ROM Hacking Need a helping hand? You can get help on any ROM Hacking-related problems or questions you have here.
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Old August 8th, 2005 (5:30 AM). Edited February 18th, 2012 by giradialkia.
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Pazuzu Pazuzu is offline
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Frequently Asked Questions
Written by the ROM-Hacking and Emulation Moderators (past and present)

Quicklinks: General ROM-Hacking FAQ | Emulation FAQ | Patching FAQ

General ROM-Hacking FAQ

Q. What is a ROM?
A. A ROM (Read Only Memory) is an image files that has been dumped from a Game-Cartidge and has been transferred to a computer. ROM-Dumps of comercial games (like Pokémon) are Illegal if you did not dump the game yourself from your original cartridge. However, dumps of selfmade games (like when you programmed a Tetris game) aka. Homebrews, aren't.

Q. What is a ROM Hack?
A. A ROM hack is the modification of the original game, to change it to a person's liking. This can be done by either using a Hex-Editor (Allround tool) or game-specific tools.

Q. How can I make a Hack?
A. First you get the ROM of the game you want to hack (edit). Next think of what you want to change in your game. After that, you get some tools, which can edit the things you want.

Q. Where can I get tools?
A. Tools can be downloaded in the Toolbox section. A variation of tools are found there, this thread is useful for showcasing some of the best/vital tools.

Q. Why do I get an error when I want to run some tools?
A. Either you have not installed the "Needed files", or the program has some other problems that can only be solved by the programmer.

Q. Are there any Tutorials or Documents that could help me?
A. Yes. All the user written tutorials can be found here, the Documents and Tutorials section. There are some useful threads including, Tutorial Resources/Guides and The documents that actually matter to a hacker.

Q. How can I release a Hack?
A. Create an IPS-Patch or APS-Patch of your hacked ROM, upload it, and create a thread in any of our sections. If you have a long thread and a two+ gym beta then create it in the Hacks Showcase, rules here.

Q. Are there other hacks of other games?
A. There are a bunch of hacked games, not only of Pokémon games. Only to name a few: Super Mario, Metroid, Zelda, MegaMan, ect.

Q. Where do I get a Table file for the English Pokémon GB(C) games?
A. Either create one yourself by using a Relative Search tool and a Text editor, or by downloading it here: rbygsc.txt (Rename *.txt to *.tbl)

Q. Where do I get a Table file for the English Pokémon Advance games?
A. Either create one yourself by using a Relative Search tool and a Text editor, or by downloading it here: Advance.txt (Rename *.txt to *.tbl)

Emulation FAQ

Q. When I enter a door to a Pokémon Center, my game crashes.
A. You are most likely not using an emulator that likes the screeches the doors produce. Examples: Boycott Advance. Try using VisualBoyAdvance.

Q. When I walk in grass, my game crashes.
A. Upgrade your emulator.
Resort 2. Upgrade your video card.
Resort 3. Get a different emulator.

Q. VisualBoyAdvance has a lot of lag/slows down continuously. Can I fix it?
A. (for slowdowns). Try "Options -> Frameskip" and turning up the frameskip. On the Mac, this can be found in "Emulator -> Preferences", in the Video tab.
A. (for lag). Turn up the Frameskip to 0 or close to that (2 maybe).
Last Resort. Get a better graphics card or faster computer.

Q. What are the best emulators?
A. At the moment, VisualBoyAdvance is your best bet for emulation. Get the Windows/Linux/etc. versions at the Official VisualBoyAdvance website. Get the Mac OS X version at EmuScene Software (in the Software Browser, click Portable:Game Boy Advance:VisualBoyAdvance).

Q. Is linking between emulators possible?
A. Well just recently, there's been a breakthrough (for Windows users) and now you will be able to trade between two open emulators on your computer.
You can get VBALink here.
1. Open however many windows as you want players (two for Pokemon trading), maximum four.
2. Load the ROMs in the emulator windows you wish to load up.
3. Import save files you wish to load into those windows.
4. Select Options: Emulator and uncheck "Pause when inactive window".
5. Edit the default joystick for each emulator window and edit the controls so that each default joypad is different. Otherwise you'd find yourself controlling all four windows with the same controls.
6. Start doing your linkages. Try to avoid clicking any menus, windows or anything else that pauses the emulation or lags it that it almost halts. This will interfere with any connections established with other windows and the link will terminate.

