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Trolls posting fake hacks

Started by lu9, October 30, 2022, 03:12:04 AM

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lu9

I don't know where else to put this because on the main site it'd just get rejected otherwise, but there seems to be a problem on RHDN regarding ROM hacks that claim to be enhancements but actually only add bloat to the file that doesn't modify the actual game and therefore are merely placebos.
There is at least one approved review that digs into one of these patches further, explaining how it does not affect the game whatsoever.
The most recent (and most peculiar) case seems to be "SMA2 - SPC Enhanced" by the same author.
The hack's claims already sound pretty bold to be true, considering the linked related project (SPC Emulator GBA), which is code from 2005, can hardly even play any SPC correctly.
The next apparent odd thing is in the ROM information section, in which the hashes don't seem to match any known ROM file, although it correctly lists the EU ROM name from the database.
The patch file itself is bigger than the base ROM.
This could be a problem because, possibly, the patch itself contains the entire game's worth of data, as applying it to any version of the game (and who knows what else) just turns it into the EU ROM. If the patch file appears to be essentially just a vanilla European copy of SMA2, this would mean technically hosting a ROM on the site. (Currently looking through the IPS file on a tileset viewer and all the graphical data seems to be there despite this being allegedly an audio-only patch)

They claimed on Twitter to have submitted the wrong patch, and that it would be updated, but that has yet to happen.

I'm just severely confused about why someone would even do this.
Aren't patches tested by moderators before they're approved? Can they tell if they're working as intended or not if the change is minimal, or in this case, nothing at all?

tygerbug

  There was also a hack which claimed (falsely) to add Super FX support (which would be very difficult, or almost impossible, if true). I've seen one of these "hackers" at the RHDN Discord.

  Most of these apparent hoaxes have claimed to be audio improvements. It's harder in those cases to prove or disprove that anything has changed.

  Here is that review of the supposed Super Mario Land audio patch.

QuoteI saw another review question what the hack did, citing they couldn't hear any audible changes at all. I was curious, as I didn't hear any changes myself; so I downloaded the patch and checked out the ROM modifications.

To an unmodified SML ROM, it expands it by quite a few banks, adds some weird data at the end, and that's it. The banks are entirely empty (except the very last), the sound driver is entirely untouched. This is more or less the same for SML DX with the extra color modifications tacked on. The data at the end seems to be entirely triangle wavetables for the WAVE channel, but are never called/used, since the original driver is untouched.

So what's going on here? The description claims "It makes the sound much cleaner and more defined" but it sounds a whole lot of placebo if you ask me, considering it does absolutely nothing to the original sound data. Besides, this is the Gameboy sound hardware, there isn't really anything you can change about it. And even if the hack worked (replacing everything with triangle waves), It would arguably detract from the sound experience since such a waveform is barely audible on any sort of real hardware at all (this is why SUNSOFT's GB games used a custom sine wave).

Aside from the music changes, it's literally just SML/SML DX totally unmodified. I'm personally not going to recommend this hack until the patch actually does something to the ROM to supposedly "improve" the experience, since the experience is currently just the untouched ROM.


MysticLord

#2
Assuming this is true, it could be someone who is for whatever reason obsessed with gaining e-clout, or maybe a scammer on Fiverr building up a "portfolio" of hobbyist projects to get hired somewhere.

Alternately, it could be some sort of malware or spam. I've seen people(?) make competent, on-topic posts then edit them when they're no longer easily viewed to link to something for SEO purposes. Someone could be building up a plausible portfolio of projects, then getting an exploit ready to rootkit users of these hacks. Granted it would take a  lot of technical skill in assembly language and knowledge of possible emulator or patcher exploits, but most of those are open source so it wouldn't be that hard to find if you have the equivalent of a bachelors in CS + a few years experience.

JP32

Oh yeah I tired this hack too out of curiosity and it sounds identical, I even compared it to the original but there are no differences. I also noticed that the patch didn't match with the no-intro set one, but I tired anyway so(the game played fine) but I though I just patched it wrong and moved on.

MathOnNapkins

Folks, the proper place to bring this to the submission staff attention is:
https://www.romhacking.net/contact/

Please relay any information about fraudulent hacks there, please.

~MathOnNapkins