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Old November 30th, 2008, 06:24 PM
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Thrace
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Age: 24
Gender: Male
Rom Hacking Newsletter
Issue 14 - Sunday, 30 November 2008
Introduction
Opening words

Yay! Exams are over! And now I'm on school holidays so there'll be plenty of time for me to work on RHN perhaps a new layout?. Yes I know its late this week but we'll be regular again soon enough.

This week we've got the final part of our 3 part Tips and Tricks. An interview of the creator of Shiny Gold and an article debating the recent changes made to the Rom Hacking Forum.
Opening by Thrace



Hacking News
Staying current with the rom hacking scene

HotY Round Two - Category Round
Round 2 of Hack of the Year 2008 has begun! In this round we give awards to hacks that excel in particular aspects of hacking. Know of a hack with excellent mapping? Or maybe one with scripts that leave you speechless? Well whatever it is let your voice be heard by voting!

Best Newcomer is for hacks that are relatively new! Don't vote for something thats been in production for a long time! Surely this is obvious?

Hack Rating System
RHN will follow a standardised rating system similar to that of IGN, ratings and their meanings are described below.
Spoiler:
10.0 to 9.0 - Masterful
Its almost impossible to make a hack that is perfect, but ratings in this range get pretty close. These hacks are flawless in all aspects of hacking, they are innovative and engaging.

8.9 to 8.0 - Impressive
Hacks that we feel are outstanding and are exceptional in at least one aspect will receive ratings in this range. Hacks that we feel are worthwhile and that everyone will find enjoyable. You'd need to put in a lot of effort to get this rating.

7.9 to 7.0 - Good
An excellent hack that is let down by a one or two major problems. Above average in all aspects but just missing a few things it needs to be great. Not amazing but has potential.

6.9 to 6.0 - Passable
Hacks that are just above average. Nothing to really get excited about. Nothing particularly horrible about the hack but nothing all that great either.

5.9 to 5.0 - Mediocre
A hack that provokes no emotion, standard, run-of-the-mill whatever you want to call it, these hacks are as average as they come.

4.9 to 4.0 - Lackluster
Hacks that do not have enough effort put into them. Probably not worth the attention for the time being. Has some potential to be better, but not enough to become something spectacular.

3.9 to 3.0 - Poor
Hacks that are flawed in all areas, most likely caused by inexperience by the author rather than effort. Not worth checking out regularly, will probably be cancelled the next week.

2.9 to 2.0 - Bad
Hacks that we recommend you avoid, not worth playing. Might have a few interesting ideas but ultimately is just very poorly executed. Major flaws in all aspects.

1.9 to 1.0 - Terrible
A hack we believe should not have had its thread accepted. These hacks are not even worth browsing over. These hacks are usually made by people trying to achieve internet stardom.

0.9 to 0.0 - Abysmal
Hacks that are not even truly hacks, more like edits. A few small changes to the original game, achievable in mere minutes.

Compiled by Thrace



HOTW Winner
Spotlight on the Hack of the Week

The Dawn of Pokémon [Link]
Hack Author: dratii
Reviewed By: Thrace

Despite the questionable introduction this hack is really quite promising. dratii is obviously a very talented hacker, having done a lot of ground work before attempting a hack. Something many new hackers could learn from.

Mapping is very good mostly. Theres a few issues that could do with sorting out, such as the use of only one type of grass tile. It may seem like a small problem but its quite noticeable. The scripting is as good as you could ask for. Nothing special yet but as I've said many times thats not always a problem.

The thing I don't like is how dratii isn't taking this hack seriously. Thats not to say that dratii isn't trying but he says so in the introduction that this hack is for him to learn. Making mistakes is the best way to learn. Maybe dratii will get some inspiration for this hack and will continue to develop the story. I'd certainly love to see that.
Article by Thrace



Map of the Week
A review of the weeks MOTW winner

Map Author: Lucario 9
Map of: Fire Red
Rating: 6.5/10
Map Shot: Click Here!

