Soliciting Ideas for SSRG Panel at upcoming gaming expo

Discussion in 'Discussion & Q&A' started by NO_CARRIER, Apr 11, 2020.

  1. NO_CARRIER

    NO_CARRIER Newcomer Member

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    At a few past gaming expos, I spoke to folks about my past life with on SSRG, its influence in the early days of the internet, and even its ties to Sonic Mania. Many were unaware of SSRG, and had even suggested that talking about it saying it would make for an interesting panel discussion at a future expo.

    And so recently on a whim, I submitted a suggestion to talk about SSRG at a local gaming expo, and it was approved!

    At this moment in time, I'd like to solicit ideas from the group on what sorts of things the talk should focus on, and what you feel would be considered interesting. Some ideas I have at the moment include:

    - how the site was founded
    - a summary about WHY the Sonic games had so much hidden stuff left in the game at release
    - early ROM hacks and discoveries
    - key people that went on to create Sonic Mania, and any interesting tidbits I can bring forward. (I have a ton of old emails I can dig through.)
    - interesting tidbits such as "why was the site named 'Sonic Stuff Research Group'?", "Why did we name one of the Sonic 2 beta ROMs after Simon Wi when Andre Dirk was the only known person to have owned a copy of it?" Etc.

    I still have a few old SSRG t-shirt in storage I might bring out, and maybe some of my old hand-written hacking notes. (Though I threw much of it out years ago, I think I still have some stuff left.)

    Anyhow, comment below to share your suggestions.

    Thanks!
    Andrew Wolan
    (NO CARRIER)
    Co-founder of SSRG
     
  2. AURORA☆FIELDS

    AURORA☆FIELDS the cute one here Member

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    I don't know how much you've followed the scene along the years, but maybe you could briefly talk about the history of Sonic hacking, notable hacks, members, community events, and how we got all the way from hex palette hacking to... whatever we're doing today
     
  3. NO_CARRIER

    NO_CARRIER Newcomer Member

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    Hmm, that's not a bad idea. As Ayla/Nayr told me once before, the scene has migrated away from binary hacking to using a debugger to full disassembly and reassembly of the ROM images so that the source code can be edited using more conventional programming tools. That would be interesting in itself as it talks about the technical evolution of the community.

    I could talk about some of the most noteworthy hacks. For example, I think Stealth made a hack that added Knuckles to Sonic 1.

    For community events, is SAGE the only one still being held, or is there an expo that is just for ROM hacks? (I kinda remember there being one that I think was sponsored by SSRG or Sonic Retro.)

    As for notable members, Stealth and Taxman top that list for obivous reasons. Anyone else that folks feel should be included?
     
  4. Spanner

    Spanner The Tool Administrator

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    Since 2011, the Sonic Hacking Contest has provided further community involvement by having an interactive contest week before the results are announced, with the main part being that people have the opportunity to vote for a small selection of Community Trophies with the hacks that were available to download to the public. The first two years of the Contest Week were run alongside the Sonic Amateur Games Expo, with later contest weeks occurring outside of SAGE. Since 2013, contest submissions (as opposed to emailing them in) and Contest Week participation is done on a website created by Cinossu which allows full members and above of Sonic Retro and SSRG to vote for the Community Trophies, although in recent years, the requirement to have a Sonic Retro or SSRG account has been relaxed.
     
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  5. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester ♡ ! Member

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    I realise this is SSRG specific, but I will throw a few notable names for the hacking scene in general SSRG or not:

