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home : articles : A bleem! Interview




Joe Glass
May 5, 2000

A bleem! Interview
The creators of the controversial Playstation emulator bleem! talk with PCRave. What's next for bleem!? PCRave talks with Sean Kauppinen, Communications Director of bleem! Inc. and finds out!

For those that don't know, explain who you are and what is your role with bleem! Inc?

I'm the Communications Director for bleem, inc. We all work on a lot of things that don't fall into traditional roles. I personally work on public relations, human resources, advertising, some form of product management, marketing, Web strategy and a bunch of other things - it keeps it interesting.

What was the premise in which bleem! was created?

bleem! was the idea of Randy Linden, our CTO, and the most brilliant programmer I've ever met. He realized that when a game platform dies, so does all of the software, and saw the opportunity to keep these games alive on the PC, since PCs had finally hit the level where it was possible in terms of 3D cards, processors, etc.

What are the advantages of bleem! versus a regular Playstation?

bleem! isn't meant to take the place of a PlayStation, but it does have a couple of advantages over the PlayStation console.  

First, is the ability to use 3D hardware acceleration to increase the graphics resolution to PC-quality, which is huge.  

Next, bleem! lets you play on your PC, which means laptops as well. I personally play PSX games on my laptop, on planes, trains, and on the road.

What things are possible with bleem! that go beyond the Playstation?

The hardware acceleration and the freedom to play PSX games on PCs are the two main things.

In regards to hardware, what technologies does bleem! utilize to enhance the gaming experience?

DirectX is one of the main technologies that allows it to all come together - and fast graphics cards with 16Mb of RAM let us hit those high resolutions.

Does bleem! take advantage of Intel SSE or AMD 3DNow! SIMD instructions?

bleem! takes advantage of MMX and AMD 3DNow! instructions.

Is bleem! optimized for the transformation and lighting engines with DirectX 7 in the newest video graphics cards?

T&L hasn't been written into any PSX games as far as I know, so it doesn't make a difference.

What's the best video card for bleem!?

Any V3, TNT2, Rage Pro or better card with 16Mb RAM or more is what we recommend for the best quality.  Different cards work better with different systems, so like everything else, it depends.

What's the ideal system setup for using bleem!?

PII 300 or faster, 32 MB RAM, PCI sound card, 20x or faster CD-ROM drive and any one of the graphics cards I stated above.

The next generation of video cards like the Voodoo 5500 and GeForce 2 will incorporate full scene anti-aliasing capability. The potential for increasing image quality in bleem! is amazing. The Playstation 2 can't even do this. Will bleem! be ready for FSAA?

FSAA works with all games - unlike T&L, it doesn't have to be written in beforehand. nVidia does it in software, and 3dfx does it in hardware. Hardware is always going to work better, because it's in the silicon. Either way, games on bleem! will look even better.

bleem! has travelled far down its path to success, but it had to fight every step along the way. In the very beginning before bleem! was released, many people in the emulation community didn't believe bleem! even existed. They thought is was a hoax created by some 13 year old kid. Was there ever a moment where the criticisms overwhelmed programmers into rethinking about bringing bleem! to life?

I joined the company this year, so I wasn't involved in the early days of bleem!

I know that Randy and David worked extremely hard to get bleem! finished and to the people. Neither of them are quitters as you can see in the fact that bleem! did come to life.

In fighting with SONY's litigation, how has it affected bleem! and its development?

It has severly limited our ability to grow the business and be as profitable as we could be. It's hard to build a company when most of your profits go to defending yourself.

Where did the name "bleem!" come from?

Only Randy knows and I'm higher on the list than you to find out ;-)

Permit me to play Devil's advocate for one moment. I get a feeling bleem! 1.5b is very capable in emulating a Playstation, but it falls short in terms of game compatibility. The gaming experience is very segmented and not very consistent. Some games play well while some games don't even boot. Is bleem! a work in progress?

bleem! is not a work in progress. There is a difference between creating a direct replacement for a PlayStation and creating an accessory that enhances the gaming experience.

Many games don't run on bleem!, which is a result of us creating clean original code, rather than using Sony's. This has limited the compatibility, but it also allows us to enhance the resolution utilizing 3D hardware, a benefit we find much more compelling than being able to play every game at the same resolution of a PlayStation.

I have read in numerous reviews of bleem! that there is a general feeling that bleem! is just one mass BETA test. Meanwhile, bleem! is laughing all the way to the bank. What do you say to this line of comments?

Honestly, I feel that we have a great product in the market and that the vast majority of users are happy with bleem!

As far as us laughing all the way to the bank, that's definitely not the case - the majority of our revenues have gone to defending ourselves in the Sony lawsuit. It's somewhere around $1.5 million at this point.

Now let's move on to features..

Will we see EAX reverb support in bleem!? Do you think it would enhance audio playback?

Unknown, unknown. Possibly.

Will we see Playstation force feedback emulation in PC force feedback capable controllers?

PCs are capable of a lot more force feedback than dual shock controllers, so we would only be able to add what's written into the games. It's a possibility, but I don't have a positive answer either way at this point.

Are we seeing a new trend in emulation where computers are not only revived but are now competitive alternatives to the real thing?

For the PSX generation of consoles and before, PCs do have the power to do that to a degree - bleem! isn't meant to be an alternative - we're an accessory or an enhancer.

Hardware still has a way to go to get to Dreamcast and PSX 2 though.

Is emulation really the greatest form of flattery for computers?

At the very least, it makes a great T-shirt. Yes, it is.

What do you think about the late PSEmu Pro and Connectix VGS for PC?

There's a lot that goes into creating an emulator and we have a lot of respect for people who take the time and have the skill to make one. PSEmu Pro really proved that PCs had reached the point where a PSX emulator could be a reality. I don't want to discourage anyone's product, but I will say that bleem!'s hardware mode is the unique feature that we add to the mix.
[editor's translation: bleem!'s hardware accelerated rendering smokes all other PSX emulators]

Now for the more important questions at hand...

What's it like working at the bleem! offices?

It's a small group of fun people.  We work hard, but we do have the occasional full-contact nerf football or soccer game, to let off some steam.

What do you think about emulation and the emulation community?

I, personally love emulation - It's the only real way for me to play some of my favorite games from when I was growing up, since most of my old hardware died a while ago and I still have all the games.

Could a Playstation 2 be emulated on a PC?

It depends on processor speeds, 3D hardware and a host of other things, but just like PCs eventually catching up with the PSX and making bleem! possible, PCs will someday have the hardware capabilities of the PSX 2 and then it could become a reality.

What do you think about Microsoft's X-Box?

It'll be interesting to see it when it comes out.  They've got lots of money, so I'm sure they'll have some awesome games for it at launch.

What is next for bleem!? Will we see any new features soon?

My lips are sealed right now, but I have your email address ;-)

Thank you Sean for taking the time to speak with us!



Conclusion

Not too many details were leaked. As much as I tried to squeeze information, Sean skillfully kept a tight lip. However, according to numerous news sources on the Internet, bleem! will debut on SEGA Dreamcast. Is there proof? If you look here, here, and here, you will see that the "www.bleemcast.xxx" domains have been registered to Will Kempe. According to Console Domain, Will Kempe was a bleem! exhibitor at E3 last year. Would you play Playstation games on your Dreamcast? SEGA is apparently making a strong marketing shift to emulators for the Dreamcast including their previous SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive, Playstation, and TurboGrafix-16 via their SEGA Internet online service. Fact or fiction, it's a very interesting notion indeed! Be sure to read our review of bleem! for more information about the emulator. More to come.

bleem!'s website

Joe Glass
Editor-in-Chief










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