Bleem, inc. - Past, present, future

Introduction : I suppose you already heard about bleem!, bleemcast! and the company creating it, bleem, inc. when you found this page. Maybe you also started to wonder what is going on with this company and why no infos are actually being published for the public and what's going on with the product you paid for. Well, we also knew few infos about this. But now, an ex-employee of the company, decided to make up his mind and tell the public about the current events. He mailed us a long explanation, but you should read it for yourself :



Introduction

Hi, everyone. I realize that most of the momentum about bleem, inc., bleem!, and bleem! for Dreamcast (For simplicity, I am going to refer to bleem, inc. as bleem, the PC product as bleem!, and bleem! for Dreamcast as bleemcast!) has been lost in the past 6 months, however there are still a lot of people who are interested in whatís happened since we last saw something out of the company (Which has now been 14 months), and what is being planned for the future. Of course, getting official word on anything from bleem! other than a "Weíre working on it" and "It will be released when itís finished" is less likely than raising Atlantis ... I used to work for bleem, and the main reason I left is because I seriously dislike their business practices. Of course, this includes the way they handle the release of information (and lack thereof). So, I have decided to clear up a bunch of the rumors, and try to share what knowledge I can.

Before I start, I know that many people are likely to dismiss what I say, accusing me of making it up, or not really knowing any information. The people that I am sending this to all are being told how to contact me, to verify what I say. Iím sorry, but Iím not going to publicly announce my contact info, but Iím sure you trust the people who control the news at the sites this is being posted, or you wouldnít be reading their news. J Iím sure there will be some that will still call me a liar, but then, "bleem! is fakeÖ cause itís missing all the purple lines like on the REAL psx." :p (If you donít understand that reference, check out the history of bleem! here)

Bleemcast!

I know itís sort of backwards, but right now, the future of bleem! relies on what happens with bleemcast!, so I am going to discuss bleemcast! first. The first thing I want to mention is the "delays". Obviously, it is taking a lot longer than was first expected. At last yearís E3, people were told June 16th, and of course, there were ads saying something like "Add 400 games to your Dreamcast library this summer." Well, both the date and that summer are long gone. However, they have not set a date, after that. The dates that you see around the Internet are pure speculation. Yes, that includes from huge-name sites such as EBWorld and Gamestop. I donít know for sure about GameStop, but EBWorld even has a disclaimer on their website, saying that they will make their best guess at a date, if they do not receive one from the publisher. From what I understand, the way their system is set up, they cannot enter something for pre-order, without putting in a release date. They are making months of interest on the $10 down they got for each pre-order, so obviously they want it to stay available for pre-order. Which means they make something up, to put in there. Iím sure GameStop and other games sites are similar. Of course, I would think by now they would have learned that they should put in something like 1/1/2020, just to be on the safe side. So, yes, itís bleemís fault that itís taking so long, but you canít blame them for getting false dates from other sources.

So, when will the first bleemcast! pak be released? I donít know for sure, but the beta that was being tested a month ago seemed pretty solid. Of course, testing for it to be 100% flawless is no quick matter, but my guess is that it was pretty close, then. From what I was told, it normally takes about 3 weeks from the time that the program is done, until the discs are pressed, packaging made, and the finished product hits store shelves. So, unless they decide to make some major changes, I would be willing to guess a release by the end of February. Again, this is not an official release date from bleem, or even from a company that is accepting pre-orders. Itís just my personal somewhat-informed guess at when it will be.

What about the new Dreamcasts that wonít boot non-GDís at all? I honestly cannot say if or how this will affect bleemcast! It was rumored a few months ago that Sega might do this, and the consensus at bleem seemed to be that it would not affect bleemcast! Of course, it was also the consensus that Sega would not actually do that, since there are a few Japanese programs that rely on the Mil CD format as well. Recently, Bobbi, from PSXEmu talked to Randy (The CTO/Programmer of bleem), and he said that bleemcast! was still coming out. So, I assume that they still feel it will not affect bleemcast! However, this could require one of those major changes that will throw off my February release time guesstimate.

