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#1
Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/6 22:03
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Joined 2011/4/27
USA
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Since it appears that a lot of questions and emotions have arisen on account of the news headline informing everyone that complete-in-box copies of Hyper Fighting have been making it into the homes of various Virtual Boy enthusiasts, I figured that the time has come for me to explain my role in this whole thing, and hopefully doing so will give people a better understanding of what all has happened in this regard, and maybe it will also cause certain emotions to settle.

How the Virtual Boy game that is now known as “Hyper Fighting” began to come into being is quite remarkable, to say the least. It actually began in the middle of June in the year 2012 with a forum thread that was started here on this site by PVB User: bigmak on the subject of a game titled “Skullgirls.” In this thread, he posted a link to a site containing pictures that allegedly showed Skullgirls being worked on for the Virtual Boy. Basically, one of the pictures just showed the PC version of Skullgirls being displayed on a laptop which was sitting next to a Virtual Boy, but the colors of the game had been changed to all red and black in order to create a mockup of what the alleged Virtual Boy version might look like. There were also photos of written notes lying on the laptop’s keyboard regarding the plans for how the game would be converted over to the Virtual Boy. It is very likely that the originator of these photos never had any intention to make a version of Skullgirls for the Virtual Boy and that the photos were simply posted as a joke. Nevertheless, I responded to the thread on Planet Virtual Boy with the following comment:

“It's hard to tell if they're being serious or not about actually making a Virtual Boy version of this game. If they're looking for monetary support for the main version of the game, though, they would certainly get a lot from me if they truly intend to make this into a Virtual Boy game as well.”

It’s a very obscure little forum thread here on Planet Virtual Boy, and as of the time that I’m writing this, it has only ever received one other comment besides bigmak’s and mine. I never would have imagined that just this little thread would be the start of something truly great! Since I have had my e-mail address displayed here on my Planet Virtual Boy Profile ever since I joined the site about 4 years ago, even people who do not have actual Planet Virtual Boy User accounts have the ability to contact me if they so desire. Well, only a couple days after I posted that comment, an individual who had read it, who prefers to remain known as “Mr. Anon,” contacted me about it. He explained to me that he had run into some financial difficulties and asked me if I would be willing and able to pay him to work full time for a few months on any kind of Virtual Boy game that I desired, alleging that he would be able to produce a game for me like none other I had ever seen on the Virtual Boy. Obviously, I was very intrigued by this offer, but on the one hand, I wondered just how capable this one was of doing such all by himself, and on the other hand, I thought that such an undertaking would certainly require so much time on his part that there was probably no way that I would be able to offer a monetary amount by myself that would be satisfactory for such an endeavor. Well, since the biggest thing that I myself had to worry about was whether or not I would be able to pay him a satisfactory amount for his work, I discussed with him the upper end of about what I would be able to afford, and to my surprise, we were able to agree on a total price for all of his work that he would do for me. It was then time for me to choose the game that he would make for me!

