Now that school prep is temporarily finished while I wait to hear back on applications, I've thrown myself back into learning Python, which has been a blast. And while it's something I do try to do every day, it doesn't hurt to take breaks every now and then and do something else.

I've decided to use that time to work on silly projects. I say silly because I don't think they're really going to accomplish anything - they're mostly just a chance for me to educate myself about some area of interest. They'll all be fairly game-related, but I fully expect a lot of them will be mostly useless.

For example: ROM Hacking.

I once dabbled with hacking a ROM at a time when we weren't so removed from that generation. I gave up because initial attempts didn't work right, and it seemed like a waste of time. I was still pretty sure it'd be a waste of time, but I wanted to at least see what was involved in such a project, and just how much of a waste of time it would be.

I quickly decided on Super Mario Brothers as my game of choice, namely because it'd be easiest. I already knew there were a number of level editors that would make the level design aspect of hacking this particular ROM pretty simple, and the game itself is fairly basic.

My intentions weren't really to design an elaborate level - I just wanted to figure out how cumbersome it would. A "hello world" was in order! But since the world has never bothered to say hi to me, I opted to do a little dedication to my wife instead.

A little corny I know, but fun. You'll notice the COLURE isn't quite to scale - it's basically spread throughout the entire level, which wasn't my desire. Levels are divided into rooms, which have a set number of objects and enemies. The first room you encounter, for example, has a row of five bricks, 3 question mark boxes (1 with a mushroom), and two enemies. Hacking a ROM image means you're limited to changing what you've got, less than creating per se. I couldn't just stick a ton of blocks in the first few rooms - I was limited to modifying what was there.

I'm not saying you couldn't get elaborately creative in working around that sort of structure - plenty of people have, believe me, and when you can change a pipe to a row of 5 or more bricks, that's no small change. But for me it seems like way more trouble than it's worth. That's basically the thesis statement of this project, by the way.

But we'll talk more about that tomorrow, when I delve into sprites, text, palettes and more!*

*Not actually that much more

Posted by Kevin on 4:11 PM
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