A Purpose Found
During a period of great change in my life, with great eagerness exhibited towards finding something new to do, I began streaming on February 7th, 2017. Having, at least what I think is, a level head, my expectations were reasonably low, and it became a little activity meant to be a kind of creative outlet. It wasn’t long until this creative outlet transformed into a serious endeavor, in which I began a surprising journey, one which I’m planning to cover in another reflection piece.
Even though I experienced stretches of great success, as well as intervals of great failure, a constant longing to find some sort of true purpose persisted within me. What was I actually doing that made me stand out from the thousands of others? What was it I could do to actually put forth some meaningful, unique content to be digested by the world? What was my purpose?
I previously focused on content that centered on me putting together a random assortment of mods made by other people for a limited collection of games; games which I quickly became sick and tired of. These mods made it so I died a lot, making the whole experience very entertaining. This type of content pleased a lot of people, however people are fickle, and the fleeting adoration of the masses, in the end, doesn’t amount to much.
It wasn’t until November during the year 2019 that I decided to embark on something I dreamed of doing, but lacked the courage to see through, for quite some time: to learn how to disassemble and manipulate any and all video game software to become more inline with what I found enjoyable as far as gaming went. It was something that I could employ that actually built upon the many skills I garnered during the previous part of my life where I was a dedicated software architect and engineer. This part of my life was something I was previously fervent about — it was my life, but the passion was gone, despite my desire to relight it.
One year later I sit here writing this, pride swelling within me, knowing that I faced my fears and overcame incredibly difficult odds. I’ve surprised myself and have actually managed to acquire an ever-increasing skillset that allows me to reverse engineer byte-compiled code, make sense of it, and effectuate seismic changes in gameplay with subtle modifications. Not only that, but I’ve started to build an entire platform, an ecosystem really, of systems and technologies that all came together to create this wonderful experience known as Omnified.
I’ve found my purpose. My passion towards that previous part of my life reignited.
I know I have many fans who would tell me that they “always had faith” in me, or that they knew in their hearts that I would be able to figure out how to do what I wanted to do. While that sort of support truly humbles me to the point that I wonder if I truly deserve it, I must state to any of those fans reading this some of my own feelings: that they probably don’t quite grasp the difficulty of this whole endeavor.
This truly was and has been an incredibly difficult undertaking, and there was never any kind of guarantee that I’d make any headway with it. There is a reason so few people do it, and why I may be the first person to do specifically what it is that I’m doing. So, that being said, I hope it impresses upon the reader the sheer joy I have that I didn’t just give up, and that even greater things are to come. I of course, wouldn’t have been able to do this as easily, without their support.
From Humble Beginnings, to an Ever Growing Platform
As I’ve pointed out in my 2021 Roadmap, we have a lot of exciting things going on and things even more exciting in store for us in the future. I’ve simply been having the greatest time growing all these technologies I’ve spent the last year inventing. Things were quite humble at the outset however, with only my will to learn and do what I actually viewed as semi-impossible under my belt.
Doing anything required a horrendous amount of effort. Figuring out how anything meaningful worked required the same. There were no dreams of universally-applicable systems at this point, all that I had was a drive to be able to do anything that made me at least somewhat significant. I spent a few nights working on how I could make a game that did not support mods into something insane. And then, in the month of November, 2019, we had our first Omnified broadcast.
I. The First Game. From Casual to One-Hit Bloodbath.
For Omnified Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, the first Omnified game broadcast on my stream, all of the initial hacking was done beforehand, off stream. It was not easy, as I had to brush up on my x86 Assembly (although I have many years under my belt as a developer, I typically only used assembly languages when dealing with more simple microcontroller hardware). For my first Omnified hack, I knew I had to start with something simple, and so I looked for how we might take damage being done to the player and make it a bit more…deadly.
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey had been hacked so that all damage done to the player would result in immediate death. It was a very simple change, however it transformed the game magnificently, turning what would normally be quite a boring gameplay experience for me into something quite enjoyable. In addition to the one-hit kill code, I also managed to add some additional logic that would prevent the death from happening if the player perfectly blocked the attack.
While very simple sounding, it nonetheless required a great deal of effort from me to get everything into a playable state, as I was building on a foundation of nothing. But the effort was worth it, as the game became very enjoyable for me, and I assume it was fun to watch as well. I ended up dying over a thousand times, which made me a very happy boy indeed. The fact we did this to a game that didn’t even support mods was proof to me that we could make a thing of this; that we were at the precipice of something grand.
