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Homebrew Community Blends Gamers and Hackers 87

Posted by Zonk
from the do-it-yourself dept.
MSNBC is running an article on the gaming homebrew community. They examine the 'do it yourself' attitude of the folks that make mods, knockoffs, and emulations possible. From the article: "So lively is the homebrew scene that some PSP fans -- it's impossible to say how many -- say they don't buy or play new games because they don't want to upgrade their gadgets and lose their homebrew software. There's even a circulating joke slogan: 'Friends don't let friends upgrade their PSPs.' Unable to break through recent versions of the Sony software, PSP homebrewers have moved on to another trick: downgrading their PSPs to earlier versions."
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Homebrew Community Blends Gamers and Hackers

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  • by Ohreally_factor (593551) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:29PM (#15684814) Journal
    Do they set the blender on puree?
  • Not just PSP (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Megane (129182) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:31PM (#15684815) Homepage
    It should probably be pointed out that PSP is only one of the many systems that can be homebrewed for. There are many other [atariage.com] systems, such as the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, ColecoVision, with a pretty strong homebrew community, and within the next year or three, the NES and Sega Genesis will probably see a rise in homebrew programming.
  • Luminesweeper thread (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tepples (727027) <tepples@g m a il.com> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:39PM (#15684843) Homepage Journal

    I am the author of the Luminesweeper [pineight.com] game that the article mentions. If you have any questions about that game, ask away :-)

    • Ignore the AC. Luminesweeper looks great and I'm going to have to download it now :)
    • I just had a play with this on my DS, and I give it a big thumbs up. I've never played the PSP version, but I can see why people rate it so highly - the core gameplay is really addictive.

      Your version seems pretty much complete to me. Perhaps a native DS port would be worth considering, considering the current momentum of the DS?
      • Perhaps a native DS port would be worth considering, considering the current momentum of the DS?

        What would the DS have to offer for this sort of game? It's not a 3D playfield, it doesn't really need the extra VRAM, it doesn't need the "analog" [1] control of a touch screen, and I don't know what the second screen would display. The only reason that I can see why a DS port would be needed is if SLOT-2 (GBA) flash cards were to become unavailable as all the Chinese manufacturers shift to SLOT-1 cards using

        • I was thinking more along the lines of taking advantage of the higher res screen (ie removing the letter boxing effect you get when running a GBA game on the DS). Apart from that you've convinced me that there arn't any compelling reasons to port it over.

          Again though, thanks for making this.
        • You could just put the score in a big font across the top display with some sort of colorful/distracting background. It wouldn't really add to the game, but you might be able to come up with something that's aesthetically pleasing.
    • Congrats! :-D
    • Nice job Tepples!
    • What's your game called?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:46PM (#15684866)
    I don't get PSP "hacking" - if you want to write code for a cool handheld, why not get a GP2X [gp2x.org], which is totally open, easy to develop for (using the standard GNU toolchain), runs Linux, and doesn't have a multi-national corporationa attempting to thwart you at every turn?

    Plus, a GP2X is $169 USD, instead of $199, and you'll save a fortune using SD cards over Sony's proprietary (and absurdly expensive) Memory Stick.

    For the record, I own a GP2X, a PSP, and a DS.
    • Have they complied with the GPL yet?

      LK
      • Have they complied with the GPL yet?

        I don't know whether Sony has complied with the (L)GPL. If I have a rootkitted music disc, can I get a copy of the LAME source code from Sony?

    • totally open

      That's why. Where's the fun in using something the way it was intended?
    • (Excuse the obvious trolling) People don't get the GP2X cause it sucks. It has almost no 3D accel to speak of, and it looks like it came out of the late 80's. I had some portable Sega thing that was about as good as this thing is. (End trolling) If you need something little than runs linux, look into a Zaurus [myzaurus.com] PDA.
      • If you need something little than runs linux, look into a Zaurus PDA.

        Funny that you mention a Zaurus PDA because the GP2X runs Qtopia. Anyways, people don't get a GP2X because they never heard about it and they don't have the knowledge to put games on it or anything, however I had some n00bish girl asking me to play my GP2X all the time because she just loved Super Mario World, and you don't need a 3D acceleration to play Super Mario World

    • I want to buy gp2x, but I can't find place to buy it without a credit card (i.e. in real shop). Could you recommend place in California?
    • Non-Sony memorysticks are no more expensive than Secure Digital and
      Compact Flash around here, so that's no longer a problem for PSP homebrewers.
      Still, I wuv my DS, and don't need a PSP :)
      • Non-Sony memorysticks are no more expensive than Secure Digital and Compact Flash around here

        Well, I don't know where you live, but where I live (Switzerland, by the way), SanDisk Memory Sticks cost only a bit less than Sony's own Memory Sticks. Generally, the cheapest Memory Sticks cost a little less than twice as much as the cheapest SD cards for the same amount of storage space.

