This is the fifth part of The History of Sonic Adventure DX Modding article. If you haven’t read already the introduction of this article/topic, you can do so by clicking right here. You can find the previous parts as well after that or by checking the end of this page.
Something I almost ended up forgetting back when I was doing the initial draft for this article in April was about the whole Chao-centered communities and research, which is actually fitting in this story with how the Chao Garden in both Adventure games have been the favorite distraction of many out there. Sonic Adventure games had this little feature called Chao Garden: You could hatch those little things called Chao from eggs, raise them with care (or chuck them against a wall, if you are that screwed up), and also train them with fruits in order to win Chao Races.
I had tons of fun with Chao while being a child/teenager. I played both Sonic Adventure DX and Sonic Adventure 2. It always had countless hours of content and even after taking breaks I always wanted to come back to it. Actually, 2019 was one of those years where I again installed Sonic Adventure 2 and finally decided to join Chao Island Discord server when I had learned that it was a thing.Krzys
Despite being a sort of side mode for both Adventure games, the Chao Garden and its stubby habitants have been one of the favorite features for many players around the world, often requested to be brought back in a future game (just like the Adventue formula itself); and catching the hearts of many players around the world; which would of course imply that there would be a Chao-centric community somewhere. The biggest Chao community has to be Chao Island, a fansite complete with forums designed to discuss all about Chao, including but not limited to research, discussion, tips, and of course, modding.
Chao Island was created on 3rd August 2001– after the release of Sonic Adventure 2 (SA2)– to document the effects of raising Chao (“artificial life”) within the game.
Inspired by the Official SA2 BBS, Chao Island was created using Tripod Sitebuilder. Over the last 10 years, we have seen Chao Island grow and improve, and have been able to cover all the Sonic games that Chao have appeared in with as much content and proven information as possible.Chao Island’s History page
Chao research for both games was quite extensive, and SADX’s Chao Garden system was interesting, as it was ported from Sonic Adventure 2 Battle (instead of keeping the slightly more primitive SA1 system), but still had some differences here and there. Chao Island itself was home to many young users back in the day that enjoyed the Chao Garden; some of which would grow up to do great amounts of research on the Chao system, and others would work on mods for it. Some were early adopters, while others had lurked for years long before they properly joined.
The first time I interacted with anyone online in the Sonic community was in 2009, when I joined the Chao Island forums. Previously I’d been with part of a Zelda community, but I guess everyone got fed up with antics of a dumb kid so I ended up going elsewhere. Chao Island was great and I met a lot of people I still talk to today on there, including the owner. I used to be staff on there, but now I mostly just pop in occasionally on its Discord to help out with research.Speeps
Actually, I think the very first community I have joined was actually Chao Island. I have lurked there from my early years, looking through forums, threads, general info and even old rumors which were debunked. I think it happened around 2009, but in 2013 I have finally decided to stop lurking and created an account for myself.
It was absolutely worth it, as I had many fond memories of those days. Today forums are less populated, as people tend to chat more on discord, but it is still cool we have an opportunity to occasionally have threads on forum!
I joined X-Hax and Chao island discord channels around 2019, but I had Discord somewhere from around the start when it was just getting popular.Krzys
I knew about the site since 9 or 10 years ago, but I only joined (and then became a team member) around 2018.Exant
[…] I was always a lurker through most of the Chao Communities history and only started getting involved around 2014 with my blog “Chao-Studios”. Which seems to have accidentally propelled me into the community xD
While I lurked on it since at least 2003-2005+, I finally joined the actual site with an account on July 22nd, 2014. […] I think I warmed up to it far faster with the introduction of the Discord servers, as I got to talk and understand the people off the community more in casual talks rather then professional forum posts. But back when I registered, at first it was mostly to ask DarkyBenji, creator of Chao World Extended, a question regarding his mod.Roaxes
At one point, the Chao Island site would go through a revamp, and it would bring in 2018 a Discord server where people could gather easily; this was the time where Roaxes, one of the current (and newer) admins got a spot as a Chao Island admin.
Before the Chao Island Discord became public in December 2018, I was originally an admin on a previous Chao related discord called Chao Live Chat. Mooncow joined at some point and was impressed by how much of the community was still interested in chao and found out I was running a big blog involving chao. So while he was revamping Chao Island, I slowly ended up becoming one of his advisers when it came to what to add and what not to add.
He’d have me proof read occasionally, and I would also pitch in with better quality images then what the site originally had. At that point we became friends and hung out a lot in DMs. When it was finally time to release the site revamp, and make the Chao Island Discord public for all instead of just the CI developers, he decided to make me admin for both helping with the site, and my prior experience of moderating with the old Discord.Roaxes
But of course, with SADX’s first PC release being back in 2004, discussions and investigations about modding were there since that date, and trying to mod it to discover how some of Chao systems worked was one of the biggest topics. The aforementioned GerbilSoft’s memory editor was used to some extent for editing data, but it was a quite daunting process; which is why Fusion decided to work on a full-fledged Chao Editor.
