Interview With Rlyeh


GnoStiC

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izmir/TR
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Hi,

i wanted to interview with rlyeh for our pc diskmag (Plazma Homepage) and he accepted the interview :)

since the plazma diskmag will be in turkish and i didn't want you to miss this interview, i thought i should post my first batch of questions on the forum and rlyeh should answer them here.

if you have other questions you'd like to ask him, feel free to ask them and hopefully rlyeh will answer them all :D

then i'll merge all the questions and answers for our diskmag.

thanks..

1. although some of our readers knows about you and your works, can give tell a little about yourself first? (where do you live etc)

2. you are mostly known for your excellent emulators for gp32 and of course the minilib for gp2x. what are your plans for minilib's future?

3. and plans for porting your gp32 emulators to gp2x? (also plans for using second core)

4. most of your works are really beyond other coders' works. what is your education/coding background?

5. what is your profession? what do you do for living?

7. will you continue to develop for gp32?

8. what is your favorite console?

9. what do you think about gp2x? what makes it better than other consoles?

10. what features you wish you had in gp2x?
 

rlyeh

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Yep, although I'm not very active at boards I'll do a exception these days and I'll try to answer as many questions as possible :)

Have fun.


1. Although some of our readers knows about you and your works, can give tell a little about yourself first? (where do you live etc)

Sure. I'm a Spanish guy currently living in Barcelona, although I was born in Seville, 28 years ago. I like electronic music, retro computers and videogames, apocalyptic manga (although I'm not a big anime fan), programming, cracking sometimes, free software licenses, cooking foreign foods (and poisoning family with them), vaginal sex, medieval/fantasy/scifi books, anal sex, thriller/scifi/epic movies and oral sex. Ok ok, not *SO MUCH* sex! Just joking. I love autumns, green landscapes, old castles, and sex. What the fuck... I love making people smiling too :)

2. You are mostly known for your excellent emulators for gp32 and of course the minilib for gp2x. What are your plans for minilib's future?

Well, my minimal library became just as an excercise to port REminiscence to GP2X quickly, but within the past 15 months it has become bigger and stronger indeedly :p I know it's not so *minimal* anymore.

Long awaited version 0.C is likely to hit streets January/February 2007, and the changelog is quite huge (which is available on my site). I hope you will not be disappointed at all.
Anyways, I won't code 0.D for a while. I know it's time to switch to other bits, but hell I'm so busy! :p

3. and plans for porting your gp32 emulators to gp2x? (also plans for using second core)

Of course. All of them. But I have to finish my cross-porting library before (named HPL). HPL will offer coders hopefully a standard porting framework to work with. No more system dependances. One source, multiple binaries. Although shit happens anyways. Coders will have to restrict their creativeness in order to adjust their code to some rules, and their program to a virtual machine with some detailed specifications.

I will merge my f*32 emulators with HPL whereas possible, and eventually each emulator will generate a whole family of binaries: GP2X, GP32, XBOX, DC, Zodiac, Win32, Linux, MacOS X, etc. Just as many binaries as HPL drivers we got.

Returning to GP2X question, expect GP2X to show its best software in 2007 (featuring full dualcore support of course). Specially when you know it's a fact that HH is finally coming in 2007. /me waves RobBrown :)

2007 will be the GP2X year.

4. Most of your works are really beyond other coders' works. What is your education/coding background?

Oh thanks for that honey! *wink* :) I don't consider myself better than most coders out there. I'm probably more obsesive with my work, and I like to pull every last detail in them, wherever possible, if that makes a difference. Not really a big deal.

My studies have not been that far either. I have never finished University, and I've tried it four times. It bores me. Seriously. I know I should have an University degree, but hell, computing engineering is slow, outphased, and they do not teach anything interesting to me. Bah. I rather like studying by my own when needed.

5. What is your profession? What do you do for living?

Somehow I've always done related computing jobs : network operator for a bank, web designer and now proffesional coder (NDS).

7. Will you continue to develop for gp32?

Yes, I will. Of course. I promised it here long time ago, and to Zodiac users too. I know most people have switched to GP2X or PSPs, and they have not their old handhelds anymore, but I think I have to finish my work: finishing my code is a life step, like planting a tree or having a child. It's my legacy :)

8. What is your favorite console?

I think you should have asked me about my favourite computer, because, nowadays, I rather like old home computers over any other system! Anyways I can't choose just one. I love the Spectrum, C64 and CPC for its childness memories and their huge catalog, the C64 for its music too, the MSXs for their architecture and japanese cartridges (superb games!), what about Amigas and Atari STs (!), and the list goes on! God, there are no days enough to enjoy all the games that have been written since 80's.

