boutique handheld discourse has me really wishing there was a homebrew platform that excelled at:
- cheap, widely available, open (as much as possible) hardware
- SDK + simulator that runs on anything
- large community of people hacking on it & sharing knowledge
- diverse, welcoming culture that views games as an art form, doesn't care about the boundary between "game" and other stuff
One challenge is that a huge amount of the resources invested in tooling today happens around the two big commercial game engines, which don't really care about being able to target cheap, weak hardware (and their editors running on it is totally out of the question). A new wave of homebrew engines and tools has been gathering for the past ~5 years, but it still has a ways to go before its energy can change things in a big way.
These kinds of projects will almost always have an air of, for want of a better term, "junkiness" about them. Everything that people fetishize about Apple products is absent - carefully designed branding, packaging, a single company controlling everything about the product and its use. And this is fine; we should embrace this, while being firmly committed to "approachability" as distinct from the Apple slickness that has seized a lot of the rhetorical territory around approachability.
I try to think of these hardware and software project goals as acts of political imagination: in a world that has stopped capitalism's stranglehold on our species, what does personal computing look like? What choices do we have, how does ownership work, what are the aesthetics? What does it mean for technology to have aesthetics independently of consumerism?
Apple's hardware aesthetics have an almost terraforming effect: the sleek MacBook makes the rest of your desk look cluttered and irregular, their stores feel like alien temples you must assimilate into the customs of. I would like technology to feel more like going down to a local co-op hardware store where a lesbian sells you a hammer you will own for 30 years.
But if you pretend you’re a character in a William Gibson story, the Macbook-and-clutter look fits right in.
@jplebreton so you sterilize the desk to match the macbook's aesthetic at which point the quote "a messy desk is a sign of a busy mind" comes to mind
@jplebreton This is exactly why i am super nostalgic for early 1980s IBM hardware. It has both the durability of a tank as well as the grace & aesthetics of one.
@jplebreton A 4u rackmount cluster running BSD. 8u systems for the power users with higher I/O needs.
@jplebreton I specifically backed the Ouya because it seemed like a super rad thing for that kind of stuff and as like a super-portable thing to take places for multiplayer/party stuff or just demoing personal projects
@vincent It seems cool, basically a FOSS alternative to Unity. I do think there's value in having engines that are smaller, less featureful but more focused, or more experimental. So ideally it's part of a wide vibrant ecosystem.
@jplebreton seems like if someone took the PocketCHIP and brought it back to life from the OSS'd designs that would hit all the right notes.
even better if they swapped out PICO-8 for TIC-80 in the process but I'm not that picky.
the "effortless view source" aspect of the games on that system and the fact that you could hack them onboard were just incredible together.
@jplebreton the gamepark holdings (not gamepark) handhelds had vaguely the right idea but with the last one being 2010, hadn't a hope in hell against the juggernaut of new-indie on consoles and handhelds having tanked in price.
There used to be a rather vibrant scene around homebrew devices in the early 2000's (and using devices for homebrew beyond emulators and doom) but well, you know the rest.
@jplebreton though I wouldn't call it diverse by a long shot, it was certainly more accepting a culture than what we steamrollered over a lot of it with. It saddens me that pico8, bitsy, even twine have been pushed to the fringes because we rebuilt games as a more monolithic beast and despite protestations, essentially forced this stuff to be outside. But I guess it also gets to continue to exist vaguely undisturbed so swings and roundabouts.
This is frustrating because it feels we are close to this, but the tech industry being what it is it holds what is possible back.
Like, there are now cheap boards with embedded python or JS but as they're geared towards IoT they lack some essentials for making handheld gaming devices. Arduino is nice but you're still doing C/asm on a device with 2kb of RAM, which is not ideal for games that are not "jump on thing".
Phones would tick all the boxes, if only the software was there.
@jplebreton a friend of mine has been helping with this. I think it's quite promising, has an old school framebuffer, no libs in the way, sounds really clean at the low level. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/pimoroni/32blit-retro-inspired-handheld-with-open-source-fi?ref=7qos05
Pine has some 64 bit ARM boards with Ubuntu and Android builds available, a game case, and mobile hardware coming soon. I'm looking to build player-owned distribution for games and other media on Linux phones and Android to complement indie publishing. Glad to kibbutz on this any time
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