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I need the expertise of someone experienced with 2600 sound programming for a romhack to edit/replace existing sound. (I'll pay you, too!)


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Hello once again AtariAge community!

 

I'll cut to the chase. I have this romhack of Custer's Revenge that has been in "development hell" for almost 20 years. Here's the elevator pitch: I replaced the human characters with anthropomorphic alligators to make it furry themed. It's a stupid ass idea and I just can't leave well enough alone and this year I am committed to finishing this thing and releasing it as a physical cartridge.

 

The good news: The game is pretty much done. All of the graphics and everything have been completely redrawn and the game is fully playable (the BIN file is attached if you want to try it out). The bad news: I don't have the skill set to redo the existing audio. I tried at one point and completely botched it. Replacing the default sound is literally the last thing left to do.

 

Here's where YOU might come in. I need an experienced programmer/hobbyist who can help me replace the audio. Literally anything will work. Make up a fun ditty and drop it in. I assume if you know what you're doing you can probably knock this out in an afternoon. I am willing to pay you like a freelancer to fix this game so I can finally realize this project after nearly two decades of this project never being finished.

 

Serious inquiries for a non-serious game, please. I'm not loaded with cash but I want to do right by whoever helps me with this so we can work it out via PM. :)

 

Thanks! Hopefully I can find talent here as I don't know where else to go for help on this. AtariAge is my first and last resort.

GatorLove-2024.bin

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Project update: I cast a wide net for this romhack project because I'm committed to finishing this and other abandoned projects from my past. A programmer who is fluent in 6502 ASM for the Atari 800 platform saw my post about this game on Mastodon and we're currently chatting back and forth about the steps to take in handling the game audio. At some point long ago I botched the game's original start-up tune while trying my hand at doing the sound myself and while I have no memory of doing this next part apparently I must've zeroed out the code area where the jingle was located because the game is silent upon startup. According to this thread I posted in 2010 I did have the foresight to document everything I was messing around with so perhaps it can be restored!

 

There's always the possibility that things may not pan out between me and this programmer so if you have experience in this field I am still very much interested in hearing from you just in case I cannot come to an agreement with the person from Mastodon.

 

---------------------------------------

 

A side question and this may have been addressed elsewhere in the forums but when the game's ROM is finalized I am planning on having physical cartridges made. In order to help offset the costs of this I am getting an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign ready to pre-sell the game as both a loose cartridge and a boxed "Collector's Edition" that comes with some extra goodies like a lapel pin, iron-on patch, and a keychain. When I am ready to launch this campaign am I allowed to share it here on AtariAge? Or is this against the rules? I know I haven't been active here for a while but this thread was my 1,001st post and I've been here since 2002 (on my first account that I was unable to recover) plus I've successfully published and sold an Atari game here in the past so hopefully there's an established level of trust. :)

 

(Also the Indiegogo is just to raise funds for the physical release. When this game is finished I am 100% going to release the ROM file for free so people can download it and try it out.)

 

Also what's it take to get listed in @ZeroPage Homebrew's thread about this year's homebrew releases? 😆

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2 hours ago, Radio F Software said:

Also what's it take to get listed in @ZeroPage Homebrew's thread about this year's homebrew releases

😆

 

Heya @Radio F Software! I don't keep track of hacks on that list. I'm not sure if someone else tracks hack development but someone might!

 

- James

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On 1/27/2024 at 11:32 PM, ZeroPage Homebrew said:

 

Heya @Radio F Software! I don't keep track of hacks on that list. I'm not sure if someone else tracks hack development but someone might!

 

- James

Thanks for the clarification! Perhaps someday in the future a project of mine can be included in one of your lists.

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Project update: Seems as though the programmer on Mastodon who was interested in the project has moved on as I haven't heard from them in several days. I posted a thread to Reddit's /r/forhire summarizing what needed to be finished on the game and got some interested parties. I've reached out to one of them and I'm waiting to hear back. No confirmation yet. Again, I'm still in the market for a programmer so if there's anyone here on AA who thinks they can take the job I'm still open to people here too. I've confirmed with the freelancer that we are all systems go for finishing the sound design! When the game ROM is 100% complete I am planning on making it available for download for free and my next step will be to start raising funds to have cartridges made!

