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saxman

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<forumuser name="saxman" /> saxman is a long-time veteran of the Sonic community. He has been around since 1996, which goes all the way back to the days when Rat.Org was heavily active on the Web.

Contents

History

Beginnings

saxman started his first Sonic the Hedgehog website in 1997 and called it "Sega-Master's Sonic the Hedgehog Page". It usually ranked 3/5 by most linking sites. The page focused around having everything Sonic, from pictures and MIDI files, to fan games and cheats.

saxman's friend SSNTails introduced him to emulation by sending the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ROM file via ICQ. It was the first time saxman ever knew playing Sega Genesis games on a PC was possible. Simon Wai was not known in the community yet, and the Sonic 2 Beta ROM hadn't seen the light of day.

ROM Hacking

In 1998 when Tom Sonic publicly released information on how to modify a Genecyst savestate to access Hidden Palace Zone, saxman started to take interest in it. Realizing that hacking could be taken further, saxman began poking around savestates to see what else he could figure out. He discovered the act and lives bytes soon after, and this prompted him to began taking notes. saxman jotted everything on a sheet of paper. He also became curious about the ROM and began randomly changing information in it to see what would happen. As he did this, he jotted down more findings. This sheet of paper was mailed to SSNTails and was the precursor to what was about to become the Sonic 2 Hacking Guide.

In late 1998, saxman typed his notes on his brand new IBM computer and sent them to Simon Wai so they could be uploaded to his Sonic 2 beta page. As luck would have it, Andy Wolan was looking at Simon's page and offered him hosting on the newly created Sonic Stuff Research Group (SSRG) website. Andy e-mailed saxman separately about hosting. saxman agreed, and within an hour of Simon's page first showing up on SSRG, the Sonic 2 Hacking Guide appeared in a new HTML format saxman had put together.

The popularity of the Sonic 2 Hacking Guide didn't come immediately. It took many weeks before people around the Sonic community started to take a serious look at the findings saxman had been hammering out almost daily. It could be argued that saxman's level editing information was what made interest from other people begin to spike. saxman would soon make other breakthroughs such as documenting how to modify text, mappings of the player sprites, color palettes, and how to port Hidden Palace Zone from Sonic 2 beta over to a savestate from the commercial Sonic 2 ROM. He released a couple hacks of his own such as a brand new Sonic 2 level called Coastal Valley. saxman and his website became widely known across the community for the new innovation never before seen in the community.

SonED

saxman posted a message on his website requesting interested programmers write software to modify levels using his notes. Eventually Stealth e-mailed saxman about writing the software. Stealth began working on a program called SonED (spelled with a lowercase 'D' at the time). Stealth sent version 0.003 of the editor to saxman to test. saxman was pleased with the work, but a misunderstanding between Stealth and saxman started to surface. saxman wanted an editor written for him, whereas Stealth wanted to write the program under his own vision. This led to some disagreements between them, and so they parted ways.

Maintainer Madness

In late 1999, saxman became the maintainer of SSRG alongside Andy Wolan, ROM hacking had become a big deal in a previously small segment of the Sonic community, and other Sonic hacking pages were beginning to appear, all ending with "hacking guide". Cyan Helkaraxe had released his hacking notes for the original Sonic the Hedgehog (16-bit). Andy Wolan suggested that Cyan and saxman combine their pages, both of which were on SSRG. The Sonic 1 Hacking Guide and the notes on Cyan's website together became Sonic 1 Hacking Documents.

As ROM hacking information began emerging more rapidly, saxman decided it was an opportunity to launch his own website outside SSRG. So through a deal with Andy, sonichacking.org was registered and on January 1, 2001, saxman launched a brand new website simply called Sonic Hacking Community (SHaC). The website became an enormous success, though nowhere near the success of it's bigger brother SSRG. SHaC's purpose was to focus centrally on hacking. saxman also used it as a personal homepage and uploaded some home-recorded music.

saxman left SSRG around 2002, and disagreements between him and Andy ended in saxman moving SHaC to the Sonic CulT server. The URL changed to shacnet.com.

Saxlight!

It was also around this time the Saxlight emerged. It was a concept thought up by Ultima. The idea was to say "Saxlight!" in the title of a post to grab then-active Sonic ROM researcher saxman's attention. An image of a yellow circle with a saxophone in the middle was created by saxman to be used along with the text. Overtime, the term evolved to be used to signal help from other hackers. Although rarely seen anymore, it was heavily used at one time.

