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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nintendo's new console hides a social network of sorts

I've been poking around at the Wii U, Nintendo's newest home game system. This one is considerably different than the last in that it comes with a large handheld device which appears to be the result of cross-breeding an iPad and a DS and then gluing on some joystick knobs for good measure.

One thing I've discovered is that it has its own little private label social network based around the games called MiiVerse. You can drop in there and read or post messages about things you're doing. Some of the games seem to let you attach screenshots and tag the post with a specific level. It's hard to believe this is all happening on a gaming device, but there it is.

There's another weird thing which I never expected to find in here: drawings. The DS had this thing where it would essentially set up an ad-hoc 802.11 network and would look for others of its kind. Anyone else in range could join in and use a keyboard or just draw with the stylus to create messages.

That kind of low-res tiny drawing is what shows up in these new posts now, and it's been a surprising source of interesting art. Some people clearly have been putting quite a bit of work into these things. It seems amazing to do all of that for a post which will probably vanish into thin air after a couple of days and will never be seen again. In particular, once more people start using this system, the sheer quantity of messages flowing through the different boards will probably scroll things off before most users can even see any given post.

Upon seeing this, I decided it would be interesting to see if these pictures could be extracted and saved somehow in order to share them with a wider audience. After all, far more people can load a regular web site, and these drawings are really quite good in my opinion. It seems sad to let them be hidden away from most of the world.

I started poking around at some of the networking I/O, and what I've found so far isn't too promising. The first thing I can see is a DNS lookup for account.nintendo.net, and then it seems to make a https connection to that server. If you try to do this yourself with a browser, it'll first yell about an untrusted cert, and then if you get past that, it'll just fail to negotiate.

Trying to connect with OpenSSL's s_client in a mode where it displays messages shows it requesting a client-side certificate, something I normally never see. OpenSSL sends something out in return (and I'm not sure exactly what it's sending yet), and the server clearly does not like this, since it boots me a fraction of a second later.

There might be some way to rig a MITM proxy for this sort of thing, but it's going to take more poking, prodding and prying than I feel like doing. After all, I'm mostly in this to play a new Mario game that isn't 3D. Putting up the pictures was an idea that only warrants so much effort, and trying to extract keys and certs from hardware devices isn't my idea of a good time.

Someone will probablty figure this out eventually. Until then, I guess it's just a matter of doing a lot of macro-mode photography.

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