Reference Material Improvements?

Discussion in 'Discussion & Q&A' started by Ralakimia, Oct 29, 2019.

  1. Ralakimia

    Ralakimia Pour your misery down on me Member

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    Y'know, with all the newcomers not being sure of where to get started and how things in the Sonic engine and Genesis work, and how seemingly scattered and out of date some references are, and how we are all seemingly repeating the same things over and over to them, I think it may be time to create a more centralized and up to date reference guide of some sort for different things. The pinned threads here (and on Retro) are nearly a decade old now.

    I know something like that would require quite a bit of effort and time to get done, and figuring out the best way to do it would probably prove to be a challenge (mainly that I don't think the forums would be a good place for it, perhaps I and maybe a few others(?) could redo the SCHG on the Sonic Retro Wiki?), but that's what I think.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
  2. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester ! % # @ Member

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    I disagree, that solution is too obvious.

    The opinion you expressed is the same opinion others would have expressed, it's a popular opinion, an expected opinion, but it's riddled with flaws which are blinded by the popularity of the opinion. The first flaw; the same and similar solutions have been mentioned several times in the past, you're not the first to express the notion, one example of an attempted solution was QJimbo's when he was in charge of the site, I know this, because he came to me asking for various tutorial ideas, this was just shy of HackTube disappearing. It was a centralised page, containing guides/tutorials/tools, all of which could be linked to easily, but it didn't take on, there were a few reasons why including (granted) in-completion, but one of them is explained below.

    You see, it's not a bad idea, but it's a bad solution as I don't think there is a solution, this brings me to the second flaw; the demographics of Sonic hacking will usually lay around a generation of young individuals, people who are excited, full of motivation, have the energy and the time, the ones who are planning the "best Sonic hack ever". The drawback is, they are impatient, naive, ignorant, and as the old saying goes, youth is wasted on the young.

    Young people need to make the mistakes, they need to be in a situation of error, it's the only way they can grow and mature from the embarrassment, whilst maintaining a personality rather than conforming and becoming just like everyone else. These people as they age are less likely to construct a fake post, fake in the sense they're posting what people want to hear, rather than expressing their own true notions. They are likely to take a gamble and say something in the pursuit of honesty that others may want to detest. There are a few people who are like that within the community, and I have a great deal of respect for them for it, many of which were embarrassed by their own introductions.

    Should something be done? Absolutely! As I said, these are not bad ideas, far from it. I think we should organise and create a consistent and easy system to help newcomers, and I would be happy to back people on that, it'll certainly help people out who do pay attention and genuinely cannot find the information, that's worth goaling for. But I cannot back it if you're foolish enough to believe it'll prevent threads such as the above from appearing, if you're doing it as a solution to a problem that cannot be fixed in that way, then I'm afraid you're on your own.
     
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  3. Ralakimia

    Ralakimia Pour your misery down on me Member

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    I do see where you are coming from.

    Yes, I am aware that no matter what, there's always be someone who will be ignorant and impatient, and I do believe in the importance of having people learn in their mistakes. I'm just tired of this cycle of people asking the same questions and people answering (yes, I know I am guilty of this as well) the same answers, over, and over, and over, and over, and I'm sure others are as well. For example:

    Q: How do I start hacking?
    A: Here's a list of tools and references, go crazy.

    Q: How do I edit the title screen emblem? I can't seem to edit it properly in SonMapEd!
    A: Here's the difference between sprite and plane mappings, title screen emblem is a plane map, so to edit it you need to...

    Q: How do I do 68000 programming?
    A: Here's Markey's 68000 instruction reference site, go crazy.

    Q: What does "branch out of range" mean?
    A: Here's the different branch sizes you can set, etc.

    Q: My hack works on Fusion and Gens, but not Regen, BlastEm, etc., what the shit??
    A: Most likely an "address error", which means...

    And it goes on. To me, I think one major problem is that there is a definite and obvious lack of understanding of how the Mega Drive works from newcomers, and I haven't personally found a good reference guide for how certain components of it work and actual programming guides that would be easy to understand by newcomers and relevant to Sonic hacking (I'd love to be proven wrong, though).

    Let me put it this way. Let's say someone wants to learn how to implement their own spindash without using the Retro guide. Cool, let's just give them a 68000 instruction reference sheet and send them out on their way. So, they go and study how each instruction works. Cool, now they can go add their own, right? No, because they still don't have an idea on how an object in the Sonic engine works, how its memory is laid out, etc. I mean, sure, there's all these other guides and resources on how to program for the Mega Drive, but what I found is that to a newcomer, if it's not relevant to Sonic hacking, it's not going to be all that much useful. I personally think this is why all these newcomers flock to the Retro guides, because it's relevant to what they want to accomplish. But, of course, the problem with the guides is that a good chunk of them aren't exactly programming guides and don't properly explain the changes being made.

    And let's be real, the instruction reference site alone isn't going to solve much of anything in this instance. Sure, someone could use it and come out knowing what the common instructions do, but they still have to figure out how those instructions are used to make up an object, game mode, etc.. It's the fact that programming is more than just knowing what each operator does and whatnot, you also need to understand flow and logic and knowing some things about the platform they are programming for.