The subject of Skullgirls did get me thinking that my Virtual Boy collection at the time truly was lacking something in the one-on-one fighting genre, so I really did want a one-on-one fighting game of some kind to be made for me. The thing is, there are not too many one-on-one fighting games that I have really enjoyed over the years, though I have played my fair share of them, but out of all of the ones that I have ever played, “Street Fighter II Turbo” for the SNES was by far my favorite one. I had owned it since about the fifth grade and had easily put over a thousand hours into that particular version. I’ve also played other versions of Street Fighter II, such as on the Game Boy and the 3DO, and I very much enjoyed the subtle differences between the versions. A person who doesn’t put much time into each version might not notice too many differences between them all, but one like me who has put hundreds of hours into each one can pick up on many subtle differences between the versions, primarily with regard to the computer player’s artificial intelligence on any particular difficulty level and the human player’s ability to execute various moves and combos with each character in any given situation. Thus, I feel that each version of the game released on a different platform has to be viewed as its own unique game, since certain strategies that might work with some characters in certain situations in one version of the game will not work in similar situations in another version. But in any case, all versions of the game, in my opinion, are so great and fun to play as well as fun to master! Well, all of this got me thinking: What better choice would there be than for me to have Mr. Anon make me a version of Street Fighter II for the Virtual Boy? I figured that the end result would no doubt be a game that would be different enough from the other versions, primarily with regard to computer AI and performing certain moves and combos in different situations, but at the same time, it would also be similar enough that I would know for sure that I would enjoy it and would love mastering it, like with the other versions I had played. The best thing about this choice, I thought, is that I would not have to give Mr. Anon any guidance at all as to what characters and moves I would want in the one-on-one fighting game that he would make for me. I could just tell him, “Please make me a version of Street Fighter II that is as close as possible to the SNES version of Street Fighter II Turbo,” and then he could use that as the basis to make the whole game that I wanted, without my constantly having to come up with original characters and moves for an all new one-on-one fighting game or constantly having to test out demos of the game that he would have to make and send to me, in order for me to ensure that the game was being made to my satisfaction. I figured that if I am going to pay Mr. Anon a good bit of money to make me a one-on-one fighting game for the Virtual Boy, I want to make sure that the end result is going to be something that I will definitely enjoy and that it won’t require much conversation between me and him during the whole development process or a lot of testing of the game on my part to ensure that I would enjoy the end result, which would take up a lot of time for the both of us. This is the biggest reason why I decided to have an already known game, which I already loved, be made for the Virtual Boy for me.

With the full price for all of his work being set and with the game to be made being determined, it was now time to decide how the project would be carried out by both parties. Since Mr. Anon convinced me by his various messages that he sent to me that he was fully competent to carry out his end of the deal and was fully serious about doing so, I wanted to take steps to show that I was fully serious about carrying out my end of the deal. Thus, we agreed that I would pay him on a weekly basis for the work that he was doing for me and that he would keep me updated on his work by sending me demos of the work-in-progress. I was willing to send him partial payments for the first couple of weeks that he worked on the game for me, even before I received the first demo of his work. I figured that even if he ended up not fulfilling his end of the deal, sending him just a couple of payments wouldn’t be too much of a loss for me, and I would at least feel good about having helped out one who had run into financial difficulties. Nevertheless, if I wouldn’t have received a demo after a few weeks of sending payments, I would have stopped sending more payments until the first demo arrived. Well, it turned out that I didn’t have to worry about such. After just a couple of weeks, Mr. Anon sent me his first demo, which contained a menu that allowed me to choose to listen to many of the different sounds and music that would be in the finalized game. To say the least, I was completely blown away! I myself do not know much about programming for the Virtual Boy, but I was well aware that a lot of homebrewers here on Planet Virtual Boy have had difficulty incorporating sound into their Virtual Boy games, and the sounds and music I was listening to on my Virtual Boy sounded so great that if someone had sent me that demo, saying that it was a sound demo that Capcom itself had made back in 1995, when rumors were going around in Japan that Capcom was working on a version of Street Fighter II for the Virtual Boy, I would have believed the person. But this wasn’t a demo made by an entire video game company but rather, as far as I knew, by a single individual! After receiving that sound demo, I was very reassured that I had gotten myself into a great deal, and it would only be a few weeks after that when I would receive my first demo of actual gameplay. It was then that I would truly feel like a giddy little schoolboy! I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh! I am actually fighting with Ryu against Sagat on my Virtual Boy! I am playing a demo of my favorite one-on-one fighting game of all time on my favorite video game system of all time! What more could I ask for?” Well, I could have asked for the finished game, of course, but after receiving that demo of the gameplay, I felt full assurance that Mr. Anon would fulfill his end of the deal. Thus, I kept sending him the weekly payments until the full, agreed upon price was reached, and he kept sending me updates on his progress.