Depending on how fast your computer is, the speed of each VisualBoyAdvance window may be somewhat slow if your computer is slow. This shouldn't affect the links, however, but you might find a bit of lag.
Q. My game won't save! Where can I find a Save Patch or fix it up?
A. Don't even bother finding a stupid game save patch for your worth. Instead, remove your .sav file for the associated ROM and open VisualBoyAdvance (without loading a ROM). Then click the "Options" menu, scroll to "Emulator", select "Save type" and click "Flash 128K" in the Save Types. In other versions or ports, there may be other ways. In Mac OS X, click the VisualBoyAdvance menu, and in the save type box, select 128 K. This isn't required on VisualBoyAdvance 1.7.4 for Mac, as Adam Green has been kind enough to make it an unchangeable default.

Q. "The 1M sub-circuit board is not installed." What does this mean? How do I fix this?
A. Open up VisualBoyAdvance without loading any ROMs. Go to the "Options" menu and select "Emulator", "Save Type". Select "Automatic" and "Flash 128K" as your save type. Delete the save file associated to your Emerald ROM.

Q. "The battery has run dry..." What does this mean? How do I fix this?
A. Open up VisualBoyAdvance without loading any ROMs. Go to the "Options" menu and select "Emulator", and enable "Real Time Clock".

Q. "The save file has been erased due to corruption or damage." And I just beat the Elite Four. What should I do?
A. You ignored "The 1M sub-circuit board is not installed.", and it is your fault. There's no way to perform an actual save, or continue after the Elite Four. In lamens terms: "You're literally screwed". You have to start all over again, but first you need to fix "The 1M sub-circuit board is not installed.", which is described above.

Alternatively, you can use this file to set the 4 above settings for you. Just place it in your VBA directory.

Q. Why does my screen turn/stay white when I load a ROM?
A. That could have several reasons. Common ones are:
- Corrupted ROM file (Re-download)
- Corrupted Patch (Re-download)
- Incorrect Save type (To fix this, see the point "The 1M sub-circuit board is not installed." of this FAQ.)

Patching FAQ

Q. What is an IPS patch?
A. An IPS patch is a small file containing the changes made to a ROM.
Some hackers will release IPS patches to be applied to a certain ROM, whether it would be the original ROM or a hack that was released by the hackers.

Q. How do I apply an IPS file to a ROM?
A. A detailed guide on how to apply the Patches to the ROMs, has been written in the "Working with Patches" part of the "Before PLAYING Hacks" FAQ in the Hacks Showcase.

Q. What is an APS patch?
A. An APS patch is a very similar file to an IPS file, also changing contents contained in the file onto the applied ROM.
Similar to IPS patches, hackers may release APS patches to be applied to a certain ROM.

Q. How do I apply an APS file to a ROM?
A. A detailed guide on how to apply APS Patches to ROMs, just like for IPS patches, has been written in the "Working with Patches" part of the "Before PLAYING Hacks" FAQ in the Hacks Showcase.

End Note

If a common question has not been answered here, please PM the ROM Hacking Moderator:

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Old December 8th, 2006 (1:46 PM). Edited December 8th, 2006 by Pazuzu.
Martin Yiu Martin Yiu is offline
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    Posts: 493
    ROM-Hacking - what's that, and how does it work?
    The right place where to get answer? Here!

