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darkwolf

Hacking or Pseudo Hacking?

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I was thinking about the progression of game "hacking" the other day. Came up with a debatable and not at all conclusive list...

1. Using bugs or glitches that exist within the game (Mario backwards wall walking through walls)*

2. Using Commercial game genie or built in cheats (Game geine)*

3. Emulator or state machine that gives you limited control over game state (Emulators)

4. Ini or configuration editing (Indirect game code modifying)

5. Hex editing save files (Directly modifying low level game code)

6. Programing your own 3rd party trainers, cheat systems, or mods (Hacker /dramatic_pose)

*While 1 is more impressive to pull off, it only uses the existing game system while 2 starts to modify the intended system

A recent example that came to mind... X-Com enemy unknown. It was quickly realized that one of the ini files had a lot of settings that could effect game play. Character stats, resource cost, game balancing type info; including a lot of stuff that had only been partially implemented or not enabled for the game (UFO interception, Second wave settings). But simply editing and saving the ini file was not enough to propagate those changes. The exe had its own copy of the ini it was using, so the actual file you could see was just a copy of it and would not effect gameplay.

Then somebody else on the x-com nexus site not only figured out how to unpack the exe and then repack it with a modified ini file; they created a program that would automatically do that for other people. So other people could make the simple text ini gameplay changes they want, and then run that guys program to put the changes into the game by rebuilding the executable.

That guy was Awesome.

I wanna be that guy.

Which is why the game Hack and Slash Excites me. And why I want it to teach me how to be that guy.

So it makes me wonder when hearing about the development of the game; whether it actually aspires to teach/introduce you how to do that kind of hacking, or if it will focus on 'emulated' hacking tools within the game system itself?

* Will it teach me or ask of me to write code within the game?

* Will it give you a template, or tutorial you through writing our own trainer that will run outside the main exe of the game?

* Will the Hack in Hack 'n' Slash get past depth 4 in the list of game hacking progression?

* And how far into the game will we have to go before we item get the aim bot power? (Rapid shots 10 octorok's in 0.4 seconds with the sling shot [sling shot also running flashlight mod])

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I remember creating my own Pro Action Replay codes for Super Nintendo games back in the day. Not true "hacking" but somewhere in between on your list.

It almost became a game in and of itself to me to try to figure out all the things that are controlled by variables in the game and figure out what kind of crazy stuff I could do. I remember because the Mega Man games had underwater parts with lower gravity that gravity was variable, so I'd make it so you could jump 10 screens high, and float down slowly. In Megaman and Bass I made a multi-part code that would disable the fire rate limit and one that would make Mega Man shoot one fully charged fireball per frame, so that the screen would just fill with like 100 fireballs and send the game into a slow motion state. Removing the limit on double-jumping was a favorite of mine in a lot of games, so you could just keep jumping and fly around the stage.

Really, I think I was much more awesome at it than the people who wrote Game Genie books. Those were the days. Games now are probably too complex for that kind of memory scan and compare technique to be very powerful.

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Nah, it's still pretty applicable actually. I've had my share of fun editing values and injecting code into modern games with Cheat Engine, and the workflow is generally searching for a variable by value and changing the value (by gameplay) until you resolve its location.

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@darkwolf: I haven't seen any puzzles they're adding to the project, but I really doubt it'll have anything like real advanced hacking. I expect it might teach you how variables work and what kind of variables objects in a game might have, but I doubt there's anything more substantial to learn. It would be a mistake for them to go super hardcore as that would make it really inaccessible, like having to inject assembly code into memory as part of a puzzle.

If you wanna learn some basics when it comes modifying how games behave, I'd recommend checking out Cheat Engine which Magos linked to. It includes a friendly tutorial which teaches you how to do some things. Just be mindful what games you try it on. Many online games have security measures which will throw you out of the game the second it detects anything out of the ordinary, and I wouldn't be surprised if some games will outright ban you.

Edit: After watching the most recent documentary episode, it looks like they're doing far more advanced hacking than I expected. Going as far as being able to actually crash the game isn't something I expected!

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