My YouTube Sonic hacking tutorials

Discussion in 'Tutorials' started by Clownacy, Apr 12, 2021.

  1. Clownacy

    Clownacy Well-Known Member Retired Staff

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    I'm not sure whether spamming multiple threads for each series is a good idea, so for now I'm just keeping them in a single thread:

    I've been making some Sonic hacking tutorials. They're painfully amateur (especially the earlier ones) but I figure the information might be useful to some people.

    The first one is a series about porting the Elemental Shields to Sonic 1. Because the process involves messing with everything from DMA transfers to SMPS SFX and the game's collision system, it spans 12 roughly one-hour videos. Not exactly for the faint of heart.



    The second series tries to dial things back and just port Sonic's sprites from Sonic & Knuckles to Sonic 1. It ended up being more complicated than I expected (hence the second video), but overall I think it's more manageable and serves as an introduction to how sprites and VRAM work. This one's only two videos long.



    The third series is one I've just started, where I'll be covering the subject of porting music. This first video showcases the most straightforward method: using SMPS2ASM to port a song to a game with all the required PSG envelopes, DAC samples, and coordination flags already present. Later videos will cover the more complex ports which require PSGs/DACs/coord. flags to be ported as well. I'm hoping for each video to stand on its own, so this first video is self-contained (and only half an hour long to boot).



    Hopefully videos will appeal more to people who don't completely learn at their best when reading guides.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2021
  2. Unavailable

    Unavailable Imagine not spelling "unavaliable" correctly. Member

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    I think these tutorial videos appeal to many audiences and help newbies into Sonic ROM hacking. I remember seeing hacking guides that Animemaster showed quite some while ago, and I was amazed to see many people learned through his videos. Seeing them now looks dated due to the tools he used to use, but they were worth using at the time. Now seeing someone else going further by porting elements from one Sonic game to another is amazing. Heck, the elemental shield videos, which lengthy, taught me many things in comparing disassemblies and how to port elements from Sonic 3 & Knuckles to Sonic 1, which bear in mind, can get tricky on what you want to port from there.

    I do have a couple of concerns, in any case. Firstly, the videos are pretty long; in fact, 12 1 hour videos to port the elemental shields to Sonic 1 are too much to handle. Secondly, I saw that you used SonMapEd, which is starting to get dated; perhaps you could teach others how to play around with Flex2 instead as that is more user friendly and has many valuable features.

    To conclude, I'm glad that we have more hacking videos to advance newcomers into Sonic hacking with that out of the way. I see your video series having much potential in the future, and I do hope you continue making more videos. If you are open to suggestions regarding your hacking skills, please do let me know. In any case, good job, and I wish you luck in future videos. ;)
     
  3. ProjectFM

    ProjectFM Optimistic and self-dependent Member

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    I prefer longer videos. Watching half a day's worth of videos to learn how to do something does seem like a lot, but the videos are incredibly thorough, and I think that's super important. The things these videos show how to do things I've already done, yet I still ended up learning a lot. If each video had a time limit, Clownacy might've been pressured to rush and leave out important information in order to get to a good stopping point. Plus, time spent watching these videos will alleviate the greater amount of time one would spend finding solutions to issues themselves. Sure, the longer time limit will deter people, but the way videos work means that the viewer wouldn't be motivated to skip over stuff like they would with a written tutorial. I agree with you about SonMapEd. If a person with authority like Clownacy tells people to use an outdated program, people are more likely to think that's the best program available.
     
  4. TheInvisibleSun

    TheInvisibleSun Visible Member

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    There will always be a new program that makes previous ones obsolete, and I don't expect Clownacy to update his videos every single time new utilities are released. What is most important are the concepts of what is being done, why, and how (I haven't watched these yet, but I'm assuming a level of thoroughness in this regard, given the length); at a certain level, this fleshed-out knowledge should be transferable to whatever program you use. A pinned comment shouting out Flex 2 would suffice if anything, but people are ultimately responsible for using whatever utility works best for them.
     
