Sonic Stuff Research Group
From Sonic Retro
Revision as of 20:46, 3 December 2019 by Ravenfreak (Updated current/retired staff listings)
Template:Infobox Website The Sonic Stuff Research Group (aka SSRG) has long been considered the birthplace of the Sonic hacking scene. It has changed hands on several occasions.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 Staff
- 4 External Links
The website acts as a portal for the entire SSRG, as well as offering an approved selection of guides and other information from the SSRG userbase through a Submissions system in place on the Forums. Information regarding the website is also available on here.
SSRG strongly sticks with its tradition of not taking too much attention away from its hostees. Projects include the popular Art Archive, Tom's Hacking Station, Sonic Harder, the SMPS Archive and The Shadow Realm.
The SSRG Forums are a place for discussion to take place in regards to ROM modification and of course, general chat. Similar to Sonic Retro's Trial Member system, new members (known as Trialists) have twenty posts to prove themselves to the staff that they are capable members. Once a Trialist has finished up these twenty posts, the user is moved to Limbo where the staff determine if the user should be approved as a Member or rejected to stay in Limbo. Trusted users and good contributors can potentially find themselves being promoted to a Pro User at some point by the staff.
The SSRG's download area where users can download a selection of content such as hacks and utilities, either from submissions made by the SSRG userbase or notable content that should be made available for everyone to access. Also available is content from the SMPS Archive. With the download system in place, members can upload content for downloading on the site, with their entry being looked at by the staff to see whether it merits approval or not.
The SSRG has a popular IRC Channel with many users connecting to #ssrg on a regular basis for some chat.
The site was initially called Sonic Stuff, or Andy's Hacking Station. Formed in the fall of 1996, this site was actually a subsection of Emulation Zone. Over time, it grew in content and contained a modest collection of Sonic the Hedgehog oddities collected by Andy Wolan and Stealth. The most famous were hidden names found in the title screen of Sonic the Hedgehog and the "Lock-On Technology Guide", the scene's first hacking guide.
As the site grew, so did its popularity. In the fall of 1998, Stealth directed Andy to an interesting site maintained by Andre Dirk with screen shots of a beta version of Sonic 2. After some discussion, Andre agreed to join Sonic Stuff. With the increase in personnel, Andy decided to change the site's name to Sonic Stuff Research Group.
Over time, the site was expanded and was joined by many rising stars in the Sonic community, including Jan Abaza, saxman, Simon Wai, and numerous others. The site also won numerous awards, including TSSZ's "Best Sonic Site" Emmy for 1999, 2000 and 2001.
A New Maintainer
Andy needed a helping hand with maintaining SSRG. After several candidates tried for it, saxman was ultimately voted to be the maintainer in September of 1999. Andy and saxman formed a close alliance and made strives to make SSRG one of the most popular sites in the Sonic community. Indeed, SSRG was a dominant player in community research and ROM hacking.
An Uphill Struggle
In 2001, things started to take a turn. After running Emulation Zone for 5 years, Andy felt it was time tor step aside and move on. Initially, Andy wanted to pass control to saxman that summer, but for some reason, saxman was unreachable. Instead, Stealth was named the new successor around September. This decision was questioned by some of the other staffers, who left as a result. In addition, Stealth was involved in numerous arguments on the forums. In 2002, Andy took back control in an attempt to restore order. His intention was to later find a new successor who would not create any new conflicts within the community.
Nevertheless saxman and Stealth, already having had a sketchy working relationship in the past, grew ever more aggressive toward each other. saxman wanted to have his Sonic 2 Hacking Guide and Sonic 3K Hacking Guide both taken off of SSRG so they could be exclusives to his Sonic Hacking Community website. Andy and Stealth both ignored the request, with Stealth claiming they were SSRG's property and refused to take them off. saxman by force using his unrestricted access to the SSRG website took them down himself. Eventually, Andy took down the main page to the Sonic Hacking Community site in retalliation to what Andy felt was an abuse of power. This was ultimately the beginning of the end of SSRG.
The feud went public between saxman and Andy. This hurt Andy's public image and gave way to an unlikely partnership between saxman and PACHUKA, whom had defended his one-time foe. The argument shifted from saxman and Andy, to PACHUKA and Andy. Using slick public appeal to woo people to his side, PACHUKA brought a lot of people against Andy.
The Final Straw
In late 2002 after attempting to get SSRG back on track, Andy decided to give the SSRG to Chaos. Chaos got along much better with PACHUKA than Andy had, and the two were able to form a peace agreement. When Andy heard of this, he came back onto the scene, regained control of the SSRG once more, and banned PACHUKA. However the seemingly endless feud took its toll on Andy, and on January 23, 2003, Andy shut down the SSRG.
