Well it's that time again as we have another talented developer featured in The Power Supply (A developer Interview Series brought to you by PSX-Place). So far you have seen us explore various talents from the PS3 & PS4 in the first four editions (view the complete collection of interview here, some great reads and insight from some of the best), so this time around in vol.5 of the series we wanted to expand on another PlayStation Platform and we thought it was time for a PS Vita inclusions. So, with so many great candidates to approach we wanted to explore a bit about homebrew development and this developer is someone whom has developed a few projects on the platform (okay alot of projects ) That's right we have the talented developer known as Rinnganmante who has been a huge contributor to the PS Vita Community. In our chat we posed various development questions / future intentions along with some insight on various projects in this discussion, so like our previous interview's your bound to learn something new.
Welcome & Thank you for sharing your time with us, To start off can you tell our reader's a bit about yourself and some of your hobbies?
- Rinnegatamante: Hi and thank you for this opportunity. My name is Alessio, i'm 25 and i'm from Italy. I've recently graduated and looking to start my master degree in few months . I do love videogames, which is also the main reason why I got into development, and animals in general.
We like to dive into a bit of your development background by asking what was the first programming language you learned and do you still use it in developing projects today?
- Rinnegatamante: My very first programming language was Lua which i learnt through PSP homebrew development thanks to Lua Player HM. It's a very versatile and simple language that i've had the pleasure to keep using during these years.
I've used it after abandoning PSP development when i decided to start a private server of Metin 2, a popular MMORPG, since this very specific game uses Lua as script language for server side NPC dialogues, quests and events.
And nowadays, i've built my very own Lua player (Lua Player Plus) available for PSP, 3DS and PSVITA, which i use for some of my projects.
What was your first PS Vita Project and what interested you to start coding on the platform?
- Rinnegatamante: My very first PSVita project was vitaQuake. I've decided to start working on Vita projects due to the fact I was bored by 3DS scene situation and how toxic in general both end users community and developers ones where.
During this period PSVita was still unhackable but, luckily, in few weeks, Rejuvenate was released by yifanlu and, from this release, Revitalize competition was started and so I took this opportunity to start working on something for PSVita that could've been well accepted by end users and that could've been a quality homebrew that suited the competition.
How has the developing landscape changed around the scene from when your first started developing to where it has come now, have the capabilities changed?
- Rinnegatamante: Before Henkaku dropped, developing for PSVita was very uncomfortable due to it requiring a connection to a PC to launch homebrew with a very long procedure everytime you had to launch a new executable. Proper debug tools were also absent since the scene was in its very early stage and several PSVita modules were unknown and difficult to deal with (eg. sceGxm for GPU usage).
Once Henkaku became a thing, launching homebrew became straightforward and some good debugging tools started being worked on (eg. vita-parse-core by xyz). Several samples started popping out and even some very useful libraries made by very well known developers (eg. libvita2d by xerpi) made so that PSVITA development environment became very easy to access and, in general, very comfortable to deal with compared to other homebrew scenes.
We know you have released various homebrew recently on the Nintendo Switch and Ps Vita, but have you developed on any other platforms besides those mentioned and where could we find some of those projects?
- Rinnegatamante I did work on 3DS and PSP homebrew too. Some of these may be found on my website (https://rinnegatamante.it) even if it's not updated since years. My 3DS homebrew are also not compatible with latest CFWs and/or they got replaced by better and updated alternatives (eg. CHMM2).
For the 3DS releases, all of them have a GBAtemp release page so, more info about those, can be found on said website too.
We can see a complete list of PS Vita projects here (@vitaDB) that you have developed, What are your personal Top 3 projects you have brought to the Vita platform and why?
- Rinnegatamante I would say the most important releases I've done are Lua Player Plus Vita, vitaRTCW and vitaQuake.
- Lua Player Plus it's the only opensource Lua interpreter available for PSVita and offers newcomers to development world an easy way to learn development paradigms thanks to a solid environment and a strong documentation.
- vitaQuake and vitaRTCW are very important releases cause, thanks to their development, vitaGL (a library I developed which works as a wrapper between sceGxm and openGL) became what it is now. The core features of said library had been developed with vitaQuake in mind and, infact, this homebrew was the very first one receiving an update that brought hardware acceleration support through vitaGL.
- vitaRTCW, on the other side, is the most ambitious game port, as of now, available for PSVITA. Return to Castle Wolfenstein is a PS2 game and having it running at a decent framerate on a limited handheld like Vita had been a difficult challenge that luckily can be considered solved with the recent v.0.3 release.
You have proven yourself as a great homebrew developer, any advice for new people getting into Vita development and how is it different (if so) from other platforms you have worked on?
- Rinnegatamante: Vita development is way better than any other homebrew scene in terms of SDK (except for PSP since vitasdk is somehow a successor to pspsdk in terms of structure) which means, for everyone having a good understanding of C/C++, they shouldn't have any trouble getting into it thanks to the available samples on vitasdk GitHub repository and to the several libraries created specifically for Vita development or ported to ease newcomers work (eg. SDL).
