with bleem author... (10/12/98)
The most common question has been "Is bleem Real?" of course there would be no
reason for this interview if you said no... so lets start a little differently, and let
the reader decide if they believe in bleem.
<bleem> Always a good choice -- letting the individual have the freedom to choose and all the information necessary to make an informed decision is *exactly* what we'd prefer.
<EliteGamer> Why didn't you send any webmasters beta copies of your program for them to check out? I mean I understand you want proper beta testing before releasing it, but ONE good webmaster such as Dave (davesclassics) or even EliteGamer could give you a MUCH better reputation than the one you are getting right now.
<bleem> We're under the impression that there aren't many software companies that announce something and then immediately release a beta version for the public at large to "test" it.
Perhaps your recollection of the software development community is different? The purpose of a beta program is to remove and correct any remaining bugs before a product's initial public release. It's a mutually beneficial relationship whereby a software company gets a small group of people to do some advanced testing and at the same time, that same group of people get early versions of up and coming software releases.
The simple fact is that people have become accustomed to beta versions that fail to deliver what the software is expected to do. The term "beta" used to mean software that was "feature complete" but may have some bugs left in it. These days, "beta" means something before it's stuffed into a box and shipped. Which isn't to say that it's feature complete when it's actually *in* the box, mind you -- it's just in a box at that point, nothing more, nothing less. If it happens to deliver on its promises? All the better then. More often than not, however, it doesn't live up to it's promises and the users' expectations.
We don't believe that's the way software should be. We don't work that way. When we call something a "beta" version, we adhere to the *true* definition of "beta": Feature complete, save for some undetected bugs. Not "some minor known issues". Not "minor inconveniences, workarounds provided." No known bugs. Which certainly isn't to say that there won't be any -- just that we're working really hard to have as few as possible. It's very important that we put our best foot forward when the general public first meets us, and we don't want that impression to be one of buggy software and incomplete features.
It's for that reason that the beta program is pretty selective as far as the general masses -- We really need to find people that have a wide variety of equipment and software to test with so we can hit as much of the userbase as we can. We don't feel that it's fair to the users to effectively become our "beta testers" without knowing that fact -- and that's why we are having an actual beta. Otherwise, why even call it a "beta release?" Most people don't realize that being part of a beta program involves actual *work*... Just ask anyone whose ever been part of a *real* beta program. Yes, you get some people who just get the free software and run it once or twice, but for us, being part of the beta program involves actual work -- actual time spent testing games -- actual time spent making sure all the features work properly.
Second, we're not worried about our "reputation." In the end, reputation means nothing -- delivering good quality software means *everything*. People will choose to believe that they want until they've been given solid evidence to either confirm or deny what they think is reality. When bleem is released, what everyone *used* to think just won't matter anymore.
<EliteGamer> What does BLEEM stand for? (or what does it mean)
<bleem> No comment... yet.
<EliteGamer> How soon might we know that? At release time?
<EliteGamer> What was your reaction when you first saw sites posting news that your emu was a fake?
<bleem> Here's the text that was recently sent out to the major emulation news sites... It will probably answer this question fairly well: Dear Emulation News WebSite:
It has come to our attention that the recent news about our PSX emulator may have been interpreted by some as a "hoax" or "fake", especially to those within the emulation community.
We're not really sure why exactly someone would even attempt to fool people like this, but perhaps you have some insight and could shed some light on it? To us, it really seems like an awful lot of trouble with no possible reward or benefit to *anyone*...
To be quite honest, it really surprised us at first -- we weren't quite sure exactly *why* people didn't believe it. It also caught us a little bit off-guard when we discovered that there was an almost *negative* reaction to the list of features that our software provides. What surprised us most, however, was that this reaction was coming largely from within the programming and emulation community!
After reading some previous "interviews" with other emulation authors, especially in the PSX community, we were given the strong impression that, almost universally, the whole emulation community openly welcomed competition because it only served to better the state of emulation and give the end-user a much better piece of software.
We would never have imagined people being upset or unhappy with the choice of another emulator (excepting the original hardware manufacturers, of course), but given the close-knit emulation programming community it actually happened!
