Finally, you're awake! Let's play. My name is Aurum, I am a programmer and video game hacking enthusiast from Germany. Welcome to my website where you can learn about my games, projects and plans! In my free time, I engage in researching the internal structure of various video games. Using the gathered information, I create my own modifications, hacks and tools. I have always wanted to create my own games and worlds and share them with other people. Once I learned that video game modding is a thing, I was instantly hooked up and here we are!
One of my favorite games of all times is Super Mario Galaxy, a critically acclaimed Mario adventure for the Nintendo Wii. If you have never heard about that game, you have really missed out on something. In 2014, I founded my own extensive SMG2 hacking project called Neo Mario Galaxy and I released the first version in 2017. Nevertheless, I also hack other video games, including Pokémon spin-offs.
I am currently going for Bachelor of Science in Computer Science while also minoring in Business informatics. In 2016, I began programming and worked with a few programming and assembly languages since then. For the longest time I developed my programs in Java and used Python only for some quick data conversion or helper scripts. However, in 2021 I picked Python as my language of choice when developing tools. Especially considering GUIs, PyQT is more accessible and easier to use than Java Swing.
Here is the list of programming and assembly languages that I have worked with over the past years.
You can find me and my work in a bunch of other places as well. I sporadically upload YouTube videos about my projects. On my Github you can find the source code to most of my projects.
Neo Mario Galaxy is the very first big and completed Super Mario Galaxy 2 hack of all time. The year is 2014 when I decided to finally mod one of my favorite games of all time. I watched the trailer for the scrapped SMG2.5 project and I really wanted to help the team out. Unfortunately, I had a lot of trouble dumping the game's files and getting the tools to work. Once I finally got it to work, SMG2.5 was already cancelled... The same year, I joined Kuribo64 which focused on SMG hacking in the old days. As the time passed, I got my first custom levels done. While the level design was not great at all, I wanted to go for something bigger anyway. I wanted to create my own full-sized SMG2 hack! That project was known as Super Mario Galaxy 3.A in the first few months; the A stands for Aurum, as if that was not obvious, heh...
Luckily, I came up with a better name, and that is Neo Mario Galaxy, a new SMG2 experience! I gathered a small team (shoutout to Splitwirez at this point) of interested people and worked on a few ideas and concepts but things never really took off, there was pretty much no progress. The only galaxy with decent progress was Galactic Greens, also known as Galactic Apex. You can find a bunch of videos revolving around this specific galaxy on my Youtube channel. Until 2017, I developed a few custom levels that were not related to NMG at all. There even was a spin-off to NMG called Secret Mario Galaxy which is a collection of ported secret levels from Super Mario Sunshine. In May 2017, however, I somehow got a huge kick of motivation and a great idea: What if I merged the old ideas and my finished levels? And so I did and, well, it really was the best I could have done. I grabbed my best ideas and finished custom levels to work on them. About 4 of the 8 galaxies were already finished or in a playable state by that point! The first teaser showing the reincarnated project was uploaded in June. In the course of one month(!), I was able to finish the four other galaxies as well. The Neo Mario Galaxy Discord server was founded by me around that time and I met some nice and helpful people there. By the way, that server is now Luma's Workshop. One of them was SY24 who created this awesome logo that you can see above.
On July 26th 2017, the first playable version of Neo Mario Galaxy is released to the public. Oh boy, it was major success! The downloads rapidly increased and Twitch streamers began playing the game themselves. There even is a speedrun community dedicated to NMG. Over the years, NMG received a few major updates to improve level design and add in more custom code shenanigans. And the SMG modding community grew bigger as well! More tools were developed and I discovered more possibilites to improve the game using custom code injections. Therefore, in 2020 I remastered Neo Mario Galaxy to include more custom content and models. A few galaxies were drastically redesigned as well.
To this day, Neo Mario Galaxy is the most famous SMG hack ever. It has been downloaded over 20,000 times and people still continue to play, stream and speedrun the game.
Previously known as the Starter Pack. Project Template is a package consisting of useful files, patches and data to help you initialize your very own SMG2 hack! Unsurprisingly, the most prominent features in this pack are the many new coded objects, most of which are enemies and items from SMG1. This includes Cataquacks, Montys, Jump Guarder, the Ice Flower & Flying Star power-ups, Pull Star Chips, custom Power Star colors, and much much more than I would be able to list here. Without Shibbo's great work on the Syati toolkit, this would not be possible. Also, this does contain contributions from other SMG modders as well. Thanks to Someone (yeah, that is his name) and Evanbowl. A full list of features and credits can be found in the PDF file that comes with the download.
