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B00B! Interview

With Sam Steele, author of DreamZZT and a Tetris clone for DC.

Interviewed by WRAGGSTER. Edited by The Gypsy.

This interview is an honour for those who follow the Dreamcast scene. :) It was done on behalf of ConsoleVision and B00B! Dreamcast Research.

B00B! Dreamcast Research: Where were you born, live, and what are your family details, etc.?

Sam Steele: I was born in New Zealand in 1983, and moved to NJ, USA in 1992.

B00B: What qualifications do you have?

SS: AP C++ in highschool.. scored a 5 on the AP exam.

Self-taught BASIC in a ton of dialects.. GWBASIC, Qbasic, Commodore 64 BASIC, TRS-80 BASIC, ...

An interesting note, the C64 is the only version of BASIC I know that doesn't admit to being written by Microsoft :) Foreshadowing their OS monopoly? who knows.

B00B: What made you get into computers?

SS: Owning one, I guess. We had an IBM-XT back in NZ, and I taught myself GWBASIC and QuickBASIC on that.

B00B: What projects/coding have you done previous to any Dreamcast programming?

SS: Oh wow, what a question! I've done tons of unreleased things in the past.

I started out doing a GUI on the Commodore 64, then moved that over to the PC. I've also done some AI things, and a BASIC interpreter. DreamZZT is the first game that I've done, and the second thing I've really released. And obviously much more popular than my BASIC interpreter was :)

B00B: What made you choose to do a Dreamcast port of the game ZZT?

SS: Short answer:
Because ZZT rules!

Long answer:
I didn't really intend on doing it :) Last december I was doing a game engine that was text based and looked like ZZT. After releasing that, I got so many requests about actually running ZZT on the Dreamcast, that I wrote a new engine from scratch that used ZZT's file format.

B00B: How did you start and what programs did you use to start coding?

SS: GCC and libdream. I had written a small graphics / text wrapper library for my BASIC interpreter a while back that allowed it to run on many systems, so I wrote up a quick libdream driver. I've since moved on to using KOS instead of libdream.

B00B: Do you see any updates to your great emulator and your tetris game?

SS: DreamZZT still needs a ton of work, plus I'd like to do my own game levels eventually so I can stop using Epic's when I do releases. I also can't wait to implement sounds, but I'm waiting for KOS's sound driver to stop looping sound effects :) It can now play mp3s in the background, though. I'm thinking of converting MegaZeux's "Caverns of Zeux" mod file into an mp3. It would be kind of neat to have MegaZeux music behind a ZZT game :)

Tetris needs a visual overhaul :) I did add mp3 playing support on my internal version here, but I haven't released that yet. The tetris game was really a proof-of-concept kind of thing, I don't really see myself updating it visually any time soon.

B00B: Do you have any new projects in the pipeline ?

SS: I would love to bring my BASIC interpreter to the Dreamcast. Now that I have a keyboard, I might attempt that again. I did it a while back, but it wasn't very fun without a way to interact with the programs.

I also want to do a TCP/IP multiplayer game, but that's going to have to wait either for DCLinux to speed up, or KOS to have a good TCP/IP stack.

B00B: Whats your opinion of the new super consoles like X-box, Gamecube, Game Boy Advance, and the Playststion 2?

SS: Playstation 2 sucks!
Sorry :)
Actually, I'm not sure. I've used a PS2 once, but on a poor-quality tv. I don't see anything special about it.

X-Box. um, well, it's a Microsoft product. Can't wait to see Oddworld bluescreen!

GBA is very cool, I'm thinking of picking one up soon. I've always loved the GB series. I own both a GB and a GBC.

Gamecube, I dunno. Cartridges are so 1990. :)

B00B: Which console looks the best for dev'ing on?

SS: Dreamcast, of course! :)
GBA second place, though, just because it's in the GB family.

B00B: What are your favourite games for every system you have owned?

SS: Commodore 64 - oh man, too many to list.. Outrun, BeamRider, Ultimate Wizard, all the classics..
NES - Rampage
Genesis - Sonic 3 & Knuckles
32x - either Doom or Knuckles Chaotix
Sega CD - Mansion of Hidden Souls
PC (and almost Dreamcast) - Half-life and ZZT
PC and Dreamcast (thanks to SMEG!!) - Lemmings
PC only - The Omnicron Conspiracy.
Playstation - Final fantasy 7, the Oddworld series, and Syphon Filter
Gameboy - Tetris :), Dr. Mario, Donkey Kong Country
Dreamcast - another tough one.. Shenmue, Crazy Taxi, Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, ChuChu Rocket, Dance Dance Revolution...
Master System - Penguin World (yeah, that one's kind of silly, but it's a fun game!!)
SNES - what? they had good games? I guess the FF series was ok.. actually, I did like Doneky Kong country.

B00B: Your thoughts on the Dreamcast Emulation/Development Scene and how can it be improved?

SS: I wish we had more support from SEGA. I also can't wait for a good TCP/IP stack in KOS, and that wave file playback to get fixed :)

I also wish GearBox would find another distributer for Half-life. That's just such a powerful engine, it's a shame the DC wont get to see it commercially.

B00B: May I say thank you for your time, I understand the last week has been one of the most terrible ever and I wish you the best of luck with your work and personel life etc.

thank you

This document/interview is Copyright © 2001 by Wraggster and may not be reproduced in whole or part without permission.