The Hacking Era was a time in Pokémon Tower Defense history where the game was in a vulnerable state.This started the Hacking Era at about April 2011 and was at its height in May 2011 when Sam wrote, "Now making a game as popular as PTD is going to get attention from a lot of people. Some of those people enjoy exploiting and hacking games. This is going to happen when the game is played offline and all the information is easy to edit. So instead of fighting them, I've talked to them, and here is the resolution. If anybody wants to play the game with Pokemon that are easier to catch (hit them once and they will turn red), x3 exp given per kill, x5 money given per kill, they can." A mistake he would soon regret, which caused a spree of hacking.
A few months later in early July, Sam had enough of hackers and decided to put a stop to it so he put up an advanced security system, this historic event is known as Sam's New Security. This ended the 1st hacking era.
After this time there was a brief period of calm in the PTD world. Throughout July 2011, Pokémon regained their values, notably shiny starter mystery gifts. The start of August 2011 brought more people into the game, as trading became overwhelmingly popular. This was also the start of the 2nd Hacking Era. GraphicForce was one of the first people to display the hacking capabilities of a program called Cheat Engine. The program itself is very simple, however it is the bane of flash games for its hex memory editing properties. (to see more of not yet introduced Pokémon in PTD 2, click picture and link)
After successfully showing off cheat engine and the new speed hack (which sped up the waves of Pokémon, in which made it easier to find Shiny Pokémon), additional hacks and improvements were made by m16dernwarfare and other hackers. Things like freezing waves, level hacks, and move hacks were abundant at this time. Pokémon values started to slide, the only things that remained worth something were the legendary dogs, Shiny Mew, Shiny Starters/rare Mystery Gift Pokémon, and the newly released Shiny Pokémon. Since hacks were still not as well known, when a new Shiny Pokémon came out, for a few days it would be worth a HUGE amount, but then the supply would be flooded and it would decrease.
This 2nd Hacking Era lasted from August 2011 - December 2011. The big hacks of this time were the Shiny Pokémon hacks. This basically tanked all Shiny Pokémon and Mystery Gift Pokémon values. Only later Shinies, therefore being Goldeen and up would retain their value as they were patched right before Shiny Goldeen was released.
By this time, Sam had drastically improved security to the PTD 1 game. This lead to a shortage of hacks during the winter break period. Many of the simple hacks were blocked or detected by hacking. Even though the affected Pokémon never really recovered in value, the Goldeen and up Pokémon (the Pokémon released at and after Goldeen) rapidly climbed the value charts as people rushed to trade their worthless Non-Shiny and Shiny Pokémon for the new unhackable Shinies. This time period also included the addition of the Game Corner, and with it, Shadow Pokémon. They also reached new values as they were unhackable and unobtainable in game as well.
The 3rd Hacking Era started late January 2012 and lasted until the end of PTD 1, with the story concluding sometime in May 2012. This is the Hacking Era that ultimately destroyed the game and basically finished off the recovering trade market place.
The first advancements of this Era were complex Cheat Engine hacks. Longer to develop and harder to use, they basically found holes in Sam's improved security, which resulted in unusual hacks. Two holy grails were the Shiny Mew evolve hack and the HP Bar hack. This was the first time since the generators the Shiny Mews were hacked. Even though the hack was hard to use and small amounts of people used it, it destroyed faith in the Shiny Mew as the standard of the PTD economy. The official forum's Shiny Mew value dropped from 50-60k to 25-40k.
These hacks hurt the economy quite a bit, however they still didn't really affect the Goldeen and up Shinies or the Shiny/Shadow legendary dog population. The PTD economy actually recovered a bit from FEB 2012 - March 2012 because of new Pokémon releases.
The period of time from April 2012 - May 2012 spelled the end of everything for PTD 1's economy. In April, a hacker known as smrrd, (samurai) developed a new generator for the PTD game. This enables the hacker to deposit any CATCHABLE Pokemon into accounts directly. This instantly destroyed the Goldeen and up Pokémon as well as the Shiny/Shadow legendary bird values. Overnight, shiny Lapras and shiny Snorlax level 100 could be found more common than a normal Pidgey because the hack made Pokémon at the rate of 200 per minute. This devastated the economy as many accounts were rendered worthless. However the legendary dogs had been untouched, and retained and even increased their value.
May 2012 was the release of the Sam tools hack. Sam had made some of his tools he used to deposit Pokémon into accounts who paid for SnD Coins accidentally available on the internet. His domain name wasn't protected, so a few people found the index file, and leaked the links. This hack was only released for one hour on m16dernwarfare's channel before it got banned for releasing the hack, and it was very quickly patched a few hours later. However this was too late. People could literally input any number into Sam's tools and get that many number of Pokémon. Any Pokémon, Normal, Shiny, and Shadow could be generated. Sam quickly deleted the hacked SnD Coins from the accounts, however, he didn't do a crucial account rollback for whatever reason.
This totaled the PTD economy as Pokémon from Shiny Suicune to Shadow Mew were devastated in value. People who had paid real life money for SnD Coins found their accounts worthless. This caused many people to quit the game, and really hampered trading for months to come. The affects of this hack can still be found today. Many of the hacked legendaries still remain, and are often used in giveaways. Since the hack could generate any Pokémon, many such as things like Groudon and Latios were also generated. These new ultra rare Pokémon were mostly eliminated, but not completely deleted from the system.
The death of PTD 1 was a wakeup call for Sam. It proved that his improved security was not enough, and that hacks had a real effect on the game and could not be ignored. In most people's words, PTD 1 was destined to fail. Making a game in flash will always result in vulnerabilities. More effort and attention would be needed to safeguard the PTD world from another uber hacking collapse.