    I remember a couple years ago, a common response to someone having an issue creating a fully custom object (I think) was for the person to go study the engine and figure it all out on their own. Looking back at that, honestly, I find that to be a terrible response. Everyone learns differently and at different paces, and certain things may not still be obvious to some. I know that straight up telling the person literally everything about everything regarding making an object would probably encourage laziness, but at least some kind of nudge in the right direction wouldn't hurt?

    Hell, 68000 probably wouldn't be a good starting point for some people, either. I know that for me, I started off learning GameMaker Language and experimenting with that, and when I went to go learn 68000, it wasn't too terribly difficult, since I already understood the concept of flow and logic in programming and was able to make some connections between certain instructions and how higher level languages worked. And hell, not everyone is set out for programming either. It's tedious and often frustrating. Some may prefer to just learn pixel art and/or music and just offer services to other people, and I think that's totally fine as well. It doesn't need to be a jack-of-all-trades type thing.

    With that, at this current point, after some thought, I dunno how this issue could be tackled anymore, considering the complexity of it, but something needs to change around here. Perhaps this should be split into a new thread and have other people give an opinion on how we can help curb this? Hopefully what I said came out right and makes sense.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2019
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  4. LazloPsylus

    LazloPsylus A Certain Scientific Railgun The Railgun

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    Hey, who stole my playbook for the XF2 update? =P

    But seriously, reference material will not erase simple, easy-to-answer threads. What it *does* do is provide more tools and resources for those who actually do want to put in the time and effort to learn. It's a pipe dream to expect that we can ever make this hobby drag and drop on a whim, or that we can erase ill-informed questions. The issue is complex on multiple levels, and improved resources are only one element to that. There's numerous cultural problems with the community, which has created what is functionally an expectation of newcomers being able to swim the English Channel during a typhoon while a WWII-era naval engagement is occurring. We are hostile as a community. The intent is there, to make people better, but the behavior and consideration are all wrong. We don't take the time to consider and understand when met with situations differing from our expectations and views.

    And this is just one element I can riddle off before bed in vague detail. As a community, we have, in many ways, failed. But recognizing that failure is essential to finding the next steps to take. We also need to break the illusion that "more documentation" will fix everything. It won't. It can't. We have to recognize our limits, and work with them, rather than against them or just ignoring them.

    I've discussed this subject a fair bit with others, as some of you know, and it's very much a topic that always sits in the back of my mind, rolling back and forth while trying to find where to go next. Definitely splitting this off into its own thread, though, as it's worth discussing.
     
  5. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester ! % # @ Member

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    And it will keep going on, because:
    You will continue to have to link to the reference material you created, because these posts will resume, as I reiterate, you will fail if your goal is to stop questions such as the above from appearing, that's wishful thinking.

    Well let's be reasonable, there are plenty of oldcomers here who still don't know "how the Mega Drive works", let alone newcomers, but they don't necessarily have a problem as they at least have a basic understanding of the engine. So I would argue that the engine is more important at the beginning and learning of the hardware should be reserved until they are more comfortable with the basic rules which they can learn from the engine.
    The biggest problem to this though:
    They don't care about the hardware, they care about Sonic, they are highly rejective to learning specifics they're not interested in at the time.

    Wait, sorry, I'm confused, first you said the problem was not knowing how the Mega Drive itself worked, now you're saying it's the lack of information on the engine? I agree with the latter (for reasons I just explained), but there's a contradiction here.

    But to reiterate what I said before, I agree that we need better guides and so forth, absolutely and irrefutable, you are 100% correct there. The problem; that's not what I'm questioning here, my disagreement comes from your personal annoyance of certain posts, and you want to mitigate that, and you believe this will solve that. Again, the idea is great, as a "solution" it is not.

    I'm going to assume that because you said "site", you are hinting at my 68k tutorial site, you sly devil you d=

    If this is true, then you neglected to mention it is incomplete. Explanations of how the instructions can be used to perform tasks would have been explained after the instructions were all described, but as I've mentioned in multiple "update" posts on the site, it's incomplete, and I am busy with other things.

    Given you mentioned objects specifically, would you prefer something in the realms of this? Further to add:

    I can get behind that totally! Like I've said for the seventh time probably by now, I agree with the idea, but this won't stop the questions being posted in threads, and you will continue to complain about having to link people to the material. Remember, the idea is great, as a "solution" it is not.

    Unfortunately, I have ran out of time and must be heading to work, but from what I'm reading, all you've done is reiterated what you said in your last post, but more in depth, that doesn't change my opinion. As I've explained, the idea of doing these types of things are not new, they've been around for years, and again, they're not bad ideas, they're great ideas! It's just not a "solution" like you wanted, and I highly doubt you will find one. I'm sorry to reiterate it thoroughly again, but I got this vibe from your second post you didn't pick up on it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2019
  6. Ralakimia

    Ralakimia Pour your misery down on me Member

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    Alright, I see now. You're correct. I think I'm just too naive and full of wishful thinking (and also still as bad at expressing myself as I was in high school :p); I won't bother continuing to defend the argument I've given.
     
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  7. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester ! % # @ Member

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    No please, forgive me, I am quite an adament individual and am very insistent if I believe my point was not understood, it can often seem quite arrogant in nature. You still have the opportunity to prove me wrong~
     
  8. TheInvisibleSun

    TheInvisibleSun Visible Member

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    I don't think this would be a deterrent to people asking the same basic questions, but it would validate our community's insistence on people researching things for themselves. It's nice having a clear source to point people to, without having to dig through and hunt for old threads/posts that may or may not still exist.