NES Hacker for Hire

I often get requests about whether I could fix a bug in somebody's favourite game, or if I could answer a question about how a game works internally.

In the past I have generally declined requests like this, because this kind of research work tends to be both time intensive and volatile. Sometimes a simple bug can be patched in an hour or two, but sometimes it takes days. Unfortunately it's nearly impossible to know which is which until you actually do the work. I can't put a price on "could you do XXX", because I just can't estimate how much work it is ahead of time.

So, I've decided to try a different approach: if you'd like to hire me by the hour, I will give it my best shot and see what I can do in the time given. I'll do it live on camera, and anyone can watch and see how I approach the problem. I can't guarantee a solution, but I will make as much progress toward the given goals as I can.

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Price: US $150 for one 3 hour live session

Conditions:

  • No guarantee that any specific task will be completed. I will work diligently during the given time, but will stop at the end of 3 hours. If you want to keep going you may hire me again for a later session, schedule permitting.
  • I will be unable to give time estimates in advance of the session. It takes research work to answer that question, and it will only be done on the clock.
  • The work will be done publicly, live at my twitch channel. If you wish to be present, we can try to schedule mutually. If you miss the stream, it will be available to watch after.
  • Notes, patches, or programs produced during the session will be made available as a public archive with a public license. Anyone may make use of or continue the work produced under the terms of that license, but I will retain my own right to it as well. (I can do work-for-hire, but not at this price.)
  • Payment in advance. No refunds for completed sessions.

My main area of expertise here is the NES platform. I do have some knowledge of other game systems, and other related things, and it doesn't specifically have to be a ROM hack. I'd be willing to do a variety of things here, but if you do propose something outside of my wheelhouse I'll let you know.

To give you some idea of what I can do, and as a hint about how long these things might take, I'll keep a list of past accomplishments below.

I'm not sure how much demand there will be for this, but I should be able to do this once or twice a week. I won't do shorter session lengths, but you may pool multiple tasks into a single session as long as the priority is clear.

If this is something you're interested in, please contact me privately with a proposal.

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Past Hacks

Final Bubble Bobble (SMS) (8 hours + translation)

  • Translation patch

Legacy of the Wizard (70 hours)

  • Complete game editor.

Elemental Gimmick Gear, Dreamcast (30 hours, live excerpt)

  • Investigated data files discovered within GD-ROM.
  • Extracted 3D models and textures.
  • Extracted 2D sprites.
  • Extracted 2D environments.
  • Extracted sounds.
  • Python extraction utilities: gist 
  • Some photos and discovery threads: 1, 2 
  • Discovered unused content: TCRF 

Virtual Boy controller support for NES emulators (7 hours, live)

  • Added Virtual Boy controller support to Mesen and FCEUX.

Startropics (10-20 hours)

  • Mostly complete disassembly and documentation of music engine and data
  • Corrected errors in two of the music tracks

Mega Man DOS (10-20 hours)

  • Implemented fixed framerate so that it runs consistently on different speed computers
  • Created startup menu options for the fixed framerate
  • Fixed joystick routine for variable computer speed

Karnov (8-12 hours)

  • Investigated and documented in-memory level format
  • Created Lua script "Karnov Inspector" visualizer

Blades of Steel (4-8 hours)

  • Investigated and documented compressed graphics format
  • Replaced title screen graphics
  • Replaced title screen sound

Big Bird's Hide and Speak (5 hours)

  • Investigated and documented compressed sound sample format
  • Dumped sound samples

Battletoads (5 hours)

  • Investigated and documented compressed text format
  • Dumped game script

Super Glove Ball (2 hours)

  • Added support for Famicom PAX power glove

Low G Man (2 hours)

  • Fixed crash bug that affected most emulators and flash carts


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