The Let's Play Archive


by slowbeef

Part 49: Tales of ROMhacking: Part 8

Tales of ROMhacking

Beta went smoothly.

Policenauts is a fairly linear game, after all, and the few bugs our testers did find weren't so awful. My favorite bug, and you'll read exactly why in a moment was this:

GuavaMoment found a path where you try to load a savegame and you're presented with the options:

Save your game? Yes/No

If you say yes:

Overwrite your save? Yes/No

And if you say no? Well, then you just get:


The game doesn't reprint "Save your game?" and it's not quite clear what you're answering "Yes or no" to. The problem is that Policenauts only has text pointers for three "Yes"'s but... two "No"'s It shares the same "No" between the "Overwrite?" and blank prompts. I told Marc the best solution was to retitile the "Yes" as "Save" and the "No" as "Don't Save" so the menu options would become:

"Save Your Game? Save/Don't Save"
"Overwrite your save? Overwrite/Don't Save"
"Save/Don't Save"

So it was clear in all instances.

GuavaMoment later posted, once we were buttoned up and done... well... He posted maybe the best compliment I've gotten in my entire programming career, professionally and unprofessionally:

GuavaMoment posted:

When I tell people about participating in the beta, I'm going to say my favorite part was finding a bug that was present in the original game and having you fix it. That kind of says it all for how well the project has succeeded. I believe people will be blown away by how much effort and attention you've given the project. My expectations a few months ago were (if the patch were ever released at all) that it would be a somewhat functioning, decent enough jury-rigged hack job that would suffice to get the plot through if the program decided to work that day. When I got here and saw how functional the game was, and the mostly minor minitaue you were actually worrying about and having to fix, made me wonder why the hell this wasn't released months ago. Fantastic job.

I don't know quite what to say to that, even now.

I don't want you to think I'm including it to give myself a pat on the back or anything, but I was sort of blown away by it.

August 23, 2009
Seaside Heights, NJ

I had wanted the story to end where it began.

"You really want to post it?" I asked Marc. "If you do, you're pretty much telling everyone we're releasing."

"Yeah, I do." And with that, I posted the following image in my long, neglected LP thread:

And with that, I wandered the boardwalk. kinda liked being at the beach and the sense of relief knowing it was finally over. Marc and Artemio would stay up all night posting the patch, making sure the ducks were in a row, but my job was done.

It had been a long, long 13 months and I decided to end it in the place where it pretty much began. For my troubles, Artemio gave me a Junker HQ keychain (which among Kojima collectibles, is actually a pretty tough find) and a copy of the MSX Snatcher soundtrack.

And I distinctly thought, "Yes, what better way to end a long video game (kinda sorta) project than by drinking on a beach in New Jersey."

Well, there are worse ways, I guess.

The End

And now the part I've been dreading. If I've forgotten anyone, I am so sorry. If you've enjoyed playing Policenauts or at least reading this LP, you have the following people to thank.

- Zorak
The first beta tester of the game, I could say a lot here, but Zorak helped out and even contributed a supplemental science document with the ROMhack. I talked with Zorak a lot during the ROMhack project and in addition to beta testing, he provided a lot of moral support.

- Tasian
Tasian is genuinely one of the funniest people I've run into in Let's Play and I frankly feel bad that he's gotten a life and doesn't post here. So fuck him! No, I'm kidding, he played twice through, reported bugs, and I owe him a couple. His Osu! Otake! Ouendan! LPs are the only good camcorder LPs there are.

- GuavaMoment
I've already mentioned the words so nice I put them in the README. In retrospect, doing that may have come off arrogant, but it made me really proud of the project - moreso than I was already. Great tester, great guy. Go read his X-COM LPs if you haven't, and also The Dig.

- James_The_Stampede
James is a funny guy, a great alpha tester, and he stuck with us, playing the hack more times than... well almost anyone outside of Artemio, Marc, and I. Definitely happy to have him on this project... even if he did link me a Maddox article that one time. Well. Can't win 'em all.

- gatse_becker
gatse was another beta tester, who I got to know the least, so I have the least to say except again, thanks for all his help.

- Kennedy
Kennedy is an uncredited SA goon who provided graphcis for the "name tags" - those little textual indicators of who's talking in the gameplay sections. (I did ask if he wanted credit and he said it was fine.)

- Chip Cheezum
Chip was a "secret" beta tester on Policenauts. Toward the end, I was fucking burnt out and couldn't stomach another "bee-she-she-aych" so I contacted Chip on Skype. He played the game the second to last time and even helped identify our final bug - the on.n bug (In which a new text pointer can collide with a control code). I don't have to point you in the direction of any Chip Cheezum/Ironicus LPs I'm sure. And I won't do it for RP, either, because I am trademarking the term and sending them a C&D toot-suite.

- Deceased Crab
Yeah. Really. What? Crab was the last person to beta test it since he popped up on AIM and I figured he'd liked it. He had some notes for Marc which I did pass on (though we'd had the script finalized for awhile there). I don't hate Crab or think he's a shitty guy or anything like that. I kinda shy away from the drama involving him, and I do feel bad about the way things went down with his departure from SA. So Huzzah, pal. Thanks for that last one. "Bake Sale" is a terrible catchphrase though.

- Retroware TV
The guys from Retroware not only beta tested this game but did a very... flattering? interview with Artemio and I called "Policenauts: A Video Game Odyssey" which is maybe overstating what a translation ROMhack is, kinda sorta. Still, they were very nice about it and since I like hearing myself talk so much, the chance at an interview was much appreciated.