This is really unfortunate, considering how much we all could benefit from better and better software. We do certainly understand it when people who have worked long and hard on their emulators for months, and even years, are concerned that their hard work and efforts take a back-seat to the "newcomer", however temporary.
You know what? We wouldn't like it either -- infact, nobody would. In the end, however, it doesn't change the fact that an improvement benefits all of us, *especially* the end-users.
There are even those out there who are secretly hoping that bleem fails to run a particular game or isn't quite as compatible as one of the other emulators for certain software. Thinking this way doesn't help the emulation community in the least -- and it certainly doesn't sound like "inviting open competition" to us. Why anyone wouldn't want bleem to be as compatible as possible is simply beyond us -- it just doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
Perhaps it was our initial announcement that was unclear -- It wasn't meant as anything more than information that you could pass on to your readers to give them a "heads-up" that a new PSX emulator would soon be available. It wasn't a wish-list of things we ourselves *wanted* to see in an emulator, it was a matter-of-fact list of features that were *already* up and running in bleem.
We did some research and were told about a past case where someone had attempted to pass off a fake emulator as being real and even went so far as to create a whole website for it -- beta forms and all. Things started to become a little clearer for us as to the "lukewarm" reaction that our announcement had generated. What this individual gained from the experience we never found out. What we did learn, however, was that emulation newssites had become "gun shy" of reporting on rumours until they were verifiable.
After some more digging, it became clear that many people interpreted what we were promising as virtually impossible, given the state of PSX emulation so far. What was really unfortunate was that so many people could look at a list of features that *should* be expected from any polished piece of emulation software, and then dismiss them as not possible simply because it hadn't been done yet.
As a postnote, we would like to add that we've received tremendous support from the PSEmuPro team.
<EliteGamer> People are used to "betas" in the emu world, and I do remember a company using the world as a beta test zone... MSFT IE4.0. Other than That I agree that the software shouldn't be released to THE PUBLIC as a beta... our major point was the fact that even large compaines pass software to the gaming magazines (in the form of betas and demos) so that the magazine can give free publicity, however it is your choice to do that if you wanted.
<bleem> When the time is right, everyone will be able to download and try bleem for themselves. Until then, it's in a closed beta state. Would *you* say that what certain other software companies released was of sufficient quality to even be called a "beta"?
<EliteGamer> Hey I'm doing the interview here, quit asking me so many questions ;> People have said you claim bleem to be programmed in MACHINE CODE. Is this true, if not, what is it coded in?
<bleem> Yes, it's true. Machine code is an old coders' term for Assembly Language. It can also be called "Machine Language". These days most people code in "C" or "C++" and then do some small pieces in ML... Doing everything directly in x86 is a lot more work, but it makes everything run so much faster.
And, just to answer the few people out there who will ask about "DirectX" ... Yes, the DirectX interface is done in x86 as well -- It's not really a lot of code and it cuts down on code size and execution time. This will be *especially* important when using Direct3D for hardware support because the number of calls to the OS goes up significantly. However minor they may seem, all these tiny speed ups everywhere throughout the entire codebase add up to give an overall performance increase.
<EliteGamer> People have said you claim bleem will run NEAR PERFECT on a Pentium166. Is this true, if not, what is the optimum speed?
<bleem> Here's a couple of quotes from our initial introduction mailing...
Our target platform is a Pentium 166Mhz, 16Mb RAM, HighColour (15-bit or higher) Graphics Card, 2x CDROM, SoundBlaster Compatible SoundCard and 1 MB of Hard Disk space available. Most games are currently playable at high speed on a P200 MMX and further speed increases are expected before our final release sometime in the next few weeks! Perhaps you can point out the text that says "runs the same speed as as the original on a P166."
We're aiming to have it run on the most hardware we can -- If this means you select a lower graphics resolution, or lower sound quality to get the same speed on slower machines, so be it.
<EliteGamer> No, I can't point that out :)
<bleem> We didn't think so. We couldn't find it either. ;-) Sometimes it's far easier for someone to come out and say "Gee, this is a bunch of crap. It doesn't exist." rather than look for information, research facts and then ask questions first. Unfortunately that appears to have happened in certain circumstances with bleem. It will be very interesting to see what these "nay-sayers" post once the beta is out and the reports start coming in.
