The End of SNES '9x
"Everyone loves a scandal!"
Humans seem to love excersizing their natural tendancies to take sides in debates and arguments. When a national debate is held and multiple news sources are used, people choose sides dependant on many different criteria. News presentation is very important, and while bias is usually avoided, in many cases including the Princess Diana case, bias is inevitable. When moral issues are brought up concerning the emulation scene, people are always happy to assume their roles as the "protectors of the ROM beggars", "upholders of the elite," and countless other sterotypes. In this case, on a much more superficial level, the continuation of SNES '9x and relations between Super Nintendo emulator authors has been challenged, and a winner has been found.
Thursday, October 30, 1997
Jerremy Koot sent the following e-mail to SNES Emulator Review:
"First let me start with saying that Snes9X has been the greatest project that I have working on ever ! It was fun to do and every time I went to #EMU I knew why I was doing it... But all of this has ended....
"Due to several reasons Snes9X can't continue... One is a possible claim of Nintendo... But you probably all think that that's the main reason, it isn't... Another reason is getting fucked over by other people, this is probably a more important reason... And then there is one more reason which, due to circumstances I can't even explain...
"But all in all, I would like to thank all the users for the great support, I've been reading several web pages and see that Snes9X is said to be either the best and/or the most used emulator on the World... This does make me smile from deep down inside... Seeing that since 5 July 1997 I had 500.000 hits probably proves that it was/is used a lot, with the latest DOS version getting 14.000 hits in two days, not even counting the number of times it was downloaded from other sites, shows how much people loved Snes9X.... So to all the Snes9X users: THANK YOU, IT WAS GREAT !
"A small note for all the developers out there who see a chance in getting the Snes9X source, we will not give it away ! So don't mail me or Gary about it ! If you want to do something for the SNES emulation 'scene', then help authors like zsKnight, _Demo_, Lord Esnes, NLKSnes, etc.
"And to all those emulation wannabe's, if you think you can program an emulator, just start and see where it leads, because maybe you'll have your own Snes9X!"
- Jerremy Koot
The closing statement of this farewell message is an extremely interesting closer. A haunting double meaning lingers at the end of Koot's last few words. On the positive side, Koot is inviting other authors to create new emulators and to keep their hopes high so that their emulators may one day rival SNES '9x. On the other side of this statement, Koot could possibly be leaving the emulation community with a serious warning. The entire quoted e-mail seemed to identify the problems that arise with a popular emulator that would scare away even the most headstrong would-be authors.
This sentence could literally read:
"And to all those emulation wannabe's, if you think you can program an emulator, think twice and look at what could happen to you."
Several issues were brought up during this e-mail that I've already witnessed murmurings of being raised in the emulation community. The issue of whether or not emulation is legal, or grey enough to be illegal has been brought up among others including a collection of "What If?"s that all seek blame for the end of SNES '9x.
Tabloid News Publishing
Several times in October, 1997, EmuNEWS was sent e-mails written from various authors representing SNES '9x and ZSNES in a controversy over claims of stolen information and illegitimate practices being used by the ZSNES team to gain ground over its only rival, SNES '9x.
The first in this series of e-mails appeared on EmuNEWS as printed below.
Friday, October 17, 1997
"Development of Snes9x will continue despite all its implementation details falling into the hands of the ZSNES developers, courtesy of Mr. Grim.
"Mr. Grim joined the Snes9x group under the premise of re-coding the sound routines in assembler, in fact all he wanted to do was steal the Snes9x source code and pass in on to others - namely the authors of ZSNES. Mr. Grim is a liar, a cheat and a thief. He even gets credit for the theft in the ZSNES docs, but they call it "supplying information.
"Mr. Grim even admitted in a recent interview that he'd only been coding in assembler for one year - I've been coding in assembler for sixteen years. He lied his way into the team, stole the code, gave it to the ZSNES developers then left, giving his reasons for leaving the team as a personality clash.
"I find it sad that the ZSNES authors resorted to stealing information when they are obviously intelligent enough to have worked it out for themselves, or if they couldn't, all they had to do was ask. They've simply by-passed the many months of work it has taken myself and Jerremy to trace and debug ROMs to get the current emulation level of Snes9x to this state.
"Please publish this e-mail to prevent other authors having their code ripped off then the thief getting the credit for their work."
Already, sides can be taken. Mr. Grim is pictured as being buried ten feet under in lies and conspiracies. The ZSNES team has received an unwarranted, and unwelcome association with unethical ways of obtaining information. One e-mail that attacks others can only be accompanied by a retaliation as seen below.
Friday, October 17, 1997
"I just want to e-mail you that Mr. Grim has never sent me the SNES9x source code. I am currently in the process of proving to Gary that all the info we figured out on the SNES is not based on the SNES9x source code. Thanks.
"Please post this. This is very important to us."
