EvilDragon's speech on Open source Handhelds @ CeBit Translated / Subtitled - Part 3

Uploaded by fishbong on 14.03.2010

Then another one, similar to the GP32,
is the Dingoo A320 from Dingoo Digital which came out last year
Which basically is no more than your typical cheap Chinese PMP
with a couple of emulators, but the community made it open by porting Linux to it
so it kind of became open source.
The good thing is the price, about 80€
and for 80€, it's a nice thing to pick up, but it's cheaply made,
it'll get scratches fast, but it's quite interesting to have on the go.
Hardware revisions are a little problem,
because in contrast to GPH, the manufacturer has no clue there's open software runing on it
so they change the hardware time and again, which has consequences for firmware flashing
Another issue are import troubles in Germany
as with many Chinese devices, there is some illegal content on it
like a GBA bios and some ROMs that obviously are not freely distributable
My solution, i don't get troubles from the customs, because i do it commercially
and the devices i sell are clean,
we have a proper firmware without copyrighted material
But the people who import themselves - we had one on the forum
whose device was confiscated by the customs.
That's always a problem with Chinese devices.
Another one is the lack of support from the manufacturer
so when they want to change the hardware completely,
we have to rework everything.
It is not a real open source handheld, it was made into one.
Okay, that was a little introduction to the handhelds themselves
now what are the pros and cons of open source gaming handhelds?
Of course the end user can enjoy lots of free games.
On other consoles, they demand a few euros for even the smallest games
even puzzle games cost up to 30€ and if i take a look at
them, they could be programmed in 2 days.
Another beautiful thing is the active and friendly community.
Which is typical for Linux, they want to create something together.
And that's why there are many active members
and that's also why the conversations are friendly.
When i take a look at other boards about commercial handhelds
the conversation usually gets coarse as soon as someone doesn't like an answer
and that's very rare in open source communities
because they want to create something together.
As mentioned, the active participation in projects and games is interesting.
I too have seen games that i liked, but thought they would be better with a certain feature
I can write about that on the boards, we can discuss it, the developer can adopt it
and implement it into the game.
But i made graphics for a game as well,
everyone can get to work with graphics, sound or music editors
So it's a whole new thing, you don't just play the games
but in the spirit of Linux, you can help develop projects
or make your own variations.
For instance, many of you know Super Tux
a well known Linux game where you can design own levels,
add graphics, players can take the engine and create a whole new game with it,
which is a great thing.
As mentioned, there are so many possibilities, like WiFi, GPS or GPRS
actually the GP2X didn't have WiFi, but it had USB
so people got WiFi sticks running and could use the internet
Here too, you can do all sorts of hacking projects
If you have a look what people did with modded hardware and Linux drivers
it really is incredible.
Also, you're not dependent on just the work of other users.
With the big guys, Sony and Nintendo, you have to take the firmware they give you
If it limits functionality, well sucks for you, downgrading is nearly impossible
you have to go to lengths to do it
and here, since it is open, i can either change
what i don't like or make a suggestion so someone else can do it.
That means i can configure the console how i want, with the functionalities i like.
I am not dependent on some manufacturer.
Concerning data storage, the games of the big manufacturers come on cryptic media
because god forbid you could copy them otherwise - like Sony's UMD
or the proprietary NDS cartridges - which end users can't buy
or run own games on - but we can just get cheap media like a SD card and that's it.
Since the SDK is based on bog standard C++,
porting PC games is really easy, some run flawless after 2 or 3 hours of porting work.
Sure, games like for instance Super Tux with a resolution of 640x480px need lots of optimizing
to run on the small devices.
But still, it is easier to port a game to such a console than to all other ones.
Of course there are disadvantages, the biggest one is having little support from companies
to the effect that at some point the money runs out
because small production runs mean high prices, high prices mean less advertising funds.
That's a problem Linux had as well, because although there was a die-hard community
but it was only in the last years it really spread.
It's obvious: When Sony does a campaign and sells millions of PSPs
they make more profit since at those numbers, their production costs are low
which is not possible with small numbers.
That means pricewise, i cannot compete with the big players.
In the past - not anymore - Sony and Nintendo earned money from all sold games
meaning they could sell their hardware at a loss, which was compensated by game sales.
That doesn't work for us.
Another problem with commercial publishers is
that since the device is open, there's no good copy protection.
As long as the system is open source, i can remove the protection
Which causes big publishers to say: "On this device, everyone can copy my game
so i surely won't spend funds and possibly years of development on it"
This is a general problem, but anyone who's looking for PSP - like blockbuster games
shouldn't be looking for it on open source devices.
Another big problem: Linux definitely isn't optimized for games,
just look at SDL, which doesn't even really have Vsync
you have to program hardware acceleration into the libraries.
Even on the PC, if you play Super Tux on Linux it stutters a bit, because SDL can't do it properly.
But the commercial handhelds are optimized for that.
Linux is mainly a server OS, now it is spreading to the desktops
but regarding games it is advancing, yet still behind the times.
Of course gaming handhelds too still need optimization in this regard.
Also, it is more complicated for the mainstream user:
to get an app from the internet, i have to download and decompress it, then copy it to the SD card,
in some cases i have to configure it before i can get going.
Obviously buying a game at the store, plugging it in and just starting it is easier.
So you need at least a little computer skill
For the casual gamer without PC knowledge who just wants a game once a while
it's not suitable, so the user base is somewhat limited.
That's why few shops and online shops offer them
the GP2X was, apart from Spain, only available in online shops
in Germany as well, i was one of the few offering it because you need to give a lot of support.
I experienced lots of people sending me emails because they had problems getting started
and didn't sign up on the forum, they asked how to get something or other running.
This is a very time consuming job, you need lots of passion for it.
I have to admit, i hardly earned anything with the shop - which i ran in my spare time - in the first years
If anything, i had to invest money for server fees
But i wanted to contribute to the propagation of these devices
Because as mentioned, i come from the oldschool game scene
and with the Amiga, IBM PC or C64 there were small teams of 3 or 4 people
who had an idea, visualized a game, made it and sent it to a puplisher in the hope it would be published
And here, it's very similar. I still believe that if a few people intensively work on a game
And put their passion in it, it's worth more than a big studio
telling 200 employees they have 2 years to develop some game.
Granted, it may be a great game, but i miss the love for details
which i think got lost a bit
and here, i have just that due to the small teams.
But instead, there are more support requests.