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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 5:28 pm 
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howfie wrote:
"Why am I sitting here finding offsets in some hex file and dumping its contents to a file, for which any CS201 student can do?"


Well, as for me, the simple answer is because I like it. I like digging in those hex numbers, decoding them, and then seeing the magic of putting audio, textures and models back changed and the game working totally different. Of course it can be boring if you just unpack archives, but even this is never the same, every other time it's something different. Also, this is really the thing that "the new blood" people could learn.

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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:18 pm 
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howfie wrote:
I don't really post any tools anymore because I've seriously gotten bored of the "find vertex buffer," "find index buffer," "find bind pose matrices," etc. routine. After a while it gets really boring and then you ask yourself, "Why are you wasting your life away like this?" I think even Chris has gotten bored too. Don't you have a PhD in Biochemistry or something like that Mr. Mouse? Don't you ask yourself when you make those MexScript (or MultiEx or whatever it's called) Youtube tutorial videos on extracting data from archives, "Why am I doing this simple shit when I have a PhD?"


I understand your sentiment. Of course there are many times I think: "Oh I can do that. I could fire up OllyDbg to take a look at the executable, or Hex Workshop, to figure stuff out." and then don't because I just don't feel like it anymore, or just don't have the time. I did the YouTube things to teach others, and granted, I like doing it, because I have this compulse file format analysis disorder. ;-) But I can't be bothered with creating another tool, just the time that it would take, I just say no.

howfie wrote:
So the site needs some new blood, some new people every once in a while, and the forum really hurt itself with the donation paywall and the mass deletion of links (which also deleted some tools too). Also, the removal of Noesis, for which Rich used to come here often enough to give people good advice.


Just to be clear, Rich himself offered to remove Noesis because of some issues we were having, but if anything, Rich is more than welcome to upload it back today. Those issues have been resolved. I just don't think Rich will put much effort in it. But that he needs to answer himself, I cannot speak for him. He is a mod here though. :)

howfie wrote:
Also, the loss of Luigi too maybe could have been handled better and in a more friendly way as well. Well, a lot has happened here the last year or two, and I'm not sure how the site could be made back to the way it was 4 or 5 years ago, but I'd start with getting Rich and Luigi back on the site he he he.


As said, Rich is still here, Noesis is not hosted, that is all. As for Luigi, there was a different view on the way forward, but that does not mean I disrespect him or hold any grudge. He has done a great job on QuickBMS and all the scripts he writes is just amazing. He was never banned, and he still has his account here. I would welcome his return, but again, that is not up to me.

But I agree that we may need some new management. ;-)

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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:52 pm 
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Saratje wrote:
Perhaps reaching out for a greater amount of media attention. Game file research is controversial, in a way you are breaking into files which for a reason are encrypted, but controversy is also a great way to get heared. I think that many modding communities which are desperately trying to mod a game would greatly prosper from knowing better that this forum is out there. If you can, in example, have your forum connected to some breakthroughs in a game with a big title, say Grand Theft Auto or a difficult-to-mod MMORPG, the internet will not only flock to this forum, but you'll have a strong position for financing aid, reaching out to potential modders and even media coverage when need be.

This.

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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:43 am 
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Guess I can post something from the POV of someone that mainly uses tools, gives thanks for tools I use, report issues with said tools and not much else. I do check the forums every day or so to see if anything new has popped up and have noticed a decline in new stuff although I assumed that the new consoles and figuring out how to extract from them played a role in the decline.

Getting new people to work on tools, scripts, etc seems to be a bit of an issue. Seems the same handful of people (who do fantastic work btw) are the only ones putting out new stuff. There are obviously plenty of people out there that know about game extraction and modding but for whatever reason don't post here. Not sure if it's that they don't know about Xentax, just don't want to post here, or simply prefer to stick to forums dedicated to something specific to their interests (e.g. Facepunch or the Resident Evil modding forum).

