ALttP Hacking History

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ALttP Hacking History

Post by TheZeldaBible on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 15:44

Hey there!

I've been spent the last year writing about the N64 Zelda hacking scene. It's about 100 pages. I've decided a few months ago to include all the other Zelda's as well, as an attempt to write an all encompassing "Zelda Bible".

So now I'm back to research. I figure the community can help me the most. If anyone could point me to links or type up their experience in the SNES Zelda hacking scene that would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

TheZeldaBible

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by Puzzledude on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 18:06

TheZeldaBible wrote:Hey there!

I've been spent the last year writing about the N64 Zelda hacking scene. It's about 100 pages. I've decided a few months ago to include all the other Zelda's as well, as an attempt to write an all encompassing "Zelda Bible".

So now I'm back to research. I figure the community can help me the most. If anyone could point me to links or type up their experience in the SNES Zelda hacking scene that would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

TheZeldaBible

One thing that you might want to start with is definitely this: to make it loud and clear to the reader, that they should not mix the Zelda games up, and that hacking them on different consoles or mimicking them in Windows utilities is a whole different thing entirely:

for instance when Conn coded the mutipushable block for ALTTP, I remember someone somewhere saying: oh look we had those for like 10 years in Zelda classic. they are 10 years behind in ALTTP hacking scene.

As if Zelda classic has anything to do with ALTTP (besides some similar GFX).

Zelda classic is a Windows utility, which produces .qst files and is based on the NES rom engine, or in other words, it is light years behind "SNES technology". The same can be said for the so called Zelda SOLARIS, which is a bit more advanced and mimicks SNES, but it is still for Windows and far less capable in both performance and quality.

Both of these utilities (one mimicking NES and the other SNES) are really producing poor copies of what Zelda was on the NES or SNES, which is specially true for the SNES mimic (since NES console was indeed somewhat primitive with its 8 bit technology, but hey it was the 80s). Thus these ZC quests and Solaris quests really feel like so called bootlegs, specially from a techical/hardware point of view (excluding actual game design).

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One other thing is mixing up with the GBA version of ALTTP. Again a common mistake. GBA is just a bit more advanced than SNES, or at least illogically complex. In other words, you have to do a lot more to achieve the same goal, namely play the same game in the same manner as on SNES, while the GBA version really plays somewhat odd and even has a lot more bugs (found by enthousiasts). So the GBA version of ALTTP is more complex for no reason (for instance the monologue have a unnecessary monoluge compression algorithm - which is redundant unless you want to make simple things complex for no reason).

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So like said, before you even get to Zelda on SNES, definitely include the above, since people are really mixing things up, due to things looking similar.

Hacking Zelda on the SNES engine (not solaris, ZC, or GBA) is whole different thing and more complex too, since all to today only 3 complete overhaul hacks exist (Parallel Worlds/Remodel, Goddess of Wisdom and the fresh Conker hack, which is just out of the oven). The rest are smaller hacks, demo hacks, sprite hacks, ASM hacks etc.

Furthermore: the only editor to actually hack ALTTP is Hyrule Magic, which is a very poor program, yet the only one we currently have. Math on Napkins attmpted on the new Black Magic, but never finished it, and now finally Trovsky is making Zeldix magic, which should really bring the hacking scene up, as being the new primary editor with a clean code and advanced capabilities based on what we currently know.

If you compare this to Super Mario World hacking, where Fusoya is constantly updating Lunar Magic. In SMW you can do what you want, same with ZC, but not on SNES where you are severely limited, and it is pure miracle that Euclid and SePH mannaged to produce Parallel Worlds in the late 2006, so they started in 2002/2003.

Now 10 years after the release - same thing, since Conker was again done with the bugged Hyrule Magic. You really need to be an expert, know the hex code in depth and use multiple Roms, know your debug methods and ASM debugging methods to even produce a Rom which will not crash.

SNES hacking of Zelda is thus meant only for very talented people who simply can Not relly on one editor (like in SMW, ZC, Solaris). There are multiple programs needed: separate one to edit gfx, ASM etc etc. So not only is Hyrule Magic bugged, it also can not do a lot of things.

If you want to edit ending credits: either in hex (manually) or with custom ASM insertion methods. Or in other words, we who hack ALTTP must really think outside of the frame. The fact that only a handful hacks exist is an evidence of that.

If an ALTTP hack is done right, it can be played on a real system, ie put on a cart and played on actual SNES. This is why it makes it so different and simply can not be compared to Solaris or Zelda Classic. The game must yield to SNES requirements, even if you expand these requirements, you are still globaly stuck with SNES, while with Solaris and ZC you are not. A Solaris game will never work on SNES, and ZC never on NES.