<EliteGamer> So most things will be configurable... Do you have an idea what the LOWEST machine will run bleem, on the lowest settings
<bleem> Well, not MOST things -- only things that make sense for you to configure. For example, how many people do YOU know that really understand how to set RootCounter interrupt levels?!
Things that make sense for the user to configure are options -- those that don't make sense, bleem automatically figures out -- like RootCounter interrupts. We're not really sure what the "worst" machine possible that still runs it will be, but we're hoping that virtually anyone who bought a PC in the last few years will be able to run most of their PSX software very well. bleem *does* require a pentium class CPU or better. Not MMX, not PPro or PII. Just a pentium. We haven't done any testing with AMD or Cyrix chips, but expect results to be fairly close to the Pentium.
<EliteGamer> People have said you claim bleem has "Full Motion Audio"... I am not familiar with this term, could you explain it, and answer if it is indeed in bleem?
<bleem> Full Motion Audio is also known as CDXA. It's compressed Mode-2 CDXA ADPCM. It does not, as some people have implied, simply pass directly through to the sound card as if some magical osmosis were taking place. It requires tightly optimized code to process in real time the filtering and conversion from CDXA ADPCM to PCM for DirectSound output.
<EliteGamer> What percentage of the programming is done... from the beautiful screen shots, I would guess the emulator is done, but obviously there is still testing going on?
<bleem> We currently estimate that the codebase is 95% complete -- the graphics engine has been done for a while, but we're still wrapping up bits and pieces with configuration options, tiny bugs in the BIOS emulation, there's a bug in the MDEC with artifacting (If you look closely at the MDEC screen shots you'll see some little "squares" that appear incorrect.) To get things into what we believe is a "beta" release state is vastly different than what some other programmers think is "beta".
<EliteGamer> How soon will we see a public beta, or the first actual release?
<bleem> We were going to release the initial public beta (which is different than our internal closed beta) early next week, but it turns out that will coincide with the PSEmuPro anniversary release. Out of respect for the PSEmuPro team, we will be holding off a few more days before our release. It simply isn't appropriate to release ours at the same time -- it's grossly disrespectful to the original "fathers" of PSX Emulation, in our opinion.
<EliteGamer> So that sounds like the week of the 19th-23rd will hold some sort of public beta release?
<bleem> VERY likely. Unless there's some massive earthquake, flood, fire, famine... ;-) By "public beta", that means outside of our internal beta testing. There is still time to apply to the beta program to be a beta site, provided that people fill out the form correctly. After the public beta, it will be a very short time until an initial public demo release comes out. Certainly you and everyone else remembers the six or so weeks from Psyke being announced and then released, don't you? Funny, we don't remember the huge amount of crap and claims that Psyke was fake when it was announced. Do you? A few weeks between our announcement and an actual release won't seem so bad when the software comes out.
<EliteGamer> Have you worked on other emulators in the past?
<EliteGamer> Can you tell us which ones?
<bleem> Perhaps later.
<EliteGamer> What do you do for a living?
<bleem> I'm a programmer... Now *there's* a news flash!
<EliteGamer> Are you the only person on the bleem PROGRAMING team? if not, how many other people are helping, and what skills are the bringing in to the project?
<bleem> Yes. I'm the only programmer.
<EliteGamer> People have asked if bleem will support : 3dfx? opengl? directx?
<bleem> Initial betas will not have 3D hardware support. We're planning to add it before the final release, depending upon the beta feedback we get. It already has complete support for DirectX, but I assume you mean Direct3D, not DirectX... In that case, like above, there's no 3D hardware support for the initial beta.
<EliteGamer> Why does the emulator capture the window when taking a screen shot?
<bleem> The emulator doesn't capture anything -- There's no built-in screenshot feature. I'm just running bleem and then pressing the PRT-SCRN key -- then going into a paint package and pasting the image. A bit of cropping to remove the rest of the desktop and voila -- screenshot.
<EliteGamer> The screen shots show "SMALL" windows. Will the emu run full screen, or does it run that small all the time?
