Together with the previously InterViewed Magnus Danielson,Carl-Henrik Skårstedt has been working in various emulationprojects such as Shark and MAME. He's worked hard getting someof the sound chips emulated that had brought you some of thebest music in MAME, as well as the recently released Sharkwhich emulates a slew of Shoot'Em ups in Windows. I asked himto answer a few questions about this emulator and the DeadSerious Clan and sure enough, he agreed. So here's a coupleof questions and answers with a third of the Dead Serious Clan,Carl-Henrik Skårstedt.
|Carl-Henrik Skårstedt InterViewed! - February 01,1999 by JoseQ
1. Care to introduce yourself and tell us some bits about how yougot into emulation programming? How long have you been doing it?Sure, I'm Carl-Henrik Skårstedt, and I've made the Shark emulatortogether with Magnus Danielsson. Our emulation programming cameout of total boredom, we had left one job for another and the timeinbetween of these jobs made us so bored we started to code things.Magnus started emulating Flying Shark and I came by to visit himfor a weekend. I had been trying to stay away from emulation, Drachad been trying to pull me into the swamp of emulation for sometime. Seeing the result Magnus got in just a couple of weeks mademe interested and I was sucked in.(Drac is Johan "Crazy Legs" Köhler, by the way)I'm still struggling to get out of it. At least I don't have toconvert games anymore!!
2. Where did the Dead Serious Clan name come from?Ahead of our time, back when we were about to release the firstversion of Shark and we couldn't figure out whether arcade emulatorswere legal or not we started thinking of a name that would lookfunny in a legal document.
"Noone could possibly sue the Dead Serious, right?"
Besides, we are dead serious. About everything.
3. How many people are part of the Dead Serious Clan? How did youguys meet and decide to form this group?We used to meet in a house on Saturdays programming Amiga demos andtools, eating pizza and things around the late 1980's. We've beenworking on things together or at the same companies since that.We are just three persons: me, Magnus and Drac (who made the Nemesis,the Salamander and the Gekko (the first Neo Geo) emulators).
4. What were your initial motives when you first released sharkinto the public? What were your goals then?We wanted to see how many web page hits we could get on theShark web page. Counting the hits from Taito and people thatchecked the page every day for a couple of months we camequite high! In the end we had to remove our original countersince it took too much server time. When one replacementcounter crashed we got sort of bored with the whole web pagething.
5. Why the long delay between the last release of Shark and thisnew version?Well, this is the long-delayed explanation.. We got two gamesrunning nicely around late may 1998 and we thought they wereabout as great as Flying Shark, or at least like Twin Cobra.When we were real close to releasing them we played throughthe games to see if they would be the next great thing.....But no - Zero Wing and Hell Fire just didn't cut it. Some peoplehad just made requests to see these games emulated, and we thoughtthey must be great. Damn requesting people!So we said, what the heck, can't release Shark like this, let'sadd a great game, so we started with Tiger Heli. Only thing wasthat we got quite a few versions with bad roms until Gareth Hallsent me one set that worked fine. The game wasn't as good as we'dthought so back to another game. New Zealand Story? Naah,Truxton? Bad roms... I bought Fire Shark, but no sound rom on thatone so not good enough. The search went on and on and we sortof just accumulated games. Jim Hernandez came to help some timeago and he helped find a lot more games. I found out that aJapanese guy called FreeWing had some roms I was looking forand he got Truxton so now we're done.I'd say Out Zone is the real winner of the new games! I'd hopedfor Fix Eight as well, but I haven't found a Fix Eight machine..The reason we release Shark now is more because we want to geton with real things and not spend a lot of effort emulatingthings.And for the guy that promised to send us his girlfriend as soonas we emulated Truxton in Shark - We still have not recieved thephoto to see if it would be worth the effort!!! As far as the realreason goes, it is top secret.