- Junker HQ
All the folks on the Junker HQ forums (sure, even that weird akor1108 guy) for their support.

- RHDN for being a great source of documentation, technical know-how, and one guy who writes Final Fantasy short stories who offered to redo the script for us. Oh, I forgot to get back to him! Huh. Well, anyway.

- LP
I always thought it was really stupid when video games thank "YOU!" but chronicling the hack progress in my original LP thread helped a lot and probably goaded me to finish this crazy project. I should really use LP threads as surrogate to-do lists more often. I hope you enjoyed this thread, and I'm sorry it took forever to get here.

- Scarboy
If there's anything LP directly helped with the ROMhack, it's this. If you don't know, Scarboy is the very first person to "guest" on a Let's Play thread - specifically, my VLP of Super Metroid. He was Diabetus before Diabetus. Scarboy is a golden programmer and it is only by luck that I got his help on the ROMhacking project. Honestly, had he the free time, he'd probably have been better suited to the "Lead Programmer" role and I still tell that LZO hack story because that was one of the most creative tech solutions I've ever seen anyone come up with.

- Marc Laidlaw
Thought you'd get top billing, didn't you? I still talk to Marc on AIM, and though we were going to ROMhack Dead of the Brain together (actually no joke, I considered legally licensing it and trying to make it a real deal game localization project... ....well, we'll see), it sorta fell through due to our schedules and Policenauts may well be the last thing we work on together.

Marc is the reason Policenauts is as polished as it is. As much as I cursed him and grumbled, he's the reason you have credits in English, fixed graphical bugs, and countless other things he wouldn't let me release with. It was exhausting work, but it's good to work for a producer who cares. Especially if you make no money on it. ...Hmmm. I should've thought this whole thing through maybe.

But last, and certainly not least:

- Artemio Urbina
Here is the truth about the Policenauts ROMhack project.

If I didn't come along and put my ass in a chair, someone else could've or would've. There'd have been a person tenacious enough, and arrogant enough to unwind Konami's spaghetti code and redo the assembly and read the Playstation docs and blah blah blah.

And there's Marc. And Marc spent over a year translating the script. But without him, maybe there's someone fluent enough and maybe dedicated enough (though his list is shorter than mine), and maybe if he or I had fallen through, you could have found replacements.

At the end, in software projects, no one thanks the sysadmins. No one thinks of the guys who keep the servers up, who set up the code repositories, who make sure the trains are on schedule.

Without me, there is no ROMhack.

Without Marc, there is no translation to ROMhack.

Without Artemio, there is no Policenauts Translation Project to begin with. There is no Junker HQ to have message boards where we discuss things, no Subversion repo to put all my dumbass scripts and documentation in, and nowhere for us to meet in the first place.

If you have enjoyed Policenauts in English, or this thread, please raise a toast to a Hideo Kojima fan in Mexico City who started the whole thing to begin with.

What? It's a Kojima thread! You gotta put shit after the credits!

Boston, MA
April 6, 2012

"This is my first ... conference of any kind ... like this, I guess. Video game or whatever," I told the woman working there. "But yeah, pretty neat." Like a shadow, the King of All Nerds sidled up next to us and announced:

"This may be my first PAX but I have been to several anime conventions. I cosplay as Fire Luigi from SMB1 with the green shirt, white overalls..."


Okay, Diabetus and I got a good laugh over that one, but it was fairly short lived, because I got to nerd out pretty hard too.

We ascended the escalator on our way to some panel or another when I saw him. I was at a loss for a moment.

"Holy shit, Jonathan Ingram?!"

The cosplayer looked over and said, "Thank you. Finally, someone recognizes me."

"Wow! You have the badge and the cigarette... that is an amazing costume!"

"Yeah, they wouldn't let me bring in the gun, though."

"Right, right. Still, it's-"

And then the fucker pulls out a picture:

He seriously had that, and I burst out laughing. "That is fucking amazing. Dude, you know... I was on the translation ROMhack team."

"For real?"

"Yeah, I was one of the lead programmers. My friend Marc did the translation, and I programmed the English in. My name is"

There wasn't a pause or a stutter. It came out seamless, but I did internally weigh my options.

"My name is Mike Sawyer. You can see me in the end credits."

"Wow, that's really awesome. Thanks a lot man! If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be playing it."

"You mind if I get a picture?"

With that, I handed my iPhone over to Betus and he snapped this:

- (left to right) Jonathan Ingram cosplayer, Photobomber Luigi, slowbeef

That was... that was really something.

Policenauts is not a game I actually worked on, per se. It's Kojima's, it's Konami's, it's something that could never be considered "mine", warts and all.

But for this brief moment, I get to ascend an escalator and see someone dressed up like a character from a game that I FUCKING WORKED ON?!??!?!?! (kinda sorta unofficially maybe)

It was stunning, and even crazier Marc tweeted the picture to him, and Hideo Kojima retweeted it (@KOJIMA_HIDEO - his Japanese one, not the English @KOJIMA_HIDEO_EN)

I don't know what more a ROMhacker could ask for.

Well, one thing.

I would like to know that this was cool by Kojima. I would like just an unofficial nod, just something that says "legally, I can never endorse this, it's not a precedent I could ever set, but thanks for letting my English speaking fans play that one game with the pervert". Or hell, the other option, "I never signed off on it, I am not happy you translated it without my permission." At least I'd know.

But I don't know how he feels about it.

And I never, ever will.

Let's Play Policenauts
July 10, 2008 - May 1, 2012

yeah, yeah, we'll vlp it too shut up