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PSP-SEQ was going to be awesome, why development stopped?

psp step sequencer portable

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#1 lettuce

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Posted 07 June 2018 - 19:19

In times past a developer called ethan developed a complete synthesis/sequencer system for PSP console.

 

The homebrew trackers and step sequencers that were coming out for the psp around 2008 ( LittleGameParkTracker and PSP-SEQ ) were really groundbreaking and cool in my opinion because they allowed the cheapest games console, which anyone could get hold of to become an awesome instrument which the user could easily travel with.

 

I really hope the source code for PSP-SEQ could be released, either that or development restarted ( stopped in 2008 ).

 

If you check the specs below this post its an impressive portable sampler/sequencer.

I'm of the opinion that because the controls were better on LittleGameParkTracker and PSP-SEQ had nice synthesizers inside, they should be combined into the ultimate portable tracker...Taking the controls and tracker interface from LittleGameParkTracker and inserting the synthesizers of PSP-SEQ into it.

 

Because PSP had multiplayer with more than one PSP, surely it would be possible to sync start/stop multiple PSPs with PSPSEQ/LittleGameParkTracker combination software running on them?

 

I cant believe these guys developed this kind of nice software for free.

They should team up and create the ultimate synth tracker for PSP, to be used by people on a budget who want to travel and keep things light and portable...I'd pay good money for that kind of thing. Its such a shame the development stopped on both.

 

http://www.dspmusic.org/psp/

  - up to 16 independent audio tracks per song
  - a wide variety of synthesizers from traditional virtual analog and FM to Karplus-Strong
    and unique digital oscillators with parameter controls rarely seen in commercial synths
  - WAV file playback with looping, pitch shift, and configurable start/end points
  - many FX algorithms from digital filters and waveshapers to bitmasks and decimation
  - all synthesizer parameters can be set to unique values on a per-step basis
  - step sequencer with configurable step length, swing, highly accurate BPM, and tap tempo
  - probabilistic sequencing: the decision to retrigger to be based on a 0-100% probability
    rather than a boolean yes/no operation
  - song sequencing with 100 different loops per song, 1000 measures per song, and loop
    repeat capability
  - load and save of synthesizer presets between songs
  - record loops and songs to WAV


Edited by lettuce, 07 June 2018 - 19:33.


#2 ethanb

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Posted 19 July 2018 - 19:39

Hey, the ethan from PSPSeq here quite late to the party.  First off thanks for the kind words.  It's been a lifetime since I've worked on this project but I'm still proud of what I made I just wish it had a larger and more active user base.  Hacking PSPs was annoying and I know the user interface/UI got in the way of some people really diving in.  A few people pushed it hard but there's still a lot of new sounds that can be discovered inside those synths.

There's a Soundcloud playlist for PSPSeq music and I encourage others to post and tag with pspseq.

 

 

Anyway, as for resurrecting the app or making it open source, I don't expect that to happen any time soon.  The code's a mess (especially for the UI) and it would take a lot of time to make it clean enough I'd be willing to share.  Sometimes I entertain the idea of incorporating some of these ideas in another application but it'd be a pretty serious rewrite and I don't really have the ability to do that now.  Who knows what'll happen down the road though.  I really don't think I'd do much work on the PSP platform as I'd really want to focus on the widest possible user base.  The form factor of the PSP is still pretty rad though for making music; the combination of buttons and analog controls is in some ways better than a touchscreen or mouse/keyboard combos.

 

Oh and Marc and I talked a bit when he first got started on PSP development.  The closest we ever came to collaborating was to do a LGPT vs PSPSeq compilation but that fell through; can't remember why.


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#3 lettuce

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Posted 25 July 2018 - 01:38

Hey, great to hear from you. I wasn't expecting to hear from the developer himself.

 

I totally agree about the form factor of the PSP being great for making music...

The two handed grip, the control systems which use D-pad and buttons ( also joystick in the case of PSP-Seq ), the large screen.

