Well, if you are in an hurry, leave this for better times, we have found out The Hive is logorrheic (well even through a keyboard), if you can read trough the lines you may be able to understand what he is going to pop up in next days (weeks), anyway I did not say anything. Again I really wish to thank him, it looks like he did read Strags interview and was getting nervous since we were not calling him too! Indeed it is the first time the interviewer was enthusiastic to lose spare time for our website! The Hive even on email sounds like a real life person, humor, competition, well that's enough, you can go for the interview now.
GBA Hell : A classic question for our interviews, you are famous now, how does it feel to be interviewed?
The Hive : It's flattering for my work to get attention. Plus I like talking about myself, so thank's for the opportunity. ;)
GBA Hell : Have u got a real life work, are you looking for one or just studying?
The Hive : I currently work as a Systems A/P (Yes, it's every bit as boring as it sounds).
I'd love to get into the games industry, but being realisic, it's probably a not gonna happen.
I understand that the salaries are quite low too (According to those in the know on the GBA mailing list), so I'll probably retire (or die) a systems A/P. :(
GBA Hell : Which programming languages do you master?
The Hive : C, C++, VB, Delphi, ARM ASM (Do people still count BASIC, and Cobol? If so, add those to the list too.
There's some languages that are propriatry to the system that I work on too, but I'm sure no ones heard of them, so they'll remain nameless.
GBA Hell : How hard is gba coding compared to nice old Borland IDE, and what tools are you using?
The Hive : GBA coding is a breeze, once you get your hands on decent hardware docs.
For the novice, what can be easier than C? And ARM ASM is *the* easiest flavour of ASM to learn, for sure.
Tools? I use the ARM SDT for compilation. The old CGBIDE for editing. And Mappy for debuging.
GBA Hell : Something fun happened related to your Zx Spectrum emulator?
The Hive : Erm... Well, the emu is still alive and well. But the development is now behind closed doors.
A couple of people *did* decide to post a LOT of crap in the guestbook (small minded morons), and I didn't want to spend time each day moderating a board filled with offensive comments. So I deleted the guestbook.
GBA Hell : How come your Web Site was rebootted?
The Hive : Hehe. I'm about to release something, and I wanted a clean website for it's release.
I *may* post news before the release, else just expect something to appear there one day soon. ;)
I can't say much more yet. Just keep watching.
GBA Hell : In the old times, you were a Spectrum one or a C-64 fellow, at least, did you ever touch a c-64?
The Hive : I had both machines (and a plethora of others too!).
The C64 was (obviously) technically superior, but the Speccy had the best games imho.
I expect that we'll see the C64 emulated on GBA sometime soon.
GBA Hell : Now, let's get to the real thing, your ZX Spectrum Emulator, how long have you been coding it and when/why did you choose to emulate a Speccie?
The Hive : As I mentioned earlier, I've grown up with 8bit machines, and the Speccy having the biggest and best game base was a natural choice for emulation ;)
The emu has been in development since June or July last year, I think. A long time, anyways.
I started it as a project to see how far I could get really, and it kind of sprawled as I learned more and more.
For those that can't remember, the initial build was based on a (propriatry) Z80 core written in C. But the speed was, well, shit.
I bit the bullet, and decided to learn ARM ASM. And the new ASM core was born.
GBA Hell : How fast is ZX Emu compared to real Hardware?
The Hive : I've spent a lot of time developing this, and tweaking it's performance.
An exact speed ratio is kind of difficult to arrive at though, as it all depends on the opcode load that the emulated CPU has to deal with.
I'd say that a VERY high percentage of games run well in excess of the real hardwares speed.
GBA Hell : What is missing still in your own opinion and what are you looking for to add in next weeks, please offer us a schedule (that of course, being a coder, you will not be able to mantain!)?
The Hive : The menu system is still incomplete, and some after thoughts are missing too (throttling, frameskiping), but there's a lot in there now that hasn't been seen yet. And even some stuff that Foon doesn't have.
There's no release date for ZXAdvance, so I'm gonna pull a 3DRealms, and say "When it's done".
That said, don't be surprised to see *something* released very soon, but don't necessarily expect ZXAdvance.
GBA Hell : What percentage of games are running on current build? Is 100% your target?
The Hive : I've not tested a great deal of games, but compatibility seems quite high.
100% can't be achieved, for various reasons. For example, the renderer doesn't emulate the ULA, so games/demos with hicolor effects won't work/work correctly.
The R register (like Foon), is a quick and nasty hack (for speed reasons), and can cause some games to fail.
There's other things too, but in real terms we're talking about a very small percentage of games that will never work, and a LOT of games that will.
GBA Hell : How come there are 2 emulators for ZX already and no advanced public emu for other "easy" consoles like colecovision or vcs2600?
