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Main - ROM Hacking - SUPER MARIO ADVANCE 4 - Hacking & Editor Efforts New thread | New reply

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KP9000
Posted on 08-04-09 10:38 PM (rev. 2 of 08-04-09 10:44 PM) Link | Quote | ID: 112047


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The discussion came up in IRC...
<Kawa> Eh, I'm serious. Give me the docs and a copy of the game, and I'd see what I can come up with.
<Kawa> I'd need relevant pointers and a clear description of the level format.
Sorry Kawa, can't help you with the ROM, bro. I might go searching for some level data... however, Treeki seems to be way ahead of me here.

But it looks like we have a coder willing to give it a shot. So, if there are any documents floating out there describing the format and pointers, link them here!

Edit:
Posted by Raccoon Sam
(un)conceivable.
I don't think it means what you think it means.

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Treeki
Posted on 08-04-09 10:57 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112054


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I'd be willing to help with making an editor, as well. Not sure who would be better though - me or Kawa.


I haven't really got that far yet though; trying to find the level data has got me majorly stuck.

I had an idea which failed horribly - in the old SMA4 thread, DJ Bouche sent a PM to sludge/User 2427 with a lot of data about the game.
I found a thread here (in General Chat) where chungy posted a download for the AcmlmBoard archive databases; I thought I could find the PM there, but it turns out that it only has archives 2 and 3 (not 1). So much for spending hours on downloading that.

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Raccoon Sam
Posted on 08-04-09 11:53 PM (rev. 2 of 08-04-09 11:57 PM) Link | Quote | ID: 112076


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I'm not sure if we should make a new thread or hi-jack this one and make it a huge ass data repository. Nonetheless, upon some screwing around I came across a few useful offsets. The hacking.. IT BEGINS.

0x1242E4 - pointers to overworld tilemaps. Four bytes each, 9 pointers in total.

Also KP: ffffuuuu you're right. I've used that for god knows how long under the impression it's the same as visually graspable / distinguishable. Thanks for pointing that out. Also I'm Finnish so I have a lousy excuse too B)


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Treeki
Posted on 08-04-09 11:59 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112078


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Also, to add onto RS's info, there are no paths. NO PATHS.

Movement works solely based on tiles. You can completely redraw the map and Mario can still move around fine. How's that for simplicity?

(Why didn't Nintendo do that for other games as well..)

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Raccoon Sam
Posted on 08-05-09 12:04 AM Link | Quote | ID: 112079


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Posted by Treeki
(Why didn't Nintendo do that for other games as well..)

~ damn right!

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MathOnNapkins
Posted on 08-05-09 12:11 AM Link | Quote | ID: 112080


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Posted by Treeki
Movement works solely based on tiles. You can completely redraw the map and Mario can still move around fine. How's that for simplicity?

(Why didn't Nintendo do that for other games as well..)


Most tile based Nintendo games did do that, as far as I'm aware. Or do you mean there is a set of tile attributes that are independent of the graphical display?

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14159
Posted on 08-05-09 05:06 AM (rev. 2 of 08-05-09 08:52 PM) Link | Quote | ID: 112088


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Ok, huge message below. I'm glad to see there is finally a revival in SMA4 hacking! I used to lurk around the rom hacking boards, manly for this game, and feel exactly as the thread creator does about the untapped potential in this game.

I used to go as captain Qball, but now I registered as 14159 to match my youtube. Those are my videos, adn they are done purely by hex editing. I am enrolled in computer science in the fall, and hoping that will help me get enough knowledge to develop an editor for SMA4. In the mean time, I will share as much knowledge as I can.

When I first began trying to find things for this game, I was told that "DJ Bouche" had worked a lot on this and had developed some workings for the e-levels, such as how to encode and level format. He seems to have disappeared from the scene, and I asked him on a message board (as well as through a blog I found searching the web) if he could share any info, but never heard back. He seemed willing in the message board thread, but never replied.

I know a guy named sludge had an enemy list (I will include a more complete one below), and I believe he is the one that created the SMA4 map editor, which was designed to have level support in it, but was never finished. I have a copy on my computer, and can email to anyone interested. It allows you to adjust sprites, tiles, and pointers for the world map.

