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Project UnReality Interviewed - May 16, '98 by Eazy Cheeze
Project UnReality has been under the spotlight lately as much awaited triumphs (The appearance of sprites from Mortal Kombat Trilogy) have developed for Breakpoint and his Nintendo 64 emulator. With this in mind Eazy Cheeze, in the company of his friend Rob gathered with bpoint on IRC to chat about this exciting emulator. And here it is:

EazyCheeze and Rob Chat with bpoint

Mike Tedder is the author of the very first, and now only, Nintendo 64 emulator, called Project UnReality. It's made quite a bit of progress over the past few months, though as Mike himself notes, it has quite a long way to go.

I did this interview with a friend, Rob, who is also an op of #emu.

How did you get into emulating the N64? Any particular background we'd be interested in?
Well, I guess I started out like any other emulator author would... find the technical specs on the system, then look for documentation and opcode tables of the CPU's. Starting from the R4300i core, the rest was done by looking at existing code and seeing what it did.

I know this has been asked before but why choose the n64? why not something else
I really like the N64. It's a great console... the games (well, what exists :) ) are fun to play and offer graphics that are on par with standard 3D accelerators found in PC's today.

What are your favorite types of games? Any particular one?
Types? Hmm.. I really like RPGs. Too bad FF7 isn't on N64. :) But as for N64, I like Super Mario 64 (who doesn't), Tetrisphere, and Starfox 64...

It is the general publics view that n64 emulation and that of other "next generation" consoles is impossible, is it really that hard to emulate the n64 unlike the NES and its insane mappers?
In my opinion, the N64's been pretty easy to tackle... well, right up to the point where I had (and still am) to reverse engineer the RSP opcodes one by one. I can't compare with the NES's mappers, as I really don't know what's involved there. I can say that the N64 has "flat" memory where you have all 4mb laid out for any use (textures, audio samples, etc).

So nintendo's engineers layed out the n64 pretty well then, what is the biggest challenge aside from the lack of documentation?
Aside from lack of documentation... hmm.. well, there are some really nasty bugs I don't want to delve into. :) Notice that I can get MKT running but you can't move the paddle down in Pong. :)

Do you use any other emulators? If so, which ones and how often?
I honestly haven't used too many other emulators since I started Project UnReality... but I've stuck with ZSNES and Nesticle. They're both very good emulators.

Do you expect that any games will be playable now that you have sprites showing?
Playable... it's a possibility, but I don't think so. There are two main things lacking.. TLB and some important RSP opcodes. I'm suprised I got MKT as far as I did.

Any other projects you're working on, or is it just PUR?
Nope, just Project UnReality. That's all. :)

A lot of other authors recieve stupid email from people, have you recieved any really funny pieces or have any interesting stories while working on PUR?
But of course. :) Way too many, to be exact.

Have you ever been contacted by nintendo or any members of the ISDA regarding PUR?
Nope, I've never been contacted by any companies. Yet. :)
And let's hope you aren't :)
I agree completely. :)

What was it like seeing those sprites appear today?
Nothing short of incredible. I basically said "Holy sh*t!" a few times after I saw the credits screen pop up. :)

What did you think about the other n64 emulator reality64 being dropped?
Personally, from when I tested of his last release, it was pretty much a "shell". I never had it emulate even the first opcode in the bootcode. And without a debugger to confirm anything, it seemed like there was nothing to it. I think he just dropped the project... if N would go after anyone, it would be me.

Do you think that N64 emulation is possible in the future? say the end of 98 we could play Mario 64? people worry about speed a lot.
Speed is going to be an issue, but CPU speeds are picking up as well. High speed P2's are out, and who knows what will be here in 6 months. I believe some dynamic recompilation will be the only way to actually run a N64 emulator on any kind of today's systems.
So its not really a question of you being able to emulate the N64 its more one of getting it to run fast enough
Well both are complicated, but we'll have to see. :)

Heh What has adding a second member to the team brought to the table so to speak?
Legerdemain has been an invaluable member to the team. He's helped enormously with the RSP emulation, and also helped with some important reverse engineering.

What do you see in the future of emulation in general in 1998, not just the N64?
I believe we'll see "perfect" emulation for what's left of NES, and SNES should be coming along great too. And of course, newer systems will come about and they'll be tackled by other authors.

Ok... Last question from me. Have any other games/demos worked better? or has tc1 not reported yet?
tc1 hasn't reported anything yet, sorry.

And I believe that will bring our interview to a close. Thanks for your time, and keep up the good work.
'Night, thanks bpoint and keep up the amazing work.
Great, thanks again.

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