I look at this map, and my eyes are instantaneously drawn to that ugly line of empty space on the right. By the looks of that, it seems as if Lucario 9 had gotten lazy in the final editing. Next, my eyes were pulled to the rock. Sure this is a simply terrific rock, but it seems as though there almost too many corners. They aren’t well rounded, and generally have a poor shape. Now as I look at this map as a spectator, instead of a player, it is generally eye pleasing, and seems like a lot of effort was implemented into this map. Now when I imagine myself going through this map (keep in mind this is only the second route, as entitled ‘route 2’. This would be a pain in the ass to go through, and the lack of Pokémon you have at this point wouldn’t really help either. The shape is mediocre, and just generally not well done. The tile use on this map is poorly done. The standard Nintendo trees should not be scattered like the way he incorporated them. It results in the map becoming more lackluster. The fact that the rocks in the water don’t have their dark shadows also irritates me, seeing as Lucario 9 took an easier way out. The last thing that bothers me about this map is the one blocked ledges. It just does not look right at all, and they are implemented badly. I think this map is too difficult without any spots for healing, especially since it is this early in the game. I am not a fan of this map, sorry Lucario 9.
Article by Disturbed



Forum Changes
A report on the hacking community

Good or bad, that is the question. These changes might give the rom hacking forum a nice new look, but lets think about it a bit more, it used to be four sub-forums, but then the scrapbox was added, now their is another. I'm getting the feeling that the forum is becoming crowded. It looks a bit messy now, due for a cleanup. But first, lets get into the positives of this new change.

Most types of threads now have somewhere specifically to be put, whereas before it was a bit confusing. You also have the advantage of knowing where to go to find a certain hack, unlike before, you cant tell the difference between a hack that has a playable beta and alot of progress and a newbie hack. The other good thing about this is the whole forum isn't as random as before, adding to the point of threads going where they should.

But then of course, there are things that do not compliment the changes, as I mentioned before, things got a bit confusing and messy, I couldn't find a hack from before. The whole hack forum still needs a bit of a tidy up, the only way that could happen though is by a complete refreshment of the forum, but that wont happen. The forum now looks jam packed aswell, too many sub-forums are making it look a bit bad. But you do have to face bad things for good things to happen.

But hacking is moving in a forward direction, it may not happen quickly, but overtime everything will have a nice noticeable change. I don't want to disagree with the changes, but I don't really want to agree aswell.

I'm deeply sorry if the article wasn't up to everyones expectations, but right now there is not much else I can report on.

Visual - Signing out.
Article by Visual



Beginner's Corner
Tips for new hackers

Flags. Something that not many newbies seem to understand... In fact, most people don't understand them. So, today I will be telling you all about them. I'll go into as much detail as possible. So here we go...

#org @Main
lock
faceplayer
givepokemon 25 5 1 0 0 0
msgbox @Message1
boxset 6
release
end

#org @Message1
= Here's a Pikachu.

Ok, that's a simple GivePokemon script. But wait... It keeps doing it. How do we stop that? Simple answer: Flags.

#org @Main
lock
faceplayer
checkflag 0xA0A
if B_True goto @AlreadyDone

givepokemon 25 5 1 0 0 0
msgbox @Message1
boxset 6
release
end

#org @AlreadyDone
msgbox @Message2
boxset 6
release
end

#org @Message1
= Here's a Pikachu.

#org @Message2
= I already gave you one[.]

Right. Now it checks to see if it's already been done, however we still haven't set the flag. Thus haven't told the game we only want it done once. And to do that we do...

#org @Main
lock
faceplayer
checkflag 0xA0A
if B_True goto @AlreadyDone
givepokemon 25 5 1 0 0 0
msgbox @Message1
boxset 6
setflag 0xA0A
release
end

#org @AlreadyDone
msgbox @Message2
boxset 6
release
end

#org @Message1
= Here's a Pikachu.

