Q&A with Ruben Baca, creator of iConsole

Ruben Baca is a man with a dream, a dream for cloud based emulation.  When he was told that it was impossible to create a stable online SNES emulator he took it as a challenge and started coding.

Starting with a NES emulator he created a Java based program that can instantly load ROMs from an online server for play directly through your browser.

Next he took on the challenge issued by those who said it was impossible and wrestled it to the ground, burning it alive with flower-power.  He stood smiling over the wreckage with a keyboard and mouse in hand, joyfully playing Super Mario World through his server from anywhere in the world.

Today, NERD TREK sits down with Ruben Baca, founder of the world’s first cloud based emulators for an exclusive up close interview on the man with a cloudy dream of emu.

 

NT: Good day Ruben, how are you today? 

Baca:  I’m doing great, working too much and not enough play. Working two jobs is not an easy thing to do. Right now I’m running on 6 hours sleep and just finishing up my 18-hour work shift.

 

What is the new upcoming iConsole and Vonsole all about? 

We have noticed a big attraction on our emulators at i-Console.com and decided to make them the main feature of our work at KryptonWare Solutions L.L.C.

iConsole is a web player for websites to have the ability to play their favorite retro games online without the need of downloading anything. The web player runs on Java JRE from Oracle. Implemented via our standard Application Programming Interface (API).

Vonsole is our desktop player that uses the same API technology to play the games offline on the users desktop. Vonsole also runs on the Java JRE from Oracle but it’s a self-executable application, runnable in Linux, Mac and Windows.

Both iConsole and Vonsole can be downloaded from kryptonware.com in Jan 2012.

 

What is iConsole/Vonsole capable of?  How is it evolving? 

iConsole and Vonsole are capable of playing software designed to play on legacy hardware like the Nintendo’s Famicom. We currently have the NES, SNES, DMG, GBC and CHIP running on the i-consoles.com API but we decided to take a step back and perfect our current emulators before continuing to expand. This means that on Jan 2012 when the iConsole web player and the Vonsole desktop player are released they will not be as extensive as i-console.com’s API but the emulator hardware that will be playable will be very stable and able to play all the software designed for that hardware. We do plan on keeping i-console.com alive for as long as the new iConsole takes to catch up.

 

Can you tell us about the inner workings of the program?  It is obviously Java-based.  What else do those of us who get excited over things like code need to know? 

That is the beauty of the entire project. There will be no need to know any programming language; it’s built for the general public’s use. Anyone with a website will be able to play their favorite games on their site without any knowledge of programming.

But for those who would like to program their own plug-ins, like for example, TOP SCORE, then the iConsole (API) will interest them. They will be able to query memory locations and extract values from memory via JavaScript. This is one of many features of the API and many more to come.

 

How did you get involved in this project?  Do you have a team to assist you?  How have things changed since the concept of this software?

I wanted to create a website that would allow you to play all the classic video games I loved back in the day, but soon noticed that not all emulators were created in java and very few where even playable online. This drove me in an adventure to find the SNES emulator via java but could not find any. No one has made a Java web based SNES and even worse, there were many posts saying, “It could not be possible”. This was the start of my learning curve of programming emulators.

For i-console.com I do have a team of 4 people. But as for the new iConsole/Vonsole at Kryptonware.com I will be acting alone with affiliations to other groups as in Jamie Sanders in Emulation Collective, who I may add does an incredible job of cataloging games and being legally stable. Being an affiliate means that they will get first runs on the software and have a word in of what’s to get developed first. We also do some service exchange (e.g. Voice overs for my training videos). As of right now, I don’t have any plans on recruiting new people but may re-recruit the old team if they are interested but this time with some form of pay. This is if all plans go well.

The concept of this software has changed a lot. When we first started we gave out a Jar file, which held the emulators, and now we are only making it playable via our API. This is to cope with the new way of Cloud based processing and storage.

  

What are your favorite systems and games to emulate?  Is there something that you find yourself drawn back to time and time again?

As for my favorite system or game, I don’t really have one. I love programming these emulators and for every hardware component I program I find new love.

What I keep having to go back to is the CHIP emulator, every time I find a new, better, enhanced method, I always try it out on the CHIP emulator to see how well it does, and if it passes all bench marks, then I try it on more complicated emulators.


Where do you see iConsole fitting in to the big picture in the future of technology and the evolution of everything moving to cloud based storage in the future?

We are already in the future as I see it. Cloud based storage is key for iConsole and will continue to be so. I can’t find a better way to keep all websites up-to-date other then through the API and cloud emulation.

 

Do you like bananas?  Do you have any stories involving iConsole and bananas?  (Question courtesy of Khalid Yassin- we ask this question of all our interviewees)

I love bananas; I go Apes over frozen chocolate covered bananas. Unfortunately, I don’t have any stories with Bananas and iConsole.

 

Thank you very much for sitting down with us today and answering these questions Ruben. 

All of the games on NERD TREK run using the iConsole emulator.  Try it out here!

 

Our readers can absorb additional information on Ruben and his company at the links below:

WEB:

i-console.com

kryptonware.com

 

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About Jonathan G. Nelson

Jonathan G. Nelson is the editor-in-chief and owner of NERD TREK. He is also owner/publisher at AAW Games / AdventureAWeek.com, a tabletop gaming company based in Snoqualmie, WA.

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