This is importaint info, as people really are mixing things up and not realizing what it takes to hack SNES, which is just advanced enough to not be primitive (like NES or ZC) and yet not advanced so much to utterly make it difficult to edit.

SNES really is the most logical choice for hacking, as it stands in the middle of the 8 bit and 64 bit, while 32 bit was skipped for some reason.

Hacking ALTTP is thus difficult and not for everyone. Not only that a few hacks exist, even a small amount of people exits who are capable of doing it (again if you compare this to SMW hacking community, they have more registered people online then all the users combined here). Or in other words ALTTP hacking community is small and when it comes to actual "masters" the list is even smaller.

I would say Euclid was the first person to stand from the crowd. He is a coder - aka a person who gets new things programed via ASM. His Tower of the Triforce is a first example of how to get things right, although the actual game design was lacking the quality of ALTTP (original game), since coders are not necessarily good level designers.

SePH then "pimped" his Tower of the Triforce with what is still to date in my eyes the best overworld/gfx editing.

The new overworld of Parallel Worlds not only match those of Link to the Past, they are better, are using more advanced GFX (taken mostly from other games), and are also using custom ASM (snow overlay, lava overlay, Lost Woods ASM etc).

Light world was thus enhanced with not only Game Boy GFX but also other SNES games gfx and specially the GBA GFX as base. With pals changed and alost all GFX-sets edited SePH redraw the entire light world, making it really feel as a completely new game.

The dark world was then changed into Ice World - all with snow overlays and the lava land.

Indoors simply can not compare to this and unfortunately you play a lot of the game in dungeons. But still Parallel Worlds is the most known/played game in ALTTP hacking scene (and got me into it too), although its above average difficulty.

The project was also the first hack of ALTTP one to be finished and its rival Dark Prophecy by Omega was canceled, despite the fact that it was also almost done - who knows why that happened. Seems like the rivals gave up when they saw Parallel Worlds (just a rumor though).

Here you are mostly roughly covered until 2006.

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by Conn on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 18:24

Important for your research might also the 2 satellaview Zelda, bszelda 1 and ancient stone tablets.
You find all infos at bszelda.zeldalegends.net

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by SePH on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 18:48

The main issue the Dark Prophecy team was facing at the time we released Parallel Worlds was the fact that despite having completed their dungeons and overworlds, those existed on different roms... porting everything on the same rom proved to be an uttermost challenge.

We hold no grudge against them, they were our friendly competition afterall. We all met each other at (the now defunct) TEK Hacks.net back in 2003. Everyone was friendly to each other back then since we were all in the learning process. This is about at that time that I started my old faq on Hyrule Magic, compiling data from various boards and people. Omega and I were good overworld makers while Dude Man and Euclid expertise was in dungeons. Euclid and MathOnNapkins were also helping each other often, finding ram and hex addresses.

Good old times.

I've started my first hack sometime before Euclid released his Tower of The Triforce rom hack back in 2003. It was called Gates of Darkness. It was abandonned  since I didn't like making dungeons back then. After seeing the potential in Tower of The Triforce, I've offered my services to Euclid to pimp his overworlds, and he agreed. I've spent a good part of the year later on to make better overworlds for his game.

Little that I know that this game would later turn out to be played by thousand of people for being the first complete hack of this game.

And this is just the beginning of the story because ten years later I would still be hacking the very same game!

Making rom hacks of this game takes time. A lot of free time. It is time consuming and sometimes you have to redo work due to Hyrule Magic corrupting your rom for no reason... Unless you are some masochist or something, I wouldn't dare to say it's recommended to start making an hack of Zelda 3 using Hyrule Magic (let alone two full hacks in one lifetime).

The main reason why this scene hasn't thrived so much over the years is Hyrule Magic. That editor got a so much bad reputation over the years that people either didn't do rom hacks of Zelda 3 or waited for another editor to come along.

MathOnNapkins eventually started an editor called Black Magic but eventually abandoned it. And since most people who wanted to make a hack of this game were waiting for that editor to come out and it never did, very few new hackers joined this scene when compared to other big profile games like the SMW and the Super Metroid rom hacking scenes.

This prompted our resident moderator Trovsky to take things up his sleeve and start another attempt at making a replacement for the outdated 15 years old Hyrule Magic editor. Should he manage to finish it, more people are bound to eventually edit this game.

Smile

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by Puzzledude on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 18:52

This prompted our resident moderator Trovsky to take things up his sleeve and start another attempt at making a replacement for the outdated 15 years old Hyrule Magic editor. Should he manage to finish it, more people are bound to eventually edit this game.
I never actually thought about it, but completing such an editor is actually equal or even a greater achievement then finishing a hack. Since if you have a powerfull and non-bugged editor a lot of people can produce hacks.

