Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

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Nico0020
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Re: Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

Post#2 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:33 am

There weren’t many produced because the bleemPods and bleemPads were still in the prototype stage. Everything was ready to go, but the demand wasn’t there and so we put those on the back-burner. I do still have some of the hardware (smiley face!). There are probably five total units in the world.


I only ever saw the one set of bleempods get sold about 10 years ago, and they have disappeared into some private collection never to be seen again. I was completely unaware a Bleempad prototype had been made. This is good to hear that some still exist. I really hope they can find their ways into the right hands one day to have them documented about perhaps recreated one day.

|darc|
undertow
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Re: Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

Post#3 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:36 pm

Nico0020 wrote:
There weren’t many produced because the bleemPods and bleemPads were still in the prototype stage. Everything was ready to go, but the demand wasn’t there and so we put those on the back-burner. I do still have some of the hardware (smiley face!). There are probably five total units in the world.


I only ever saw the one set of bleempods get sold about 10 years ago, and they have disappeared into some private collection never to be seen again. I was completely unaware a Bleempad prototype had been made. This is good to hear that some still exist. I really hope they can find their ways into the right hands one day to have them documented about perhaps recreated one day.


They commissioned the bleemPods to be made by the Total Control adapter guys. It's the same adapter as the Total Control PSX->DC adapter, but with some minor tweaking of firmware or something, as the Total Control PSX->DC adapter doesn't support the exact control scheme promised for the bleemPod (second analog stick functionality e.g.). I have a very strong hunch that if someone could get their hands on one of these prototypes, existing Total Control adapters could be modified into them.

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SMiTH
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Re: Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

Post#4 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 9:39 pm

This was a good read.

What I took from this interview in reference to those damn colored dreamcasts that were used internally by the bleem! team is that they were used to test different regions.

The tinfoil about betas locked to modified bios/colored dc's is finally starting to seem more like bullshit imo lol.

It is good to see that Rand is approachable and talkative about his work. He has done a few interviews within the past few years.

Maybe one day he will show up again to say hello @ dcemulation.org
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Anthony817
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Re: Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

Post#5 » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:35 pm

Thanks for posting this here Ivan! I hadn't checked DCJY for 2 days and it slipped right by me! I usually check it every few days or so!

I so wish we could get in contact with him and just discuss the inner workings of Bleem and maybe get some tips on how to get some more stuff working. If only he could release the later betas like the one they had at E3 that ran way more games and possibly had save support working too...

I mentioned the Bleemshell project in the comments and linked to a thread I posted over at Obscure. I didn't want to directly post links to this place because DJCY might be against game uploads. I conveniently have links linking back here on that thread at Obscure. So the project should be fully visible to Randy if he ever decides to get in contact with anybody.

|darc| wrote:
They commissioned the bleemPods to be made by the Total Control adapter guys. It's the same adapter as the Total Control PSX->DC adapter, but with some minor tweaking of firmware or something, as the Total Control PSX->DC adapter doesn't support the exact control scheme promised for the bleemPod (second analog stick functionality e.g.). I have a very strong hunch that if someone could get their hands on one of these prototypes, existing Total Control adapters could be modified into them.


Yep, I was researching that a couple of months back actually and wondered if one of the prototypes could be studied and the firmware made available and preserved and maybe people could reflash the chips to make and produce clones from older ones found on eBay that are still available.
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|darc|
undertow
Posts: 28

Re: Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

Post#6 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:12 am

SMiTH wrote:This was a good read.

What I took from this interview in reference to those damn colored dreamcasts that were used internally by the bleem! team is that they were used to test different regions.

The tinfoil about betas locked to modified bios/colored dc's is finally starting to seem more like bullshit imo lol.

It is good to see that Rand is approachable and talkative about his work. He has done a few interviews within the past few years.

Maybe one day he will show up again to say hello @ dcemulation.org



What's tinfoil about it? I still have the uncracked, original rainbow files. There were five colors (blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange), so that's more than regions available.
If these betas aren't locked to specific Dreamcasts, then what exactly are they locked to?