In April 2003, the SSRG was revived by JohnnyUK and Ultima on the Shadowsoft Games server. They claimed legitimacy as administrators by virtue of appointment by Chaos. During this time, it hosted a variety of ROM mods, utilities and guides, as well as the current incarnations of Secrets of Sonic the Hedgehog and the Sonic Official Art Archive. Aside from use of the name, content from the original SSRG was used only with permission of the original authors. Andy argued that he reserved all rights to do whatever he wished with the site, even after he had turned over control to Chaos. Eventually, Andy later did transfer official ownership of SSRG, but to former SSRG staffer Striker. In November 2005 the Shadowsoft members of the administrative team relinquished control of the site, in order to concentrate on original gaming projects. Control of the site was passed to OrdosAlpha (the current owner), Striker and StephenUK on its own server.
A New Identity
At a certain point in late 2006, StephenUK and OrdosAlpha decided it was time to give the site a new identity. Many names were proposed, including "Sonic Mod Scene" (which was the name for the website for a small period of time), but the decision was ultimately made to change the name to the Sonic Game Modification Community, or SGMC. This new name branded the site and forums for quite a few months. While many protested this change, it seemed to be for the better, as many people who had avoided the site due to its shaky history had now decided to start frequenting the site, embracing its "new start."
In July 2007, the SGMC went down due to hosting issues, and to make things worse, OrdosAlpha's hard drive, which had the only SGMC backup on it (due to his CD burner not working), died. A fresh message board opened on the 10th of August.
Rebranding: "The Good Ol' Days"
On February 28th, 2008, Qjimbo announced himself as the new website maintainer, showing that the site had been rebranded with the SSRG name (with the forums returning to the SSRG identity later on), and sporting a new website redesign. This was met with mixed views, and particular resistance from Tweaker, who believed this new move was too ambitious and ruining the "calm" feel that the website had, as well as the fact that somebody who had caused drama with their website a year ago was being brought in.
The website's goal was now stated to try and recreate the "Golden Days" of the SSRG as best as possible, sporting websites such as Sonic Basement, Tom's Hacking Station, and hosting ROM hacking projects such as Sonic: Project Chaos, Sonic - The Lost Land, and Sonic 2 Recreation. The new website had several redesigns and featured video tutorials and Hacktube, a YouTube-like section where hacks could be played online via a Java Sega Mega Drive emulator as well as hacking utilities which alongside tutorials, can be submitted via the forums.
The focus of the site was not as as secrets based as the original SSRG was with sites such as Area 51, as the Sonic Basement project is currently on hold. Qjimbo has stated that he intended to go through and rewrite all the Sonic Research Zone, Area 51 and Secrets of Sonic the Hedgehog content in an editorial style for a new website, and is also willing for anyone to volunteer to help with this project.
The recreation of the SSRG has had various issues. The Hacktube service was plagued with problems. It was mostly shown as the "main feature" of the website, which had attracted less-favourable members where hacks of poor quality were posted and there was barely any form of moderation. This was eventually added however the service later had to be taken down due to ceast and desist orders from the owners of the emulators used.
In 2009, Qjimbo - with the persuation of Wetflame, created a forum named the Intercommunity Zone, where members were able to discuss the Sonic community. This forum was mostly used as a way to attack Sonic Retro and its administrators. It was eventually closed due to the amount of controversy that it created.
The forums was also branded as being "self-moderated" for a while but that was also eventually removed due to complaints. The IRC Server also struck controversy due to how it was managed by voice. Eventually, MarkeyJester opened an IRC channel on BadnikNET, which has been very successful, leading to the closure of voice's server.
In 2010, work took place to revamp the SSRG website. Hacktube had been replaced with a Showroom with pages of various user-submitted hacks. The website also featured guides, tutorials and various downloadable content.
In July 2011, the forums were compromised with passwords being stored on the server due to an unknown edit to the board files. With the forums still running Invision Power Board 2.3, a new license key was purchased by OrdosAlpha to upgrade the forums to 3.2 - the latest version at that time. In late September, Qjimbo announced he was stepping down as an administrator, as he was closing down his server which hosted the SSRG. The site was moved to hosting provided by SeanieB.
In January 2012, the website that Qjimbo created for SSRG was closed down to be replaced with a brand new incarnation of the SSRG website that is currently in development. The new site, running off the IPB-integrated products of IP.Content and IP.Downloads, will offer an approved selection of hacks, utilities, guides and much more. This site was made available to the public on May 4th, 2012. SSRG moved to the XenForo forum software in December 2015 due to dissatisfaction of Invision Power Board 4. Currently, SSRG only operates a message board and not a full website; however the IRC Channel still runs alongside a Discord server, which relays messages to each other.
The current staff team for SSRG consists of:
- OrdosAlpha - Owner
- SeanieB - Administrator and Server Host
- Shadow Fire - Administrator
- StephenUK - Administrator
- Spanner - Administrator
- Clownacy - Staff
- Misinko - Staff
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Former staff members of the SSRG, in all incarnations:
Emulation Zone Incarnation
- Andy Wolan
- Nayr T'nargh
- Magus (Chaos)
- Jan Abaza
- Cyan Helkaraxe
- Andre Dirk
- Simon Wai
- Dr. Zachary
- DA Garden
- Digital Xeron
The SSRG Council was a political organization of the SSRG that involved a group of moderators and administrators that voted on various policies and debated issues within the SSC forums.