I would like to take some of reader time to greet Rob for this interview, he gave really complete answers altough being in a pretty busy period, looks like these gba coder are really friendly!
GBA HELL: You are famous now, how does it feel to be interviewed?
FoolsGold: I wouldn't exactly say i was famous just yet :) but it feels kind of weird to be interviewed...
GBA HELL: When did all this start, when did you start coding, especially ARM assembler that is not exactly something everyone cares of in this world full of INTELs?
FoolsGold: I started coding in C about 3 years ago, before that i did some Basic and Amos on Amiga, I only learnt to program in assembler when I got into emulation which was, I guess, about 2 years ago. I really prefer the ARM architecure to INTEL. 1 arm opcode can do the work of 3 x86 opcodes :)
GBA HELL: Have u got a real life work, are you looking for one or just thinking about going on studying?
FoolsGold: I'm at university right now, but I hope to get a programming job when I finish. My dream is to work for ARM...but first I'm going to take some time out to write more free software
GBA HELL: What is "goldroad"?
FoolsGold: It is just name i made up for my site really, but it is short and easy to remember, which you can't really beat.
GBA HELL: Which programming languages do you master? ,C++,assembly for various cpus. Also Visual Basic and Java, but I think these are bad languages and I don't use them unless I have to.
GBA HELL: How hard is gba coding compared to nice old Borland IDE, and what tools are you using?
FoolsGold: I think gba coding is easier than windows programming, in fact its much like dos programming. I use devkit advance for C (using VC++ IDE), goldroad ARM for assembler, Mappy VM and BoyCott Advance for debugging.
GBA HELL: Now, let's get to the real thing, PocketSMS, how long have you been coding it and when/why did you choose to emulate SMS?
FoolsGold: well I wrote a master system emulator for the pc in one day, using Marat's Z80 core. I had the idea to try compiling it for the gba, it worked but was extremely slow. So I hacked in various speedups and reduced computation with look up tables, plus I wrote a native tile renderer to display the graphics, and it seemed to be almost playable. I knew if I re-wrote it in assembly I could get a very decent speed, so I started :) That was about 4/5 weeks ago.
GBA HELL: The question everyone is asking, when will we see a public release? I did read it is just a matter of debugging it, though considering nothing in coding world is ever debugged, would you consider end of january a good approximation (note: question was written before latest PocketSMS release)?
FoolsGold: This has kind of happened, but the main reason to release now was not that was really ready but because i need to concentrate on academic work for a few weeks. The version now released plays some games nicely, and its a taster of whats to come...
GBA HELL: Some FAQ questions, both for C and ASM versions. How fast is PocketSMS compared to real Hardware? There will be both GG and SMS emulation on first release? How good is sound engine emulation?
FoolsGold: Well the ASM version is about 20% faster than the C version without being fully optimised. Some things such as Columns already run too fast, whereas other things, like Sonic, are somewhat less than full speed. I have several large optimisations to do, but its dangerous to optimise assembly language too much while your still looking for bugs .
GBA HELL: What percentage of SMS games are running on current PocketSMS build? Same percentage for GG?
FoolsGold: Not a high percentage right now, but it is improving every single day :) I haven't actually tried any gg games yet.
GBA HELL: Do you see emulators for Megadrive-Genesis, Snes or even PC Engine running at close full speed on GBA hardware now that you have been tweaking with every single bit of GBA?
FoolsGold: I'm not sure about PC Engine, but i think snes is the only machine which could be emulated at a remotely playable speed. If a team of people with a lot of emulation and coding experience got together, they might come up with enough tricks to get a reasonable speed. Older systems like Colecovision, BBC, C64 could probably be emulated at a very good speed.
GBA HELL: What will you do after releasing PocketSMS? Keeping debugging or maybe move to something else, maybe still for GBA and still emulation related...?
FoolsGold: M big ambition is to make a fully working C compiler, optimised for ARM cpus. I've been working on this off and on for a while, now Iwill try to give more time to that. I may write another emulator for gba, but not for a while. I will release the source to pocketSMS and other people can contribute if they like.
GBA HELL: Are you looking after someone else GBA project, who would you consider best homebrew GBA coder around?
FoolsGold: Theres lots of excellent coders in the scene...dovoto and starringmonkey are great and have given a lot back to the scene, but there is loads more.
GBA HELL: Any wider thoughts on GBA homebrew scene?
FoolsGold: It is a very good scene, very friendly, #gbadev (note: efnet) is an excellent IRC chanel. The scene is still young, but there are already fantastic tools and knowledge going around, I think It is going to get better and better.
GBA HELL: What do you like to do when you are not coding, of course skipping sex related matters...?
FoolsGold: Reading books, getting drunk. but mostly just more coding :)
GBA HELL: Which are your favorite Videogames all-time and nowaday?
FoolsGold: Mario kart, tetris, street fighter 2. I dont really play much nowadays.
GBA HELL: X-Box, Gamecube, PS2, none or all? Both from a coding point of view and as a gamer?
FoolsGold: I personally cannot afford any of those consoles ;-( I think the n64 was a big let down for everyone, so i'm not sure about Gamecube...the X-Box dev scene will probably be good, due to the hardare's similarity with PCs. My brother's getting a PS2, perhaps I'll have a hack around with that :)
GBA HELL: Thanks for everything, have you got anything else to say?
FoolsGold: Thanks for taking interest in my stuff!
Visit GoldRoad Homepage and if you are a lucky Flash Advance Owner take your time to test latest PocketSMS release. Let's hope FoolsGold will be fast with those courses.
We have more interviews scheduled, though I guess I'll not be able to keep getting this one a day rhythm, anyway keep visiting us, I hope we have more than interviews to offer.