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Emulation Evolution - October 17, '98 by NightBird
NightBird is an independent author for EmuViews
Nightbird here, and welcome to my first EmuViews article. For those that don't know who I am. I've been playing games and following the video game industry for many, many years now. I, like many other people, started out with the good old Atari 2600. From there I continued, through the Master System/NES years, the SNES and Genesis wars, and finally the 32-bit systems.
A few years ago, I recieved a disk with some Coleco Vision games and an early emulator. I believe that the emulator was called ColemWIN at the time. This emulator had no sound and was terribly slow on my "Top Of The Line" 486, but it had me hooked. I would spend hours playing Donkey Kong at 5 FPS in a tiny window just because the idea of running other platform's software on my PC was so new and wonderful to me. As technology developed, so did the emulators, and I found myself trying out the early SNES and Genesis emulators like Super Pasofami and GenEM. Back then though, they didn't run too many games, and they were horrendously slow.
That didn't matter to me or to anyone else who had been captured by emulation. It was enjoyable watching the progress of an emulator. Seeing new games start to work from version to version was thrilling! There was an atmosphere of collaboration and general well being among emulation site operators and emu authors. As months became years and more and more systems started surfacing, something happened. Nobody knows how or when, but the atmosphere changed from one of open companionship to one of open fear.
"Fear? Have you been smoking something NightBird? Why should we FEAR emu authors? Or emu site ops?" is what you might be saying, however, if you hear me out, it will become clear. In the more recent times, technology started advancing at a ludicrous rate, more and more documentation became available. More and more systems began to be emulated, and the emulators got better and faster. People started to take the "Scene" for granted, the hard work that the emulator authors put in on their spare time was not being recognized. People started demanding features instead of respectfully making suggestions. Another attitude change ensued...
Some emu authors took a "I'm doing it this way so take it or leave it!" type approach, and some began to charge for their work. Others dropped out completely. Which brings me to the present day. Emulation used to be about the hardware and the progressive improvements to a program. Now, it's about the games. Newer and more systems are being emulated in order to be able to play newer and more complex games. ROM Archives pop up and shut down almost overnight, usually with the word "Lamer" in some message appearing on the site itself.
So who's to blame? People who don't read docs? The software companies? The emu siteops? Or the emu authors themselves? Surprisingly, it's all of these. Nobody is absolved from making mistakes, nobody is perfect. I myself have have found answers to a question I had just submitted to an emu author within 5 minutes of sending it. The software companies can be a pain in the posterior, and emu siteops can be real jerks at times. That's life, there are many different types of people in this world, and it's rare that everyone gets along all of the time.
So what about the emu authors? In general, their only fault is that they're in demand. Being an emulator author puts one in an interesting position. Much like celebrities who gets hundreds of fan mails a day, but they also get their share of stalkers, hecklers and the like. Emu authors are no different, in a sense, they are celebrities.
But being in the limelight all the time can prove stressful, how many celebs have you heard of who check into Betty Ford on Entertainment Tonight? Quite a few. Like celebrities, emu authors are only human, and they get upset, depressed, or frustrated like any of us would. And like any of us, they decide that it isn't worth it and quit the emu "Scene". Which brings me back to my initial point, "Fear". People have become afraid of trying to contribute anything. Some people fear that making a suggestion would be intrepreted as a demand and that their questions might result in the author stopping work on their project. So they post on a public forum, they get flamed, called a lamer, and a whole fiasco starts.
So what to do? Well, many think that setting up a fan site is a good thing. And if done right, it is. However, many sites tend to repeat themselves, and you end up with 100 little sites that do the same as the major ones. Indeed, paraphrashing news that's posted on a mjaor site and slapping it up on your page doesn't do a helluva lot of good to the Community in general. So why not offer to put your HTML skills to good use and create and maintain a site for an emu author? It's one less thing for them to have to think about, right? Yes and no. If the site is maintained properly and according to the author's needs and suggestions, then it can be a working relationship, take Mario Silva of Raine for example. Otherwise that particular author might get frustrated and just scrap the site anl put one up him/herself.

If you do decide to put up a fan site though, here's a few tips that might help make it a success:

  • Pick something that isn't done yet.
  • Make it worth visiting, eye candy never hurt anyone!
  • Keep updated.
  • Try to offer something no one else does.
  • Be prepared to work hard.

    I believe that I've rambled on enough. I hope that this little article has opened your eyes a bit. Until next time.

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