I wouldn't mind learning how to create tools and scripts but it would be a rather long process as I'd be starting from scratch. Hell, I've been fooling around with XNALara model conversions for a couple years now and still only kinda grasp how everything works, nevermind how the tools/scripts I use do what they do. On that same line of thought, I also don't want to post in threads where people are discussing extracting stuff from games as I don't really understand a lot of what they're saying. It can be intimidating and I'd rather just wait for the end result and say "thanks for the work".

If hosting costs are an issue, put up a donation button and I'm sure you'll get folks chipping in to keep the lights on. I'm also okay with giving something more than "thank you" to the people that put in time and effort creating the tools I use although I understand there are issues with that. If you're losing the desire to run the place then I hope someone else is willing and able to take over. If not, nobody can fault you for moving on from something you're no longer passionate about.

TL;DR that rambling nonsense: I'm not an active member around here as far as posting goes but I certainly appreciate the work that goes into the tools and scripts posted here and would hate to see Xentax go away.


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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 2:30 am 
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I've only recently registered here since hearing that registrations were opened to the public, so my general opinion of the board hasn't quite formed fully as of yet. This being my first post (Hello!), I've had plans to make a few other topics and see about getting assistance with a few projects I've put on some other sites. However, it's mostly time constraints and other personal issues that have prevented me from doing so.

The community here all-around seems to be very friendly and inclusive upon first glance, so I'm hoping that I'll have a positive experience here. I'm probably really unaware of the complete happenings of this community, however, it seems that Xentax is a fairly useful site in many regards, considering the vast amount of people here and the talents they bring with them, so having such a powerful resource is great. It would definitely be a shame were it to disappear.


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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 3:41 am 
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Yeah, I just removed Noesis to help with bandwidth. It wasn't a political thing. I still come here and check up on things once every week or six.

I've mostly lost interest in Noesis because the code is so unsalvageable, and because work is eating more and more of my soul these days. Granted, a lot of the people that use Noesis are awful, but it was never a project motivated by users or user feedback. I'll probably do something interesting next time I have some professional down time, that's usually when I gravitate back to it.

I'd like to start a movement here to leverage all of the talent in this community, and I randomly have ideas about what kinds of projects could be reasonably accomplished, but I consider myself useless in that regard for as long as my mind is devoted to slavery. I think having a life (whether that's a good thing or not) is usually the problem.


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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:18 am 
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Oh, and as for the suggestions to go after more media attention, you should remember that this is a double edged sword. Getting too big can result in getting shut down very easily. Of course, the tendency we have to work "behind the scenes" leads to a lot of others stealing credit and glory and so on, but it's also allowed things to go about in a relatively C&D-free manner. If Xentax became the hub for modding some AAA game that the publisher doesn't want modded, especially given where the server is located, it would probably be a short-lived happiness.

I think there's probably a happy medium there, but it requires care to be taken by all involved in a given project.


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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:31 am 
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MrAdults wrote:
I'd like to start a movement here to leverage all of the talent in this community, and I randomly have ideas about what kinds of projects could be reasonably accomplished, but I consider myself useless in that regard for as long as my mind is devoted to slavery. I think having a life (whether that's a good thing or not) is usually the problem.


Yes, I would be in favor of Rich's movement to start projects to leverage the talent here, similar to what we did in the past, but better. Examples include the modding of games to include Dutch politicians right before the elections, Noesis itself, QuickBMS, Ikskoks' tools ,EA Graphics Tools, Beyond: Two Souls port and what not (see the Tools Blog for other software examples blog ). And we haven't even begun to list all the user made tools there.

It need to be projects people will support and be able to dedicate time to complete. Also, it would help if we had a place to see the results of efforts. If people just come in here for a quick fix and nobody sees the results of the analysis, it all seems bland and futile for those who helped out.