    drx
    - Mostly for prototype ROM obtainment which has contributed to the hacking scene.
    jman2050 - Contributions involving the understanding of DPCM used in almost all Sonic sound drivers, also provided one of the first raw PCM playback drivers for hacks.
    ValleyBell - Huge amounts of audio/sound driver research.
    Clownacy - I'd say the same above, a few sound driver research/improvements, but also a few other notables might include; a Sonic 2 port to PC (I think he did that anyway). You could also argue he cracked the unused Sonic 2 compression in one of the betas as well, but cracking formats doesn't really get the recognition it once did, and we don't even name them after the person anymore.
    Speaking of compression; Saxman, Brett Kosinski, and Nemesis (who also provided Enigma, and did some work on the Crackers format (a variation of Saxman)).
    Tweaker/Puto - Some of the original researchers of the SMPS sound driver format, some of the first to port music from game to game too, including non-Sonic games. I believe puto made a tool to convert SMPS music to XM (smps2xm).
    flamewing - Quite a few notables but perhaps the most notable would be improving and refining the compressions algorithms and formats. Also created an advanced error handler for Mega Drive games complete with an internal disassembler.
    Mercury - Provided a wonder in-depth documentation of the physics in Sonic games, and I mean REALLY in-depth, this would contribute to accurate fan games I'm sure.
    vladikcomper - Created his own compression algorithm known as Comper; a fast word based LZSS format. Created an error handler for Mega Drive games, one which includes label names for easy identification, as well as a powerful PCM playback driver known as "Mega PCM" which can also playback DPCM samples.
    xenowhirl - Lead of the Sonic 2 disassembly from 2007, as well as having created a few powerful hacking tools, including (but not limited to) SonMapEd, and rotsprite (whose algorithm is actually used outside of the hacking scene, and is even mentioned on a wikipedia page regarding transformation matrix rotations with sprites/pixels).
    Hivebrain - Lead of the Sonic 1 disassembly from 2005, as well as having created a few hacking tools, I think including a studio for ROM hacking at one point, but also a palette editor which interestingly does get mentioned and used on a basis today.
    (Keep in mind, the disassemblies above were mass contributions, multiple people worked on them, but I'm only describing the leaders of them).
    Ersrael - Created a studio/editor known as ESE and ESE II, which although out of date, is still being used and still being recognised by newer generations. Not to mention the amount of research into the beta versions of Sonic 2, I believe he discovered unused sprites in one of the beta Sonic 2's.
    Simon Wai - To be fair, he only discovered a notable Sonic 2 beta, but, it did create a scene within itself which has grown to become SonicRetro (which ended up becoming the number 1 site for Sonic searches, surpassing even SEGA's own site), though of course the current staff there also deserve retribution for it, i.e. ScarredSun, Cinossu, et;al.
    MainMemory (and someone else's name I cannot recall as Retro is currently down so I cannot check) - a lot of research and hacking on the Adventure series of games, I don't know much about beyond the Mega Drive hacking, so you'll have to forgive me, as well as names I'll miss from this area. But he has created a HUGE number of tools for assisting the hacking of the Adventure series, as well as the PC version of Sonic CD.
    Spanner/Cinossu - who have continued the hacking contest from Ayla (I know someone else started it, I don't know their name but I'm sure she could provide), a contest which happens annually and has gone on for over a decade now.
    Nineko - Did a lot of research on the Cube/Iwadare sound driver along with Wiz, and created several xm to smps tools (xm2smps, xm3smps).
    Cinossu - Responsible for a few notably polished hacks, but I think more community driven credits should be supplied. For example, the hacking contest site he wrote and has maintained/improved for years, also worked with GerbilSoft and a version of his emulator for transferring data to an online archive for a time attack version of Sonic 1, I forget what it was called Retro-*something*, but he is often known for gathering the community together and helping along events.
    GerbilSoft - Created a Mega Drive emulator known as Gens/GS, was also responsible for finding Sonic Edusoft (an unreleased Master System game).
    I also know that ravenfreak and Mr.Cat have made some advances in the master system research, but again, I haven't paid too much attention in this area, and again, might have missed a few names out.
    snkenjoi/quii - Have made a few tool impacts such as Flux a sprite map editor similar to SonMapEd but improved (snkenjoi) and PlaneEd, a plane mapping editor (we didn't have one before) (quii).
    Aurora (Natsumi) - Has made a few contributions too; including research into the weststone Sound Driver, as well as having created her own advanced sound driver very recently. A notable hack might be the Sonic 4 in 1 which combines Sonic 1, 2, 3 and K, with KiS2 and BSC into a single workable ROM (a few compilation attempts have been done by others before, but not to this extreme).

