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The Site for Views on Emulators





Mike Green InterViewed! - November 11,1999 by JoseQ
Although we've all read about RetroFX, Mike Green was the firstauthor to ever release an emulator that would play 're-touched' versionsof the game, while still having an emulation core taking care of thegameplay. Thus, a new type of emulator was born, named PacManDX. Whilewe have just learned that the project will be put on public hold for afew months, it is with great pleasure that I present you an InterViewhe had a chance to complete before saying 'see you later' to the scene.I enjoyed it inmensely, and hope you do too. Here it is:

1. Can you introduce yourself and tell us how you came to knowemulation?

Hi I'm Mike Green. You may remember me from such downloads as "Speak&SpellSimulator" and the recent "PacDX" :-)I'm 24, currently residing in the UK. I've been writing software for variouscomputers since we had our first Commodore Plus/4 back in the early 80's,where after I had finished typing every example from the manual, came upwith the ingenious idea that I could change these programs and make them dowhat I wanted.
My first experience of emulation was quite a few years back when I beganwriting what started as an Interpreter on My AMIGA1200 for "Mode7" Graphicson the BBC Micro (known as "Teletext Mode" here in the UK). At that time, Iknew nothing of CPU emulators, or even dreamt that it was possible. After afew months and a bit of research, I came across a disk on the public domainentitled "Every Emulator" Consisting at the time of a Spectrum emulator thatran WAY too slowly, a BBC Micro Emulator that didn't work. A Gameboyemulatorthat didn't work properly, and an Atari ST "Emulator" that didn't doanythingapart from crashing my machine. A few months and a bit of searching onthe Internet (by now mid 1996, maybe later) I came across a few sharewareemulators forthe Sega Master System, Gameboy and the NES. After that, I didn't reallypaymuch attention to the growing "emulation scene" until I had my own PC, whichcame about because I still wanted to run my Amiga, Spectrum, C64, BBC Microandother software. I knew that this could be possible, so now and again I wouldlook and see if anything new was released, and it sort ofwent from there.

2. When did you start working on your own emulators?

I tried a few times over the past year to write an emulator. Each timetrying to emulate "Space Invaders", and each time with no success. Then camethe Speak&Spell Simulator, which although not an emulator, was my first realexperience of sharing with the classic gaming public. I knew deep down thatI could write the elusive invaders emulator, I just didn't know how. So, Igot hold of the AEHOWTO document, and read it. Then I read it again, andagain.
I knew I had the right tools, the Z80 emulator from Marat Fayzullin, thearcade emulation how to document, the roms, a compiler, allegro, so I wasall set to create a masterpiece!
My first attempt failed miserably, the z80 kept crashing, I found out I wasactually loading the roms in the WRONG order! (DOH)The second attempt failed, like most of my attempts at programming (apartfrom SASS), and didn't even get as far as attempt 1, so it was back to thedrawing board again. On the third attempt, I decided that I was going to doit right, and this time I hit the jackpot. I read the document written byNeil Bradley, explaining how he first wrote his space invaders emulator, andthings started falling into place.I got hold of the source code to Michael Adcocks Space Invaders emulatorand tried to see where I went wrong, and it seemed I was quite close towinning on the 2 previous occasions. Much stress later and an 8 hour sleep,it ran! The screen appeared, the title, everything except the invaders, so Idecided to cheat and see what the DOIN function had to do, copied it overand voila! space invaders running at the wrong speed :-)
To cut a long story short, I spent literally hours filling in the gaps, andgoing through what others had written, trying not to steal or copy theirsource along the way, desperately trying to get space invaders to run. Oneday, it just happened, it WORKED! My first space invaders emulator ran 100%at 1:20 am, 15th September 1999!
I FINALLY did it! not without help from a few text files, but its 99% my ownwork.

3. What inspired you to create the first 'Deluxe' emulator withupgraded graphics?

I'm not quite sure how that came about. I think it first started when Iloaded up the graphics images from Pacman into a paint package, and startedto draw on them. After a while, I thought "Hmm, those look nice, I wonderwhat they would look like actually in the game?", so I put together a reallynasty graphics routine, and replaced the ghosts with a red lit ghost sprite,and Pacman with a rather badly lit circle :-) Incidentally, if it wasn't fora certain female (who shall remain nameless) persuading me to let a few ofher friends on IRC look at it, it would probably have been deleted from myharddrive by now, as I would have lost interest.

4. Were you able to do everything that you planned with Pac-Manor did you have more ideas that couldn't be implemented?

I had achieved almost everything that I wanted to for the first release, butI still have more planned for it. The good thing about this project is thefact that I can continue to add or replace until I feel that I have doneenough. I wanted some good joystick support, and lots of sounds for thefirst public release, but it just wasn't possible at the time. Hopefully bythe next release, we'll hear quite a bit of sound, be able to use ourjoysticks and set some more screen resolutions!

5. Did you expect to be where you are today? (Doing the same processfor more games)

Absolutely not! Actually, after the 2nd or 3rd Private beta of PacDX, I wasactually at the stage where I had created a webpage ready to upload to thewebsite saying "Project cancelled". If it wasn't for a LOT of positiveencouragement in such a short space of time, PacDX would be long gone.
Initially, the only reason that MsPacman was implemented is because I wantedto see what my rather butchered graphics looked like on the MsPacmanprogram. I already knew it would run, as it had done so when all of thegraphics were rather fuzzy ASCII characters that ran around the screen in arather unplayable Picasso type of fashion!