9. What do you think about gp2x? What makes it better than other consoles?

The nice hardware to deal with and the 320x240 3.5" screen (love 4:3!) helps at considering, but the best thing however is its homebrew scene. Absolutely. You guys make this thing rock over any other thing out there. There are not disgusting discussions, angry coders lefting scene, or copyright holders smashing us. We just do what we want. And we're enjoying this environment. The amount of software is simply amazing considering the fact GP2X is less than 14 months old.

And let me tell you what's wrong with it too: GamePark Holdings :) They do not know a shit about marketing, and they do not care about customers as they should. There are a few good advices out there to follow to, but they simply do not listen to what they have to listen to.

10. What features you wish you had in gp2x?

When I bought it? Well... better pad (now fixed), volume wheel, WiFi, single threaded cpu at 400mhz instead of dual cpu, 3D coprocessor, touchable screen, RCA/S-video TV-out jack, optional rechargeable batteries, and hardcore-homebrew support as well. Despite of that, GP2x is a very decent hardware anyways. I'm very happy with it :)

11. What do the "f" stand for in your gp32 emulators?

The first emulator I ported was fMSX, so my GP32 port was fMSX32. Then I ported InfoNES, and to keep the same list of names I used fNES32. And the list went on, up to 22 different emulators (which most of them you have never seen). By another hand, I've always enjoyed making dirty jokes (probably due to my Spanish sense of humour); so everytime someone asked me about what that 'f' standed for in my emulators, I used to answer " 'f' stands for 'fucking', and 'fMSX32' for 'fucking MSX emulator for GP32' ". That's all :)

12. What got you started with coding? (as in, what made coding a hobby for you?)

I got my first computer probably when I was around 6 years old. It was a Dragon32 computer and I was amazed about that strange object in front on TV. I remember I hanged up the computer while my father was reading the manual after unpacking it. He angried so much about that, and I was so excited about *TEH COMPUTER!!1*, that my mother had to carry my sister and me outside in order to stabilize the situation. My father probably spent about 15 or 20 minutes reading the manual before finding the 'push the reset button' line :) I spent so many evenings in front of my TV playing crap games!, and typing huge BASIC listings to see what they did! Unfortunatelly I never succeeded to run a single listing since they were designed for other computers and I never understood what was wrong with it :_)

I got my second computer in 1988. It was an amazing Spectrum +2A, and god, that was sweet. I know it was not so colourish as CPC, C64 or MSX, but hell, I spent my whole youngness playing tapes, reading magazines over and over, and understanding BASIC inners. I wanted to learn assembler but I never realised to do it. Anyways I can say my Speccy was my first child obsession. Ah, good oldskool days... :)

When I was 14 or 15 I got my third computer. It was a marvellous 286 featuring DRDOS 5.0, 1024 kb RAM, 256 kb VGA and a 40mb HDD :) Among the programs installed there was a fascinating piece of art named 'Turbo Pascal' which I was simply amazed with its examples. I spent months decyphering the strange lines in screen, trying to understand what they were written for. I could say I learned Pascal by my own, because certainly I almost did it: functions, procedures, units, variables... all became to have meaning in my mind slowly. It's obvious I never understood a lot of basic stuff needed to code a whole program, but I was able to modify and create existing programs to do (in most times) unexpected results :) I asked for a "Turbo Pascal manual" in Christmas. And I learned Pascal fully at last. A few months later I bought a PC-Intern 2.0 book (what a heavy & nice book!), whose Pascal listings freaked me out. There was a low level world out there in every computer I never knew before: interrupts, DMAs, timers, memory, vram, etc! I think I was 16, and god I was shocked enough. I knew I had to learn C since PC-Intern 2.0 C examples seemed a new challenge to learn with. I bought a Turbo C/C++ book and learned C in three long days. C was pretty similar to Pascal but more compact. I liked it so much that I have not found a better programming language yet. Buying a 14400 bps modem, and connecting to BBSs did the rest: demoscene! Lots of wonderful tutorials, assembler, and amazing effects: starfields, fire, plasma, tunnels, etc What a year! At that point I was a geek already.

