It is currently Tue Sep 18, 2018 7:52 pm

All times are UTC - 7 hours



Forum rules





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 44 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3
Author Message
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:03 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:28 pm
Posts: 3589
Location: Mountain View, CA
olddb wrote:
1. So it could be said that the most important event for the snes scene to get going was the release of the copiers?

Absolutely. There was no other way at the time for homebrew to be done. Nobody in the scene at that time was making devboards (EPROM/EEPROM-based, etc.) probably due to what I discussed before (re: not a lot of hardware people involved). All you needed was US$350+ for a copier, some floppies (or a parallel cable w/ transfer software (the latter usually came with the copier)), and a 65816 cross-assembler.

olddb wrote:
2. If I understood you correctly, the snes dev/emulation scene came before the nes. So snes emulators where ahead of nes emulators at some point? Is this correct?

Not quite. I would say the time frames was something like this:

1991-1995: SNES homebrew/demo scene through use of copiers; emulation really wasn't being considered
1995-1996: Beginning of emulation consideration -- primarily fuelled by great increases in CPU power (high-end 486s, Pentiums)
1996-1997: Four (4) things began happening simultaneously: SNES emulation, NES emulation, NES homebrew (mainly due to NES emulation), and romhacking (for pretty much any system)

I could be off by a year or so on the time frames. It's hard to be precise because everything was happening so rapidly during the mid-to-late 90s. Tons of things were happening within short periods of time. SNES and NES (for emulation) were getting equal amounts of focus.

Emulation and ROM dumps of games is what basically spawned the following things:

* NES homebrew (through use of emulators, since only people familiar with hardware were able to make their own devboards, and most of those were only NROM (32KB PRG / 8KB CHR))
* NES romhacking efforts (through use of emulators, tools, and cart dumps, since reverse-engineering a game became easier)
* SNES romhacking efforts (through use of emulators, since reverse-engineering a game became easier -- though to be clear, not a lot of SNES emulators had debuggers in those days (I was quite vocal about that being a problem), so disassembly-based reverse engineering was key)

I'm trying to avoid talking about the nesdev scene aspects because this is the SNESdev sub-board, but I'll try to keep it brief:

The nesdev scene was absolutely crazy. There was so much happening non-stop that you practically had to be part of it daily to keep up on it all. One thing that isn't often discussed is how we ended up getting ROM files of NES carts to begin with and who was involved in all of that. Marat Fayzullin's .nes file format wasn't the first file format, believe it or not. This is where folks in Asia come into play -- they were already dumping games somehow, and Japanese emulators like PasoFami used a different model consisting of 2 files: (.prg (PRG mask ROM) and .chr (CHR mask ROM)), and I think .sav or .srm if the game had battery-backed SRAM (I forget). Marat Fayzullin's .nes file format consolidated those into a single file, and added the 16-byte header that was key for handling more than just NROM (mapper 0) cartridges. I'm still not sure who pioneered NES cart dumping, but I know for a fact that DiskDude and MindRape were both involved in the very early days, then Kevtris and some others shortly later. The cart dumping "scene" was something I wasn't part of, so I know very little about it; there are much better people to ask (on the nesdev sub-boards). Once people had ROM files of games, reverse-engineering sometimes became easier, and it (of course) also spawned the romhacking scene.

Like I said before: a LOT of stuff started happening very quickly, all within maybe 1-2 years. It was a crazy time.

olddb wrote:
3. To your knowing, what was the state of the emulation scene for the Sega consoles in the early 90's?

I have little to no idea. Sega-based systems (Master System, Genesis/MD, etc.) weren't systems I owned (I didn't get a Genesis until maybe 1995, and only had a couple games for it -- Super Hydlide and Herzog Zwei, the only 2 games I've cared about). There *was* some Genesis/MD reverse engineering going on in the early-to-mid 90s, because I remember seeing some docs floating around, but they made no sense to me). Any time I see the Genesis/MD discussed somewhere, my brain turns to mush; VDP, PSG, FM with PCM, an integrated Z80, blah blah. To me, it seems like the perfect console to have ports of arcade games. It probably doesn't help that I don't know 68K. :-) Genesis/MD ROMs were available as early as 1993, mainly due to multi-console copiers like the Multi Game Hunter (which did both SNES and Genesis).

