Why I never play video games any more

tl;dr - because sysadminning a console is the worst game ever.

  1. Hear about [REDACTED] being released for PS3.
  2. Wonder if I can download that.
  3. Turn on PS3 for the first time in... a year?
  4. Remember that for some reason it stopped being able to connect to the network.
  5. Dick around in settings for 30 minutes.
  6. Completely disassemble it. (Wow, those heat sinks are not fucking around!)
  7. Detect nothing obviously unseated. Re-assemble.
  8. Dick around in settings again. Oh, now it wants to download an update! I guess the network is working again.
  9. Download. Wait.
  10. Install. Wait.
  11. It gets to 99%, aaaaaand....
  12. Yup. Repeatedly.
  13. Download PS3UPDAT.PUP to a thumb drive. Ignored.
  14. Safe mode? Nope, it goes right back to the installer loop, but this time in glorious SD.
  15. Pull the drive to see if I can replace the PS3UPDAT.PUP there surgically. Nope, it's in some goofball file system that a Mac can't mount.
  16. Safe mode with the drive pulled? Nope.
  17. I guess I don't have a PS3 any more, now I have a brick. Hooray!

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56 Responses:

  1. I used to lament that gaming on PCs want as easy and reliable as consoles. Unfortunately it appears that the monkey's paw I wished on has solved this by breaking consoles rather than fixing PCs.

  2. Dave Polaschek says:

    I feel your pain. I have a PS3, plus a Sony blu-Ray player that both won’t update because they overheat because the heat sink is no longer thermal pasted to the cpu. Maybe I’ll be able to update this winter...

  3. moof says:

    If your specific console is compatible, it's almost easier just to install custom firmware (eg REBUG) just to get around all of Sony's nonsense and to get better debugging tools. The pirate sites also have much more detailed information on how to unbrick consoles or get around bad updates.

    • jwz says:

      "Figure out how to jailbreak your console" sounds like even more fun than "sysadmin your console", especially since these warez dipshits have never considered that a document saying "this is what it does and here's how you install it" might be a thing someone would want.

  4. Andreas says:

    If this update process is anything like my networked printer that got bricked after installing an update, it might be doing network things and if it does that, maybe you can break it out by man-in-the-middle’ing that. These are big if’s but this unlikely chain of learning about and using metasploit tools worked here, under unclear circumstances.

    Either way, commiserations. Bricked devices are not fun ):

    • jwz says:

      It is behaving as if it download an update, and is now failing to install that file.

      • Andreas says:

        Hm! Might be worth trying to MITM it, then, if only to see what it’s trying to reach. Hilariously, when I did that for my Bricked printer (!), I did it wrong, made the download client receive a dns resolution error, breaking the loop.

        Apparently those processes are brittle enough that even a little bit of destabilization works in your favor.

  5. euk says:

    Did you put the .PUP file into the PS3/UPDATE folder on the USB drive? That's where it looks for the firmwares

    • jwz says:

      Yes. I don't think it's reading the USB drive, or even fully entering "safe mode". It does the beeps but then goes right back to "the previous install was canceled". It seems like this reinstall-loop takes precedence over everything.

      • euk says:

        The only thing that could possibly fix it is a full reformat in settings, which would suck but you can still back crap up beforehand with the builtin utility. That fixed one failing update I had in the past :/
        Yay technology.

      • Lloyd says:

        What size and file format is your USB drive? It has to be small and FAT32 with an MBR table, which is generally not what Mac users use.

        • jwz says:

          I tried both ExFat and FAT32, formatted with Disk Utility. It's a 256GB stick.

          • Lloyd says:

            Since FAT32 only supports up to 32GB, I don't think you formatted that 256GB stick the way you thought; Disk Utility is helpful that way. Some pointers.

            • Netluser says:

              FAT32 can actually be formatted as big as about 8 terabytes according to an old Microsoft article[1], but tools included with Windows refuse to format anything bigger than 32GB as FAT32 because Microsoft didn't want users formatting their huge drives with it out of stubbornness/familiarity.

              [1] https://web.archive.org/web/20041020040520/support.microsoft.com/kb/184006

              • Lloyd says:

                ah, right. because sector size has to scale when the filesystem doesn't, and a one-byte file will start taking megabytes.

                The PS2 only had 8MB memory cards. The PS3 having an arbitrary, tiny, upper limit would be so Sony.

