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Humongous Teases a Console Release.

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Post by LittleToonCat Wed Apr 10, 2019 7:17 pm

Today, Humongous have tweeted some sort of teaser for some kind of console release.

https://twitter.com/HumongousEnt/status/1116103704447348737

They didn't specify either it would be a collection of ScummVM ports of older titles (a la Steam and Mobile), a remastered collection, or a brand new game all together, but this is a very curious tweet indeed.

What are your thoughts about this?
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Post by SomeRandomHEFan Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:14 am

It should be legally impossible for them to use ScummVM on consoles. Doing so would involve linking its source code with non-GPL-compliant code by the console makers. That's why Atari got into trouble for the Wii ports of HE games.

So unless Tommo is run by idiots, they must have obtained the original source code for the games they plan on porting. According to Windows TV, most of it still exists, but only in private archives by HE's former programmers.

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Post by AaronReturn2005 Sun Oct 13, 2019 1:13 am

I don't know why this is going to end up... ScrumVM has PS3, PSP and PSVita versions but none for cutting-edge consoles Tommo is "aiming" for.
I'm been imaging a scene where ScrumVM and Tommo get in a lawsuit for their plans to port HE plans to "old" consoles despite the ScrummVM devs having not produced a acceptable PS4 version (or the Xbox One, AND the Nintendo Switch) for Tommo to use for porting, and after checking their mobile ports realise Humongous' legendary Junior Adventures don't translate well to iOS or Android using the mobile versions of ScrumVM (the semi-unofficial Nimbus ports were arguably better). As ScrumVM was used for the Night Dive Steam versions (they were released on their intended platform), the lawsuit gets crazier until Tommo shuts down their HE assets for "normie porting". However, Night Dive are still free to release Humongous games due to the success of their ports, and start going pass the core aspects via porting the early Backyard Sports and Blue's Clues games (the later with permission from Nickelodeon).

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Post by SomeRandomHEFan Mon Oct 14, 2019 6:45 am

What are you even talking about? I've read your post multiple times and I still don't understand it. I can only refute your individual claims.

#1: The software is called ScummVM, not ScrumVM.

#2: The HE assets were transferred to Billionsoft some time ago (a company who shares the same owner as Tommo).

#3: Night Dive no longer has anything to do with the HE games. I sent them an email a while ago informing them of a missing file in the German version of Spy Fox 3. Their CEO replied that a different company was now in charge of the games.

#4: There is nothing semi-unofficial about Nimbus' ports. They were done in cooperation with Atari (before they sold their HE assets) and are based on the actual source code for the games.

#5: That Junior Sports tweet from the HE Twitter account a while ago does indeed imply that Billionsoft has plans for the Backyard Sports series, but whatever they are, they couldn't involve rereleases for any of the old games other than those that lack pros. The rest are all licensing nightmares that will never be released again. Plus, ScummVM's support for the SCUMM games among them is still incomplete. To my understanding, the first two Backyard Baseball games are the only ones that are fully functional.

#6: There is virtually no chance that HE's Blue's Clues games will ever come back. These games are seriously obscure even by HE's standards. What little money they could make certainly wouldn't be enough to make back the licensing costs. And that's assuming Viacom is even willing to cooperate in the first place. Plus, ScummVM's support for these games is somewhat lacking. Almost all of them still have bugs or missing features.

#7: What on earth is this hypothetical lawsuit you're talking about? Am I understanding this correctly? You think Tommo (actually Billionsoft) will contract the ScummVM team to port their software to modern consoles, then sue them because they're going to it poorly? In the first place, it is likely impossible to officially release ScummVM on consoles. Its license, the GPL, requires all code linked to it to likewise be released to the public under the terms of the GPL. When Mystic Software ported ScummVM to the Wii, they used Nintendo's official SDK, which caused the final product to be linked to code owned by Nintendo, which naturally couldn't be open-sourced. This caused them to end up in a situation where violating the GPL was unavoidable. And even if they'd wanted to, the ScummVM team couldn't have exempted them from the GPL, seeing how they don't fully own ScummVM. (It's owned by everyone who ever contributed to it combined.) Unless the SDKs for modern consoles allow code to be compiled without linking it to proprietary code, it's legally impossible to officially release ScummVM on these platforms.

