might be worthwhile considering the Hello Engine or Super Mario Bros. X or even just Super Mario Maker.)

Otherwise, ROMs were never designed with the expectation that someone would try to reverse-engineer the program and develop new content and anyone hoping to do so can expect a never-ending uphill battle.  It is worth considering that even if you have all the tools available to you, game creation – or indeed any creative endeavor – is already pretty challenging in itself.

It is easier by far to start with a flexible, open engine.  Sure, High Rule Tail might be great, but it was also a labor of many, many years and there have been very few ALTTP hacks made otherwise.  Solarus might be a better way to go.  If you started making a game in Solarus and found that you wanted to do something Solarus was incapable of, then you could – at least in theory – look at the engine's source code and make the changes you wanted.  If you started hacking ALTTP, then tools like Hyrule Magic are already rather limited and are likely to completely break the game if you do something unexpected – and doing something completely new would at least require a good grasp of assembly language.
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FAST6191

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2020, 02:11:26 pm »
As you presumed then yeah a ROM hacker could probably do far better with a game engine than editing a ROM. It is usually done as a love letter to the game as it were, or maybe its community. With enough base effort you can also do a lot fairly quickly and efficiently, especially if you play to the bugs/limitations within the game (which in and of itself doing that whilst creating something you want to play is an enjoyable challenge*).

*authors, comedians, musicians, many sports, film makers will also have similar challenges. (three random word story basis, the aristocrats, many but go with simple four chords for those that fancy themselves more, basketball half court sort of thing is a good example, films have a thousand but Dogme 95 is a good start here).

I should also note that while many ROM hackers are also great programmers not all are, not to mention if you do want it for a console rather a PC or contemporary device you do have that to handle as well.

You also have the tuning of the game. I can do frame analysis and figure out jump curves for things, and repeat for everything. It is however quite annoying and most unity engine clones you see pop up on forums lack this which is why they frequently feel awful.

But yeah for most practical purposes today go find an engine or source code to another game and play with that instead.

Raeven0

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2020, 08:15:08 pm »
I wonder why rom hack when you could put similar effort to use a game engine and make a game?

I'm curious to know what you think the difference is.

J^P

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2020, 03:14:45 am »
Well ever since I was a kid I wanted to make my own levels to games like Lolo or super mario bros. Sure some nes games like wrecking crew and lode runner has build-in level editors, but there are only few and you cant save those levels or share them to other people who aren't in your house right then. Then of course I came when I found out about rom hacking and emulators in general.

I do have experiment with game maker and actual programming, but to make game from complete scratch, along with all original characters, story, music, graphics, 3d models or 2d art/sprites etc is no easy task and is impossible for most people to do all of them by themselves. So making rom hack or just making few new levels for Mario world is a lot easier and something anyone can do.

Jorpho

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2020, 01:37:02 pm »
I do have experiment with game maker and actual programming, but to make game from complete scratch, along with all original characters, story, music, graphics, 3d models or 2d art/sprites etc is no easy task and is impossible for most people to do all of them by themselves. So making rom hack or just making few new levels for Mario world is a lot easier and something anyone can do.
If it is something "anyone can do", then that's just because someone else has done the hard work of making a level editor already.  In the vast majority of cases where there is no level editor, it is definitely not a lot easier.  In many cases it is probably easier to just extract the graphics, music, etc. and stick them into a new Game Maker game.
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Raeven0

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2020, 03:15:08 pm »
In many cases it is probably easier to just extract the graphics, music, etc. and stick them into a new Game Maker game.

No one would play it. The engine mechanics would be wrong. Distributing such assets may violate copyright. Reverse engineering is fun and instructive.

iridium_ionizer

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2020, 03:55:14 pm »
I agree with many of the points already made, but one that doesn't seem to get mentioned much is the stability of the platform. With some programs made for Windows XP there are already some compatibility issues that crop up (which can usually be resolved with only a mild inconvenience) after only 15 years.

However, since most of the technical aspects of 8-bit and 16-bit systems have been thoroughly figured out, I predict that those systems will have stable emulators made for / ported over to whatever computer systems show up in the next 80 years.

I know, color me optimistic. This would lead to exceptional longevity for ROM hacks and homebrew made for these legacy systems. Most ROM hacks are very simple to run once you have the emulator installed / configured and the ROM patched.

