how was it possible to achieve this and why were the games launched

how was it possible to achieve this and why were the games launched

The other day it became known that the KittenLabs group was able to run GTA: Vice City, a game familiar to almost all Habra readers, on a TP-Link TL-WDR4900 router with an AMD Radeon HD 7470 connected as an eGPU. Yes, and Debian Linux served as the operating system for this. Details – under the cat.

What happened?

KittenLabs had long planned to test the capabilities of the TP-Link TL-WDR4900 router, as it could be considered a rather productive device at the time of its appearance on sale. By the way, it was released in 2013. The key element here is the NXP/Freescale QorIQ P1014 chip, which KittenLabs explains is actually a 32-bit PowerPC e500v2 processor.

In order to take advantage of the eGPU, some clever manipulations were required. Yes, craftsmen used a custom board, connected it to the PCIe contacts, which were also modified. They came from the processor of one of the Atheros chipsets. The tracks were cut and soldered to the pins instead of the chipset. As a result, the authors of the project received a PCIe 2.0 interface.

Then it was the turn of the software – the installed OpenWrt firmware did not want to work with the game, so we had to install Debian Linux, which was eventually left. Developers have added additional OS kernel modules to get AMD chip support.

Initially, experiments were carried out with the AMD Radeon RX 570 graphics processor, but in this case, nothing worked. Therefore, we decided to choose AMD Radeon HD 7470 with an old driver and the system worked. Here are the results of the project team.

Of course, there were many problems. One of them is the problem-free launch of the game in a Debian Linux/PowerPC environment. The developers had to use reVC. This is a project that aims to obtain the source code of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and fix its bugs. The game engine has been compiled for Windows, MacOS and GNU/Linux, and unofficial ports have also been released for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation Vita and Nintendo Wii U.

In addition to bug fixes and adaptation for work on new platforms, the proposed edition includes additional debugging tools, implemented a rotating camera, added XInput support, expanded support for peripheral devices, provided scalable output to large-format screens, added a map and additional options to the menu .

In general, it was this project that the authors of “Vice City for the router” decided to use. And they were not wrong, although they had to solve a few more problems. One compilation for the router platform failed: crashes occurred when interacting with non-game characters, and the project stopped for several months. Enthusiasts were helped by the author of the port of reVC on Wii U and the update of the library with all dependencies. As a result, drawing worked properly with full support for hardware acceleration.

The real breakthrough, so to speak, came after updating the Mesa 3D graphics library used by the router as part of the Linux installation. It was not easy, because it was necessary to update a number of dependencies, but as soon as this was done, the rendering of the player began to work normally on real equipment, with acceleration.

Where did it all start?

It is about launching games on the most unsuitable platforms for this. Probably the leader is the famous Doom. Well, the trigger was the launch of the ATM game back in 2014. This was done in the workshop, the experiments were not performed on a working device somewhere in a store or bank office.

After that there were other projects. For example, here’s an interesting way to use an old piano as a character control tool. It was implemented by the Polish indie developer Mykola Kaminski, better known as Sos Sosowski (author of the McPixel game series).

The game was launched even on the Thumby keychain – this is a tiny console, the funds for which were collected with the help of crowdfunding. And enthusiasts managed to run the game even on such a tiny device.

Another option is to play the office phone, and to be more precise, the Polycom VXX 600 model. It is equipped with a 12-button panel, a Home button, a volume control, three buttons for turning off the sound, using the speaker or headset. In general, quite a functional device. But its main plus is the touch display, which allows you to control various applications.

It turned out that it was not so easy to launch the game, it took almost four years to implement this project. However, you should not think that all this time an enthusiast was trying to put Doom. He tried faster, it didn’t work, he took a break for an indefinite period, and then tried again.

And finally, this game was able to be launched on the printer, and in 2014. True, this version of the project was practically clumsy, since the hardware base was a printer from Canon with a very poor quality display (bad for the game, not for performing its functions, of course).

In general, very interesting projects — that Vice City is on a router, that Doom is on anything. If you witnessed an even more interesting project when a game was launched on some unusual device, tell us about it in the comments.

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