Anyone a fan of emulation here?

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Hevi_Metaru
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Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Hevi_Metaru » August 20th, 2019, 4:19 am

Hi everyone, just wanted to hear what you think about emulation. Good or bad, let me know.

Personally, I absolutely love it. It can add a fresh new coat of paint to older games (see videos of Wii Games running on Dolphin with full Anti-Aliasing and 1080p+ resolutions) and I can use my preferred controller setup. It is currently the way I like to play older games.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by KSubzero1000 » August 20th, 2019, 4:50 am

I think it qualifies as a borderline necessity once it becomes the only practical way to play older games, especially those who have only been released in some parts of the world. In a world that made sense one wouldn't be forced to resort to emulation, but with the sheer amount of consumer-unfriendly practices out there, I put the blame solely on publishers and manufacturers when players feel like they have no other option. I've emulated a handful of older games so that I could make use of a fan translation, which shouldn't be acceptable in an age of official patches and digital storefronts. If it really is the only way for someone to play a certain game, go for it.

Emulation often goes hand in hand with mods, and I'm not a fan of those, personally. I appreciate the effort and thought that developers put into their games when designing them and I prefer to play games in the way they are meant to be played. There are exceptions, of course. Especially in terms of technical optimization features.

I'm especially not a fan of emulation once it crosses the line into full-blown piracy. I'm not too bothered about the legal technicalities of it, but playing a game for free that is readily available on various store shelves is scummy behavior in my opinion. A lot of people seem to believe that a practice being commonplace and/or not having any repercussions somehow renders it ethically neutral. I fundamentally disagree with that premise.


So yeah, it's a mixed bag for me. I'm mostly against it, but I also think it can serve its purpose in certain cases.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Suits » August 20th, 2019, 5:02 am

Piracy aside, I appreciate it.

It fascinates me what people get up to with it, the technical challenges it presents and how people overcome it. All very fun to follow.

On a personal level, I tend to try and avoid it if I can. Besides the official classic re-releases that are obviously emulated and that I own, I don’t have an emulation box as such and haven’t emulated anything I can think of - ever.

I’m a bit of hardware fan, so I much much prefer to use the dedicated hardware.

It’s hard to not sound too much like a snob.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by dezm0nd » August 20th, 2019, 5:44 am

I've been emulating DKC2 at the moment. I own the GBA game but no means to play it at the moment so it became a necessity for me.

I'd almost always go with original hardware but when timing/money is an issue I have no issues in playing it on my laptop, even if it feels a bit odd with an Xbox One controller.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Suits » August 20th, 2019, 5:45 am

dezm0nd wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 5:44 am
I own the GBA game but no means to play it at the moment so it became a necessity for me.
Lol, you want one ??

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Alex79uk » August 20th, 2019, 6:50 am

Oh yeah big fan of emulation. My Vita, PSP and Wii are all hacked to play old games. I never use the filters, love the games in all their pixelated glory. Generally use my Vita for handheld and Wii for TV, but both systems have Megadrive, SNES, MAME, GBA, N64, Master System etc etc games on there, 1000s of them! It's just the easiest way to play the classics I find, and save states are a godsend nowadays too.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by hazeredmist » August 20th, 2019, 7:51 am

Big fan of emulation. Various reasons why:

- Preservation. Many games are never coming back without emulation due to licencing issues, or companies that have vanished etc, historical preservation is essential
- Convenience. A selfish one this, but it's easier for me to emulate older games than rig up the old hardware. I don't have the space or the TV. Quite often I'll emulate games I own, even handheld ones, because it's less hassle and eats less into my gaming time. I'm a 2019 working Dad which means I get relatively little time to myself as I dedicate most of my life to my work and my family
- There is actually a positive hit to my buying habits. I often play an emulated game then buy it later on a digital storefront if it's available. Take Vasara, probably the latest example for me. I have those games on MAME, but I've bought them on Switch eShop. One of hundreds of examples of this over the years. I've bought the same titles many times over in a lot of cases too. I have all the games on the Switch Megadrive Collection on my Shield and PSP for example, but it's nice to "own" them and chuck money the legit way where you can.

