Hello everybody! Today I have brought up something interesting: You may have heard about Kaillera, an middleware for online multiplayer developed originally for MAME, spawning an derivated named “MAME32k”, that would later be integrated in many other emulators (either as plugins or as derivated builds), like Nestopia, Snes9k, Gens,Kawaks, Project64k, ePSXe, and even DEMUL (and at one point, Dolphin). It was pretty popular for games like Tekken and Mortal Kombat, and even more so on the years from 2001 and on, as it was released quite a while ago (20 years to be exact).

toqer is an man connected to Kaillera’s existence since its beginnings, being a forum moderator on Kaillera website since the first years and also a close acquaintance to Kaillera’s developer, Christophe Tibault. He had brought up efforts into reviving the original Kaillera community through creating an Discord channel (as the forums got quite broken), and I was able to contact him though that in order to conduct this interview (which will also take part from an upcoming “The History of Netplay in Emulation” article, with Kaillera being the earliest known middleware developed for this).

Despite not being the developer itself of Kailera, he was an key member on its beginnings, and was able to recall experiences of him, as well as some of the most popular games on Kaillera, thoughts about the communities, and even about an reason behind Kaillera’s creation. With the amount of time Kaillera has been around since, toqer was able toprovide valuable info about that went down during these first years. Now, without any further ado, here is the interview!

This interview was made on April 15, 2020. Most of the entire interview was presented here in the way it happened.

What kind of role you played in the creation of Kaillera? If you didn’t create it, how did you meet the creator?

Alright so, um, I didn’t actually create Kaillera at all. I met the creator of Kaillera years ago because we both lived in San Francisco Bay Area, and so he kinda comes by, and I was a fan of his work.

He’s worked for Nullsoft, the makers of Winamp and, they kinda have this “rockstar” culture from their programmers; like most companies don’t really give programmers credit and treat them like janitors, but in Nullsoft they pretty much gave credit to their programmers, and sort of gave them an “rockstar” status.

[On the site,] I was one of them, you also had Kurgan, etaihugi, and other people, but we don’t actually maintain the site, we just were forum moderators, which kind of sucks because if I had access to the BBS I’d have the forum restructurated right now.

Since how long have you been part of Kaillera?

Pretty much since the beginning, I think it was around 2000, got laid off of my job, then just played Kaillera. So I had nothing to do but to play Street Fighter, all time.

Do you know or remember was the first emulator that Kaillera got added to?

Yeah, that’s easy, that was MAME.

Did you ever host your own Kaillera server or met someone that did?

Oh yeah, I hosted my own [server], really easy to do. I think that in fact there’s a part in Kaillera’s website or the forums where, there was an little “how-to” of using a shell account for hosting a Kaillera server.

What is your favorite game that you ever played in Kaillera?

Probably Super Sprint from Atari, its an racing game.

What is the emulator that impressed you most that had Kaillera support?

You know, probably just MAME, because it was like 20 years ago. To give you an idea, I’m 47 so…I kinda grew up with the arcades, and just seeing arcade games being played on my computer, that was like a miracle to me.

Did you ever interact with or knew about Honmaru? (Russian/Polonian Tekken 3 community that played online through ePSXe and Kaillera)

No, I never knew that, didn’t know it existed. In fact, I took a hiatus from Kaillera for a while, and recently, like in last year [2019] I went back to the forums and saw everything was kind of torn apart, spammers were taking over so I tried to do what I could to fix it…redoing the forums a bit… I got to meet up with a lot of these newer communities, like there’s even an Smash Brothers community.

So its kind of neat that, 20 years later, there’s all these little communities that are using Kaillera for their favorite games, y’know.

Do you know about how Kaillera works (and think it is possible to explain)?

Oh yeah, it is really easy to explain. So Kaillera does two things: it works by keypresses; and it keeps the emulator synchronized as far as the frames go. When you start an emulator, it starts showing frame 0 and then, let’s say 30 seconds later, you gonna be on the frame 30. There are things that can affect that, like the speed of the computer, but Kaillera synchronizes two clients so they’re basically drawing the same frame at the same time.

Now if you’re sending keypresses to each other, its also gonna have those keypresses synchronized because the frames are synchronized, and that’s kind of the basics about how Kaillera works.

What were the games with the biggest scene you have ever seen in Kailera?

Definitely the fighting games; Marvel VS Capcom was huge for a while, the Street Fighter games…oh, King of Fighters 98, that seems to be a pretty big one too.