Once we completed Omnified Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, I was suddenly hit with a sudden realization of something that would be required following the completion of any Omnified game: that I had to Omnify the next one. No streams until I did. This became a recurring theme in the last year; specifically, figuring out how to budget my stream time vs my hacking time.
II. Making Those Lightsabers Actually Burn
After scrambling to produce something that we could use to continue this new Omnified trend, I came up with Omnified Jedi: Fallen Order. For this game, instead of just hacking in some code that would automatically kill the player upon receiving damage, I instead hooked into the health update location of code and magnified all incoming damage by 69x. The effect is the same in the end (the player’s death), but it’s a bit more catchy in regards to advertising (sex sells and all that).
This was the first instance of taking some game value, in this case damage being done to the player, and multiplying it by a specified amount. For Omnified Jedi: Fallen Order, that amount was 69x, an amount that would be used time and time again after this particular game. It’s an interesting number, innuendo aside, and it’s always a notable event if we ever actually manage to survive a 69x damage hit.
Omnified Jedi: Fallen Order yielded death after death at a dizzying rate. I had nearly 200 deaths after the first stream! Unheard of. While it was the same sort of gameplay as the previous game, the change was technically different. And that became a goal of mine for each game, to do something a little different each time.
One thousands deaths later, the second Omnified game was beaten, and yet another game required some hacking. This time however, the hacking was done on stream, in front of everyone, so everyone could witness the process.
III. On Stream Gunslingin’ Hackin’
The next game to receive the Omnified treatment was Red Dead Redemption 2, a game I greatly looked forward to hacking and playing. Unlike the previous games, all the hacking was done completely live on stream, so that for the first time people could watch how we can effectuate change to our own realities by directly exerting control on the programs running on our computers.
Doing the hacking with everyone watching upped the ante a bit. Everything is harder when done in front of a camera, while you’re being recorded, and especially if what you’re doing is incredibly difficult. It was me stepping out of my comfort zone; a good deal of the time I spent while beginning to learn how to manipulate compiled binaries was me looking completely flabbergasted! Red Dead Redemption 2 had a bit of anti-hacking technology built into it as well, which only further complicated things.
In the end, we had yet another Omnified game where any damage to the player caused immediate death. This turned the game, a game where guns are common and shoot-outs are just as common, into a God forsaken bloodbath. Yet again, I was content in the dropped jaws I could just sense being transmitted through the wire in response to seeing such a hardcore gaming experience. Once Omnified Red Dead Redemption 2 was completed, I knew that we needed to do something new for the next one.
IV. Some More Effects with the Mass Effects
After beating the dead horse that Red Dead Redemption 2 became, it was time for the next game. I decided I was going to Omnify and play through the entire Mass Effect series, starting with the first one. Like with the previous game, I decided to grit my teeth and do the hacking live on stream. I’m still surprised to this day people watched such struggle being broadcast (insert a ‘LUL’ here please).
Instead of just implementing single hit deaths, I started ratcheting up the complexity slightly by reverse engineering more data points and applying potentially different effects to them. Damage was still magnified by 69x, however it was magnified for both shields and health. Two separate things. Not a one hit death, but basically a two hit death.
It wasn’t until the next game, Omnified Mass Effect 2, where we really added some new stuff. I once again hooked into shield and health data points, this time only applying a 5x increase for incoming damage (more than enough to almost instantly vaporize you). The reason behind this tamer damage bump was due to what else came in the Omnified package this time around: the first ever Omnified speed hack.
Not only did enemies smoke our butts with just a few shots, but code was added to allow them to move at an alarming speed as well. This was an entirely new hack; all hacks before this just focused on manipulating the damage occurring to the player’s health. This was the first modification to an entirely separate subsystem of character data.
A speed hack was also a step up in terms of complexity. It was dirty, things moved faster, but sometimes very uncontrollably. Enemies would get stuck in walls, or run way past the character. This is what happens when you play with the power of the Gods: you mess shit up. Despite all of this, it was for the most part, another big success in terms of making the gameplay incredibly fun for me and hopefully entertaining for others.
V. Live Statistical Displays and Hello Random!
A few more games into the Omnified journey, we eventually found ourselves playing through Omnified Middle-earth: Shadow of War. While playing through this game, I started playing with random number generation via assembly code. One of my favorite kinds of difficulty comes in the form of “RNG bullshit”, as I call it, and it was something I was planning on introducing into Omnified hacks for quite some time.
