Self-Defeating Emulators

Jodian's Blog

 
With a long history of gaming behind me, there are quite a few games I love to go back and revisit. You know, those games that stick with you. Some of those games in my past were massive multiplayer games, or MMO's as they're known. While these games had, literally, thousands upon thousands of players I would often play them solo or in a very small group. To me, it was more about the game experience.

Inevitably, MMO's come with one major flaw. Eventually all MMO's get shut down. In my past there were some absolutely amazing games that eventually met that fate. One of the big ones I loves was Earth and Beyond. The galaxy was so amazing to explore and a lot of fun to experience. The Sims Online was a fun social experience that I actually never got to experience as it shut down just before I had the ability to join it. Another of these games was City of Heroes, which was an amazing experience of character customization and hero roleplay. Star Wars Galaxies was yet another game that just blew me away and reached the end of it's life far too soon. All of these games have two things in common. First, they were shut down. Second, they've all been resurrected by server emulation.

Emulation is basically the process of creating a back-end server that can function just like the official servers used to. This is often done by reverse-engineering data that was captured while the official servers were still running. The legality surrounding emulation has always been questionable, but to a gamer like me that doesn't matter. What's more important to someone like me is protecting games of the past from being relegated to oblivion. Every time an emulator is created, one more game is saved from the abyss. That said, emulation comes with it's own dark side.

All of the emulators, for the games I've mentioned, have been kept and held privately by their creators. They push the community to support their single server with donations and that is the limit of what they allow. They don't provide the servers for public use. They don't provide access to the software. Nether you, or I, can run one of these servers. It's as if the corporations are back in operation and the threat of shutdown once again exists. Will these operators make the software public if they don't get their income to keep their server running? Will they do as the corporations did and hold back their server when they shut down? Are these games still doomed to the abyss? Who knows...

I hope and pray that one day these emulator creators, who were so bent on saving these games from the abyss, realize that putting all your eggs in one basket is a very unsafe practice. You'll always have your purists who will continue to return to the "official" server, and donate to the cause, but you don't want that to be the only option there is... I fear for the day when one of my beloved saved games once more vanishes into darkness.



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