What are your thoughts on GGPO/Fightcade?

You know, I haven’t really tried it too much but, I did see on Wikipedia article for Kaillera that, someone bad-mouthed Kaillera in comparison to GGPO, which I think its kinda silly because, (you know) from what I understand, GGPO technology doesn’t really have any advantages over Kaillera.

And the reason I say that is, like GGPO, they want us to say “Oh, we use peer-to-peer technology”, or just check out the wiki article for Kaillera, you’ll see what I mean. But you know, there are times when peer-to-peer is an advantage and there’s times when its better to have somebody that’s like kind of an half-waypoint between the clients.

Have you ever used Kaillera in an netgame with more than 2 players?

Yeah, X-Men and some few others.

Have you ever been able to get in contact with the Kaillera creator again?

A few times over the years, he’s in a Nullsoft Alumni Discord and we’re friends on Facebook, we’ve hung out in person a few times too.

What country do you know that has used Kaillera the most? (if you can answer)

There’s stats here. *links to Kaillera site*. Some more stats here. *links to Kaillera’s stats site*
Honestly though, it seems pretty popular around the world.

What did you think when saw things like DEMUL being used with Kaillera?

…I don’t know what DEMUL is, would have to look it up.

It’s an Dreamcast emulator. Some used it to netplay MVC2, CVS2, etc.

Ah. Pretty crazy that even all these years later they would use Kaillera for that…you would think someone would have reverse engineered the native Dreamcast match servers, and used the native netplay protocols.

People actually have brought back Dreamcast servers for several games, but the fighting games there only had online servers in Japan, so that’s much more of an mystery.

What do you think of newer investigations about Kaillera with things like Kaillera Reborn and such?

Never really seems like any of these alternatives to Kaillera gain much traction, they may be better, but Kaillera was first to market which counts for a lot.

Did you ever check these out? *links to 2 videos*

The first one is a video I recorded with nuexzz playing Daytona USA online through Kaillera with Model 2 Emulator.
The second one is an demonstration of nuexzz linking up two instances through it.
Note that Model 2 Emulator would use Kaillera in this instance to connect two separate instances of an arcade racing game [through the internet].

That’s pretty cool.

What do you feel about all these years with Kaillera, like all the online matches with friends, about knowing the developer, and about how it has subsisted even after 20 years?

It’s kind of weird because originally Christophe made it so he can play Puzzle Bobble with some friends back in France, he was living in San Francisco at the time..I don’t even think he thought it would blow up like this. He was programming Winamp, which in its own right made him a rockstar programmer, but I don’t think he ever expected Kaillera to get the attention (both positive and negative) that it did.

For me, I didn’t create it, but for Christophe, there was a time when people from the MAME dev team were acting like jerks.
They were mostly saying his version of MAME wasn’t GPL, and he had to give up the Kaillera source code, but he did publish his changes to MAME. Also there was always people asking for various improvements, some good, some zany, some technically infeasable.

I’ve never really asked him why he moved on, but I’m guessing he did. He did give me his mame cabinet, it’s a Jaleco Pony Mark IV from Japan. I think he just got older, and has other life priorities now, like supporting his family.

What did you think when I asked you about this interview?

I thought it was cool, would rather have Christophe do it, but as I said, I think he’s moved on.

It would have been cool too, but in any case I really appreciate that you took a time to answer my questions.

*Uploads a picture*

That looks very nice!

I gotta work on it (:/), but the hardware’s all good, I restored a lot of it; all Sanwa controllers now. Trying to find an OS I like for it is the hard part.

I still don’t have an arcade cabinet, but one of my dreams is that I get to own one, or at least an arcade fightstick to begin with. (lol)

Cheaper to build a fightstick :]

So yeah, I met him like a year after Kaillera came out in 2001 or so, we both lived in the SF Bay Area. I went up to meet him with another guy who used to be an moderator on the forums, Soulcatcher. I think we had dinner at Mel’s Drive In.

I wouldn’t say we were best friends but good acquaintances, and I really admire his public and private career, really smart guy. I think he could have made Kaillera a paid service and people would have still used it.

Now that you mention Soulcatcher, did you get to ever contact him either?

He kind of vanished, he used to live in San Diego. He stayed at my house for a week when he came up to meet Christophe.
He came up with the “It’s not just for breakfast” slogan.

Did you ever try out something else for netplay other than Kaillera? Like ZSNES for example (which also was heavily used in certain communities for online SNES)

Oh, I tried just about everything between 2000 and 2008 or so, but mostly stuck with MAME.