I've used a bunch of computers, handhelds and consoles since then, and learned about 24 programming languages which I can perfectly write for. Because of I love systems, and I love programming. All them share some basics which let you virtualize and abstract its inners into small and comprehensible pieces which allow you to handle all them in a single human brain :)

I often encourage people to learn programming. It's like decyphering a secret message, solving a nice puzzle and then building a meccano. It's just fun! :)

13. Does that beard-thingy attract the ladies? :huh:

Does it attract to you, honey? *wink* :D

14. Are you the love child of Jonathan Frakes (aka Commander William T. Riker)?

No I aren't. As far as I know. And are you the love child of Kermit the Frog and Grover (aka what's wrong with my beard? :)

15. Do you plan to dabble in any homebrew games? If not why?. I remember you creating one some time ago (never finished) that had beautiful graphics, but it seemed more of a demo than a true game...

jumpingfrogs.png


Yes I planned that game sometime ago. My graphician was busier (lazier? :) than me unfortunatelly, which was the main handicap.
The game was designed to be a bomberman-ish fast game, trying to capture small animals in a little given time. Waves, ripples, wind, sunk trees, fishes and mainly physics were the proposed enemies.
And all the physics engine was part of game, not merely an eye-candy effect. Besides that, it could be ported to other handhelds too, like GP2X or NDS.

Now the interesting part. I'm expecting that any graphician will join forces with me some day. Or I could "open source" the graphics, and let everyone contribute to graphics/animations.
The game does not require so many graphics as you might believe, because the hard work had to be done with code: water, reflections, mirroring, alpha blending, etc
So if any graphician/animator feel motivated enough, drop me a PM :)

16. Have you considered coding for Sony's powerhouse? If not, what turns you off about it?

Yes, coding for PSP would be nice too. The 16:9 screen scares me a lil about emulation (specially when all systems are 4:3), but anyways 4:3 in 16:9 at 4.1" screen is not so bad... guess! The main cons... mmm... that I do not own one :)

17. What do you think the possibilities are of the gp2x being able to handle an x68000 emulator?

I think GP2X is able to handle a X68000 based emulator almost smoothly (although probably not a X68030 one). In fact, the X68000 hardware quite similar to NeoGeo (and NeoGeo is running pretty smooth already).

But would the attempt worth the try? The X68000 resolution is too big for the GP2X screen (320x240). Scaling would lose too much detail. Using tv-out might be a good fix (but why not using a pc/xbox/dc/gc/ps2 emulator at that point?)

For the brave coders out there, the tricks to handle x68000 smoothly are using Cyclone for 68000, optimizing X68000 hardware sprites/backgrounds heavily, and using dualcore at its best (for sound and minor tasks). Good luck! :)

18. Do you plan on releasing any commercial software for the GP2X or do you want to keep your great work free for all to use?

Free for all to use :) I hate commercial software in small communities, where earnings are not significant at all

19. What's your development setup? (computer specs, favourite IDE, etc.)

Currently an old ACER laptop (model 1714i, CPU P4 HT 3.40 GHz, 1 GB RAM, and 120 Gb HD, 17" TFT, extended keyboard). Although I've coded most of my GP32 emus in a Pentium 3 500 MHz w/ 128 Mb RAM.

My IDE basics are a dos box (edit!) and my own devkit (which is a recopilation of several devkits around the web & some own commandline tools to handle them transparently).
The devkit has been tested deeply in inner circles, and it is so sweet and easy to use (only two commands 'compile' and 'link') that I have been asked several times to release it.
Full devkit packed size is about 350 mbytes, and includes a bunch of compilers & libraries, for GP32, GP2X, NDS, GBA, NGC, XBOX, PS2, WIN32, and DC.

20. Do you see the GP2X to have a longer life span than the GP32?

Not sure about this. The higher consumerism we create, the shorter life span for electronic gadgets we got. Anyways enjoy your life span and who cares about the rest :)

21. Do you code when drunk? =)

I only got drunk once, after drinking 34 small glasses of rhum and god, I won't do it anymore :-/

22. What are your thoughts on the SDL library?

An impressive piece of work. However, the more systems they started to add, the more bigger & slower library they were making. Hope to avoid this with HPL personally :)

23. What's your greatest programming accomplishment done in the least amount of time?

Probably porting a whole emulator to GP32 (fCOL32), featuring fullspeed, frameskip 0, working savestates, full crystal sound, fullscreen support, and working all together at 66 MHz. Time record: 44 minutes.

Or maybe creating from scratch, and documenting, a full event based & object oriented programming language (E language). Time record: 7 days.

What about doing anything in the longer amount of time? F-Day. Time record: 2 years and counting up yet. :-/

24. Which other coder do you keep an eye on, i.e. when they release?

I'd say Squidge, RobBrown, WnterMute, skeezix, Notaz, Mr_Spiv, Vobbo, DJWillis, Mithris... and the list goes on. Also those whose work derivates from my work in some way (Metalbrain, Hermes or Kounch for example).

In a more general scope, I follow some projects I might consider useful for a further own port (mainly PC based emulators).

24. Now that you are working for as a professional coder (writting games for NDS), do you expect some lazyness derived from the fact that you are coding for money and what you do for the scene is for free? don't you think that you are losing money coding for free when you could get paid for it?

