I haven't abandoned my project. I've been busy lately and I was stuck for a while on some nasty scripting issues. Since the last video was uploaded, I added a MIPS assembler/disassembler to the project. My tools dump sections of the ROM that are loaded during particular maps/battles, decompress them, and convert them into a human readable -- and editable -- format. These files can be edited and reinserted back into that game (recompressed to Yay0, certain tables rebuilt/relocated as necessary, some hard-coded pointers modified).
Dumping machine code to assembly was a big goal of mine, but that led to some difficult corner cases, such as how to reverse jump tables and pseudoinstructions involving pointers. Getting this right was very important. I've also been working away at the game's script bytecode, identifying functions that are called, functions like: MovePlayerTo(...), SetModelRotation(...), SetCameraDistance(...), PlaySoundAt(...). Over 100 function calls used in the overworld have been identified and documented, less so in battles (I need to work on this part).
I've also finished reversing the sprite format, so a fully-featured sprite/animation editor is definitely possible. Probably not in the first release though.
It would be a bad idea to use my tools along with other projects at the moment. When I compile the ROM, many data structures are replaced and moved around, breaking many hard-coded pointers and assumptions made by other mod authors. In fact, all assets and battle sections are completely recompressed and overwritten on the ROM to create extra free space (my Yay0 compression ratio beats the developers'
). I even compress some assets that are ordinarily not compressed. I haven't looked at the work of other Paper Mario hackers, but I think that my tools support everything that other authors have done -- and more -- unless they know how to edit music and sound files, which is something I haven't attempted to do yet (although I have some good leads). This project is not simply a level editor, that is only one component of it. This project is a modding suite that will allow people to make mods of the game without having to do much hacking work on their own!
All this is to say that things are moving along. If everything is done correctly, we'll have full control over the scripts that control everything from battle animations to map events to shop inventories and prices. This should allow not only simple mods that modify constants, but more advanced mods approaching total conversions. I've uploaded another video for you guys to check out. It shows off some custom NPCs and battle formations. It's not anything flashy, but better than nothing, right? Have a look:
The editor will release with an example mod (a 'hard mode' unlike any other) along with the source files and assets needed to build it. The mod is halfway through to chapter 2, and I'm working on some custom maps for it. I plan to include a bonus side area for each chapter and some extra endgame content: 3-4 superbosses, an endgame bonus dungeon, and endgame rematches for every chapter boss.