The Hive : The emu coding itself is easy, for sure. It's the emulation core that takes time to develop.
If I had time, I would emulate both of these systems myself. The 2600 is a must. It had some great games, and gameplay.
No doubt, someone will release a decent 2600 emu soon. As for Colecovision - well, there's three Z80 emu authors out there now for the GBA. Perhaps one of us will put their Z80 core to good use and emulate Colecovision? ;)
GBA Hell : Which one you consider superior, your own emulator or Foon, what do you envy to Foon and what Strags should die to rip you off?
The Hive : Hehe. Nice question. I was VERY impressed with Foon when it was released. It *was* certainly quicker than ZXAdvance, but my core was still mainly running from ROM at the time.
I've spent a lot of time optimising it, and I'm really pleased with the result. It runs completely from IWRAM (excluding jump tables), and has a very small footprint (It takes up something like 26K total - leaving plenty of space of other routines)
I've compared a sample of opcode implementations between ZXAdvance and Foon (Sorry Strags, had to disassemble it - don't shoot me for being too nosey), and my implementations seem to be generally more compact than Foons.
Whether this equates to faster code, is debatable, but the games that I compared seem faster.
What do I envy in Foon? Probably the compatibility (I'll get there though).
What should Strags envy in ZXAdvance? Probably the latest renderer (wait and see).
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?
The Hive : I see PC Engine as a possibility. I would disregards SNES and Megadrive though. They have 16bit CPUs, which equates to a more involved opcode decode process.
GBA Hell : How long will you keep tweaking the wonderfull Zx Speccie Emu? Will you move to something else, maybe still for GBA and still emulation related (we were talking about coleco and 2600...)?
The Hive : As you may know, I released an arcade emu of Phoenix some time ago. Since then, I've developed some other arcade emus too, using the new ASM core. They're not 100% complete, and hence remain unreleased.
Of course, I will continue to tweak ZXAdvance long after it's release, I'm sure, but I plan to put my core to good use, and emulate other systems too.
GBA Hell : Are you looking after someone else GBA project, who would you consider best homebrew GBA coder around?
The Hive : I have the greatest respect in the world for Jim Bagley (http://pocketgames.20m.com/). He's an amazingly talented coder, and a great bloke too. I've seen stuff that he's working on, that blows current *commercial* stuff out of the water - really.
Of course, I have to mention Strags. I'm still awestruck at what he has created in such a short space of time. I'm sure that we'll see more great things from this guy. ;)
There's Bruno Vedder too, who has turned out some highly polished material. A seriously under rated programmer.
GBA Hell : Any wider thoughts on GBA homebrew scene?
The Hive : I'm not keen on the 'scene' to be honest. It's organised in a very elitist way.
When I started out, everyone with useful information to impart, didn't have time for a 'newbie'. Everything that I've learned has *had* to be from example source, or by trial and error.
So, a big THANKS! to the '1337' members of the homebrew scene that didn't have time for me last year. Cheers guys!
GBA Hell : What do you like to do when you are not coding, of course skipping sex related matters...?
The Hive : Skipping sex, err, that leaves, err, nothing. LOL.
I like movies, reading, video games, the internet, drinking, going out, oh, and I have a family too, so I'm kept pretty busy really.
GBA Hell : Which are your favorite Videogames all-time and nowadays?
The Hive : I love the 8bit era. There were some classics.
There's too many to count really. I guess on Speccy, there's Manic Miner, Jetpac, actually *all* the Ultimate games, the list goes on and on...
On the C64, I *loved* Thing on a Spring, Uridium, and the Thalmus stuff.
On more modern day platforms, I still play the Tekken series on PSX. They're great pick-up-and-play games.
On the PC, I love multiplayer games - Kingpin, Quake3, and more recently Return to Castle Wolfenstein.
As for the GBA, well, I *honestly* think that the majority of games to date are shit (with the odd notable exception, mainly those from the Nintendo stable).
GBA Hell : X-Box, Gamecube, PS2, none or all? Both from a coding point of view and as a gamer?
The Hive : For sheer playability and style, the Gamecube. But I doubt it'll go the distance sadly.
From a coding point of view, I doubt that either XBOX, or Gamecube will ever be open enough for the average homebrew coder.
Of course, you can dev in basic for the PS2 right now. Not sure that I'm interested in that though...
GBA Hell : Thanks for everything, have you got anything else to say, some exclusives to offer at the end?
The Hive : Nothing much to say, except that ZXAdvance is very much alive, and for people to expects something soon.
Oh, and thanks to everyone that's offered support over the last few months. I appreciate that.
The Lost Question
GBA Hell : By the way, now that I did interview both of speccie-emu coders, I were a c-64 fan in the times! =)
The Hive : LOL! In that case, please delete this interview with immediate effect! j/k ;)
Zx Advance Homepage, keep refreshing it, news incoming!