*Note that this interview has been posted on other websites as well - feel free to share it or post it elsewhere, but give credits were due*
I've conducted a review for a site where i am a proud member (it's a site for games collectors) and i thought that it would be cool to share this interview with all the maxconsole community.
I hope that you all appreciate this like i did, Akop has been so gently to release this exclusive interview and he's excited to share his thoughts with the homebrew community of the psp!
So why not posting it on maxconsole, one of the best homebrew communties out there?
A bit of background first, straight from his personal page:
"I earned a Master's Degree in Computer Science from Cal State University Northridge in 2003. I currently work as a programmer for a university, where I develop dot net web applications and services. I do a lot of the back-end aspects of web development, such as building application frameworks, web services and databases, as well as frontend development, when necessary.
My hobbies constantly change, but they're usually centered around reading (usually classic sci-fi, Tolkien and Adams, and programming (currently for the PlayStation Portable and web development). I'm also a pretty big fan of 8-bit gaming and music, especially the MSX -- the first computer I ever programmed. To reduce nostalgia, I always keep my Sony HB-F1XD and a bunch of carts close by."
Interview with Akop, conducted by KingpinZero aka GbaDoctor/Redeemed
First of all, thanks for this interview. My first question is, when you
began to code for psp?
I began programming for the PlayStation Portable around
March-April of 2007. I enjoyed NesterJ, SNES9xTYL, DGEN PSP and NJ's
various emulators and wanted something as good to play MSX games,
since it is my favorite classic computer/games platform. I tried
PSPMSX, but was rather disappointed that I couldn't get the screen to
scale to the height of PSP's screen with the correct aspect ratio (the
option wasn't available at the time). I tried hacking the code to
support such scaling, but was unable to figure out how to scale images
in SDL. I didn't spend a lot of time figuring this out, since I'm not
particularly fond of hardware abstraction (or managed languages, for
that matter), so instead I went through some of the PSP SDK's samples,
trying to figure things out.
Did you coded other things in the past, for other
I've programmed in various languages, but most of my work has been
in C/C++, Java and various web languages (PHP, Perl, etc..). For the
most part, I've programmed for DOS, Windows and Unix/Linux.
Its hard to code an emulator for the psp?
That depends. Early on I decided to build fMSX on top of a custom
PSP library that I began developing. Once fMSX was released, porting
other emulators was relatively simple - since they all rely on the
same library. Beginning development on any new platform is always a
challenge; thankfully, a lot of developers graciously made their
source code available for people like me to learn from (this is why I
release source code for every emulator I port). Thanks go to zx81,
Ruka, NJ, the authors of the PSP SDK and the SDK samples for all their
help in form of source code.
What are the technical limitations that you encountered in this process?
The biggest limitations are speed and memory. Since I mainly work
with "older" systems, this has yet to be a serious issue for me.
The emulation fans of the psp appreciated the most-perfect portable MSX
emulator ever released on an hand-held. How much did you spent, in terms of time, on it? It was a challenge?
Thanks. Just to confirm, I should point out that I didn't write the
emulator itself - that honor goes to Marat Fayzullin - I simply ported
fMSX to PSP. It took me two to three months, from learning to program
the PSP to releasing fMSX PSP.
The smsplus is a powerful emulator that does his job perfectly. Since
there are others emulators as of this console, why you chosed to port
another emulator about sms and gg?
I was actually unaware of any SMS/GG emulators for the PSP. I found
out after the release, when I read comments on dcemu.co.uk forums
along the lines of "why port this emulator when MMSPlus is better?".
Had I known about MMSPlus, I might not have made another port. I'm
glad that I did though - while porting the emulator, I was "forced" to
implement 8-bit image support for the PSP library I'm working on. This
was later instrumental in porting Atari800.
What you think about the homebrew scene on the psp?
Not sure if I have any thoughts on the "scene" specifically, but I
applaud the efforts of many hardworking developers to
a) make the PSP
programmable for the common folk, and
b) for developing a lot of very useful software for it.
And about the custom firmwares?
I'm still using version 1.5, and don't plan on switching to custom
firmware any time soon. Since I mostly run "homebrew" applications,
devhook does the job for me.
Do you think that Sony should open their firmwares to homebrews, since
they admitted alot of times even publically that the homebrews are an
I hope they do. I personally am willing to pay my own money to program
"free" applications for the PSP. I hope Sony realizes that unlike many
Korean/Chinese companies that release "open" hardware like GP2X, the
PSP has presence and clout to actually be a successful platform for
custom applications and UMD games alike.
Do you plan to code or port other emulators in the near future?
What do you think about these emulators : SnesTYL, Dgen, NJ's Cps1 - 2
and MVS emulators?
NJ's emulators are the example of minimalist perfection - they lack
flashy gimmicks, but are fast, extremely useful and efficient. I love
being able to play Marvel/Capcom fighters on my PSP - I hope that he
releases a Capcom System III emulator sometime.
SNES9xTYL has a great interface (probably the best of any emulator
currently out), but is rather bloated and could probably be sped up
(though this may be difficult in light of it being based on SNES9X).
DGen is along the same lines as SNES9XTYL.
Do you think that Sony left the psp true potential in "hybernation" in
order to unlock it later, like the possibility of using 333mhz "officially"
from firmware 3.50?
It's certainly possible. It's also possible that the features weren't
tested enough until firmware 3.50, so they chose to keep them secret
until more testing was performed.
If you have to describe the psp potential and power in a few words, how
much would it be compared to her big sister, the Ps2?
I don't have the same familiarity with the PS2 as I do with the PSP,
but I'm fairly sure that the PSP is a somewhat "watered-down" version
of the PS2.
What do you think about the Gp2X, specially because its another handheld
with similar emulation capabilities as the psp?
I think choices are always great, but a choice that is more widespread
is better :)
Our last question: do you think that the psp have the potential to be
the best retroemulation handheld?
I think that it has already achieved this potential. The wide variety
of classic emulators already speaks for itself.
::::End of the interview::::
As ever, comments are appreciated :)
Why i did this interview? Well because i admire Akop works (seriously SMSPlus and fMSX are a kick ass) and because its good to know the human side of a developer, specially when he codes an application or a program for free and for the community.
Many, many and many thanks Akop for your time, you've been so kind and gently!