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Richter BelmontAn Interview with R. Belmont


Welcome to the first in a series of interviews here on RetroBlast. Today we have with us developer "R. Belmont" (not his real name, btw: the name is in reference to the main character in "Dracula X: Rondo of Blood" ;-)

For those of you who have ever used MAME/MESS, M1, Zinc, or Audio Overload then you’ve had the pleasure of using software that Mr. Belmont has helped developed. Have you ever wondered what games some of the developers got hooked on, what controller they use, or even if they visit this site? For that information and more, read on.

1. Can you tell us a little about your self?

R.B.: I'm 31 years old and I live in the US near the east coast.

2. What do you do for a living?

R.B.: I'm a programmer. Shocking, I'm sure.

Pac-Man (KLOV pic)3. Can you tell us some of your early Arcade and Gaming Memories?

R.B.: My earliest favorite was Pac-Man. I was barely tall enough to see the screen when it came out, but like a lot of people I was obsessed with it for a while. I still played all the other "classics" though: Night Driver, Satan's Hollow, Donkey Kong, DK Jr., Popeye, Galaga, Pole Position, Tempest, and many more.

4. What are your Top 3 favorite video games of all time?

R.B.: This is a tough list to make, and I'll probably regret it once I click "Send", but here goes nothing:

3) Gradius
2) Super Mario Bros
1) Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

5. Do you own any consoles or Arcade Cabinets?

R.B.: Consoles: Intellivision, Vectrex, Sega Master System, Super NES, Sega Nomad, Atari Lynx, PS1, Saturn, N64, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, Xbox,
Game Boy Advance SP, Nintendo DS, and PSP. Most of the non-current ones are (obviously) packed away rather than being out and hooked up

I don't yet have an arcade cabinet. I have lots of grandiose plans and even a few parts for one (or two actually - one horizontal, one vertical) that haven't materialized yet.

6. What emulation projects are you currently involved in?

R.B.: Actively: MAME/MESS, M1, Audio Overload, and ZiNc.

7. Can you tell us how you got involved in them?

R.B.: I used to hang out on IRC with other devs and such and I got kinda "reeled in" to working on several projects that way (initially Modeler, but that led to MAME). M1 is my own project that started out as a series of small unreleased programs that emulated music for various games. Much like Nicola, I eventually decided to centralize all of them and ended up with M1.

Audio Overload was a result of M1: Richard Bannister maintains the Mac port of M1, so when he wrote his own emulator I got first dibs on porting it to the PC. It ended up a bit more than a port though, as now I've written several of the "engines" that handle file formats. ZiNc I pretty much inherited because the original authors were bored with it, and it's been a nice companion to the MAME work smf and I have done on that hardware.

Moo Mesa8. What was your first driver in MAME?

R.B.: My first submitted driver was Wild West Cowboys of Moo Mesa. I did it because Farfetch'd (Modeler co-author & MAMEdev) was a big fan of the game. It was also my first introduction to how well MAME can work as a team - I submitted it, and Nicola immediately fixed all the obvious warts.

9. How many hours a week do you spend working on MAME or other projects?

R.B.: It varies anywhere from 0-10, depending on what else I have going on.

10. Do you speak/meet with the other MAMEdevs?

R.B.: I've met Olivier Galibert, and I do talk/email some other devs on a non-MAME basis.

11. What piece of MAME code are you most proud of? And what does it do?

R.B.: I'm currently most proud of my generic SCSI layer that I recently wrote. It allows relatively easy and flexible emulation of hardware using SCSI or ATAPI disks/CD-ROMs/etc. Admittedly that's not completely useful in MAME (it will be in a few years when it's time for System 573 and Firebeat) but it's great for MESS.

12. What does your significant other think of MAME and other projects?

R.B.: I don't currently have one, but my job causes more issues in that direction than MAME does :-)

13. What do you use for test equipment?

R.B.: For fiddling with PCBs, I have a GW Technologies Home Game Arcade and an Andromeda EPROM+ programmer/dumper with a couple of adaptors.

14. When testing MAME do you use a keyboard and mouse or do you use Arcade controls?

R.B.: Both, as well as a Playstation 2 pad via a "Trio Linker" USB adaptor.

15. If Arcade controls, can you please describe?

R.B.: I have a SlikStik Classic with the normal layout, including a spinner and trackball. (I bought it after reading RetroBlast's review, BTW). Eventually I plan to use it as the control panel on a cabinet.

16. Do you use a front end, if so what is currently your front end of choice?

R.B.: I don't use a front end currently. I will when I get a cabinet going, but I haven't decided which one yet. There's so many that are cool nowadays.

17. How does MAME compare currently compare to what you thought MAME would be when you first started?

R.B.: It's completely crazy. I started using MAME somewhere in the late 0.2x series and the progress since then has been just mind-bending. I had no idea it would get so big so fast or that some of the things that have been accomplished would be.

18. Do you feel like your work is appreciated?

R.B.: Absolutely. MAME can be "controversial" both with fans and arcade purists/collectors, but there's a lot of love out there for it too. BYOAC is living proof. And M1 is, as the song goes, big in Japan. No small thanks there to Fujix, who's also one of the MAMEtesters leaders now.

19. Do Castlevania comments ever get old?

R.B.: Nope. But I don't like the new Konami logo. I miss the red and orange symbol :-)

Conclusion: Well that concludes this interview. I’d like to thank Mr. Belmont for spending some time with me and letting me interview him. Stay tuned for RetroBlast’s next interview.

Arbee's WIP Emporium
(R.Belmont's Blog Page)

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