So, after figuring out a way to generate random numbers to use to affect the player in random ways (in assembly mind you!), I realized I needed a way to display to the audience what exactly was going on. That’s when I suddenly had the big realization that it would be pretty neat if we set up a way to display on stream hacked game data, essentially data mined from the running executable.
The magical on-stream display of statistics previously confined to that hidden land of binary, normally out of reach of mere mortals was going to become a signature part of the Omnified experience. It is going to play an even bigger role in things to come in form of the Vision overlay application that I’m developing. I mean, will anything be cooler than the live, sexily presented, display of information previously confined to our thoughts and the game’s own code!?
VI. The Birth of the Apocalypse and Game-Neutral Modification
We were getting pretty deep into 2020 when something truly epic in proportions started brewing up. While playing Omnified Resident Evil 3, I decided to put everything I learned up to that point to the test by developing a system where, upon the player receiving damage, random effects would be applied based on the roll of the dice.
If the dice rolled low enough, a simple doubled amount of damage would be applied, however if the dice landed on the wrong number, a devastating effect would occur, such as the now-feared effect known as getting “sixty nined”. If we were really lucky, however, we would be “given brain” (as opposed to zombies eating our brains), becoming fully healed.
It should be no small surprise that the “given brain” effect eventually became known as “spontaneous battlefield orgasm” in later games (you understand the slang connotations behind giving brain, I hope?).
Innuendo aside, what we had, after implementing the above rules, was the birth of the Apocalypse system.
At first the various rolls that occurred during Apocalypse system execution were invisible to the viewer. You would have to guess at what just occurred based on how quickly the player got his or her ass kicked. Eventually, an event log for the Apocalypse system was developed and then displayed prominently on stream. It made its first debut during the playthrough of Omnified Dying Light.
The was truly the start of something magnificent! A completely new system to handle damage in any game, turning something boring into something deliciously Omnified. One-hit deaths are great, but unexpected random one-hit deaths are even better. The Apocalypse system was so neat, I wanted it in every game, and thus the concept of a game-neutral hack (or mod) was born.
VII. Apocalypse and Predator Systems: Game Neutralized
People have been writing mods for games for awhile now. Typically only when such activities are sanctioned by the game developers, but sometimes through sheer will of the creator of the mod as well (i.e. Baldur’s Gate mods, which were the result of reverse engineering). But modifications to a game have always been just for that game. No one ever worked on something intending or even hoping that it was going to work with anything else.
Until now. In the middle of 2020, I realized that, with my exclusive use of assembly to modify the behavior of games combined with the years of experience in higher level software development and engineering, that I had the ability to create systems of gameplay changing system code transplantable into any game I could imagine.
Taking the Apocalypse system, I created a Omnified hacking framework, with “publicly facing” functions executable from injected assembly code. The first Omnified game neutral system was born. Around this time I developed a new kind of system that dealt with intelligent boosts to enemy speed: the Predator system. This too became game neutralized.
And yes, at the time of writing, we’re all still waiting for a detailed design article on the workings of the Predator system. It will come! It’s on the todo list. It’ll come right after this. I promise.
With the creation of the game-neutral concept I truly became invigorated in my effort, we were doing something really new and fundamental. It continues to drive me to this day, and we’re going to do even crazier, more mind bending things with this methodology in the months and years to come.
VIII. The Abomnification
On one sunny day, while streaming my playthrough of Omnified Monster Hunter: World, I was playing around with the size of some of the creatures when a viewer in chat remarked that it would be neat if I could change the shape of creature, but using a smooth animation to transition between sizes, and not just a sudden shift.
I laughed. This is assembly we’re talking about! Everything is really hard with assembly. But still, I thought it was neat. And then, after thinking for a little longer, I actually figured out a way to achieve smoothly animated randomly morphing NPCs with assembly. And so, I implemented it, and what would eventually become the Abomnification system was born.
This would eventually become the third game neutral system, although it wasn’t until many games later that I perfected the process and actually made it game neutral.
IX. Hackpad and the Formalization and Refinement of Omnified
As 2020 entered its third quarter, I began to Omnify the various games published by FromSoft, among other games, and it was during these (rather difficult to modify, at least to my requirements) games that I began to refine the manner in which the hacks were implemented. Also around this time, I established this website, to serve as a repository for all my work.