    Welcome! This thread was made for beginners who want to know what is, and maybe and learn how do: ROM-Hacking. For people who know what's that all about: Imagine that you just come to this forum and register, and see the section: ROM-Hacking. "For God's sake, what's that, I've never heard about a such thing..." That was the first thing when I got to this subject for a first time... So I've decided to help beginners (often called as "noobs", what's very embarassing for those people) to understand it. So, here we go:

    2.What the hell is ROM-Hacking and what are ROMS?!
    Rom-Hacking? Modification of ROMs. Don't understand? Okay, but to know what's that, you need to know what's the ROM. ROM is, really simply said, the game itself. It stores its data, pictures, music and so. And where it has to be? It is in GB/GBC/GBA/NDS cartridge (also in other console systems cartridges) - simply said, in that "little cassette" which you put into your console when you want to play a game which is stored in its ROM - in it. But how did it get into the computer? Some people - hackers (not ROM-Hackers) , it's the best word - dump the ROMs from the cartridges into the computer by cable (at least I think so) and send them to people over the Internet or offer them on their webpages (stupid thing , but good for ROM-Hackers :D), what's -in case that's a commercial ROM, that means that you have to buy the game - illegal. So beware! If some inspection finds out that you have ROMs in computer, it can be bad for you. But don't worry, this happens as often as the solar eclipse appears .

    3.How do the people hack those ROMs? Are they virtual gods?
    No :D. But gods are programmers who made the tools to do the ROM-Hacking work. There are plenty of them, especially in the Tools Showcase section (or were, now there is only a temporary tool resource, but for the start it's enough) of this forum, it's the easiest way to get some. So this is explained. But don't ask how to edit this or this, this explanation isn't about that.

    4.And those ROM-Hacks, where to get them?
    In the Hacks Showcase section. And for further information how to play them, look into the thread "Before PLAYING a hack"
    . There will be something about VisualBoy Advance. It's a program, which makes the same computing enviroment as GBA/GBC/GB has inside its window, it emulates the console or handheld. That's all about emulator, now about patching: It's a way of modifying the file by applying the file (usualy it's a small file) with changes on the original one.

    5.The end of the race...
    Yes, now you know the basics of theory. Now, you can start practising. When the Tutorials section of the forum will be working again, it'll be a good source for learning. Trust me, I was same beginner as you are and those tutorials helped me alot. See you in some of threads!

    See ya!

    Old February 20th, 2008 (12:51 PM). Edited February 28th, 2010 by Spherical Ice.
    LynnCreed LynnCreed is offline
      Join Date: Feb 2008
      Location: Florida
      Age: 28
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      Posts: 139
      In light of my own blunders and the newbish mistakes of my new-to-hacking peers, I figured this section could use a "Read This First" thread. If It's unwelcome go ahead and delete it, but I figured it would save new posters like me some time and older members the hastle of explaining the same things over and over. I want to format it like this:

      Before you start posting your ideas, take into consideration the following:

      1. It's near-impossible to make a hack that includes all the pokemon lands.
      Why? Because there isn't enough space in the GBA rom, you would have to expand it but that would require Hacking the Game Engine. This is stuff for advanced hackers.

      2. It is impossible (at this time) to do a Diamond/Pearl hack.
      Why?Because at this point the games are too new and haven't been figured out yet. Small sections of them have been hacked, however, so this is likely to change in the near future.

      3. It is near-impossible to use ALL the pokemon in any hack.
      Why? Because the game only has 25 (98 with the advance versions if you know what you're doing) free slots to add more pokemon. More slots require engine-hacking.

      4. It's near-impossible to make a pokemon follow you around (for those of you who are planning on doing a Yellow remake).
      Why? Technically it's possible but requires special script for EVERY tile on EVERY map. Good luck.

      5. You can't give someone else a ROM.
      Why? ROM distribution is highly illegal, so people give others their ROMs in the form of an IPS or APS patch.

      This'll provide me and the other newbs with a list of answers to the questions they're bound to ask sooner or later as well as provide critical information regarding the whys and whynots of the ROM-hacking trade.

      If this isn't a good idea or if there's already a thread like this, go ahead and delete it (if there's already a thread like it could you move it here and sticky?). If you like, please sticky. All are free to post questions and you think should be on the list. Please provide the whys too for the sake of me and the other newbs. There's also the possibility of someone eventually figuring out ways around the various problems once they know why there's a problem in the first place, and we can all benefit from that.
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