Sorry for the really boring title. I really couldn’t think of anything snappy to write this morning.
Somehow 2020 was the best year I’ve ever had since launching Billytime.com in the summer of 2017. We hit 5000+ views, 5x times the amount we hit in 2019. I owe a lot of last year’s numbers to John Riggs. I wonder if he played that Iron Man Cart I gave him? Unrelated con footage from that weekend. lol
A lot of that came down to expanding rom hacking operations as well as reaching out to the community and showing the world what I can do. It has been a tremendous honor to be able to meet hackers and player alike and really get to know people better in an online setting.
Beforehand I would keep to myself and a large part of that was the creeping anxiety that I wouldn’t be accepted and that I would be eating rotten tomatoes the moment I walked in the door. That wasn’t really happened and instead I went on a tear to tackle all the games I wanted to as well as challenge what could be done in the realms of romhacking.
Step 0: Billy Time 3 and an example of Burnout.
Before the year really started for me, I was working on a second sequel of my Billy Time platform hacks. Round out the trilogy and maybe even end on a good note. The game IMO feels solid and entertaining. Offers several different characters and endings, secret levels, secret characters and even a random select option if you get bored. I worked for 8 months straight on this project, custom code, custom graphics.
A lot of love and effort went towards making something special for Billy Time’s 5th Anniversary on youtube. Next month will be 6 years if you can believe that!
But working on such a massive project by myself really weighed me down mentally and before March 2020, I felt like I never wanted to work on another romhack again. I still don’t know if i want to expand BT3’s content even after all this time. I have a lot of dummied out level still inside the rom for a brand new Master World. But time will see if any of this come to fruition.
STEP 1: Open the vault
At this point I had a good number of romhacks to my name with the super mario world engine that remained exclusive to this site. That changed around March when I decided to release my best hacks to romhacking.net. From there my hacks started to see more exposure across various rom sites, social media and youtube. I try to engage with as much of the community as possible, they of course have given me and my work the time of day. To this day I still see all sorts of videos popping up about a Billytime related hack, I must be doing something right. 😀
Step 2: Expanding SNES knowledge:
After SMW, I went to work on a hack for a little known SNES game called Addams Family Values in late 2019. It was a game that haunted me to my core. Why would I want to hack a game that spooped me so much as a kid. Because I wanted to tear in a new one, that’s why! In the process, I started to really like the game. To think that I only want to learn how to make Game Genie codes. Jlukas was instrumental in showing me 65816 asm and how it operated as well as walking me through on how to write custom code in hex! Its still a go to trick of mine. 😉
I go back to AFV from time to time and I even made two additional hacks, Boss Rush and The Gauntlet for those who wanted additional modes of nonstop action!
After that, I went and tackled a few other games, not just to sharpen my skill set but because I felt I could legitimately fix some games that had potential. Plus I did one more Marvel themed SNES hack, just cause I could.
Step 3: Learn 68K asm
After a while, I started getting bored with SNES offerings. My heart always burned for Sega Genesis. Such a badass machine with badass games! I cannot begin to tell you how many hours 12 year old billy would spend holed up in his room playing Sega Genesis in 2002. I was an addict!
I went over to Gamehacking.org and started asking some questions regarding a certain fighting game and got the chance to pick the brain of Tony Hedstrom. Tony has been a staple of romhacking Sega Games since I was little, his work would constantly come up when looking for new game genie codes or even old school guides about a topic I knew next to nothing about. He is still active in the community today!
So Tony gave me a bit more understanding of the code and tools I would be working with. Namely the trace log, a very powerful emulator function that records asm code to a txt file which helps me find very specific functions and values such as amount of health restored when picking up a heart.
Step 4: Eternal Champions
While March, April and May started a six month reign of dominance for the site. Nothing could prepare me for the amount of love I would receive for tackling Eternal Champions. It was a hard ass fighting game with some quirks. I felt that maybe I could put my own spin on it, tone the difficulty down. Fix a few quirks, make it a bit easier to approach and play. Is it perfect? Hell to the no, nothing ever is.
