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Submission + - Rounding Up the Modern Homebrew Scene

AKAImBatman writes: "As The Pensive Gamer points out in its recent series of articles, the latest generation of game consoles represents the first time in history that consoles have provided features that allow the average joe to create his own games. While homebrewing is not a new concept, it has traditionally focused on out of date systems like the Atari 2600 and the Sega Dreamcast. i.e. Systems that no longer matter enough to manufacturer to prevent homebrewing. Yet the features of today's console systems may be changing everything.

The Sony PS3 provides programmers with a full-up development environment for the Cell CPU and Bluray drive by encouraging users to install a Linux variant on it. While this creates a huge number of game creation opportunities on the PS3, the resulting game ends up being difficult to distribute. Fellow homebrewers might happily install Linux on their PS3s, but convincing the rest of Sony's target market to do so may be a bit difficult.

The next best option — supported by both the PS3 and the Nintendo Wii — is to run web-enabled games in the console's web browser. Flash games in particular have become a very popular way of playing homebrew content on a console system. Yet here, the Wii has a distinct advantage. The in-built ability for the Wii Remote to act as a mouse allows for a wide variety of Flash games to be played out of the box. So many in fact, that Wii-specific gaming sites like Wiicade have been popping up left and right.

Even more exciting is the fact that the keycodes for the Wii Remote buttons have been decoded by enterprising individuals, but only through Javascript. While experiments with Javascript to Flash communication are underway, the first Javascript game to use the Wii Remote controls has already appeared, with promises of more exciting Opera Canvas games on on the horizon.

While the XBox 360 lacks a web browser, it does have perhaps the most exciting feature of all. Microsoft's XNA Game Studio allows for complete games that take advatage of the underlying hardware. (In direct opposition to the Wii and PS3 options.) The only downside are that Microsoft charges a subscription fee, and that homebrews must be redistributed in source code form. (Though the latter limitation may please the OSS community to a certain degree.) Undeterred, the 360 community is embracing this new support with many new games on the way.

Altogether, the amount of audience participation available in these consoles is wholly unlike anything seen before. With any luck, this bodes well for the future of the homebrew community and the casual gamer alike."

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