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Post by Windows TV Sat Jan 04, 2020 2:03 pm

SomeRandomHEFan, you know your stuff even on Nimbus Games well done! I remember working for Nimbus, good times and good secrets xD
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Post by SomeRandomHEFan Mon Jan 06, 2020 3:30 pm

You're the one who told me, remember?

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Post by LittleToonCat Mon Dec 27, 2021 4:34 pm

Also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HumongousEnt/status/1475506007992246276

Looking at the screenshots on the game pages, they look quite like the Nimbus Games' versions of the game. Hmmmm. I'd be surprised if they managed not to use ScummVM for these releases.
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Post by SomeRandomHEFan Mon Dec 27, 2021 7:16 pm

Huh. I thought they'd canceled the whole thing after realizing they can't legally use ScummVM on consoles because the GPL prohibits linking its code to anything proprietary. That's what got Mistic Software in trouble all these years ago for their Wii ports.

So I'd assume these are based on the actual source code, much like what Nimbus Games was doing. But it would certainly be hilarious if ScummVM actually turns out to be inside once again.

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Post by SomeRandomHEFan Wed Jan 05, 2022 12:48 pm

Okay, so I took a quick look at the data for both releases. One thing that sticks out is a splash screen in both of them that literally claims they're using ScummVM.

However, I don't believe this is actually the case. The data files seem to be taken from the Nimbus Games versions, seemingly without changes. ScummVM seems incapable of running them (even giving them names it recognizes still doesn't work), but HEERip still works for the most part. Although you can see Tommo/Billionsoft's blue HE logo at startup, this is just a hack. Said logo is an external image. The actual image of the first room in both of them is still the old purple logo. Plus, the games use FMOD. If Tommo/Billionsoft had actually used the source code for ScummVM's Switch port as a base, they should've already had a working sound system and thus no need to license expensive proprietary software that certainly isn't compatible with the GPL.

It's also worth mentioning that there's plenty of stuff wrong with these ports. Such as Freddi Fish 3 having no music. It actually has an HE4 file, but it's a lot smaller than it should be. HEERip fails to recognize it, and while you can find some music in there by importing the whole file into Audacity, the game seems unable to play any of it. I believe this file somehow got truncated or was perhaps built incorrectly. And that's not the only bug there is.

Given that the splash screens appear to be unused and mention the year 2019, I believe Tommo/Billionsoft originally used ScummVM for the Switch ports over two years ago, but then realized that they'd be opening themselves up to legal hell if they published them since releasing GPL-licensed software that was compiled with Nintendo's SDK would be license infringement. So they had to scrap those and use the actual SPUTM source code instead. Hence the long delay. But they still used some of the images they'd originally made for the cancelled ScummVM releases. And since they never cleaned those up properly (there are icons for Android and iOS in there, too), the unused splash screens with the ScummVM disclosure still remained in there. Also, all of the bugs are the result of them not understanding the SPUTM source code very well.

What's sad is that what they had back in 2019 was probably less buggy, but there was just no hope of releasing that. ScummVM's ownership is split between everyone who ever contributed to it. Even if they cut all the stuff they wouldn't need, they'd still need to obtain a license exemption from almost everyone who ever worked on the SCUMM part of its code. And that's just too many people.

TL;DR: These ports were clearly incompetently made, but it's unlikely they were based on ScummVM. So it seems they took the same route Nimbus Games did, except instead of hiring actual HE programmer Brad Taylor, they went with someone who clearly didn't know what they were doing. We'll probably never know who, since it appears the credits weren't updated.

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