An Interview with R. Belmont
by Bob Seidel
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" ;-)
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
2. What do you do for a living?
R.B.: I'm a programmer. Shocking, I'm sure.
3. Can you tell us some of your early Arcade and
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:
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,
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
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.
8. 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
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
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
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.
(R.Belmont's Blog Page)
Return to Articles