FAST6191

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2020, 04:08:41 pm »
Are computers not likely to get there as well?
Starting from about... well actually Windows 95 then DOS stuff has had compatibility issues. Today dosbox does handsomely on many systems, and even wanders into 3dfx world.

I don't know where ReactOS will likely end up, or whether Wine will get somewhere interesting, and it should be noted MS releases both a fair bit of source and has seen a few leaks at various points.

Most of the compatibility issues in turn are macromedia/flash, java, vb runtimes,.net runtimes, directX runtimes/dlls, iffy 16 bit support which breaks the installers of the day and installing or specific versions of those. Annoying but ultimately a static target or at least a static target for the vast majority of woes.

iridium_ionizer

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2020, 04:39:18 pm »
You are right. I just bet that when Windows 2060 or Android 2070 come out, we will see sooner / better support by an NES emulator than by a Windows XP virtualization. Maybe that will be do to the simplicity of the platform or enthusiasm toward it, but that is my prediction.

Jorpho

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2020, 06:17:04 pm »
No one would play it. The engine mechanics would be wrong.
Most ROM hacks aren't likely to stand out to a degree that people would be likely to play them either, really.

Quote
Distributing such assets may violate copyright.
It is indisputable that there have been some high-profile takedowns, but things like AM2R and Pokemon Uranium still aren't any harder to find than a typical ROM.

Quote
Reverse engineering is fun and instructive.
For some people, probably.  For a lot of other people – especially ones who just want to make a game and have no interest in learning assembly language – not so much.
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bogaabogaa

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2020, 06:17:54 am »
This is a good beginner question but you try to compare pears with apples. I will make a bullet list with things to think about both topics.


Romhacking:
  • Translation
  • Bug-fixing or Improvements to enhance existing games.
  • Fan Service for existing games to single people/groups with any skill level.
  • Asset Hacking for beginners. Advanced hackers may find a challenge to run Doom on the NES. (just to make a silly example)
  • Preserving knowledge how old hardware was run. Self education about hardware.
  • Fan project with nostalgic feelings involved.
  • Education about computers. I love to explain old hardware since it is simple and
    you can talk about the hardware without to many layers of complexity. Sure not simple in terms of a hello world screen. But educational
  • Support for old hardware. Nes does not have many engines available but a giant library of games to look into.   

Some may look at Nesmaker and think it is a engine for many games. So far it has a little library. If I had like to do animations
with bank-swapping to have tones of space in that regard I would need to write that part of the engine myself anyway.
A other good example would be music. To this day I don't know of a source for a sound-engine that could be implemented into a game to play
back music tracks made by Famitracker. I am sure this could be made easier but most people that like to do that will head out for other options.
(probably has also to do with me not having access to a source to make NSF file working on a cartridge. And how NSF player do access sound channels or tracks..)


Using Game Engine:
  • Learning Modern Platforms
  • Finding a good Base Engine for your Project.
  • Payment for using the engine you might need
  • Make use of a free engine that works for you. Doing a project from scratch involves a lot of learning too.
  • Supporting the platform you like to do a project for
  • Finding a way to introduce your home brew. What makes it stand out. How to find it?

I hope this helps to see the different aspects between Hacking a game or doing a new Project with a base Engine. I know some hackers
take it to the limit and try to change so much that it seems worth of a title by itself. In this case it is interesting to hear the
opinion of the creator if he would choose to make the project as a hack. Sometimes a project grows with you.


« Last Edit: June 21, 2020, 08:59:19 am by bogaabogaa »
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Kafke

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Re: rom hack vs use a game engine
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2020, 08:00:18 pm »
I thought I'd share my 2c on this. As a kid, I was fascinated by the idea of unauthorized cheats, and later being able to add new things to games, or being able to edit the game to make a new experience. Pokemon rom hacks were part of my introduction to game dev. Though after getting into romhacking I basically just started focusing on "fixing" games. Restoring content, translation patches, etc. Making tools is also pretty fun. I don't ever feel the need to create what is essentially a new game using romhacks, since I could just code my own anyway at this point.

But there's just something special about modifying a game, loading it up on your console, and seeing your change live on actual hardware. Especially if that change is to make the game english instead of japanese.

The point is that you're able to edit and modify your favorite games. Not that you'd be able to create a new game out of them. If I was just gonna make a new game I wouldn't bother with romhacking. Though I think it's neat others spend the time to do that and there's definitely been a lot of cool romhack overhauls.