Nah. I will never change my mind. What I give to Scene is just a hobby, and freeware rules. Anyways donations do exist. And donating is a voluntary act which coders are always thankful for! :)

25. How many old (and not so old) machines do you own? can you remember it? which ones? (you should be proud of your collection)

Around 90 systems (not counting duped ones, ie, my three GP32s count as a single system) :)
The most obscure one: FM-Towns Marty Car Navigation probably.
The most heavier one: Black and cute Apple Performa 5500.
The most lighter one: Spectrum 48 probably.
The most expensive one: Zodiac 2 (bought it at launch)
The most used one: Spectrum +2A and MSX Philips NMS 8245.
The less used one: Dreamcast (sorry folks! :)
Other curiosities: MGT Sam Coupé, Panasonic 3DO, Philips 450 CD-i, MSX Turbo-R ST, Atari ST Falcon, etc...

26. If a=5 and b=2, what's c==(a - b) ?

An almost mighty cock! :)

27. Due to the HPL nature of the comming emus, you state that system specific optimizations are not allowed to make the code portable to everything. This will probably be fine for stuff like Speccy or ColecoVision but won't that make the more complex stuff run too slow on the GP2X?

Probably, although HPL is a matter subject to change yet. We'll see how good or bad it works when porting the emulators. It will be a good exercise to test HPL libraries indeedly.

28. Is their some thing that I don't know of that will take care of the speed issues for the more demanding systems? Is there maybe some module that will use the hardware in the GP2X to overcome the speed issues? How does this work?

No there is no such a thing, because it would do the code less portable (requiring separate sources for different architectures). I am doing some work to see if I can adapt the programming interface to work with multiple CPUs, using a same source (and letting compilers to do the dirty job). This will require some effort at makefiles and all that (*yawn*). Hope it works :)

29. When do you roughly think some of your GP32 emus will be released for the GP2X?

Probably in summer 2007 (?). No idea yet. Seriously.

30. How do you keep focused and motivated to make your projects as polished and complete as they are? Are you very organized, disciplined? Do you have any tools or method to accomplish your tasks?

I just like what I do. I'm not organized nor disciplined in any form. The best method is pure obsession.

31. If it is the case that some emus such as PC-engine or NES run too slow using the generic HPL ports would the source code be released for them? In that case someone could optimise for the GP2X hardware by adding ASM cores, using the blitter, hardware specific speedups/hacks etc. Will this be possible or will the ports be closed source?

Ports will not be closed source. Anyways, merging specific code with HPL code breaks up HPL physolophy. It's better to stick with pure C in that case.
 

Alex.

Retired
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Messages
4,617
What got you started with coding? (as in, what made coding a hobby for you?)

- Alex
 

triksR4rabits

The Dutchmaster
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Location
Manhattan, NY
Your one of the most respected coders in the community; to those that were here in the gp32 days, you are somewhat of a legend. This is mainly because of the fantastic emulators you created; I'm just curious- do you plan to dabble in any homebrew games? If not why?

I remember you creating one some time ago (never finished) that had beautiful graphics, but it seemed more of a demo than a true game. (EDIT: pic)

jumpingfrogs.png


Also, have you considered coding for Sony's powerhouse? If not, what turns you off about it?

Sony are a bunch of bastards :)
Thank you for all you've done Rlyeh; I've admired your works since I've joined this scene, and I (we) truly appreciate all you have done. Thanks :)

Lastly, I think your beard is quite pimp :D
 

x68000

Mega GP Mania
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Oct 27, 2003
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Location
Co.Durham, UK
as a serious coder, what do you think the possibilities are of the gp2x being able to handle an x68000 emulator?

There has been some interest on another thread regarding this topic in the last few days and your input would be appreciated.
 

rlyeh

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Thanks for the support guys. Both questions answered :)

And yes, that's the game. Featuring a sprite test (about 100), realtime reflections, realtime shadows, bumpmapped water, etc. The water become quite hipnotic indeed and even rebounded with every island, which I'm quite proud of it obviously :)

PS: Not the first time 'pimp' appears in conversations. Btw, need any proposal to work for me ? *wink* :D
 

Javacat

Founder of the WarmFluffyUK fan club
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Do you plan on releasing any commercial software for the GP2X or do you want to keep your great work free for all to use?
 

Alex.

Retired
Joined
Aug 24, 2005
Messages
4,617
- What's your development setup? (computer specs, favourite IDE, etc.)

- Do you see the GP2X to have a longer life span than the GP32?

- Do you code when drunk? =)

- What are your thoughts on the SDL library?

- What's your greatest programming accomplishment done in the least amount of time?

Thanks for taking the time to answer these rlyeh!

- Alex
 
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