DreamPi To Launch 'Dreamcast Now!' Online Service

A few weeks ago we featured the stellar work of Luke Benstead and his Raspberry Pi-based DreamPi device; a device with which Dreamcast owners can get their consoles back online without the need for an expensive broadband adapter. The DreamPi is still very much a work in progress, but this work is progressing at a rate of knots and this week Luke announced the next step in DreamPi's path to world domination: Dreamcast Now!
A Raspberry Pi. Not to be confused with a Raspberry Pie.
Dreamcast Now! is a new service that will allow DreamPi users to see who is online at any given moment, and also to see which games other people (or rampant AIs) are playing. The test site is actually live now and can be viewed here. Luke also has also revealed details of an exciting partnership with Dreamcast browser portal Dreampipe.net, which in his own words will "provide a level of integration with the site which will allow you to see who's online without ever leaving the confines of the Dreamcast."

Testing of the Dreamcast Now! service is planned for the next couple of weeks and you'll be able to see when users are online and what they are playing just by visiting the service. Luke goes on to explain in more depth how the Dreamcast Now service works over at his blog Kazade's Internet Address, but here's a brief overview I copied and pasted for you. Don't say I never give you anything.

"How does Dreamcast Now! work? It's all just a little bit clever. On boot a unique identifier is generated from your Raspberry Pi, this is your secret key which allows the service to know which DreamPi is online. When you connect to an online game, the DreamPi sends a message to the Dreamcast Now! service indicating that the user with that unique identifier came online. This is all pretty much anonymous, the whole communication happens securely over SSL and the only thing that is sent is the Pi's unique ID.

Once the game is connected, the first thing it will do is perform a DNS lookup for the game's server. The DreamPi software watches for the domain query, creates a non-reversable hash of the domain (using SHA256) and sends this to the server. Again, this is all over SSL and the server has no way of knowing what the domain was unless it happens to match one of the game domain hashes we have on the server. These domain hashes are never stored.

This is how the server detects when a DreamPi comes online and what game is being played."
- Luke Benstead, creator of DreamPi

Pretty sure all that makes sense to somebody out there. Anyway, as I keep saying (ad nauseum), these are exciting times to a Dreamcast owner and the community is going from strength to strength with all the new software and hardware developments. This re-engineering of the online capabilities of our favourite white box is just another string to the Dreamcast's bow. Luke will be appearing on an upcoming episode of DreamPod, so if you have any questions regarding Dreamcast Now! or the DreamPi in general, please leave them in the comments section.
A quick footnote I hasten to add to this story is that there is also a community currently running online called Dreamcast Live. The guy behind this service is none other than friend of the Junkyard Pcwzrd13, and he actually uses a DreamPi to run games and tournaments for other online Dreamcast gamers. Check it out!

Lastly, if you can spare 30 seconds please vote for The Dreamcast Junkyard in the UK Blog Awards 2016. You can even vote again on separate days, so if you've already done so...you can again (on a different day!). Thanks all.


Emperor of the Streets said...

Will the DreamPi be able to update the game server list automatically when new servers come online? Say, F355 server or some other game that is currently coming online is now online, will be it be able to detect that and know what to do with it?

-Emperor of the Streets

Luke Benstead said...

It uses a dedicated DNS server so when new games come online then it's just a case if me adding a new rule :)

noiseredux said...

this is brilliant. I've always just used dialup for my online Dreamcasting, but the inclusion of Now is a damn good reason to get a DreamPi. I think this is some really exciting news - which says a lot considering we DC fans never seem to have a shortage of developments. Kudos!

Henry McHenry said...

This is awesome! Who said the Dreamcast was dead? Thanks Luke for all the hard work and dedication.

TheSkillJim said...

This is awesome, gives me a good reason to dust off my old Pi, since I haven't really used it since I bought it :D, it's a bit too slow for Kodi. I have the 512mb ram model, are there any particular requirements, or is that more than capable? :) Great work btw!

pcwzrd13 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pcwzrd13 said...

The Model B with 512mb of RAM is what I have and use for DreamPi. Any Raspberry Pi model with an Ethernet port should work though.