        So, yeah, I got a GP2X with 2 gigs of space and the TV adapter, and it cost over 100 bucks less than my PSP with a 1 gig Sa

    • I don't get PSP "hacking" - if you want to write code for a cool handheld, why not get a GP2X [gp2x.org], which is totally open, easy to develop for (using the standard GNU toolchain), runs Linux, and doesn't have a multi-national corporationa attempting to thwart you at every turn?

      Because the audience for PSP homebrew is wider?
    • if you want to write code for a cool handheld, why not get a GP2X, which is totally open, easy to develop for (using the standard GNU toolchain), runs Linux, and doesn't have a multi-national corporationa attempting to thwart you at every turn?
      But where's the fun in that?
    • Because PSP has a wider userbase to begin with, meaning people who bought the system to run commercial games can also use it to run/make homebrew apps.
    • The real and obvious alternative is ofcourse that you want to be able to pirate or atleast run commercial titels aswell. With the GP2X you are quite screwed when it comes to commercial support so all there is is homebrew and emulators, with the PSP largest reason are probably that you can copy games, and it's also fun to be able to run emulators, and even if you ignore the illegal piracy stuff you can still atleast run emulators AND buy games to play on it (althought you probably want to rip those or someth
    • it's easy to develop for (using the standard GNU toolchain), runs Linux, and doesn't have a multi-national corporationa attempting to thwart you at every turn?

      That's your answer. It's all about the challenge, man!
  • I'd love to have one unified, well-designed, attractive and ergonomic handheld game unit preloaded with a lightweight, unlocked, extendable OS and emulators for every system ever made.

    I'd pay a lot of money for that.

    But that won't happen in my lifetime, because of the approach the game companies take to copyright law and the razor-and-blades marketing approach.

    --
    (Waves Hand.) There is no sig here.
    • How much extra would you pay if it could also reverse your user name? =)
    • I'd love to have one unified, well-designed, attractive and ergonomic handheld game unit preloaded with a lightweight, unlocked, extendable OS and emulators for every system ever made. I'd pay a lot of money for that. But that won't happen in my lifetime, because of the approach the game companies take to copyright law and the razor-and-blades marketing approach.

      Oh yeah? How about a portable gaming system that runs Linux and is homebrew friendly (unlike PSP and GB)? Maybe you should give this littl [gp2x.co.uk]

    • by vga_init (589198) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @08:04PM (#15685088) Journal

      I'd love to have one unified, well-designed, attractive and ergonomic handheld game unit preloaded with a lightweight, unlocked, extendable OS and emulators for every system ever made. I'd pay a lot of money for that.

      You're kidding, right? I've had my GP2X [wikipedia.org] since December, and I love it to death. It doesn't have emualtors for EVERY system evermade (a bit of a hyperbole there), and they aren't preloaded, but there are lots and you can download them right onto an SD card, plug, and go.

      The device itself is lovely and capable--dual core ARM, 320x240 LCD, stereo sound, 64mb of RAM + 64MB of internal flash plus SD reader and external serial port. Also has a USB port, but no host controller, I believe. No wifi, but such nicities as onboard MPEG decoder and TV-out. If that's not enough to tickle your fancy, it runs embedded linux and comes (as of firmware 2.0) a handy file browser, ascii viewer, photo viewer, movie and music player (mplayer). Lots of downloadable utilities such as terminal emulator and pdf viewer.

      The device runs for about $180. You can get one from gp32z.com (official US distributor--where I purchased mine) or google around for it. In my opinion, it's kind of cheap for what it is. You'll get better hardware for your buck if you get a PSP or even a DS, but you can't beat the programmability.

      • How does the terminal emulator work if the GP2X doesn't have a touch surface on which to press keys? And making the Nintendo DS programmable costs about 70 USD nowadays (MAX Media Launcher + GBA Movie Player + CF card).

        • The terminal, called "sterm" uses a funny imput method where you select the characters individually using the joystick. This sounds really horrible, but combine this with such features as autocompletion, command history, and the fact that most unix commands are very short and abreviated, it's not as bad as you might be thinking. Also, you can buy a serial connector so you can manipulate the system with a remote serial console.
  • Where...? (Score:3, Funny)

    by creimer (824291) on Saturday July 08, 2006 @06:58PM (#15684899) Homepage
    Homebrew Community Blends Gamers and Hackers

    The newest coffee for all you caffeine junkies is now available at nearby Starbuck, Peet or Trader Joe.
  • Since I'm sure making homebrew games is against the PSP eula, does this mean that Sony can revoke the license and force people to return their PSPs? After all, they don't actually own the unit, just have permission to use it, right?
    • Wrong (Score:5, Interesting)

      by maynard (3337) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .sanileg.dranyam.j.> on Saturday July 08, 2006 @07:26PM (#15684974) Journal
      If you purchased a PSP, you own it. You did not purchase a license to use, or a license to rent, or a license which limits certain uses of the device. You own it and can do whatever you wish, including throwing it out a window or bricking it with bad homebrew software.

      A EULA may be attached to copyrighted software and functions as a contractual agreement between the author and the user. This agreement may set terms for duplication of the software, limit certain uses of the software, and as well as set different pricing for various categories of users or regular per-use payments. The EULA is thus expressly bound to copyright and contract law, and lives between the boundaries of the two.

