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.  A Positive Perspective on the Emulation Scene 
  One User Reminisces About the Past and Discusses the Future 
September 5, 1998
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. Author: fifreak

    I’ve been on the emulation scene for a while….probably two years now. During that time I’ve witnessed the scene flourish from its infancy into the teenager that it is today. I choose to use this metaphor because I believe that it truly fits the scene well. I am going to attempt to explain my thoughts in this article.

Emulation’s Infancy:

    I remember the day emulation was born for me. A friend of mine had a computer disk that had some NES ROMs and a copy of Nesticle on it. I remember how my eyes lit up with amazement when I first played Super Mario Bros on my PC. I was completely taken by the entire concept of being able to copy or emulate the hardware of a completely different system on a PC. I wanted to learn more…I had to learn more. My friend directed me to the Internet where I discovered the developing emulation community. I found certain sites extremely helpful…Dave’s Video Game Classics (on its old server), The Dump (on ilf.net), NES ROM City (simplenet), The Box (simplenet), Zophar’s Domain (ziplink) and IHOR. These were the pioneers.

    Back then, the scene moved at a much slower pace. Releases were months apart. Things crawled along, and we did what we could to pass time between releases: We actually played the emulators. I’m sure some of the older siteops (ex: Dave and Zophar) can relate with me on this one.

    But like a young infant, back then, emulation was a beautiful thing. The scene was in harmony. The competition between authors and siteops was not cut-throat; people helped each other out, sharing information and furthering development of their favorite emulators. The environment was truly one of classic arcade game nostalgia.

Emulation Today - A troubled teenager:

    Emulation today has grown out of its infancy and into its teenage years. What does this mean? Well its obvious that the scene no longer crawls along….releases appear almost daily. The number of excellent emulators has grown significantly as well. ROM storage has gone more slightly underground, although that is not the fault of people on the scene.

More about the scene today:

All of us who use Emulators know the definition of an emulator.

Emulator (noun) - A program which copies or emulates the hardware of another system which allows the software of that system to be run on the target system.

Most of us also know the definition of what a ROM is.

ROM (noun) - Read Only Memory - the software that is run on the emulated hardware.

    But I wonder if people know the true definition of the Emulation Scene. These days it seems people just rush the scene, unaware of what they are getting into.

Let’s look at some definitions of the emulation scene:

Ideal definition:

Emulation Scene (noun) - The community of emulator programmers, website ops, and emulator users who are united together on websites and IRC though their common interest in and appreciation of classic video game nostalgia. Members of the scene are united in harmony where they freely share information and converse on their common interests.

Today’s Definition:

Emulation Scene (noun) -The community of emulator programmers, website ops, and emulator users who come together through a collection of websites and IRC channels. Harmony generally does not exist between the types of users, and discontent is high among users. Programmers and site ops are overworked and users are dissatisfied with the services being provided for them.

    Let’s look at what the emulation scene is supposed to be about. Why did the emulation scene come about? If you ask someone who has been on the scene from the beginning, they will tell you that emulators were developed to satisfy video game nostalgia. They were created so enthusiasts could always play their favorite video games, whether from a console system or arcade unit. In other words, the emulation scene was developed around the idea of having fun. That’s what emulation is about…..doing what emulation enthusiasts like -- playing video games.

    But there is more to the emulation scene. There are things which are lacking, which people don’t readily see are needed. The feeling of nostalgia is still there; people still desire to play their old and favorite games. However, there is one very, very important aspect that is lacking from the emulation scene: respect. Respect is the glue that holds the emulation scene together. Unfortunately, the glue is starting to weaken, and as a result, the emulation scene is starting to crumble.

    So where are all of these problems coming from? I believe its based on a general lack of respect that’s building up in the scene. Most people would be quick to call someone who is disrespectful a "lamer." But lets try to get away from that term. A better description of people who flame and complain would be someone who is just plain ignorant. I think the people who are doing this just have no idea of the effects of their behavior. They are just stupid. If they actually took the time to think about what they are doing they would realize that their actions are slowly destroying a very good thing.

    I have prepared some of my opinions and advice on what people need to realize and what people need to do to help turn around the trend of the emulation scene. I hope this advice will be taken constructively and will help people realize what they are doing wrong and find ways to help repair the damage. For me, if this advice helps change one person, I would be satisfied.