For emulation, you'd need to talk to folks like Icer Addis, Steve Snake, the folks who did Genem, KGen, etc. for some history. I simply don't know it.

I've split the next questions into sub-questions (4a, 4b, 4c) to make them easier to answer:

olddb wrote:
4a. Where there any interaction between the community and any official certified snes programmer(s)?

In the very early 90s: maybe? Kinda? Sort of? Not really? It's hard to put into words. This is a question you'd have to ask of every single person in that scene at the time, because I don't know who knew who outside of IRC and the famidev mailing list. So, my below answer is my own:

I personally had interaction with people who *became* official SNES developers (read: working for companies that released official/approved SNES games on cart). I knew them as Apple IIGS folks, who around 1993-1994 or thereabouts got jobs at companies that were producing SNES games (and in one case, also Genesis/MD games, but that fellow is particularly incredible because he's worked on compilers and all sorts of other stuff -- remarkably intelligent). Once they started working at those companies, their interaction with me became virtually nil, probably because of time (work sucks up most people's energy/time) and maybe a little bit had to do with me doing my SNES docs (the less interaction with me the better, re: job safety). This gets into personal matters etc. that I should cover in separate thread/post.

Outside of my own experiences, I would say that yes, there must have been some degree of interaction between select/certain members of the snesdev community and professional SNES programmers in the early 90s. It's been suspected for some time that someone in the scene knew someone who had access to the SNES developers manual, i.e. they knew someone who worked at a game studio. I'm being honest here: I have no idea who those persons were/are. But I also mentioned that I knew some people in the scene who would drop me little "tips" once in a while, like "for register $21xx, try setting bit 4 to 1 and then play with this other register. Good luck!" It was stuff like that which made me wonder if some people had additional knowledge through official documentation or through other people they knew. I never asked them because I felt that would've put them into a difficult position. I hope this makes sense.

olddb wrote:
4b. Did any ever contribute to the documentation?

All of those who contributed to my SNES docs, to my knowledge, *were not* "certified SNES programmers" as you call them. None that I know of worked for any gaming companies. If they did, I didn't know about it. Remember: a lot of people went by monikers, so who they were behind the scenes would always remain a mystery. Some folks were a bit more open once you got to know them, others remained very anonymous. I don't think there's anything odd about that either -- people online today are still this way.

So to answer the question directly: to the best of my knowledge, no.

olddb wrote:
4c. On the other hand, did any member of the scene ever communicated his aspiration to use the documentation to somehow become an official Nintendo developer.

Yes, absolutely! I would even put myself into that same category (hoping that by learning how the SNES worked, it might land me a job at a company doing commercial SNES games). I had several people over the years tell me that they hoped that they could use my docs to (effectively) do some homebrew, and that might get their foot in the door at a company. Most comments like this came from folks in their teens or early 20s.

Did anyone *successfully* do that? Not that I know of. If they did, they never told me. :-)

olddb wrote:
5. In the 90's, did any other game/demo surface that did something similar to what you did with Super Kid Icarus?

Not in the same fashion (doing a "port" or "upgrade" of an existing/old Nintendo game). Most snesdev folks were doing demos (there are tons of those), some did picture slideshows (often of porn), others were just fooling around learning the system for fun. But there *were* some actual homebrew games that came out. Her'es some I have laying around:

- Nuke Your Mom by Paradox, 1994. A Minesweeper clone
- Pacman by RTS, Dizzy, and The Doctor, 1993. A Pacman clone
- Rape Games by Romkids, 1993. This one is... uh, yeah, best just skip it. It was made as a joke at the time (got some laughs/chuckles), but if something like this was made today people would be throwing a fit
- Shoot Your Load by Anthrox, 1994. An Asteroids-like clone that was multiplayer (up to 4 people using the Multitap) -- quite well done
- Tic-Tac-Toe by Tinysoft, 1993. Self-explanatory
- Tic-Tac-Toe by Timsoft, 1994. Nearly identical to the aforementioned game, but a bit more refined, different music, etc..
- What a Chess by CrazyBee, 1994. A 2-player Chinese board game done by a fellow out of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kind of like Go/weiqi, but kind of not. May be the authors own invention

The two tic-tac-toe games are incredibly similar, to the point where it almost looks like the latter might be an early 90s romhack (and improvement) on the former. Or maybe they were done by the same person/group and they changed names, had a falling out, etc.. Don't know. Still homebrew either way.