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by TheZeldaBible on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 19:48

These replies are fantastic. Makes me really happy to see there is some history here Smile

Yes, I used to hack Ocarina of Time in every sense of the word "hack" - reverse engineering file formats, assembly, and so on. I quit because N64 reversing simply took too much time. I can reverse an entire Gameboy game in a week vs months for an N64 one. The only tool modders had was Utility of Time, way back in ZSO days. Today there are a few others. But yes I distinguish between real hacking vs modifications with tools. The book the mostly focuses on the history and not so much hacking (but it does mention things like crooked cartridge, debugger code, etc).

Anyway once again, thank you everyone. I was doing some research on NES Zelda hacking but there appears to be no community surrounding it - probably because NES games are fairly self contained and simple compared to their relatively modern counterparts (I had to do some Super Mario Bros. assembly modifications using the reversed version on GitHub - it was amazing how simple it was).

Same goes for the Gameboy Zeldas. Not so much yet.




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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by TheZeldaBible on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 19:50

Any drama in particular that stands out to anyone?

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by TheZeldaBible on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 20:02

> TEK Hacks.net back in 2003

Would you say this is when ALttP hacking "started", more or less? (Obviously there would be individuals doing their own thing)

When did Zeldix.net come into the picture? What came before it?

Where can I find these demo hacks?

Who are some other memorable users in the scene? Why?

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by SePH on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 20:26

It actually started back in 2000 at the Dragon Eye Studios when Sephiroth3 started the Hyrule Magic project. I'm pretty sure that's where Euclid, Gamemakr24 and Sephiroth3 started hacking also!

TEKHacks.net was another message board where I met Euclid, Omega, Dude Man and MathOnNapkins.

There's also the acmlm board back in 2000-until now. You can probably still find threads by Sephiroth3 in the acmlm archives and internet archive wayback machine!

All these message boards and more over the years preceded Zeldix.net who was born on June 2012 as a private board for me, Euclid, Puzzledude and Aeranima for our Zelda 3 projects. We eventually invited many other people over the course of two years and finally on april 1st 2014, we decided to make our board public.


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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by SePH on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 20:57

We could say that the first real attempt at making a hack of this game came by GameMakr24 who was one of the beta testers of Hyrule Magic and a close friend of Sephiroth 3.

Here's the oldest hack in the works (sorta):
http://www.questforcalatia.net/Zelda3C/index.html

You can find a lot in his diary:

http://www.questforcalatia.net/Zelda3C/index.html#diary

He actually started at cg-games.net:

https://web.archive.org/web/20030207133259/http://www.cg-games.net/forums/

Thanks to the internet archive wayback machive you can play a lot with the years to find several info how it all started out :-)

For the acmlm archives:

http://overclocked.acmlm.org/
http://acmlm.kafuka.org/archive2/forum.php?id=9&page=0
http://acmlm.kafuka.org/archive3/forum.php?id=19

Current incarnation:
http://acmlm.kafuka.org/board/forum.php?id=19

Dragon Eye Studios:
https://web.archive.org/web/20020408140703/http://www.cg-games.net/dragoneye/

Zophar Domains (God its still active after all these years):
http://www.zophar.net/
(You can probably find older message boards of it in the internet archive)


About TEK-Hacks.net, you can find a little bit of its history by reading the bios of its members here:

https://web.archive.org/web/20040629125358/http://www.tekhacks.net/bored/memberlist.php

Read NEONswift in particular as he was one of the first people to make an hack of this game together with GameMakr24 and it was called Dodongo's Gold.

Both were the reason I started hacking this game!

I'm sure you can find a lot more by yourself on the internet archive, all these message boards normally had many incarnations, acmlm boards and tek hacks in particular were often hacked, there was a lot of drama and sometimes one user in particular delete the entire message board...good old times Razz


You can find abandonned hacks right here:

https://www.zeldix.net/f28-abandoned-hacks

and of course other types of hacks in the projects section:

https://www.zeldix.net/f49-projects

Hope that will help in your research project!

Wink

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by Erockbrox on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 22:39

I'm going sum up the whole of SNES Zelda 3 hacking history in a few short words.


- Someone make editor for Zelda 3, but it sux

- Because sucky editor, this mean, few hacks

- Euclid and Seph make Parallel Worlds hack, but it sux

- So Seph decide to make brand new hack which doesn't suck

- Many people join Seph's team and make Conker hack

- Conker hack doesn't suck

- The End


Last edited by Erockbrox on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 22:43; edited 1 time in total
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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by SePH on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 22:42

-The End?

How about what happens next?

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by Erockbrox on Wed 8 Mar 2017 - 22:44

SePH wrote:-The End?

How about what happens next?