And, the final rumor, about bleemcast! not being able to play 100 games, as bleem said it would at E3 last year. Unfortunately, this is true. In fact, this was what made me start looking for a new job. I donít fault Randy for not being able to meet his lofty goals. 100 games being 100% perfect is a HUGE feat. It would be difficult to do that for a Super Nintendo or Genesis emulator, much less the PlayStation. However, when it was determined that it would take too long to do, if it would be possible at all, it really bothered me that they didnít let the public know. There are people out there pre-ordering it, many putting money down for it, and theyíre not even going to get the same product theyíre pre-ordering! Iíll be interested to see how the companies that are taking pre-orders handle this, when bleemcast is finally released, especially considering the price will be different. Granted, according to Randy, retailers were asked to not accept pre-orders. I have difficulty believing this, as I canít imagine that so MANY big-name retailers with reputations to uphold would not respect this request. Plus, if I were a retailer I would want to err on the side of caution, knowing bleemís history, so if I were told to not take pre-orders, I would not go against that! And, I know that EBWorld was taking pre-orders almost immediately after last yearís E3, and most people at bleem knew it thenÖ Why would bleem not have asked them to stop doing it, then, if they had already been asked to not start doing it? However, even assuming that the retailers were told this, while bleem wouldnít be responsible for the problem occurring in the first place, they are perpetuating it, by not letting everyone know the major change in program design. Here is the new plan for bleemcast! There will still be "paks," however each one will only support a single (Yes, 1) game. The first game supported will be Gran Turismo 2. Iím not sure of the second game, but most of the talk seemed to be about Tekken 3 and Final Fantasy IX, so I would assume one of those for the second, and one for the third. Supposedly, making the changes to make one game work perfectly, once the main engine is finished will be only a matter of weeks. Assuming that beta testing and programming times can overlap somewhat, it would probably mean a new "pak" being released about every 3-4 weeks. Although, testing for FF9 could take over a month by itself, to test ALL the extra stuff that can be done, so it may take longer. Personally, Iíll believe that sort of timeline when I see itÖ

Bleem! for PC

Now, about bleem! First, development did continue some after version 1.5B was released in November of 1999. There were in fact 2 different versions of a 1.6 Beta, each with a different type of loader. Some games required one type of loader, some required the other. The idea was that Randy would then somehow combine them, so that the games that required whichever type of loading would use the correct one. Unfortunately, this was about the time that he really started becoming gung-ho about the bleemcast! programming, and nothing more came of 1.6. There were some graphics fixes in those 2 betas, as well. There were a few games that started loading, because of the alternate loader, but the main one was Gran Turismo 2. It also did not have the graphics problems that version 1.4 did with this game. The opening MDEC (movie) had to be skipped, but the gameplay itself was pretty awesome. The graphics fix in 1.6 also had a fix for missing polygons. Yes, Tony Hawkís Pro Skater no longer had holes through everything, and Lara Croft was finally visible in Tomb Raider III and through all of Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation. There were maybe a total of about 40 games that were affected in some way by the fixes in the 1.6 betas that were made. However, even releasing that would have been better than nothing to fill the void for the past year, especially considering it made 2 of the most popular PlayStation games become playable! Does anyone remember that interview with Randy, at PSXEmu FILL HERE, where he cryptically said "Gran Turismo 2, Tony Hawkís Pro Skater, and Tomb Raider III"? he was referring to version 1.6, so I assume at that point still expected to release it. Oh, and that reminds me. There are a few hundred people out there that need to apologize to DragonYen (the nick/username of bleemís lead tester). He took a screenshot of GT2 running in the bleem! 1.6 beta , had it posted at PSXEmu, and labeled it bleem! version ?.??. However, once people found out about bleemcast!, they accused him of lying to them, saying that it was really a screenshot from bleemcast!, not bleem! It most definitely WAS a screenshot of bleem! I assure you DragonYen is not going to knowingly lie to any of you. He might say he canít talk about it, because he obviously does not wish to get fired (As is true with pretty much all of the bleem employees), but he will not lie.

