InterView With Xport
Xport is the coder behind porting Stella, Gnuboy, FCEUltra,
Hugo, SMSPlus, Dgen, NeoPop and Bochs to the Xbox Console.
This interview conducted on the 15TH October 2002.
Xbox Evolution: 1) Can you tell us where were you born,
where you live,etc.?
Xport: I come from under the hill, and under the hills and
over the hills my paths led. And through the air. I am he
that walks unseen. I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the
stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number. I am he that
buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive
again from the water. I came from the end of a bag, but no
bag went over me. I am the friend of bears and the guest of
eagles. I am Ringwinner and Luck-wearer; and I am Barrel-rider.
Xbox Evolution: 2) What qualifications do you have?
Xport: I can recite, verbatim, the entire movie Monty Python
and the Holy Grail. (Along with most of their other work.)
I can walk on my hands.
I can juggle.
...unless you meant "how are you qualified to program
for the xbox?" - to which I would respond that, much
to my dismay, Sally Struthers does not offer a degree in XBox
...or perhaps you meant "what experience do you have
Two words : punch cards. You kids today don't know how easy
you have it. GUI's, IDE's, SDK's, API's. Bah! Try cutting
holes into nearly a hundred punch cards with a ruler and a
razor blade because the punch machine went on the fritz....then
complain to me that the on-the-fly syntax checking of your
IDE didn't catch your omitted semicolon.
Xbox Evolution: 3) What made you get into computers?
Xport Just seemed like the thing to do at the time. It appeared
to be a very promising field back in the day....and boy-howdy!
Xbox Evolution: 4) What projects/coding have you done previous
to your Xbox Scene work.?
Xport For work or for play? I once wrote a "program"
for punch cards that, once fed into the punch machine, would
play out the familiar tempo of "Shave and a Haircut."
That was some play at work before the days of Tetris, fragging,
Almost all of the "for play" projects I've done
(with the notable exception of the XBox ports) have remained
confined within my walls. Gaming related projects include
trainers (some selectable, some not) for lots of different
consoles ( Atari 2600, NES, GBC, SNES, GG, N64...) and computers
(C64, Apple ][, DOS/Windows) (No, I was never associated with
any "group" - this was all just stuff for myself
and the few adults around me who shared similar interests.)
Copy protection removal. Lots of save game editors. Graphics/sound
rippers. I've dabbled in programming on most consoles....written
a few minigames... Basically I've just always liked to tinker
with gaming machines.
Xbox Evolution: 5) You have ported 8 emulators so far, what
difficulties did you come up against and how did you over
Xport On average, none of them really presented any significant
difficulties. There were a couple of times on a couple different
ports where I hit a wall (some obscure bug that only surfaced
when porting to XBox) - but I'd just put it on hold for a
while and work on something else until the problem got sorted
out in my mind. There isn't a whole lot of XBox specific coding
that one needs to learn before being able to write something
useful. The biggest pain (initially) was having to burn a
CDRW each time I wanted to test something. Finally the smart
folks behind Evolution-X came along with their dashboard replacement
which helped out tremendously.
Xbox Evolution 6) Will you be updating any of your ports
that you have already done in the Future ?
Xport Probably. There are some things that I've been meaning
to fix/update, but I've lost a lot of interest in the matter.
The emulators do everything I desire of them right now. The
updates would be mostly due to requests that other people
have made. When I decide for certain that I don't want to
do any more updates, I'll just dump the source and people
can do whatever they want with it. It will most likely be
dumped at http://Xport.xb-power.com
Don't ask for the source on the message boards there. Be
happy with what you have. As an aside (since I'm thinking
of it and since I'm on the soapbox), let me just say that
I simply cannot fathom the arrogance and ingratitude of the
individuals pestering the XBox Media Player authors to release
source under the duress of their interpretation of the GPL.
Amazing...the community gains a useful product and the authors
gain nothing (except perhaps a little fame). One would think
that the normal response to such an act would be to thank
them. Never underestimate the power of greed. Gimme, gimme
Xbox Evolution 7) Everyone has a reason for porting a certain
Emulator etc, you have ported so many was it because you have
a love for each system or is it because it was easy to do
once you had done the first one?