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SMiTH
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Re: Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

Post#7 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:37 am

|darc| wrote:What's tinfoil about it? I still have the uncracked, original rainbow files. There were five colors (blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange), so that's more than regions available. If these betas aren't locked to specific Dreamcasts, then what exactly are they locked to?


I am glad you asked.
There is a theory that the bleem beta was intentionally leaked to test how good the encryption was at the time. To see how quickly the public could crack the files. After all it was found that all five colors (blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange) were the same beta. Some claim the differences with the betas might be the region code?

As far as the regions:
REGION 1 -- USA, Canada.
REGION 2 -- Japan, Europe, South Africa, Middle East, Greenland.
REGION 3 -- S.Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Parts of South East Asia.
REGION 4 -- Australia, New Zealand, Latin America (including Mexico)
REGION 5 -- Eastern Europe, Russia, India, Africa.

Here is a bleemcast tinfoil thread I made.
Hopefully you will share your opinions.
Feel free to take a look and comment about anything.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=12161
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mistamontiel
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Re: Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

Post#8 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:16 pm

lol @ the tale of Sony throwing out the suit and handing them jobs

No mention of that this DC-J interview

OGDCFAN99
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Re: Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

Post#9 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:27 pm

I am surprised at how much he remembers about DC hardware and software development compared to a lot of other developer interviews. Not to mention how competent he was in that he found a bug in the Power VR rendering methods! He would be extremely valuable to the Indy scene if he wanted to and if someone could make that happen.

|darc|
undertow
Posts: 28

Re: Bleemcasting: An Interview With Bleemcast! Developer Randy Linden

Post#10 » Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:54 pm

SMiTH wrote:
|darc| wrote:What's tinfoil about it? I still have the uncracked, original rainbow files. There were five colors (blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange), so that's more than regions available. If these betas aren't locked to specific Dreamcasts, then what exactly are they locked to?


There is a theory that the bleem beta was intentionally leaked to test how good the encryption was at the time.


While I haven't done my own analysis of the bleemcast code that locks the software to the specific machines, it makes no sense that it would be used as test bait. Because the protection on the betas fundamentally has to be different than the protection on the discs, because they're protecting two completely different things.

The protection on the retail discs has to protect against people making duplicates of the discs. And it does that by using several techniques to ensure a PC drive can't read the discs, from bad sectors to sectors existing outside of the ToC range. And even if you successfully read and duplicated the software, the software also checked to make sure those same disc quirks were still there when executed, so when you burned the disc you needed to also replicate the same damaged structure, which was damn near impossible. So the only solution is to crack the executable. The current bleemcast! burnable image is a mix-and-match of both. It cracks out the check for damaged sectors past the ToC but retains special data existing in the pregap where data isn't supposed to be. GDEMU doesn't support this, for example, which is why that image doesn't work on GDEMU.

But the protection on the beta has to protect against a completely different problem: it absolutely needs to be easily burnable so that testers can make their own copies, so the protection used here is absolutely fundamentally different than the copy protection used in the final. It needs to be as copyable as possible but only run for specific people (i.e. the testers).

So if the retail version needs protection that runs for everybody but isn't able to be copied, how would the bleem guys benefit from leaking a copy with the exact opposite type of protection: one that is able to be easily copied but doesn't run for everybody?

SMiTH wrote:To see how quickly the public could crack the files. After all it was found that all five colors (blue, green, yellow, purple, and orange) were the same beta. Some claim the differences with the betas might be the region code?

As far as the regions:
REGION 1 -- USA, Canada.
REGION 2 -- Japan, Europe, South Africa, Middle East, Greenland.
REGION 3 -- S.Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Parts of South East Asia.
REGION 4 -- Australia, New Zealand, Latin America (including Mexico)
REGION 5 -- Eastern Europe, Russia, India, Africa.