I really enjoyed being able to lean back in a comfortable armchair whilst writing music. It is so much nicer than being hunched over at a computer desk.

Because the PSP is designed to be used with a two handed grip, there is no need for a table with PSP-Seq and LittleGameParkTracker ( unlike ios and android music software designed for cradle and prod...the cradling part gets old pretty quick when working on a long project ).

Also, Its great that PSP-Seq and LittleGameParkTracker are available for anyone to use as the software is free and PSPs are so cheap now.

Its so easy to get homebrew software running now with halfbyte loader from wololo.net ( http://wololo.net/hbl/ ).

 

Its a shame that PSP-Seq will not be resurrected. I can understand that it must have been a lot of work to code and to get all the documentation done.

If you do make something for android in future, what are your thoughts about a 'thumbs-only'  control system? It would allow for a comfortable two handed grip similar to PSP.

 

I heard you were doing professional paid work on the code for effects pedals a few years back ( after PSP-Seq stopped being developed ).

Which pedals did you work on? PSP-Seq must have impressed them.

 

Thanks for responding to my post. Great to hear how you think about PSP-Seq.

I will listen to the souncloud playlist and will be returning to PSP-Seq to spend more time with it, make some tunes and explore further what kinds of sounds can be summoned from it. I will render to .wav and include the samples in a renoise or sunvox project alongside gnarly samples made with LittleGameParkTracker's table arpeggiators ( much like renoise phrases ).

 

Its  a shame more people didnt get into PSP-Seq, I'll try to spread the word about it.


Edited by lettuce, 25 July 2018 - 02:59.


#4 lettuce

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Posted 25 July 2018 - 03:00

Just finished listening to the playlist.

 

Those tracks are nice yo! Amazing what can be done with PSP-Seq.

Some intricate and complex stuff...nice work!



#5 ethanb

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Posted 25 July 2018 - 18:24

Hey, few thoughts/questions:

 

1.  Do you use PSPSeq in HBL?  I haven't tried it yet.  I'm curious to know if it runs perfectly or not.  I don't think I do too many tricky things in the code but I do run close to 100% CPU utilization (basically I benchmarked all the synths and FX to get an idea what each consumed and then only allowed users to load up to my pre-calculated limit).

 

2.  Thumbs only is interesting!  It would work well for phones but tablets would probably suffer (or at least require a significant rethinking of layout).  I guess it all depends on what the purpose of the app would be but keeping the horizontal layout/thumb interface is a good idea.  I might be concerned about using wired headphones on iOS unless you wanted to put a hole in your palm to feed the wire through.  ;)

 

3.  I worked for Line 6 for a few years; I didn't do any FX there but was doing firmware for a few products.  I contributed to M9, M5, and all of the iOS interfacing gear (MIDI Mobilizer II, Mobile In, Mobile Keys).  Fun job, and yes PSPSeq helped get me in the door.  Most of the developers were serious musicians as well.

 

4.  Glad you enjoyed the playlist.  The thing about PSPSeq is that it looks a lot like FL Studio but at its heart it's really a tracker with per-step controls that can be manipulated live.  Mastering that unlocks all sorts of possibilities.  Loading sample songs that play around with those features is a good way to open your mind to what's possible.



#6 lettuce

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Posted 26 July 2018 - 02:47

It seems to be working perfectly in HBL for me. I can play the demo songs with no problems at all.

HBL is so much less hassle than the old custom firmware ways.

 

I see what you mean about the headphones sticking out making horizontal two handed holding annoying on large tablets like ipad.

I always use those earphones with the right-angle plug when using milkytracker on PDA ( another great portable music thing ).

 

The per-step parameter change features are nice. This is what a lot of these touchscreen music apps are lacking.

I'd love to see the PSP-Seq synthesis features in a tracker someday ( like the PSP-Seq + LittleGameParkTracker combo mentioned above ) but step sequencer is pretty much the same in many ways...

 

If you did make an app for android and ios, but didnt want to use the two handed grip, thumbs only idea, nanoloop ( for android and ios ) had a great design for one handed hold, one thumb control. Its still preferable to the 'cradle and prod'. One arm gets tired from holding the device up after a while.

