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InterView with Neil Bradley - February 19, '99 by JoseQ
Two times InterViewed already and certainly not shy to answering questions, Neil Bradley is once again put under the EV spotlight as I asked him a few questions about his latest doings and undoings. If you want to know the latest and greatest details about Retrocade, Windows Retrocade and what's next for Retrocade, take a look at this InterView to find the answers your looking for. Once again, an InterView with Neil Bradley.

1. So what have you been up to in the recent months?

Working on a debugger for Retrocade in the last month or so to make it much easier on the other developers. That, and infrastructure rearrangement and usual bug fixes and game additions.

2. What have been the major highlights in the latest Retrocade developments?

Unfortunately, they aren't that visible to the general public. (Gee, I have a feeling this is going to be a BORING interview) We have teriffic sound in Space Invaders, Space Wars, and Star Castle thanks to Jason Merlo and Peter Hirschberg. We've added 8039 support for sound in the DK series of games, and optimized all games to be about 5-10% faster - some as much as 60% (the Z80 games in particular). Galaga runs full speed with sound on a 486/66 with 64K of cache and a crappy ISA card. We've added Toobin', and we've got 2151 support now.
Oh, and I'm selling my soul to the devil to get the missing samples for the Cinematronics games. I'd really like to see those completed. Getting samples for them is VERY difficult since a lot of the games are extremely rare.

That looks like a really lame list. Did I mention the debugger? ;-)

3. Would you expect further releases to come along closer than previously?

Yes. That was precisely the reason I added in the debugger.

4. When should we expect an actual 1.2 release to be made to the public? How has the acceptance been for the latest private beta?

I'd say it's still 3-4 weeks away. The acceptance has been reasonably good for the latest private beta, sans a few stupid bugs I've induced in the process of recarchitecting and optimizing. But it's all for the better.

5. What other games are on the to-be-added list for the near future?

For me after Toobin' is 100%, I'm on to Marble Madness. I know Brian Stern is working on 1942. After that, I'm not sure what I'll be up to. Maybe the 34010 games again. I know that Brian is threatening to do an ASM T11 and the Atari System 2 games.

6. Has any of the latest UltraHLE/Nintendo/IDSA happenings affected the development of Retrocade?

Not at all. The only way I'd stop doing Retrocade development is if an arcade game company serves me with a court summons.
Nintendo is a bully. The only reason they're "protecting" their precious Mario Kart 14, Kong this, and Zelda that, is because they can't come up with any original ideas. They're the IBM of the game industry. Overrun by corporate morons. Any time a game has gone to 7 versions or a company reuses the same concept or characters (or make sequels) then you know they're on the way out.
Yes, Nintendo, get bent. Get *REALLY* bent. Take your jerky performing and flickery behind-the-times console and cram it. I'll stick to my PC with a decent 3D card.

Oh - did I say I have a vile distaste for Nintendo? ;-)

7. Are there any plans to add games like MK, SmashTV and family to Retrocade?

SmashTV most definitely, but it will still be a while. I'm leaning toward not putting in MK. I don't like the game, and also don't care much for the crowd that it attracts. I've seen the abuse that Alex and Zsolt (from MAME fame) has taken for "slow performing" 34010 based games from this crowd who just don't have a flying concept that emulating two 50MHZ 32 bit CPUs and a ton of custom blitter hardware is a real nightmare at best. So going to that much trouble to get reasonably better performance for a game that stinks only to be berated by unappreciative ingrates that whine that Mortal Kombat doesn't run full speed on their Pentium 60 doesn't exactly motivate me to run out and make sure that Mortal Kombat makes its way into Retrocade. ;-)
I'll probably catch major hell for this, but hey, I'm being honest. I'm not saying I won't add MK, but I can say the chances of it getting added are slim.

8. Should we expect major speed improvements over MAME in games like that like we've experienced in the past?

It depends upon the game. Don't expect miracles out of the 34010 stuff. That's just a hog to emulate at a decent speed, so at best you may see a 70% speed increase over MAME. But don't count on it. Alex and Zsolt have squeezed the blood out of the lemon rind quite well.

9. So when is the Windows version going to be available?

I'll put "soon" in quotes, at least soon for the beta testers. Most of the games play perfectly. The UI works. Sounds still sucks, but the good news is that the games all perform as well as the DOS Version. At least on my machine here. ;-)

10. How much longer are you going to be doing this?

For a while at least, but it's starting to get to the point where all the games that I want emulated efficiently are emulated efficiently. Once that happens, I'll drop back to being a back-seat developer and probably make...er.... let Brian take it over. ;-) Then I can free up time to go back to doing music and some other projects that have been shelved for years. I might even do an original game like I've been threatening to do. I started in on it once, but the vortex that is emulation just sucked me right back again. Lots of ideas. No time to do them. ;-(

11. So what other emulation projects would you like to do if you had infinite time to do them?

Dynamic recompilation for starters. That's a good unexplored territory with massive benefits for everyone. I've already prototyped a script language cover that will effectively translate a given processor to 32 bit x86 code. It doesn't do anything yet, but I may whip it out in the future. I'd also like to get into doing sound circuit simulation and audio emulation. That's a fascinating topic to me, as it directly applies to emulation/sound generation and to electronic synthesis. I'd also like to write more vector games. I have always loved the sharpness of the vector games.
Oh, and also making an arcade cabinet that's PC (emulation) based. I'm planning on having a 12" subwoofer in the bottom driven by a 50 watt amp, and of course stereo speakers hooked to the sound card (for full bass effect) My wife has been bugging me to get rid of my uprights. ;-)

I thank Neil for his time in answering these questions in a very prompt manner. I am also looking very forward to seeing that Windows port of Retrocade which should amaze all of us, and probably be easy enough to use for my dad back home. Soon is the word we got, let's just wait to see what the future unfolds.

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