 

(Sidenote: I also posted a for hire listing to freelancer.com and even paid extra to have it promoted on the front page. Almost immediately I got 8 hits, all from middle eastern accounts where I don't even think the 2600 released in the first place, none of which had anything remotely close to Atari programming in their experience/portfolios, and all of them were fighting for the lowest bid. Many of them just copy/pasted terms from the original job listing in their responses because I noticed I accidentally spelled "asembly" and that typo was copied verbatim in the bids I received. Not a single quality hit, so I don't recommend using that site for anything.)

 

Hiring the programmer is something I was planning on including in the costs and fundraising goal for the Kickstarter preorder campaign but against my better judgment I'm moving forward financing this step on my own anyways. I'm not taking orders yet and I'll post when I am but if you want to help the project out I am raising funds on the side by way of selling replica MissingNo Pokemon TCG cards for $4 each.

 

Looking to the future I am having a difficult time locating artists for the game's packaging and Collector's Edition bonus goodies. If you or someone you know is skilled at drawing anthropomorphic alligator characters (clean, not NSFW) and want to contribute something to this project I am looking for artists for the box/label, art cards, stickers, keychain, and patch. All roles are paid positions.

Edited by Radio F Software
Secured a freelance programmer for the audio.
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Project update: The second freelance programmer I picked out to help me with this game turned out to be a scammer who tried to take my money so now my funds are temporarily tied up in a PayPal dispute. Starting to get real upset. Perhaps I am underestimating the work here but this seems like it should be an open and shut case?

 

In my search for a programmer I posted to AA first because I felt as though with the wealth of knowledge and experience here someone would come forward to take on the project as a quick weekend thing or something. When I didn't get any bites here I posted a job opening to freelancer.com and paid a few dollars extra to get the listing promoted on the site's front page. I've already gone into detail about how badly this panned out. I sought help from Reddit on the r/forhire community and got a few hits and I guess I did a bad job vetting the person I went with since they tried to run off with the money. When I went back to look through the others again I saw that out of the ones who did appear to have activity in relevant places they were all things like Microsoft Certified server administration and other high-level IT fields but zero contributions on anything pertaining to the 2600. I contacted one of the people and he straight up admitted to not knowing anything about development for the 2600 but was hopeful he'd be able to figure it out. So I didn't go with him, obviously. 😕

 

I've spoken to someone from AA in loose detail regarding the audio and they're wary that it might not be possible to just drop in another tune where one previously existed. I know for a fact it's possible to adjust what the audio sounds like (because I previously botched the start-up jingle and blanked out the code to silence it), but I guess beyond that I don't have any quality applicable knowledge on the correct process. The solution here might just be to silence the rest of the existing stock audio because Custer's Revenge is western-themed and that clashes with the new theme of the romhack. I really don't want things to come to that though so I'm still holding out hope that I can get the audio replaced. I'm out of leads on where to find people, though.

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What you need is a full source code disassembly of the ROM to work with.  I myself have done a number of them, as have a few others.  In my case, I was porting 2600 games to the 8-bit computer line.

 

Stella itself will do most of the heavy lifing.  I'll help you begin.  First, load up the ORIGINAL GAME - NOT THE HACK.  And play it extensively.  This allows the built in disassembler in Stella to work better.  Then go into the commandline and type 'savedis'  this will create a disassembly file.

 

Probably you will also want to do a 'diff' between the originsl ROM and the hack to isolate the differences.

 

A skilled programmer would need to go over the results and clean it all up and label routines and branches, code and data, etc.

 

I know how to do all this, but I'm not particularly interested.  Its a lot of tedious work.  There are many others hete also capable of doing the work, but you'll have to find someone with enogh interest to take it on.

 

Offering money is probably not much motivation for the type of programmer you need.  You have to find someone who WANTS to do it...

 

Godd luck.

 

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17 minutes ago, glurk said:

What you need is a full source code disassembly of the ROM to work with.

Wow. That sucks. 🤔

 

I didn't know Stella had a method to create a disassembly of the game on the fly but that's helpful. The issue is I'm pretty certain "diff" is a Linux command and I use Windows. Is "fc" a comparable command in this case?

 

From what you've said it sounds like the work involved in this is something that would exceed my budget of $100. That also might be why no one's offered to touch the project outside of desperate people looking for work and scammers. Sounds like it might just be more cost efficient to mute the audio and release the game as-is.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Still in the market for someone to lend a hand, however if I hit the end of February without finding someone I guess I'll have no choice but to go in and mute the remainder of the audio. I don't really want to do that because I feel it'll cheapen the experience but I can't just leave the western stuff in there since it clashes with the new theme of the game.

