Sifteo – Resurrecting a Legend

Please note, this is a stub growing resource right now. Here will be important resources for all versions of the Sifteo Cube, and its software. All this exists to revere a ground breaking product innovation, and with thanks to David Merrill and all at Sifteo!

So, what are (or were) Sifteo Cubes?
(and why do they need ‘resurrecting’)
There are probably better sources of the whole story – Dailytekk, blueprint and wikipedia for a start – but briefly.
(You want to get to the download stuff, right?)

Sifteo Cubes started out in 2008 as Siftables, an MIT project for the young David Merrill (archived link).

He did a TED Talk that blew people away. I saw it, back in 2009 and thought “Wow”, and then “Will never happen…” and went on my way. Then in the middle of last year, I was watching an old Extra Credits YouTube video about Games You Might Not Have Tried and when I got to 6:45 I literally dropped my coffee cup… “Shit,” I thought, “I’ve seen these… Years ago!” And what’s more, after cleaning up the coffee 🙁 I felt the displaced Geek Shame of those who discover something that has existed for years, and it passed them by; Sifteo first came out, with the first generation in 2011 after a post-TED Talk VC fundraising, launching at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), then a subsequent version, with some ‘improvements’ came out the following year.

“How did I not hear about these?” I muttered, longing for the lost caffeine. “Right, credit card out… I’ll go buy some RIGHT NOW!” exclaimed I! Ahhh… “What!” I had not only missed the boat – Sifteo had stopped selling these in 2014! – but I had just missed the web site being shut down for the last time in August 2015. After some alleged cash flow issues, the company – mostly its incredible engineering and software talent – had been bought out by 3D Robotics, a drone manufacturer, for whom Sifteo staff skills would be perfect.

Sifteo’s last web page… REF

While the promised support didn’t last too long – A Redditor announced all the games were free for a short while – the web site itself was gone in mid August 🙁 However, the software for the V2 cubes was made open source, even if there was little documentation; this was announced in December 2014 amidst discussions of the company finances, and as is often the case, ‘open source’ was the precursor to worse times. So, not only was most of the software now unavailable, I thought it was unlikely to get hold of either version of Sifteo Cubes – searches on eBay and the Internet at the time revealed dumped stock in ‘completed sales’ 🙁 or people asking STUPID prices D: I’m looking at You and YOU and other greedy Amazon sellers…

£120 for ONE cube!
$450 “like new!”

Just for the record, I have seen prices of over $1000 for a set when I first looked last year. However, (and sometimes although most listings are for screen protectors on there; there must have been the assumption that these would do better than they did, so there is a lot of old stock of Sifteo screen protectors) have much more affordable sales that come and go; right now (February 2017) there are quite a few on sale, for example. I’ve been lucky enough not to pay too much for my own cubes. But (and it’s a big BUT, I cannot lie) you don’t NEED the physical product to enjoy the games. That is what this page is for 🙂

See below for download links for the various bits of software needed to install, run and make your own Sifteo Cube games, for both versions: the V1, the ones that needed a PC/Mac dongle to run the SiftRunner software remotely, and the V2, which had a standalone base station and touch screens, etc, but still used Sifteo Sync to download new games.

NOTE: Please DON’T link to the download files directly. I do this out of love, and want to see people coming here for the information and resources that I (and others) have worked hard to achieve. Also, I may need to update and move files around a bit. And the 0.00000001p I might get from adverts doesn’t really work if people don’t visit here. I’ve had one or two PayPal Donations – one for $40! – which is really nice, from people who bought Sifteos (often second hand) only to discover that the web site NEEDED to activate the software is long gone. This site is for them, and now for you!

If you feel the need, please consider donating 🙂

with thanks

Right, let’s see what we’ve got done already…

What we’ve got so far?
As I flesh out these pages, they will provide more specific support material for playing and making Sifteo Games. Right now, there are just some (very useful) download links.