I love old hardware and a physical game in my hands as much as anyone but life just isn't realistically compatible. Consoles like the Switch are leading the way here, the easier companies make it for us to have these experiences legitimately, the more likely people are to go for that rather than proper piracy.

There's also a misconception (I think) when obtaining old games that you've got some moral highground over those who emulate them. No, you're not supporting the devs by paying Jack from Pembrokeshire £30 for a mint condition copy of Skitchin on the Megadrive. You're lining Jack from Pembrokeshire's pockets. If I were a dev on that game, I couldn't give a shit whether you emulate Skitchin on Retroarch, or buy it from Jack. What's important is you're playing it. Neither method is benefiting me financially.

In terms of emulation, I use a few different systems.

Nvidia Shield Portable - Emulate anything up to Dreamcast era pretty much, there still isn't anything better in terms of handheld emulation. I've owned this particular model 3 times having sold it and realised I had made a mistake! My latest one I've modded fully to make the buttons better with 360 pad rubber mats. It's absolutely fantastic and covers all bases. You can also hook up an HDMI cable and play on your TV. It's almost got more features than the Switch...

PSP - Great for most scenarios, but not good with Neo Geo or N64, and has less buttons than you need for PS1. It's small though. I've used it between owning Shields.

Raspberry Pi - Excellent all round. I've got one with EmulationStation on, wireless pads, and lots of old games. Good for when you get TV time. Also helped me get into shmups a lot, which has in turn got me spending money on them on various formats (Steam, PS4, Switch).

Save states too are absolutely crucial for modern play of retro games. Enables me to enjoy them fully rather than miss out on the content because I'm not 12 and it's not 1994.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Michiel K » August 20th, 2019, 8:48 am

I’ll always be original hardware first. It’s in the name already: emulation isn’t the real thing; it emulates something. And there will always be discrepancies with running a game on its original hardware.

Realistically though, you’d have to be filthy feckin’ rich to be able to avoid (at least official, licensed) emulation if you’re looking to build a large and diverse library of video games throughout the decades. And it must be said that the work that goes into emulation that attempts to be as accurate as possible is staggeringly admirable. The industry would be far worse off without a studio like M2, who even emulated the variable slowdown in the Xbox 360 port of Mushihimesama Futari to be so close to that of the game’s arcade board that it’s valid for entering your scores to be compared to the cab version.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Michiel K » August 20th, 2019, 8:55 am

hazeredmist wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 7:51 am
There is actually a positive hit to my buying habits. I often play an emulated game then buy it later on a digital storefront if it's available. Take Vasara, probably the latest example for me. I have those games on MAME, but I've bought them on Switch eShop. One of hundreds of examples of this over the years. I've bought the same titles many times over in a lot of cases too. I have all the games on the Switch Megadrive Collection on my Shield and PSP for example, but it's nice to "own" them and chuck money the legit way where you can.
I do this too. I have a bunch of arcade games sitting on my hacked o.g. Xbox, that weren’t otherwise accessible to me, but thanks to the work of Hamster, I can now legitimise chunks of that set of games with officially emulated versions.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Scrustle » August 20th, 2019, 11:35 am

I'm a big fan of emulation too, for a lot of the same reasons that other people have stated here. It's great for convenience and preservation. With games as a medium being so tied to the hardware that they run on, being able to break free from that and play games on hardware that they were never intended to frees them from the shackles of their original state that never even considered how games were to survive in the future. It gives old games new life and allows people to experience games they would never otherwise have the chance to. It's healthy for the medium, in allowing us to not forget our past and be inspired by what came before. The ability to tweak old games is part of that too, giving even more insight in to their creation process, being able to use them as a teaching tool, and giving people the ability to experiment with and improve old games in whatever way they feel like.