<bleem> Yes, it runs fullscreen, but it makes it harder to debug during development. It supports virtually *all* DirectX screenmodes and can even be told to force a particular resolution -- you can select a smaller resolution for faster speed or a larger resolution if you've got a huge monitor and a very fast machine. It's not "that small" -- it's a perfect 1:1 pixel ratio from the original software to the user's display. If the original game runs at 320x240, that's the size of the window.
<EliteGamer> Some screen shots have been different sizes (some square, some rectangle), can you explain the reason for this?
<bleem> When running in a window, the emulator selects a window size that matches 1:1 the emulated game's dimensions ... It's MUCH faster that way, because no stretching or scaling is required. It's an option in the Graphics Configuration panel that can be turned off -- then it just leaves your window the size you make it and scales things accordingly. But, that can be slower, so it's off by default.
<EliteGamer> Can you provide pictures with shading turned off, or no texture mapping, or no anti-alias?
<bleem> We've just added an option to disable the shading of textured polygons, but otherwise there aren't any "advanced" configuration options... There hasn't been a need for them. As for the shots being found on other websites, perhaps you can point out even ONE website that has screenshots that are even remotely close to the ones that you question are real?
<EliteGamer> Can you provide 2 "identical" screen shots, one with shading on, and one with it off? So that I can post them under the question about disabling shading?
<bleem> Certainly -- but would you rather have us spend some *more* time making screenshots or finishing the beta release? You tell ME if it's possible to create such shots moments after reading your request for one showing shading on and off???
***These images were given to me approx 7-12 minutes after I asked for them. Also I checked the date and time stamps on them, and they were correct for a screen shot taken in California just moments before (obviously could be doctored, but who the hell would think of that :)***
My person opinion, screen shots, make the mass of disbelievers wait, but thats just me. :)
Has beta-testing applicants been positive? Approx. how many people have signed up?
<bleem> We get about 100 applications a day, and after rejecting those that don't read the form and fill things out correctly, it boils down to about 10. As an aside, many people have been asking about the Application Form's requirement for Product Codes. Simple answer? bleem requires original software discs to operate. If you can't fill out the form listing your original software discs' product codes, it probably means that you don't have original software. If you don't have original software, you can't test bleem. It's really that simple.
<EliteGamer> How long have you been working on bleem?
<bleem> With the release being so close, it truly feels like since then dawn of time!
<EliteGamer> In the beta-test form... "Please list the PlayStation controllers and peripherals you have access to for testing: (examples are: Standard Controllers, Mouse, DualShock Controller, Memory Card)" All of these items do not normally hook up to your PC. Are you going to provide some sort of hardware to test these with the emulator?
<bleem> No extra hardware is planned to allow you to connect PSX controllers because our controller emulation allows us to emulate different devices... in other words, if lots of people have a PSX Mouse, then we can add support for PSX Mouse emulation with your standard system mouse. If many people have dual shock controllers, then we can add support for force-feedback with DirectInput.
If people don't have these peripherals, then we won't add those features initially. It's a matter of spending time where it's needed and not wasting effort where it's not. Think about it for a moment... How can a beta site verify that the dual shock controller emulation works if they don't have *both* a PSX with dual shock controllers AND a force feedback joystick on their PC?
<EliteGamer> Have you read JoseQ's "thoughts on bleem"?
<bleem> Oh yes. ;-)
<EliteGamer> The following questions are from that article. (Reprinted with permission) "...but BLEEM is fake." Now as far as I am concerned, Innocent until proven guilty... but this rings true with many people. We have all seen emulators such as BANSHEE (the guy who wanted free CD's of roms)... How do you respond to this allegation?
<bleem> We've never heard of BANSHEE, but we did hear about CAPXTRA. It's a real shame that someone would actually try to pull this off on the public, but we have to ask this -- can *anyone* come up with a motivation for bleem that supports the "bleem is fake" theory? We don't ask for money. We don't ask for CDs. Why *exactly* would we do this if it weren't for real?
<EliteGamer> "One EmuSite went out of its way and 'accidentally' posted all the details from this 'secret' mailnote."... Did this letter you send out say specifically to NOT say anything yet, and if it did, why have you supplied the offending website with more screen shots since this incident?
