Neobeo, a JJ2 community member from Singapore, has agreed to do an interview. Being probably the most renowned member of the community for his work on the game, which includes Jazz Sprite Dynamite (the JJ2 sprite editor), explanation and documentation of the JJ2 file formats and their specifications, and many more useful things; he was the person deserving an interview the most. So, here goes
the tale of love and war:
First of all, thank you for taking time for this interview.
My pleasure, really.
Alright, first question. How does it feel to be the man who revolutionized Jazz Jackrabbit 2?
It feels… awesome I guess. You really feel good when you know people appreciate your work
People have waited years for programs like JSD or the tileset extractor. Where did you come up with ideas for those programs?
They start off as prototypes really. Take JSD for example: One of my interests is reverse engineering, trying to figure out how stuff works, file formats etc. So there I was breaking down the J2A format into something decipherable. It starts off with something simple like extracting animations/frames, and then I guess the next step is just to replace them with new animations/frames?
To be honest, JSD wasn’t really made to be released to the public. Just something I was messing around with while deciphering J2A. And then when I was done with J2A, I realised it was a cool program. So I released it
Sounds really simple.. so the only necessary knowledge is how the file formats work?
Yea, the best part of JSD is in trying to figure out how the file formats work.
Do you have time to make any possible improvements for JSD?
There are plans, of course. But where time is a concern, I just have to make do with whatever time I have
I take it your current job is very time-consuming.
Firefighter. 24-hour standby, 48-hour off. Seems like a lot of free time, but much of the “first day off” is spent catching up with sleep
There are the occasional shifts where you go 24 hours without a single fire/rescue call, but those are very rare :/
Anyway, have you been playing JJ2 before you learnt how to decipher file formats? And if so, for how long?
OK, I first purchased JJ2 in around mid ’99. Around that time I met some JJ2 player named JetCheater, who taught me about Magic Trainer Creator (the TSearch of that time) and how to cheat in JJ2. In other words, JJ2 was the first game I cheated/hacked in. At that time, cheating was limited to simple stuff like unlimited weapons and “unlimited health” (which we now know do not work >=[)
Anyway, my alias from 1998 to 2001 was not Neobeo. I only adopted Neobeo when I joined J2HG in 2002.
Did you do anything for J2HG when you were in it?
I submitted about 3 or 4 programs to J2HG. None of which were meant for public release… so I did not do much really
Ah, yes.. all those J2HG programs which were not meant to be public. Anyway, so JJ2 was the first game you hacked. What were/are the others?
Well, I got involved in a Gunbound gamehacking group, which was where I learnt much of the C++/ASM and reverse-engineering skills I use today. And I was more gangster than “friendly hacker” then; always causing problems for the Gunbound servers. In other words, searching for exploits AND EXPLOITING THEM
Ooo, naughty. Have you ever crashed any JJ2 servers, then?
Out of mischief, no ;[
So yeah uh. Does J2NSM have any new cool programs up its sleeve?
Hard to say… I’m supposedly developing azure moon (the dedicated JJ2 server project) as part of J2NSM, but it seems j2nsm is dead without jam.
How is azure moon going, by the way?
Well, there hasn’t really been an update since the last private beta release 2 weeks ago.
What do you think of the future of JJ2 hacking?
In the hope that one day, all information can be unified to form the Grand Unified Theory.
The holy grail – the source code of jj2. It’s actually not a far fetched idea as it was many years ago – file formats have been deciphered, netcode protocol decoded, the engine is still undergoing extraction etc.
Sounds great. So well yeah, the final question. Will you join IC?
Alright. Once again, thanks for taking your time!
Eat your lima beans, Johnny.