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InterView - ContraSF - September 23, '99 by JoseQ
When many of us thought that UltraHLE's speed would be unparalleled for a long time, out of nowhere comes Corn. Corn is a brand new Nintendo 64 emulator which also employs High Level Emulation to get great speeds on regular computers today. I decided to ask the author, ContraSF for an InterView and he gladly accepted. So I sent him a few questions, and here are the answers so that you can get to know this new personality. Enjoy!

1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us how you got involved in emulation?

I am Chinese, now studying in the USA. I got to know emulation since one time I saw Sardu's Callus from a BBS. I was incredibly impressed. Then, gradually I became an emulation fan.

2. How about Corn? Where did the name come from?

It would be nice if Corn stood for some cool meaning. The truth is, the project was originally named CN. N means Nintendo64. C can mean lots of things, such as compilation, challenge, Chinese, ContraSF etc. Later, I thought I'd better put some vowel in it, and the place I am living is a big corn field. So, I decided to call it Corn.

3. What are the main reasons Corn performs very fast?

I am writing a long analysis on the speed issue. It will be posted soon.

Did it follow UltraHLE's tactics?

Yes and No. Yes in the sense that Corn, and all the other N64 emulators in development, use HLE for RDP emulation. Not in the sense that Corn does not emulate OS functions.

4. Do you expect a bit drop in frame rate when sound is added?

Yes.

5. How much would you consider having other N64 emu sources available helped with the development of Corn?

It helped greatly. I started coding based on anarko's n64ops11, which is a very good N64 documentation. However, some issues such as controller access are not mentioned, I found the answer by studying 1964 sources. Later, when I got to 3D emulation, all I could get was TR (TRWinGL) sources and some 3D demos & sources. Besides open source projects, other N64 emulators also helped. E.g., Pagan's debugger. As I said in the Corn homepage, without the hard work of the authors of N64 documentation, demos and other emulators, Corn could never be developed.

6. Will Corn's sources be available in the future?

It is possible.

7. What were your goals while designing / implementing Corn?

Corn is an experiment. The main goal was to test whether static recompilation is possible and what are its advantages and disadvantages. In the beginning, I was not optimistic. I prepared to meet unsolvable problems soon and had no expectation to run Mario. To my surprise, everything went on quite smoothly. After I got 2D demos running flawlessly, I paused quite a while to decide which to implement next, 3D emulation or advanced optimization techniques of compiler. As you can see now, I chose 3D emulation, which has nothing to do with my main goal. So I set up my second goal to push the speed as much as possible, because of two reasons, first the static recompilation framework determined that the compatibility of this experiment can never match other real emulator projects; second, my PC is slow.

8. Why did you choose N64 as your platform?

Because I was afraid that games/demos on older platforms, coded in assembly, may have irregular structure, such as self-modifying codes, which are hard to handle in static recompilation. Among N64 and PSX, N64 documentation and demos are much easier to find.

9. Up to what stage do you plan to develop the emulator?

I don't know. But I want to finish my original goal of the experiment.

10. Are you in favor or against others modifying the functionality of the emulator via configuration files like it happened with UltraHLE? Will you provide that, or take measures against it?

I think we should respect each emulator author's own will. For Corn, it is still too early to think of this question. I wish one day Corn could be developed to such a stage that we only need to edit the ini file to run a new rom.

11. How has the response to the first release been thus far?

The responses are friendly. I must say thanks to all the people who sent me email, for their feedbacks, suggestions and encouragement.

12. What are your short term plans for the emulator?

Fix some graphics glitches.

13. Other words?

The analysis I am writing will address some other things not mentioned here. And Thank you JoseQ for interviewing me.
And I thank you ContraSF for taking the time to promptly answer my questions and allowing me to make a comeback into the World of InterViews I had been out of touch with for a while. Hopefully this will mark a good return and more authors get InterViewed very soon. Thanks for reading!

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