When PSP homebrew legend Dark_AleX decided to take leave of the scene, uncertainty existed for the future of custom firmware. Just who would follow in his footsteps?
Weeks following Alex’s leave, a Russian team of developers known as “M33″ blasted onto the scene, with their first release being a 3.51 custom firmware. Of course, this was a surprise to many, but little did we know that another team with a similar goal would soon be emerging alongside M33.
This team became known as Team Wildc*rd. Their first release, although released to the public eariler than the team wished, was a custom firmware known as 3.40 WildC*rd.
We recently had a chat with Team WildC*rd, to find out more about what’s in store for the next WildC*rd release, as well as their personal views on the homebrew scene.
Read on for the first exclusive interview with Team WildC*rd.
When was the team formed?
WildC*rd: July 2007
Was the team created to pick up where AleX left off, or was the timing of AleX’s retirement a co-incidence?
WildC*rd: Not a coincidence. After Dark_AleX announced he was leaving the scene, a thread started on MaxConsole in which a few hackers started talking about how OE works and considered reversing it. People in there spoke on IRC and gathered some experienced developers, and we started to reverse 3.40 OE a short time later.
Once AleX left, did your team receive any help from him?
WildC*rd: Not from him directly. As Mathieulh has clarified on PSPGen, he got word of our project, and asked for a sample of our code. He realised we were serious, and after we had reversed around 90% of 3.40 OE, he gave us the 3.10 OE source code (with AleX’s agreement) when we had reversed around 90% of 3.40 OE and used it to check our work, verify it, add comments to it, and so on. Unfortunately we kept it on our SVN which was later compromised and it ended up being leaked, which we apologise to AleX for.
How many members actively contribute to every new custom firmware release that comes from your team?
WildC*rd: Around half of the team contribute to the code, which means about 7 people.
Perhaps a few words about the different members, and the role each one plays in the creation of a new custom firmware?
WildC*rd: I would prefer not to mention names as everyone makes their own contributions which the team would struggle without. There are people who reverse code and write code, people who think of new features, people who write our statements and readmes, and importantly the testers who we’d be screwed, shooting in the dark, without.
Is there any sort of an informal rivalry between you and the Russian team M33? Maybe not officially, but will you be trying to beat them to a new feature?
WildC*rd: We pride ourselves on working alongside M33 rather than against them, and are extremely grateful for their recent support after the source code leak. We reversed some of the features they added to 3.5X M33, such as 99.9% NO-UMD compatibility (the np9660.prx patcher), because no custom firmware can be without them, but we write other features by ourself.
How difficult or easy is it to bring together a whole custom firmware, considering the number of people contributing to it simultaneously?
WildC*rd: Quite difficult; it presents interesting security issues as we have seen. There is also a problem when two people who start reversing a module without being aware of the other person doing it, and end up wasting their time, but sometimes it’s useful to compare code and it helps because it makes it easier to find mistakes.
What motivates the team? Is it a “damn the man” attitude, or do you see it as just a hobby improving what Sony has released and perhaps giving Sony some ideas on what the people want?
WildC*rd: Our primary aim is to keep providing custom firmware for the PSP scene. The official firmware locks out any attempts at homebrew which we feel is entirely wrong, and we’ll continue unlocking the true potential of the PSP until Sony do it themselves.
How difficult was it when a certain website got into your group’s secret forums and decided to steal all your code and release it into the open?
WildC*rd: The first few days were very difficult, we felt our privacy and security had been completely violated, and considered ending the project. But then we realised, it’d be pointless to let that site benefit and profit from our hard work, so we released the source ourself, and the 3.40* binaries a few days later. We have re-organized ourselves and are now working towards 3.52*.
After the said incident, you decided to release all the source code officially. Personally, I feel it was best to simply lay low for a while and let the incident pass without giving it any popularity. Now that you have released the code into the wild officially, there’s the bigger problem of telling people not to use it to create cheap knock-offs, giving people the impression that your team is “arrogant”. How do you defend your team’s recent statement after releasing the source code yourself, and where do you draw the line and define any custom firmware as a cheap knock-off?
WildC*rd: Looking back, we *could* have dealt with it differently, but things haven’t turned out too badly. A short time after the source was released, Ketchup from PSPGen updated the recovery source code for 3.52 M33 and our initial reaction is that it was theft. However, we grew to respect his work, and eventually gave him permission to release an update for it, which will surely appear soon. That is an exception, and for good reason. He gave credit where credit was due and did not disrespect our wishes when told to stop. We are, however, against the “theft” of our source code for stupid cloned custom firmwares, which noobs like Test30 seem to be good at producing.
How do you protect your project today, after having the benefit of hindsight?
WildC*rd: For obvious reasons we cannot go into detail about our security arrangements, but we have learnt from our mistakes and will definitely ensure such a thing does not happen again.
When Dark AleX left, a huge void was created. How difficult was it for the team to change the public belief that only AleX could write stable custom firmwares? (Obviously, M33 was just starting too)
WildC*rd: That was not a matter that we had to deal with. When M33 started releasing their firmware, everyone was extremely pleased, but by the time they released their 6th update in a matter of days, people began to doubt the stability of M33’s work. However, we admire M33’s work which is always of a high quality and hope to see more of their releases in the coming months. When we released 3.40*, it had a number of bugs due to it being prepared a few hours after our work was unexpectedly leaked, and we patched those bugs in 2 following updates. For some reason, some people have remained on 3.40 OE-A despite both our and M33’s work - we hope to change that with the release of 3.52*.
If Sony were to call the custom firmware developers/teams at their offices and were to ask them to suggest one feature to be integrated into the official firmwares, what would your group recommend?
WildC*rd: An ISO loader, of course. Just kidding!
Really, they should release a homebrew SDK and allow usermode homebrew to be loaded. That would allow homebrew to be developed without risk of loading pirated games. However, even if Sony allowed that, some people wouldn’t be satisfied and would look for kernel mode exploits in order to load ISOs, modify the firmware, and so on.
Perhaps a few words for your fans?
WildC*rd: We would like to thank everyone who has installed 3.40* for their support, and everyone who is waiting patiently for 3.52*. And finally, thanks for a great interview.
We hope you enjoyed this interview! Check back later next week for individual interviews with the team members.