    Keep in mind the above is only what I have come to understand, and I may be wrong on quite a few of them, or may even be missing some notable things from these people out, but at least you have some names to check up and research on, it's a starting point at least... I would verify some of these but many of the sources of information are from Retro's wiki which I am currently having trouble access, so a lot of the above is from memory only.

    If I remember more, I'll let you know.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
  6. MGHACKS

    MGHACKS A member who likes to spam messages. Member

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    I think we should have:
    MarkeyJester for making Sonic hacks that look like it came out of Futurama.
    VadaPega for making the best joke hacks, unlike other hackers
    Redhotsonic for working close into Sonic 2 ROM hacking to make the game miles better and also making awesome hacks and still going on to be a successful Youtuber.
    Selbi for being as similar to if Michael Bay loved Sonic and putting Bay's work into Sonic 1.
     
  7. NO_CARRIER

    NO_CARRIER Newcomer Member

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    Wow, that's a lot names, but it's a great starting point.

    I remember talking to Hivebrain about the ROM disassembly project over AIM or some other chat program when it was still in its early stages. I was personally excited by its possibilities, but by that point, I had moved on from the Sonic hacking scene.

    Was drx the one that dumped all of those old SEGA Genesis ROMS several years ago? I was told many years ago from a source that SEGA had an archive of ROM images of games that were submitted by developers for review and stored into some archive at SEGA. Some ROM images were of games in development. Is that where those ROM images came from or is their source unknown?
     
  8. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester ♡ ! Member

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    I'll admit, I didn't want to put my own name in to toot my own horn so to speak, but the problem is that you haven't really specified anything as "notable" as a form of contribution towards the scene.

    Like for Selbi; I would say his notables would be the Parallax editor (a tool which generates code for background scrolling), and a text editor for title cards in Sonic 1 and 2, I really don't think the hacks are a contribution necessarily.

    If you want to put me in, then fine, but my hacks haven't contributed for shit, and I would argue my actual contributions would be perhaps the plentiful of tools such as; GetArt, Bitmap MD, SpritePlotter, Interprite, RevSMPS, or the resources; Project Sonic 1: Two-Eight, or Dual PCM - FlexEd, or that Twizzler compression. These are contributions people can use to advance their production and involvement in the hacking scene on their own terms, where one idea encourages another idea.

    redhotsonic's involvement with streams could be acceptable too, it is raising awareness of SSRG after all.

    Speaking of, Cyan Helkaraxe's hacks are in fact notable and contributed to the awareness of Sonic 1 hacking, too many people were focusing on Sonic 2 hacking until he released the Sonic 1 beta hoax.

    I don't know much about that, but some of his sources have been from auctions or buying privately from various people, I highly doubt he would give sources out willingly, as it could make things more difficult for future protos to be obtained, but you lose nothing by asking him...

    Oh! MegaGWolf I would strongly consider writing a part about that, and this one actually IS involving SSRG, he's been rasing awareness of SSRG and the hacking scene via his YouTube videos for years now. His lineups of the "Sonic Hack Showcase", the community has certainly bloomed much further thanks to him.

    LazloPsylus/theocus
    - These guys have done considerable amounts of research into the Mega Drive/Mega CD hardware, it's where most of the Mega CD programmers have gotten their info from.
    Ralakimus - Has done huge amounts of research into the SVP chip used in the Mega Drive version of Virtua Racer, including a plugin for 3D software for exporting to be used for the SVP chip.
    Jen/Orengefox - These guys obtained their own prototype of the Game Gear's Sonic 2, called the Sonic 2 autodemo proto ROM
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2020
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  9. LazloPsylus

    LazloPsylus A Certain Scientific Railgun The Railgun

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    theocas generally goes more by his name nowadays (tristanseifert). He swears he'll get back to MD/MCD stuff some day, though he's got a hell of a day job now.