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  5. Clownacy

    Clownacy Well-Known Member Retired Staff

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    It's been a while since I recorded the earlier ones, but I'm pretty sure every time I use SonMapEd in a video I point out that it's a little on the outdated side and suggest looking into Flex 2. It's just that I can't teach what I don't know.

    I know the obvious response to that is 'go learn how to use Flex 2', but why? SonMapEd suits my needs just fine. And if it's good enough for me, maybe it's good enough for others too.
     
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  6. Selbi

    Selbi The Euphonic Mess Retired Staff

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    I see where you're coming from, but that mentality is kind of the reason why outdated tools can't really be left behind despite being obsolete. It's okay if you keep using these tools privately, but I disagree with being a role model that propagates these outdated tools for newcomers.

    That's not to say I'll dismiss your tutorials (far from it, I'm actually kind of inspired to do my own take on this, the last time I did so were terrible Movie Maker tutorials waaay back in 2008 :V), but I think it's one of the things to look into.

    Case in point: the Spindash tutorial on Retro still uses Tile Molestor and as far as I'm aware the only reason they aren't changing that is due to legacy reasons.
     
  7. Clownacy

    Clownacy Well-Known Member Retired Staff

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    I dunno, that sounds like less of an argument against outdated tools, but rather fragmentation. It would be nice if everyone used the exact same disassemblies, tools, and emulators so that all guides and other resources can focus on the same things without worrying about people using different setups, but that's just not how it is in reality.

    That said, I guess you're right: it's irresponsible to not introduce newcomers to the most current tools. Unfortunately, I'm not trying to make the best tutorials possible: I'm retired - I haven't done any hacking in forever; I'm trying to pass on whatever useful info I can think of in the most efficient way possible. Videos are easier and faster to make than written guides, and using tools I'm familiar with is easier and faster than learning to use new ones.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2021
  8. KaikeKTH

    KaikeKTH See you in 6 Months. Trialist

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    These video tutorials gave me an idea. A machinima-style version of my MID2SMPS tutorial. Hell, that could work... It would help a lot of newbies to get into S1 Music Hacking while still making them laugh.

    I should definitely keep that in mind.
     
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  9. Unavailable

    Unavailable Imagine not spelling "unavaliable" correctly. Member

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    I do agree with this statement however not everyone will use the same tools as you have at the end of the day. People will use different disassemblies and emulators that suit their needs and ability to proceed in their ROM hacking skills. Heck, handful of us are still stuck on the ye old Hivebrain disassembly which is what I still use today.

    Then that is fine to be honest. I'd recommend going for what suits you needs to easily make these videos. I only mentioned that since SonMapEd was starting to show its age and I believed a lot of people would struggle using it for other purposes hence why I believed newer tools would help them gain a better knowledge in ROM hacking. Heck, I'm probably guilty from sticking with SonMapEd for the first year of ROM hacking. A lot of us learn new content through visual imagery and you presenting Sonic ROM hacking through videos is impressive as we haven't seen stuff like this in several years. Don't be put off that you cannot make good videos. Not everyone is perfect at the end of the day. You are doing really well and I wish you the best of luck in future videos.
     
  10. Clownacy

    Clownacy Well-Known Member Retired Staff

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    Here are the other music-porting videos. They both focus on porting songs from Sonic 3D Blast to Sonic 1, though the technique applies to Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles songs as well. The first half of the first video covers the 'lazy' way of porting songs by substituting missing DACs/PSGs, while the rest explains how to actually port them. I also cover solving FM instrument incompatibility, as well as porting songs that use S3K's Universal Voice Bank.
     
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  11. KZG4

    KZG4 The Grenade Member

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    Kudos to you for explaining how to edit S1's z80 driver to support more than 3 samples. I've been trying to figure that out myself for a while but I never knew what exactly to do.
     
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  12. Clownacy

    Clownacy Well-Known Member Retired Staff

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    Honestly, I was worried that modifying the Z80 driver instead of just replacing it with Mega PCM was only going to confuse people more. I'm glad it ended up being useful.
     
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