The biggest thing that amazes me about Mr. Anon’s capabilities is that not only does he prove himself to be a master at programming and coding, but he is also an exceptional artist. To me, it is very amazing for an individual to excel in both of these areas. Through the various e-mails that I exchanged with him, I learned that he was designing all of the graphics in the game completely from scratch, rather than simply taking existing sprites and graphics from another version of the game. Not only that, but he told me that he himself had the ability to design and make his own cart for the game, which would be necessary since he learned during development that the finalized game would require twice the storage capacity of what the FlashBoy Plus has, which is the flash cart that is currently available for purchase from Richard Hutchinson and which is necessary for playing homebrew games on an actual Virtual Boy system. He also said that the finalized game would be able to support the 2-player link cable. Now, since there is currently only one official link cable that has ever surfaced and fallen into one PVB User’s hands, I assumed from this that he had the ability to make his own link cables, though he never actually mentioned that he would make and send me one, which didn’t matter all that much to me anyway since I don’t have anybody close to me who would ever want to meet up with me to fight against me in the game. He even told me that he would design and produce his own instruction booklet and box, both containing lots of artwork, which he would send to me as part of the final product. I couldn’t believe it. Mr. Anon seemed to have the ability to do everything by himself! Now, I have no idea of what all programming and coding was involved in the process, but one thing he did tell me about this was that he was using a fighting engine that was made by PVB User: M.K. I don’t know how exactly he got access to this fighting engine, but I assumed that he must at least be an online acquaintance of M.K., since I don’t believe M.K.’s fighting engine has been made publicly available to this day.

Well, the project did end up taking Mr. Anon longer than he originally anticipated. I had actually sent him all payments months before he ended up finishing the project. Nevertheless, he kept in communication with me, and I was certain that he would finish the game eventually. Then, one day, to my great surprise, a very plain-looking prototype cart of the practically finalized game arrived at my house in the mail. As a slight reference to Napoleon Dynamite, Mr. Anon had made my wildest dreams come true! The version he sent me was so complete and well-made that I considered his part of the deal fulfilled, even if I didn’t get the other things that he had told me he would eventually have made and sent to me. Nevertheless, he continued to work on the game for a little while after that, and then one day, another package arrived at my house, and boy was I excited to see that now, not only did I have an interesting, though rather plain-looking, prototype cart of the game in my possession, but now I had a very official-looking cart, box, and instruction booklet of the game, which looked like it had been made by Capcom itself! The truly finalized version of the ROM on this new cart was even more finished, professional-looking, and polished than the ROM on the prototype cart that had been sent to me before.

Well, it was a short time after this that I learned from my daily visits to Planet Virtual Boy that other people were getting copies of this cart, box, and instruction booklet sent to them. I don’t know any of the specifics relating to how all of this went down, but this had nothing at all to do with the original agreement that was made between me and Mr. Anon, and I myself certainly have no part in this. The original agreement was that I would pay Mr. Anon to make me and only me a one-on-one fighting game for the Virtual Boy. The purpose of this was both to help Mr. Anon out with his financial difficulties and to make my wildest Virtual Boy dreams come true. I never planned to let it be known that this game was in my Virtual Boy collection, since I didn’t want to tease others with what a great game I could play on my Virtual Boy, and I also have no plans to try to make a single penny off of this game myself, in order to try to recover any of the money that I spent to have this game made for me. I don’t know many of the details about copyright laws, but I felt that if I simply paid Mr. Anon to make me a game and then kept the game to myself, without sharing it with anyone or making any money off of it, I would not be violating any copyright laws, though the game would look and play like a copyright-protected game. Whether or not that is true, I don’t fully know, but I certainly know that Capcom would have never found out about this or cared at all about it if such had remained the case. Nevertheless, since multiple copies of this game have been made and are now out there in others’ hands, I felt it necessary to explain my part in this whole thing, since eventually some who have this game in their possession will learn that I myself am a hidden character within the game, who can be unlocked, and these people might wonder just why this is so. You see, Mr. Anon really made my wildest dreams come true, for not only can I play my favorite one-on-one fighting game of all time on my favorite video game system of all time, but I can do so as myself, who has all the abilities of the character I’m best with, Ken. Thus, no longer must I play as Ken, for I can now play as myself, Ben!