    Also, Ralakimus has also done some work in making sense of the MCD ASIC.
    ~E~: Seems I mis-remembered. Welp.

    MoDule, from what I remember, did some documentation for one of the object engines, and an early guide for object engine porting. My memory could be failing me, though. FraGag is also notable for his involvement in bringing to fruition version-controlled collaborative disassemblies over on Sonic Retro. While many of us don't see eye to eye with its operation, it still was a substantial progression to more collaborative and progressive development of disassemblies, which in turn has put some interest in standardization.

    Probably many more names we're forgetting. A bunch of hardware researchers, for instance.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
  10. Ravenfreak

    Ravenfreak Sucks at sprite art. Member

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    I think Glitch should be added to the list, he's the guy who made the Sonic 2 SMS disassembly and without his work I probably would have never learned as much as I have when it comes to hacking the 8-bit titles.
     
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  11. Neo Geo MVS

    Neo Geo MVS Newcomer Trialist

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    Yes, and if you mention him, it's also worth mentioning the prototypes he dumped last year, including the first known Sonic 3 prototype.
     
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  12. TheInvisibleSun

    TheInvisibleSun Visible Member

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    There's also DarioFF (creator of Sonic GLVL) and S0LVO for their Generations hacking and research, among others I can't recall at the moment.
     
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  13. NO_CARRIER

    NO_CARRIER Newcomer Member

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    One thought I had was to have a quick series of slides that emphasize the number of people that have contributed information over the years.

    "The information the community collected or uncovered came not from one or two contributors <shows 2-3 names>"
    "... but from many contributors ... <shows 6-8 names>"
    "... many contributors ... <shows 12-15 names>"
    "... many MANY contributors ... <shows a slide with as many names and I can fit on the slide"
     
  14. Ralakimus

    Ralakimus People suck Member

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    ...I have?
     
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  15. LazloPsylus

    LazloPsylus A Certain Scientific Railgun The Railgun

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    I could have sworn you did a little MCD demo showing it off. Or was that SVP?

    I may be completely mis-remembering. If so, sorry.

    ~E~: Well shit. Dug through post history, and it looks like I was indeed mis-remembering. Probably mixed it up with SVP stuff. Sorry about that!
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
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  16. nineko

    nineko I am the Holy Cat Member

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    Let me start by saying that I'm extremely flattered to be mentioned by someone who, unlike me, truly is a remarkable member of the Sonic community. It's no mystery that I think very low of myself, so I'm always surprised when someone says something good about me. Again, even more so when that someone is as awesome as MarkeyJester.

    Moving on, my role in the Cube/Iwadare research was less than marginal, it was Wiz's work for the most part. I also quickly lost interest as my usual, leaving him alone despite his enthusiasm, and as of today I still feel guilty towards him about that. He genuinely was interested about Cube/Iwadare as a whole and its applications in the Shining Force games, while all I wanted to do was to use that sound driver in Sonic games, effectively giving up when we realised that porting the SFXs from SMPS to Cube was going to be a nuisance as much as a battle against windmills. We ported like 3 and then I was like "that's it, I'm done". I actually wrote some Cube tools, including Cube2XM and Cube2SMPS, and a rudimental Cube-to-Cube bank reorganiser to port songs between Cube games, but I quickly discontinued all of them. Again, I can only apologise to Wiz for leaving him alone. This is yet another example of how bad my behaviour used to be from time to time, yet another page in a book filled of bad things I've done. Looking back at it after all these years still makes me feel bad about it.