Funny enough, I originally quit the SMG modding community since I lost interest. However, everytime there is a new milestone in terms of custom code, I pick it up again. MTLenz actually convinced me to help him out with his modding project. And, well, here we are again! Working on these custom objects was a very refereshing experience and it has been a while since I had that much fun modding the game.
pygapa (Python Galaxy Particles) is a work-in-progress Python tool for editing particles and effect data in Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2. It features a GUI editor to open, edit and save Effect.arc files. Additionally, it contains a bunch of functions to extract, dump, import and pack particle data. Command-line operations (Batch mode) are supported as well.
This is my first time developing a GUI program in Python since I always developed my GUI tools in Java. I am using the PyQT5 framework for this, a set of Python bindings for Qt. There is still a lot for me to learn about, but the progress is decent. I wrote my own modules for parsing several of the game's file formats, including JMapInfo, JKRArchive and various JKernel compression formats. There are a few libraries that deal with SMG's file formats already, but those are either outdated or they do not fulfill my necessities. Until now, I took those libraries for granted and never bothered about them on my own, although coding my own modules taught me a lot more about the game's formats. Despite this, the tool relies on external tools for SZS compression since these are much more efficient and customizable than I could ever accomplish on my own. Users have the option to use WSZST or yaz0enc, whereas the latter only works on Windows systems.
Nevertheless, the tool is far from finished. pygapa comes with a lot of functions already. Until now, there was never a tool to reliably to edit, add, delete, duplicate, export and import effects, particles and textures. However, editing the actual particle data is still in research and development. I have also considered implementing 3D preview for particles but that will not be easy for me since I never worked on my own 3D programs. Furthermore, people from the Japanese modding community hae requested localization.
The first The Legend of Zelda game did not age well due to its heavy reliance on the game's manual and confusing world design. Nevertheless, the game was a major success back in the late 1980s and it introduced one of the largest video game franchises of all time! It may be one of the first (more or less) open world games in history. It was not until Breath of the Wild which reintroduced the Zelda series to more openly designed worlds and locations. Around 2018, I became interested in developing my own games from scratch. As I did not want to bother with game design and conceptualization, I aimed to recreate the original Zelda game in Java to learn the essentials. While the project had great progress overall, I wanted the game to grow larger. I realized that the NES style was not visually appealing at all and the code contained a lot of bugs and problems. Especially the assets manager was pretty much non-existent and all objects used the same animation frames at the same time... I could elaborate more on that matter, but it does not really matter that much since I rebooted the project from scratch.
Said reboot began in 2020 and a lot of progress was done in a short amount of time. First, I decided to go with Link's Awakening's graphical style as it looks very nice, even today! Then, I began to experiment with the underlying core of the engine and got the basics done. Some day, I discovered a promising but discontinued project by Iris Hurt who recreated Link's Awakenings engine in GameMaker. It turns out they originally worked on a The Legend of Zelda remake by themself as well. They mapped the entire maps of Hyrule and Level 1. Their work is great and should not be forgotten, so I converted their maps for use with my engine. Now, one could be asking why I did not continue their GameMaker project. However, my plan is to create my own game engine from scratch in order to practice and learn more about game development in general, so that is not an option.
ZeldaDX is not only a remake of the very first Zelda game. I also planned a lot of extra content and aspects to spice things up. For example, the rings from the Oracle games make a return in this remake. More dungeons and the integration of the Second Quest are among the considered features. As of now, there are no playable builds and the project is kept closed-source for the time being.
Daredevil Comets are one of the Prankster Comets that you can find in the Galaxy games. They alter a selection of levels forcing you to beat them with only one health point. However, what if you were limited to one health point the entire game? This is for veteran players who seek a challenge to spice things up! Daredevil Mode makes you play the game under Daredevil conditions, no matter what Star you have selected.
Lumalee Shops, checkpoints and in-game guides have been removed to add to the challenge! Every existing Daredevil Comet has been replaced with a Speedy Comet with tight timers. Unlike Daredevil Comets, however, coins still appear throughout levels since you need them to pay Hungry Lumas in SMG2. Coins cannot be used to restore health. Furthermore, Life-Up Mushrooms have been replaced with 1-Up Mushrooms to decrease frustration caused by game overs.
Super Mario Galaxy 64 is a hack of SMG2 which consists of remaked levels from Super Mario 64 and its DS upgrade. While it aims to stay faithful to the original game, it is not an exact remake, as several assets and mechanics have been altered for a more unique experience. This is how MTLenz – the project's creator – describes his mod. Just in time with Christmas, a Holiday Special demo was released in 2017 to promote the game. It featured recreations of Cool Cool Mountain and Snowman's Land as well as a winter-themed version of Bob-omb Battlefield. Whereas the first two levels were created by MTLenz himself, I had the honor to design and create Li'l Brr Battlefield. To this day, I would rank it among my best custom levels considering level design. Despite the apparent camera issues, the boss fight against Sorbetti is my personal highlight in this stage. This galaxy shows a lot of potential and I would really like to see a remastered version with updated models and cameras.