It's unfair for emulation to be so tightly associated with piracy, but it is still a relevant issue. Ultimately, emulation is merely a method of running a computer program. Software companies use it all the time, while simultaneously denouncing it as evil. It's hypocrisy and propaganda meant to maximize their own profits. And for similar reasons, the issue of piracy itself in this context is a morally grey area too, and not the necessarily always bad thing that it gets painted as. In theory, piracy laws exist to make sure those who make games and invest the time and money in to that process have a fair chance at being able to recoup and benefit from their work. Something that anyone would agree with. Except piracy laws as they exist extend far beyond this role. Instead they give an iron grip of control over a game in virtual perpetuity. Far beyond the point where they have made most of the money off the game (usually only a matter of weeks after launch) and far beyond the point where the company has even stopped selling the game at all. It denies all these positive points of emulation both for individual enjoyment or cultural significance, so a company could potentially maybe make a few more bucks off a game that they already stopped selling themselves at some hypothetical point in the future. With that company merely being the ones who own the rights to the game, not necessarily the people who actually put in the work to create it in the first place. I think there are even some edge cases where you could argue that piracy isn't completely unjustified for recent games too (like when a game isn't available in a certain region), but this point of old games that have long since fulfilled their role of making money for the original creators, and have become abandonware, is the strongest case to show how piracy isn't always the evil thing we are told, and that there is massive overreach in piracy law. The demonization of emulation is merely an extension of this.

Also, ideally, I'd prefer if piracy laws weren't even needed at all, and that we lived in an economic system where people didn't have to worry about recouping costs to support their basic needs, and that creating games is just a thing that people could do for the sake of it, and not for the profit motive. But I think that goes a bit beyond the scope of this thread.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Hevi_Metaru » August 20th, 2019, 12:06 pm

KSubzero1000 wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 4:50 am
I think it qualifies as a borderline necessity once it becomes the only practical way to play older games, especially those who have only been released in some parts of the world. In a world that made sense one wouldn't be forced to resort to emulation, but with the sheer amount of consumer-unfriendly practices out there, I put the blame solely on publishers and manufacturers when players feel like they have no other option. I've emulated a handful of older games so that I could make use of a fan translation, which shouldn't be acceptable in an age of official patches and digital storefronts. If it really is the only way for someone to play a certain game, go for it.

Emulation often goes hand in hand with mods, and I'm not a fan of those, personally. I appreciate the effort and thought that developers put into their games when designing them and I prefer to play games in the way they are meant to be played. There are exceptions, of course. Especially in terms of technical optimization features.

I'm especially not a fan of emulation once it crosses the line into full-blown piracy. I'm not too bothered about the legal technicalities of it, but playing a game for free that is readily available on various store shelves is scummy behavior in my opinion. A lot of people seem to believe that a practice being commonplace and/or not having any repercussions somehow renders it ethically neutral. I fundamentally disagree with that premise.


So yeah, it's a mixed bag for me. I'm mostly against it, but I also think it can serve its purpose in certain cases.
Very much agree with the statement on piracy. I can understand people pirating a game if a physical copy is ridiculous prices on eBay with no cheaper digital release, but aside from that, if you can find it for cheap, it is better to pick it up and not encourage piracy.
I also recommend buying games from GOG/Humble Bundle to encourage DRM-free sales AND you sometimes receive the full rom (for example, buying Garou: Mark of the Wolves from GOG gives you the original arcade ROM, which you can then legally emulate using Final Burn Neo or similar emulator).

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Hevi_Metaru » August 20th, 2019, 12:07 pm

Suits wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 5:02 am
Piracy aside, I appreciate it.

It fascinates me what people get up to with it, the technical challenges it presents and how people overcome it. All very fun to follow.

On a personal level, I tend to try and avoid it if I can. Besides the official classic re-releases that are obviously emulated and that I own, I don’t have an emulation box as such and haven’t emulated anything I can think of - ever.

I’m a bit of hardware fan, so I much much prefer to use the dedicated hardware.