    With all that said, if you still think I should be mentioned in some form (which I still think I don't), I think that my only actual contribution to the Sonic community was xm2smps (and later xm3smps), which effectively opened the flood gates for non-SMPS music porting. Of course there is a lot of fine print here as well, though. For one, even if sometimes I call myself a pioneer in that area, non-SMPS music porting was already possible with Saxman's Sonic QX, it's just that almost nobody used it, my converters only had the merit to produce a somehow better output (while still far from optimal). Furthermore, none of that would have been possible without three people, two of which you already mentioned: Tweaker, Puto, and Varion Icaria. I was the mere hand, but the brains were all theirs, all I had to do was to put their throughful researches into code form, anyone could have done that (in fact, I was surprised that nobody did before). I found it extremely easy to correlate between the XM and the SMPS structures, and so I did just that. Sure xm3smps had its window of popularity, but even that is now gone thanks to ValleyBell's mid2smps, since most people prefer to work with MIDI files. As I said, I still think the XM structure is more suited for this kind of conversion, but to each his own.

    What I'm trying to say is that my actual role was marginal at best even when it comes to music hacking as a whole. The one thing that actually still holds true is that my soniNeko was the first and (as of today) only hack to feature a completely overhauled OST from non-SMPS games (we later found out that some games actually used SMPS in the first place, such as the 8-bit Sonic games, but we didn't know that at that time, so I ported those songs from other sources and not from the original SMPSes).

    That is hardly a feat.

    I don't think I should be mentioned if you want to talk about important people in hacking history. I'm just "that guy who wrote an imperfect, user-unfriendly converter based on informations researched by other people".
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
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  17. LazloPsylus

    LazloPsylus A Certain Scientific Railgun The Railgun

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    Crude or not, the tools you made were gateways to really opening up what the community could do in the realm of music. May not have been the brain behind it, but you were certainly the one that put in the work to have tools that the community previously never had and allow music changes to be doable by more than just those with the patience to hex-hack their way through. You very much do have a habit of understating your contribution. You may not have been the mind behind figuring out the formats, but you built the tools that helped make that information usable beyond the few.

    Your tools may be superseded now, but that doesn't change the impact they had then. Your tools still changed the game. Your name is more well-deserved on that list than mine.
     
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  18. MainMemory

    MainMemory Well-Known Member Member

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    You forgot to mention the whole suite of tools I've made for the Megadrive games, as well as being involved with starting the Mania modding community, and being the only person making mods of Sonic & Knuckles Collection.
    But for the Adventure games, besides me there's Joshua Corvinus aka Dude, Polygon Jim (RIP), SonicFreak94 aka Morph, ItsEasyActually, PkR, Justin113D, Exant64, and a bunch of others.
    For Mania, there's SuperSonic16, CodenameGamma, and probably a bunch of people that I don't know about.
    And then there's the modern games, with people like Dario FF, TwilightZoney, SuperSonic16 again, and definitely a bunch of people that I don't know about.
    And shoutout to InvisibleUp for pioneering Sonic R modding, and Sewer56 for Sonic Heroes.
     
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  19. LazloPsylus

    LazloPsylus A Certain Scientific Railgun The Railgun

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    Now there's a pile of names. Knew there were a bunch we'd forgotten. Thanks for the contribution to the pile. And yes, your SonLVL definitely doesn't need to be forgotten, as it's modernized level designing and gives a more flexible groundwork that can be adapted for use with projects that don't necessarily fall under the constraints of the common Sonic engine structures. Modernized the level editor and set the new standard.

    Your S&KC work has also been quite awesome. Picked a territory no one dug into and staked out a solid claim.

    These lists of names really emphasizes that this community wasn't built on the back of one person, but of many, many people. And there's still plenty more work to be done.
     
  20. nineko

    nineko I am the Holy Cat Member

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    There's something I forgot to mention before:
    Not sure if you know that, but Flamewing is also a very talented TASer, known as Marzojr. If you're going to mention him (and you definitely should), you should mention his TASing activities as well, alongside his long list of hacking accomplishments, in my opinion. If you do want to include TASers, there are a few other people worth mentioning, the most historical ones being Nitsuja and Upthorn (who also had an account on Sonic Retro at a certain point).

    Btw, going back to hacking, I think the best thing Flamewing did is the improved SMPS driver, but I might be biased since (as I even reminded no more than 24 hours ago) my main area of interest is music. Sure the compressors are good, but the driver is great.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
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