Exophase's Interview

Hooka: What got you into the GP2X scene?


Exophase: Zodttd was interested in porting my GBA emulator to GP2X and when I saw how it worked with the interpretive core I wanted to do a faster version with a recompiler, so Jr2swiss donated a GP2X to me for this purpose. Zodttd did a recompiler first, but I followed up with my own eventually.


Hooka: Jr2Swiss is the shit ;) How did you come up with the nick Exophase?


Exophase: I've had it for a really long time, like 10 years now. I guess the name had some correlation with a game I was making at the time. There's no very specific answer, but people have said a lot of things.. like that it refers to some external state of being or something. You're open to your own interpretation ;D


Hooka: Sweet ;) How does it feel to know a game news site chose it's name (your nick) because of all the great work you've done in the multiple scene's you've worked in?


Exophase: Annoying. I think they just liked the name for some reason, early on I talked to someone affiliated with the site and they said they could change it. I didn't want to put them through the trouble, so I figured I'd just have them put a disclaimer at the bottom that it's named after me. This way people wouldn't think that I took the name from them... Unfortunately this has caused a ton of people to think it's my site, and has stolen all my hits on google :(


Hooka: Ouch, that would be slightly annoying... How goes progress on Temper?


Exophase: Goes really well, I'm finally back in the process of getting it on GP2X again and it's almost there. It has been a real headache because of the ways I've changed the memory emulation, which affects a lot of the CPU core. But it should be ready soon. Compatibility is pretty high, at least on the PC version.. which I hope translates to the GP2X one.


Hooka: Nice, I read that you've been working on the SCD support, do you think full speed emulation of SCD's will be possible on the GP2X?


Exophase: Definitely. Fortunately, unlike SegaCD, the CD-ROM add-on for PC-Engine doesn't add that much in the way of computational resources.


Hooka: Yeah, that'll make it a little less resource intensive... Any plans for SuperGraphx support?


Exophase: Yeah, eventually. That shouldn't be that hard, but it will actually cost something (I think there's enough leftover though...).


Hooka: As far as I remember it was basically just another gfx core, but I could be mistaken...


Exophase: Yeah, that's all. Unfortunately, when it comes to emulation on the GP2X graphics takes a lot (hence why SNES needs a lot of CPU).


Hooka: Yeah, no custom gfx hw for us :S I can't wait to see what the Pandora brings to the table in regards to gfx hw


Exophase: Yeah, and if the PowerVR doesn't help then I'm certain the DSP can.


Hooka: Heh ;) Is there still work being done on gpSP for any systems?


Exophase: Not at the moment, I basically only work on one thing at a time, but one of the reasons I'm pushing so hard to get Temper out now is so I can return to work on gpSP. I intend to focus on ARM versions first, for platforms including GP2X (and Pandora).


Hooka: Fair enough, can get overwhelming working on more than one project ;) Are you excited about the upcoming Pandora launch?


Exophase: A bit yeah ;)


Hooka: I'm sure someone like you has a better understanding of exactly how nice that hardware is, but personally, I just can't wait to goof off and make little things with it (not like I'll ever push the CPU to it's limits).


Exophase: Yeah, I think that the platform potentially has a lot more going for it than just a nice CPU.


Hooka: Yeah, the design seems to be well thought through... So, you seem to be very knowledgeable on a lot of subjects, what's your real life job?


Exophase: Coding. Nothing that interesting, work has been pretty slow. I won't actually have this job much longer, it was just a research position I ended up in after graduating.


Hooka: Cool! Been awhile since you updated your gpSP blog, eh?


Exophase: Haha, yeah, I have a lot of ideas but it's best not to talk about what I don't have actually done.


Hooka: Fair enough.


Exophase: Maybe if I had a Temper blog I could update that, but that's much less interesting IMO ;)


Hooka: Yeah, TG-16 didn't have too intense of hardware, nothing like the GBA anyways. What's your favorite system to code for?


Exophase: I don't really think the GP2X hardware is that impressive in and of itself, but I like coding for ARM. As far as ARM platforms go I've done most of it for GP2X so that kinda wins by default.


Hooka: Heh, What about ARM platforms appeals to you?


Exophase: It's just a really nice instruction set. The kinds of things I do always ends up involving at least a little bit of ASM somehow or another.


Hooka: Cool! How did you originally get into programming emulators? and do you code them from scratch or use other emu's as a base?


Exophase: Somehow I've always been very interested in emulation, which has led me to spending a lot of time around emulation channels, which inevitably attracted various emulator programmers. I've liked trying to optimize things for a long time and emulation coding lends itself pretty well to that. I talked to a lot of emu coders about ideas and eventually wanted to write one myself, but I mostly waited for a good opportunity to do one that I figured would be useful, and not just a toy one for my own benefit. I tend to only work on projects that feel pragmatic. So far the emulators I've written have been completely from scratch, although occasionally I'll look at the source of others just to compare how they do things. More so, I tend to compare how games run in debuggers when they aren't running correctly for me.


