View Full Version : [Tutorial] ROM Hacking Basics

July 25th, 2009, 7:57 AM
ROM Hacking Basics

Introduction -

Hi ! I am Neo-Wolf, and here's my first contribution to PC.
Browsing through the Scrapbox, I saw many hacks being made by people who don't even know the H of hacking. Seeing their plight, I was reminded of my own beginning days, where I was lost in the big, big world of hacking
This is a guide for complete newbies who do not know hacking but want to start a hack.

Getting Started -
What is hacking about?

Hacking is a way to change lots of things in the original Pokemon Games. This way, you can create your dream Pokemon Hacks. Hacking can be done to create New Events like someone gives you a Pokemon, Item etc. ,changing the in-game Pokemons, making new Towns and Routes and much more.

What are the limitations in hacks?

A hack cannot have everything of your choice. There are some limitations. These can be averted in the future, but it can not be done now.

1) You cannot put ALL the regions in a single hack. A hack has a storage capacity. It can't go ahead of this ( 32 MB ) . So, FireRed, the hack having largest capacity can have a maximum of 2 big regions and 1 mini region.

2) All Pokemons in 1 hack are not possible yet. It is not possible till now to put all Pokemons (493) in 1 hack. They are limited to Kanto-Johto-Hoenn 386 + 25 ( Maybe more ).However, you can replace these Pokemons. This means that you can put your Pokemons instead of the original ones.

3) Making Pokemons follow you is not possible.

Main parts in Hacking -
What are the main jobs in Hacking?

There are 3 main jobs in hacking -

1) Scripting - This can be called the crux of the hack.This is the coding part of a hack. With scripting you can change the events of the hack, insert face portraits and more. Scripting can be done to make new events etc.
How to script - Tutorial by diegoisawesome (http://www.pokecommunity.com/showthread.php?t=164276)

2)Spriting - This is the drawing part. All the characters and Pokemons and most of the graphics you see in the games can be replaced. To replace them you need to have the custom drawings. That's where Spriting comes in. Spriters have to create the Pics of Trainers, Pokemons and more. After you have created your sprite with any graphical program ( Paint, GIMP , Adobe Photoshop ), its time to put it in your hack. How to put sprites - Tutorial by destinedjagold (http://www.pokecommunity.com/showthread.php?t=146903&highlight=spriting)

3) Mapping - This is the designing part.You must have liked the maps, that is the cities and the World which you explore in the game. You can now create maps of your own choice. Have fun making your own cities, routes etc. Mappers create the cities, towns, forest and more in the hack. It requires creativity. How to Map - Tutorial by Haefele (http://www.pokecommunity.com/showthread.php?t=171021)

Secondary parts of hacking -
What comes next?

The lesser important parts that are not very important but add depth into the hack are -

1)Titlescreen Editing - It is an important part of a hack. It gives individuality to the hack. Tired of the crappy old Titlescreen? Change the Pokemon and Text with Background ( yeah, we can get rid of those flames )to your own choice! Tutorial by myfavouriteax (http://www.pokecommunity.com/showthread.php?t=163658)

2) Tile Editing/Inserting - Tiles are the graphics used in the mapping part. Like if you want to replace the Tree in Firered, you need to make one and then put it in. This would be easy to understand if you learn Mapping first. You can use your own tiles or custom built tiles of DP/Pt. or HG/SS and more.
All you need to know is how to insert them. Tutorial by Archon . (http://www.pokecommunity.com/showthread.php?t=186982)

2)Music Hacking - Bored of the same old music in Pokemon games? Try to add new music to them in this part. Music is an essential part of the hack. Tutorial by Magnius . (http://www.pokecommunity.com/showthread.php?t=121856)

4)Advance Map - You can change the City name , movement permissions and more in this part. This will be easier to understand when you open Advance Map and explore it a bit. Tutorial by Link12552 (http://www.pokecommunity.com/showthread.php?t=161616) .

Additional Info -
Anything more?

This sums up all you need to make good quality hacks. There are more things to do but these are enough for you to keep you busy for some time. If you are still confused about anything , leave me a VM ( Visitor Message ). I will be happy to reply.
The most important part is Hack-making is deterimination. Never lose hope just because others say so. Keep going on. The sky is not the limit. ;)

Recommended Tools -
What tools should I use?

So , tools that I recommend for hacking are -

1)Advance Map 1.9.2 for mapping and more
2) XSE for scripting
3) UnlZ-Gba for Graphical matter
4) Overworld Editor Rebirth Edition for OW Spriting
5) YAPE 0.9 for Pokemon Editing
6) APE for palette editing
7) A-Tack for Attack editing
8) ItemEd for editing items Link
9) Cyclone and NTME ( Namelesss Tile Map Editor ) for Tilemap editing

Super ROM-Hacking Tools Download Website (http://wahackpokemon.com/en/download/tools-gba)

I salute ..

Pokecommunity for this wonderful site.
Nintendo / Gamefreak for making Pokemons possible.
Tutorial section for wonderful tuts.
Makers of tools mentioned above.

Hope this helps beginners.
This Thread is copyright of Neo-Wolf, that is me ! LOLZ :)

July 25th, 2009, 4:49 PM
You know, there shouldn't really be a tutorial for mapping, as everyone has their own mapping style. There should only be.. guidelines, for how to make your map appealing.