There was another MAME developer that came along called The Fucking Rabbit; sort of took over where Christophe left off, at least as far as integrating Kaillera into MAME.
Kaillera when it was first released was great for binary controls, but nobody really figured out how to get analog controls to work in it. TFR and I spent a few months QA’ing his version of MAME that could sync analog controls, mostly playing a lot of Super Sprint, but a lot of stuff like Terminator 2 Judgement Day too.

Did you ever talk with him again either?

TFR came in around 2002.

Nah, he vanished too. Maybe the MAME mafia took a hit on him, who knows?

So Christophe made Kaillera, but then would leave the project and then have TFR maintain it for all the rest of the years? Or did he contribute along with TFR from 2002 and on?

Christophe just made the binaries that made netplay possible, it was up to developers to integrate the binary into the emulator. TFR was just an integrator.

What would you think if he got to check out all of this? (or if I did somehow happen to contact him, though I dunno if that could be possible lol)

I don’t think it would change his current focus. He’s working on some really cool world changing stuff, but that’s up to him to talk about what it is.

I did look up and he seems to have been [working] now in both Tesla and Blizzard Entertainment.

Also, by any chance you were involved in the local Street Fighter scene there? That question came on my head after remembering B4 (Battle at the Bay), which was the early predecessor to EVO.

Never played in any tournaments, but I did see a fight break out over at a 7-11 over a lost game.

alright. Got anything else to add?

I grew up in San Jose, where the first Chuck E Cheese was opened. Was a neat time between 1973 and 1996-ish, seeing the arcade born and die. Kaillera helped bring some of that back for me, and a lot of others.
Oh…and watch Hi Score Girl on Netflix, really good anime about those days in the arcade.

Thank you so much for answering the questions.

Hey, thanks for the interest in Kaillera, it’s awesome to see folks still using it a ton 20 years later 🙂
You’re welcome, and thank you.

I think there are many that would be really interested about something like this. Not only in the historic aspectbut also for those fighting game enthusiasts, for those players that still would use Kaillera for online, for those that were interested in knowing more behind everything like me, and maybe even for those that were there 20 years ago.

Crazy to think it’s been 20 years.
Heh, I just remembered something else: *links to Slashdot article about Kaillera*

At the time, getting on the front page of Slashdot was an honor, it could crush your webserver with the amount of traffic Slashdot would send your way. That’s really when Kaillera started taking off.

*links to two more pages (Tourniquet, oocities guide for XVMSF)*

Several pages out there that talk about it being on Slashdot. I think that’s very improtant to talk about regards to the history.

That site was yours or was from someone you knew?

I knew Tourniquet, I don’t know the oocities guy. Slashdot is a famous old site (*links to Slashdot effect article*), but yeah, I got Kaillera plugged on Slashdot in 2001, that’s when it’s popularity skyrocketed.

Was Tourniquet an emu developer?

Yeah, Tourniquet did his own MAME compiles too, mostly focusing on performance with fighting games. TFR mostly focused on general compatibility. Another guy that can’t be forgotten is the author of Final Burn [Dave].

So I guess that you kind of had an idea about what the interview was for, and would take some important things from it for an article I was going to work on, which was something along the lines of…”The History of Netplay in Emulation” I guess.

Seems like you’re shooting for a history, yeah.
I think in closing, the world made Kaillera a bigger thing than Christophe originally meant it to be, he just wanted to play Puzzle Bobble with friends back in France.

Many big things often start like that: A group of friends wanting to enjoy something.


Getting to interview toqer was an very interesting experience, and I’m very glad that I was able to chat with this nice guy. On that matter, I also got chances to interview both the owner of Honmaru (where there was, among other things, an community for playing Tekken 3 online with Kaillera), and the owner of FGC Arcadia, an netplay community that used PPSSPP and DEMUL for playing several games online (mostly the NAOMI games like Marvel VS Capcom 2 and Capcom VS SNK 2); but that would recently adopt an new method through NullDC NAOMI with the input plugin QKOjamma (which actually comes from 2011 from an GGXXAC online community, except that it was impossible to find until now) along with an interesting approach to reduce delay, which has made it more popular recently.

A more in-depth look at these communities and their netplay methods (including Kaillera), as well as excerpts of these interviews, will be featured in the future article of “The History of Netplay in Emulation”, where we will investigate about the usage of Kaillera, QKOJamma, ZSNES, GGPO, and other netplay methods on emulators as years have passed.

See you next time!