Feature: Mathieulh Interviewed

by Mike Bendel July 15, 2007 @ 11:02 am

Mathieulh is one of the pillars of the big foundations that is our PSP scene. His journey in the PSP scene spotlight started with his now-defunct team, SonyXTeam. He then went on to work with other scene greats like Dark AleX and the N00bz team, giving us great things in the form of downgraders, custom firmwares and many other things that you and I might not know about.

I caught up with him a couple of days ago and he agreed to this interview. Note that the interview was taken before the recent custom firmware release by Team M33. On with the interview then!

exophase.com: What is your real name and how old are you?
Mathieulh: My real name is Mathieu Hervais, I am 22

exophase.com: Are you still a student or working?
Mathieulh: I am still a student :)

exophase.com: Ah, and what field are you studying in?
Mathieulh: I am currently studying Japanese at University, however I will be attending a computering degree starting next year as well.

exophase.com: Apart from researching and breaking security in consoles which has made you so famous, do you have any other interests/hobbies?
Mathieulh: I like computering in general, I like animes and mangas and pretty much everything related to the Japanese culture. (food, history, people….)

exophase.com: Have you developed homebrew for any other console?
Mathieulh: Yes I have developped homebrews for Dreamcast and for gamecube as well.

exophase.com: When did you start hobbyist development (homebrewing)?
Mathieulh: I started development at 9, coding on delphi 3 at first (turbo pascal), I then moved on to other languages such as visual basic and C, C++. I started console development on the dreamcast using another nickname than the one I am currently using ( Mathieulh that is :) )

exophase.com: So what would be your favorite console for homebrew?
Mathieulh: My favourite console for homebrew, hum.. I cannot say that I have a favorite. I like the PSP because it is portable, I missed the xbox1 scene though :/ I guess that the psp is not and wont be the last console ever created so there will always be a better one able to run homebrews more efficiently. Also I think that it is too bad that the gp2x did not have the success it should have had. The console was a pretty good initiative from gamepark.

exophase.com: When did you buy your first PSP?
Mathieulh: I bought my PSP about 2 years ago in Akihabara (Tokyo, Japan)

exophase.com: And when did you start poking around the system?
Mathieulh: I started only a few months after I purchased it (maybe 2 or 3 months) in fact, right after I came back from my summer holidays (I bought the PSP in July and I had no access to a proper computer until September)

exophase.com: What is your development time-table? Do you spend a few hours each day (regularly) or work in short bursts every few days/weeks?
Mathieulh: I do not really have a time-table, I tend to code when I can but I am pretty busy these days, particularly because of my studies. I tend to get on my computer during weekends when I have free time and at night during weekdays.

exophase.com: While you have been in the spotlight for a long time now, you’ve never really talked about yourself. Any particular reasons for that?
Mathieulh: Well, to be honest, the less people know about me, the better. Still, I agreed to take the interview because it is done by exophase which is a pretty serious site, I would not have accepted if it was by average public sites. About giving out so many infos about me well I guess that’s because since OE is discontinued there is no real point in hiding anymore, beside I rather be totally honest with you and answer the questions as well as I can.

exophase.com: You were a big part of the golden era for homebrew on the PSP. What was it like riding the wave along with other greats of the homebrew scene like the N00bz crew, Dark AleX, and others who choose to stay completely away from the spotlight?
Mathieulh: About other developers I see them more like friends than anything else, talking with them, working with them, sharing intels with them is what makes all the fun. Being alone is boring :/

exophase.com: What do you think about the future of PSP?
Mathieulh: Only time will tell, I am pretty sure that other hackers have already started to reverse the OE firmware and will release their work sooner or later. Unfortunately the PSP will only get major homebrews while most others will be ignored :/

exophase.com: Rumors have surfaced that the new PSP contains new security additions that might make homebrewing very difficult. Do you think you/others can crack the new PSP shown at E3 to run homebrew, and perhaps custom firmwares?
Mathieulh: Everything is crackable sooner or later, this new PSP is no exception, but since I do not have it in my hands, therefore I cannot make assumptions.

exophase.com: Are you anxious of the new security additions by Sony, or are you relaxed, knowing that if people have done it before, they can do it again?
Mathieulh: Well it is always fun to see what security features SCE can add to their consoles, although they have never really been efficient in the matters of securing their software, unfortunately for them, thankfully for the scene.

exophase.com: Where does the homebrew community go from here? Where do you see the homebrew community about 1 year from now?
Mathieulh: I see that most users will probably lose interest in most homebrews and only a few will still be awaited such as the great daedalus 64 emulator for instance. Everything that could be done on the PSP in terms of homebrews have been done but I shall not underestimate the developer’s imagination to bring us new homebrews and new concepts that most people would not have imagined :)

exophase.com: Will you be continuing your work on the PSP or retiring?
Mathieulh: I will continue to be in N00bz and perhaps help a few friends of mine developing softwares but I am done with anything related to custom firmwares.

exophase.com: Do you have any other next-gen console in mind that you would like to tinker around with?
Mathieulh: The Xbox360 or the PS3 (I am not interested into the wii for homebrews and I do not take part in piracy either). I am more interested on the Xbox360 though as the system is way better to develop on (unlike what Sony tries to claim with the ps3). I like the fact that the cpu uses real cores (and not SPUs) and that each of those can handle 2 threads at a time. Although the PS3 would probably be way easier to hack than the 360, the 360 installed userbase is greater. Beside SCE claim that they will persecute anyone finding an exploit on their console (which is still not illegal in certain places such as the EU) so I rather not take my chances on it. Still kudos to Microsoft for their work in securing the 360 kernel, this is what I call a real security (and a real challenge for hackers)

exophase.com: PS3 and Linux or Xbox360 and XNA? Which one do you think is better for budding developers?
Mathieulh: Both are not worthed in my opinion as both are way too restricted, I would say PS3 Linux because it is free though but there is no hardware acceleration on it, it does not have enough available RAM either, while XNA is restricted to C# and you cannot use your own libs and you need to pay 99 USD a year for it to test builds on the 360 (which I think is a rip off)

exophase.com: Out of the 3 next-gen consoles, which would be your favorite console for the games on the platform?
Mathieulh: I pretty much like the Xbox360 followed by the Wii. I do not think that current PS3 games are worthed for now, but time will tell.

exophase.com: Would you like to say anything to the big companies like Sony/Microsoft?
Mathieulh: They should listen more to what homebrewer request and give them means to work efficiently on console platforms. That way they would attract more people to their system and avoid hackers to have to find flaws in their systems (which ultimately leads to piracy)

exophase.com: And perhaps some parting words for homebrew users/your fans?
Mathieulh: I would thank them not only for eventually have supported me, but also any developers on this scene who worked so hard to make it better, I would tell them not to forget great developers from ps2dev such as nem, tyranid, mrbrown etc who are too often forgotten and whom we would not be able to have such great homebrews without them.


Our full team here at exophase.com would like to thank Mathieulh for agreeing to the interview.

We would also like to officially unveil our IRC server hosted at irc.exophase.com where we hope to build a strong community of intelligent gamers and homebrew users of not just the PSP, but all current and next-gen consoles. All of you are invited to connect to the server (irc.exophase.com) using an IRC client (mIRC, XChat, irssi, etc). Note: Most of our staff/users idle in the #psp channel which is the main channel on the server.

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