Lastly there was a list of addresses provided years ago on acmlm by someone called purplebridge001 contains all the IDs for the level addresses.

There is a Youtube user (SMAHacker) that has done some palette editing, and other work, but he doesn't speak english very well, so I never really got a whole lot of information from him. He seemed willing to share information, but I haven't had a whole lot of time in the last 6-8 months for much.

To my knowledge, this is all that has existed of SMA4 hacking aside from this thread, and a guy named caitsith2 who made the japanese dot codes work on american ereaders (not hacking per se, but involved with the headers of the dot codes). Partially relevant if you would ever want to design levels on the computer, then print out a dot code for it and scan it in.

Ok, now onto the knowledge. I apologize, I don't really upload things, so I'm just going to put it all in this thread and hope that's ok.

First here is a summary document I started putting together for all teh requests on Youtube. I emailed some of this to a couple people about a year ago when they had requested it.

(Notes edited into this file for thread readability)

copyRIGHThunter
Posted on 08-05-09 05:21 AM (rev. 2 of 08-05-09 09:00 PM) Link | Quote | ID: 112089


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AMAZING! I'm so happy to see everyone's interest! It's amazing - I'm even seeing 14159 here now!! I'm getting excited.

I was browsing through all of the new activity and I think I saw someone ask for the ROM. I'm almost 100% sure that I cannot post a copy of the ROM, but I can make your search easier. I think that this is okay to say (please correct me if I'm wrong).



Plug this into Google exactly as I have it typed below....


edited out


...and you'll get what you're looking for.

____________________



era64
Posted on 08-05-09 11:57 AM (rev. 2 of 08-05-09 12:05 PM) Link | Quote | ID: 112095


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Posted by copyRIGHThunter
AMAZING! I'm so happy to see everyone's interest! It's amazing - I'm even seeing 14159 here now!! I'm getting excited.

I was browsing through all of the new activity and I think I saw someone ask for the ROM. I'm almost 100% sure that I cannot post a copy of the ROM, but I can make your search easier. I think that this is okay to say (please correct me if I'm wrong).



Plug this into Google exactly as I have it typed below....


--- OH, ROM HINT ---


...and you'll get what you're looking for.


Not as legal as you think. Sorry. But this is BIG hint to find the ROM. Here are many romsites (Such as this). In any case do not give ROMs. However you can do PMs with commercional ROMs. Sorry. Also, to not bump... i played level 14. This level is both vertical and horizontal, so... it's interesing...

Also... maybe editing of SMA4 will be feature of MushROMs. SMA4 level format is very similar to SMAS format. Hmmm....

Raccoon Sam
Posted on 08-05-09 01:58 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112098


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Posted by 14159
Stuff

:O
Truly amazing. I applaud you.
Glad to see this evolve into a group effort.. Thank you so much; this helps a lot.

Also, I propose we use the GBA ROM ID 1212, also known as Super Mario Advance 4 (U). It's MD5 checksum is 4e5fde12dbd0441150a9c177e545f56f

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Kawa
Posted on 08-05-09 06:22 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112102


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That's a lot of info 14159 dumped there, and I just plonked it all in a text file for later studying.

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Treeki
Posted on 08-05-09 08:09 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112106


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So this level format is fucking insane.


Custom level format y/n?


(Yes, it's possible.)

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MathOnNapkins
Posted on 08-05-09 08:17 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112107


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What's so insane about it?

Don't get me wrong, though. If a format impedes editability, I'm all for changing it.

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Kawa
Posted on 08-05-09 08:19 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112108


CHIKKN NI A BAAZZKIT!!!
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Is this about the 4/5 byte object distinction? If so, and the list you mentioned on IRC does exist (which I think is likely), I don't see a reason to do it.

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Treeki
Posted on 08-05-09 08:35 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112109


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Posted by MathOnNapkins
What's so insane about it?

Don't get me wrong, though. If a format impedes editability, I'm all for changing it.

I could easily create a tile-based format with the info I have.

The current format is limited, makes it very easy to crash the game or cause random glitches (at least from my experimentations) and just a pain (seeing as objects can be either 4 or 5 bytes). Don't forget stuff like object sets which makes it even more confusing to edit and display.

