[Recap] 2022 - What A Year!

Published by
SuperMarioDaBom SuperMarioDaBom
on October 30, 2022

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Where do I even start?

This past year has been a very busy one. From Juxtaposition updates to general stability improvements to reviving a Wii U title that's been dead for 5 years now, there's something for everyone to enjoy. A lot has happened, so we won't be able to cover everything in detail. We've still got a lot of ground to cover, so let's jump into it right away!

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Let's start with Juxtaposition (or Juxt for short). If you're not aware, Juxt is Pretendo's reimplementation of Miiverse functionality. For more details on it's history, as well as what it all encompasses, please check out this blog post from 2021!

What's changed since then?

Messages Have Arrived

You can now send messages to users that you are mutual followers with! Just like Nintendo's implementation, these messages are not secured, so do not treat it like a private conversation platform.

When Away From Console

Juxt now has a web version! It is still somewhat limited, and you must first use Juxt on-console to get everything set up, but it's there and will be a great way to interact with users even while not using your game console.

Wara Wara What Now?

An active Wara Wara Plaza, with a bunch of Miis walking around Wara Wara Plaza is back to its former glory! For those who don't know, Wara Wara Plaza is the plaza of Miis you see on one of the Home Menu screens. Previously, the above could only be seen through manually adding the data to the console. If you have access to Juxt, you should be able to see the plaza back to bustling.

That's Not All

Plenty more has changed with Juxt, too much to go into detail here. For now, let's move on to the next big addition!

Who's The BOSS Now?

SpotPass (known internally as BOSS) is a service that allows servers to push new content to consoles without requiring an update. We've demonstrated the ability to push custom Splatfests to Splatoon, but since then we've got a fully functional server to push out content! Do I sense a Splatfest in development?

Pikachu, I Choose You

Servers for 3DS Pokémon titles are nearly functional! These games require additional effort to get working correctly (including signature patches), so please stay tuned for that.

A Wild Raccoon Has Appeared!

Bandwidth Raccoon holding a Wii U Gamepad and a brick In case you haven't yet met him, this is Bandwidth the Raccoon! He's appeared to welcome everyone alongside some major website updates!

Progress, Progress, Progress

The Progress page has received an upgrade! Data is now pulled from GitHub repositories, and you can see a better breakdown of the progress for each server in development!

Have You Checked The Docs?

A Docs section has been added to the website! Here, you can find information on how to get started, as well as error codes in the event you encounter any issues. This section is still a work-in-progress, so it will be updated and added onto as time goes on.

Goodbye Patreon, Hello Stripe

We are moving away from Patreon due to security concerns, and better integration with our services. Tiers will stay exactly the same - no changes in cost. If you wish to support the project, log into your PNID on the website and check out the info on upgrading. Pretendo is an open source project, therefore payment is not required to use the project when open publicly or self-hosted. See the info of the different tiers for a list of perks.

It's All About Mii

One of the biggest additions to the website is you now have the ability to create & edit your account Mii! This is great for emulator users who aren't necessarily able to use a Mii Maker app to create their Miis, or for those who wish to create their PNID entirely on the web.

Accounts, Just The Way You Like It

You can now create your PNID entirely on the web, no console required. Most settings cannot be changed just yet, though you can change your Mii.

Further Improvements To Overall System Stability And Other Minor Adjustments Have Been Made To Enhance The User Experience

Multiple servers got improvements, including the Account server and the Friends servers. The Account server now has proper access levels, which allows specific users to have access to specific services. Friends servers have increased stability, and on the Wii U side are only missing a few pieces to become fully functional.

Official Cemu Support Has Arrived!

In the latest version of the Cemu 2.0 experimental builds, support for Pretendo has been added! Check out our Cemu usage guide for more info and to get started.

Finally, After 5 Years... It Lives!

If you haven't yet seen this video by Good Vibes Gaming, go check it out! I won't go anywhere...

