Having just gone through a rebuild of my cab, I started thinking about how many different little things I do to make it the way I want to be. Hyperspin's great in the sense that you can customize pretty much anything in it. You can skin it however you want, build your own themes etc... But there are a bunch of little things that I think make a huge amount of difference so I figured I'd post this as I know I'd like to have had a guide like this as a newbie when I started so many years ago. So I figured I'd post some things that have guided me in my experience here. Some of this will be on cabs but it's mostly geared towards customizing HS.
1. Make it your own. If you're going to build a cab you might as well build it with stuff you like. Got a favourite game, movie or band? Make it the theme for your cab. You can customize the cab itself or add elements in HS to spruce it up. You can stay generic and that's fine but it's always better (in my opinion anyway) to customize it towards you.
2. Standardize the wheel sound. HS is great in that it comes with (by default) over 300 sound files in the Hyperspin/Media/Main Menu/Sound/Wheelsounds folder. That's a huge amount to choose from and it makes sense that it would be there by default as I'm sure Bill wants the users to know they're there. However, it's chaotic having all of those sounds go off everytime you spin the wheel. I can't tell you have many times I've gone on Youtube to see a cool build and they haven't standardized the sound... it just ruins it as far as I'm concerned. In my opinion, it makes a whole lot of sense to pick one sound to standardize your wheel sound on. To do this, create a copy of the Wheelsounds folder and rename it Wheelsounds (original) so you have a backup. Now with the Wheelsounds menu, pick one sound that you like for the wheel and go with that and delete everything else from that file. I personally use the GS102 sound as my global it works really well. There are some others that work well too though. Some good ones: GS40 (Pacman sound), GS61, GS113... play around with it and pick one you like.
As always with Hyperspin though, the fun doesn't stop there. Every emu has a corresponding media/sound folder. You can do the same with each one. For my Atari 2600 I use the Frogger sound. For the Dreamcast wheel I use a custom sound I downloaded from the internet. As long as it's mp3 you should be good to go.If you don't want to hunt for them on the internet you can always go back to that original soundfile of 300+ mp3s and choose them from there. And you can also customize start and exit sounds. For example when I go into my colecovision wheel the opening sound from Donkey Kong starts, when I exit the end of game sound plays... you can do this for any system. On Dreamcast that wheel starts off with Soul Caliber's 'welcome back to the stage of history' and ends with 'but the soul sill burns!' When I have friends over (who used to play that game on the console) it's always a great laugh. It's super customized and super cool.
3. Sometimes less is more. If you are a completest and you want every emu and game under the sun, you can skip this part. Me personally, I don't need to have the 1000s of games from every system ever made on my wheels. I've got about half a dozen emus and a jukebox and that's it. To me it makes a whole lot of sense to pick the games that I know I and/or my friends and family would want to play. It's one thing to have all of the ROMs but you don't have to download all the themes or display them on your build. You can hide these games in a few different ways. In HyperHQ you can tell the system to only display games with themes and then only download the themes of the games you want. Alternatively you could make a custom database (Rocketlauncher will do this for you) but make sure you keep a copy of the original DB if you do this.
4. Have fun with videos. For my jukebox app, I've got 80s video hits that I play from my favourite bands. Sometimes I switch it up. This is so easy to do... once again go into hyperspin/media/mainmenu/video and change the video for the system you want to change. *Use the same wording (and capitalization) that's in Hyperspin so it matches. For some of the consoles, I downloaded some old commercials for Atari and Colecovision. They're all on Youtube, people love it when they see them and they bring back tons of memories. Get creative!
5. Learn to make your own themes. It's a lot easier than you think it is. Building themes in Hypertheme (included in the HS download) is dead simple. A theme you build yourself is going to be something you're going to love a lot more than even some of the best themes available for download. To do it, make the background image 1024x768. You can add a logo on top of that and add basic animation (already pre-built) to it, throw in a video and you're good to go. You can draw your own overlay if you wish or simply use HT to do it. It's not hard... really, just go try and mess around with it. When you're done, save it with the same name as it would appear in the database. You can even customize the exit screen if you want to. You can check my sig for some examples of Exit screens I've built.
6. Download the wheel art. It just looks a lot better. 'Nuff said. Go to the media folder and the appropriate emu file. Click on images and then load the pics into the wheel folder. Voila, you just made your HS build look 10x better.
7. Go with a two player cab. If you're set on having four that's fine go ahead. If you're on the fence... two players is better. It's a lot of work for four and in my experience it's rare that you'll get four people wanting to play at the same time. Maybe you have more friends than I do... but I'd still say that two players is just fine.
*Troubleshooting tip: The one thing you will learn when you start customizing and running into problems is that HS is very picky about files. Your media files must match the emu filenames on the DB or you'll have problems. Most of the time it will be a capitalization issue because HS is case sensitive. So if you run into issues, the first thing you should check is the filename and uppercase/lowercase. There's a good chance that you'll have solved your problem this way.
That's it for now. If I've made any errors here just point them out and I'll update this post. And if I can think of anything else, I'll add it. Hopefully this helps some of the newbies out there.