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Interview with Thierry Lescot - May 7, '98 by JoseQ
Thanks go to Thierry Lescot of System 16 fame for granting this, the very first InterView at EmuViews. Read on and you will find why was this emulator initially conceived, some info on the next version of the Emulator and information on the Sega System 16 Emulator as seen from Thierry's point of View. On with the interview:

1. Is the System 16 comprised only by the two of you (Thierry and Nao)? If yes, how did you find each other? Are you looking for new additions to the team?

Nao found me :). Sometime after I released the source code, he contacted me with a patch to add zoom support to Altered Beast and make Golden Axe playable. I proposed to him to join me in the development of System 16, he accepted! Right now some other people are working indirectly with us for some parts like the sound and the CPU emulation. As far as additional personnel I'm searching for right now it's a good Windows programmer to port the emulator to Win 95/98/NT. I have a lot of candidates right now.

2. Do you have beta testers? Do you look for certain qualities in them, or just people being at the right place at the right time?

Yes, I have about 20 beta testers, It includes mostly friend users, ROM providers, and Emulator pages Webmasters.

3. Sega has always been huge in the arcades. Is this why you chose to emulate Sega games or did you have previous experience with similar Hardware? Was it a challenge, or you just wanted to play Sega games?

I'm a Sega fan and I always wanted to play a good Shinobi convertion on my home computer! When I discovered that emulating arcade games is possible (Sparcade), I tried to find someone to emulate my favorite game, Shinobi! I found nobody, so i did it by myself :)

4. What in your personal opinion / experience are the best skills to have to go into emulator authoring? (I bet patience is one of them)

I learned a lot of stuff, how to program in C and Assembly, how some CPU works (68000 & Z80), how it's hard to figure out the internal of the emulated graphics hardware without any documentation, and how to ignore lamer's e-mails (very important! :).

5. Which part of getting a certain game to work would you rate the hardest? Which one do you enjoy the most? How long is it usually the time between deciding on emulating a ROM and seeing the first sign of life?

To get Shinobi working (I mean to see something on screen), it toke me about one week to set up the 68000 emulator and figure the memory map, how to load the roms, how to decode the gfx roms, how the emulated hardware used them and how the interrupts works. My prefered part was to get a perfect video output in Shinobi.

6. Which has been the hardest game to get working 100% and why? Which one has been the easiest?

The easiest was Alien Syndrome because it was just plug and play with the Shinobi hardware emulator. It fullu worked in 5 minutes! :) The hardest in the released driver is Out Run, Nao did this driver and it's not yet 100% working (missing sound). Why? He will answer you (I hope) :)

7. Do you guys like to re-use code available to emulate certain hardware or do you always go from scratch?

Yep! Because I don't want to lose my time to write a code that has already been written by someone else. There are 3 parts not from the US in the System 16 emulator, the 68000 emulator (Neill's Starscream 68000 emulator), the Z80 emulator (Ishmair version) and the YM2151 emulator (from MAME, writed by Jarek).

8. What are your priorities when you get a game working? Select from (Sound, speed, faithfulness, palette, controls, next game to emulate)

In the order, Palette, Controls, Speed, Sound and Next game.
When we emulate a new game, sometimes the new game uses some features not used by previous games and we need to implement them. These new features are the big priority of course. For example:

Altered Beast introduces sprites zooms and tiles page selection.
Time Scanner introduces the vertical display and the pre-System 16 hardware.
Shadow Dancer introduces the System 18 hardware.
Space Harrier introduces the second 68000, the road/ground layer and analog controls.
S.D.I introduces the track ball support.

9. Can you share a little about yourselves? How much time is devoted to S16 on a % basis? What are your all time favorite games? Any outdoor hobbies? Ages? Family?

When I left school in 96, I was jobless and got a lot of free time. In that period I started the System 16 emulator 100% of my free time for the emu, later I found a job in the beginning of 97 and got very few time for the emulator, I planned to drop it but Nao joined me around April 97. Now the most parts are done by Nao.
My favorite game is Shinobi!
My hobbies are movies (I go each week to the theater (<-cinema)), listening musics and playing with emulators (Mame, Rage, Raine, ...)
I'm living with my parents in Quievrain, a little city from Belgium. (just near France), I'm single and I have one very nice cat called Minnie :)

10. Next version is coming around Mid May right? Can you list the best features of this new version here?

  • Speed Up!
  • Nao will rewrite the gfx engine emulator.
  • There is also a new and faster YM2151 emulator and maybe faster Z80.
  • There are 7 new games ready, one is not yet playable. (maybe 8 new games)
  • I also added scanlines support, leds support, mouse support and a screen to select the game to play when you start the emulator (you can't imagine the number of mail I received from people that don't know how to play with another game than Shinobi) [Ugh! Lamers!]

11. What is happening next? What are you shooting for?

Wait and see ... :)

12. Long term goals on System 16? or will it be "Done" soon?

I think that "done" and "perfect" doesn't exists in the emulation scene :)

Thanks you much for your time on answering these questions. I hope it hasnt been much of a burden. I will be publishing them in about a week or two, so the earliest you reply the more time I have to put it together nicely, send you beta so you can approve. Thanks again!

Ok, thanks a lot for the interView!
Bye

There you have it folks, our very first interview. Hope you liked it. Send Comments if any to JoseQ or Thierry.

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