I've been messing around with the level data and crashed the game so many times just by changing bytes, which shouldn't happen IMO. Even simple things like placing a panel block (like the ones in 1-1) above an empty area will either cause the game to crash or cause tile glitches. I think that existed in SMB3 NES too. It's unreasonable that something like resizing an object or using the wrong ID should be able to totally ruin your level.

Stuff like this might be acceptable on the NES with all the hardware limitations (space etc) but I don't see why we should have to put up with it on the GBA. Even LM lets you display Map16 tiles directly.

Basically, what I'm proposing would remove the "object" system and allow you to modify the level tilemap directly. While you wouldn't be able to modify existing levels, it would allow a lot of possibilities for custom levels. You wouldn't be restricted to the default object arrangements in the game (like bushes) or any other limits.

Besides, when the standard level format is loaded, it's converted to a tilemap in RAM - so it doesn't make much difference.

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Kawa
Posted on 08-05-09 08:42 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112112


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Though that does take away all the challenge of writing an object-based map editor, you bring up some good points.

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Treeki
Posted on 08-05-09 08:45 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112114


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Posted by Kawa
Though that does take away all the challenge of writing an object-based map editor, you bring up some good points.

You can make an object-based one if you want. Sure, it'd be a good challenge, and it might work pretty well once it's done - but our goal here is to hack SMA4, no matter how we get there. Even if it involves ASM hacking and redoing a fundamental part of the game's engine, at this point it seems like it might work better to take a path like this.

But I'm rambling now. I should probably start working on it.

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KP9000
Posted on 08-05-09 09:06 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112117


Boomboom

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Posted by Treeki
you wouldn't be able to modify existing levels
Posted by Treeki
Besides, when the standard level format is loaded, it's converted to a tilemap in RAM - so it doesn't make much difference.
Well, couldn't you convert original levels to tilemap in the editor using a similar method the ROM uses to convert it to tilemap in GBA RAM in the first place?

Some people might prefer the old-fashioned way of editing SMB3... but that preference is nonsense if the only reason for this is familiarity. I'd choose functionality over familiarity any day when it comes to this kind of thing.

Not only that though, it has the potential to become a SMW killer when you talk about the features that this particular SMB3 engine has and when you talk about turning the system into a tilemap based one. This leads to custom tiles, then later down the road, custom blocks, sprites, sounds/music, etc...

IMHO, It's just a better system altogether.

On a side note, the e-reader levels exhibit some properties that seem to have even more potential that all levels should have. One of them has a height almost as tall as the level is wide. This interests the shit out of me. They also seem to handle pointers in a more efficient way; having several doors and pipes on one screen would be a huge help.

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Kawa
Posted on 08-05-09 09:09 PM Link | Quote | ID: 112118


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I think it'd be easier to just dump the memory contents from VBA and import those.

You could have the editor, say, detect an object-based level. Then it could spout some basic howto and offer a text field to load the memory dump back in.

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Treeki
Posted on 08-06-09 03:04 AM Link | Quote | ID: 112140


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Hey 14159, got any idea what object sets each level uses? I've figured out that changing the GFX value (HH) in the level header changes the graphics the game loads into VRAM (01 for 1-1, 13 for 1-2) but it doesn't affect the behaviour of each tile, and the graphics which they use.

I've been working on the custom level format. I've got it working pretty nicely (although right now it loads the same level data for all levels - I'll fix that later)

I need to figure out a way to convert the original levels to my format easily. The best thing about this format is that you can design pretty much anything with the tiles - you don't have SMB3's object or space restrictions. Once my editor is done, it should take care of level pointers and such by itself.

I really want to make the editor as accurate as possible which is also another reason why I wanted to do my own format - more flexible, easier to hack, less technical problems, easier to edit - seems like a win-win situation to me. Because of this, I'm going as far as replicating some aspects of the GBA hardware (like the way SMA4 loads graphics into VRAM) - it might seem pointless but I'm a perfectionist. Also, don't you just want to see glitched sprites the exact same way they'll show up ingame?

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Main - ROM Hacking - SUPER MARIO ADVANCE 4 - Hacking & Editor Efforts New thread | New reply

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