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InvertMouse

Any ROM hackers?

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Hopefully it is okay for me to post this since I will not post any illegal links :ph34r:! I shared this story on Reddit a while back:

Is anyone here into the ROM hacking scene? It can be a lot of fun, especially when it lets you mess with games you loved as a kid. With the aforementioned Saint Seiya game, I am actually hoping to clip through walls so I can see how the maps are structured. If anyone has tips on that type of thing, I would love to know about it. Will also be happy to hear any stories of gaming questions that drove you mad as a child, like that Mew truck in Pokemon Red and Blue.

Thanks ^_^!

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Wow, Rom hacking yeah! I am quite familiar with the hobby. Ever since I was 12 I would periodically go through phases where I would work on a rom hack, only to drop it after a month or two. My most recent example would be a couple of months ago. This past April, May and part of June I was working on a rom hack, I had 3 levels designed a custom script and characters, but once my summer job started I got too busy and once again dropped the project. 

Personally, all my experience is with the Fire Emblem hacking scene. I really really loved the GBA Fire Emblem games as a kid. To the extent that I played two cartridges of Fire Emblem 7 to the point where the games would no longer save for me. So in my very early adolescence when I got my first computer, I discovered the Fire Emblem hacking scene where fans were making their own custom levels, characters, and stories. As a kid I imagined lots of my own Fire Emblem-esque stories, so I naturally picked this hobby up. 

If you have the ambition of making your own custom game through a rom-hack, it is very hard work and you are doomed to give up if you do it solo.  

Anyway, my most recent rom-hacking triumph was inserting a song from another game into a Fire Emblem 7 rom. This sounds simple, but music insertion is actually a more complicated process than it should be. Specifically I inserted Katrina's theme from Romancing Saga 3 into Fire Emblem 7. This was supposed to be the map music of Chapter 3 of my hack, but I never got around to finishing Chapter 3: 

 

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49 minutes ago, Zalor said:

Wow, Rom hacking yeah! I am quite familiar with the hobby. Ever since I was 12 I would periodically go through phases where I would work on a rom hack, only to drop it after a month or two. My most recent example would be a couple of months ago. This past April, May and part of June I was working on a rom hack, I had 3 levels designed a custom script and characters, but once my summer job started I got too busy and once again dropped the project. 

Personally, all my experience is with the Fire Emblem hacking scene. I really really loved the GBA Fire Emblem games as a kid. To the extent that I played two cartridges of Fire Emblem 7 to the point where the games would no longer save for me. So in my very early adolescence when I got my first computer, I discovered the Fire Emblem hacking scene where fans were making their own custom levels, characters, and stories. As a kid I imagined lots of my own Fire Emblem-esque stories, so I naturally picked this hobby up. 

If you have the ambition of making your own custom game through a rom-hack, it is very hard work and you are doomed to give up if you do it solo.  

Anyway, my most recent rom-hacking triumph was inserting a song from another game into a Fire Emblem 7 rom. This sounds simple, but music insertion is actually a more complicated process than it should be. Specifically I inserted Katrina's theme from Romancing Saga 3 into Fire Emblem 7. This was supposed to be the map music of Chapter 3 of my hack, but I never got around to finishing Chapter 3: 

 

Awesome! I for one would have no idea how to replace in-game music so this is pretty impressive. From memory, people disliked the music used in Final Fantasy VI on the GBA, so someone hacked the ROM and replaced that soundtrack with the SNES originals.

When you said you played FE until the cartridge no longer saved, how does that work technically? Is it just a case where the batteries broke, or is there a limit to how many times you can physically save? I hear batteries dry out, so your cartridge saves will not last forever. As mentioned in the Reddit post, I was obsessed with that Gameboy Saint Seiya game as a kid. Recently, about 15-20 years later, I checked the cartridge, and my save from childhood was still there at least for now. Almost brought a tear to my eye.

Do you have any general tips on how to write wall hacks? It would be like a dream come true for me :P. Thank you!

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56 minutes ago, InvertMouse said:

Awesome! I for one would have no idea how to replace in-game music so this is pretty impressive. From memory, people disliked the music used in Final Fantasy VI on the GBA, so someone hacked the ROM and replaced that soundtrack with the SNES originals.

When you said you played FE until the cartridge no longer saved, how does that work technically? Is it just a case where the batteries broke, or is there a limit to how many times you can physically save? I hear batteries dry out, so your cartridge saves will not last forever. As mentioned in the Reddit post, I was obsessed with that Gameboy Saint Seiya game as a kid. Recently, about 15-20 years later, I checked the cartridge, and my save from childhood was still there at least for now. Almost brought a tear to my eye.

Do you have any general tips on how to write wall hacks? It would be like a dream come true for me :P. Thank you!

In regards to the saving issue. It is an issue with the cartridges battery. After a certain amount of playtime, the battery will no longer be able to save. I know this is a huge issue with the pokemon games. So when I was a kid, one of my cartridges stopped saving. I then begged my parents to buy me another copy. But eventually, that other copy also stopped saving xD!

By wall hacks, do you mean walking through walls? I am not sure how much I can help with with hacking the gameboy Saint Seiya game for 2 reasons. 1) Most of my hacking knowledge is focused on hacking Fire Emblem exclusively. Most of the work I do, is simply using the tools that the real hackers made. For the sake of making hacking and level creation more efficient, any game that has a hacking community around it usually has people who make programs to make the process easier. This is because true hacking requires poking around the games assembly code. And few people have the knowledge/understanding of such a low level language to actually be able to make use of that information. So often the people who do understand that complicated stuff, make tools for us commoners. 