The state of becoming Omnified became formalized: becoming Omnified meant the implementation of Apocalypse, Predator, and Abomnification systems. I had successfully game neutralized all of them, and even implemented the Abomnification system in a number of games that lacked scaling support (extreme skills, at least compared to what I had when I started, were required).
With the refinement of what it meant to be Omnified and the creation of my hackpad, this finally turned into not only an entertaining endeavor, but a scholarly one as well, and I was thrilled to be able to finally commit everything to writing.
The above recounting isn’t a complete listing of all occurrences, or even all achievements that were made during this Omnified journey, but it definitely covers all of the most important points. I’m very pleased, and very much eager to build upon this ever-growing platform I’ve spawned in the years to come.
Performance of the Omnified Approach
I’ve been streaming since February, 2017. I attained partnership during my first year, and have experienced innumerable highs and lows during my journey: from entertaining audiences of thousands, to entertaining audiences of none. It wasn’t until around my third year of streaming that I began this Omnified approach. It took me three years to find my purpose.
So how has my stream performed, in response to my Omnified endeavors?
If you read the preceding section, or have been following what I’ve been doing on my stream, then I would hope that you’d know that what we’re doing here is really new, unique, insane, game-related, and entertaining. Surely all of this effort and unique content must’ve been a boon to my stream itself. Sadly this is not the case. When comparing a year of Omnified streaming to my three previous years of streaming, it ranks the lowest in views, follows, and overall interest.
It isn’t my intention to air grievances and gain sympathy from the reader, and know that this isn’t being written with any sort of a heavy heart. This is a reflection piece on the first year since I began this unique undertaking, and I am just stating facts plainly and with a sober mind. An important thing one should do after committing to a year of trying out something, is to examine the results of one’s actions.
I would be lying if I said I didn’t experience any periods of embitterment during this past year. An intense amount of effort has been expended to create something truly unique, with a large amount of very difficult hacking required every time I wished to sit back and enjoy a simple act that thousands of others enjoy: playing a game with a camera on. It is a mistake to ever feel entitled to anything in this business, as that will only lead one to sadness. It is easy to say that, but still quite difficult not to still feel it anyways.
One might look at what I do and calmly proffer a fairly simple observation: what you do is very niche, very specific; the amount of interest in it will be similarly proportioned.
But is what I do that niche? Is not what I do, the deconstruction, the learning, the manipulation of games, not touch the heart of what gaming is all about? Is there not a sizeable amount of people out there that marvel at technology, their workings, at the mysteries presented by that game they enjoy playing? Is there not a sizeable amount of people who have been inspired to learn how the amazing human achievement of computing technology works by the games they’ve played? It’s what started my interest at a young age.
What can be more related to gaming than what Omnified represents? The forming of our own games, more inline with our own wants in regards to challenge and entertainment. The spectacle. The mystery. The control. The discovery and forming of knowledge pertaining to how our favorite games work.
I do not lament for myself, but rather on the state of the Twitch userbase, and maybe people in general. Outside of e-sports, Twitch doesn’t seem to be a place centered on games anymore. Rather, it truly seems to just be another magnet on the Internet for lonely people.
Despite the poor performance, I feel the most fulfilled I’ve ever felt since I started streaming. Although it’s wonderful to be a tiny star surrounded by hordes of people showing joy towards what you’re doing, I am in more control of things now, and all I really need is myself and my work to feel fulfilled.
And luckily, I’ve happened to have a very stable cadre of supporters who’ve struggled with me the whole way on this Omnified journey. This last thing that I note is the most amazing, as many of these people don’t have much background in technical matters. To them I will always say: thank you! I’m fortunate you think I deserve it.
With the first year of Omnified streaming done, my expectations are high that even more amazing things are to come, and those amazing things are definitely in the works right now. An incredible amount of effort is required on my part to see them complete, but this isn’t anything new, is it?
To get an idea on what is next on the horizon, I will again point you towards my 2021 roadmap. That document is essentially my bible that I’ll be following during the first part of this year.
I always knew, from the moment that I started down this road, that embarking on this Omnified approach would require me to essentially play the long game; achieving grandmaster hacking prowess will be an incredibly long process, and will be needed in order to reap any sort of true benefit from my efforts. So, know that I’m patient, and know that I thank you for your own patience.
Until next time.