Interview: Darkfader

August 27, 2002 11:03 PM PST

ic: Hello! So, should I call you by your given name, or Darkfader?

Darkfader: I use DarkFader everywhere and all my friends call me DF.

ic: Darkfader it is. You've been on the GP32 homebrew scene for some time now...what got you interested in the system?

Darkfader: I've been programming for other handhelds like before GBA and I think got interested when the author of GeePee32 showed some early version. In GBA (mIRC) channels we were discussing about differences in speed etc. and I just had to buy it.

ic: One of your early efforts was a port of Descent. Has that since been scrapped? Any plans to complete the project?

Darkfader: If there's enough interest I will continue. I gained some more experience now and coded some libraries.

ic: About your 3D software; how does it utilize the GP32 hardware? Do you know enough about mTaff's program to determine what's similar/different between the two programs?

Darkfader: My 3D engine isn't quite optimized yet. That's one difference. I don't know much about mTaff software. But there are more companies making this kind of software for portable devices.

(Darkfader has since released a demo of his 3D engine...check it out here.)

ic: Is the 3D soft something you plan to continue developing, or only until the official rev. comes out?

Darkfader: Actually it was just for fun and I just have to see how it grows.

ic: Tell me something about firmware modification. Should anyone actually attempt this? I know that several people have scrapped their GP32s after flashing the bios.

Darkfader: Dumping the firmware, i.e. backupping can be used for emulators. Flashing it will overwrite the startup code and menu and the current released flash upgrade tool was not made to be reliable. There is a way however to fix a misflashed firmware. It requires a special JTAG cable and software that can send instructions to the GP32.

ic: So in theory, what would the firmware upgrade do for your GP32?

Darkfader: Updating the firmware can give a faster boot-up sequence and could run homebrew application much quicker than to wait for the addition free launcher animation.

No custom firmware menu yet has mp3 player support but one can also store the original menu as normal executable so there actually no problem.

Having a PC SMC reader is advisable if the new firmware doesn't have usb pclink filetransfer support and the original firmware is not put on an smc as normal executable.

ic: As for running linux, how is this coming? I know that Game Park has gotten Linux to run completely on the GPI (I've seen it!) you think you'll be able to get it running on the GP32 before that time? Would it be fully functional, or something more like the Wind-Ups program (not that I'm speaking poorly of Wind-Ups AT ALL)?

Darkfader: Loading the kernel didn't work yet, but I haven't done very much yet. Might be easier if I had a good debugger.

ic: Do you think that the GP32's security lockouts are too limited? What sorts of suggestions would you have to make their SMCs more pirate-proof?

Darkfader: The copy-protection is not as strong as it should be. Currently I think only developers know the tricks. Games shouldn't be protected by a generic encrypter that leaves a plain unencrypted executable in memory, but should be linked with some sort of library with checking functions.

ic: How do you see the future of homebrew and emulation on the GP32? What do you think of Game Park's attitude towards home devrs and the emu scene?

Darkfader: They support the developer scene very well. I don't know if they like emulation, but it's a nice tool for developers.

ic: Anything else you'd like to mention/plug/etc?

Darkfader: Of course... everyone visit once a while :)

ic: Thanks so much for your time, take care!

Darkfader: no problem!!

It's good to hear from the real home developers every once in a while. Be sure to let him know if you want the Descent port to continue. Thanks again DF!

Brandon Sheffield