It’s hard to not sound too much like a snob.
Not at all Suits, no snobbery! People love original hardware and you get the most genuine, authentic experience possible! Keep it up :)

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Hevi_Metaru » August 20th, 2019, 12:08 pm

Suits wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 5:45 am
dezm0nd wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 5:44 am
I own the GBA game but no means to play it at the moment so it became a necessity for me.
Lol, you want one ??
Hey Darren, you've got a good offer there!

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by KSubzero1000 » August 20th, 2019, 12:10 pm

Excellent points about preservation, guys. I hadn't really considered it when formulating my answer earlier and I would have to agree that there is a very clear long-term benefit to emulation in that regard.

Scrustle wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 11:35 am
Except piracy laws as they exist extend far beyond this role. Instead they give an iron grip of control over a game in virtual perpetuity. Far beyond the point where they have made most of the money off the game (usually only a matter of weeks after launch) and far beyond the point where the company has even stopped selling the game at all.

I think there are even some edge cases where you could argue that piracy isn't completely unjustified for recent games too (like when a game isn't available in a certain region), but this point of old games that have long since fulfilled their role of making money for the original creators, and have become abandonware, is the strongest case to show how piracy isn't always the evil thing we are told, and that there is massive overreach in piracy law. The demonization of emulation is merely an extension of this.
For the record, I also agree with this and I would be in favor of decriminalizing piracy when it comes to games (or movies) that are demonstrably not available in any official capacity anymore. I also don't have any problem with people resorting to it when they live in regions that are being completely ignored by most publishers.

But the folks who feel entitled to illegally download anything they want by default because "that's just the way it is why would I change anything lol"? Not okay in my book.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Hevi_Metaru » August 20th, 2019, 12:11 pm

Alex79uk wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 6:50 am
Oh yeah big fan of emulation. My Vita, PSP and Wii are all hacked to play old games. I never use the filters, love the games in all their pixelated glory. Generally use my Vita for handheld and Wii for TV, but both systems have Megadrive, SNES, MAME, GBA, N64, Master System etc etc games on there, 1000s of them! It's just the easiest way to play the classics I find, and save states are a godsend nowadays too.
Nice one my man, enjoying all of the modern comforts of emulation ;)

Whenever I emulate my games, I don't use save states, but that's just a personal thing (I regret not using them for Resident Evil lol, but I guess I just love punishment)!

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Hevi_Metaru » August 20th, 2019, 12:14 pm

hazeredmist wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 7:51 am
Big fan of emulation. Various reasons why:

- Preservation. Many games are never coming back without emulation due to licencing issues, or companies that have vanished etc, historical preservation is essential
- Convenience. A selfish one this, but it's easier for me to emulate older games than rig up the old hardware. I don't have the space or the TV. Quite often I'll emulate games I own, even handheld ones, because it's less hassle and eats less into my gaming time. I'm a 2019 working Dad which means I get relatively little time to myself as I dedicate most of my life to my work and my family
- There is actually a positive hit to my buying habits. I often play an emulated game then buy it later on a digital storefront if it's available. Take Vasara, probably the latest example for me. I have those games on MAME, but I've bought them on Switch eShop. One of hundreds of examples of this over the years. I've bought the same titles many times over in a lot of cases too. I have all the games on the Switch Megadrive Collection on my Shield and PSP for example, but it's nice to "own" them and chuck money the legit way where you can.

I love old hardware and a physical game in my hands as much as anyone but life just isn't realistically compatible. Consoles like the Switch are leading the way here, the easier companies make it for us to have these experiences legitimately, the more likely people are to go for that rather than proper piracy.

There's also a misconception (I think) when obtaining old games that you've got some moral highground over those who emulate them. No, you're not supporting the devs by paying Jack from Pembrokeshire £30 for a mint condition copy of Skitchin on the Megadrive. You're lining Jack from Pembrokeshire's pockets. If I were a dev on that game, I couldn't give a shit whether you emulate Skitchin on Retroarch, or buy it from Jack. What's important is you're playing it. Neither method is benefiting me financially.