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You should do what I said earlier.  I was trying to help...

 

First, load up the ORIGINAL GAME - NOT THE HACK.  And play it extensively.  This allows the built in disassembler in Stella to work better.  Then go into the commandline and type 'savedis'  this will create a disassembly file.

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3 hours ago, glurk said:

You should do what I said earlier.  I was trying to help...

 

First, load up the ORIGINAL GAME - NOT THE HACK.  And play it extensively.  This allows the built in disassembler in Stella to work better.  Then go into the commandline and type 'savedis'  this will create a disassembly file.

Why not do this with the hack instead, though? I don't see how it would change the result, and would save a lot of time.

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He said earlier that he overwrote some of the binary, unsure of what he was modifying, and I really didn't want to try to decipher a corrupted disassembly.  Hopefully once the sprite data areas are identified, swapping them would be trivial.

 

I don't want to sound like I'm promising anything, either...  Especially since he doesn't seem to want to even do the most basic thing to give a programmer something to look at.

 

Edited by glurk
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22 hours ago, glurk said:

I don't want to sound like I'm promising anything, either...  Especially since he doesn't seem to want to even do the most basic thing to give a programmer something to look at.

Nobody's stepped forward to agree to help me with the task. If someone were interested I'd have retrieved the code and sent it to them.

 

Also I asked if this was something specific to Linux operating systems because you mentioned using the "diff" command to sift through the code. I mentioned I am a Windows user and asked if "fc" was a suitable equivalent to diff. No response, not from you or anyone else who might have knowledge on this subject.

 

edit: Here are the savedis assemblies after about 15 minutes of gameplay in each the original game and the WIP hack from the first post of this thread.

 

Custer's Revenge (1982) (Mystique).asm GatorLove-2024.asm

Edited by Radio F Software
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9 minutes ago, Radio F Software said:

Nobody's stepped forward to agree to help me with the task. If someone were interested I'd have retrieved the code and sent it to them.

 

Also I asked if this was something specific to Linux operating systems because you mentioned using the "diff" command to sift through the code. I mentioned I am a Windows user and asked if "fc" was a suitable equivalent to diff. No response, not from you or anyone else who might have knowledge on this subject.

There are windows programs that can show differences between ASCII files.  I like DiffMerge:

 

https://sourcegear.com/diffmerge/

 

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19 minutes ago, littaum said:

There are windows programs that can show differences between ASCII files.  I like DiffMerge:

 

https://sourcegear.com/diffmerge/

 

Thank you, I compared both .ASM files from my previous post and since I don't have a registered version of the software the best I could output was this text format result. The majority of the obvious changes deal with the graphics and things like lines of code that define colors, but there are some differences. A lot of it looks like things I probably wouldn't have touched so maybe I didn't run the games in Stella long enough to get a good read on savedis?

 

(Also I noticed DiffMerge puts some potentially personally identifiable info in the file if you're like me and use your real name in your Windows directories and whatnot so I erased that from this comparison file, since it's downloadable by anyone.)

custergator_filediff.txt

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A quick look at GatorLove-2024.asm shows the two audio routines are located at L36DC (music) and L3847 (sound effects).  The music data starts at 3E00.  It's format appears to be 4 bytes per note:  AUDC, AUDF, AUDV, note length.  The address table for the music data is at L3745.   The 'sound effects' appear to just be descending frequencies of the same tone with varying volumes.

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1 hour ago, splendidnut said:

A quick look at GatorLove-2024.asm shows the two audio routines are located at L36DC (music) and L3847 (sound effects).  The music data starts at 3E00.  It's format appears to be 4 bytes per note:  AUDC, AUDF, AUDV, note length.  The address table for the music data is at L3745.   The 'sound effects' appear to just be descending frequencies of the same tone with varying volumes.

Thank you for the breakdown!

 

There is at least one major difference between Custer and my romhack though and that's where I "blanked" the start-up jingle with a binary visual editor because I accidentally messed it up and I wasn't being smart with making back-ups. I blanked that region of data to "mute" it. Does your analysis of the sound data include my slip up too? :?

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23 minutes ago, splendidnut said:

Comparing the two assembly files, some of the music data is different.   I see the first note in the first music piece (3E00) has a note length of zero, which I'm guessing tells the music routine that it's the end of a song.

Okay, hopefully I didn't inadvertently botch it too badly when I hamfisted my way into muting it. (Long time ago, extremely inexperienced, haha.)

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