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EV talks to J3d! about Raine and MAME - June 09,1998 by JoseQ
Richard Bush, to some known as J3d!, is the author of one of the more popularArcade Emulators around, RAINE. RAINE is a multi game emulator. It plays 24different gamesranging from Operation Thunderbolt to the very popular Wrestlefest. Richardhas granted us an InterView in which we even chat about other emu issues likethe size of MAME, among other things. Read on to find out what we uncoveredon this InterView.

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

I'm 22, live in the UK. Before emulation, I didn't use my pc much as I'd nothad it long and the games didn't seem that great. Before that, I owned acouple of Amigas. The Amiga was a great machine for me, a lot of good gamesand 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 ofa computer magazine (Massage, vsmc, pasofami). This was the only way I couldget them, I'd never used the Internet at the time... Then once I had theseemulators, I used the Internet at University to get the newer versions ofthe emulators and started visiting pages like Node 99, searching for romsetc... (I only got into emulation to play the games, it took me a while todo anything productive (ie. Raine)).

3. How did Raine start? What were the first steps? Was it learning as youwent 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 ispretty essential). I had the programming experience, but I hadn't reallyused C for anything complicated and I'd only had to do a very basic bit ofIntel asm at University (and they taught with Modula-2 instead of C forvarious reasons). The first steps were extracting the UAE 68000 engine, itwas 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 theRainbow Islands roms do anything, and I was suprised when they did :). Afterthat, I tried the same process with several other 68000 roms, I was mainlycurious to see what I could do, I wasn't thinking about getting themplayable or anything...

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

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 makeit start running, after a couple of evenings, I'd mapped most of the gameram areas and could see the test mode messages appearing in the ram when Idumped 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). Maybein a week or so, but I'm not sure... Hopefully, I'll get round to doing someRetrocade drivers soon too...

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

Well, I couldn't keep downloading roms and emulators at University (I had tosplit them, and put them on disks to get them back to my pc). So I got amodem and a subscription with an isp, but the subscription has run out nowand I can't really afford a new one right now (also, here in the UK, we haveto pay for local calls, and my phone bills are slowly getting bigger fromtoo much time online (which I blame on icq/irc :)...). It's only a temporarything, I'm sure I'll get another connection after a while, when I havemoney, but right now I'm looking for a job and it's the Summer time, so Ican'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 awayfrom working on RAINE?

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

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. Howmany of the 8-bit titles need the 68000 engine or the new 16-bit coloursupport?? This would be the cleanest way to split it, in my opinion.

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

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

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 doubtmy much. It's probably more important to optimize the common loops in thecode. 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 withhis opinion but I also accept I haven't looked at the code to give a realappraisal of how things could be done. It is my opinion that when they addsomething to the core, and some games stop working, then they need to patchit up for that particular game, adding code that is not essential to why thecore 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 moreInterViews all the time.

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