Home | Part 1 | Part 2 | Licenses  



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 arriving.

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 another?

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 to contribute.

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 community any.

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

  Home | Part 1 | Part 2 | Licenses