One thing you'll notice about a lot of these homebrews, aside from ones done by high-end groups, is that they tend to use ripped music from commercial games or other groups, else no audio at all. This is because pretty much nobody really understood the SPC700 at the time. I would go as far as to say understanding the SPC700 was almost a "coveted" thing, i.e. you held a kind of elite status if you do anything with the SPC700. A lot of demos/things would usually include a note like "Looking for musicians!" -- now you know why.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:32 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 2:03 am
Posts: 578
Yeah the SPC700 was a black box.

I've seen "demos" that have everything in the first 32K or maybe 64K and then 5 empty banks, and then the music code they ripped..


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:12 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:07 pm
Posts: 18
Revenant wrote:
There's a bit of discussion about scene/industry overlap (both confirmed and speculated) in this thread. (Sadly, I still haven't found out if my theory about "The Doctor"'s identity was actually correct or not...)


I tried emailing him asking about it, but he didn't reply (some people probably don't want to be connected with "the scene", even after 20 years).

Koitsu wrote:
It's been suspected for some time that someone in the scene knew someone who had access to the SNES developers manual, i.e. they knew someone who worked at a game studio. I'm being honest here: I have no idea who those persons were/are. But I also mentioned that I knew some people in the scene who would drop me little "tips" once in a while, like "for register $21xx, try setting bit 4 to 1 and then play with this other register. Good luck!" It was stuff like that which made me wonder if some people had additional knowledge through official documentation or through other people they knew. I never asked them because I felt that would've put them into a difficult position. I hope this makes sense.


I was looking at textfiles.com for example code when I was getting started (didn't find too much besides Pan's edgelord text demo, found a bit more looking through old "tons of shit downloaded off of BBSes" CD archives), but these guys had a SNES dev manual and seemed pretty open to sharing it (could've been bragging thought, idk).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:04 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:28 pm
Posts: 3589
Location: Mountain View, CA
ndiddy wrote:
I was looking at textfiles.com for example code when I was getting started (didn't find too much besides Pan's edgelord text demo, found a bit more looking through old "tons of shit downloaded off of BBSes" CD archives), but these guys had a SNES dev manual and seemed pretty open to sharing it (could've been bragging thought, idk).

We're back to "let's talk about the time frame" aspect of things again:

That file, which is a BBS forum post, came out in early 1993. The bulk of the reply is written, best I can tell, by Corsair. He's chastising what appears to be another group that released a "how-to" document on starting to code on the SNES, adding that he has a full copy of the SNES developers manual (incl. the portion which includes 65816 CPU documentation (I've seen it)). I think I may have seen this "how-to" document at some point in maybe 1994 or so (I'll try to find it later), because I distinctly recall chuckling that someone else had basically done the same thing I had (re: start with mode 0, text, etc.). Said group had a member (The White Knight) that met "some guy at CEBIT in Germany" and got the manual from that person. The latter part is written by Ram Raider, pushing the fact that (at the time) there was a BBS called The Graveyard where Corsair and Dax both hung out, with a BBS forum dedicated to SNES coding. (Side note: multi-human posts in a single post isn't uncommon even today.)

What's important to know, I think:

- Corsair was from the UK, and was a member of the group Digital (DTL); may have also been in the group named Elite
- Dax was from the UK, and was a member of DTL; may have been in several other groups
- Ram Raider was from Germany, and was a member of DTL; he was what was known as a "modem trader", which means he usually distributed the group's content/files to BBSes all over the place (sometimes "modem trader" can also refer to a person who literally mailed actual modems to group members or colleagues ("hey man i've only got some old 2400bps crap" "wtf! let me send you a USR Courier HST!")
- DTL was a *huge* group (probably 100+ members) with people all over the world
- The Graveyard BBS was in the UK (and shut down in early 1996 due to unrelated scene drama)

Note the commonality: no, not the group -- it's that all of them were in Europe.

Long distance charges, especially internationally, are what induced essentially "social segregation". Some BBSes in the US would dial up boards in the UK or elsewhere, snag/copy stuff from other boards (that text file is one such example), and present them on their own board -- that document/post is one such thing (read: original post was on The Graveyard, but a US BBS called The Hole snagged a copy). But it was expensive. Folks that ran BBSes and did this tended to limit the regularity and duration (ex. once every 3 months, 30 minutes tops). I can't speak for others, but I personally was only able to dial up to some European boards *twice* during the late 80s/very early 90s due to the costs -- and I had to ask my parents in advance. ;-) I racked up more than enough in bills calling people in Canada...

