Words of the day: Rez, teledildonics

This weekend I was at J.R.’s place and we installed a hard drive in her PS2. Jordan supplied a memory card containing exploit code which executes from the card when the PS2 begins running most PS1 game discs. From there, you can run arbitrary code, including loaders for the network-attached hard drive, FTP servers, Linux kernel… We obtained a copy of waRez and played it.

It’s an interesting game. Reminds me of a futuristic, hackery version of Starfox (the first polygon-based rail shooter I ever played. Yes, I’m sheltered), but with thumping techno music and synchronized vibration. In Japan, it comes with a “trance vibrator”, which they suggest putting on your neck or something, although I’m sure an innovative gamer could think of other places to put it.

Considering these things are no longer for sale, and to my knowledge, no longer manufactured, discussion inevitably turned to… “hey, you’re an EE… how hard would it be to make a USB-controlled Rez vibe?” (Somebody’s been reading too much Slashdong!

Not that hard, it turns out; someone already hooked an official unit up to a USB analyzer and reverse-engineered the protocol; armed with their code for the linux driver, I could easily (heh, as much as I’d like to be known as “that guy who makes USB dildos”) reverse-reverse-engineer (er.. would that be forward-engineer?) compatible hardware to the original. I could even add my own software extensions for blinkylights and such.

As always though, lawyers would likely spoil all the fun. Specifically, making a compatible aftermarket device (that the game will actually recognize as compatible) would require copying the original manufacturer’s Vendor ID and Product ID, which probably precipitates a visit from the original manufacturer’s and/or the USB-IF‘s legal heavies. (OTOH, I can no longer find any evidence that the original manufacturer, ASCII Entertainment Software, still exists; a URL listed as their official website returns a portal-potty landing page.) This copying could be seen as either ‘an open and shut case of passing-off’ (as one opinion online put it), or a necessary step for interoperability. I tend to see it the latter way, considering we’re talking about 4 bytes, far less than the 42-byte ‘program’ whose duplication spawned Lexmark vs. SCC. I would liken interest-group ID assignments to the service provided by ‘star registry‘ companies, e.g. more of a polite suggestion without actual legal teeth, but that’s just me.

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