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.  The Good Old Days... 
January 29, 1999
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. Author: Shamanix

Ahh... the good old days.

When people first saw NESticle.. and the ignorant few said "Sardu should make SNESticle!". When SNES emulation was still somewhat in its infancy, and people expected emulation at 100% speed with perfect sound on a 286. Okay, the latter is a gross exaggeration, but the first? That happened. I was there. So were a lot of you. Zophar... Noam... hell, a good chunk of the ZD staff have to remember those days. I've known Zophar a fairly long time, as far as the 'net goes... almost two years. He was actually one of the first people I met that was into roms. This was back when #emuroms on EFnet was still the dominant IRC form of things emu. #emu banned me, back then. :) Think back, ladies and gentlemen, to a simpler time when we were content with MAME running a 'mere' 100 games... to when NESticle was brand new, and the best SNES emulator ran at 20fps on a high end system, without sound. Yes, those were the days. The height of emulation, really. Ever since then, things have been going downhill. Slowly, and unnoticed to most, but they've been going WAY downhill. IDSA? Nope, it's not their fault. Lack of interest? Definately not. In fact, there's more interest now than ever before. Bad emulators? You're kidding, right? The downfall of the emulation scene is plain and simple. It's a direct result of the warez pups, the people who beg for roms (See Zophar's Lamest Mailbox), and the guys who decide to flame the authors who work so hard to write the emulators that we use. Anyone who's been around long enough knows that emulation isn't as much about warez or getting free stuff, as it is about playing the old games that just kicked some ass, but you can't find the system for any longer. When's the last time you saw arcade machines in the corner store that you could buy? ;)

Now it's bad enough that the emulation scene has become warez-ified, but the fact that next generation systems are being emulated today is almost a bigger threat to the scene's reputation. I talked with Zophar about writing this article on Tuesday. Wednesday night, UltraHLE is released. Now the authors deserve a big pat on the back for their efforts, and accomplishment, but in my opinion, they should be examining their heads, to an extent. To quote from the author's comments in the IGN article, "The UltraHLE Project was a technical demo, an experiment to see if Nintendo 64 emulation is really possible. It was not designed to be a tool for piracy."

Okay.. let's think about this for, oh, half a second. It wasn't designed as a tool for piracy. It's a sure bet that the authors aren't stupid, as they wrote something that the emulation scene has seen disgusting levels of controversy over, but how can you rightfully say that the emulator wasn't intended for piracy? If such a thing is released to the public, it will be used for piracy. That, we know for certain. While this is an impressive achievement, in terms of emulation, I definately don't agree with its implementation as far as the public goes. It's been a little less than two days now, since UltraHLE was released, and yet there are scores and droves of people asking for N64 roms wherever they can get them. The snakes have crawled out from their holes, and the ignorant from their games of Final Fantasy, just to run amok, whining about not being able to find Mario 64. But, I digress, at the risk of pissing off more people than I already have. :)

Now on to PSX emulation. Right, ok... a Playstation on your computer. Sounds cool enough. PSEmu Pro... complicated, but it works. Bleem... at least we know it isn't fake. Actually, it's quite impressive. But still, the problem with emulation of the Playstation and the N64 is that Nintendo and Sony WILL lose money because of it. Granted, Sony probably loses a good deal due to mod chips and CDRs, but this only compacts the issue. The IDSA, as chrisss was so kind to point out, is going to have a field day with all of this.

Emulation isn't about getting games for free.... well, okay, it is, but that's more a secondary thing. ;) The real reason behind it is that we all like old games. (Pong rocks!) Old games for old systems. Old systems that are a pain to find, unless you really go looking. Looking takes time.. why look when you can download a few files to your PC and be playing the game? What happened to those urges to play Final Fantasy 1? Or the old, crappy version of TMNT for NES? Or any of those old games that we so dearly loved when we were all kids.

Considering that I'd originally intended this article to be about rom begging, and general idiocy in the scene, I'd say I did pretty well for a rant. ;) I think it mostly came about as a result of the *cough* large emulator release that happened the other day. Once again, thanks but no thanks to the UltraHLE authors. You guys did some great work on the programming, but it's a damaging blow to the emulation scene - one that may mark it permenantly as nothing but a piracy oriented following.

Oh, and while I have this fresh in my mind, a special "Blow me" award goes to classicgaming.com, who decided that emulation needed to be a mainstream thing. Underground followings fade, or die altogether when brought into the mainstream. Let's just hope ours doesn't fade too far.

Words from the not-so-wise.


PS: Feel free to fire off emails to me. Flames are ok, but I'll likely delete them after having a good laugh. Intelligent conversation is MUCH preferred. Hell, if the folks that wrote UltraHLE happen to be reading this, send me an email and I'll apologize for being a prick... publically. :)

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