To be clear, I am not at all upset that others are enjoying this great game, though I very likely paid much more for it to be made than anyone else. Nevertheless, I do realize that now that news about this game has gotten out, many are upset that they might never get to play this gem, at least not the full version of it. If that is the case, I hope that none of them will hold it against me. I also want to make it perfectly clear that I will never give anybody a copy of the ROM of the finalized game, as I will have no part in its distribution, so it is best for one not to waste one’s time asking. It must be understood that this was just supposed to be a private project between me and Mr. Anon. Now, I myself have no idea if Mr. Anon is getting any money from the distribution of the copies of these CIB games, but I am fully convinced that if I had told Mr. Anon to make an original one-on-one fighter for the Virtual Boy, he would have done an amazing job and wouldn’t have had to worry about copyright laws at all if he then chose to sell and distribute copies of his game. I fully believe that Mr. Anon deserves to get paid for his programming work, as he is incredible at it, and I feel that people who want new games for the Virtual Boy, who don’t want to get into programming themselves, should be willing to pay programmers to make games for them, or give them some other incentive to make games for them, rather than expect free handouts from the hard work and dedication of others. Nevertheless, Mr. Anon, in this case, did not choose to make a new version of a copyright-protected game; I made that choice, and I did so for all of the reasons previously explained, which just made things easier given the specific circumstances. Therefore, if anybody out there decides to disrespect all this by trying to make a nice profit off of the sales of copies of the end result of this project that began as a personal thing between me and Mr. Anon, I am not at all shy to say that I seriously hope that trouble will come your way. If Capcom itself doesn’t come after you, then likely the good ol’ PVB mob here will. :-)

--
Benjamin Stevens
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#2
Re: Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/6 22:45
VUE(xpert)
Joined 2010/10/23
Great Britain
388 Posts
10+ Game RatingsLong Time User (9 Years) Donator
I don't think you have any cause for concern Ben.
Certainly looks like you helped kickstart one of the greatest games on our beloved virtual boy.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
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#3
Re: Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/6 23:34
PVB Elite
Joined 2012/7/9
USA
835 Posts
Top10 PosterLong Time User (7 Years) 20+ Game Ratings
That was fascinating to read, and gave me a lot of information that I wasn't aware of. Thank you for clearing up things for us.
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#4
Re: Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/7 0:15
PVB Elite
Joined 2013/6/17
Canada
1226 Posts
Top10 Poster10+ Game RatingsLong Time User (6 Years)
A good read, thanks for clearing things up, Ben. I never would have guessed that's how this all started!
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#5
Re: Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/7 0:30
PVB Elite
Joined 2011/3/10
USA
929 Posts
Top10 PosterLong Time User (9 Years) 30+ Game Ratings
This was a very interesting story, Ben. I am glad that you took the time to type it out. I found it very interesting to learn about the roots behind this project. Is there any chance that you would consider snapping photos of your proto-build boards for the sake of posterity?

Ben, you are a very nice person. Everyone who has ever spoken with you will attest to that. Please do not take what I am about to type personally. I mean no disrespect towards you.

If someone decides to sell their copy they would most likely ask what they paid for it, which I am sure some would immediately assume was an attempt to make a profit. If multiple persons wanted the copy and were willing to bid against each other for it, then that is their business. At this point it is no longer personal, it is consumerism. A seller has a desirable item that they paid for, regardless of the back-story for its creation, it remains simply what it is (a video game) with its monetary value. If I paid to have a game made and then others created carts for it, I would not hope for trouble to come their way. I would only be upset if the ROM was shared without my permission, as essentially I would (at least partially) own that finalized version as I personally paid for its creation.

Perhaps I am wrong. We may not agree on this. This is just my opinion.