                • jwz says:

                  Ok, so the theory has been proposed that maybe the PS3 can't read a FAT32 file system bigger than ... something.

                  a) Any evidence that this is true?

                  b) What is the incantation I can do on a Mac to format a 256GB CF card with a smaller file system that would be readable?

                  • Glaurung says:

                    Disk utility, erase, then partition, set size of first partition =32gb or less, have empty unallocated space after it. Make sure you are formatting it as an MBR partition table rather than GUID - if the console speaks FAT, it will expect MBR as well.

                    Alternatively, buy a dinky small and slow USB stick from the corner shop. Or find one buried in your junk drawer from a decade ago.

                  • Lloyd says:

                    Oh, forget USB, though that partition trick sounds reasonable. Try burning the update in its SPECIAL/FOLDER onto a CD-rom, which might just have a higher priority in the boot sequence.

                  • jwz says:

                    I rated this guess as "plausible", and to my shock I still have a pile of blank CD-Rs, but:

                    1) It wouldn't eject the disc that was in there: I had to disassemble the drive;

                    2) Now that the old disc is out, it won't let me stick the new disc in. It still boots directly to the install phase.


          • Lloyd says:

            Since FAT32 only supports up to 32GB, was that stick really formatted as FAT32?

  6. CJ says:

    Sometimes it's just easier to go around a couple of local pawn shops and see if they have any gathering dust in the back and argue with the guy behind the desk.

  7. Derpatron9000 says:

    Sorry. There are various reports of resolving your bootloop issue involving blitzing the PS3 hard drive and nuking the USB stick etc.

  8. Lloyd says:

    The non-networked PlayStation 2 is the way to go.SSX3 is all you need.

  9. Jonathan says:

    Once you get past that level, the next one is the same but with patches for the games themselves

  10. Dan says:

    Wait, something new was released for the PS3?

    Also, that error can come about if the blu-ray drive is disconnected or not getting power.

    • Em Kesti says:

      The blu-ray drive not getting power would explain why it wouldn't eject/inject discs, as written above yesterday.

      • jwz says:

        I can definitely feel the DVD head move once when it powers on.

      • jwz says:

        Huh, well after the 30th time re-seating things, now I'm able to insert and eject discs when in safe mode. So I guess something was wonky about the drive. But that did not solve any of the other problems.

  11. Leonardo Herrera says:

    What I want to know is what game made you going thru this.

    • Going to hazard a guess of "the ones he purchased when the system was still among the living"

      • Leonardo Herrera says:

        Literally the first item in his list:

        Hear about [REDACTED] being released for PS3.

    • jwz says:

      If I felt like letting you derail this post with that detail, I probably would have mentioned it.

      • Lloyd says:

        [REDACTED]] II on PS4 has much better gameplay.

        • Nibby says:

          Yeah, but I really played the shit out of [REDACTED] when it was first out. [R II] not so much.

          But this sent me looking for how to re-wrest control of a ps3, and I was shocked at the stark plainness of this ps3 hacker's xemacs setup.

  12. Jeff says:

    Did you try turning it off and on again?

  13. Aracan says:

    I hate the need to update console games with the heat of a thousand suns. The whole POINT of console gaming used to be that one just popped a disc into the thing and could start playing. Now? Installing an AAA game on the XBox One takes 8-12 hours with my (otherwise perfectly serviceable) connection.
    And I have had at least one game crap out on me and needing to be installed AGAIN.

  14. Lloyd says:

    I spent a bit of time wondering about long filenames, mapping to short filenames on USB, and UTF-8 used on the Mac for its long filenames vs UTF-16 collapsed encodings used by Microsoft in the USB spec.

    After a bit of reading up, I'm now completely confused and still wondering. But "don't use a Mac" seems like a good rule of thumb... drive

  15. Jeff says:

    The only winning move is not to play?

    Or perhaps Book 8, verse 1 from the Tao of Programming (https://www.mit.edu/~xela/tao.html) offers a solution:

    A Master Programmer passed a novice programmer one day.

    The Master noted the novice's preoccupation with a hand-held computer game.

    "Excuse me," he said, "may I examine it?"

    The novice bolted to attention and handed the device to the Master. "I see that the device claims to have three levels of play: Easy, Medium, and Hard," said the Master. "Yet every such device has another level of play, where the device seeks not to conquer the human, nor to be conquered by the human."

