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EV talks to J3d! about Raine and MAME - June 9, '98 by JoseQ
Richard Bush, to some known as J3d!, is the author of one of the more popular Arcade Emulators around, RAINE. RAINE is a multi game emulator. It plays 24 different games ranging from Operation Thunderbolt to the very popular Wrestlefest. Richard has granted us an InterView in which we even chat about other emu issues like the size of MAME, among other things. Read on to find out what we uncovered on this InterView.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background prior to learning about emulation?

I'm 22, live in the UK. Before emulation, I didn't use my pc much as I'd not had it long and the games didn't seem that great. Before that, I owned a couple of Amigas. The Amiga was a great machine for me, a lot of good games and the demo scene was really alive...

2. When and how did you got started into Emulation?

I ordered some emulators and games from some address I found in the back of a computer magazine (Massage, vsmc, pasofami). This was the only way I could get them, I'd never used the Internet at the time... Then once I had these emulators, I used the Internet at University to get the newer versions of the emulators and started visiting pages like Node 99, searching for roms etc... (I only got into emulation to play the games, it took me a while to do anything productive (ie. Raine)).

3. How did Raine start? What were the first steps? Was it learning as you went or did you have any idea or experience on what you were doing?

It was mostly learning as I went (apart from knowing 68000 asm, which is pretty essential). I had the programming experience, but I hadn't really used C for anything complicated and I'd only had to do a very basic bit of Intel asm at University (and they taught with Modula-2 instead of C for various reasons). The first steps were extracting the UAE 68000 engine, it was pretty confusing at first as I've never read any books on C...

4. Which game was the first to show up on top of RAINEs engine?

Rainbow Islands! Raine started as an experiment to see if I could make the Rainbow Islands roms do anything, and I was suprised when they did :). After that, I tried the same process with several other 68000 roms, I was mainly curious to see what I could do, I wasn't thinking about getting them playable or anything...

5. How long did it take from starting (nothing) to first game (fully playable)?

Hmm... Well, the first game (Rainbow Islands) has a protection chip (c-chip), so it's not fully playable still :(. It didn't take long to make it start running, after a couple of evenings, I'd mapped most of the game ram areas and could see the test mode messages appearing in the ram when I dumped it.

6. What can we expect for the future of RAINE? And when?

More Taito games, joystick support and a bit of sound (adpcm samples). Maybe in a week or so, but I'm not sure... Hopefully, I'll get round to doing some Retrocade drivers soon too...

7. We've all read the sad news of you not being connected often to the internet from now on, why did this happen?

Well, I couldn't keep downloading roms and emulators at University (I had to split them, and put them on disks to get them back to my pc). So I got a modem and a subscription with an isp, but the subscription has run out now and I can't really afford a new one right now (also, here in the UK, we have to pay for local calls, and my phone bills are slowly getting bigger from too much time online (which I blame on icq/irc :)...). It's only a temporary thing, I'm sure I'll get another connection after a while, when I have money, but right now I'm looking for a job and it's the Summer time, so I can't spend my last few pounds on a new subscription.

8. How is the job searching business?

It's going ok :).

9. Do you think that the fact that you'll be working will take you away from working on RAINE?

Yeah, especially if my job is also programming all day... Have to wait and see.

10. What is your personal opinion on MAME being that big and not split up?

I'd like to see an 8-bit arcade games and 16-bit arcade games version. How many of the 8-bit titles need the 68000 engine or the new 16-bit colour support?? This would be the cleanest way to split it, in my opinion.

11. Do you think they should maybe have specialized cores for certain games in which they will still be optimized and not patched for other games to also work?

It depends on the requirements of the games, the old 8-bit titles in mame mostly run at full speed on any Pentium, so it's fine to have similar games merged into one nice generic driver, but for the new stuff (68000 games mostly), it might be a good idea to have single game drivers? I haven't really looked, so I don't know what sort of speed improvement it might give them.

12. Does the size of the core affect at all?

I don't think it has much effect, a smaller core must be better, but I doubt my much. It's probably more important to optimize the common loops in the code. And move as much of the gfx routines to asm.

13. Will you ever be back on the internet as before?

Yes, assuming emulation is still alive (and I think it will be...) :).

Thank you for your time and we hope you the best in finding a job!

Thanks! Nice selection of questions :).

Readers, the words from RAINE author himself on MAME size. I agree with his opinion but I also accept I haven't looked at the code to give a real appraisal of how things could be done. It is my opinion that when they add something to the core, and some games stop working, then they need to patch it up for that particular game, adding code that is not essential to why the core was changed in the first place. Again this is just my humble speculation, I don't see me doing anything about it, so it's not a complaint. At any rate, I hope you liked this InterView, and of course keep returning to EV for more InterViews all the time.

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