I haven't been with the emulation scene for very long. About two
years, really. In that time I've found that it's a community that, by and
large, speaks to me. I can mention Joust and people know what I'm talking
about. Pole Position, Dig Dug, M.U.L.E., and other games from the
Commodore days and before are not foreign to the emulation community.
My C64 monitor broke. Battery backed memory dies. My Game Boy
was designed to fall apart in a couple of years. Hardware is temporary.
We all realize that. A box can fall apart, and you're out $100. Soon my
Game Boy was left in a drawer as I played my games on my 386.
As I delved deeper into emulation, I realized how awful my timing
was. I joined up in the beginning stages of a sort of dark age for
emulation. There are people on the BBSs who know what they're talking
about, but they're frequently drowned out by the usual net static. I saw
some people get chased away by a new, unsavory element just as I was
The worst thing I saw, though, was bickering over source code.
There wasn't much of it when I entered the scene, but I heard stories of
NESticle's source being stolen, and some old issues with SNES9x.
Anyone who knows me is probably rolling their eyes and saying,
"There goes Zen about the freedom of source code, again..." I've always
been an advocate of free source code, especially in the emulation
community. Many are all too familiar with my arguments about what
SNES9x's source has done for the SNES emulation scene. But whether or not
I'm an "open source evangelist" is beside the point. Free-source
emulators are fairly common, and have proven to be the best contributions
to the emulation scene.
I'm not saying that the proprietors of the non-free emulators are
somehow evil demons of emulation, though. I'm saying that emulation works
best when it's a community effort. Nobody who's been with the scene for
very long can disagree. In fact, people who see it as an opportunity to
leech off of somebody are the ones who are most likely to send nasty
E-mail to authors who don't update "enough", and they're the ones who are
most likely to be in it for nothing but the "ROMz".
So if emulation is by definition such a community effort, why
bother even trying to keep the source to yourself? There are thousands of
people out there who are willing to lend a hand just so they can know
they helped out, and maybe get their name on a credits list somewhere. How
can we justify NOT tapping this resource?
If you have software that people want on other platforms, but that
you don't particularly want to port, chances are that somebody out there
wants it enough to do the job independently. And why keep him or her from
doing it? Are we trying to perfect emulation or compete against one
I remember that when SNES9x had some DSP support worked into it
(this was before ZSNES did) people on the ZSNES board were saying, "Hurry
up, guys! They're beating you!". This is precisely the attitude that's
going to bring us down in the end. Emulation is a cooperative effort, and
in order to achieve the goal of "perfect" emulation we need to ALL be able
I am not against having multiple projects emulating the same
system. I think it's good to have a number of different projects trying
different approaches. But when they've all had their successes and
learned from their mistakes, what's to stop THEM from sharing what they've
found? Can't we better serve our cause by helping than by not helping?
Our problem is not the "w@r3z" community trying to taint the
scene, it's not the emulators emulating too much, too soon, and it sure as
hell isn't us. It's this mentality that emulation is competitive. Coming
up with a brilliant new emulator is fantastic, but doing it simply to make
money or increase your following isn't going to help the emulation
Before we point fingers at the IDSA, Sony, Nintendo, "w@r3z
h@x0rz", or anyone else for trying to hurt emulation, let's look at what
we're doing to it ourselves. If we're going to stand a chance against the
HLE Effect and lawsuits that are already threatening the scene's very
existence, we're going to have to band together. After all, where would
we be without one another?
- George Moffitt (Zen), 2000