Hooka: Is it nice to have people from the community (like Notaz, Zodttd, etc. ) to help out when needed?


Exophase: Personally, I think the gp32x community has been very helpful and much more generally knowledgeable and mature than the PSP community.


Hooka: Yeah, I can't even think of how much harder college would've seemed if I hadn't talked so much with the people on GP32X and in the irc chans on EFNet... taught me a lot! Was it you who was mentioning interest in emulating the PC-FX?


Exophase: Haha, I wonder how you could have heard something like that? I find the platform interesting, and somehow I get the ominous feeling that in doing a PCE-CD emulator I'm doomed to end up doing PC-FX one day. It's mostly just daydreaming though, I have more important things to actually do.


Hooka: Yeah, could be a bit bigger of a project ;)


Exophase: I think PCE-CD is.. maybe half of the way there... Maybe... But PC-FX is obscure and mysterious, finding out information about it would be next to impossible.


Hooka: Just piques my interest seeing as I have one sitting ~ 3 feet from me ;)


Exophase: Really? Wow. Keep your eyes open, there might be some translations for it sometime (the author of Mednafen even released a menu one recently).


Hooka: Yeah, most of the games I got are very minimal on the text so I've survived so far. I still can't believe how it blows the pants off of the PSX for video quality.


Exophase: It has some pretty nice features, yeah, just missing the 3D acceleration. The 2D capabilities are totally off the charts. It's kinda like Saturn in that way.


Hooka: Yeah, that, backward compatibility with PCE and dropping NEC's only wanting dating sims would've definitely have helped it succeed...


Exophase: Kinda funny that it has the same CPU as Virtualboy, another rather ill-fated platform.


Hooka: Heh, I never made that correlation before, nice catch!


Exophase: It's also one CPU that could use a recompiler. Would be something new anyway.


Hooka: Ahh, nobody's dug into that territory, interesting... Are their any other projects you've worked on, or helped with that I may have missed?


Exophase: Nah, I'm very single-minded ;D


Hooka: Meh, better to be good at one thing than horrible at tonnes of things ;) Any tips, tricks, or quirks to work around that you'd like to mention to any potential emu authors, homebrew coders, etc.?


Exophase: Hmm... I would say, always be open to new possibilities for improving code. You can think something is as good as it gets after working on it a long time, take a break from it, then find something totally different.


Hooka: Got any major headaches you've run into coding on the GP2X?


Exophase: Yes, sometimes performance is totally unpredictable. Actually, last year I was messing with the video code on gpSP and got some great results, only just by letting some functions move around, or when others were made that aren't even used, the performance degraded dramatically. At this point I was too burned out to deal with it and hence everything finally stopped there. Hopefully I've got more insight now to deal with it.


Hooka: Yeah, can be weird how the compiler treats code sometimes...


Exophase: Yeah, sometimes I want to just throw it all out and do nothing but ASM, but of course that'd be crazy and mind destroying. I'm hoping that GCC is up to snuff for Pandora.


Hooka: Heh, unfortunately arm seems to be a second though for GCC, not like x86 which always hogs all the attention ;)


Exophase: Yeah...


Hooka: *BUT* at least having a more current kernel for the Pandora will be a blessing and a half (I've had to work around old kernel bugs on the GP2X a few too many times :P), not to mention a newer glibc, removing the need for static compilation...


Exophase: Yep, and developers who care more about maintaining it.


Hooka: Or do you mean developers who will maintain it, and care too ;)


Exophase: That indeed.


Hooka: So are you still working on your MS in computer science or are you completely finished?


Exophase: Finished.


Hooka: Nice, what was your project?


Exophase: No project, it was just courses. Not much of a big deal.


Hooka: Oh, ok... I just am currently working towards a BS computer science (slowly) and the universities here tend to want the Masters to be a research project, or giant project...


Exophase: Where I went you could basically do that or just a bunch of courses.


Hooka: Ok, cool, and just a heads up as I noticed you asked awhile back, RACE! does neo geo pocket color emulation quite well ;)


Exophase: Yeah, I was already told, good job ;D I'm really bad at finding things on the archive for some reason :(


Hooka: Hey, don't look at me, it's basically Judge, Flav0r, etc. who did all the work there, I'm just trying to get some little fixes in and hopefully a menu eventually... I'm drawing a blank on questions... anything you'd like to add?


Exophase: I would, if I weren't so tired. Late nights trying to get things working well on GP2X :<


Hooka: Harsh, sorry to draw more of your time then... you have a good day/night ;)

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