Music Hacking

As many new hackers emerged as strong players in the scene such as Nemesis and Esrael, a lot of attention was shifting towards data compression and reverse engineering game code and away from many of the areas saxman had pushed for early in his ROM hacking research. saxman saw a lack of interest in music hacking and began doing extensive research on it. The research resulted in a new program called Sonic QX, released on December 23, 2003. A second release with several bug fixes was released just three days later.

Soon after the release of Sonic QX, hosting for SHaC and Sonic CulT was cut off. This was the end of SHaC, and from here saxman took time away from hacking. saxman joined the SWS2B forums in 2004, became a member of Fans United for SatAM in 2005, and spent much of his time conversing more with people and hacking far less.

Projects

There have been many projects that saxman has been involved with over the years. Here are some of them:

Sonic QX

From early 2003 to mid-2004, Sonic QX was being developed in IMSI Multimedia Fusion to allow music in Sonic 2 to be modified. The last public version was build 15.

ProSonic

On December 15, 2005, Sonique asked saxman for help in writing a game engine for a game she wanted to create. Although reluctant at first, saxman gave it a try. He discovered potential in programming he never knew he had, and from here ProSonic was born. saxman started a blog in 2006 and made about half his posts about the new engine he was doing.

After some rewrites and taking time off from the project for a while, ProSonic finally made a demo release on August 22, 2008. The release had mixed reviews, but nevertheless proved the project had potential to be something people would use.

A second public release was released for Mac OS X on July 25, 2009.

K-E: The Kid Chameleon Editor

K-E was started when saxman began hacking the Kid Chameleon ROM in search of level data. He collected enough notes to allow levels to be exported and modified.

The last public release of K-E was on February 10, 2010.

DOOM 32X WAD Converter

Also known as WAD32X for it's filename, it is a tool that allows WAD data to be ripped from the DOOM 32X ROM and converted to a format readable by all popular DOOM WAD utilities. The tool also allows the WAD to be imported back into the ROM, allowing maps and graphics to be modified in the process.

The last public release was version 1.10.

CHEESE!

This is a utility that can display maps from the James Pond 3 ROM for Sega Genesis. It was created as a test program to ensure saxman's hacking notes for this game were accurate.

Sonic 2 HD

As a staffed programmer for the project, saxman has assisted in writing the EditHD level editor as well as writing the game's sound engine, known as SonicAmp.

EditHD allows levels and mappings to be modified through a innovative user-friendly interface. It is built off of the FLOW level editing system.

SonicAmp is essentially a digital signal processor that works with VGM, VGZ, GYM, OGG, and WAV files to incorporate volume, compression, pitch shifting, time scaling, and panning controls. The engine will process each sound and mix it to the master where it can then be sent to the sound card.

Sonic 2 R3

saxman uploaded revision 03 of Sonic 2 on December 2, 2014. Nobody knows for certain where it came from, and saxman isn't saying. Could it be a trojan horse of some sort for something else? Nobody is certain, although a hex editor can sometimes give us clues.

Computers

saxman has been using many computers over the years. Here is a list of them:

Gateway 2000 P5-133XL (January 1996) (Given away)

  • Pentium - 133MHz
  • 16MB RAM
  • 2GB hard disk
  • 6X CD-ROM
  • 3.5" floppy
  • Windows 95

IBM Aptiva (December 1998)

  • Pentium II - 400MHz
  • 224MB SDRAM
  • 30GB hard disk
  • CD/DVD-ROM
  • 3.5" floppy
  • Windows 98 SE

Dell Latitude CPi (2005?) (Defunct)

  • Pentium II - 300MHz
  • 128MB RAM
  • 4GB hard disk
  • CD/DVD-ROM
  • Windows ME

Dell Dimension 3100 (April 2006)

  • Pentium 4HT - 2.8GHz
  • 1.25GB DDR2 RAM
  • 500GB hard disk
  • CD/DVD burner
  • Windows XP SP3

HP Pavilion dv6-2173cl (April 2010)

  • Core i3 - 2.13GHz
  • 4GB DDR3 RAM
  • 500GB hard disk
  • CD/DVD burner
  • Windows 7 64-bit

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