The ARK Guide: Tutorials, Tricks, Tips and More

January 15, 2013

ark-guidePro Team’s alternative to Total_Noob’s CEF (TN-C) called ARK, was released recently and along with that came a lot a questions and problems that hopefully this guide will clear up for both experienced users and new ones. Below you can find out everything you need to know including tutorials, tricks, tips and more!

WHAT IS ARK? HOW IS IT ANY DIFFERENT THAN TN-C?

ARK is another CEF (Customer Emulator Firmware) to compete with Total_Noob’s. Both of these run in the Vita’s PSPemu through a kernel exploit. ARK is a port of Pro CFW to the PS Vita from the brilliant minds of Team PRO. CEF will let you play PSP Homebrews and PSP backups on your Vita. It does not allow you to play pirated Vita games, or PS Vita native content. Any CEF is completely safe to use and can not brick your vita. ARK is in sense the same as TN-C however ARK includes features and better compatibility not found in TN-C.

ARK’s features include:

  • PSX game support (Both TN-C and ARK are soundless and you can find a explanation why here, however ARK should have sound soon. Compatibility on ARK is vastly greater compared to TN-C)
  • ISO/CSO game support
  • NoDRM Engine for decrypted DLC playback
  • MS-SpeedBoost (most noticeable on games like Soul Calibur)
  • Stargate Game Patches (fixes several anti-cfw games like Splinter Cell)
  • Customizable Main Menu
  • Plugin support
  • Recovery support
  • ISO-cache support (speed up ISO gaming)

WHAT DO I NEED TO USE ARK AND HOW DO I INSTALL IT?

To use ARK you must own a legit copy of the UNO game (Which is no longer on PSN) on your PS Vita Firmware 2.02 and below in order to use the exploit to run ARK. If you are on another game official firmware with another exploit, right now there is no port, so you’ll have to wait as UNO is the only way to use ARK. There are however a lot more games and firmwares supported in internal work-in-progress revisions.  Stay tuned for more updates!

It is highly recommended that you back up UNO on your computer in case of any errors or issues later on.

>Once you have UNO you’ll need to download ARK from the downloads section here it’s also recommended that you download OPEN CMA, you can find a description of what that is and a download here.

  1. Extract the zip, and copy the folder that matches your version of the game (EU, JP, or US) to your content Manager PSAVEDATA folder. For example: My Documents/CMA/PSAVEDATA/1234567890abcdef/NPEH00020DATA00
  2. Copy the UNO savedata to your PS Vita with the Vita content Manager on your computer
  3. Run UNO on your PS Vita, and press X (or O) to continue, this will load your CEF.

TIP*: You can customize ARKs ymenu by replacing the pictures in the folder with the exact dimensions of 480×272 and in JPEG format. If you’re lazy you can find a few premade ones here! Please note that TNmenu will not work with ARK.


HOW DO I INSTALL ISO, CSO AND HOMEBREW?

On ARK compatibility for ISOs/CSOs and homebrews is greater and most will run out of the box on your Vita with the UNO exploit, but you might often need to package them in a ZIP archive (unless you got a friendly download link which already has it pre-packaged for you.) . Note that in some cases you will have to create the ZIP archive yourself, for example most emulators will not ship with any rom, and you will have to add those yourself to your ZIP file.

>>>>Before you start!<<<<

  • Again It is highly recommended that you back up UNO on your computer in case of any errors or issues later on.
  • The files you copy to your Vita with the content manager need to be all uppercase, the file name needs to be less than 8 characters with NO numbers or special characters including spaces, and the extension needs to be 3 uppercase characters.
  • To avoid errors when naming turning on extensions will minimize the issues of having double extensions.                Start->Control Panel->Appearance and Personalization->Folder Options: Here click View tab and clear the “Hide extensions for known file types” check box
  •  Its also recommended that you download OPEN CMA, you can find a description of what that is and a download here.
  • Use store compression when zipping anything
  • I highly recommend using the alternative to transferring content to the Vita by using the FTP homebrew because its more user friendly and extremely faster, just drag and drop on the computer after connecting to the port. Remember the paths for content: ISO is ms0:/ISO and Homebrew is ms0:/PSP/GAME/
  • To copy ROMS for emulators you’ll need to copy that inside the ROM folder inside the folder of that emulator. You may also need to make a SaveStates folder manually so you can save your game later on.