So, what about the future of bleem!, now? Last summer, Randy seemed to want to have nothing else to do with bleem! His take was that the customers have received their $30 worth, in what bleem! can do, now. While I somewhat I agree with this, it was very strongly hinted before bleem! was ever released, that while it would be expected to not be perfect immediately, work would continue on it, until it was as close as could be. The boxes used to say free updates! The website was plastered all over with "Free Updates for Life!" Granted, there was never any promise made that bleem! would be perfect, as that is pretty close to an impossibility for an emulator. However, I can only think of a single PlayStation game that bleem! plays 100% perfectly, with no flaws (The game One for those of you wondering). Thatís certainly not a very good track record, and not what most people expected when they bought bleem! And, of course there are some people out there who still cannot get bleem! to work at all. A quick sort of "funny in a sad way" story: As I said, last summer, Randy was saying that he thought bleem! users had received their moneyís worth in what bleem! can do, now. Less than a month later, an employee was trying a new game in bleem!, and asked Randy a question about it. When Randy came to take a look, he saw that the employee was testing it in bleem!, and not bleemcast! and said to try it in bleemcast!, because, and I quote, "bleem! for PC is chock full of bugs!" How exactly this meshes with users getting their moneyís worth, Iíll never understand.

Anyway, that was Randyís side of it. David of course is as much an owner of the company as Randy, so what does he say? He seems completely sincere in wanting to still release at least one more updated version of bleem! When Randy was saying that he was done with it, last summer, David considered getting a separate developer to work on bleem! Iím not sure what happened with that, but as far as I know, nothing like that came to pass. The last thing I heard from David was that Randy has decided he will work on bleem! again, once bleemcast! is finished. But, letís think about that. Iíll guess that there are maybe 50 PlayStation games that would be worth emulating on the Dreamcast, that do not already have a Dreamcast version. If we assume even the optimistic 3-week period for each "pak" to be created, that means he should be done with bleemcast! in just under 3 yearsÖ Yeah, Iím sure LOTS of people will still care about bleem! by that timeÖ One point that David made, that I can see, is that if what is there of version 1.6 were released, now, many people would complain about the fact that it took over a year to create so few changes. Of course, it didnít actually take that long (It was less than 2 months from the release of v1.5B until those betas were finished), but heís right that people will complain. Of course, using that as an excuse, when people are complaining about NO release in that long doesnít make a WHOLE lot of sense to me. One final thing about bleem! When people first found out about the pak idea for bleemcast!, everyone wondered if bleem! would go the same route, and if so, how it would work with the free updates. Randy said on the bleem message boards that they hadnít decided what to do with the PC product. This still seems true, although it appears that David is definitely for making the next PC version, assuming it ever actually exists, be in a pak format. And, to sell it as a new product, that would not apply as a free update. Of course, this does not mean thatís the way it will end up being, but it seems at least a strong possibility, at this point.

So, basically, bleemcast! will not be anything at all as expected, and the future of bleem! is still completely up in the air, not just to the users, but to the company as well. Unfortunately, not very good news, but at least itís SOME news, so the people who matter the most (or at least should), the customers, know what is going on.

Bottom line

Oh, one last point I want to make. Iím sure many people are going to be upset after reading this, and many will likely complain to bleem (As I feel they should). However, remember that most of the employees for the company feel the same way about all this as you do. David and Randy have the ultimate say in what the company does. Occasionally they would ask us what we thought of a decision, but theyíd ignore our opinions anyway, so it didnít really matter. Granted, the Communications Director could be more assertive in getting David and Randy to allow more information to be given, however even he ultimately has to go along with their decisions. Iím sorry to rant, but it really bothers me to see things like "I hope all of the bleem team ends up homeless and die slow horrible deaths from eating diseased food from trash cans!" (Yes, I have seen comments like those on several message boards). That is disturbing no matter what, but even more so, when itís directed at the people who are only doing their jobs. Not to mention that youíre much more likely to get a reasonable response if youíre not a complete jerk when contacting them. :p