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

Raspberry Pi or any of the other hobbyist boards could be a component of this, but is not this by itself. i guess a system like PICO-8 can basically create its own platform atop almost anything else (web, desktop PC, mobile, tiny hobbyist PC).

I really, really wish OUYA had had different people in charge of its platform vision and marketing. If they'd pointed it squarely at homebrewers, it would've given backers and players much healthier expectations, and I think it'd still be thriving today.

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.

@jplebreton ah, the irony of how well the Apple ][ embodied the properties you're looking for

@technomancy @jplebreton


for some of us it will always be too soon to remember the Apple ][ 😭

@ajroach42 wasn't familiar with it, seems like a cool little piece of hardware

@nutsling @jplebreton

Also, delicately distress my laptop's surface so it looks like one of those department store "antique" footrests.

@jplebreton you'll own your Mac for about 1.5 years until it gets liquid damaged and the genius bar just tells you to buy another one (even though Lenovo, Dell, etc all figured out liquid damage mitigation decades ago)
@jplebreton I've seen hardware projects around laptops with replaceable montherboards, usually of the single board computer variety.


But if you pretend you’re a character in a William Gibson story, the Macbook-and-clutter look fits right in.

@jplebreton Yes.

It also has the problem of bearing the “standard” for default good design. By that I mean, people who don’t care about good design assume anything Apple makes has good design. Since this is most consumers, it pushes everyone who wants to reach that market to conform to Apples design forms. Since they’ve decided to stop designing things and instead just copy and simplify Dieter Rams old work, the result is something of a race to the bottom of minimalism.

@jbob @jplebreton Case in point, that damn notch in the latest ones because Apple wanted to trick people into thinking their screen's bigger than it actually was in order to extort more money.

And because it was Apple, suddenly Google and Samsung *had* to get in on the trend, even though there was massive public outcry over it.

I'm looking forward to the day my earbuds will need a microUSB adapter to work. /s

@KitsuneAlicia @jbob yeah the way other billion dollar companies just mindlessly copy anything apple does is just deeply sad to me. that's not how you recruit talented designers.

@KitsuneAlicia @jbob @jplebreton

I cannot understand the notch hate: it took previously-wasted space and moved the clock and signal strength indicators there.

Apple’s real sin was making their phones so thin that they needed to remove the headphone port in order to fit an acceptable battery in there.

@USBloveDog @jplebreton @KitsuneAlicia

For a second I thought this was about the creator of Minecraft.

My main objection is that it looks like shit. I’d accept the practicality argument more readily if there were anything else practical or robust about the design

(I say this while typing on an iPhone XR because, right now all phones suck)

@USBloveDog @KitsuneAlicia @jbob my objection to the notch is more about design in the context of capital: the trend toward pushing increasingly unwieldy screen sizes to keep phone sales growing (which didn't work, ofc) hitting a very real practical limit, and responding by carving out the last few bits of perceived screen area even though it adds complications for developers and looks silly.

@jplebreton @KitsuneAlicia @jbob

So it’s the 3D curved TV of pocket computer design to you? Fair enough.

@jplebreton @kurtm With someone sitting behind the table who will gleefully show me how to repair and upgrade the unit and have several upgrades on offer.

@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 :flan_smile:

@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.

@USBloveDog @jplebreton

Wow, I had no idea this thread invoked both the Pocket CHIP *and* the Odroid Go.


@jplebreton this is a beautiful and useful formulation, thank you

@jplebreton it's not just Apple. Microsoft has had a big hand in suppressing homebrew development of hardware and software. when Bill Gates was CEO, he sued The Homebrew Computer Club out of existence while speaking all kinds of dubious negative propaganda about them, calling them "pirates" for developing their own software and giving it away for free

@lyliawisteria Absolutely, yes, MS are at the top of list when it comes to legal bullying, and they're still trying to shake that reputation. I was thinking more about the cultural territory-grabbing side, which Apple has long been more adept at.

@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

@jplebreton PICO-8 is very interesting, just learned about it. What do you think of ?

@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.

@nutsling @emptyfortress @jplebreton It isn't handheld but this was the reasoning behind a pet project of mine that is a bit stalled right now: I just wanted a toolchain that worked how I wanted with the features I wanted. The hardware is available...

@jplebreton arduboy, you can play the games in a Web browser emulator too

@jplebreton Have you seen the '32Blit' device that Pimoroni are currently kickstarting? It looks to be a lot of the things you're thinking of.

@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.

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

@jplebreton I feel like the PocketCHIP embraces a lot of the ideas you're talking about:
Open-source hardware and software, runs Pico-8 natively, is designed to enable hacking and learning, cheap

It made a bit of noise, but not quite as much as the Playdate, which is a damn shame

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