Re: [stella] An Alternative Distro Method For ROM Hacks (Patches)

Subject: Re: [stella] An Alternative Distro Method For ROM Hacks (Patches)
From: Rob <kudla@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Wed, 11 Dec 2002 18:12:59 -0500
On Wednesday 11 December 2002 16:27, Christopher Tumber wrote:
> I'm thinking a patch utility program and then a series of patches, propably
> using a simple scripting language. The upside is that there would be no

This was actually how I originally distributed the Space Invaders hack I did 
which you recently made obsolete.  (Thank you, by the way!  Looking forward 
to getting that one on a cartridge.)  I just wrote a little perl script that 
looked for an existing Space Invaders .bin, applied my changes from a patch 
file (basically a list of comma separated byte values) and saved it under a 
new name.  After lots of people from rgvc chided me for doing that (mainly 
because no one wanted to install perl just to patch a ROM) I gave in and 
started distributing my hacks the conventional way.  Later I thought about 
doing such a thing in VB since it's pretty trivial, but the need didn't seem 
too great.

Someone else made a hack on an Odyssey2 game like this (I forget the original 
game but the hack was known as "J.G.Munchkin", and no, it wasn't a KC hack) 
but they did it in QBasic which would be pretty hard to come by nowadays. :)

I'm not actually convinced the legal exposure is too much less if you 
distribute a patch alone as opposed to a patched binary.  Someone could 
certainly argue your patch was a derivative work since it's useless without 
the thing you're patching.  Maybe it would protect you from the Infogrames 
and Activisions of the world and maybe it wouldn't, but I kinda think person 
A trying to sue person B over person B's infringing use of person A's already 
legally questionable use of person C's copyrighted material shouldn't keep 
the person B's of the world awake at night, if you get my non-lawyerly drift. 

I'm sorry to hear this whole situation has happened.  My experience with Randy 
was entirely neutral (I bought a copy of my own Pac-Man hack from him at full 
price just to have one back in '99, and never asked for royalties on my hacks 
or demos, but got him to sell me the cartridges blank so I wouldn't have to 
look at Tiki Guy.)  All I know is now we have one less place to get our 
not-worth-selling-as-a-product demos and stuff made into cartridges.  I'd 
been thinking of buying a new copy of my Boing demo since the one someone 
graciously burned for me (pictured on my web page) is a version that rolls my 
TV, but now I won't be able to do that in the foreseeable future.  It was 
appropriate for Randy's "interesting demos" page but not for something as 
professional as AtariAge's store.

The scene might be more active than it has been in the past, but it's not like 
it's such a big business that people need to be thinking about exclusive 
deals and stuff like that.  Even the occasional talk of NDA's on this list 
and elsewhere makes me roll my eyes.  (Like someone's really going to steal 
your idea to make yet another portable Atari that plugs into a TV and plays a 
dozen not-quite-perfect games for 20 bucks.  Those things are ending up in 
the clearance bin almost the week they arrive anyway.)  For me, it's nothing 
more or less than the fulfillment of my wishes circa age 12 or so.  We're 
talking a market size of less than 500, a pool far too small for sharks to 
swim in.  I'd just been getting over my last little dose of reality from a 
couple years ago when all this hit.  So from a 12-year-old perspective, some 
of the unpleasantness I hear about lately would rate a big clump of sugar in 
someone's gas tank :P


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