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How does one 'hack' into ROMs?

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Apologies if this isn't the right place to ask this. But I was curious, after checking out [url=http://www.videosift.com/video/Super-Mario-World-has-a-Rube-Goldberg-Level]this[/url] video, it kinda ignited an interest in learning how to hack into a game and mess around with the code. I'd like to know what software/knowledge I would need to hack into say, pretty much any SNES/Genesis game. Thanks in advance. :)

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not too sure of the legalities / forum rules about this but i dont think its something that your gonna get too much of a response about

but you would need to reverse engineer it and edit it in very low level code, although saying that it may be worth googling for apps that can edit specific elements of games, dont think youll get much response here

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I believe you don't hack ROMs as such, but what gets loaded or is stored in RAM.

Another way is to do it in an emulator, where you can change ROM contents arbitrarily.

There's boards dedicated to this type of topics, so finding those would be your best bet. I don't know any off-hand.

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If you are interested in learning how to do it yourself, there's a lot of reference docs here.

You actually don't need to know anything about rom hacking to make something like that, there are level editors for a lot of the more popular games.

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Hmmm, I remember seeing a thread like this where someone posted something similar, and they're rating dropped to like zero Lol (maybe not zero, but I can't remember completely). Be careful, hacking into games isn't a very good topic for a Game Development community. Especially with the topic of ROMs. You very well could be asking someone on this forum that has developed a game for SNES how to hack into it...

Just a word of caution.

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You should see if you can get the source code for a SNES emulator. You need the understand the SNES architecture. An emulator is not illegal or so I've heard but ROM files are illegal for sure. I assume people who have made emulators are so familiar with the low level workings that they can do whatever tricks they wants, even modify the ROM file or create a fresh one.

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Quote:
Original post by cemedias
Hmmm, I remember seeing a thread like this where someone posted something similar, and they're rating dropped to like zero Lol (maybe not zero, but I can't remember completely). Be careful, hacking into games isn't a very good topic for a Game Development community. Especially with the topic of ROMs. You very well could be asking someone on this forum that has developed a game for SNES how to hack into it...

Just a word of caution.


Modders are part of the community, and they are hacking the original game to pieces. There's a lot to be learned from reverse engineering and hacking in general.

For example, knowing how games are cracked is very helpful when designing an effective anti-cracking system, or which there are a handful of success stories.

Understanding how resources look after they've been deployed allows you to improve your packaging.

And when it comes to network gameplay... Most severly underestimate, or completely misunderstand how smart the bad guys are, and how easily they'll circumvent your protocols, or even reverse engineer internal server functions.

But there's black hat and white hat. And understanding the difference between the two is vital.

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Quote:
Original post by Antheus
Quote:
Original post by cemedias
Hmmm, I remember seeing a thread like this where someone posted something similar, and they're rating dropped to like zero Lol (maybe not zero, but I can't remember completely). Be careful, hacking into games isn't a very good topic for a Game Development community. Especially with the topic of ROMs. You very well could be asking someone on this forum that has developed a game for SNES how to hack into it...

Just a word of caution.


Modders are part of the community, and they are hacking the original game to pieces. There's a lot to be learned from reverse engineering and hacking in general.

For example, knowing how games are cracked is very helpful when designing an effective anti-cracking system, or which there are a handful of success stories.

Understanding how resources look after they've been deployed allows you to improve your packaging.

And when it comes to network gameplay... Most severly underestimate, or completely misunderstand how smart the bad guys are, and how easily they'll circumvent your protocols, or even reverse engineer internal server functions.

But there's black hat and white hat. And understanding the difference between the two is vital.


Don't get me wrong, I understand this. I didn't mean to make it sound like I was against it. I just wanted to note (depending on the circumstances) it could be illegal to even download the ROMS (depending on the ROM I think) let alone modify the code for it. I'm not against doing it for learning purposes, I was just giving a note of caution towards it.

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I believe ROMs are no different from any other form of software. Just as it is illegal to download a commercial game it is also illegal to download a ROM image. That is unless the software/image is released under some form of licence allowing it.

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Quote:
Original post by instinKt
I believe ROMs are no different from any other form of software. Just as it is illegal to download a commercial game it is also illegal to download a ROM image. That is unless the software/image is released under some form of licence allowing it.


Things get really tricky here.

There's basic licenses, such as EULAs, either explicit or implied. Those are least problematic if used for personal purposes.

But then there's other set of laws covering intellectual property in general, and in combination with DMCA it results in some very nasty and very convoluted legalese.

A rule of a thumb for these things is: Do whatever you want in your home. But never give this to anyone else, in whole or in part. Even then, there are laws that, if they could be enforced, would make just about everyone who has touched any digital component an international criminal.

But key thing is: never distribute anything. In any way, shape or form, in part or whole, unless you're in possession of a written, legally authorized permission to do so, including the exact means of distribution.

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There are plenty of editors available for ROM hacking/modding on a specific game-to-game basis. Even with these editors, though, it's quite a lot of work.

Here are some links:

Lunar Magic - a great editor for Super Mario World. Basically a level editor. You might be able to change graphics with it, but I'm not sure-- there are bound to be editors specifically for changing graphics, though, if that's what you're looking for.

Zophar's Domain Modding section - Zophar's Domain has a good collection here, for various systems and various games. Level editors, graphics editors, etc.

RomHacking.net - a site devoted to ROM hacking.

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Thanks for the responses gentlemen. :)

And yes, I'm not planning on distributing modified games or nothing. I thought this topic would be okay since I was just curious about the tech side of things.

Also, how would you go about extracting say, a sprite from one game and just putting it in another?

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Quote:
Original post by instinKt
I believe ROMs are no different from any other form of software. Just as it is illegal to download a commercial game it is also illegal to download a ROM image. That is unless the software/image is released under some form of licence allowing it.


There are plenty of free ROM images avaliable for the NES and SNES, most of them are demos used to test emulators.

http://www.nes-emulator.com/free_nes_roms.htm
for NES roms (mostly demos, some small PD games)

http://www.emucamp.com/demoroms/
For various consoles. (the SNES isn't there yet)

(Sorry , couldn't find any good SNES resources)

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Quote:
Original post by Hellmaster
Thanks for the responses gentlemen. :)

And yes, I'm not planning on distributing modified games or nothing. I thought this topic would be okay since I was just curious about the tech side of things.

Also, how would you go about extracting say, a sprite from one game and just putting it in another?


I'm not sure how you extract graphics (look for a graphics editing tool on that Zophar's Domain link I posted), but on the topic of distribution of mods, I think there may be a legal way to do it. It may be legal to distribute a patch for the ROM in .ips format. Then someone downloads the ROM elsewhere, downloads your patch from your website, and uses a program like Lunar Magic to apply the patch to the ROM. I think this is legal, because I see that many websites have no problem hosting the patches (like RomHacking.net), even though they refuse to host the ROMs.

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The legalities of Reverse Engineering are different per country or region.

In the United States and UK, Reverse Engineering is perfectly legal in most circumstances. Contact a lawyer or other legal council for the specific exceptions to the above statement.

With that said, Reverse Engineering is a great way to learn something through observation. And, while GDNet typically frowns on piracy (as it robs us poor developers of hard earned cash), there is generally speaking nothing wrong with Hacking(tm) or Reverse Engineering, so long as it's done legally and with good intentions.

Note: This does not include developing your own ROMs, emulators, or pirated copies of commercially available games so that others can play for free. This is BAD. Creating an emulator or ROM for a commercially available game will likely get you banned from GDNet.

Cheers!

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This topic is 3743 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

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