- For those that never had any experience with development, they can give a try to Lua Player Plus Vita and see if they can get into development thanks to it (that's what I did years ago with Lua Player HM).
- For those that don't want to touch a programming language at all but still want to create something for PSVita, there's also RPG Maker 2000/2003. Thanks to EasyRPG Vita, games created with these two Windows programs can be fully run on Vita with no downsides.
What type of coding background is best suited for PS Vita homebrew development in your personal opinion?
- Rinnegatamante: It really depends on what someone wants to achieve. For advanced projects, a solid knowledge of ARM architecture, disassembly skills and very strong C/C++ knowledge is advised but, for simpler projects (simple utilities or homebrew games), anyone, even with no background skills, can achieve good results with some weeks of work.
Do you have any suggested resources for future vita developer's who may create homebrew?
- Rinnegatamante: I would suggest to check vitasdk samples repository (https://github.com/vitasdk/samples) and vita-headers repository to get some documentation info about vitasdk exposed functions (https://github.com/vitasdk/vita-headers).
- For Lua development, lpp-vita samples can be found here: https://github.com/Rinnegatamante/lpp-vita/tree/master/samples and documentation is available here: http://rinnegatamante.github.io/lpp-vita/.
- Whilst lpp-vita requires no development environment setup, vitasdk requires some little steps to set everything properly. Those info can be found here: https://vitasdk.org/
Latest vitasdk builds can be found here: https://github.com/vitasdk/autobuilds/releases and lpp-vita nightlies are available here: https://github.com/Rinnegatamante/lpp-vita/releases.
- For those on Windows, my personal recommendation goes to Notepad++ (https://notepad-plus-plus.org/) for what concerning the IDE (even if Notepad++ is not properly an IDE). It's a very solid text editor suited for development and very lightweight.
It's a pretty nice editor and it's already ready to use for both C/C++ and Lua development.
What has been your biggest challenge or limitations when developing on the Vita?
- Rinnegatamante: The biggest one was (and still is, since it's not completely solved) dealing with the port of Urban Terror and how much memory hungry it is.
- Original Urban Terror executable on PC allocs 800 MBs for Hunk memory (can be considered as a general kind of memory used for every kind of calculation and/or storaging for models and similars), 32 MBs for sounds and around 100 MBs for textures.
With Vita being able to alloc a max of around 330 MBs of RAM and 60 MB of VRAM, dealing with this port had been a real challenge. I've spent several days trying to figure out a solution since attempting to launch Urban Terror caused an instant crash of the app due to not having enough memory.
- Current Urban Terror core in vitaQuakeIII allocs 256 MBs for Hunk memory, 8 MBs for sounds and textures allocation is made so that whenever there's free memory, the operation is correctly performed. When memory is completely fulled, texture rendering is literally skipped leaving the model using it completely invisible.
Dynarec is also disabled to reduce memory usage since it would require an extra allocation of around 30-40 MBs of read-write-execute memory which means Urban Terror code is severely slower than Quake III counterpart since the QVMs are completely interpreted.
The best way to solve both memory constraint and performance issues would be by creating dynamic libraries for used QVMs, however this would require FrozenSand (developers of Urban Terror) to release QVMs sourcecode.
You have seen many projects on the Vita from your time as a developer in the community, which other projects (other then ones of your own) in the community have you personally been the most impressed with overall ?
- Rinnegatamante: Pretty much every single piece of code coming from TheFlow is astonishing (VitaShell, Adrenaline, dejavu, modoru, etc.).
- Another project that's pretty impressive for what achieved so far is Vita3K. I've contributed in early days of this emulator development even if, nowadays, I'm more of a spectator of its updates (even if I hope to get back at helping the guys working on it in the future).
It started as a very limited emulator capable of running only few homebrews and, now, it features a runtime shader recompiler, firmware extraction, modules loading, etc. It's capable of running even several commercial games and became a pretty valuable source that some Vita homebrew devs use as debugging tool too.
When developing an App or Plugin (other then UI) how does the approach differ from a development perspective?
We know you have a PS Vita (or PSTV) and more then likely a Nintendo Switch, but what other gaming devices do you own or looking to own in the future?
- Plugins, in general, are way more complex to work on since they require a more in depth understanding of what exposed Vita functions do internally and also cause there are several limitations in terms of usable memory, screen outputing, etc.
Kernel plugins, in particular, are way more difficult to work on and, for advanced plugins creation, it's strictly necessary to be able to perform reverse engineering on commercial games executables (game patches like VitaGrafix does) or Sony modules (plugins like NoNpDrm and similars).
- Applications, on the other side, can be created even without such an in depth knowledge of how Vita works internally and are also easier to debug.