One other thing should be added for everyone who has read about this game and may not get to experience it. This game has become a testing ground for a board with larger memory. It also proves that coders are willing to work for money and produce an amazing game. This game should pave the way for what I am sure will be a future of excellent VB games. Its very existence is what we should be celebrating, and not if you will get to play more than a demo. Think to the future, what game could possibly come next? We are proving that their is a market for VB homebrew.
Edited by Lester Knight on 2015/2/7 0:42
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#6
Re: Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/7 1:12
Nintendoid!
Joined 2014/1/3
USA
168 Posts
Long Time User (6 Years) 40+ Game Ratings
Wow... All I can say is, thank you Ben! Without you, Mr. Anon, and M.K. this masterpiece would not exist. It has been killing me to not be able to say anything about this fantastic addition to our library. I personally can say that no amount of money or goods will pry this gem out of my collection :)
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#7
Re: Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/7 12:25
PVB Elite
Joined 2011/7/1
Germany
1150 Posts
CoderContributorTop10 PosterLong Time User (8 Years) App CoderPVBCC 2013 Entry
Thanks for making HF happening Ben. It truly is outstanding.
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#8
Re: Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/7 16:17
Virtual Freak
Joined 2013/1/15
USA
94 Posts
10+ Game RatingsLong Time User (7 Years)
Thank you so much for making this happen Ben. I hope that Mr. Anon can go on to make more wonderful VB games that the whole community can enjoy!
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#9
Re: Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/7 18:04
PVB Elite
Joined 2011/4/27
USA
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Quote:

Lester Knight wrote:
If someone decides to sell their copy they would most likely ask what they paid for it, which I am sure some would immediately assume was an attempt to make a profit. If multiple persons wanted the copy and were willing to bid against each other for it, then that is their business. At this point it is no longer personal, it is consumerism. A seller has a desirable item that they paid for, regardless of the back-story for its creation, it remains simply what it is (a video game) with its monetary value. If I paid to have a game made and then others created carts for it, I would not hope for trouble to come their way. I would only be upset if the ROM was shared without my permission, as essentially I would (at least partially) own that finalized version as I personally paid for its creation.


Hi Lester,

Well, for the most part, I agree with everything that you said, especially if given the typical and, for lack of a better word, "fair" situation. Thus, if we are talking about how typical video games are created and sold within typical market circumstances, I would agree with what you've said. But in this particular case, I do think that the back-story for this particular game's creation is a major factor that must be considered by all.

Now, the reason why I have worries and concerns about all this is largely because I myself know practically none of the details concerning what is going on privately with the distribution of the CIB copies of Hyper Fighting. All I know for sure is the amount of money that I paid Mr. Anon to make this particular game for me, and I can only guess how many hundreds of hours he must have spent working on the game for me, though he never told me the exact amount. Even though the amount of money that I paid him might be considered large by many, especially for just one person to pay for a single game, if I take the total amount of money that I paid him and divide it by whatever hundreds of hours he spent working on the game, it comes out to him making a pittance per hour of his work, no matter how low the hundreds figure might be. Now, under a normal and, what I would consider "fair," situation, Mr. Anon SHOULD now have the right to sell and distribute his game and make even more money from it, in order to help further compensate him for the hundreds of hours of hard work that he did on the game. Never as part of the original agreement did I try to take any ownership for the game that he would make for me, so he should, under normal and fair circumstances, be able to do whatever he wants with it since it is all his work, and I have no rights to anything besides my copy of the game that he promised me. Thus, if Mr. Anon truly has the ability to make the CIB copies of the game himself, as he told me he could, and sell them each at a profit, in order to help further compensate him for his hundreds of hours of work spent on everything, he should definitely do so, and what better way to do so than publicly, so that he could make a lot more sales more easily? Well, why is this not happening? The answer is: because of Ben. Because Ben had him make a copyright-protected game, so now, because of copyright laws, he cannot legally make money off of the result of his hundreds of hours of hard work.

So you see, this specific situation really burdens me now, as I am now more clearly seeing what I have forced upon Mr. Anon by my choice of game. I wish and hope that Mr. Anon would receive more compensation for his work done on this game, because that might be great incentive for him to work on more games for the Virtual Boy in the future, which is something that I know a lot of us here would love. But as things stand, I don't even know if he is getting any money at all from the underground distribution of this game or if he is the one behind it. But in any case, he cannot legally take steps to earn more for what he did for me, and if I had simply chosen for him to make me an original one-on-one fighting game, he certainly could, and the same hundreds of hours that he spent working on this game for me could be much better rewarded.