#org @Message2
= I already gave you one[.]

And that's it. Of course the flag doesn't have to be 0xA0A. And be sure to use a different flag for every script. Anything between 0x1 and 0xA000 are usable flags. Also, remember, some flags are used by the game, so it's best to to use something above 0x850.

I hope you all understand flags now. ^^
Article by Darthatron



Question of the Week
Same question, different opinions

How much time do you dedicate to hacking a week?

Darthatron says:
“Well, it can vary by a lot depending on my mood. But I can spend anywhere between 5 hours, and 100 hours hacking. In the school holidays it's less, because my friends are all free to do stuff. And if I really get into something it can be an astronomical amount of time... Anyway, my answer is: "Too much."”

TB Pro! says:
“For me, it depends on the week, and what is going on at the current time. If I have nothing going on at the current time, I like to spend roughly 90 hours a week. If I have something going on I may only spend 50 hours hacking. I usually only spend about 20 hours a week on my hack, though. I prefer to work on other hack-realated projects most of the time.”

megiddo says:
“IT varies, but usually at least 3 days a week.
It depends on if I'm in the mood or not. I work on my hack some and do other hacking things some.”
Compiled by Thrace



Interview
An in-depth chat with...
Spoiler:
<Darthatron> So, the famous creator of Shiny Gold, the undisputed most loved hack, ever... What got you into hacking?
<Zel> Ahhh... How many times I've told the story?
<Zel> there were a few hacks being created, but I was more interested in making my own, so I downloaded a few tools and...
<Zel> that's the first time in Pokecommunity, but I never created an account,
<Zel> I was a leech, you can say.
<Zel> So, after failing with that first GBC hack attempt (in which you could go from Kanto to Johto), I returned to RPG Maker, then I got interested in creating a Pokemon-like game for RPGM, but then I found a post in some forum which said that Pokemon hacks were better, that made me mad so I decided to try a rom hack again and I got Baro's Quartz,
<Zel> It was good, so I researched again, and found Pokecommunity once again ,
<Zel> this time, GBA hacking was getting developed, and out of the hacks available, I got a liking to GSC remakes, and that's when I decided to officially become a rom hacker.
<Darthatron> Interesting.
<Darthatron> ROM Hacking has improved alot since you first saw it.
<Zel> It's only natural.
<Darthatron> Indeed.
<Darthatron> Your hack is definately loved by many, but do you sometimes feel that it can be a bad thing?
<Zel> I really cant do anything about that. I'm conscious that there'll be always people on both sides, liking and hating what I do. That's why I remain calm about the bad effects of doing something popular
<Darthatron> Indeed. But having people not like you can be a good thing. If everyone loved you, life would be no fun.
<Zel> It's not like I pay a lot of attention to both sides, anyway >.<
<Zel> As long as I'm happy with what I'm doing...
<Darthatron> True.
<Darthatron> When you first posted Shiny Gold on PC you suggested that you would try to do everything by yourself. Have you had much help?
<Zel> Most of the help comes from the graphical aspects of the game, since it's not an area I'm very good with. And lately I'm getting musical help.
<Zel> Not to mention the help from Mastermind_X, which is always very helpful.
<Zel> They cover areas that I dont think I'll ever learn to cover on my own.
<Darthatron> Indeed. Graphics is definately something you need to be naturally good at. But ASM, and the music, aspects can be mastered with hard work.
<Zel> Yeah, but I lack musical talent -_-
<Darthatron> Me too.
<Darthatron> Well, enough about SG. More about you.
<Darthatron> What do you think of the members of the Hacking Community at the moment?
<Darthatron> And the Community in general.
<Zel> Let's see... Except for a reduced number of people, the rom hackers seem to be struggling at the time of being able to progress with their rom hacks for a long period of time. I think they need more perseverance, or, more planning before actually starting a hack.
<Zel> The community in general, not like I've been around that often, but I guess we have a lot of new hackers coming, they need to learn a few things from the older ones, and the community will start to get a lot of good hacks once again.
<Darthatron> Indeed.
<Darthatron> What do you think on the newer people who have no idea what Hex is, and have no will to learn about it? Do you frown upon them?
<Zel> Each person is free to take rom hacking as they want. It's not like you cant do a good hack without hex, but it will certainly make you a better rom hacker if you were to expand your knowledge about all the aspects of hacking
<Darthatron> Right.
<Darthatron> What do you think the most important aspect in a hack is? (Maps, Graphics, Scripts, a good story)
<Zel> ...Everything? O.o
<Zel> Alright, I think that scripting (a scripter saying scripting is the most important, how obvious) because it is what makes a whole new game, with new events. An interesting story with good scripts to implement it is my definition of a "good hack".
<Darthatron> I couldn't agree more.
<Darthatron> Would you like to recommend a hack?
<Zel> I guess all the hacks I've been liking were already recommended, so I'll just recommend you to play every hack, no matter the platform. But I guess that nobody can skip Prism and Marble, because I think they are made by guys who really take rom hacking to another level.
<Darthatron> Well, I think that's it, then.
<Carlos> You should skip Shiny Gold, it's made by a pathetic guy...
<Zel> You stay away from my interview!!!

