Homebrew downsides

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Revision as of 13:20, 23 March 2010 by Tepples (talk | contribs) (Career limiting: a link to an apple incident might help this page not look too Wii-specific)
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I was planning to develop homebrew video games for a popular closed video gaming platform until I ran into a few issues:

Renewal of restriction

Homebrew depends on a jailbreak, or a privilege escalation exploit to run code not approved by the platform owner. But jailbreaks don't last forever; a platform owner can always patch up the hole that the jailbreak uses in the next version of the platform's operating system. For example, it took over a month for hackers to find and release the "Bannerbomb" for Wii Menu 4.0. Sure, people can just refuse to install an operating system update, but platform owners can work around that: install the patch on all new consoles, have new games require it in order to run, have the online game store require it, or have online play of existing games require it. If a jailbreak requires specialized hardware, the platform owner can sue a store carrying the hardware into oblivion on copy control circumvention and/or patent infringement charges. This has happened with Bung, wikipedia:Lik Sang, Visoly, and several stores carrying the R4 card for the DS.

Career limiting

I worry that working on homebrew for current consoles, as opposed to PC games, will jeopardize my chances of being hired by an established video game studio once I move out of the backwoods town of 200,000 people where I currently live. Apple, for instance, has notably revoked the legitimate developer credentials of hackers who have released iPhone jailbreak tools.

Freeware complexity wall

Once I tried to develop a side-scrolling platformer, but I ran into the so-called complexity wall. This happens when a lone developer with a day job lacks the time to provide both high-quality code and high-quality art. In order to replace notoriously bad programmer art, I'd have to charge for my game in order to afford to pay an artist. Reaction to the sale of copies of jailbreak-related tools for one platform shows that the platform's homebrew community likes to keep it strictly non-commercial. If you know of a way to make programmer art better without sticking to making single-screen puzzle games over and over, feel free to explain on the talk page.

One problem is that a lot of existing art is under a Creative Commons license. Saying that a work is under "a Creative Commons license" isn't enough; there are several licenses with different ramifications. Another is that all Creative Commons licenses are incompatible with all GNU licenses because unlike CC licenses, GNU licenses do not allow authors to require downstream reusers to remove attributions to the author. See discussion on Wikisource's mailing list for the details. As for whether code and other parts of a video game form an "aggregate" that does not require license compatibility, I'm not entirely sure what the GNU General Public License means by "separate and independent works, which are not by their nature extensions of the covered work, and which are not combined with it such as to form a larger program".