- Future hacks I hope not suck
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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by TheZeldaBible on Thu 9 Mar 2017 - 0:38

>How about what happens next?

Yeah, I would like a word or two from people on this too. In the N64 section I write about "what's next" for the N64 Zelda scene. Still so much work to do and so little people.

I think everything given is great. I will look into these sources this week and see how far this rabbit hole goes : )

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by TheZeldaBible on Thu 9 Mar 2017 - 0:46

> sometimes one user in particular delete the entire message board

This happened in the N64 scene too, several times. Who was that user? I find this pretty interesting.

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by SePH on Thu 9 Mar 2017 - 0:50

You could probably add a chapter on the Zelda 3 speedrunning community who are altogether another entity of their own.

They created the popular Zelda Randomizer tool along other special tools for the japanese version of the game and also found many discoveries of their own.

Although it's not my place to say. If Superskuj would have sometime he could probably tell you more how they all came up to be!

I know they are relatively knew to hacking, could be a couple years but I really don't know!

||Bass was the one who deleted the acmlm message board back then. Funny thing is that almost a decade later he would be the one who created the Zelda 3 Randomizer tool under the Karkat username!

I would say he has probably matured to the point of being an asm expert and sometimes do dev videos of his randomizer on twitch (where a lot of zelda 3 speedrunners also hang out a lot).

Smile

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Re: ALttP Hacking History

Post by Euclid on Thu 9 Mar 2017 - 7:27

@Seph - didn't know those acmlm archive boards are still around! Quite unfortunate the one before 2003 isn't around.

I'll try to fill in the blanks before many come onboard, mainly the early days.

Zelda 3 hacking began with the completion of zeldac by GameMakr. There may be some inaccuracies from me as I've only been around since around 2001/2002.

GameMakr after creating probably one of the most extensive hacks for Zelda1, called Zelda: Outlands which you may have stumbled upon while searching the history of Zelda 3 hacking.

That's pretty much where it all started, after Outlands GameMakr wanted to do something even more impressive, so he and Seph3 and a few others teamed up to crack open lttp. Eventually as we all know Seph3 created the editor we all know an love.

With an editor in progress, people jumped onboard to create hacks for zelda3 - I've just dugged up the first version of HM which I worked off back in 2002, it was v0.96 (not the final 0.962 version which everyone uses) - I think i still have v0.961 around somewhere. Even Acmlm's had to make a section for zelda hacking back in the days... that was how popular it was.

http://web.archive.org/web/20030211163530/http://acmlm.cjb.net/board/

To this day, in my opinion I still believe Seph3 built the editor based off what Zelda3c needs, rather than what the community wants. Though I still believe Seph3 left the editor at v0.962 because he was being pressured to fix the issues.

I'm probably one of the people who looked at this and say, yeah I can make something. Here's when it moved from cjb to overclocked

https://web.archive.org/web/20030404203952/http://acmlm.overclocked.org/board/

That was the time where people dreamt big, lots of people came up with project propositions and startups, eventually breaking the limits of what Hyrule Magic was built for.

One of the most early released hacks was Iced Hyrule - everyone who had any sort of HM experience saw the hack in HM knew that there's no rescue from that data corruption, it was unplayable.

It was the periods of "secret projects", teasing people with screenshots and having "I'M ABOUT TO RELEASE" threads like these: http://acmlm.kafuka.org/archive2/thread.php?id=1959, and other threads where people ask for help fixing their roms, but don't want to give them out due to "someone could steal my designs" rule.

It went to the point where I've been "assisting" with editor helps from my editing experience in Tower of the Triforce. As you can probably tell from http://acmlm.kafuka.org/archive2/thread.php?id=5981 - at that stage I'm already knee deep into keeping HM playing nice on my rom with hex edits.

Credit where its due though, Zelda3 - Omega was released quite early, but it's an extremely short hack.

So this sort of thing continued a number of years - you'll probably noticed the whole zelda3 hacking "community" shrunk once Seph3 removed himself from making improvements to the editor and that whole zelda3 board disappeared from the later acmlm board archives. Maybe people have finally realised that making a zelda 3 hack is not as easy as making a super mario world hack (where you can divide up each level)

That pretty much covers up to when Seph (Orochimaru) joined the community and he can probably fill in the rest when he first contributed with that gigantic PDF file and later down the track MathOnNapkins and his gigantic disassembly + memory map + srm map.

HA this bring back memories: http://acmlm.kafuka.org/archive3/thread.php?id=9904 - I was still surprised the thread grew legs and ran so fast.

I would recommend posting this question to some of the older members on RHDN, they'll be able to give you a more complete picture - mainly on the early days of hacking... without a snes debugger/tracer. During my asm days on PW I only had the snes9x tracer to work with - the debugger version didn't come until way late.
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