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    Spotlight on Chris Double

Date: 2005-06-26
Current Project(s): DSemu
Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Today we focus our spotlight on a new developer to the scene who recently started development on the Open Source emulator originally created by Imran Nazar. This is a great project for Chris to pick up after his Nintendo DS Space Invaders emulator and I am looking forward to seeing how far he can go with it.


Q : When did you get into emulation either as a coder or just a fan?
A : My first experience with emulation was Mame many years ago. I had fond memories of playing space invaders as a kid when it came out and being able to play the actual arcade game on a PC blew me away.

Q : What was your first coding experience for emulation?
A : The Space Invaders emulator I wrote for the DS. And then DSEmu.

Q : What interested you in DS Emulation?
A : I took up development of DSEmu as a means to learn more about the DS. I want to learn how things like the microphone, and other unknown areas in homebrew DS development, work and needed a way of stepping through code that uses these features in the downloadable DS demos. DSEmu included source, and had a built in debugger so was perfect for it. As soon as I started modifying the code it enabled me to learn more about the DS and how it works. So it's been very useful for me.

Q : What do you think about the current state of the emulation scene as a whole?
A : I think it's great. Being able to use the emulators for development testing purposes is a big win and has encouraged people to develop homebrew demo's for systems where the development kits are not possible to get. I didn't know anything about the scene until I did the space invaders emulator and started work on DSEmu. I'm impressed about how big it is, and the work people are doing.

Q : How do you feel about the response you have received so far for your projects?
A : The response has been great. All positive and nothing negative yet, although I'm sure it'll come! I get a great feeling seeing things working when I've made changes to DSEmu and I'm glad others are getting that too.

Q : What is your best experience when it comes to Emulation?
A : Implementing new features and then seeing demo's that didn't run before suddenly work.

Q : What was your worst experience when it comes to Emulation?
A : Making small insignificant changes and finding that major things don't work anymore. After I release a version :-)

Q : Are you currently working on any other projects besides DSemu source and homebrew ports?
A : I have a series of tutorials I'm writing about DS development. These are done as I learn how to do things myself so come from quite a 'beginner' perspective. Outside of the DS scene I run a website about 'Pitcairn Island', which is where some of my anscestors are from. I also have a general blog about programming languages and things. For a job I write and maintain a commerical web application framework. I also have a number of open source projects that I've worked on ,some current, some long since gone, and are available from my web site.

Q : Does the amount of lame request ever make you second guess what you are currently doing?
A : Not really. I do consider most requests but my main goal for DSEmu is not to produce the best emulator out there. IDeaS and Dualis are pretty good in that regard. My goal is to produce something that makes it easier for homebrew developers to debug and find out what programs are doing and with source to make it easier for people to find out how things work. Hopefully it'll become a good emulator just by following those goals. I ignore the requests to get commercial ROM dumps to work. It's hard enough to get simple demo's going at this stage!

Q : What is the lamest request you have every received?
A : Requests to get commercial games going. It's not my goal, but even if it was, it's a looooong way off.

Q : What is the nicest complement you have received?
A : People thanking me for continuing the development. It seems many people are glad that an open source DS emulator is avaiable.

Q : Could you give us some information regarding the current state of your projects?
A : Currently the emulator runs all my own demo's that I use in my tutorials, with the exception of sound and a couple of minor things. I plan to make sure all my tutorials will run on the emulator. It runs other demo's to various degrees. The touchscreen support is broken but I'm working on that now. The graphics side of things will be the hardest for me since I know little about how the DS does things but it gives me a reason to learn about it. The ARM7 and ARM9 core are pretty solid and runs well so the debugger side of things is very usable.

Q : Do you ever plan on working on another emulation project after DSemu? If so what would interest you and challenge you?
A : Not at this stage. If no one has got Mame working on the DS by then I might take a crack at that. That would interest me simply because I like to play the old arcade games. I'm more likely to work on some homebrew programs of my own since that's the main reason I got the DS.

Q : Are you satisfied with the work you have done up to this point?
A : Yes, very satisfied.

Q : Does the progress of your projects surpass all of your expectations so far? Or do you think you would have been further along in development?
A : I'm much further along than I expected. Because I took over an existing project I thought I might have difficulty learning how it works. The DSEmu source is well written and easy to understand. Imran did a great job on it. Also, much technical information is becoming available for the DS all the time, making it easier to find things out. Having the hardware to test on is also very useful. The whole DS development scene is very helpful.

Q : Who else do you currently work with on your projects?
A : Just me at the moment. I welcome contributions to it though, and the source code repository is publically available.

Q : After you have moved on from the scene what do you want to be most remembered for?
A : Providing useful information and utilities that helped people out in getting into the DS development scene.

Q : Could you provide us with an teasers of things to come for your projects?
A : I'm adding breakpoints to the debugger in DSEmu. I'm also playing around with adding a scripting language enable you to define what happens when a breakpoint occurs, or run scripts when memory addresses are accessed, registers modified, etc. This would make debugging easier but could also be used to 'patch' ROM's by providing a debugging script for the ROM.

Also looking at the possibility of a Linux or MacOS X port.

Q : One last thing is there anything you would like to say or anybody you would like to thank?
A : I'd like to thank everyone involved in the DS development scene for providing information and tools without which I wouldn't be able to do anything! Especially to Imran Nazar for starting DSEmu and making it open source. And for encouraging others to continue the development when he couldn't.

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Related Links:
:: Chris Double's DSemu Site
:: Official DSemu Site

Small Tidbits:
Age: 35
Favorite Food: Steak
Favorite Movie: Most movies. I'm a big movie fan. But two most recent would be:
     The Last Samurai - Filmed in NZ!
     Lord of the Rings - Made in NZ! I worked on some of the special effects software for it so am a bit biased :-)
Favorite Music: Capoeira music
Favorite Book: Twilight Eyes - Dean Koontz.
Favorite Game: On the DS, Pac Pix. On the PC, Age of Empries.
Your Favorite Hobbies: Brazillian Jiu Jitsu, Taekwondo, Programming
Your Pet Peeves: People who criticize others for things they work on but aren't willing to help out themselves.


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