Inserting DP Pokemon? The tutorial you have there is simply a lesser version of DJG's Indexing/Inserting sprites tutorial, so that's kinda pointless to have a link to that. :x

While MFA's titlescreen tutorial is fine in its own way, there's an easier method for most people; tilemap editing. I'd point to, say, something like this (http://www.pkmnhackersonline.com/index.php?page=articles&op=readArticle&title=Taking+Advantage+of+FR+Title+Screen)? Also, I like NTME (in the toolbox) better than Cyclone. :/

July 25th, 2009, 5:54 PM
1. Cyclone is old, buggy, and outdated. Upgrade to NTME today!
2. As Vrai stated, there's no need for a mapping tutorial, as everyone has their own style. Though, I admit a glance at Neti's Natural Mapping Tut. is a bit helpful.
3. Spriting is not a big part. It is a sub-part, of "Graphical Hacking". Which includes tiles, titlescreens, sprites, OW's, etc.
4. What about A-Trainer for editing trainers?

I really don't see how this would be helpful to newbies.

Also, inserting D/P/Pt pokemon is not required for a hack. I'd rather have just Kanto/Johto pokemon with a few Hoenn pokemon here and there myself.
Not everyone wants D/P.

Also, what about cry editing? It's a bit different that music editing.

July 26th, 2009, 5:36 AM
Um.. why ? I say Cyclone is better , but I should change to NTME . And this is for people who don't know anything about hacking .

July 26th, 2009, 8:22 AM
Well, if they were new to hacking, wouldn't they want the best, easiest-to-use tools?
NTME is better and more easy to use than Cyclone.

I'm not saying you yourself should change to it (though, I'd recommend it), but at least put a link to it next to or replacing Cyclone.

July 26th, 2009, 8:56 AM
This might help some people, but it wouldn't have helped me when I joined a couple days ago. :) This would actually confuse me more. Try being a little more noob-friendly.

July 26th, 2009, 2:37 PM
You do realize that this thread is basically covered here (http://www.pokecommunity.com/showthread.php?t=178665)? Plus that thread is stickied, so...

July 31st, 2009, 7:34 AM
Dont forget to put A-Text up there, for begginers it's usefull.

August 5th, 2009, 3:34 AM
@Alice -
The thread only gives the links . This one explains the basics of hacking .

August 5th, 2009, 6:41 AM
Dont forget to put A-Text up there, for begginers it's usefull.

The only thing A-Text is useful for is changing the introduction text, and possibly the credits. You should not use it for anything else.

August 5th, 2009, 6:53 AM
Yeah , Vrai's right . A-Text is nt very useful .

August 30th, 2009, 7:34 AM
Actually this helped clear up a lot of things for this n00b here. Thanks! :)

Also just wondering... when you start to hack what should one work on first ...? The mapping (assuming you have a storyline and everything laid out already)?

September 1st, 2009, 10:07 PM
This helped... I couldn't find the right sorts of programs :D Ty.

September 8th, 2009, 4:05 PM
Good. I always like to help people. :)

September 9th, 2009, 2:16 AM
:D I downloaded all those apps of the list of things you use for hacking. Big help. :)

Now, I'm on the verge of making a hack.


September 9th, 2009, 8:11 AM
Actually this helped clear up a lot of things for this n00b here. Thanks!

Also just wondering... when you start to hack what should one work on first ...? The mapping (assuming you have a storyline and everything laid out already)?

Yeah . You generally map the area first . Then script events .

I downloaded all those apps of the list of things you use for hacking. Big help.

Now, I'm on the verge of making a hack.


Cool. Do you think that I should give out links to the tools as well ?

September 9th, 2009, 6:30 PM
i do. 9 googles isnt that hard, but it would speed up the process and make it easy. i cant post links yet, so ill pm the links to you, if you dont have them. well, ill just pm them and you can ignore it if you have them.

September 10th, 2009, 2:02 AM
Wow there is so much wrong information here. @[email protected]

You even got stuff unrelated to hacking wrong (VMs are Visitor Messages not Virtual Messages).

September 10th, 2009, 2:06 AM
Malin is right >: Also, the bad punctuation puts me off reading the most of it.

September 10th, 2009, 2:18 AM
your tutorial might be useful for beginners, and lol, VM stands for visitor meesage and not virtual message!!

OM3GA Umbr30n
September 10th, 2009, 7:47 AM
Pretty decent tutorial needs to be more n00b freindly though :D

September 11th, 2009, 7:54 AM
Huh ? Bad spellings .. Correcting.
Grammar... Correcting.
Oh my gosh! Did I say VM was Virtual Message? New to PC days...
Adding links to tools...

September 11th, 2009, 11:08 AM
I don't think Spriting is a main part of hacking. You can easily create an amazing hack without a spriter. Just my opinion.

September 12th, 2009, 5:08 AM
Yes, hacks can be made without Spriting. But it lends a finishing touch to the hacks.

October 13th, 2009, 12:56 AM
This is very usefull good job

October 13th, 2009, 9:56 PM
Okay, AmazingCouchPotato, I can tell when you're just posting to get your post count up, and and it's quite an eyesore to see four threads in a row with the most recent post from you with a simple reply that adds nothing to the topic.

There are other threads that do need attention as well and you're just bumping them down.
Sorry for doing the same thing right now, and I don't mind being reported on this comment, please do.

ON TOPIC: Okay, Neo-Wolf, good for beginners, but I think this should be very noob friendly since this is pretty much telling an absolute beginner what should be included in a PKMN ROM hack. Other than that, good work on getting down the core parts :D

October 14th, 2009, 8:09 AM
Thanks Saison. :) I am coming up with a Nintendo-styled Mapping tutorial next. :)
Hope ya guys find this (RHB) good. :)

January 4th, 2010, 9:20 PM
Im kind of a noob at this. Ive been using the map editors and stuff for a while but when it comes to scripting im using Score_Unders PKSV to help me... Im trying to script the begginning parts (RUBY) where Professor Birch Is talking and when your mom comes out and starts talking... I cant seem to find her offset number and i have no idea where to find Birchs speech either... Can someone direct me where to go? I cant find a tutorial on it