Interview by Darthatron


Tips and Tricks
A cool new trick that you may not have known about

So, last week we learned how to edit the moves that the Move Tutor's can teach. And this week will be a continuation on that. Today I'm going to tell you how to edit which Pokemon can learn which moves from the Move Tutor's. =)

Fire Red English - &H459B7E
Leaf Green English - &H459B9E

So open up whatever offset you want in a Hex Editor and you should see this: [ 0000 9A40 9A40 9A40 FF60 FF60 FF60 FD40 ... ]

These are the "Binary Switches" which tell the game which Pokemon can learn what moves. So... First things first, get value #1 (9A40) which is Bulbasuar, and flip the Bytes.

So now it should be 409A.

Next, open up Window Calculator. (Make sure it's in Scientific Mode) and then click the "Hex" option button. Then, put in our next flipped bytes. (409A)

Then, we need to click the "Bin" option button. Now, you should get the binary value of that hex number, which is: 100 0000 1001 1010

Right... Now, these values are kind of like flags (in scripting). They can either be 1 (On) or 0 (Off). So, what we want to do is work backwards starting from the far right, and make a list of what the values all mean.

0 = Off
1 = On
0 = Off
1 = On
1 = On
0 = Off
0 = Off
1 = On
0 = Off
0 = Off
0 = Off
0 = Off
0 = Off
0 = Off
1 = On

Get it? Good. Because I can't explain it any better... Now, you might be wondering why we had to make the list backwards... This is because the list of moves is read backwards by the game. (Substite first, Mega Punch last.)

So, simply put this is what all those values mean...

0 = Mega Punch can't be learnt.
1 = Swords Dance can be learnt.
0 = Mega Kick can't be learnt.
1 = Body Slam can be learnt.
1 = Double-Edge can be learnt.
0 = Counter can't be learnt.
0 = Seismic Toss can't be learnt.
1 = Mimic can be learnt.
0 = Metronome can't be learnt.
0 = Softboiled can't be learnt.
0 = Dream Eater can't be learnt.
0 = ThunderWave can't be learnt.
0 = Explosion can't be learnt.
0 = Rock Slide can't be learnt.
1 = Substitue can be learnt.

And that's it, do the same for every other pokemon, and then you're done. =D Have fun haxxing.
Tip donated by Darthatron


Closing Notes
Some house keeping

Hope you guys enjoyed that, I know it was missing some stuff but hopefully it was a decent size. That article by Visual was supposed to be in the newsletter 3 weeks ago. Somehow it just disappeared from my PM box.

So as always keep your comments coming in. Make sure you vote in HotY as well!
Closing by Thrace
CSS design and graphics by Thrace. Ask for permission if you want to use them!
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