6. Aside Ms. Pac-Man and Galaxian, what other games would you givethe treatment, and what would be special changes you'd like to add?(Can we think about Galaga yet?)

If I had the resources to do it, I'd love to get 1942 Dx'd, using highquality images of real W.W.II planes, Animated backgrounds, live footagefroma real ocean, with some awesome sampled sounds from real gunfire,explosions, and some REALLY good music to top it all off (I can dream).
Everybody loves Galaga! I'm not going to get anybody's hopes up, but that isdefinitely one game I would definitely like to add 16million colours to.I've actually received some GalagaDX graphics from somebody requesting thesame,but at the moment, it's not the most practical of games to add.
Other games I'm looking forward to having a go at are Pengo, DigDug, BubbleBobble, Mr Do, Bomb Jack, Flicky, Commando and Wonderboy. I'm not sure whatwill happen yet, but I hope people will like it.

7. Would you consider the DX treatment to be just as hard, easieror more complicated than getting the emulation going?

That's hard to answer. Fortunately, I've joined the league of emulatorauthors at such a time where I didn't have to write an actual Z80 emulator,because that was done for me. Working with the Pacman roms with no knowledgeat all about emulation apart from a few memory addresses, a space invadersemulator that ran on luck, and a few ideas in the right direction wasdifficult for me, because I had never experienced it before.Getting the graphics, sounds and music to work in the right place at theright time, working in tandem with the graphics roms and the emulatedprogram itself is quite challenging, which is easily as difficult, maybeevenmore so than writing the emulation engine because of the extra workinvolved.

8. How has support been for your emulators? Have you had people offerto help? Would you like to have people helping? If yes, how can they?

Support comes in many different forms. From the people who e-mail me to sayhow much they liked my emulator, to people willing to give up their freetime to compose music, design graphics and even help with coding.
Lots of people recently wrote to me with suggestions for music and soundeffects forMsPacDX and PacDX. In particular, BulletProof sounds contacted me to offerhelp with the music. You may of heard of from their "Bubble Bobble Remix"released a while back.
I've been really lucky in that people who know what they are doing haveapproached and helped me along since the first PacDX release. Neil Bradleyin particular has been quite an invaluable source of information, help andguidance through the previous weeks, and it is thanks to him that we may seePacDX running faster on slower machines in higher resolutions sometime inthe not too distant future!
If there are people out there who want to help me, they can do so bye-mailing me with the URL (NOT E-mail attachments please) of somewherewhere I can find an example of their work, whether it be music or graphics.If they want to, they can express a preference of a game they would like tobe involved in, preferably from the list of games on the EmuDX page. Afterthis, I can get back to them and suggest a starting point that will notclash with anybody else's work in progress. Unfortunately, this has happenedalready through lack of communication, so I want to try and prevent morethan 2 people working on any game's graphics or music at any one time.

9. Where do you see emulation going one year from now?

That's quite difficult for me to answer, as all of the games that I everwanted to see emulated have been fulfilled within the past year. This timenext year however, I think that there will be a few more systems emulated,such as System32 & 3DO. I can also easily see full supported N64 emulators.CPS2 emulation possibly?
I hope by this time next year that EmuDX will support quite a few moregames. One thing that disgusts me is the amount of people making money outof emulators, that they didn't even write themselves, selling them on withthe roms as a way of playing games for free, rather than re-living old gamesthat we would not see anymore if it wasn't for a lot of work by lots ofpeople. Bleem being the exception, I wish the Bleem team the best of luck inthe next year, along with the Retro-FX project.

10. Any words for the readers to close the InterView?

The moral of my story is, if I can do it, ANYBODY can! It doesn't take muchbrain (honest), and if you take the time to look, the chances are the cluesare all out there for you to find. Just keep trying and eventually you'llget there, and when you do, you'll probably find something you never knewexisted! Sometimes you cant see the wood for the trees, but hey! that's partof the fun :-).

Many thanks go to Mike Green for taking the timeto answer the questions in such a friendly manner, and being so elaboratewith his answers. His work on the DX emulators is greatly appreciated andI for one, can't wait for him to get back on-line to give excitement tothe scene with his new work.

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Add Your Comments

Name: pbs Posted: Thursday, January 6, 2000 - (19:43)
Subject: i

[Post a reply]

Name: modemcsa Posted: Monday, July 7, 2003 - (14:13)
Subject: netbcm4p

[Post a reply]

Name: phil Posted: Friday, November 12, 1999 - (11:06)
Subject: Pac X
Mike Balfor released a beta PacMan emulator that ran using real PacMan ROMs but with redone graphics over 6 months ago. It was called "PacX" and he planned a future version that would give the player a first person perspective view, but due to time constraints and a new job never got around to this.

[Post a reply]

Name: Limbs a Flyin' Posted: Friday, November 12, 1999 - (22:20)
Subject: oh yeah, i forgot about that. nt

[Post a reply]

Name: Interceptor Posted: Friday, November 12, 1999 - (5:11)

[Post a reply]

Name: Interceptor Posted: Friday, November 12, 1999 - (5:12)
Subject: "Nameless" my arse...
nameless indeed, we all know who she is :P

[Post a reply]

Name: SOUND53 Posted: Monday, July 7, 2003 - (14:13)
Subject: mstscax

[Post a reply]

Name: Limbs a Flyin' Posted: Thursday, November 11, 1999 - (21:23)
Subject: not the first released!
that 256 colour spectrum emulator came out quite a while before PacDX

[Post a reply]

Name: init Posted: Thursday, November 11, 1999 - (23:36)
Subject: yeah we all knew that. nt.


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