 

On a side note, I dont understand his decision to abandon nanoloop ( ios+android ) to focus only on nanoloop ( gameboy and gameboy advance ). It sounds sweet on gameboy advance but lacks true BPM. Anyway nanoloop ios+android seems to be abandonned for now. Its a shame because it was a great design but it could have been made much much better if development had continued.

 

Maybe the ultimate development team for a serious 'micromusic' app could be you, Marc ( LittleGameParkTracker ), Oliver Wittchow ( nanoloop ), the guys behind milkytracker, maybe even the dude who wrote adlibtracker 2...Youd have so many ideas and codes already and youd get the app finished and updates coming out quickly.


Edited by lettuce, 26 July 2018 - 02:51.


#7 ethanb

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Posted 26 July 2018 - 19:11

You comment on missing per-step controls is very true.  The thing to figure out as a developer right at the beginning is are you looking to create a "toy" (immediate gratification with limited options and a requirement to immediately sound good) or a "professional music application" (confusing, powerful, complete control, small and dedicated audience).  Obviously there's a lot of gradation between these two points though in my own experience few applications really manage to span much distance between so you need to commit early based on your own interests and the niche you're focused on.  It's an interesting and frustrating problem to attack.  PSPSeq was squarely in the "professional music application" realm but with the hope that the UI would be friendlier (and allow a wider audience) than a true tracker to try and bring more people in.  I think if I went full tracker mode in the UI that might have been a wiser choice but I was coming from an FL Studio perspective and wanted to bring in some of their automation features which essentially is the per-step control you get in trackers.

 

Anyway, it feels like attention spans were really broken by the immediate interactive nature of touchscreens.  It's not a good or bad thing, but it's something as a developer you need to contend with.  No matter how much you labor over documentation and samples very few people will give it a read.  For a mass market app if you can't get from silence to something at least moderately interesting quickly you're going to lose the opportunity to capture people and take them for your ride.  Dedicated musicians will potentially sit down and figure out a new tool if they find the demos compelling but most musicians are more interested in creating music than learning software so you need to offer something truly unique otherwise they'll just stick with the tools they already know.

 

I am truly gratified by the appreciation of the app I created, I just wish it was created 5 years earlier and that PSP hacking wasn't a miserable and expensive experience in 2008.  I think the world was a bit different then and it could have had a wider audience.

 

As for the micromusic dream team, in general I'm not opposed to collaboration but sometimes too many cooks slows down the development process.  Honestly the basic guts of PSPSeq only took a couple months.  There was a lot of refinement afterwards but that came from lessons learned as much as development time.  The other problem is that I think each of us have a mental model for how music can/should be made and they not always compatible with each other.  Plus everyone wants ownership of their baby and it's hard to give up that autonomy especially in a hobby where you are expressing your own creativity.



#8 lettuce

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Posted 27 July 2018 - 00:21

Its very interesting to read about views on music software from the perpective of a software developer.

If PSP-Seq had looked a little flashier on the opening screen, purely cosmetically speaking, like maybe a different color scheme or something, I would have thought that sony affiliated game development companies would have been interested in publishing it on the sony store. However, maybe they would have asked for it to be dumbed down to reach a wider audience which would have been a shame.

 

PS-Vita didnt really do that well, except for in Japan. I wonder what will be next for them ( sony )?

I wonder how successful the other portable music apps released for consoles have been?

Like for example Korg DS-10 and DSN-12 for nintendo 3DS/2DS/2DSXL etc.

Personally I thought those music apps were quite cool but didnt make use of the D-Pad and buttons enough.

 

I'm just speculating but I love PSP-Seq as it is and will be returning to it in future after I finish up with some hellish chore of trying to get a fuller understanding of music theory which is what I'm working on right now. PSP-Seq is nice I'm surprised people slept on it.


Edited by lettuce, 27 July 2018 - 00:22.






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