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%% AR Interview: Kevin Kralian, Apple 2000 Author %%
%% Interviewer: Jason Compton %%
So, why do an emulator? What made it more fulfilling than a game or a
Originally, I wrote "Apple 2000" as a for-fun project, to start applying my
new skills in 68000 assembly (which I was learning). I chose the Apple
emulator for varied reasons- I grew up with and loved my apple, I missed
many of the games it had, and there weren't any other useable emulators out
there. Since I knew the Apple hardware and 6502 intimately, and after
writing a couple bare-bone preliminary versions of the emulator in C, I
knew I could do this, I knew I could do well, and I knew I could do it right.
I chose to do this instead of a game because I really couldn't think of a
game worth writing (for my skill level at the time). I don't think the
world wanted a 203'rd version of "Mines". Anyways, if I was to sit down and
port all my old favorite games for the amiga, I'd be working nonstop for
the next 10 years trying to get them done. Instead, with Apple 2000, I
suddenly have some 10,000 programs available, including all my favorites
that I missed for so long. What could be better?
Apple 2000 has another version coming, right? What are we going to see? HOW
are we going to see it (still freely redistributable?) WHEN will we see it?
Yes! Version 1.2 is currently under construction. Some of the new features
completed so far are: selectable speed regulation (Yeah!), support for a
true analog joystick and Atari Paddles, overhaul of the video-subsystem so
AGA / Mode-Promotion / Screen-Grabbers work fine, lowercase text display,
optional two-disk drive emulation, notifications of changed disk data,
replacement of TitleBar with "Status Msg" at the bottom of the screen, a
couple bug fixes, optimized disk image-decompression/loading (under 2
seconds), and of course its faster (but don't expect much more).
It will be distributed (as usual) as Freeware. I expect it will be released
around mid-August. Unless, of course, one of several interested companies
buys this emulation technology from me (hahaha, inside joke :).
Are any more emulators forthcoming? You've mentioned doing a 64 emulator "the
right way" before.
I don't expect you'll be seeing me release much more for the amiga- I begin
full time work as a game programmer in a couple weeks. Understand that
Apple 2000 was developed in my spare time while I was a student, and now I
will be working on computers all day at work. I don't think I'm going to
come home from working on computers all day to work on my computer all
night. No thanks- Theres lots of other things I plan on doing with that
Doing a C64 emulator "the right way" was -heavily- requested! However, I
ultimately decided against pursuing it. Several reasons: Use of unimplented
6502 instructions (and inconsistent descriptions of them), undocumented
hardware operations, the common use of Raster Line interrupts to change the
display (a mess to handle), my lack of carnal knowledge of the C64, and the
fact that a couple "useable" C64 emulators already exist. In the end I
decided I was not willing to make the huge time investment that would be
required to do it right. And if I can't do it right, I won't do it at all.
What was actually next on the drawing board was the Atari 1200/VCS console
emulation. The big reasons I wanted to do this were because the 6502
emulation engine is already done, most of us "grew up" with the Atari, and
there are no Atari VCS emulators in existance (that I know of). I've
collected lots of notes and manuals on the Atari, as well as sample
cartridges and dissassembled example code. I've even outlined most of the
However, soon after releasing Apple 2000, I was being contacted by several
companies and job opportunities were opening up. I knew I had very little
time before I would be working, so my efforts are focused on completely
finishing up Apple 2000 (which is what I'm doing now). However, I still
want to see Apple 2000 maintained and improved in the future. If I am
unable to do it, I'll make sure somebody else can. I'm planning on "passing
the torch" and giving my source code to a few competant programmers who can
continue to do good with it, and perhaps utilize the 6502 engine in other
You've been talking for a long time about leaving the Amiga. Why? What are
you going to do next? Is Apple 2000 the last thing you'll do on the Amiga?
I never talked about "leaving the amiga", but more about the "amiga leaving
us". I could see the Commodore was going nowhere with the Amiga, and as
we all know the worst has happened. The future of the amiga is still
uncertain, but looking dimmer everyday. I personally don't expect the amiga
line will be revived- because no large company will spend millions to bail
out an old machine when new generation machines are coming on the market
(its senseless). Any interested company could spend a fourth of that amount
to develop a brand new machine anyways (AAA is probably the only thing
anybody is interested in). But in the off chance that the next generation
amiga's ever see the light of day, I'll keep my eye on it. If not, though,
one has to know when it's time to move on and move forward. I still know
people who swear by and use their Apple's and Atari's exclusively. And they
complain how there is no support, no software, etc. Even if you don't move
forward, technology still does.
I'm keeping my eye on the PowerPC machines that should be rolling out soon.
No- Not the Apple version. I want a computer, not just a Macintosh! I think
the perfect system would be a PowerPC with the AAA chipset. Then I'd have
the stability of a mainstream machine, plus all the great things that made
the amiga so wonderful. Of course, who knows if the PowerPC will succeed om
the marketplace anyways.
But yeah, I expect Apple 2000 will be the first and last serious thing I do
on the amiga. At least I've been able to leave my mark and contribute
something. But I got to move on from writing free emulators to earning a
living. It was bound to happen sooner or later... ;-)
What was the motivation that kept Apple 2000 alive, amidst all of the hard
work and controversy?
Witnessing and realizing the progress of my work was very rewarding.
It's "my baby" that I've nurtured along for sooo long, pouring many late
night sessions into. As I continually refined my emulator and it's
routines, and added more and more features, I watched this program rise
from the murky pool of useless emulators, to become one of the best Apple
II emulators available on any platform. It went from something I just
showed to my friends to something that I felt would be beneficial to the
entire amiga community. The overwhelming public response has continued to
motivate me to maintain it.
What's this about landing a "dream job"?
Well, after releasing Apple2000, I got contacted regarding several job
opportunities. The one that interested me most though was for a large game
software house. I was contacted by one of their Senior Programmers, who,
like myself, wrote a 6502 emulator and was a FireFighter too. Impressed by
what he saw, he extended an invitation and got the ball rolling within the
company to hire me. When I was flown out, I was very impressed by what I
saw- The work, the environment, the other people who work there. It really
is my "dream job". I accepted the position they offered me and I begin work
mid-august. Good things do happen to good people. :-)
Who is your programming role-model?
Jeff Minter, the man behind LlamaTron! It's one of the best games that
exist (and its shareware!). It has everything that an arcade game should:
Noise, Color, movement, speed, playability, challenge, etc. And it's great
to see such talent move up in the world (with his recent version of
"Tempest 2000" for the Atari Jaguar). Actually, everything that Minter has
written has been extremely good, and I intend to follow in his footsteps.