Does the playstation suite make VHBL obsolete?
Some of you might have read an interview of me on website Eurogamer, where I said I am not sure I will keep actively hacking the Vita myself now that the playstation suite SDK is available in open Beta.
Recently, some interesting things have been released through the PSS, such as a NES emulator. Technically, Sony are giving us the tools to develop homebrews on their platform, so in theory their shouldn’t be any need for more hacks, right? Well, I believe that’s not true, and I’ll explain why.
Ok, first of all, don’t worry, I did say to Eurogamer I am considering to stop hacking the Vita myself, but if you think about it, it’s not like I did much so far. 3 exploits were revealed in the past 6 months on the vita, and none of them were directly by me. I merely helped with releasing them and porting HBL to them, but I was not actively the person hacking.
My point here, and this is also indirectly what I meant when I said that to Eurogamer, is that for once I wouldn’t mind using my programming skills to create an official game that can make a few bucks. I doesn’t mean I’ll stop using my other skills to help with the hacking of the Vita 😉
Sadly though, my free time is not what it used to be, and it has become extremely hard for me to make progress on anything PSP/Vita related recently (I was barely involved in the latest Wagic release, for example). This includes both hacking and trying to program an actual game on the PS Suite. I actually only installed the PS Suite, and never found the time to even open the editor yet.
Anyways. I’m not leaving the scene anytime soon, so you can stop crying 🙂
Back to why I think the PS Suite will not replace VHBL, or hacks in general:
Well, first, looking at the NES emulator that was released, I heard it is currently fairly slow, and it will be difficult to make it run better than, for example, NesterJ on VHBL. But the difficulty is not only technical. After all, after some tweaks, maybe that emulator will run at a decent framerate. But the issue is that the PS Suite SDK Beta will end at some point.
At this point, somehow, Sony will manage to prevent people from installing those “work in progress” cool homebrews. I have no clue how they plan to do this, but if my understanding is correct, in order to install one of those homebrews, one has to connect their own PS Suite software to Sony’s server? OK, I might be completely off here, I was on holiday when most of the hype on the PS Suite was happening, so I am not really sure. But somehow, it will not be possible after the beta to install this emulator.
In a way, this is the same as VHBL: VHBL is available to a limited number of people, and stops working if you update your firmware. But I am thinking that in the PS Suite case, even without updating their firmware, people might lose the ability to copy PS Suite homebrews freely (in all meanings of the word) to their Vita. At least for VHBL there is the option to keep your old firmware, also I am convinced that unless Sony does massive changes to their CMA system, we should be able to have more PSP hacks available for a while on the Vita (knocking on wood).
That’s not the only reason. VHBL comes with a gigantic library of PSP homebrews (thousands if /downloads is correct). A majority of them run with VHBL. By comparison, finding games that run through the experimental PS Suite nowadays is quite difficult. We’re not going to get hundreds of games overnight, while VHBL brings 6 years of homebrews development with it.
Of course, once the PS suite gets out of beta, we *will* see hundreds of indie games on the PSN store. They will probably be of much higher quality than your average homebrew, since money will be involved. But don’t dream, you won’t find emulators in this list. NesterJ, GPSP, Snes9xTYL,… these guys run on VHBL today, but you will never see them on the PS Suite. What about ports of games such as Doom? I can’t start to imagine the nightmare it would be to port to C#, and then the legal nightmare to get it to the Vita…
A game such as Wagic would also not make it to the official PS Suite, not only because it is programmed in C++ (not C#), not only because it is borderline legal, but also because the PS Suite terms and conditions specific that after the beta, the PSN will not accept free games, or open source games (check the T&C and see if I lie about this… I’m pretty sure I read that correctly). I’m not saying this is bad, but it will prevent a huge group of good games to ever see their name on the Vita.
I could go on for hours, trying to give valid reasons why hacks in general, and VHBL in particular will still be a valid alternative to the PS Suite. Of course, the main reason is that hackers don’t need a good reason to hack. I’ve seen comments saying that now that the PS Suite is out, there is no justification for hacking. It’s as if hacking ever needed a justification in the first place. That’s a gross misunderstanding of why most hackers do what they do: because understanding how the device works is what they believe to be the game in the words gaming device