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Interview – Wololo

Interview – Wololo

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Mit HENkaku wurde das Homebrew-Zeitalter auf der PS Vita eingeläutet. Von Plugins, einer neuen eCFW zu nützlichen Programmen, Ports über selbstgebaute Spiele. Eine, wenn nicht die Anlaufstelle für Neuigkeiten, Downloads und Tutorials ist das Szeneportal wololo.net. Seit den Anfängen der PSP versorgt Wololo die englischsprachige Community mit News und ist mit dem VHBL verantwortlich für etliche Sicherheitsupdates auf der PS Vita. Wir haben mit dem Administrator gesprochen und ihn um seine Meinung rund um die PS Vita und die Szene gefragt. Lest hier seine Antworten.

Hi Wololo,

many thanks for your time! Can you shortly introduce you and your website to our audience?

I’m a French engineer living in the US, with a former passion for programming that grew progressively into a passion for tinkering with gaming consoles. A long time ago I created homebrews and a homebrew launcher for the PSP. I’m the owner of wololo.net, a website dedicated to console security/hacking, programming, and video games. We’re focusing in particular on the PS4 and the PS Vita.

Where does your name come from?

Old school game Age of Empires, my friends in college gave me that nickname because I was always creating way too many monk units in that game

You are covering scene news since PSP days and are therefore quite well known. What was your starting point?

Haha, My very first blog post was about my homebrew game for the PSP, Wagic the homebrew. At the time I thought my blog would focus on that game for ever, then my own interests evolved into knowing more about hackers and how they perform their magic.

PS Vita is obviously your main topic on wololo.net. What do you think about this device?

I think it was a geat successor to he PSP but didn’t get the support it deserved from Sony. Except for homebrews, I’m now using my PS4 much more than my Vita 🙁

It took over 4 years to really hack the PS Vita. Why did Sony take so much effort in secure this device?

I think the PSP was pirated very easily and maybe Sony lost the trust of developers there. Even if I’m not sure that piracy is the main factor impacting sales, developers are very concerned about a platform where piracy is rampant, so I assume Sony had to double down on security with their new platform to gain that trust back. It turned out it doesn’t matter if your platform doesn’t have piracy, when nobody buys it.

From a business point of view, was it a reason for its failure? Or another way round: Would you say the PSP was successfull because its open code from the very beginning?

No, I think the PSP was the right device at the right time. The PS Vita landed in a world where gamers already had smartphones for their gaming needs „on the go“. The market was pretty much crowded. HArdcore gamers were attracted by the Vita’s power, but I think we didn’t see enough AAA titles on the Vita to keep interest high. I think Sony’s marketing for the device is partially to blame too.

If you had a chance to talk to Sony about the mistakes they made, what would you say?

Why the HELL did you create a utility as useless and convoluted as the Content Manager Assistant, also why do you insist on selling those proprietary memory cards???

Since HENkaku, the Vita scene is sparkling. Lots of homebrews are coming out these days with emulators on the front. Before, the scene seems dead. Did you have any hope of a comeback after Rejuvenate?

HENkaku was a massive surprise to me, I had no idea Team molecule had been working on it under the hood. I honestly thought Rejuvenate was as good as it was going to get. Clearly now’s the right time to join the Vita scene for those out here who still hesitate to get a Vita.

Did you also had some time to dig for a exploit?

Unfortunately no. First of all, the PS Vita is much more secure than the PSP used to be, and I think I don’t have the skills. Secondly, I don’t have the time anymore. When I was looking for hacks on PSP, I was early in adulthood with close to no responsibilities. Today I have 2 kids and a very demanding job, on top of the blog at wololo.net

The hacking process is very complex and included four persons knowing what they do. Do you think someone else had successfull hacked the vita if team molecule wasn’t working on it?