      The PSP is not copyrighted (though firmware within it might be). Thus, it should be legal to use or abuse your PSP however you see fit. However, downgrading firmware might constitute a EULA violation since it constitutes duplication and installation of software - which, depending on the contract terms, could be deemed breach of contract and a copyright violation. But installing emacs, cross compiling the source and installing doom/quake/whatever, or even shoving that PSP up one's ass and mailing it back to Sony for service -- all that should be perfectly legal.

      Please note: IANAL, but I do own a PSP - bought at launch. Given Sony's obnoxious and rude behavior to the homebrew scene though, I regret that purchase. It has not lived up to my expectations, both as a gaming machine (the games mostly suck) and as a homebrew platform. I think I would have been much happier with a DS.

      Oh well, Sony seems intent on economic suicide. Good riddance.

       
      • I was just being facetious, and completely agree with you :)
      • It has not lived up to my expectations, both as a gaming machine (the games mostly suck) and as a homebrew platform. I think I would have been much happier with a DS.

        As a gaming platform it lacks, but going into it expecting it to be a homebrew platform (and being disappointed) is nigh upon ridiculous. You won't have much better luck with the DS, seeing as how the only way to get homebrew on it now is to:

        1) Buy a 20-30$ device that you will use exactly once to install a loader that will void your warranty.
        2
        • Either you are a troll or an idiot. One or the other.

          I never bought a PassMe, and never used one, although I did get one for free with the M3 Adapter that I bought my GF for Christmas last year. It remains unused. I am a homebrew developer, and I lack money, so the only tools I have for myself are my GBA Flash Cart and my PC. My PC is equipped with a RT2500 card.

          Both mine and my GF's DSs are version 2s, that were bought at launch. They can be spoofed into loading DS code from the GBA slot by sending a
          • I guess I'm a troll, because I'm not an idiot.

            My primary point was that being disappointed with a unit because it's not homebrew friendly is silly because they're never intended to be used for homebrew in the first place. Just because Nintendo's lockouts are weaker doesn't necessarily make them better.

            Also, once a unit is out they never update firmware, but newer units do have newer firmware. You can load FlashMe to get back wireless boot, but the developer of the WiFi utility refuses to support anything bu
            • Sure, playing musical CF cards is a bitch. But:

              the developer of the WiFi utility refuses to support anything but one single wifi chip and no one else has bothered to help expand it

              Wireless boot through DS Download Play was the past. The future is HTTP Download Play, where you run WinApache on your development machine, use an HTTP client on the DS to pull each build down to your CF card through the same wireless router that you already use for Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, and then run it on the DS.

          • This can be sent by an RT2500 wireless card.

            Are those still widely available, or have manufacturers moved on to other chipsets (as denoted by the * in the master list [rapla.net])? And doesn't WMB as we know it require a PCI card, meaning that if all of my PC's PCI slots are full I have to buy another PC?

            • I honestly have no idea about the availability. I didn't have any problem a year ago. If nothing else, the official Nintendo USB adapter can be used (I think). And as far as your PCI slots? If you buy a new computer over that... then there's something seriously wrong with you. =P I'm sure you can find something you aren't using.
      • Re:Wrong (Score:5, Informative)

        by nacturation (646836) <nacturation&gmail,com> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @01:28AM (#15685915) Journal
        ... or even shoving that PSP up one's ass and mailing it back to Sony for service -- all that should be perfectly legal.

        Actually, it's illegal to send humans through the mail.
         
  • Sony take note! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumFTL (197300) * <justin.wick@gmail . c om> on Sunday July 09, 2006 @12:57AM (#15685852)
    I hope Sony notices the significant demand for the missing functionality provided by these homebrew systems. Some people are willing to go through extraordinary lengths to get these additional features - likely many would pay for them if they were offered as a supported add-on that could increase Sony's revenue stream, and start to dust off their so very recently tarnished name.

    Of course Sony doesn't seem to be reasoning rationally as of late, but one can dream...
    • I hope Sony notices the significant demand for the missing functionality provided by these homebrew systems.

      You probably have a very different perception of the word "significant" as compared to a company which books about $7.5 million in revenue in the average hour.

      • No, I understand that these features wish to be used by a small subset of the population, but why do we have any niche apps? For one, many of these features are so simple that even h4x0rs can implement them, without explicit support. This low marginal cost may be lower than marginal benefit all by itself, which makes it a rational action (provided one factors in opportunity cost).

        One thing you may discount is that the "power users" who use these features are often trendsetters in their small communities
        • Personally I think that the homebrew scene on the PSP is seen as much more easier to tap into than the DS from the perspective of someone not familiar with technology. It's sorta like how "power users" had been downloading mp3s for years via IRC, ftps and the internet, but as soon as napster came along and allowed the average layperson to download music, internet piracy became a huge, huge deal.

          piracy on the PSP used to be as simple as: 1) download these two precompiled files to this folder on your PSP. 2)

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