    "Pray, Great Master," implored the novice, "how does one find this mysterious setting?"

    The Master dropped the device to the ground and crushed it with his heel. Suddenly the novice was enlightened.

  16. jwz says:

    I decided to start from scratch by installing a new SSD in it -- fun fact, you can't just format it and go. The first partition has to be less than 32GB and Disk Utility.app can't do that, you have to do it from the command line:
    diskutil partitionDisk /dev/disk9 2 MBR FAT32 PS3A 30GB FAT32 PS3B 0

    After that I was able to get into Safe Mode, wipe the drive, and do a restore from a CF card -- and it failed in exactly the same way, but this time with 8002F1F9.

    And now that it's in that state, I can't get to the Safe Mode menu any more -- it now boots directly into "the previous installation failed".

    I have still yet to get it to allow a CD to be inserted, though I hear the DVD drive head go "ka-chunk" when it powers on. So the drive definitely has power.

    • jwz says:

      I found systems 482 and 466 on archive.org and it does the same thing with those when applied to a blank disk, 8002F281.

    • Lloyd says:

      "first partition has to be less than 32GB" does give support to the "USB drive has to be 32GB or smaller" theory. An embedded firmware limit?

      • jwz says:

        I was talking about the hard drive. The old drive was 500GB so clearly that's not a limit.

        Anyway, if you think you made a suggestion that was even remotely actionable here, you did not.

        • Lloyd says:

          if the first partition on the hard drive has to be 32GB or less for the firmware to read it, then the first partition on the USB stick has to be 32GB or less for the firmware to read it.

          Actionable suggestion: quit wasting your valuable time and buy a PS5.

          • jwz says:

            I was able to use that CF card to convert a blank hard drive into a hard drive that boots and runs a looping installer. So clearly it read the card, and wrote the drive from it. But, I tried putting a 30GB partition on the card too, and that doesn't break the boot loop in safe mode.

            As far as I've heard, the PS5 does not play PS3, 2 or 1 games, so obviously that does not solve any problem I am currently having.

    • Dan says:

      Next time you're in there, check the PRAM battery and verify it's still good.

  17. Dim says:

    Coming soon: the internet of things, wherein everything tends towards a sysadmin problem.

  18. jwz says:

    Someone gave me a free PS3 Slim. From this I discovered several things:

    1: Slims can't play PS2 games, so they're useless to me.
    2: The backup I made last year of my PS3 Fat was able to restore my saved games onto the Slim, but none of my downloaded games, even the free ones.
    3: Moving a known-working hard drive from a Slim into a Fat does not work.
    4: The Slim is able to install onto a wiped hard drive from my downloaded PUP file, so the file and my thumb drive are fine.

    So at the point my best guess is that there's some hardware failure on my Fat (Wifi? Bluetooth? Blu-Ray? Who knows) and some self-test at the end of the installation is saying "nope" with no sensible error message. Without knowing what it is, playing whack-a-mole buying replacement components seems foolish.

    I'm willing to entertain the possibility that maybe running a jailbroken OS would either ignore that error or give me a better error message. Can anyone explain to me how jailbreaking a PS3 works, and what I need to download? Because all of my searches just produce an endless maze of malware, paywall scams, and Youtube videos of dudes talking German over a Sony installer screen.

    • Dude says:

      Slims can't play PS2 games, so they're useless to me.

      Thus proving what I always suspected: Sony's Playstation division hates backward compatibility with a dogged passion. After the PS4 got shit for being the first not to have it, Sony patted themselves on the back this year when they announced PS5 specs in March, saying that it would be backwards compatible... with the PS4.

      Only the PS4.
      And not even the entire library of the PS4.

  19. James says:

    The only way to jailbreak a non-booting PS3 would be to use a NAND/NOR dumper, dump those to your machine, patch them, then reupload them to the chips. That's how I was able to frankenstein together a few non-working PS3 phats into a fully-backward compatible jailbroken one.

    If there are other other methods that have come up since I did this a few years ago, I'm not aware :P

  20. jwz says:

    I replaced the bluetooth daughterboard and now the installation would complete, yay! So it was failing some king of bluetooth selftest and saying "Error! Buy a new console." Thaaaaanks. (My bluetooth controllers worked just fine...)

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