XportEach of those systems has lots of games that I like(d)
to play. Yes, I was somewhat able to cookie-cut the ports
after the first two or three, but I have not ported anything
that I had no interest in playing. Oddly enough, however,
I really haven't played any of them very much. The one I've
put the most play-time into is Stella because they just don't
seem to put that much thought into gameplay anymore.
Xbox Evolution 8) Whats the good and bad points about developing
for the Xbox?
Xport Good - It's easy in comparison with programming for
other consoles. Almost just like writing a DOS/Windows app.
Bad - I don't really have any complaints.
Xbox Evolution 9) In your opinion whats possible on the
Xbox in terms of Emulators, Media Players etc?
Xport Heck, just about anything that runs on a PC should run
just fine on the XBox. It's simply a matter of source availability,
finding someone who wants to do it, and how much time that
person is willing to put into doing it.
Xbox Evolution 10) What got you interested in development
for the Xbox?
Xport I've tinkered on just about every gaming console. Once
a modchip was out, it was just "the thing to do."
Xbox Evolution: 11) Do you have any projects, that you would
like to start for the Xbox?
Xport The only thing left that I'd be interested in seeing
on the XBox is a more functional N64 emulator. Yes, projects
like PJ64 are "open-source", but the problem is
that they rely heavily on plugins to do a lot of the work.
These plugins (the ones that work *well*) are not open source.
I've tried contacting Azimer ( http://www.apollo64.com/ )
and Jabo ( http://www.jabosoft.com/ ) but I have not yet received
any response from them. I'd very much like to get the source
code to their plugins so I can port PJ64 to the XBox, but
I certainly have no grounds to complain if they choose not
to do so. If anyone knows these folks, drop by the forums
at http://Xport.xb-power.com and let me know.
Xbox Evolution: 12) What would you like to see ported to
the Box and what is realistically the limit to what can be
XportN64 and a hacked W2K kernel. It would be neat to run
DirectX Windows programs on the XBox that won't run under
Wine or VMWare in Linux. Limits? For every person who says
"this can't be done", a dozen more will work feverishly
to prove that it can. Human nature.
Xbox Evolution: 13) When will we see a fully legal emulator/
application for the Xbox and will through legal means be able
to get the same speed out of a port as you have through the
Xport Apparently this will happen pretty darn soon (might
already be out by the time this is published.) If a program
runs at a certain speed with one development kit, then it's
certainly possible to get the same speed from another. I don't
understand why people are so interested in this, though. The
only real change is that it will make binaries a little bit
more readily available. Who's going to be running these "legal"
XBox programs, though? People with modchips. What kind of
people install modchips? Pirates. Do you think pirates have
any problems locating "warez"? Just about everyone
with a modchip knows how to get the currently available homebrew
programs. The few people who don't know how to get them already
will probably still have difficulty finding the more widespread
Xbox Evolution: 14) The Bochs emu is fascinating, what games
have you had running through it and what is possible to run
Xport I played some Infocom and Sierra games. Blockade and
King's Quest I came preinstalled on the initial distribution.
There are some older, more obscure video modes in some DOS
games (most notably the Commander Keen games) that do not
work correctly in Bochs. Most things run fine on it, though....but
I'm sure that most things people intended to use Bochs for
did not meet their expectations speed-wise. Yes, it runs Windows
95, but sssssslllllooooowwwllllyyyy. I ported Bochs to play
old DOS games, and it does that task quite competently.
Xbox Evolution: 15) if you could have a Dream port yourself
what system would you like to see emulated on the Xbox?
Xport PS2....but it's not like I'm a PS2 zealot....it would
just mean a little more shelf space.
Xbox Evolution: 16) would you consider porting across to
other systems such as the Dreamcast or the PS2
Xport Pretty much everything I want to see emulated by a
console has already been done on the XBox. The only thing
left that interests me is N64 and, at the moment, it would
be a lot easier to port that to the XBox than to any other
We at Xbox Evolution would like to thank Xport 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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