<bleem> Emulators Unlimited wasn't "selected" or "singled out" for information -- we sent the exact same message to the majority of large emulation news sites. Emulators Unlimited was simply the only one who believed us and was willing to post the information. The initial mailing was really meant only as a bit of information to be passed on about an upcoming emulator -- nothing more, nothing less.
<EliteGamer> "When something seems too good to be true...", I can definitely see what he is saying here. Do you work as a programmer? because if you don't how would one such as yourself be able to pull off something so advanced?
<bleem> Yes. For many years. Like we said above, just because something hasn't been done before doesn't mean that it's not possible. If something seems too good to be true, then perhaps you should exercise your imagination a bit more often.
<EliteGamer> "I found myself talking on the phone with the owner of http://www.bleem.com... doesn't know what they're talking about..." How do you respond to this, were you the person that talked to JoseQ on the phone? Can you tell us about that call?
<bleem> JoseQ didn't speak with me personally. He spoke with one of our marketing and sales people, who wouldn't give JoseQ any information at all. JoseQ seemed to be upset with the fact that he couldn't get a "scoop" on bleem, even though he made a long-distance call. Add to the fact that he didn't receive the same materials that other news sites did, and he decided to post a ridiculous and off-target post.
The simple fact that he posted not one, but two seperate followups, with corrections and additions should indicate his lack of forethought and insight into the whole matter. As an aside, we know for a fact that he has received messages from real programmers that dissected just how wrong his "technical summary" was, and go further to explain how bleem's claims are infact quite technically possible. Difficult, yes, but possible and doable, and as the world shall soon see, done.
<EliteGamer> He talked to a Marketing and Sales person for bleem? How many people currently work at this location? And if bleem is currently a beta testing product, without a definit plan to be for sale, why do you need Marketing and Sales people?
<bleem> All will be revealed when we go public.
<EliteGamer> "When asked if they had any sort of inside documentation about the emulator to be able to emulate it to perfection, they completely denied that. No documentation was made available." Ok I can see wanting to protect your SOURCE.. but you have NO "secret/extra" documentation on the PSX?
<bleem> Everything has been reversed engineered internally. We do not have, and never have had in the past, access to internal Sony documentation, Development systems, Yaroze development systems, libraries, or anything else provided by Sony. As you can imagine, it's been a *lot* of work. Finally, we don't claim it's "perfect". Close, but because it's an emulator and because we don't have access to all sorts of internal information, we can't, and never will, claim that it's "perfect."
<EliteGamer> "[Assuming bleem is fake]... but pay a Domain Name? Well you can signup for a domain name and get billed 30 days after it's been working, so that's a possibility." Is your domain name paid for in full?
<bleem> Of course. You *have* checked the site's domain registration date, haven't you??? It's well beyond the mythical free "30 days" claimed.
<EliteGamer> As a matter of fact, it seems to be about 20+ days over the 30 days.
<bleem> Gee... I guess that makes it not "FREE" anymore, doesn't it?
<EliteGamer> "...guy on the phone said they were planning on selling this emulator." You are planning on selling the emu? (to the public "registration" or to a company "retail sale")
<bleem> It is definitely possible.
<EliteGamer> If you sell it, is it more likely to be on a REGISTRATION per user, or to become a commercial product. If a commercial product, are there any current talks of it, or is it just you would be willing to talk with a company about it?
<bleem> We're not sure yet -- that's why it hasn't been discussed publicly yet. You can be sure that if it is a commercial product that there will be a version that people can download and try *before* they spend any money on the actual software. That way they can test out bleem on *their* hardware configuration with *their* software before they decide if they want it.
<EliteGamer> "...The Bottom Line Of My Opinion is: If bleem is not fake, it will not be with the specs they claim...." To get everything clear, why don't you tell us the specs that will supposedly run bleem? And do the programmer(s) stand behind these specs? Or are they a "marketing attempt" to attract people that may not be able to use the emulator at full potential? (i.e. CompanyX says 32 Ram Minimum, when it only runs at 2 frames a second without 64 Ram.)