There were some Europeans on the famidev list, but I don't recall too many (if any?) being on #snes back in the early 90s. Most everyone was North American, if I recall correctly.

In other words: we're back to what I discussed about there being all sorts of "independent" efforts going on simultaneously because the Internet wasn't then how it is today (read: commonplace). So Europeans had their own thing going on, just as Japan did, just as we did. There's tons of little "sub-scenes" like that which never overlapped because of communication limitations. The Internet literally revolutionised all of that -- but the BBS-to-Internet transitioning that began in the mid-90s was not done as cleanly as one would like (read: not every BBS started putting their files/etc. up on FTP sites), so a lot of stuff got lost. That's one of many reasons why Jason Scott's textfiles.com exists today -- to try and get all that stuff that's still on floppies or QIC tapes or old MFM hard drives into some place where it can be archived.

Basically sum of it is: early 90s snesdev, any time you'd see a document or file similar to like what you posted here, you'd hold on to it. Speaking personally, if others who knew me saw such a thing on some random BBS etc., they'd usually grab it and say "hey Yoshi check this out". When I was doing stuff, the fact that the colour format of data for $2122 was in BGR rather than RGB was something I had to figure out on my own, for example (doesn't take a genius to figure it out; once you see the visuals it's sorta obvious).

For sake of demonstration: here are some very old SNES docs (and some famidev posts!) that I remember coming across back in the day. But look at the ones with dates of 9X.XX.XX. Those are usually files from BBS era stuff, since very rarely did anyone put dates inside docs (myself included). Note how terse the information is. You'll find the earliest version (that I know of) of the official manual in the file called "SNES Mapping Information", which best I can tell wasn't scanned/OCR'd -- it was done by someone literally typing it in. I imagine this is where some folks got the official register labels/names from (this might address byuu's earlier comment too, re: the labels being crummy).

Then we can get into this whole discussion about BBSes etc... I hope folks are starting to see just how "complex" all of this is/was when you actually sit down and look at what was going on at the time. The demo scenes did a lot more than some people realise. I think some folks (not picking on anyone here!) forget that the Internet then as a technology (and commonplace availability) was not really "there" yet in the very early 90s.

Edit: forgot to finish some of my sentences!


Last edited by koitsu on Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:34 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:23 pm
Posts: 1388
koitsu wrote:
Remember: a lot of people went by monikers, so who they were behind the scenes would always remain a mystery. Some folks were a bit more open once you got to know them, others remained very anonymous. I don't think there's anything odd about that either -- people online today are still this way.


I don't know, that sounds pretty weird to me. If you don't have anything to hide ...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 5:51 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Nov 23, 2004 9:35 pm
Posts: 694
If you want some individuals who have made substantial, recent contributions of a tangible nature who have not been previously mentioned, I would point to the following people :

1. ikari_01 for designing the sd2snes,
2. RedGuy for implementing SuperFX and SA-1 cores on the sd2snes, and
3. Kevtris for designing the Super Nt.

_________________
Nerdly Pleasures - My Vintage Video Game & Computing Blog


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 7:25 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Oct 24, 2017 11:07 pm
Posts: 18
Both the how to code tutorial and accompanying example code are on Textfiles (what I was referring to as "Pan's edgelord text demo" for reasons that become evident if you look at the code).


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:19 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 2:03 am
Posts: 578
byuu wrote:
koitsu wrote:
Remember: a lot of people went by monikers, so who they were behind the scenes would always remain a mystery. Some folks were a bit more open once you got to know them, others remained very anonymous. I don't think there's anything odd about that either -- people online today are still this way.


I don't know, that sounds pretty weird to me. If you don't have anything to hide ...

Well you get cases where the founder of Fairlight is now a a Republican senator in the US.. who would mostly like to keep the past hidden ;)

The Euro scene was very Party based, so lots of info etc could be shared at the parities, seem American's never really had Demo Parties?
I knew a few people who where in the scene, who were also game devs, so they had the manuals, tools etc to make stuff. But I can't give any names. However magazine reviewers where the "enemy" as they were the ones that leaked the games before launch.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:56 am 
Offline

Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:15 am
Posts: 116
Location: Sweden
ndiddy wrote:
Both the how to code tutorial and accompanying example code are on Textfiles (what I was referring to as "Pan's edgelord text demo" for reasons that become evident if you look at the code).

