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Disclaimer: This recap will probably be longer than future posts as it will cover multiple months of work. Do not expect future posts to be this long
Beginning-September progress recap
Welcome to the first-ever Pretendo Network recap blog post! Going forward we will post these whenever major updates happen to give you all the latest news about the project in an easy to digest way
Before we begin I'd like to make a bit of serious statement when it comes to the future development of Pretendo. The project has grown larger and larger, and as each day goes by it sometimes seems as if more tasks get added to our to-do list than we are completing. This is because many of the people working on the project are volunteering their free time, are university students or, personally, are working full time jobs. This results in slow development time, slow releases, limited research time, and of course a community which could be happier
The solution to this is making Pretendo a full time job! In order to achieve this goal we have setup a Patreon to help in getting funding for the project. Doing so will allow for more time to dedicate to Pretendo which will result in faster development and a faster, more high quality, release for you all! No one is obligated to donate, but if you would like to help support Pretendo consider checking out our Patreon. And if you cannot financially support, that's okay too! You can always help in other ways like spreading the word, giving suggestions for tier rewards, feature suggestions to help make Pretendo even better, and as always helping keep the community safe and fun for everyone by just being kind! And now, without further ado;
It's the little things in life
A few smaller updates that don't need their own section before we get into the bigger updates; Our website got a new revamp! The design was completely redone, we added a progress page to show data from our Trello and give you all an idea of whats working and whats planned, and we of course added this blog section. The Discord server got a voice channel, as well as some new bot updates to both Yammamura and Chubby. Yammamura now makes use of Discord's new /commands to assign roles, and Chubby now moderates chat better by using AI to detect NSFW images and removing them as needed
Back to the basics
The account server got a complete rewrite from the ground up. This cleaned up all of the old code written as far back as 2017 during initial testing (when Pretendo was still called RiiU!), making the code base much cleaner, easier to navigate, and more performant. Any future updates to the account server will now be much easier to implement
As of 2019 Pretendo has made great progress on implementing a custom eShop. A lot of research and work has gone into the SOAP servers and how the console requests tickets and other title information. Our custom eShop is able to install homebrew apps packed as WiiU titles. Due to copyright reasons with regards to homebrew applications though, Pretendo with most likely not be using any kind of custom eShop implementation in our official servers. If this ever changes, however, we have the foundation to support it
All my friends are online mom!
The Friends server, which is the main game server every console always connects to on boot, can now be connected to! This is a huge milestone for Pretendo, since no other games will work without it. All games require an existing connection to the Friends server to operate, and will attempt to connect to it if not already. At this stage most functionality is stubbed and the data sent back is hard-coded, but it's enough to get other games online
Who needs Skype
WiiU Chat, a popular WiiU title many years ago, was shut down along side Miiverse most likely due it's heavy ties to the social media platform. As of 2020, Pretendo has gotten WiiU Chat back online enough to boot into the title, display a list of friends to call, and attempt to make a connection! As of now though, a full video call cannot be made. WiiU Chat is very complex under the hood and requires additional research into how the WiiU handles title background tasks
Where's the remote?!
Some small progress was made in regards to getting TVii booting again on the WiiU. We will not be reviving this title completely, as it relied on streaming TV content we do not have the rights for, but the research did help give us some insight into how the WiiU handles custom webpage functionality
Who's in charge of the Festival?
Another huge milestone for Pretendo was hit in January of this year! The WiiU and 3DS both use a service called BOSS/SpotPass to securely register tasks which send/request certain encrypted title contents. Splatfests used by Splatoon are one of these contents! Pretendo can now fully encrypt and decrypt BOSS/SpotPass contents, meaning we can serve custom Splatfests through our network. We are aware that custom Splatfest projects have existed in the past, however they relied on Homebrew and overwriting the existing Splatfest files on the console. With this update we can now make our own and host them the way they were originally intended to be hosted
Sorry for the late night Tweet, but we have a special message from Callie and Marie! pic.twitter.com/HLZxyRf1EU— Pretendo (@PretendoNetwork) January 31, 2021
Teamwork makes the dream work
Archive Team, known for their extensive work put into archiving everything on the internet, contacted us to help them archive all of the courses uploaded to Nintendo's official servers! Together we were able to do just that, dump and archive all the course data and associated metadata to be preserved for future generations!
Lets get Making!
Super Mario Maker makes the stage as the first official Nintendo game to go online and start getting functionality with Pretendo. At this stage nearly all content is either stubbed or hard coded just to get the game online and see how it reacts to our data while researching. Only the course world boots here
Very soon after booting, course uploading was re-implemented in Super Mario Maker. This means new content can continue to be added to the game through Pretendo! Not shown in the tweet is course world also now making use of the newly uploaded courses
A few patches and some account server updates later, Pretendo has gotten the 3DS connecting and online with our custom servers! Just like the WiiU, Friends was the first target as it's required for all other games to boot and just like the WiiU at this stage most of the functionality is stubbed just to get it online for other games. With this, though, a whole new door is opened for Pretendo. PNIDs (the Pretendo version of a NNID) are not supported on the 3DS as of right now. The 3DS uses a different account system which more closely resembles the Wii than the WiiU, and thus is able to go online and play games without a NNID
3DS showing signs of life! pic.twitter.com/cXyi0zbSD1— Pretendo (@PretendoNetwork) September 11, 2021
Mario on the go
Immediately after getting Friends online, work began on Super Mario Maker for the 3DS. All possible functionality was added, making it the first title to ever get 100% support on Pretendo! Though with how limited the games content is, that's not saying a whole lot
We heard y’all like the 3DS and Super Mario Maker pic.twitter.com/w5ll3h1tPx— Pretendo (@PretendoNetwork) September 12, 2021
That's all for now! Keep an eye out for more updates, and happy playing!