Interview with Mupen64 creator
Saturday, October 30 2004 @ 01:50 AM CDT
Contributed by: HC Andersson
Screenshots: Mark Ellis
LinuxEmu: Hi Hacktarux! Please introduce yourself to the readers.
Hacktarux: Hi, I'm French, I'm a 23 years old student in computer engineering and I'll probably be a teacher in some area of the computer science next year. Besides emulator programming, I like movies and everything related to Japanese animation. LinuxEmu: Why did you start to write your own applications?
Hacktarux: The only big application I wrote during my free time is Mupen64. I started writing this application after i seen ultrahle working for the first time. I was very amazed by this program but i thought it was very limited and not accurate at all seeing how many problems there was. So, I decided to learn how the Nintendo 64 works and write my own emulator and as I was also starting to use Linux, I wanted it to be portable. Of course, I didn't progress fast during the first months (years?).
I wasn't very experienced in C language, and I was learning many things at the same time. Mupen64 developement has been halted several times until I restart it nearly from scratch and released the first version. After that, I got enough experience to progress much more quickly
LinuxEmu: Tell us about other computer projects that you have been involved with besides Mupen64.
Hacktarux: Well, other projects I've been involved in are not very exciting, at least not for most of you. I won't talk about the tools I program for myself in a day to do a task or another but all big programs I wrote besides Mupen64 were either work projects or school projects. To give you an idea of what I'm working on, I'm usually working on operational research, it can be for example scheduling tasks of a big project. Let's stop this question here before you fall asleep.
LinuxEmu: Where is Mupen64 in N64 compatibility today? How many percent of the N64 games will we able to run with Mupen64?
Hacktarux: We have never built a compatibility list for Mupen64, so I can't tell the percentage of working games. But I know it's very compatible and that I've fixed a few compatibility issues in my latest private build. For example, I know that some of the games which isn't compatible with Mupen64, don't work with any emulator either and some of them don't work because of a lack of compatible graphic plugin on Linux. Some other games, work better on Mupen64 than any of the other emulators like for example Taz Express.
LinuxEmu: Back in the days when you released the first alpha version of Mupen64 there was not anything like a Nintendo64 emulator on Linux, Ok there was a *nix TrueReality build out there, but did anyone actually get it to work? ;-) So when people started to notice what you guys were doing, did you get some help with the programming or did you have to do all the hard work on your own?
Hacktarux: I didn't get much help for the core itself but that's mainly because an emulator core is one big thing that can hardly be separated in disctinct parts that can be worked on by different programers. But I got some help for the GUI and the plugins and I have to thank everybody who have helped Mupen64 development and more particularly: davfr for his work on the debugger, shadowprince for his wonderful Windows GUI and countless help and support in different time consuming tasks, blight for all his plugins ports, the Linux GUI, the movie recorder feature...
LinuxEmu: I can see that Mupen64 is very portable as you have released a version for nearly every popular homecomputing operating system on earth. Which OS do you use to code the emulator and if it is Linux please tell us about your distro of choice!
Hacktarux: Yeah, I'm mainly using linux to develop Mupen64. I'm currently using gentoo. The features I like in gentoo ? Mainly, the make your choice philosophy and the wonderful emerge tool that is so easy to use. There are no more dependencies nightmare like there were with binary based distros.
LinuxEmu: What features of Mupen64 are you most proud of besides the fact that it is a great N64-emulator?
Hacktarux: Its portability of course. It's quite hard to achieve this, especially when you only have one computer to do your tests. For example, the N64 is a big endian machine and a x86 is as you know little endian. In order to optimize emulation on my little endian machine, I had to do many optimizations that don't work on a big endian machine, and it was quite hard to help porting to MacOS X without being able to test. I wish there was a tool like PearPC at that time. Besides that, I like all the little features that are in the GUI, like the ability to detect if your ROM is good dump or not, the ability to record a movie in AVI format...
LinuxEmu: The movie recording feature sounds very cool! Do you know if there is any website where people shares their own N64 AVI-movies?
hacktarux: No, it'd be interesting, but I think I need to add a few features to make it more convenient to do speed runs for example, some groups who are already doing speed runs on other consoles asked me about these features.
LinuxEmu: Some people involved in the emulator scene have lots of problems with a special group of people filling their mailbox with ROM-requests and other annoying stuff. How many e-mails of this kind do you get in a month?
hacktarux: Those mails are annoying but that's nothing compared to the damned mail worms that pop up from everywhere now... I received at least 100 of these virus per day and filters are only partially helping.
LinuxEmu: What's the most wired e-mail you have got regarding Mupen64?
hacktarux: There's nothing I can think of that's really worth mentioning here except the usual windows users asking what to double click in the source code archive to launch the emulator.
LinuxEmu: Got any neat information about what to expect in the future from the Mupen64 crew?
Hacktarux: More compatibility, some more speed (it's not as much improved as in the latest versions but it's still improved). I'll probably work on a cheat system and on a full lle graphic emulation.
LinuxEmu: Rank your top three Genesis favourites!
Hacktarux: Why Genesis ? Is it a mistake ? Well I'll still answer as Genesis is one of my favorite system ever. Landstalker was a great adventure, MicroMachines 2 with its pad plug integrated on the cartridge was fun as hell in multiplayer mode, and Thunderhawk on the Sega CD impressed me quite a lot at the time.
Now if the question was a mistake and you prefer my top three N64 favourites, I'd say: Conker's Bad Fur Day for the humour, Mario Party for the multiplayer game that can be played with everybody (even people who hate consoles can like this game and Goldeneye in multiplayer mode.
LinuxEmu: Yes you are right, what I intended to ask you was to rank your top three NES... opps I meant N64 favourites!
hacktarux: hehe, don't worry it happens. By the way Duck Hunt on NES rocks ! :p
LinuxEmu: Now the big question we all have been waiting for. Which is the coolest, funniest and best of these three consoles, Xbox, Playstation2 or Gamecube and why?
Hacktarux: I like all of them, so i'll rank them. Number one is Gamecube for its unique titles that only Nintendo can do. Second one is PS2 because of the very large game library. The last one is Xbox because, if you don't mod it, I don't see anything about this console that's better than the others, it's a great console, but for me there's nothing original.
LinuxEmu: I totally have to agree with you, Hacktarux. Thank you for taking time and answering my questions. I hope that you enjoyed making the interview as much as I did!
Plugins for use with Mupen64