All done? Welcome back! Yes, you aren't dreaming - Wii U Chat is finally here! The journey leading up to this point has been an adventurous one, so grab your popcorn as we go back to the beginning.

Where It All Started

Back in February 2020, Jon shared a few photos of Wii U Chat getting into the app. Hardly anything was implemented, just enough to get to the list of friends. Since we did not have a functional Friends server at the time, this was actually performed using a Nintendo Network account. We did not seriously explore the app at that time, since there were other priorities that took precedence. It would be a bit until the app was looked at again.

The Journey To Trigger A Call

In March of the same year, research began on finding out how to trigger incoming calls. After all, if you can't get a call to come in, how would you answer it? Figuring this out would be the biggest hurdle, and the key to bringing it back to life. Unfortunately, by this time Nintendo had long shut down service, so we couldn't just observe how Nintendo handled it. We needed a different strategy.

We called upon Kinnay, someone who is very well versed in Nintendo's networking & the Wii U, and asked for help looking into this. If you're unfamiliar, Wii U Chat could trigger incoming call notifications in the Home Menu, even if the app wasn't open. They concluded that those notifications cannot be coming from the app itself, they must be coming from elsewhere. It would be a while before anything is found.

Fast forward to October 2021. Shutterbug2000 decided to take a stab at it, and see if he could get Wii U Chat itself to show an incoming call. Fun fact: Even with Nintendo's implementation, if you clicked answer on a call notification in the Home Menu you would be brought directly to Wii U Chat, where in the app you would then be prompted again to answer or decline. This same notification in the app would also show if you happened to already be in it. Getting that to show up was Shutter's first goal. Using a fake, hacked-in user named 'bella', he finally figured it out.

Attempting to answer would crash the app, which would become a common theme. Wii U Chat has less than what one would consider to be the bare minimum for error handling. He left the app at that, and moved on.

It Was Friends All Along

Two months later, in December, shutterbug2000 was looking into notifications regarding the friends list. Certain games allowed users to join their friends in ongoing online matches right from the list, and he wanted to figure out how those worked. To do this, he injected the Friends applet into a normal application. Titles such as Smash Bros. support the feature; Mario Kart 8 may have had this as a planned feature, but seems to ignore it if attempted.

While he was here, Shutter decided to try and see if an incoming call could be triggered. Up until then, the we had come to the conclusion that it was most likely a notification from the Friends server, but no actual proof had yet to be found. It was a reasonable assumption, since a client connects to that first before any game server and stays connected the whole time they're logged in. After a bit of work, he managed to figure it out.

It was from the Friends server all along! Now that the pieces were there, all that was left was to handle call sessions via matchmaking (yes, it uses similar processes to joining game sessions) and NAT traversal (a process allowing consoles to talk directly). Unfortunately, it would be some time before much more progress could be made.

Putting It All Together

In late August of this year Jon, Shutter & I got to work to get it put together and finally working. On September 7, the first call since 2017 was made.

After 5 years of this app lying dormant, it is now possible to make calls and draw on your friends' faces! This could not have been done without all of the contributions from devs and non-devs alike, so thank you to all who contributed to this effort!

What Remains

If you're seeing this within the current public beta, good news: Wii U Chat is open for use! There are a few caveats to keep in mind, due to the early nature of the servers:

  • Wii U Chat heavily relies on Miiverse functionality for certain features such as missed calls, which haven't yet been figured out & implemented. As such, the console may freeze or lock up from time to time, especially if you cancel an outgoing call. If you experience a freezing issue, please fully power off your console and try again.
  • As mentioned above, missed calls are not implemented yet. Do not expect a log of calls you didn't get to while away.
  • Currently, notifications are only sent to the call recipient while in the app; as mentioned above, we know how to trigger them, but this server intercommunication is not yet implemented.
  • Expect bugs. Lots of them. We will not be providing much technical support for the app at this time, due to it's early nature and the fact that we know there are issues.

We hope you enjoy Wii U Chat!

The End, For Now

That's all we've got to share for now. There's sure to be more updates in the future, so come back again later for more.