Maybe the most important breakthrough in atari gaming in the past years was the invention of the ULS by d-bug. Thanks to this technology, Atari gamer are able to play old ST classics on a Falcon direct from the hard disk.
This year d-bug announced on their webpage , that they will stop patching games, so I like to do this interview with GGN of d-bug to ask him some questions about what could we expect in the future.
LR: Could you please introduce yourself
GGN: George Nakos, originating and living in Greece, 32 years old (I think :P), coder (and rarely crap artist) of the groups KÜA software productions, D-Bug and Paradize. I hang around at #atariscne a lot, tormenting people with my crap humor and sometimes I even help.
LR: As a lot of our readers aren’t familiar with the Falcon, could you please explain in some words, what you do to patch a game.
GGN: Well, that’s a pretty big subject on its own and would take a couple of articles on its own to answer fully ;). I’ll keep it short, simple and non technical though: Most ST games are only meant to run from a floppy, so we have used lots of techniques (including ULS) which basically change the disk routines so that they load from hard drive instead. This is not limited to the Falcon only (indeed the first ULS version was for STs). Falcon fixing includes changing 68000 code that doesn’t work on 68030, and generally running the game, see if it works or not, fix any apparent or possible crashes, and release.
LR: What is the current status of the d-bug activities concerning Falcon patches?
GGN: Well, we aren’t exactly busting a nut fixing stuff. We mostly do it at our leisure time. A couple years ago it was almost our only Atari activity. Now we just patch something if we get bored or would like to see it running on Falcon. This years December-full-of-releases came into being just because Cyrano Jones patched 5 games in a couple of hours, and then the next day I did the same, then we added some other stuff we had lying around, et voila!
LR: What could we expect in the future?
GGN: Being lax doesn’t mean we don’t have ideas 🙂
Recently we had an idea that (we hope) will spark some new interest in ST gaming. If all goes well, we’ll announce it in January 1st!
Otherwise, there are always things we can do to improve ULS. Don’t know if there’ll ever be a v4 of it though, again it depends on our moods.
LR: On the Amiga the WHD Load system exist for years, and it looks like there is still a lot of activity, is this project comparable to your patches?
GGN: Yes, it is comparable. Cyrano Jones told me that it originated from a Showaddywaddy quote on irc which was something along the lines of: “I wish we could switch off TOS!”. At that moment a small light bulb appeared on top of CJ’s head, and soon “TOSOff” (renamed to Universal Loading System for marketing reasons :P) was created. Of course it was influenced by WHDLoad, but it shares 0% code with it. Actually, with ULSv3 we have even one-upped them by introducing save states on the games (similar to emulator save states).
LR: How could people participate in the project?
GGN: ULSv3 is open source, so people simply need to download it, read the online documentation on our website and start patching! All they need is some 68000 knowledge, a copy of the compendium and the hardware address listing really.
LR: What are your personal 3 favorite games on the ST?
GGN: Very very very very very very very tough question! Interphase is surely one of them, a brilliant mix of 3D and real time strategy. Wings of death, no comments really. Turrican 2, again no comments. And since I just put a trainer on this interview, I’m free to give you 3 more :P. Another World, Prince of Persia and Vroom!
LR: Many thanks GGN for this interview, will be interesting of what kind your January Announcement will be.
1. d-bug website