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Brad Oliver Interview (English)

dimanche 3 novembre 2002, par Mighty KC, syndicman

1) first of all, could you describe yourself in a few words ?

I’m 31 years old, and soon to be married to a lovely lady named Beth. I live in Austin, Texas, but will soon be moving back to Phoenix, Arizona where I grew up.

2) how did you start programming, and why, specially, porting softwares ?

My first experience programming was probably in 6th grade with a TRS-80. I thought it was neat that you could write a program that printed out a text rocket and made it scroll off the top of the screen. I grew up in the video game craze of the early 80’s, so I had a fascination with games as well as computers. I enjoy porting software today because I love the Mac, at least
more than some PC developers do. :-)

3) what is the first game you ever ported ? And, on which games did you work ?

The first program I ever ported was probably MacMAME. The first game I did for Westlake was Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri.

Outside of Westlake, I’ve ported MacMAME, a few early versions of MAME’s cousin MESS, as well as Heretic. I also worked some on Hexen II and small parts of GLQuake.

With Westlake, I’ve also done Sid Meier’s Alien Crossfire, a small part of Risk II, part of Need For Speed : Porsche Unleashed, Monopoly Casino, Centipede (with John Butler), Alice, Age of Empires 2 (with Mark Krenek), the Elite Force Expansion Pack, Civilization III (with John Butler), Star Wars : Galactic Battlegrounds, and currently Jedi Knight II : Jedi Outcast.

4) how a port is realized ? (for examples, main periods, time it takes, etc...)

Typically, we try to evaulate the source code before we sign a project, then we put in a bid with the Mac publisher (Aspyr, MacSoft, etc) for what we thing the project will cost and how much time. If everything looks good at that point, we sign on to do the conversion.

5) You are working at Westlake Interactive. Can you choose which games you are working on ? And how many people work on the same project ?

That depends on what projects are available when my schedule is free. All things being equal, we’re usually placed on projects that we have an interest in, but there are times when I’m given a project that I don’t have great love for. It’s all part of the business. Usually large projects have 2 people working on them, but it’s not uncommon to go solo on some.

6) The usual question, what do you think about MacOS X ?

I love it1 10.0 was a really poor release, but 10.1 rocked and it’s getting so much better every day. I work solely in OSX now, and only boot into 9 when I need to test something there.

7) Recently, some people got troubles with Lucas Art due to their use of Star Wars materials in maps and mods, like the famous UT mapper, Pat "Bad Karma". What do you think about Lucas Art’s attitude sueing people because they create maps, or mods iospired by Star Wars ?

It’s well within their right to defend their trademarks against stuff that they don’t feel is a positive representation. They’ve also allowed many things, for example the fan-made Zack McKracken II.

8) What is your opinion about people providing leaked betas, or prohibited builds of Mame, and those, who wants to get them as soon as they appear on internet ?

Some people are just impatient or greedy - I can’t control that. A lot of what happens with those MAME builds seems to revolve around collecting the ROMs rather than playing the games, and that’s kind of sad.

9) Does working on MacMame help you in your job ?

Yes, it helped a lot, and it still helps to this day. The project itself is a great example of how to write something to be very cross-platform compatible, and every now and then I’m able to pick up a new trick.

10) You have asked lately the MacMAME Message Board community whether the users were rather for or against the fact that you would give up the developing of the MacOS9 version to the advantage of MacOSX. What have you finally decided ?

Although I don’t spend much time in OS9, I try to weigh the number of people still requesting a 9 version versus what I want to do in MacMAME. Someday soon it’ll be too hard for me to continue 9 support and I’ll have to drop it in order to make it run better under 10. My guess is that will happen around the end of the year.

11) Some suggest to convert the MacMAME sources in order to use them with ProjectBuilder which is a free software but for MacOSX only. Do you think that can be a good idea ?

Sure, but the PowerPC assembly code in MacMAME doesn’t translate easily. I’m not about to do that myself - it’s too much work.

12) What are the new features that you may add to MacMAME in the short or in the long term ?

I’m looking to make the front-end a plugin like the renderer stuff, so someone can write their own front-end if they want to.

13) What are the five (or more) games you play most often on MacMAME ?

That really depends on my mood. Most early 80’s games I play a lot : Dig Dug, Galaga, Battlezone, Sinistar, Centipede.

14) Do you think that the Mac emulation scene has something more or something less than the PC one ?

There’s not a whole lot of innovation coming from the Mac side in terms of new systems being emulated here first, but a lot of nice GUI stuff tends to originate on the Mac.

15) As a notorious Star Wars fan, what did you think about Star Wars Episode II ?

I had mixed feelings about that. I thought the plot was a whole lot better than most of the Star Wars movies, but I also felt that Natalie Portman was sleepwalking through her role. It was hard for me to feel any of the love story was true.

16) Last but not least, would you have any clues for our readers about last projects announced by Westlake ?

No, we all know what Track 1 is by now (Sims Vacation), but if I even hinted about V.A.S.T., I’d be in more trouble than I could handle. :-)

Introduction : Brad Oliver est programmeur et travaille dans l’une des sociétés de jeux les plus connues sur Mac : Westlake Interactive. Il est aussi l’auteur bénévole de la version Mac de MAME. Mac-emu et Mac4gamer ne pouvaient donc que joindre leurs efforts et aller lui poser quelques questions concernant tant les jeux que le monde de l’émulation Mac.

Note : Cette interview a été réalisée courant juillet. Malheureusement, pour des raisons techniques, elle n’a pu être publiée plus tôt. Certaines réponses et questions sont donc quelque peu hors sujet, notamment celle concernant les projets secrets de Westlake : V.A.S.T étant été révélé il y a quelques temps déjà et n’étant rien d’autre que la version Mac d’Everquest.

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