<bleem> We aim to make bleem run on the widest possible array of hardware -- if you have to disable certain features to get the same speed as a more powerful machine, so be it. Our target machine is a P166. That means that most software should operate well on that machine. If there's a few titles, especially newer ones that really push the platform hard, that operate more slowly, well that's life. Get a newer or faster machine. Or buy an original console!
<EliteGamer> Will Multiplayer (LAN or INTERNET) likely be added to bleem, if yes, which (or both)?
<bleem> Neither is likely unless there's a significant demand. Right now we've got more than enough to keep us busy coding!
<EliteGamer> Can you give a quick list (or a couple of the popular) joysticks that will work with bleem? (most people have asked about Sidewinder, Gravis Gamepad, and a multitude of analog sticks).
<bleem> All DirectInput devices should work without problem. If you can use your joystick with DirectInput, it should work perfectly with bleem. I can verify personally that it works fine with the MS Sidewinder GamePad (lots of buttons to map directly to PSX controller positions) and Gravis Flight Control System (this one has a POV hat). The SideWinder GamePad is *my* choice until I find something better. Any suggestions?
Remember that a controller needs to have lots of buttons to be close to the original. Otherwise, you have to map some of the buttons to the keyboard. It's not really a pain, but just not as nice. As you may have guessed, it also runs just fine with Keyboard. And yes, you can map only certain buttons to the keyboard and others to the joystick or whatever other devices you have.
<EliteGamer> My understanding is the PSX only uses a 2x/4x CD. Will faster CD-Roms give better loading times?
<bleem> Yes. The original hardware uses a 1x/2x drive. 4x drives were VERY expensive when it first came out. Although there are some limits when doing MDEC and other time-sensitive operations, because the system isn't expecting to get data back that fast. Loading and switching between levels and similar operations are much faster.
<EliteGamer> Obviously as one of your earlier statments said, people need to BUY their cd's etc. Will bleem run copied CD's, and or import CD's?
<bleem> No. bleem will *require* original discs for obvious legal reasons.
<EliteGamer> A couple of the screen shots (spyro comes to mind) have black lines at the top and bottom. Is that part of the game? or why does it do it for that particular game?
<bleem> Probably just a bug in the graphics engine. I'll take a look at it further. Can you (or any readers) point out what doesn't look right? It's hard for us to be "experts" in every single software title ever released and to know when three pixels on the screen are wrong!
<EliteGamer> Explained where the lines were, ect.
<bleem> That's normal. It's in the actual game. I think it's supposed to be a wide-screen kinda look or something
<EliteGamer> Contributors to these questions: fnm, Rain_1, DaemoN|, Fa][aL, SBait, Class316, NAZ_, stupid^2, JoseQ -- Some people wanted to remain anonymous.
<bleem> Hm... we don't recognize ANY of your contributors as actual emulation programmers... Are they? You want US to be honest and truthful and tell you everything, but the people asking the questions get to be "anonymous?" That sounds kinda strange to us -- is this interview for "real" or is it fake??? 8-)
<EliteGamer> Some people, that submited "good" questions, didn't want to be associated
as people that were DOUBTING bleem... and since we don't label questions by who they are from, they didn't want their names listed. And I assure you, the interview is as real as it gets on the Internet :)
<bleem> No one should *ever* be afraid to be known for what they've said. As long as they've put some serious thought and foresight into what they're asking. The problem is when you come out making all sorts of broad-based statements that all turn out to be false -- it's called liable and slander. Besides which, it's just plain foolish and wrong. Why say something that you don't *know* to be a fact?
<EliteGamer> Something important that JoseQ said in one of his articles "JoseQ's EmuViews, as the name implies, is a site about Views and perspective about the happenings in the Emulation World. Hence, the articles posted here, are merely opinion based..." -- I feel this is important to show it is the view of one person.. but many people share his views...
<bleem> We're anxious to see what "view" he holds after our release. ;-)
<EliteGamer> I want to thank bleem for their time, and give a plug for their website www.bleem.com wich is not much to look at right now.
<bleem> You're very welcome! Hopefully this interview will help to clear up the confusion and rumours long enough for us to finish the beta release and send it out to our beta sites!