But it is sure fun to play! Its just as fun to watch too! Eternal Champions Special Edition as it is called as connected me with several online folks such as E.Signal, AmitDabydeen and 1 Coin Only. Eternal Champions was a gift that kept on giving and even has a nod of approval from Michael Lantham!
Now we started to heat up!
Step 5: Sega CD
As a one time endeavor I decided to try and give Eternal Champions CD a special edition treatment.
At first it was just about toning down the difficulty. Took a minute to figure out with a mix of Art Money and gens tracer with a bit of hex editing. Sure enough, worked like a charm. The on independence day of this year I cracked the code to unlock all characters from the get go. To go even further I modified the game to allow you to play as bosses in single player mode despite the fact that they lack endings of any kind. It was there that I learned the importance of Xdelta patches and Redump to ensure the patch worked every time.
Step 6: Nostalgic for what I never had
I came across a youtube video regarding an everdrive mod of the Sega Channel demo rom. I worked so hard to recreate what I saw in the video but to no results and felt defeated. My buddy Kyle told me to just make my own menu if it meant that much. I wanted to be able to have Sega Channel since I was a little boy yet my family could not afford such a thing at the time and emulation certainly seemed impossible with Galaxy 7 literally fucking off to the far reaches of space as well as all the Sega Channel CDs either discarded or locked up in the archives of the cable companies after 25+ years.
But there were several demo roms that were dumped in 2017, I had everything I needed to make Time Capsule! Using Game maker Studio and Kega Fusion, I was able to make a new front end to try and recapture what it would be like to have Sega Channel on PC, load games and play! Even now I feel this was my greatest accomplishment.
Step 7: The Rest
From there I ended up working on a bunch of Smaller hacks, Hyper Street Fighter 2 on PS2 really needed a Billy Time Flavored reality check in its AI Department. Same with Mortal Kombat II on Sega Genesis. Revenge of Shinobi’s double jump Irritated me and The Addams Family games on Sega needed some love too! I got to collaborate with eskayelle, you know him better as Double Z. Responsible for NBA related hacks as well as TMNT of Rage. We worked together briefly for T2 – The Arcade Game on Sega Genesis where I helped create a code to skip the annoying helicopter chase level. Very proud to have contributed to that as well as make codes for the SNES version of the game as well.
To round out the year, In December I got some new rom dumping gear and dumped an unreleased homebrew for Plants Vs Zombies as well as release and overhaul hack for Spider-Man X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge! Looking back, this was a very productive year for Billy Time Games.
Step 8: 2021
So where do I go from here, well turns out I have been planning since late last year on new projects as well as received an Invitation to work on a new hack with a team. That game in Question is Ultra ClayFighter – Tournament Edition which was featured in a tournament for SawCon this weekend. I helped find damage tables and custom coded a bonus point skip routine for the end of every match. I am joined by Tobemorecrazy, Zool, palmod from the ClayFighters channel of the Super Fighting Discord. This will be a long term project since I want to get this one right to help make the definitive version of ClayFighter.
Next up is another collab with Double Z regarding Pac-Man 2 – The Arcade Games. Simple hack, you get to play Pac-Man and Pac Jr. from the main menu with no extra hoops to jump through. I utilized custom code to bypass the password screen to load into Pac Jr. so there is a noticeable delay compared to Pac-Man which loads straight in.
My latest hack is Ultimate X-Men which tweaks gameplay settings but also makes the game playable to completion on any emulator that to some custom coding regarding the computer reset in Mojo’s Crunch. Just destroy the computer and go to the final stage of the game. No soft reset required.
I have at least 3 to 4 more hacks lined up in the coming months as well as another major update planned for Time Capsule where I would like to add in video recordings of previous news letters as part o an archive as well as add new games.
Thank you for reading this giant manifesto of positivity. I hope you all have a fantastic 2021!