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Old 02-03-2011, 09:38 PM   #1
DavisIslandslim
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Default N00b inquiry about rom hacking

Hey guys...

I've never hacked a rom before, the most programming I've done is ZZT

About a year ago I got an idea or a WW1 rpg and got excited, but after spending last year writing out this game I was told that Xbox Live Arcade was not as welcoming as I anticipated. While I can see a lot of people potentially liking this game idea, I was willing to put it on there for free...which let me tell you Microsoft was ALL about that idea.

Anywiz, I can maybe come back to that route later on if I want. The next option I came upon was all those RPG maker websites with the anime fantasy focus. Which I won't knock, but it's not what I want this game to look like. Plus it's kind of difficult to go to each of them and ask "hey guy can I get your rpg maker thing to do this or this or this"

So rom hacking is next. My goal right now was basically just to start with Final Fantasy 1 and 'double' it in content, I think. "Sigh...idiot." Yeah, I know.

Here's basically what I want to do:
- Change graphics, overworld, sprites, etc
- Instead of walking around and entering battles, the dynamic of the game will be having the characters walk around and be able to control machines. So for example, you are remote controlling some machine that can roll around and shoot people. Within the normal walking around environment not going to a separate battle screen thing
- Reading about nes music programming frightened me a little...I dont know if this makes it easier or harder but I was planning on maybe taking FF2 and FF3 songs and putting them in the FF1 rom (or switching those around if that makes anything easier, probably not).
- Learn how to add cinematics (if none were there before) to a rom
- Find out how much can be added to a rom before things go awry

I would like to learn about rom hacking for its own sake, but I don't want to spend a month trying to go one way only to have 'start over' with the game because of limitations I unknowingly chose. So, can anyone recommend a particular course of action for something like this that will more probably get me where i want to be? NES hacking vs SNES hacking? Will doing one make one of the bullets above go from taking maybe half a year to 3-4 years? lol

Thanks.
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:51 PM   #2
DavisIslandslim
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To be honest, this won't really be a FF game at all. That's mostly just how I want it to look + walking around towns. In fact, if I'm man enough, there won't be any overworld walking perse. Travelling will take on more of a Oregon trail/Pirates dynamic which I haven't really nailed down yet. If that's ridiculous I can scrap it I guess.
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Old 02-11-2011, 09:07 PM   #3
InVerse
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My initial reaction is that you'd be much better off using Game Maker than trying to do a ROM hack. Rather than simply leave it that, though, I'll try to go through your various plans and expand upon my reasoning.

Quote:
- Change graphics, overworld, sprites, etc
Easy enough. Any idiot can do this with the available tools. And if you look at the various Final Fantasy hacks in existence, you'll see that many idiots have done so.

Quote:
- Instead of walking around and entering battles, the dynamic of the game will be having the characters walk around and be able to control machines. So for example, you are remote controlling some machine that can roll around and shoot people. Within the normal walking around environment not going to a separate battle screen thing
This would require massive amounts of programming. You want to take an RPG and turn it into an action game. As far as I know, there are no mechanics that would allow for shooting in the overworld, so you'd have to code that completely from scratch. Not to mention that there are no enemies on the overworld, so you would have to create that as well. This is where you get into it being far simpler to just write a game from scratch rather than trying to modify an existing engine.

Quote:
- Reading about nes music programming frightened me a little...I dont know if this makes it easier or harder but I was planning on maybe taking FF2 and FF3 songs and putting them in the FF1 rom (or switching those around if that makes anything easier, probably not).
I don't know much about NES music but, from what I do know, it's one of the most difficult things to hack. If they recycled the music engine from Final Fantasy into Final Fantasy 2 & 3, it might be possible to transfer songs between the three games easily but I don't know enough about it to say for sure.

Quote:
- Learn how to add cinematics (if none were there before) to a rom
I'm not sure if I've seen anyone do this for NES. I know it's relatively simple to tack on an introduction to SNES ROMs but from what little I know about NES programming, it would be quite difficult unless you were dealing with a game that had loads of extra space or you managed to expand the ROM.

Quote:
- Find out how much can be added to a rom before things go awry
Without a ton of work of expanding the ROM, you can't usually *add* much of anything to NES games. You can modify existing things but adding completely new things is quite difficult.

Again, for what you're wanting to do, I would suggest using Game Maker, if not a full blown programming language. I imagine a majority of what you want to do would be fairly simple with Game Maker. If you've never looked into Game Maker, it's similar to the RPG Makers and such but without the limited scope. You can make anything from Pong to Final Fantasy with Game Maker. You can also easily port Game Maker games to Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and PSP. It's definitely worth looking into.
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Old 02-11-2011, 10:07 PM   #4
DavisIslandslim
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Thanks for the feedback.

For the 2nd task, you would still have the towns, but for example when you go into one of the lairs where you fight bosses or whatever, that is where you will use the machines. It isn't the whole game. It's like zelda, when link goes into one of the temples, then the machines will be useable. Not that that changes your reply...lol

I've seen some cinematics: Dragon Warrior has one in the beginning, FF2j somewhat.

As for adding, I read somewhere there are 16 memory areas or something and FF1 uses 14 of them? Not sure what that means...

But yeah I'll check out game maker might be a little more structured.

Another question though: If I went ahead and made a nes game from scratch, would it be possible to learn how to make a game by romhacking? Like, if someone had the basics down, could they romhack SMB1, study that somehow, and then make a replica of SMB1?
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:07 PM   #5
InVerse
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavisIslandslim View Post
I've seen some cinematics: Dragon Warrior has one in the beginning, FF2j somewhat.
I meant that I don't recall ever seeing anyone hack such a thing into a ROM.

Quote:
As for adding, I read somewhere there are 16 memory areas or something and FF1 uses 14 of them? Not sure what that means...
I don't know the specifics regarding Final Fantasy, as I abhor the series, but you have to remember that there are two different sections, RAM and ROM. Just because a game has free space in one area doesn't mean it will in the other. You can't simply tack more space onto the end of a ROM file and be able to use it, you'll have to re-engineer the ROM, most likely changing the mapper, which isn't a simple task.

Quote:
Another question though: If I went ahead and made a nes game from scratch, would it be possible to learn how to make a game by romhacking? Like, if someone had the basics down, could they romhack SMB1, study that somehow, and then make a replica of SMB1?
While I suppose that would be possible, I wouldn't recommend it. For instance, Super Mario Bros has notoriously buggy code. There is an entire scene of people who create NES games from scratch. You can find many of them at NESdev if you really want to learn to code for the NES.

But if you're wanting to appeal to the widest possible audience, I would recommend against bothering with emulation at all. Top notch brand new NES games probably get played by about 1/100th as many people as a mediocre Windows game. The only reason to bother coding for the NES is if you have such a deep love of the system that the highlight of the project will be seeing it run on an NES, whether anybody else plays it or not.
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