InterView With Lantus
Lantus is the coder behind porting Snes9x to the Xbox Console.
This interview conducted on the 13TH October 2002.
Xbox Evolution: 1) Can you tell us where were you born,
where you live,etc.?
Lantus: I was born and live somewhere in Australia. ill keep
it at that for now.
Xbox Evolution: 2) What qualifications do you have?
Lantus: Well, i have a university degree majoring in Computer
Science and Mathematics, and professionaly ive worked close
to 8 years as a developer for a range of different companies.
Xbox Evolution: 3) What made you get into computers?
Lantus I remember around 1983 or so, my dad bought home a
vic-20 and a whole bunch of educational software that he spent
almost his whole paycheck on for me so i could use it for
schooling. I became really interested in the vic-20, eventually
i learned Basic by writing out some little programs. After
a while i became bored with that, i got into writing my own
games. Remember the vic-20 had only 3k of ram to work with
so you could never go crazy with it. 2 things that stood out
for me was a slot machine program i wrote which took a few
days to knock up. I ended up coding custom graphics for it
using UDG's - User Defined Graphics, vic-20 didnt have sprites,
and a swanky text adventure game which had so many bugs and
kept running out of memory.
Xbox Evolution: 4) What projects/coding have you done previous
to your Xbox Scene work.?
Lantus Aside from my professional work related stuff, none
really, xSnes9x was my first scene related project.
Xbox Evolution: 5) What inspired you to port a Snes Emulator
to the Xbox and what difficulties did you have getting it
to run properly ?
Lantus A few things. Mame-x was just released, so no one else
had considered other emulators back then. Mame-x think it
was in its 3rd or 4th beta by then, and i loved how it played
on the Xbox, even better was Superfro and Op-code releasing
the source which meant i could take a peek at how things were
done xbox style. I didnt know anyone in the xbox scene at
that point. I downloaded the Snes9x source and went from there.
The other main reasons were personal ones for myself. I wanted
to pick up my C/C++ skills again. The past few years with
work i have hardly touched c++ and i wanted to maintain that
skillset. What better way to hit 2 birds with one stone and
lift my C/C++ and work on an emulator for the best (imo) console
Difficulties in getting it to run? You bet. The biggest problems
i had was i didnt have any DirectX experience before XSnes9x
, so i was learning as i was going along the way. The way
i work in porting code across is to strip out (comment out)
all the code that you dont need until you get an xbe compiled.
Brute force all the way but it hasnt failed me yet. Compiling
the Win32 source wasnt too bad, i think after 2 nights i have
it all compiled. Thats when the fun started however. The first
thing i had to tackle were the Direct3d calls. I went out
and bought "The Zen of Direct3D programming" to
help me along the way, I think it took 2 or 3 nights after
work to get the Direct3d working, the first few attempts were
pretty funny, i remember getting really excited when i had
a blue square fading in and out because it looked like it
was syncing with the rom. That was probably my first breakthrough
and at that point i knew that i could go all the way with
it. It was nice to see everything running at 60fps when i
finally had a probably display being rendered on the framebuffer.
I have to mention this, another difficulty was getting the
irc people to acknowlege it :) Spirl, who is my graphics guy
, was the person i sent the first ever Alpha version to so
he could test out and release to the masses. Well aside from
calling me a liar and full of it, he thought i wrote a trojan
that would reformat his hard disk. It was pretty funny seeing
his reaction when he had the guts to run it, ill never forget
Xbox Evolution 6) Will you be updating Xsnes9X in the Future
Lantus Yes. The Snes9x windows people are making constant
changes to their source and its usually game compatability
fixes. For example, the new internal code im working on plays
Ballz3d which is a DSP-1 game which has never worked on any
previous versions. Also im working hard right now on the UI
aspect of the emulator. People have said there are too many
buttons in the menu which arent intuitive. So im basically
scrapping all that and using a menu which is a single button
press which allows you to perform all your tasks that way.
Xbox Evolution 7) Everyone has a reason for porting a certain
Emulator etc whats your reason? For me it would be to play
all those excellent Snes games again but im not the interviewee
LantusI am a SNES freak, its probably my favorite console
of all time. I own a Snes and about 60 carts which ive probably
finished close to 50 of them. I believe when the SNES was
around and kicking, they were the best times in the console
gaming era. None of the other emulator source - and remember
i had pretty much all of them to chose from back then - didnt
appeal to me.
Xbox Evolution 8) Whats the good and bad points about developing
for the Xbox?
Lantus Good points: The XDK and remote debugging, which is
an absolute timesaver and very nice to use. Before I had remote
debugging and Evox i used to burn cd's almost every 5 minutes
to test new things, it was pretty painful and i look back
and wonder how i even bothered. Another good thing is the
scene itself, there are lots of people out there who can assist
you in different aspects of your development cycle which is
Bad points? hmm cant think of any, well apart from MS not
allowing legal homebrew development, i love writing code for
Xbox Evolution 9) In your opinion whats possible on the
Xbox in terms of Emulators, Media Players etc?
Lantus Well we have seen what linux and Xbox Mediaplayer can
do for us. I think almost anything is possible on the xbox.
Xbox Evolution 10) What got you interested in development
for the Xbox?
Lantus I got a copy of the XDK, i installed it and played
around with it some. As mentioned when mame-x was released,
and with the source code and built my own custom versions
to figure out how things worked.
Xbox Evolution: 11) Do you have any projects, that you would
like to start for the Xbox?
Lantus Theres quite a few new things tinkering around in my
head, the problem is ive also done DoomX and co-authored the
very excellent Final Burn Alpha X and Frodo-X - the C64 emulator.
Trying to update all these things means i dont have much time
on my hands for anything else unfortunatly, but that doesnt
mean you wont see anything else from me.
Xbox Evolution: 12) What would you like to see ported to
the Box and what is realistically the limit to what can be
LantusPersonally, i would love to see Amiga emulation, as
it was my 16bit computer i grew up with after the vic-20 became
The limits would be N64 and PSX, but there are hurdles to
overcome on both. On the flip side lots of people have asked
me about PS2 and Dreamcast emulation, i would say to them
i dont think that will happen for quite a while, if ever.
But with what we have seen so far on the Xbox , who knows.
Xbox Evolution: 13) When will we see a fully legal emulator/
application for the Xbox?
Lantus Hopefully the new push for OpenXDK will mean things
happen sooner than later. Realistically, i think something
developers can sink their teeth into is at least a year away.
At the same time im very excited in moving away from the MS
XDK for the obvious reasons.
Xbox Evolution: 14) What speed is Xsnes9X running at and
how much harder is it to get the dsp and superfx chip games
running at full speed.?
Lantus Its running at a full 60fps or 50fps for PAL50 users.
The superfx roms arent any harder to run because they are
actually using the zsnes assembly routines which are superfast.
If anything theres a bug in some superfx code which make it
run too fast :) DSP-1 chip emulation is all C code and the
results you've seen from Super Mario Kart it doesnt even look
like the xbox is being taxed cpuwise.
We at Xbox Evolution would like to thank Lantus for his
time in answering these questions and for his many efforts
in continuing the Xbox hobbyist development scene.
This document/interview is Copyright © 2002 by Wraggster
and may not be reproduced in whole or part without permission
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