This isn't how the Dreamcast markets were even aligned, and Sega themselves only had 3 regions for the Dreamcast. Dreamcast had 3 main regions:

REGION 0 (J): Japan, Taiwan, Philippines
REGION 1 (U): USA, Canada
REGION 2 (E): Europe

Stuff like Hong Kong Dreamcasts ended up getting put into region 0, countries like Brazil got put in with region 1, and Australia and other PAL countries were grouped in with region 2. The groups you speculate don't make any sense? Why would Japan and Europe be grouped together, but Taiwan/HK are separate from Japan? Some of these countries didn't even have Dreamcast markets at all... ?

But... even if this were how the Dreamcasts were aligned, what is the point of assigning different colors to different region systems or locking the builds to regions? No indie software for the Dreamcast has ever had different builds for different region Dreamcasts, because why would they?

The actual myth makes far more sense than your theory: They made the software check for a console modification, and if the modification wasn't present, it refused to run; and only authorized people were given consoles with that modification. And to add a digital trail, the modifications were slightly different so if someone was losing or sharing their discs they'd know who was being loose with the software. So of course when all of the protections were stripped off the builds were the same. They were always supposed to be. Why would they have 1 person test different builds? One person can't test everything alone. You need a lot of people testing one single consistent build.

This would be really easy to do because the Dreamcast has flash memory. Just put the strings "BLUE," "PURPLE," etc. in an obscure location in the flash memory where it won't be overwritten and check for that. They could even put it in the read-only portion of memory with a simple hardware modification so it would take a hardware mod to duplicate the security token on other people's Dreamcasts.

This is a perfectly reasonable and normal thing for a company like bleem to do. Again, I ask, what is tinfoil about this? bleem! did hardware work on the Dreamcast, too--after all, they were at one point exploring the feasibility of doing an N64 emulator instead of PSX by using a cartridge adapter that connected to the G2 bus (modem) slot. So I'm sure they were more familiar with how easy it'd be to modify the console in certain ways than even official third party developers did.


Besides, the theory that bleemcast was intentionally leaked doesn't really agree with my opinion of the personality of Rand Linden. Rand and I were both staff members at DCEmulation in the early 00s and I spoke to him on the #dcemulation IRC quite a few times back in the day. One of the bleem testers, Dave Hojak, was also on DCEmulation staff as GhosT^x0, and I knew him very, very well (but haven't spoken to him in over 15 years unfortunately). He was extremely protective of his code and hated pirates. I distinctly recall all of this vividly because I own DCEmulation now and his opinions highly influenced how we chose to approach moderating the DCEmulation boards. The #1 criticism of DCEmulation was that we never allowed even the discussion of anything bordering piracy on our boards and the #1 reason we did that was because no one dared alienate Rand, who had a strong personality of standing up for his convictions on this issue.

I just couldn't fathom Rand taking the risk of putting his code out there on purpose. Especially when after bleem! had gone under and they no longer had a financial interest in its sales, Rod Maher and Rand Linden posted on DCEmulation expressing regret that the beta making the rounds was extremely early and misrepresented the work they put into the emulator afterwards and that they were very disappointed in the person who leaked the builds because the company was so small and tight knit (thread here).

I think people just like to come up with theories and gossip about bleem! because it's just one of those things that has had an extreme following. People saw bleem! as rebels in defense of a dying Sega. Rand even had a cult of personality on DCEmulation known as the Randites. :lol:


OGDCFAN99 wrote:I am surprised at how much he remembers about DC hardware and software development compared to a lot of other developer interviews. Not to mention how competent he was in that he found a bug in the Power VR rendering methods! He would be extremely valuable to the Indy scene if he wanted to and if someone could make that happen.


bleemcast! was written entirely in SH4 assembly language. With that level of talent, he would practically be a God in the Dreamcast indie programming community.
Of course he'd never say that... he's religious (or was, don't know if he still is) and doesn't believe in saying the Lord's name (using "G-d" instead).

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