Just before EmuViews went down for the last time, we showed you some
pics of the TMS34010 games (Smash TV, Narc, etc). These awesome games
have come a long way to be emulated thanks to the heavenly talents of Mr. Alex Pasadyn,
MAME developer extraordinaire. Devoted to make these games work, Alex has
worked very hard and spent a lot of time into these games. However he found
some time to talk to EmuViews about his experiences as an Emulator Author
and what to expect from MAME and these games, and some extras!
|Alex Pasadyn & TMS34010 - September 12, '98 by JoseQ
1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us how you got into
programming emulators? Where and when did you start?
Well, I'm a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. I've
been interested in emulation for quite a while. I grew up playing the
now classic arcade games of the early 80's. I was always annoyed at the
way the home versions were always missing levels or had other problems
like that. I was probably one of the first people to buy that Williams
Arcade Classics when it came out. In the early days of arcade
emulation, I was really interested in Dave Spicer's arcade emulator
(Sparcade). I started playing around with the MAME source when I found
it, and realized that this was something I could do. I didn't release
anything until about half a year ago, when I had a couple pretty solid
MAME drivers that I really thought people would enjoy. Since then, I've
done some more with adding games, and recently, I've gotten into
programming CPU cores.
2. Will you tell us what different programming skills you
had developed prior to programming emulation? Was it easy
when you started?
Well, I program all the time for school and work. I am a graduate
student in chemical engineering, studying modeling and control systems.
So, I pretty much do all my work at the computer, and it involves
programming a lot of simulations and calculations. Most of that is
written in C or in specialized modeling languages. I've also known x86
assembly language for years. As far as getting into emulation, it's not
that hard to do if you put in the time. If you have good documentation
on the hardware you're trying to simulate, then it's just a matter of
setting it up.
3. What projects are you involved in right now?
Right now, my main emulation project is getting the Williams games
running on the TMS34010 chip to run. This has been pretty tricky, but
also really fun. Narc is actually running pretty well, and SmashTV is
close, but still has some problems. I've also been spending some time
on Sega Turbo (1981). This is one of those older games that is just
really complex. I also recently joined the Retrocade team. I'm working
with Neil Bradley on some assembly stuff that should turn out to be
4. TMS34010 is the main chip that controls Smash TV, MK and
the other very wanted games. How is the development coming
along? I understand Zsolt Vasvari is also involved helping?
Yes, I really owe a lot of credit for this to Zsolt. He's helped a lot
on the implementation of the TMS34010 CPU core. Basically, a few weeks
ago, I had looked up a lot of information on these games and the CPU
they use. I sent a message to the MAME mailing list to see if anyone
was interested in working on it with me, and it turns out that he had
already written a dis-assembler for it, but had not tried to actually
write a simulator for the processor. So, we basically divided up the
work, and now it runs pretty well! The actual implementation is fairly
complete now, but there are still a few lingering bugs which cause
problems for the games.
5. Why do you think has it been this long for those games to
Well, they are pretty complex. It takes a pretty big time investment to
sit down and simulate a system like this, especially when you have to
write the CPU simulator first! I mean, even at this point, when the
games act up, it's hard to tell if it's a bug in the CPU emulation or
in, say, the video hardware emulation.
6. You also mentioned the sound hardware on those systems is
based on chips already emulated. How soon do you think the
sound will come into play after the games are fully playable?
Honestly, I could put in preliminary sound support now. The problem is
the speed. My thinking is still "Make it work right. Then make it work
fast." In it's current state, the emulation of these games is still
really slow, even on a pretty fast computer. Sound would be difficult
to test because when the game runs too slow, the sounds get really
distorted, and you can't tell if you have bugs or if it's just running
too slow to work right. So, this will probably be one of the last
things that gets added.
7. How playable are those games anyway? What speeds can be
expected to be achieved on Mortal Kombat for instance, once
it is added into MAME? How optimized will it be?
It's hard to say right now, because there is still a lot of diagnostic
code in there, and I'm still trying to get it to run correctly.
However, I can say that you will need a pretty fast computer. Just for
reference, I run a PII/266, and I still don't get full speed. However,
I've got some interesting trade-offs to try. For example, if you were
willing to play in greyscale mode, I could skip about half of the
graphics calculations, and get a pretty big jump in speed. (The main
bottleneck right now is a graphics chip on the CPU board which, in the
real machine, does an amazing job of moving lots of data around really
8. Can you mention all the games that will come out of this
chips development once it gets done?
Sure. Basically, we should have Narc and Smash TV really soon. Other
games on similar hardware include Mortal Kombat, Hi-Impact Football, and
Trog. Mortal Kombat 2, NBA Jam, and Terminator 2 are similar, but on a
newer version of the hardware. At this point, though, none of these
last three make it past the attract mode.
9. What version of MAME should we expect to be NBA Jamming
or playing preliminary versions of those games? (How big
are they BTW?)
They are pretty big, like a few megs apiece. As far as a release date,
all I can say is "when it's done!" I am also considering the
possibility of doing a stand-alone emulator that runs only these games.
One Article Up: TMS34010 is Looking Good!
One Article Down: The Dead of Slapstic
Add Your Comments
|Name: Tiffanie Crocker
||Posted: Thursday, September 30, 2004 - (13:57)
I have in stock 7500 pieces of TMS34010FNL-50, and I am trying to find people/companies who might have an interest in these. Can anyone help?
Tiffanie Crocker/Select Technology
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