Fusion Chao Editor is an ideal and best tool for Vanilla SADX and SA2. It has amazing interface, it is easy to learn and generally well polished editor. It is amazing tool to view chao stats and edit them. I fully recommend it to all the players who play the game without mods.Krzys
Fusion’s Chao Editor worked by detecting the SADX (or SA2, as it would get support for it later on) executable, and would enable you to select a good selection of options. These were the Garden (Rings, time scale, unlocked gardens), Chao (editing the Chao slots and properties), Animals, Fruits, Hats, Seeds and Black Market.
Just with how the Chao A-LIFE system have a complex amount of variables and settings for having everything working as naturally as it can, the Fusion Chao Editor has a huge amount of settings for you to mess with, even allowing to change some things like the Chao’s lifespan, stat limits, increasing or decreasing the time speed in the garden, and accesing some unused Chao types (like Hero and Dark Chao, which were left over from SA2B).
Fusion was an admin on the Chao Island forums and was always teasing about this amazing new Chao Editor he was working on. At the time, the only Chao Editor around was the old SADX PC Memory Editor, which had been around since 2004. It was a good tool, but it lacked a lot of desired features (like Second Evolution) and it was clear a new one needed to be made, so that’s what Fusion did.
When it was first released I put out a video showing off how it looked and the different types of Chao you could make with it that you couldn’t with the old one. Originally it didn’t work with SADX Steam (It wasn’t out at the time), but the Steam version wasn’t nearly as popular at the time so there weren’t too many complaints about it.
You downloaded the tool from his website, which had some of the coolest products of Chao research around at the time. Alongside his editor, there was a Chao preview tool (Using images from CI’s gallery) and an in-progress guide to SA2B’s Chao boxes with very helpful screenshot guides. It’s still up now, though all his research by this point has already been carried over to Chao Island.
Version 2.0 (Dec 2012) of the Chao Editor added compatibility with the Steam versions of SADX and SA2B. Further updates were put out over the next 4 years, but were mainly compatibility fixes whenever there was an update for one of the games that broke the editor.
Unfortunately, Fusion later left the community (for personal reasons) and his website hasn’t been updated since January 2016. FCE gradually became outdated – there were numerous compatibility issues with Chao World Extended, the extremely popular overhaul for the SA2B Chao System.Speeps
However, there would be an alternative being prepared due to Fusion’s Chao Editor no longer being updated (and also because of a certain popular Chao mod for SA2, which wasn’t compatible with FCE). This would be Krzys’s Chao Editor, which was released at the start of this year (at the time of this writing).
As great as FCE is, it wasn’t updated for quite a while and with introduction of CWE, many new features were added which started to conflict with the Editor. Good example of that are new lenses introduced in CWE. If FCE would detect unknown value, it would reset it and turn into something else, like golden eggshell.
This was quite a problem for some, as their progress would be lost, especially people feared for their Hyper fruits being erased which cost a lot of rings. These problems led to people asking for new editor, or thinking about contacting somehow with Fusion so he would update his. That’s where I have decided to create a new Chao Editor.Krzys
Both [editors] are very revolutionary both for Chao Research, and just seeing how the Chao actually operate internally. I have massive respect for both the creators and their programs. But I do feel like people get too attracted to the editors and start soley only using the editors rather then actually playing and taking care of the chao through sheer hard work.
Unfortunately with the advent of massive mods, FCE (Fusion’s editor) has started to fall out of a favor, it has served the Chao community for years. It is still very viable and usable though for unmodded games or light modded. Krzys2’s new editor offers what FCE did and a ton more, like editing trees, Mod compatibility specifically with Chao World Extended, and is much more friendly to modded games in general, where as FCE would actively seek to replace new items added by mods, KCE ignores them most times even if new item hasn’t been added to the editor.Roaxes
I took full inspiration from FCE and in my tool created similar layout of the editor even, so people could easily adapt to new editor. In addition, new editor had new features like DNA, personality and even tree modification. I always wanted new Editor to look like chao transporter, so it would feel like from the game, that’s why many assets from the game are present. I also had amazing opportunity to work with AWildDayDreamer, an amazing artist who helped with button icons, which really brought life to the editor!
The Chao Editor I made was never meant to replace FCE, but it serves as alternative for people who use mods. I have tried to create an editor which would be as mod friendly as possible.
In addition, Chao community was really helpful, constantly helping with ideas for the editor, giving advice on how it should look. Whole Chao Island team was really supportive, and gave a lot of information about the game, which I really appreciate. People like Exant, Mindacos, UltimaNumber and many others really sped up the creation of the tool with their tips and knowledge about the game.Krzys
Nowadays the tool of choice for the Chao community is Krzys’s Chao Editor. It has everything FCE had, but it’s compatible with Chao World Extended. It also adds customization for CWE features, such as its Eye Lens system.Speeps
Chao World Extended itself is an extremely fascinating work, adding a bunch of new features, functionality and fixes to the Chao Garden; but this mod is for Sonic Adventure 2. However, it is still very noteworthy with the amount of things it expands on. Exant, one of the collaborators for CWE, both contributed well there, and also worked in a mod of his own: CWESADX.
