So, what, maybe you are thinking “are you kidding me, there were already fun racing games on the Pandora so far!“. Sure. Like one of my all-time favorites, Super Cars III (actually a remake of Super Cars I and II) as pointed out in my earlier article. And there’s the excellent F-1 Spirit Remake, very challenging but very fun as well once you get the hang of it (and it’s also a very nice example of how PtitSeb optimizes his ports for the Pandora). But these two games, as excellent as they are, are 2D racers, and while we have a good collection of 3D racers (TORCS, Ultimate Stunts, Super Tux Cart, Skunks, and more…), even the FOSS-loving person in me faces the harsh reality that we all know too well: it’s not because it’s Free Software that it’s great.
As announced a few days ago, Half Life can now run on Pandora with the help of the Xash3D engine. It’s fantastic that allows the user to use Half Life data and run the game on a target that was not possible until now. And it runs great (at least on my Pandora 1Ghz, you mileage may vary a little on a CC or Rebirth). Here’s a quick look at this great game and how to get it running with PtitSeb’s port – not all was as easy as pie this time around.
A couple of months back, Lunixbochs released a new port for the Pandora, Uplink – the original game from Introversion Software, a British indie developer (current working on Prison Architect, you may have seen it on Steam). The Uplink port was not a simple feat. This is a full featured PC game that was never made to run on mobile devices. While it may not look visually stunning, performance wise it proved to be challenging port, and Lunixbochs came with an interesting solution to the performance issue, by creating TinyGLES.
Since nobody had released a Flappy Bird clone on the repo, I took some time a couple of days ago to look for some of them that may be working without much effort on the Pandora. Since Flappy Bird was a such popular and, honestly, not very hard game to program, there are a ton of clones out there for many programming languages. Python and Pygame are included by default in the Pandora firmware, so I was set to find something running with those on GitHub, and it did not take too long to identify the right candidate.
A while ago I had found that the old MSX (and Gameboy) racing game F-1 Spirit had been recreated in open source (since 2004) for modern systems, using OpenGL. I thought I would try to do a port. It was easy. At least it was what I thought in the first place. After some quick conversion of GL calls to GLES (since the Open Pandora’s PowerVR chip only supports OpenGLES), it was up and running a couple of hours after I started. I was ready to test it. The intro screen went fine, and I was jumping in the game… Everything seemed to be for the best, except for a minor issue. It was way too slow in-game to even play it. I could only get a couple of frames per second, which is hardly ideal when you play a racing game. That’s when I decided to look at the code and see where it could be optimized.
Hey, another non-Pandora article! How do you like that? Well, this is however related to porting to Linux -which is not a subject new to this blog- and how commercial support can be seriously flawed when handled by large companies who have no prior experience with it. This happened with the Linux port of The Witcher 2 recently.
While I am not as much of an active developer/porter as I would like to be, I do keep on eye on what’s happening on the repo, and since 2013, I have noticed that there was some guy who started to port stuff that was certainly different from what people usually expect in the community. His first few ports were not so extraordinary in themselves, but then came Jstock, CASPack and R. Wow. I then realized this MarkW was not your standard Pandora user. And not your usual porter either.
Since I have just compiled Asunder, and since it was not super straightforward (I mean, it was easy, but a beginner in compilation might have given up after the first few steps, not understanding what to do next), I wanted to share in a short article how to do it. Of course you will need the Code::blocks PND as a prerequisite. And maybe 30 minutes or so in front of you. You will end up with major l33t Pandora Compiling m4d skillz, I promise. Stop the TV and let’s go.
A year ago, in July 2012, I started a thread on the boards about what software we may still be missing on Pandora. Now, it’s been 12 months. You might be wondering what has changed since then. Good question. Let’s see what has happened since then and whether we are still in need of some special magic… follow me.
Sorry for the “snake oil” headline. At least I didn’t include any statement about growing one’s extremities in 24 hours. Anyway. A couple of days ago, there was a lot of back and forth in the comments on Pandoralive (yeah, as surprising as it seems, there are readers on this blog!) regarding my initial comment “developers should spend some time marketing their stuff if they spend so much time creating it initially.” While I will not delve here into WHY I think this way, I wanted to throw out in the wild a few suggestions on how to do a better job at promoting your programs when you release them… or even before releasing them.