  • PC and Mac* software set ups to play v1 and v2 Sifteo games in emulation, or on hardware if you are lucky enough to have them 🙂 PC SiftRunner (V1) installer | Mac SiftRunner (V1) Installer | PC Sifteo Sync (V2) installer | Mac Sifteo Sync (V2) installer [NOTE: These will need a few tweaks to get running properly, as the verification server disappeared (see below)]
  • All the available V1 games that were first party published, including the hacks (preference or registry files) needed to run the above software offline+, thanks to David and Eric at Sifteo, who very kindly donated what they had: All the V1 games released (and PC registry hack for SiftRunner) | All the V1 games released (and Mac hack)^ | All the V1 Games unpacked ready for the Siftulator [The latter of these links is primarily of use to people who want to just run the simulator, called Siftulator, as it requires art assets to be defined in order to run properly, which isn’t possible with the packaged Apps; these were decompressed using the AppPackager tool, available in the PC only version of the V1 SDK]
  • All the available V2 games that were first party published, including the hacks (preference or registry files) needed to run the above software offline+, thanks to David and Eric at Sifteo, who very kindly donated what they had: All the V2 Games released (and PC registry hack for Sifteo Sync) | All the V2 games released (and Mac hack) [NOTE: I have recently noticed that some of the ‘brochure’ files, which provide background/instructions when viewed inside Sync, are missing. I am going to track all of these down, and will then post a revised version of this archive. Also note, there are no unpacked or disassembled versions of the V2 games, as they are compressed as .elf files, but if you can help us to reverse engineer the compression method, we’d love to be able to look at/reuse the V2 game assets; personally, I’d really like to try implementing some of the V2 only games on V1, so that everyone can share them. However, unlike the V1 Siftulator, this one is more sophisticated, and can run games by double clicking the files, which works really well.]

* Mac software hack courtesy of Daniel (see above)
+ Getting the Apps to run offline involved the most hacking for this project. It is an interesting story in itself, which I will tell on a separate page, sometime.
^ Alternatively, use Daniel Owsiański’s Sifteo v1 redux for Mac, which allows you to install SiftRunner, an already hacked preference file and all of the version one games that we have; most if not all of them 🙂
Incomplete, or coming soon…

How long?
NOw!!! All this has taken months of reverse engineering, trawling through the darker edges of the Internet, and ruthless eBay purchases. However, having now cracked the Mac version of the software (for v1 at least) both PC and Mac versions of both V1 and V2 software, we will be going live by the end of January 2017 went live in early February 2017. All the usual suspects (i.e. reddit) will be have been informed. Thanks for your patience.

8 thoughts on “Sifteo – Resurrecting a Legend”

  1. Dear Dr. Mike Reddy,

    Sorry to leave a message here since your article “SIFTEO – RESURRECTING A LEGEND” doesn’t open “leave a comment”.

    I would like to ask some questions about installation and development about Sifteo Cubes V2.0 to you.

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best regards,

  2. Dr. Mike. I stumped across the sifteo resurrection project after dusting off the sifteo set I bought at a maker faire a few years ago (when it was new). I’m not really super saavy with terminal things, and I’m hoping you can point me to somewhere I can get a more basic introduction to setting up the SDK so I can perhaps load in some third party elf files and possibly play around with the development of my own simple files.

    I was able to get the sifteo sdk to load, and used this site

    to try to use swiss to load a file, but it didn’t recognize the swiss command, so I was kind of at a stopping place. Love any guidance and good on you for keeping this cool product in play.

  3. Great work getting this up [SIFTEO].
    (I have a set of the V1 cubes, 6 of them)

    Some additional details for replacing the S-10-21 or whatever it is in the registry for each person trying to install things would be helpful. (Copy and paste specific value back into .reg file is also much easier than adding the reg keys and elements. Then just double click the reg file to add everything automatically)

    For the games, it was not super clear about adding the user folder and where to do it. (I obviously figured it out… but I am a research developer and this is part of my knowledge)

    If you would like a video made of the process so that you can post as instructions to others just let me know. I would be glad to help in the process.

    I love to keep old things alive and well.

    1. Sorry for the late reply. I tend to get these requests for help via reddit or direct email. I have found a way to streamline the regedit process, but you are correct in saying that the specific reg folder needs editing. The new simpler way is to look in current user hkeys to edit the entries that allow siftRunner and Sifteo Sync to work. There is a read me file that explains that you might have to edit the file with the right folder, and also explains where to put the game files, but maybe you didn’t find that?

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Dr. Mike Reddy