INSTALLING  CONTENT

1. Get your homebrew or ISO/CSO on to your desktop

3. You will need to zip the folder however unlike TN-C you only need to ZIP the homebrew folder instead of doing the file structures like on TN-C. So for example if I wanted to zip FILE FTP I would zip the FILE FTP folder with the EBOOT.PBP inside. For ISO/CSO just zip the game only, again store compression and use the naming conventions.

4. Place your homebrew or ISO/CSO in another savedata folder, do not use the UNO folder to copy content!

5. Use [OPEN] CMA to copy the savedata to your Vita. (Note: You may need to copy more than once for it to show up because Sony likes to make things difficult.)

6. Start your exploit then navigate to the save data folder containing your zip.

7. You should see a zip file under that folder. Select the zip and hit X to install. You can navigate back and play!

TIP*: You can exit any homebrew or ISO/CSO to go back to the menu by pressing L+R+START+DPAD DOWN

TIP*: You can find a work in progress community driven ISO/CSO compatibility list here


HOW DO I INSTALL PSX GAMES AND GET BETTER COMPATIBILITY?

To copy and play PSX games I would highly recommend using FILE FTP to transfer your PSX games. To copy all you need to do is put a folder containing the EBOOT.PBP inside ms0:/PSP/GAME. However to copy through CMA just use the above steps by installing like a homebrew. Compatibility is still not perfect with PSX games however on ARK it is extremely better in comparison to TN-C, so you’ll need to make sure its a good rip and of course in EBOOT.PBP format only, its folder needs to be the title ID. There is also a way to get better compatibility by cutting some of the video in the game:

Games have been found to not work due to some of the Video formats included in PSX games. This tutorial will teach you the best way to cut some of the video out, so that it runs without any errors or black screen! (NOTE:* Cutting all video or important ones may make it not work. Always keep a back up and adjust your video cutting accordingly. Cutting Video is optional!)

To cut video from a PSX game you will need:

  • Ultra ISO
  • Pocket ISO v3.0 or 3.2
  • Simple Popstation GUI 3.0

With Ultra ISO you need ALWAYS convert all formats to .BIN before doing anything.

With Pocket ISO you can rip more content and more safe way. (check “Enhanced Movie and XA detection” before “Analyse ISO” and “Process ISO”)

With Popstation you can convert games to Vita with most safe options. (you can use compression level “1″ with it, NOT ZERO – will crash before loading.





NOTE: Your game needs to have maximum compressed after cutting videos, if it’s not 9 level of compression , it’s will crash on start-up on Vita.

Special thanks to SILENT_Pavel for the tip and video.

TIP*: You can exit PSX games on ARK back to ymenu by holding down on the screen and then exiting by using the exit button.

TIP*: You can find a work in progress community driven compatibility list here.


HOW DO I INSTALL PLUGINS ON ARK?

With ARK most plugins work however some will not, but when following the tutorial below double check that you have the correct path to where they are installed.

     KEY: Enable = 1 and Disable = 0

  1. Copy the required PRX files into your PSP Emulator.
  2. Create a plugins.txt file in your Ark Savedata Folder.
  3. Add one (or more) lines for your plugin to plugins.txt; examples below:
    1. umdemu,ms0:/blabla/plugin.prx,1
    2. pops,ms0:/blabla/plugin.prx,1
    3. game,ms0:/blabla/plugin.prx,1

Well hopefully I covered everything, if you follow this guide you shouldn’t have any problems.. Enjoy ARK everyone!

Note by Wololo: We also opened an ARK Dedicated section on /talk if you have more questions!

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