May 2014 Staff Pick Project of the Month, PiPlay (formerly PiMAME)

The Raspberry Pi Emulation & Gaming Distro PiMAME – now PiPlay – has just got funded by a Kickstarter campaign. We have asking few questions to its author Shea Silverman. Learn more about this project, it is a pretty cool story!

SourceForge: Tell us what PiPlay (formerly PiMAME) can do for folks…
Shea: So, PiPlay is a pre-made disk image for the Raspberry Pi that includes an array of emulators, standalone games, a web frontend, and a custom menu system.

SF: Who can benefit the most from PiPlay?
Shea: People who bought a Raspberry Pi and aren’t sure what to do with it, those looking to replay some classic games, and of course, gamers of all kinds.

SF: What is the PiPlay release philosophy; do you all use the release early, release often precept?
Shea: I strive to release once every month or so.

SF: If not or if so, why?
Shea: My software caters to users who may have never used Linux, or embedded hardware before, and because of that, I don’t want to have them constantly modifying their setup. If I need them to update, I want it to be as easy as possible and include enough new features that they want to. I’ve created an updater in the PiPlay menu system that can automatically update about 99% of the system without user intervention.

SF: What are the key features from your most current release?
Shea: The latest release has been a huge update for PiPlay. We changed our name from PiMAME to PiPlay. We have developed a totally custom made menu system that allows us to launch custom applications, emulators, and games, and also includes support for custom theme. We also developed a brand new web frontend that allows our users to upload game files, and manage their Raspberry Pi.

SF: What did the project team do to make sure these were completed in a timely manner?
Shea: Because this is a side project (that has exploded) and I am very fortunate that one of the developers also happens to be my coworker from our day job. We were able to work together on our off hours to program this release. We had a timeframe goal that we wanted to keep, and luckily we only missed our deadline by a week or so.

SF: What was the first big thing that happened for your project?
Shea: I think the first big thing was that my site was linked to on the Raspberry Pi frontpage. Then Adafruit, and then a magazine did an article on an older release, and included it on a DVD.

SF: What was the net result for that event?
Shea: Validation. I think it helped solidify that we were onto something people wanted.

SF: What is the next big thing for PiPlay?
Shea: We just finished a successful Kickstarter at over 400% funding to help with the development of this next version. Now we have to get the rewards made and sent out to the backers.

SF: How long do you think that will take?
Shea: I’m hoping within 2 months. We have to finish the development of the next release. Then the kits, sd cards, and all the other rewards will have to be ordered, built, and shipped.

SF: Do you have the resources you need to make that happen?
Shea: Skill-wise, yes. I think we have a group of really motivated smart people working on this project. I think time is our most limited resource as we are all doing this on the side.

SF: If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently for PiPlay?
Shea: I think I would have taken more risks at the beginning, and would have included an updater at the start. It took me 7 releases to build an automatic updater into it. I also would have separated my code into more repositories, rather than the monolithic one I started with.

SF: Is there anything else I should know?
Shea: We are always looking for more help, and accept community patches. We have an active forum at piplay.org, and are always interested in what our users have to say. I would also like to thank SourceForge for hosting the PiPlay releases.

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