SubDrag

February 15th, 2010
Viper187: Obvious question first: You're known for not only hacking the piss out of Goldeneye, but also for making a ROM editor in collaboration with others. Why the Bond obsession?

SubDrag: I've hacked a lot of games in the past for N64, like Turok 2 and Banjo Kazooie, but for whatever reason, Bond just was the best, and not just the best, but by far the best to both play and hack. There was also a ton of work done by the community, so I had a large start.  The engine's just incredible, and it always keeps my interest. Guess I just realllllly like the game.


Viper187: What is your favorite code/hack that you hacked?

SubDrag: One of my favorites, although it seems more trivial now, was the cut-scene chooser for GE.  The Banjo-Kazooie sandcastle cheats were very exciting at the time as well.  I think my favorite to play around was the GE image mod, but I wasn't the first to make that.


Viper187: What is your favorite code/hack of all time?

SubDrag: My favorite hack of all time was the one that let more GoldenEye levels be played in multiplayer.  It's such a random, incredible hack, I was excited for weeks back then, and tried many random codes to get the other levels to load.  I still have that gem memorized, 8032332A.


Viper187: Who would you say influenced you the most in the video game hacking scene? Who did you 'look up to' when you first entered the scene? (doesn't have to be the same person for both)

SubDrag: I would have to say Ice Mario at the time was the "mentor", he really was/still is the best hacker.  We worked on a lot of codes/late nights working on stuff.  In terms of influence, probably the same.  Wreck and Zoinkity really stepped up for GoldenEye though, they really are the reason we've taken it so far.


Viper187: What was your first hack?

SubDrag: My first hack, beyond copying the GS video to get infinite ammo, was to get rid of Lakitu in Mario Kart 64.  I always thought that was a pretty fantastic way to get in.  I remember posting it on GSCentral and didn't think it got enough attention really.  I think it later helped in the Mario Kart multis in grand prix stages, but not sure they used that one.


Viper187: What do you think is the most difficult type of code/hack to hack, and why?

SubDrag: It's sort of a different ballgame than when we first started, since you really have got breakpointing, disassembling, but I still maintain the image mod is the holy grail of hacking.  It's not easy usually, and takes a ton of work.  That was my goal for every game, look for beta objects in it.  Still a couple games don't think I ever got a true one, like Turok 2.


Viper187: What is your favorite type of code/hack?

SubDrag: My favorite are ones that expose beta stuff, beta levels, beta objects, beta text, that's pretty much the best.  Assembly hacks are most powerful, but they really aren't the most fun, too precise. Also, all those GE codes that were people randomly changing addresses, nowadays you'll never see that kind of stuff.  Green explosions, giant guards, headless, weird animations, those were the days. I really like to see how the stuff worked and what was leftover, and working within the original engine to do things that weren't intended.  It's pretty satisfying realizing how the game organized things, and then modifying what was done to be something new, but all within the original programming.


Viper187: What is your least favorite aspect of hacking?

SubDrag: Hacking out, breakpointing complicated things like compression and how a game does rotation are pure hell.  I've lost DAYS to both of them.  Also when a game crashes a lot in the old days it was very painful, but not as much an issue with save states and emulators.


Viper187: What do you dislike most about the hacking scene?

SubDrag: The worst part was always people getting mad or acting stupid.  We really went far and had some great talent, but for some reason, hackers seemed to have egos/conflicts too much, which took away from hacking and always really annoyed me.  It's all about the codes! I was always sad when GSCentral broke up.  That was a great time.


Viper187: Which game did you find the most fun to hack, and why?

SubDrag: GoldenEye is and always will be my favorite.  It's the best engine, most leftovers, and such fun.


Viper187: Was there a game that was just the most evil piece of programming you ever had the unfortunate luck to hack codes for?

SubDrag: I'm sure there were, just not thinking of one right now.  I tried for an ocarina of time image mod for a long time but never got it, though others did later.  The OoT crashing (until they fixed it later with EE0000000 0000) made for some exciting hacks when I got it working once (navi color mod), but was so frustrating.  I can't think of anything offhand, just compression/rotation in any game are nightmares.


Viper187: Do you have any specific hacking techniques or peculiarities?

SubDrag: I had a technique for image mods, which was basically hack a size mod, then poke around nearby, and always follow pointers.  I don't believe I've ever failed to hack a size mod for a game, my specialty.  I also had particular methods for different codes, knowing when to do 8-bit, when 16-bit, etc, and checking for pointers, etc, guessing what would be a pointer, what wouldn't.  There's more too.


Viper187: Did you ever hack an awesome code, or find an address in memory that would've yielded an awesome code, but then lost it somehow?

SubDrag: One of my greatest codes I ever made let me control the horse in Ocarina of time, not Epona, I had it on another horse.  But it crashed before I could write it down.  One of my ones I didn't lose, but thought I did, using PC connection parallel port to gameshark, I tried to hack instant warp for BK64. Was down to about 5 codes, turned them all on, and game froze.  I was annoyed because was a while hacking in, but happened to turn off codes, then suddenly I reappeared in game.  Apparently just kept trying to warp and got lucky there.


Viper187: What was the most difficult, 'hair-pulling' hack you've ever accomplished?

SubDrag: If we're ignoring the entire "GoldenEye Setup Editor" and clipping C++ code for it, it's been too long, I just can't remember. There were some though that tested the limits.  I think the worst is when your shark breaks, which always happens, or you can't boot and you were so close to the code.


Viper187: Was there ever a code you just couldn't get to work quite correctly?

SubDrag: I never got the OoT image mod and always wanted it.  JFG I never got a non-ASM image mod but wanted it.  Same with Turok 2, except never got it.  Some have definitely eluded me over the years. It's rare, but it happens.


Viper187: Aside from hacking and gaming, how do you like to spend your time?

SubDrag: That's a large portion, but I also like to watch movies and tv shows, eat out, go walking I guess.  Not as much stuff as I'd like really, wish I had more time.


Viper187: What do you think must happen for the video game hacking scene to continue to thrive?

SubDrag: It pretty much fell apart when sharking was no longer easy and mainstream, and people stopped hacking (always wished that didn't happen).  We all tried on GameCube, but it was too hard and wasn't easily accessible, and the games really crashed a lot when hacking and such a pain to restart, not as fast as 64.  I maintain hacking died (or was last great) with the N64.  It seemed to make a comeback with DS and GBA, due to almost mainstream again, but those games just aren't as good or fun to hack, and with the DMCA in place, I'd love to see XBox 360 games like EDF hacked, and would love to, but unless it's accessible, legit, and without mod chips, the good ol' days are long dead.


Viper187: One last question: if you had one thing to say to current, aspiring, and future hackers, what would it be?

SubDrag: Really, just do what you enjoy.  I loved my time hacking, really loved it, waking up and posting/reading new codes on the forums.  They were great days, met a lot of good people.  To hack you just need passion for it and some smarts.  The rest you'll learn through others and through a lot of work on your own.