[…] Honestly can’t go back to playing the Vanilla chao gardens after witnessing and experience the true glory that is of Chao World Extended. It caters almost completely to what I wanted of a future chao garden, more Chao colors, chao interaction, chao breeds, unused content, ways to get jewel and character chao and loads more. Best of all, most of the mod is very optional, meaning you aren’t forced to the gameplay standards CWE has set.Roaxes
There’s actually a version [of CWE] for Sonic Adventure DX made by Exant that includes some features but not all of the SA2 CEW, but has a few of its own features as well, like 3d emotion balls, and ports some of SA2 vanilla stuff like the Chao Garden TV toy.Roaxes
Chao World Extended was made by darkybenji and CGBuster. I joined the team for the v8 update, adding new fruits and revamping the unused piano/organ remake and other stuff.
I also made my own “port” of CWE in SADX called CWESADX (very creative) that was my first mod. It lacked a lot of features but slowly it became its own thing, not really resembling the features from CWE but bringing back features from SA2, like the TV and other toys.Exant
CWESADX restored some of the missing objects from SADX, as well as tweaking some things, and will also have Dreamcast models for Chao in the future; something that was not achieved before due to the Chao model/chunk structure being fundamentally different from standard models (as well as how Chao are constantly morphing, and the eye/mouth piceses).
Ohhh yeah, I plan to also put a restoration of SA1 Dreamcast Chao models into CWESADX, but this will only come after the current patch since I gotta iron out the code and such.
It involves replacing the models over the SADX Chao skeleton structure so that the existing SADX animations work (I did that through a program I wrote), replacing the code that dynamically allocates them and the code that makes them morph, and fixing up the animation code a bit.
Most of this has been done but not too much testing yet. I also have to replace the eye and mouth setting stuff; so yeah there’s a lot more than you would think that goes into it.Exant
About Chao Island itself, Mooncow has maintained the site during all these years, being the owner and still-active admin of the site; along with the other admins, the Chao Expert Team, the Chao Research Team and the Chao Island Artists. The community has went through a long time, and currently it has stayed pretty tight after all the years thanks to everybody’s efforts with documenting and discussing Chao.
They’re all very cool people. I knew a lot of people from there already, either from working with them before, or knowing them from the old Discord server. Its also cool seeing new faces too like krzys2, who joined not too long ago and made his new Chao editor program.Exant about the Chao Research Team
They are absolutely amazing. Everyone one is very talented and because of that we improve and create amazing things! It was thanks to many of members of Chao Research Team and community in general which really gave me strength and will to make many of my tools!Krzys about the Chao Research Team
Honestly just being a part of it in general [has been great], its been a very unexpected blast of a time, most of the people there are very chill, and they all in general have a love of the Chao Gardens. It’s very topic driven rather then just a bunch of off-topic only swamping out the Chao aspect. I love to provide pictures for the site too as it is one of my strong suits!Roaxes about his experience at Chao Island
Even without taking in mind the ways you can change the Chao Garden with CWE and the Chao Editors, the Chao Island is home to a huge compendium of information about the Chao Gardens and everything involved with them, being an incredibly useful resource for anybody that wants to learn more from basic raising to information about getting special Chao and incredible stats.
But it would feel incomplete if I didn’t happen to mention Kell’s Chao Gameplay mod, which allows you to actually take out any of your Chao buddies into an Action Level, and it can waddle around the map as if it was your average garden, or you can make it follow you by flying and attack enemies! This was something that not possible before, and you can either let Chao see more of the world, or have them as a fighting sidekick.
[…] For Chao Gameplay, it’s basically a thing that I always dreamed of when I was a kid: getting your chao out of its garden. I did some research on how chao creation worked, backed with help from Exant, and was able to do it. It’s the coolest thing I made in my mind lol.Kell
Thanks for reading the History of Sonic Adventure DX Modding (Part 5)! The original concept was to have all the sections in a single article; but as a way to allow some gradual ease in reading the whole thing, these sections that cover the entire topic will be spread out in separate posts. You can find the next one and all the others in the index below, though note that grayed-out sections are still not avaliable yet (but will be made and released soon enough).
If you liked my content, sharing this with others helps me out; and you can lend me a hand through my Ko-fi page as well! I’d really love to revisit this concept/topic about everything that’s in the Chao Gardens, cover further the resources and research that have been done through Chao Island, and of course, do proper justice to the achievement that is Chao World Extended; which could either feature as its own or…perhaps feature in an article of a similar topic like this but for that certain another game 🙂
We’re finally at the last stretch of the year, and I’ll try to make sure to make it go with a great finish; so stay tuned for tomorrow with the final part of The History of SADX Modding History! Also there will be two new interviews getting published soon (either along with the final part or a bit after it) as a surprise, but you might have noticed which one of them could be 😉