- Rinnegatamante: My very first console had been a Sega Megadrive. Currently, for what concerning home consoles, i own a PSX, a PS2, an original XBox, an XBox360, a PS4 Slim, a PSTV and a Nintendo Wii.
- In terms of handheld consoles, i own a Pikachu & Pichu GBC Limited Edition, a GBA, a GBA: SP, a Nintendo DS, a Nintendo 3DS, a New Nintendo 3DS, a Sega Nomad, a Phat PSP, a (soft bricked) PSP Go, two Phat PSVita, a JAP exclusive limited edition black Danganronpa V3 Slim PSVita, a Nintendo Switch and a GPD Win 1.
Other then creating homebrew, what do you use does your PS Vita(s) see? Do you have a favorite Vita Game or series?
- Rinnegatamante: I do possess three different PSVITAs: two of them are used strictly for development (they're on different fws to ease debugging for what concerning plugins) and one of them (the limited edition Slim one) is the one i use for playing games.
- My favorite PSVITA series is probably Danganronpa and the one i liked the most being the first one. However i did spent a considerable amount of time on my PSVITA playing Crash Team Racing through PSXEMU.
Your PS Vita port of Quake (vitaQuake) contains various unique features for the port, can you tell us a bit about your development of that port and some of those features it possesses?
- Rinnegatamante: vitaQuake started as a simple Quake I port based off of ctrQuake (3DS port of winQuake made by MasterFeizz). The idea was to have a full fledged Quake experience with native dual analogs support.
- When it received a prize in Revitalize contest, i felt somehow obligated to make it be the best it could've been and so i started adding, through the years, more and more features coming from other source ports and online discussions.
- Nowadays vitaQuake can be considered a brand new source port with its unique sets of features. Some of these are: dual analogs support, vibration support, motion sensors support, MSAA and SSAA antialiasing techniques, anaglyph 3D, fogging, specular mode, Half Life maps support, colored lighting support, high res textures support, textures caching, etc.
Have you ever considered developing on console's such as the PS3 or PS4? Is there any future interest on either of those PlayStation platforms?
- Rinnegatamante: I'm not interested in any kind into developing for home consoles since they're pretty much an alcove of pirates. There's no real homebrew interest from most of the end users of those platforms and the majority of them cares only about pirating games (directly or indirectly through emulators).
I'm also not a home console user in general since i do have an high-end gaming PC and a gaming laptop. I do possess a PS4 just to play exclusive games i'm interested about but I've never had a PS3 for example.
Also, we have to ask while we have you here, is there any future projects on the horizon or idea's you would like to implement in the future on the PS Vita?
- Rinnegatamante: I'm working on a couple of different new projects and I also have some paused projects I want to resume and finish someday (eg. Sonic Robo Blast 2 port and NBlood port).
In the near future you can expect some new idTech 3 game to come to PSVita thanks to the recent vitaGL renderer fix that drastically improved performances.
I'm actually working on a Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory port and i'm working on basic stuffs that will be used in the future for an OpenJK port (Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy and Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast ports).
I'm also analyzing GZDoom/LZDoom/ZDoom codebases and considering a port of one of these.
To get to know developer's on a bit of a personal level we like to ask a bit of fun questions, like what are your all-time favorites in the following categories?
- Rinnegatamante I don't really have a favorite movie even if i watch a considerable amount of movies with friends. The last movie i watched and liked is The Platform, which recently dropped on Netflix.
- Prefer Cats or Dogs?
- Rinnegatamante: I like both cats and dogs and I've recently adopted a wild cat. Whilst i can't take it indoor due to allergy issues, I've set a kennel for her in my garden.
- Rinnegatamante: I'm not into console definitions so I don't know if it can be considered a retro console, but my favorite "old" console is by far NeoGeo thanks to Metal Slug and Kings of Fighters series. I also like a lot Sega Genesis/Megadrive and i still own a lot of Genesis cartridges and a Sega Nomad to play them.
- Vacation Destination
- Rinnegatamante: I would like one day to go visit Japan since I like Japanese culture and never had the chance to visit it. In the past i've visited France, U.K. and Greece and they all had been wonderful experiences.
- We must thank you for your time in this interview and your contributions to the Vita community, Do you have any personal website(s) / Social Media / support links you would like to share with us?
You can always view all of Rinnegatamante's PS Vita Homebrew / Plugins / Pc Tools @ Rinnegatamante's site VitaDB
- Vol.1: A chat with developer: deank
- Vol 2: Our Guest Today: m0rph3us1987
- Vol 3: A chat with developer: Aldostools
- Vol 4: Our Guest Today: esc0rtd3w
If you are seeing this interview late, be sure to checkout the archive for all interviews conducted >>> LINK
The Power Supply (vol. 05): A chat with (PS Vita Developer) Rinnegatamante
By STLcardsWS on Apr 8, 2020 at 8:51 PM
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