Sunday, October 19, 1997
"I have never passed along snes9x source to ANYONE! I have deleted the only copies I have and never gave out anything while I was part of the team. The Snes9x team had a cocky superior attitude which is the MAIN reason why I left. ZSNES includes and advanced debugger and zsKnight and _Demo_ ae extremely talented programmers perfectly capable of anything Gary or The Teach can do and better. This is probably why they were able to get things done so fast.
"The sound info that I did help them with was simple things like describing the snes decoding (which is a common form of compression that is well documented) and ADSR/Gain.. which again.. is well documented. They just asked me to clear a few questions up. The info I gave out was not anything that the snes9x authors had figured out on their own.
"I find it annoying that because and emulator has come out that has the possibility of doing better than Snes9x that the Snes9x team has to find any reason to make the other emulators authors look bad. The Teach and Trepalium were so worried that this emulator could beat them that one of them (or maybe both) distributed PRIVATE betas of ZSNES. Talk about lame. The Snes9x team just has to face the fact that there are programmers better than them.
"Also on a side note: If Gary has been doing assembly for 16 years then he is a SLOW learner.. because Trepalium.. who had very little experience in assembler.. had to do such simple optimizations as checking for AGI's. (The most simple of assembly optimizations.)"
- Mr. Grim
While the ZSNES team has written a peaceful reply without intentions of warring, Mr. Grim, has written a letter making many angry statements that could only warrant further replies, arguements, and eventually, the destruction of everything addressed.
EmuNEWS receives well over 20,000 hits per day, almost four times the amount of hits that Archaic Ruins receives on a daily basis, and out of those people, a rough estimate of the number of unique hits is approximately 8,000 to 10,000. When you that gross magnitude of readers see e-mails like the ones above be added in a slow basis, not many positive conclusions can be made.
First, who likes a slow programmer? No one likes a slow programmer. People want their daily dosage of emulators so as to secure their nightly ritual of playing pirated video games with no gratitude towards the authors. When a typical reader sees the previous message on EmuNEWS, they will accept it as mostly factual due to the credibility of the news service. Because of this letter, the SNES '9x authors are targets for disgruntled users to yell at for not bowing to their every whim.
Second, Mr. Grim attempts to spite the SNES '9x team by stating that the argument is trivial due to the supposed "simple" help that was given. The SNES '9x team is now seen as a group of selfish, monopolizing complainers by the public.
This is where credible news becomes tabloid news. The readers have now been misinformed by perhaps three sources. All three sources contradict each other, and readers are left to their own devices to decide the outcome. It could have been any site. Archaic Ruins, Emu XPress, Zophar's Domain, Dave's Video Game Classics, all are credible sources of information, and the same e-mails could have been sent to those, but EmuNEWS seemed to be the warground that the authors chose. The tabloid news could have appeared anywhere because it was written not by a site owner, but the authors themselves.
A few e-mails, accusations, and serieses of hate mails later, the following e-mail from the main author was released:
"This e-mail was to be a resignation of me from the Snes9x team - I've had enough of the constant battles with other emulators, junk e-mails, abusive e-mails, sick e-mails, e-mails from people who don't bother reading the README file, personal attacks, liars taking credit for things they didn't do, etc., etc.
"The MrGrim incident was the beginning of the end for me. Originally, I set myself a goal that I would consider Snes9x "finished" when I could play DKC "perfectly" on my laptop - well I've been busy hacking in support for sub-screen addition/subtraction and what's there is enough for me to play [Donkey Kong Country] without any apparent problems - just a little slow. ZSNES is faster, but is full of bugs in its implementation.
"Like I said, this was to be my resignation, but events have overtaken that and it looks like its the end of Snes9x for me, Jerremy and everyone else. I'll leave it to Jerremy to fill in the details, but I can say that Nintendo are involved.
"I've heard from a friend that the Mac port was great, I've seen and used the current DOS port and its better than every other DOS SNES emulator available. I never did manage to get the old Windows port to run for more than a few seconds, and I haven't tried the new version - but the GUI looked good.
"Ironically, the Linux and Solaris ports were the two crappiest ports - I was always using all my spare time to extended general emulator features rather than spending any time on port specific issues - so those two ports never did get a GUI (I'm a GUI/C/C++/UNIX programmer by trade - so adding one would have been relatively easy, its just I never got around to doing it).
"Thanks to you all for making Snes9x the most popular, well ported, feature rich SNES emulator there has ever been and, if Nintendo get their way, ever will be. I think its good that Snes9x will end while we were on top.
"See you all in another life, maybe.
"Gary Henderson, signing off......
In conclusion, I'd like to share the following IRC quote to present the way that people are now gossipping, searching for ways to fill the void that they themselves create out of blind human nature.
SNES '9x will be missed. If not by the public, by those who recognize the role it played in the emulation community.
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