Oh, boy... I had forgotten exactly how despicable Pan was/is. But it serves as proof that the "SFX" documentation were in the hands of the scene at least as early as spring 1993.

On a related note, I just noticed this clip from the recent Datastorm 2018 demo party. At the embedded time stamp I'm discussing how SID Mania came to be with Alfatech (sitting to the right). I've been wanting to make a more official interview with him about the early SNES scene for some time. Maybe next time!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 2:04 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Thu Oct 26, 2017 12:29 pm
Posts: 52
@koitsu: Thank you for your time.

_________________
...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 7:18 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:47 pm
Posts: 420
Location: FL
Optiroc wrote:
On a related note, I just noticed this clip from the recent Datastorm 2018 demo party. At the embedded time stamp I'm discussing how SID Mania came to be with Alfatech (sitting to the right). I've been wanting to make a more official interview with him about the early SNES scene for some time. Maybe next time!

Oh, please do! SIDMania was a big part of how I became interested in both the SNES and C64 scenes, so it would be cool to hear more about both that and the scene in general.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:08 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 19, 2004 9:28 pm
Posts: 3589
Location: Mountain View, CA
Ah yes, Pan's text demo... It got discussed back in the day. I haven't seen that source code in 25 years! The best way to summarise it: it is what it is, just take the technical details out of it (for learning/etc) and ignore the racial/political part. I think most of us ignored that aspect of Pan and just focused on the stuff he did on the SNES. It's about all you can do with folks like that.

So yeah, it seems were folks in Europe in 1993 who had copies of the manual -- and it seems that even then, those that had it all seemed to have different versions (or Frankenstein's monster version, i.e. an amalgamation of multiple versions).

As for demo parties etc. -- no, in the US we didn't really have these. There were certainly small get-togethers amongst friends/peers to watch demos of sorts, but nothing like huge venues and what not. I've technically never been to an "official" demo party. The closest I've gotten was 1) back in 1993 or 1994 (I'm thinking late 1993 or very early 1994) I chatted with someone from Future Crew (I forget how, but Email, Usenet, or IRC would be the main methods) and they invited me to Assembly 94 saying something like "well you can hang out with us!" (they didn't know who I was, it was more of just a polite thing to offer someone), and 2) a party in San Francisco in 1999 with my roommate who was friends with some folks that worked at H2O Entertainment (see: Tetrisphere), where we all discovered we were all old demo nuts, so the last few hours of the party we watched all sorts of old PC demos.

I too would love to hear more about Alfatech, how SIDMania came to be, any information about Geggin, and just generally how Censor got involved doing SNES stuff at all. It might sound trite or silly, but just the fact you got to sit down with someone who did such cool SNES work in the 90s is already incredible to me. People like that always seemed untouchable (think: unreachable), like mysterious individuals in the woodwork doing incredible things.

Edit: typo/clarification.


Last edited by koitsu on Tue Sep 11, 2018 1:19 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2018 12:31 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:47 pm
Posts: 420
Location: FL
I know Alfatech in particular has been active in the C64 scene again lately (I remember he had a compo entry at Datastorm last year also), so it's probably not hard to get in touch with him. I remember he also commented on one of my YouTube uploads some years ago (a video of a Censor intro, naturally)...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2018 8:12 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Feb 07, 2017 2:03 am
Posts: 578
Do any of the names you remember/have in demos match any of the ones listed here https://csdb.dk/group/?id=2310 Censor is a very active group, so while members might be "inactive" people will probably still be able to contact them etc if not Zyron will probably know them still.

Alfatech is a member of Offence now https://csdb.dk/group/?id=387

Geggin is also an active member of Censor, he stopped going to parties in 2013 but it seems he turned up again to a 2018 party https://csdb.dk/scener/?id=551

If you have any specific questions or info about something, drop it here and I will PM them on CSDB, not everybody logs in though, but I can always bounce through another member of the Group.

Jeroen Tel would also be an interesting person to talk about it. Rumors are that he will be coming to a demo party near me next year, so I might be able to grab him in person.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 44 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3

All times are UTC - 7 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google Adsense [Bot] and 5 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group