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How to deal with SWGroup - old EXE hacker for Shadow Warrior

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2021 1:33 am
by Graf Zahl
This is an old tool, similar in scope to Dehacked, vintage 1998, that allows to distribute mods that modify the executable to change level names and other settings.
Unfortunately this thing not only encrypts its .grp files but there also seems to be no easy way to find out what modifications it performs, from the looks of it the changeset is available in binary form only and the tool to apply it was written in assembly. So for all intents and purposes these mods have become inaccessible by now as the toolchain is an utter mess with zero thought invested to future proof it.

Has anyone ever tried to take such a mod apart or are they more or less dead meat by now?

Re: How to deal with SWGrouo - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2021 2:35 am
by Gez
Probably dead meat. Are there any of these mods that would actually be worth the effort?

Re: How to deal with SWGrouo - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2021 2:46 am
by Graf Zahl
Hard to say because the only way to access them is via Dosbox and that's not fun to play. I found 3 of them so far. One has a somewhat older, but clean version. One makes heavy edits and one looks like one can just ignore the shit, that was done. That tool was done by Ben Smit a.k.a. ProAsm (Author of SWP), btw. He's also responsible for the one mod with heavy edits, called Rampage Warrior. That one's definitely a total loss if there is no way to extract the changes from it.

Re: How to deal with SWGrouo - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2021 10:01 am
by NY00123
I saw Phredreeke linking to this topic in the Duke4.net Discord.
Anybody gave SwGrpExt a try? http://www.proasm.com/sw/swutils.html

Re: How to deal with SWGrouo - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Sun Jul 11, 2021 3:56 pm
by Graf Zahl
The far bigger issue is getting the actual EXE changes. For extracting the GRPs I just launched the mods in DosBox and copied the files.

Re: How to deal with SWGrouo - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:04 pm
by Redneckerz
I never knew such a thing even existed. But i guess it shouldn't be surprising.

Given its term, i reckon there are few mods that actually use this - Much less so anything extensive.

Re: How to deal with SWGrouo - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:21 pm
by Graf Zahl
I found 4, but 3 of them had direct involvement of the tool's author. The fourth only used it for altering some texts so that should be playable once extracted (with incorrect level names, of course, but that's better than nothing, of course.

Re: How to deal with SWGroup - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:45 pm
by NY00123
While it looks like it was already mentioned here, I'll link to the assembly source code.

SwGroup and its source don't seem to be directly linked from ProAsm's SW pages, so I'll quote the following Duke4.net post from Hendricks266.

In theory, even if not all of the source is understandable, my impression is that SwGroup can edit existing bin files. Thus, one may see how are edits impacting the file. As an option, the DOSBox debugger can be used for stepping through the code itself. But, if there aren't too many SW modifications making use of it, then the question is if any effort is worth at all.

https://forums.duke4.net/topic/5587-cha ... _p__131523

Hendricks266 wrote:Actually, I just remembered the program SwGroup by ProAsm / Ben Smit. It is capable of adjusting the ammo capacity among a lot of other stuff in the DOS exe.

SwGroup : http://www.proasm.com/files/sw/SwGroup.zip

Source code : http://www.proasm.com/files/sw/SwGrp_Src.zip

Not usable in SWP and requires DOS or Win98 to execute.


Re: How to deal with SWGroup - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 12:54 pm
by Graf Zahl
It's just not worth bothering for the few affected maps.
That code is just awful and should serve as a monument for "how not to write tools". Everything that was done here has ensured that any mod this was used for is as good as dead.
Had this been done in Dehacked style with an external text file to contain the changes it could all be recreated in ports - but as things stand, no such luck.

Of the affected mods, most are a lost cause, the only one I was able to play was "When I was young", but even there I had to edit one map to remove one sprite because it always made progression break.

Re: How to deal with SWGroup - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 1:15 pm
by Dynamo
Is there a full list of mods that make use of this?

Re: How to deal with SWGroup - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 1:18 pm
by Graf Zahl
No, but considering that he wrote the tool, you should find all of them on ProAsm's homepage.

Re: How to deal with SWGroup - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 3:02 pm
by Phredreeke
Didn't ProAsm do SWP compatible versions of his addons? I know I've played through Rampage Warrior on SWP and WangGDX (though I seem to recall GDX didn't replace the pickup texts)

Re: How to deal with SWGroup - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 3:19 pm
by Graf Zahl
Google gave me this: http://swcentral.weebly.com/rampagewarrior.html

Got to check it out. At least this means one mod down. :)

Re: How to deal with SWGroup - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 3:27 pm
by Graf Zahl
Same page also has TaiWang and When I Was Young, which were two of the others that I only had as an SWGroup version. I cannot remember the other one where this was all I had but I think this chapter can be closed by now. He seems to have converted all mods of this kind to using SWCustom.txt himself.

Re: How to deal with SWGroup - old EXE hacker for Shadow War

PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2021 4:00 pm
by Dynamo
Graf Zahl wrote:I cannot remember the other one where this was all I had

I would imagine that they were all from the same website originally?