In terms of emulation, I use a few different systems.

Nvidia Shield Portable - Emulate anything up to Dreamcast era pretty much, there still isn't anything better in terms of handheld emulation. I've owned this particular model 3 times having sold it and realised I had made a mistake! My latest one I've modded fully to make the buttons better with 360 pad rubber mats. It's absolutely fantastic and covers all bases. You can also hook up an HDMI cable and play on your TV. It's almost got more features than the Switch...

PSP - Great for most scenarios, but not good with Neo Geo or N64, and has less buttons than you need for PS1. It's small though. I've used it between owning Shields.

Raspberry Pi - Excellent all round. I've got one with EmulationStation on, wireless pads, and lots of old games. Good for when you get TV time. Also helped me get into shmups a lot, which has in turn got me spending money on them on various formats (Steam, PS4, Switch).

Save states too are absolutely crucial for modern play of retro games. Enables me to enjoy them fully rather than miss out on the content because I'm not 12 and it's not 1994.
Agreed with you on all points and the Shield, Raspberry Pi and PSP are all incredible emulation devices. As a working dad, I'm sure save states are godsend for you

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Hevi_Metaru » August 20th, 2019, 12:17 pm

Michiel K wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 8:48 am
I’ll always be original hardware first. It’s in the name already: emulation isn’t the real thing; it emulates something. And there will always be discrepancies with running a game on its original hardware.

Realistically though, you’d have to be filthy feckin’ rich to be able to avoid (at least official, licensed) emulation if you’re looking to build a large and diverse library of video games throughout the decades. And it must be said that the work that goes into emulation that attempts to be as accurate as possible is staggeringly admirable. The industry would be far worse off without a studio like M2, who even emulated the variable slowdown in the Xbox 360 port of Mushihimesama Futari to be so close to that of the game’s arcade board that it’s valid for entering your scores to be compared to the cab version.
That's fair man! I knew your answer would always be hardware first ;) A lot of emulation now is so close to the original hardware (from studios like M2 like you said) that it is very difficult to tell them apart (I can't personally, but you have a better eye than I do). When emulation does go wrong though, it is very blatantly obvious ;)

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Hevi_Metaru » August 20th, 2019, 12:22 pm

Scrustle wrote:
August 20th, 2019, 11:35 am
I'm a big fan of emulation too, for a lot of the same reasons that other people have stated here. It's great for convenience and preservation. With games as a medium being so tied to the hardware that they run on, being able to break free from that and play games on hardware that they were never intended to frees them from the shackles of their original state that never even considered how games were to survive in the future. It gives old games new life and allows people to experience games they would never otherwise have the chance to. It's healthy for the medium, in allowing us to not forget our past and be inspired by what came before. The ability to tweak old games is part of that too, giving even more insight in to their creation process, being able to use them as a teaching tool, and giving people the ability to experiment with and improve old games in whatever way they feel like.

It's unfair for emulation to be so tightly associated with piracy, but it is still a relevant issue. Ultimately, emulation is merely a method of running a computer program. Software companies use it all the time, while simultaneously denouncing it as evil. It's hypocrisy and propaganda meant to maximize their own profits. And for similar reasons, the issue of piracy itself in this context is a morally grey area too, and not the necessarily always bad thing that it gets painted as. In theory, piracy laws exist to make sure those who make games and invest the time and money in to that process have a fair chance at being able to recoup and benefit from their work. Something that anyone would agree with. Except piracy laws as they exist extend far beyond this role. Instead they give an iron grip of control over a game in virtual perpetuity. Far beyond the point where they have made most of the money off the game (usually only a matter of weeks after launch) and far beyond the point where the company has even stopped selling the game at all. It denies all these positive points of emulation both for individual enjoyment or cultural significance, so a company could potentially maybe make a few more bucks off a game that they already stopped selling themselves at some hypothetical point in the future. With that company merely being the ones who own the rights to the game, not necessarily the people who actually put in the work to create it in the first place. I think there are even some edge cases where you could argue that piracy isn't completely unjustified for recent games too (like when a game isn't available in a certain region), but this point of old games that have long since fulfilled their role of making money for the original creators, and have become abandonware, is the strongest case to show how piracy isn't always the evil thing we are told, and that there is massive overreach in piracy law. The demonization of emulation is merely an extension of this.