2) While I have attempted several times to learn Assembly for the Gameboy Advance (with only very moderate success), the original Gameboy uses a different processor than the GBA. If I were an active as well as a good hacker, it theoretically wouldn't be too hard to learn another assembly language after learning 1. But honestly, at best I only made small steps towards learning assembly for the gba. And ultimately I decided that hacking at that deep of a level wasn't really for me. 

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53 minutes ago, Zalor said:

In regards to the saving issue. It is an issue with the cartridges battery. After a certain amount of playtime, the battery will no longer be able to save. I know this is a huge issue with the pokemon games. So when I was a kid, one of my cartridges stopped saving. I then begged my parents to buy me another copy. But eventually, that other copy also stopped saving xD!

By wall hacks, do you mean walking through walls? I am not sure how much I can help with with hacking the gameboy Saint Seiya game for 2 reasons. 1) Most of my hacking knowledge is focused on hacking Fire Emblem exclusively. Most of the work I do, is simply using the tools that the real hackers made. For the sake of making hacking and level creation more efficient, any game that has a hacking community around it usually has people who make programs to make the process easier. This is because true hacking requires poking around the games assembly code. And few people have the knowledge/understanding of such a low level language to actually be able to make use of that information. So often the people who do understand that complicated stuff, make tools for us commoners. 

2) While I have attempted several times to learn Assembly for the Gameboy Advance (with only very moderate success), the original Gameboy uses a different processor than the GBA. If I were an active as well as a good hacker, it theoretically wouldn't be too hard to learn another assembly language after learning 1. But honestly, at best I only made small steps towards learning assembly for the gba. And ultimately I decided that hacking at that deep of a level wasn't really for me. 

Yeah, I do mean walking through walls. So far, I have only been messing with memory values to manipulate stats etc. In that process, I actually did manage to get my character sprite to shift to another position. I was unable to replicate the hack, though. If I want to say change my attack stat from 134 to 255, that is easy enough. 134 is a specific number so not many other variables will share it. Character position, though, I have no idea how to look for that.

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1 hour ago, InvertMouse said:

Yeah, I do mean walking through walls. So far, I have only been messing with memory values to manipulate stats etc. In that process, I actually did manage to get my character sprite to shift to another position. I was unable to replicate the hack, though. If I want to say change my attack stat from 134 to 255, that is easy enough. 134 is a specific number so not many other variables will share it. Character position, though, I have no idea how to look for that.

Yeah, I've done some memory editing before. As you mentioned, changing stats and such is fairly easy since you can find specific values pretty easy. But other stuff, yeah that isn't as simple. For gba memory editing at least, I used to have lots of tutorials saved back when I was trying to learn this stuff. You may have to go into the graphics and figure out how big the tiles are, and how many tiles are in each screen. With that information, figuring out the X,Y coordinates shouldn't be too hard. Hell, I think certain emulators will have a debugger that will give you a bitmap of the background and if you click on an area it will give you the X,Y coordinates of that place. 

The best thing you can do as a beginning rom-hacker is too look at codes written by other people. This is probably the best way to learn how things are done. So if you want to learn how to do a wall-hack in this game, look at how wall-hacks are done in other games. With that information you should be able to figure out the process of how a wall hack is done. Hopefully. Then you can try writing that code for yourself for the Saint Seiya game.  

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5 hours ago, Zalor said:

Yeah, I've done some memory editing before. As you mentioned, changing stats and such is fairly easy since you can find specific values pretty easy. But other stuff, yeah that isn't as simple. For gba memory editing at least, I used to have lots of tutorials saved back when I was trying to learn this stuff. You may have to go into the graphics and figure out how big the tiles are, and how many tiles are in each screen. With that information, figuring out the X,Y coordinates shouldn't be too hard. Hell, I think certain emulators will have a debugger that will give you a bitmap of the background and if you click on an area it will give you the X,Y coordinates of that place. 

The best thing you can do as a beginning rom-hacker is too look at codes written by other people. This is probably the best way to learn how things are done. So if you want to learn how to do a wall-hack in this game, look at how wall-hacks are done in other games. With that information you should be able to figure out the process of how a wall hack is done. Hopefully. Then you can try writing that code for yourself for the Saint Seiya game.  

Awesome, thanks! I might try messing around with that tile info.

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Once was but now retired.

I would first recommend finding an editor for the game if you want to play around and see what you can do - if your goal is just to make minor tweaks though (like making yourself invincible etc) having a cheat editor or memory editor will probably be all you need - most emulators come with those out of the box nowadays.

Doing minor tweaks is the easy part, but when you need to get into full on level designs and assembly hacking to make yourself a complete new game based off the same engine, it gets hard - and extremely time consuming with all that extra testing - then once you release it to the public you get judged harshly on the quality of the work as everyone is expecting commercial quality.

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1 hour ago, Jartse said:

Doing minor tweaks is the easy part, but when you need to get into full on level designs and assembly hacking to make yourself a complete new game based off the same engine, it gets hard - and extremely time consuming with all that extra testing - then once you release it to the public you get judged harshly on the quality of the work as everyone is expecting commercial quality.

That final thing you said, is probably the single most discouraging factor for ROM hackers. People have such high expectations for rom hacks, when really hacks are often just a project that 1 guy (and maybe some of his friends) work on in their free time. It is mostly done out of an intense love of the game. None the less though, people expect commercial quality for a fan-made project. And if it is not near commercial quality, nearly nobody will bother even playing your hack.

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