I’m not sure. Yifanlu brought the King of the hill challenge to prove that, and we’ve seen that at least 2 hackers have been able to find more kernel exploits. But I’m still amazed at how complex the Vita security is, and how these guys managed to do it. I don’t think there are that many people in the world with the right amount of knowledge, motivation, and free time to do what they did. As I’ve stated a few times, hacking consoles nowadays is really getting out of reach of the „hobbyist“ hacker.

Piracy is now a big thing on the PS Vita and developers are already complaining about it. What are your thoughts on it?

The PS Vita and Developers had 5 years to prove that it could go somewhere. During those 5 years, the PS Vita has been massively lagging in terms of hardware sales and game releases, behind the 3DS and living room consoles. Piracy is not the problem. the past 5 years of bad support from Sony and devs is the problem, they can’t rewrite history, no other gaming platform ever had such a long opportunity to run without piracy.

What is your favourite Vita native homebrew at the moment?

I won’t be original here, I’m a huge fan of retroarch, the multi platform emulator

Which homebrews or features do you like to see on the Vita in near future?

A port of my homebrew Wagic would just be awesome, if someone was up for it.

Since we have kernel access now with HENkaku, how do you see the possibility of another hack? Or probably a downgrader?

Downgrader has been ruled out by team molecule. Someone able to work on a downgrader would probably be able to simply port HENkaku to whatever firmware they are working on. As for other hacks… again, team molecule have convinced me that it’s not goig to happen anytime soon… then again, St4rk and HExkyz have found some exploits, so maybe they might be able to have another Henkaku one day…

Any plans for a Wagic comeback on the Vita (without VHBL)?

Ha, see my reply above 😉

What skills are needed for developing homebrews for PS Vita?

Basically the same skills that you would need to create a game on the computer, maybe with a little bit more effort since you are using tools that might not have been „vetted“ by the industry. So, basic computer programming skills, ideas, and a lot of time, patience, and motivation 🙂

In the last few years there were lots of flames and wars in the scene, like Coldbird and Total Noobs. Recently TheFl0w got a shitstorm for his work on Vitamin. Is this everyday life? What do you advice people who wants to become a developer but fearing the people’s rage?

Drama is part of the scene. I’ve been covering the console hacking scene for almost 10 years now, and this always happens. Hackers put their entire time and soul into working on some of these hacks, whether the hacks enable something legal or illegal. Seeing others beat you to the punch, or the community doubting your work or even insulting you can be extremely hurtful. It will always happen,  as 95% of the community have a reason (valid or not) to insult you. My advice for developers/hackers is to ignore it. If you have haters, it means your work is being noticed, and there’s no such thing as bad publicity 😉

From my very own experience I know that it is taking much time to host a blog. With a fulltime job and a family, how do you handle this?

Ha,that’s true! Lots of work in the middle of the night, less sleep, and a very, very forgiving wife

Since you are covering very hot topics, do you not fear any legal issues?

YEs, it’s something I am sometimes worried about. We do our best at wololo.net to cover the scene while not stepping on illegal grounds. We in general don’t distribute tools or software that is obviously made for copyright infringement. For example we are not distributing Vitamin on our site. I’ve only been contacted once by lawyers for my site, and that was in the early days for my work on Wagic. When they realized I was just a hobbyist, and I promised to address their concerns, they never contacted me again. Lawyers are a lot about money: if there’s no money to be made, they probably won’t bother you very long IMO. On the contrary, if they have good reasons to believe you’re making a lot of money, for example selling piracy dongles, I assume they’d be more interested to go after you. That’s just my thoughts and I might be completely wrong, I’m not a lawyer sont don’t take this as legal advice!

Last question: Cross, Square, Circle or Triangle?

Circle! I used to live in Japan 🙂

Many thanks wololo for your time and good luck in future!

Thanks guys!

Lars Leidenschaftlicher Gamer, Ehemann und IT-Berater. Liebt seine PS Vita, seinen Hund und Wordpress. Seit 2011 Redakteur und seit 2013 Administrator und Webmaster von yourPSVita.

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