For a short amount of time, I hacked Super Mario 3D Land. It had a functional level editor and a rather simple stage format so I got used to the game's essentials very quick. I experimented with several assets and objects to create small custom levels, but most of them were scrapped due to bad level design. Nevertheless, one of the levels I worked on was a recreation of Flip-Swap Galaxy from SMG2. 3D Land does not have many electrical-themed obstacles and enemies, so I decided to go with a spiky theme instead. The Boomerang Flower - one of the new power-ups introduced in this game - also makes an appearance since it is rarely used in the original game. This is the only finished level of a scrapped concepted project called - you guessed it right - Neo Mario 3D Land.
I also took the internal structure of Pokémon Ranger, a Pokémon spin-off game from 2006, apart. So far, nobody has ever looked into the game's data and files before. Although Pokémon Ranger was developed for the Nintendo DS, it features a lot of unique formats that are not seen in other games of the DS era. Therefore, all formats used in the game were not documented at all.
I engage in researching the game's files and formats in my free time out of pure interest. The results can be found in this section. My original aim and motivation was to reimplement Igglybuff and Unown, two Pokémon that have been cut from the final game. Curiously, their graphics are still in the game's files so I expected adding these Pokémon back to the game would not be too difficult. First, I began documenting the flatbuffer and Pokémon data formats in order to add proper configurations for these two Pokémon. This was followed by research on the game's text and more Browser data files. A few days of messing around later, I finally added them back to the game and gave them proper data, typings, names, descriptions and Browser information. This motivated me to research the game's file and data formats even further.
Just before March 2021 ended, I found a way to convert the graphical assets from the latter Ranger games to the format used in Pokémon Ranger. Thus, I was able to add Weedle and Wigglytuff using 100% custom data. There is still a lot to figure out, though.
My personal findings also serve as the foundation for the pypokeranger toolkit that can be used to edit the game's various data files. Maybe one day we can see full-fledged hacks and mods of this rather unusual but fun Pokémon game!
In early 2020, I created my first Minecraft mod, a very popular sandbox game. I do not think I can tell you something about the game you do not know already... Anyway, since this is my first mod, I decided to work on some easier stuff first to acquire the essentials. I did not really have to think a lot about ideas since it always bugged me that some blocks have many different building block variations whereas some others do not have any at all. Filling that missing content sounded like a doable job to me.
Aurum's More Blocks (or AMB) adds over 500 aesthetic building blocks to Minecraft and several other mods. This includes stairs, walls, bookshelves and much more! Since it would be a lot of painful work to write all the necessary data files by hand, I wrote a bunch of Python scripts to automize the process of generating model data for all the blocks and block states. As of now, it supports game version 1.16.4.
One of the new features in Animal Crossing City Folk (also known as Let's Go to the City in PAL regions) that people do not talk about very often are DLC items. These items are not available in the base game, but they were distributed for a limited amount of time by Nintendo. Occasionally, the player may be greeted by Pete when they boot up the game who hands them a letter containing the actual distributed item. Most DLC items have become unobtainable since the shutdown of Nintendo's online services for the DS and Wii consoles. However, using ACDLCinst, all DLC can be added to your game, including three previously unreleased items! Furthermore, the catalogue data is patched and all items are immediately available to the player. All you need is your save file (rvforest.dat) and you are ready to use this tool. Make sure to always keep a backup in case something goes wrong.
Where did you get the unreleased DLC items from? You may pose this question. And I can tell you, this is a really interesting and absurd story! First of all, a guy named larsenv told me he found these items, so the credits for that go to him. Do you remember the game The Legend of Zelda Skyward Sword? It was originally released in 2011 and... the game is polarizing, to say the least. It was not long after the initial release when people encountered a major game breaking programming error which prevented them from continuing the game's story sequence. The bug basically made your save file unplayable, that is just fantastic. Nintendo quickly came up with a solution and provided a save update channel to fix affected save files. How is that related to Animal Crossing, though? Now comes the absurd part to this. By inspecting the files for the Skyward Sword Save Data Update Channel one can find something weird. For some strange reason, the data contains files for all items and DLC items in City Folk. My theory is that the channel originally served as an internal debugging tool by Nintendo to quickly add all the DLCs to any save file. The Update Channel was originally released in December 2012, but the creation of the Animal Crossing files may date back several months or even years prior. The files contain all the DLC items, even those that have not been distributed at that point. Among the files, you guessed it, are three unreleased DLC items.