So now that this has hopefully been more fully and clearly explained, imagine the effect that it could have on Mr. Anon if he sees one of these underground CIB copies of the game he made for me appear on Ebay for auction. On the one hand, if he is, in fact, the one selling these games in a non-public manner, then he will know what the Ebay seller paid for the game if he recognizes the seller as one of his customers. He will then see the very likely high selling price of the game, which will result from the fact that there is enough of a demand for it but either not enough of a supply or no easy access to the supply. And why might there be not enough of a supply or no easy access to the supply? Again, because of Ben, because Ben forced Mr. Anon into a situation where he is not allowed to sell and distribute his game that he made for Ben. If Ben had chosen a game that was not copyright-protected, the same hundreds of hours that Mr. Anon spent in programming the game and even making the CIB copies of the game could have been better rewarded, and those bidders on Ebay would be his own customers who would have found him more easily because he could have advertised such in a public manner. On the other hand, if Mr. Anon is not the one selling these CIB games in a non-public manner and, thus, not getting any money from them, but he would be if he was legally allowed to do so, since he informed me that he was capable of doing so, then everything I explained would even be a worse hit on him, as he would know the total amount of money that I paid him, in which case his earnings would end there, and he could only guess at how much the Ebay seller, who is playing the role of the opportunist on the situation, which Ben created and into which Ben forced Mr. Anon, would profit from the result of Mr. Anon's hundreds of hours of work, for which he was never given a "fair" chance to receive further compensation.

So yeah... my biggest concern is how all of this is now affecting Mr. Anon, and I honestly don't know how it all is, since he was a man of very few words to begin with and is now actually rather hard to get in touch with. And if an Ebay seller makes a ridiculous amount of profit off of the single sale of one of these games, given all of the specific circumstances surrounding it, and Mr. Anon would find out, there is no doubt in my mind that it would upset him because of the situation I've forced him into, and I don't want him to get upset because, assuming that this was his first game ever made for the Virtual Boy, I want there to be the possibility of him making more games for the Virtual Boy, and the happier his first experience with making a game for the Virtual Boy is, the better the chance that he will make another one. But yes, as you said, this whole experience could cause other programmers to try to jump on the Virtual Boy scene, now that it is known that people are willing to compensate for homebrew efforts.

Actually, all of this has got me thinking... If the original agreement that I made with Mr. Anon had remained in full effect, only Mr. Anon and I and whoever else Mr. Anon allowed in on the game would be playing this game for the Virtual Boy right now and would even know about it. I must confess that I myself am a rather late entrant into the Virtual Boy scene, so this makes me wonder just how many underground projects for the Virtual Boy have occurred over the years, and this is perhaps the first one that rose to the surface. What other great games might there already be for the Virtual Boy, which have been made by programmers secretly and only shared with a few?
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#10
Re: Benjamin Stevens’ Role in the Making of Hyper Fighting
Posted on: 2015/2/7 23:46
PVB Elite
Joined 2011/3/10
USA
929 Posts
Top10 PosterLong Time User (9 Years) 30+ Game Ratings
Some valid points there Ben. If I ever, for example, chose to sell one of my 2 copies, any extreme profit I make over what I paid for the game would go off to those involved as a donation. I have been involved with homebrew (testing, creation, writing (script - not coding), reporting, etc) for years. I got into it because I love gaming and I love independently created software. I have worked alone side coders to produce homebrew and I know exactly what goes into it. I'm a former coder myself (hobbyist and through education), although I have long since stopped writing code, to understand exactly how much goes into creating a game from scratch. I'm sure Mr. Anon did most of the work out of love, a love for creating. The money helped, I am sure, and more is always nice, but the love of building something would be my bet as to what drove him to finish his game.

I have a very large collection of homebrew that has never seen the light of day. This is the benefit of being involved in a scene but also the burden. I have special 1-off test builds of software, games that have never been released, games partially coded that I always wanted to see finished, etc. Knowing this, I would have to agree with you and have the same questions. Just how much unknown VB software is out there that simply traded hands between a handful of hardcore homebrew lovers and never saw a public hosting/distribution of any kind. Are their completed games among those projects? Some how this has got me thinking about Dragon Hopper!
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