Judging from the interim results of the poll questions (with a low show-up of around 200 voters so far, I must add, but still enough to get a rough glimpse of how the community feels) only 1 in 5 members visit here daily, and about 50% visit at least weekly. That's not that bad, I would say. Two thirds of our voters are 30 years or younger, with the majority of those in their late teens or early twenties, so there is young spirit as well. What is also obvious however is that 50% is here just to download tools and/or read information, but say they hardly post. And then 12% help out others mainly, while 14% is just here to get help. Finally a quarter of the voters say they both help others, as well as ask for help. Since 200 voters do not represent the total number of users, I do believe this number of 50% may be an underestimation. Nevertheless, it is what it is. The activity apparently comes from a smaller core of the community.

Things have to be innovated though, or improved at least. Such as the forum backbone (phpBB can go) and integrated CMS. Also, we should take heed of copyrights as we reach out to media, like Rich said, we can get shut down easily if we do stuff that will hurt.

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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:46 am 
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Last edited by zaykho on Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 4:10 pm 
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zaykho wrote:
a simple remake of PSO take years because of some obscure format lying around


That's because it's like science: the problem may be solved in a week, or you can waste all your life on it and never succeed.


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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:42 pm 
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one of the first posts here said this place is like an oasis in a desert. i could not agree more - the knowledgebase here is fantastic and some of the contributions and discussion here are really impressive. as a forum, this aspect of sharing needs more attention over complete releases, which as other posts mention are much harder to come by and a legal grey area.

i would love to see xentax as a hub for research engineering feats - regardless of their progress. unfortunately i feel some of theinformation isn't very accessable. the tools blog is a great idea, but the wiki feels unreliable - i would love to amend details on the wiki but put off on the stability of it.

i have limited knowledge of forum software, but i would like to see highlighted user content - either old forum posts (beyond port) or obsecure tools which could use some attention. maybe a news aggregate site like hacker news : news.ycombinator.com

8)

i would be very sad to see it close after 26 years - but would be happy to help carve out its future !

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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 11:39 pm 
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Last edited by zaykho on Thu Dec 29, 2016 11:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 6:43 pm 
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To sustain the forum an actual management team should be in place.

1. PR person should keep track of the things happening at the forum and reach out/be in contact with other communities to showcase our community
2. An internal journalist/newsposter should post on the Facebook page and some news page of the website about the latest cool findings/stuff to constantly make sure we have output/exposure
3. Preset projects should be found that are actually finished by teams
4. The forum should be updated both in code and layout, and managed by two dedicated admins, backed by a few moderators.
Also, the forum should include a CMS to list tools and other important things to highlight, so this can be found easily by everyone out there (like I attempted to do with the Tools Blog, where every member has the right to post his or her tool, but in reality totally relied on just a few that did so, and me that posted most of the stuff).
5. Contests/Awards could be designed to celebrate our members


The financial situation of the forum is not an issue. A dedicated management team to take it to the next level is what is lacking. That's the time constraint of the current management.

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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:38 am 
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So does anyone think they are up to it and take over the lead ?

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 Post subject: Re: The future of the forum: Ideas, suggestions and general.
PostPosted: Sat Aug 15, 2015 8:36 pm 
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Always cynical as I am, I'd wager that anyone willing to take over in present state would do a terrible job. In order to get someone fully qualified and motivated to manage a community and/or forum like this, they need some significant ego-driven or finance-driven incentive. We have some regulars and some decent talent across a few different areas, but it's probably not enough to drive anyone at a goal for more than a week before they go back to being disenfranchised.

Now that I've shat all over things here, I should say that we'd probably not have a tough time finding people if we hit a few projects over popular gaming media sequentially. It's largely about persistent draw and not so much those one-off "LOOK AT THIS COOL HACK" stories that are so popular and leave their subjects in the dust after a week. Sequential popular projects on the other hand would be enough to draw in a big pool of permanent-ish community members, and lead to a surge in narcissists looking to help out in ways that don't require years of programming experience. And such narcissists are typically the reason for perceived popularity and success, as they comprise that very same gaming media. Then we could all masturbate all over ourselves happily ever after.

That's my sadly accurate take on it. Whether the joys of mild e-fame and masturbation are truly worth it in the end is up to the community as a whole. You gain some things and lose some things, and it has a tendency to push some of the base talent pool away while drawing others in.



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