When we released the Homebrew Channel 1.0.7, we supplied a new look and the announcement of a surprise. I must apologize for the delay in the revelation of this surprise, which is mostly owed to a complete meltdown of my work machine. Without much further ado, it is my pleasure to give you: Homebrew Channel themes, and a first theme: HBC Classic.
While the reactions to HBC 1.0.7’s new default theme – dubbed “Dark Waters” – were generally positive, some complained about it being too dark, unfitting, or simply “exceedingly ugly.” We’re usually not the makers of elaborate plots (that you know of), but this was actually fully intentional to draw a bit of attention not only to the function but also to the looks of the Homebrew Channel.
Applying themes to the Homebrew Channel
There are two options for you to apply a theme to the Homebrew Channel.
The first way is to treat a theme file just like you would treat an application: A subfolder in the apps folder on the SD card or USB stick, only with the file theme.zip containing the theme files instead of boot.elf containing an application. The theme file will then show up in the application browser, loading it will apply it to the Homebrew Channel. This allows you to conveniently switch between themes as you can store them along each other on the media of your choice.
The second way is to simply wiiload the theme.zip to the Homebrew Channel, after which it will be immediately applied.
Once you apply a theme, it is permanently stored with the Homebrew Channel’s “savegame”.
How to revert the Homebrew Channel to the default theme
Currently, this only works by deleting the Homebrew Channel’s “savegame” via the System Menu’s data management. This, of course, also deletes the other preferences, so you will have to visit the Homebrew Channel’s options screen again. We may come up with a better way to remove a theme, but this is how it works for now.
Creating your own themes
Theming the Homebrew Channel is currently limited to skinning the user interface, i.e., replacing its graphics with same-sized ones. You can skin pretty much any graphical element of the Homebrew Channel, with the exception of the Wii remote pointer and the Homebrew Channel logo in the bottom right. (Yes, you can even insert your own bubble graphics. I propose: mice.)
Please take careful note that the graphics need to be the exact size of the ones they are replacing, there is no stretching/cropping mechanism in place. If the image dimensions mismatch, the image will be ignored and the default image will be used in its place. The same happens if you don’t include a file in the first place. This allows you to selectively skin the HBC. For example, if you only wanted to change the background image, your theme would only include the two background files.
Accompanying the image files is a small XML file named theme.xml. For now, it only includes a few color values and the name of the theme. The color values are in RGBA for the font (which is currently limited to one color GUI-wide) and the gradient to be used in the progress bar.
I believe I can leave you with the new HBC Classic theme as a template for both the sizes and the file naming. I trust you will be able to figure out the purpose of the various image files by their file name. You will notice that the Homebrew Channel’s GUI isn’t terribly complicated and re-uses many of its images in various places.
For theme publishing, I suggest you package theme files like an application. You can even include a screenshot or a cutout as icon.png and your name with the meta.xml file (note that you will still have to supply a theme.xml inside the theme.zip file).
Theme repository – or lack thereof
As with applications, we do not intend to create a repository for themes ourselves. Since Wiibrew.org has proven to be a great repository for applications, we think it is a great place to store the accompanying themes. As usual, with Wiibrew, please don’t upload copyrighted content. For themes, this means: No copyrighted imagery, neither of photographic nor illustrative nature. Also, I would think that it is rather pointless to upload background-only themes.
So, there you have it. We are very much looking forward to see how you feel the Homebrew Channel should look like.
The new Homebrew Channel themes page on Wiibrew, along with the HBC Classic theme, is here.