6. What were the most difficult parts faced during the developmentcycle of Shark?No part of it was especially difficult. The emulation of thesound chip used in most games (ym3812 or OPL2) was probably thepart that took most time. This was mainly due to my (previous)lack of knowledge how FM sound works.One thing that was hard was finding the damn games, some ofthese games are just totally overpriced or near extinct!Oh, and did I mention the graphics hardware of the new Toaplangames? Heck, they could nearly have done 3d games (layering)with their 4 layers with tiles in 15 layers and hundreds ofsprites, in sizes from 8x8 to 128x128!!! And 1 Mb of 4-bittiles are enough for everyone! Including value added tax!Anyway, Magnus probably did the toughest thing when he emulatedthe DSP chip (TI32010) in Flying Shark - noone has yet been ableto dump the real rom so he had to put all his hacker talent intoguessing all the functionality of this chip.We don't use schematics for figuring out things, we study thecode of the arcade games and try to read what is happening.In order to get Twin Cobra running we made a TI32010 disassemblerand found out what it was doing so that game was a bit simplerthan Flying Shark.
7. How come all this time it has been kept mostly secret from thepublic? Will the following releases continue to be that way?Some people have really pissy attitudes about certain thingsand they write stuff on Dave's boards. I'd say they have hadan overdose of X-Files and are currently living in a Enemy ofthe State world. And we don't want to be pushed to release gamesthat are almost working. I'd bet you know how pissed off youget when the game crashes right before the final boss!!We currently have 6 games emulated that don't work good enoughto be part of the release. Kiki Kaikai (Pocky & Rocky) looksgreat, but lacking the MCU emulation it simply isn't goodenough. I expect this game to work in Mame quite soon though.Any possible future release of Shark will come as a surprise,especially to us. Speaking of surprises, I can promise youa few of them coming up in the near future!
8. What do you see in the near future for Shark? What are yournext goals to be tackled?I see no future for Shark. It is a hell of a piece of cod butsooner or later you must go on and do something cooler. Thatis what Magnus and I are doing now. People are staring at allthis old stuff and thinking it rocks, but as the professionalsthat we are we must be ahead of our time.One of the coming things is to share the information we havegathered about these games with other emulators. I got Truxton 2running but I didn't have time to finish it so I sent the littleI had done for that game to Richard Bush to help him implementSnow Bros 2 (which runs on the same hardware) in Raine. HopefullyRichard will get a few more games running on that hardware aswell. I am currently in MAMEDEV so I will probably help out gettingthe games running in mame as well some day.
9. What kind of criteria do you follow when you think about addingstuff to Shark?That it is not emulated in another emulator. That it is fun to play(that requires that we can find the game somewhere and play it,which isn't always the case). And of course that we have time toactually add it and spend some time getting the game to work perfect.The fact that we took so long to finish Shark caused the firstcriteria to fall apart on a couple of games, but that's acceptable,sharks eat anything that comes in their way anyway.
10. What do you think of the recent shake-up of the emulation worldwith Sony suing Connectix, and the latest UltraHLE release andconsequent pull?Sony is doing what Sony should be doing. Connectix asked for itand they really have the odds of winning this against Sony, butit will be interesting to see what money can buy in todayssociety! I think this case will become the first legal milestonein emulation and many people might leave the scene but it willultimately just give the whole business a lot more PR!As far as UltraHLE goes, it is mightily impressive! While admittingthat I have used this emulator, I also wish to state that I havethe games. It was probably the only sensible thing to do pullingback the emulator. Not that it will change much as I understandthat there are other N64 emulators coming along.I'm hoping that some day arcade companies are going to offerromsets or licenses to romsets to the public to legalise theentertainment for thousands of people. This is not going tohappen with console games in the foreseeable future, but itmight just happen with arcade games!!Anyway, one of the greatest things with emulators is that ittakes away the urge for game companies to make crappy stoneage arcade conversions on new platforms. And for the people thatstill want those - how hard would it be to compile Mame onDreamcast?So at last you get to enjoy the full rich taste of Shark! Try itbefore it gets extinct, there is still some shark left to fry!Today's specials are: Flying Shark, Sky Shark, Fire Shark,Hishou Zame and Same! Same! Same!.And finally, thanks to FreeWing for sorting out the spellingand pronounciation of Japanese sharks!
We appreciate the time taken by Carl-Henrikin answering this questions while having a succesful Shark releaseat the same time. I hope you (the reader) has enjoyed this InterViewas much as I did, and go get that Shark and start playing. Thanksfor reading!
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