In fact, before I created ACDLCinst, I researched and documented Animal Crossing City Folk's DLC format as I wanted to find out how to create my own items. I know, this has been accomplished already a decade ago by the people over AiboHack. These people added crazy HDLC (Hacked DLC) items that swarmed people's save files. Among these items were the infamous Shiny Blue Pikmin hat, Guitar Axes, Lightsabers and more. My younger self was fascinated by this and it further boosted my interest in video game modding in general. However, I cannot recall how and why I got the motivation to look into this matter back in 2019. Anyway, I was able to break down the basics needed to create my own items and I started to write Python scripts to help me with that. That is exactly what ACDLC does; it can be used to create the actual item binaries. It also contains backups of all officially distributed items. Like the unreleased DLC, these were dumped from the Skyward Sword Save Data Update Channel. My first custom item was flooring, the so-called Gracie tile which you can see in the screenshot above.
However, there was no way other people could receive DLC or my item since the shutdown of Nintendo's older online services. Luckily, RiiConnect24 was founded, which provides a great service to reconnect your Wii to the internet and download DLC again. I talked with larsenv about distributing the DLC items using the RiiConnect24 servers and he helped me understand how DLC is distributed. This required even more work to be done, since I had to deal with even more new formats. Here is where ACWC24 comes into play. This tool can be used to set up the actual distributable packages, including the DLC header, letters and actual item data. It caused a lot of trouble first, to say the least... Nevertheless, I managed to fully understand the basics of the DLC system and I got the first working distributables done and injected them into my save file. What a success, Pete actually delivered the letter and special item!
As far as I know, RiiConnect24 uses ACWC24 along with scripts that generate the different distributables automatically. To be honest, this project would have been a big success a decade earlier, but I was too young to grasp the idea of programming in general.
Captain Toad Treasure Tracker is one of those many underappreciated titles. This game is a hidden gem, a masterpiece regarding level design and creativity. Super Mario 3D World introduced Captain Toad puzzle levels, but these are nothing compared to the stages you can find in this game. In fact, the Adventures of Captain Toad levels from SM3DW are more like an underdeveloped tech demo. It came as a surprise that this game was not only rereleased for the Nintendo Switch, but it also introduced a free multiplayer update and Special Episode DLC. The base game also contains four very large and creative puzzle stages based on some kingdoms from Super Mario Odyssey.
Shortly after the remastered version of my BCSe tool, I began creating a save editor for this fantastic game. It was a refreshing experience to work on such a small project again. I developed this editor with support for all the different game versions in mind and I want to add functionality to convert Wii U saves to Nintendo Switch saves. Keep in mind that the editor is still unfinished, but it is in a functional and stable state.
My very first real program was a save game editor for a game you may have never heard of. That game is Blast Corps, an action puzzle game created by the legendary developers at Rareware... before the Microsoft thing happened. I played it a lot when I was younger and messed around with cheat codes and the RAM of that game. I am honest, the controls and graphics did not age well, but the kickass soundtrack and fun levels still make me play the game occasionally. The first version was developed in late 2016 and it... wow, it was really bad code. I guess every programmer's first program suffered similar problems. Nevertheless, it did a great job at editing save game files.
Blast Corps uses 512 bytes of EEPROM data to store the player's progress. I found it hard to believe that these few bytes could store all the information like the player's name, unlocked levels, clear times for all the levels and more. Funnily enough, a bunch of bytes are not used at all meaning that there is still a bunch of space left. I was able to make out the format by inspecting the values whenever I progressed in my playthrough. However, there was a big problem for me to look into... checksum values. To put it shortly, these are hashes of the save file's actual content in order ensure the integrity of the save data. In other words, an invalid value makes the game interpret the data as corrupted and the player is forced to create a new save file. I would like to thank queueRAM who documented the algorithm to calculate these hashes.
In Autumn 2020, I reviewed my old code and decided to rewrite the entire tool from scratch. This was pretty interesting because I could directly compare my coding skills to see how I improved over the years. The rewritten code is so much better and the tool is much more stable and user-friendly. It may be a simple save editor, but BCSe will always have a special meaning for me since it was my very first programming project.
My very first game editor dates back to 2015. PMDe is an editor for Pokémon Mystery Dungeon Red Rescue Team that allows you to edit a lot of aspects of the game. It supported dungeon data (map positions, floors, layouts, Pokémon, traps, ...), general Pokémon data (types, stats, evolutions, ...), items, moves, friend areas and more! All the major releases as well as the American demo version can be inspected and edited with this tool. A lot of the game's structure has already been documented by the people over Data Crystal.
The Github repository and downloads can be found here. PMDe was last updated in December 2017 and the project is pretty much finished and discontinued. Sooner or later, this editor will become obsolete once pret's disassembly is (nearly) completed. However, I have been told that my tool is used as a helpful reference "sheet" by pret.
This section is dedicated to projects that have been abandoned over the years. Every programmer will be confronted with this situation sooner or later. I am 100% sure that I forgot about a couple of projects here.