    People need to realize something about the emulator authors. The most important thing to realize is that these people are human. They have the same feelings that you and I have… feelings that can easily be upset. When an emulator user complains to an author saying that their emulator sucks, it hits right at home. It may sound childish, but yes, constant complaining hurts the authors’ feelings. It is also important to remember that emulator programmers have real lives too. They do not get paid for their work, the only compensation they get is the satisfaction of pleasing people who enjoy video games. When you flame an emulator author, you are taking away the only return they get for their hard work. You have to look at the issue from the perspective of the author. If everyone is complaining about your work and you are getting nothing in return, why would you bother continuing it? It is also important to realize that worthless begging and asking for new features (such as sound) is just as degrading. By begging the authors, you are in a way demoting them, making them seem sub-human, or slave-like. Emulator authors are not servants for anyone.

    Instead, everyone should respect the authors for all of their hard work. Remember that the authors are doing extremely challenging work for free, in their spare time. The progress of their work is solely at their own discretion. They should be allowed to choose their own pace for releases. If an author chooses to take 3 years to implement sound in an emulator then you have to wait. You have no right to try to push or force the emulator authors to cater to your needs.

    The site ops are the most forgotten member of the emulation scene. The site ops fund the sites themselves and take the time to update the site themselves. Keeping a website up to date with news that breaks on an almost hourly basis is an extremely arduous task. Yet, even with all of their hard work, people still manage to bother the site ops. People have to respect the site ops for what they do. It is not their responsibility to bring you the latest news. But they are kind enough to provide you a service, for free, just like the emulator authors. The site ops who provide ROMs deserve special recognition. These site ops absorb a tremendous financial burden by serving you ROMs. Do you think bandwidth is cheap? Remember that it is not their responsibility to find that ROM you are looking for.

    There is nothing that I believe the emulation authors need to realize. However, I would like to say a few things that I hope the authors know. For every ignorant person in the scene, there are many more respecting and supportive people who truly appreciate the work that the authors put into their emulators. We will always support their work, no matter where they decide to go with it. Please don’t feel pressured by the scene. We will all be satisfied with what we are given…no matter how much or how little.

    There are obvious problems with the scene today. Ignorance is all around us. But I think….I hope that this is just a phase of the emulation scene, just how many of the stupid things we do as teenagers are a passing phase. I think people will wake up and realize what the purpose of the entire scene and things will eventually fix themselves.

    There are other good things to look forward. Development is advancing into more advanced systems which we may see emulated soon. Some examples of this include Playstation and Nintendo 64 Emulators. Others are putting their individual knowledge and resources to work to benefit the scene. One such example of this is the un-named director of the CPS-2 Decryption project. There are hundreds of other examples of how people are benefiting the scene and I don’t want to have anyone left out.

The Future:

    The scene will continue to grow up. With the help of people who give their time, the emulation scene will continue to advance and develop. Before you blink, you may find yourselves playing more advanced gaming systems and units that people thought would never be emulated. Nobody knows what the future has in store, but for the emulation scene, I believe the future holds many positive things.

    Is there anything good left in the emulation scene? I think there is. We have bigger and better systems to look forward to seeing emulated. I also think that we can educate the ignorant people. For example, when someone comes into IRC and complains that the new Super Emulator 0.92d sucks shits, instead of giving that person a kick/ban, we should all explain the situation to them in a calm and serious manner. By using harsh language and kick/bans, the user never learns of the importance of what they said. By dealing with the issues in a mature fashion, we stand a chance at educating the misinformed.

    So what’s the moral here. I think the future of the emulation scene can be bright if we educate people. Its obvious that the amount of emulated hardware will only continue to grow. The amounts of ROMs will continue to grow as well. If we all work together, we can regain control of the scene and bring back the positive video game nostalgia that once ruled.



Help better the emulation Scene: Do your part!


    Are you tired of watching the emulation scene going down the tubes? Well then pitch in and help….do your part! You may not realize it, but there is something that everyone can do to better the emulation scene. Maybe you can’t program or you can’t host a huge website, but just imagine the satisfaction you can get if you do your part to help better the emulation scene. Here is a list of some suggestions for bettering the emulation scene.

Write or improve an emulator - got some programming talent? I’m sure an emulator author out there could use some help!

Help find technical info on un-emulated systems - you could help search the net, the library, wherever for info on un-emulated systems such as the CPS-2.

Set up a website on anything - Good at a particular game? Set up a savestate site. Know secrets on some games? Do what I did and set up a technical site. Mine is on the Glitches and Bugs in the early Street Fighter II games. Your site could be on anything, even game worship.

Answer questions - come on irc and hang out in your favorite channel and answer questions when people ask them.

Write a FAQ - for a game, system, emulator.

Archive your manuals - manuals are one area we could use more of.

Help spread ROMs - have a fast connection? Make an FTP site? You could also offer a DCC bot.

The possibilities are endless, but remember everything helps. Give back to the scene that gives you so much!

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