Also, ideally, I'd prefer if piracy laws weren't even needed at all, and that we lived in an economic system where people didn't have to worry about recouping costs to support their basic needs, and that creating games is just a thing that people could do for the sake of it, and not for the profit motive. But I think that goes a bit beyond the scope of this thread.
Indeed, emulation is just a software tool and fortunately more and more devs are removing the need for a console BIOS to be required (see FlyCast for Dreamcast or CXBX for the original Xbox).

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by Magical_Isopod » August 20th, 2019, 12:40 pm

Dunno if it's been brought up (I'm on a 15 min break at work, I just skim read :P), but I really and truly see emulation as a great equalizer. My brother and I grew up, if not poor, then certainly lower class... I remember my mom once scolding me for spending $30 CDN on a Greatest Hits copy of Kingdom Hearts. $30 was an extreme expense for us back then.

We had emulators as kids, and that's really the only way we got to experience games like Chrono Trigger and Mega Man X3 which, until they received re-releases, were only available as $100+ carts -- and growing up in a small city of 73,000, we couldn't simply walk into a game store and buy a copy even IF we had the cash.

Really, emulation is essential for archival and preservation, obviously, but it's also the best conceivable way for low-income people, especially those in countries with extreme income inequality, to experience the best in gaming entertainment. Conceivably, some kid in the Congo, with a refurbished Windows 98 PC, could download and play the entire SNES library, even with shit internet and no expendable income. Kind of amazing, when you think about it.

I've yet to give Dolphin a shot - I love my physical media too much - but if I wanna replay Xenoblade one day, definitely, I'll give 'er a go.

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Re: Anyone a fan of emulation here?

Post by clippa » August 20th, 2019, 2:04 pm

The cemu devs deliberately focussing on breath of the wild and using that as a means to drum up interest and getting thousands of dollars a month via patreon to work on their switch emulator. Not cool.

The mame devs dropping support for sh3 when cave politely asked them to since they were still porting and selling their games on current gen consoles? Cool.

Emulation is amazing for all sorts of reasons.
There are people using techniques like runahead where they can play games with less input lag than the original arcade hardware! That's insane!

As others have mentioned, you can play with whatever input device you like and make the games look and run better than they did originally.

Preservation is obviously the big one. Game companies aren't interested in preservation. Tapping into your nostalgia receptors and reselling you the same content each generational refresh for minimal effort to make a quick buck? Oh, they'll do that until the cows come home.

Sometimes "legit" isn't the legit right way to go.
There are hobbyists passionate about keeping these old games and systems alive and doing it out of their sheer love for gaming.
Remember that M2 are the exception, not the rule.
It's only recently that your average gamer has started to give a shit, they were perfectly happy scooping up any old terrible dotemu abortion just a year ago "Coooh, metal slugs, I likes that!" or those barebones, laggy zerodiv efforts on the switch.
I mean, I hope it continues and that people keep demanding quality, but it wasn't until recently that the majority of gamers were happy buying up any old tripe.

We used to have to share copied tapes, but modern gaming is great for poor kids, you don't have to resort to piracy or even emulation (though I wouldn't begrudge them that at all. These are different times and entertainment isn't a luxury any more, it's an essential to stay sane in the modern world. I'd turn a blind eye to someone stealing a loaf of bread just as much as I'd turn a blind eye to some poor kid downloading a cracked copy of spelunky and I'll fight any harrumphing owl who's got a problem with that). There are so many legit free games coming out, and I don't just mean "free to play", and paid games being given away for free.
You can pick up a second hand crappy pc for peanuts and there are more free games coming out daily than you could ever keep up with.

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