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UK University Making Universal Game Emulator 217

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-good-to-have-ego-strength dept.
Techradar reports that researchers at the University of Portsmouth in England are working on a project to create a game emulator that will "recognise and play all types of videogames and computer files from the 1970s through to the present day." One of the major goals of the project is to preserve software from early in the computer age. David Anderson of the Humanities Computing Group said, "Early hardware, like games consoles and computers, are already found in museums. But if you can't show visitors what they did, by playing the software on them, it would be much the same as putting musical instruments on display but throwing away all the music. ... Games particularly tend not to be archived because they are seen as disposable, pulp cultural artefacts, but they represent a really important part of our recent cultural history. Games are one of the biggest media formats on the planet and we must preserve them for future generations."
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UK University Making Universal Game Emulator

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  • Early computer music (Score:5, Interesting)

    by troll8901 (1397145) * <troll8901@gmail.com> on Thursday February 12, 2009 @07:36AM (#26825573) Journal

    Sometimes, I'm still blown away by the music in early 1990s LucasArts and Sierra games.

    Monkey Island 1 and 2
    Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
    Leisure Suit Larry 5 ... and so on.

    They're making music sound good on a Yamaha OPL3 FM chip.

  • DRM + DirectX (Score:5, Interesting)

    by El_Muerte_TDS (592157) <{elmuerte} {at} {drunksnipers.com}> on Thursday February 12, 2009 @07:36AM (#26825575) Homepage

    Good luck trying to beat the various forms of DRM through an emulator (without using a crack).
    Also DirectX is also a bitch, specially the earlier versions (4-6) have various compatibility issues.

  • I don't have a problem with the idea, but they are doomed to failure. They will NEVER be able to get up to present day. We still don't have perfect emulation for N64, for example. Saturn emulation is as I understand actually somewhat working now but still highly sketchy. We're talking about systems from the last generation that are poorly documented, and always will be. And I might point out that there are tons of SNES games that don't work right in ANY emulator. We can't get SNES emulation 100% and they want to come up to the modern day? IMPOSSIBLE. Or at least, so improbable (you'll never get the information you NEED out of the manufacturers) that it might as well be impossible.

  • Re:So basically (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2009 @08:38AM (#26825919)

    Gah. I just checked the compatibility list on that site, and their "green" (perfect) and "yellow" game status icons are virtually indistinguishable to me thanks to my (mild!) form of colour-blindness.

    Worse, the site does not even provide the information in any other way: no easy-to-recognise symbols (green checkmarks vs. yellow exclamation marks, say), tooltips for the icons, textual representations - nothing at all.

    About the only way for me to find out what a game's status is is to select "View image" from Firefox's context menu and check out the filename in the URL.

    You'd think web developers would not commit basic blunders like that anymore in 2009...

  • Re:So basically (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stonedcat (80201) <hikaricore [at] gmail.com> on Thursday February 12, 2009 @08:44AM (#26825965) Homepage

    MESS has really crappy support for a lot of games, it was a great idea but quite a let down from my experience.

  • Re:So basically (Score:4, Interesting)

    by s13g3 (110658) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @08:54AM (#26826017) Journal

    No, I think the point here is not to just recreate MAME, but to create a legitimate system of emulation that can can be used for valid historic archive purposes and with the proper corporate and social legitimacy perhaps be able to obtain licenses to otherwise copywritten, trademarked and DRM'd material - something not just meant to allow gamers and pirates to play old games and validate seemingly obsolete trademarks, but rather to allow museums and the like to preserve these works, and perhaps commercial ventures to place these systems in arcades, Wally-worlds, malls, etc. and perhaps earn some licensing profit from these sorts of ventures off of software that otherwise only costs them money to enforce trademark on, yet has likely not returned any real profit in a long time.

  • by linebackn (131821) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @09:05AM (#26826113)

    Preserving games is nice and all, but it seems to me to be only part of what should be preserved. I feel it is just as important to be able to look back at old word processors, spreadsheets, desktop shells, disk utilities, programming environments, obscure OSes, and more. They may not be as glamorous as preserving games, but they are just as worthy of preservation.

  • by RaigetheFury (1000827) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @09:06AM (#26826117)

    I find it interesting how the only "reasonable" comments about this are responses like "Why do this I could just download a bunch of emulators instead of this!!"... that's the whole point.

    Download 1 emulator that is a singular source to play all the older games. instead of having multiple emulators for multiple game system formats etc... such a pain in the arse.

    Don't get me wrong, I am concerned that they might just screw up a lot of good parts of many emulators out there (save state etc). I think this is a massive undertaking not only because they are trying to consolidate things but they have a GREAT opportunity to improve upon original design.

    Currently the emulators out there are pretty limited simply due to how emulators work. There just isn't anything for ps2 games that's worth a dam. You can argue with me but there is a tremendous need for optimization here. There are a lot of games I'd love to play again that I lost due to a flood, and one of my ex dorm-mates stealing from me. You just can't find them anymore or you have to pay $20-$30 again for them. (screw that noise).

    I'm no pirate, but I miss the nostalgia that came with many of the games from my youth. Downloading 15 emulators and finding one that doesn't suck, supports my gamepad... and managing them all when i want to switch games is a pain in the ass. The GUI's are also TERRIBLE (to each their own opinion). I think it's a rule that if you make great emulators they have to look like trash or a clown shit on them.

  • Re:So basically (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 12, 2009 @09:09AM (#26826153)
    This troll is insightful?
    MESS is the Computer emulator. That it also has support for some game consoles doesn't mean that it was intended for that at all.
    It makes quite a decent job to emulate most computer systems that have ever existed. It has bugs and unimplemented features, but if you take into account the sheer number of emulated systems and the time that a random hobby gameboy emulator took until being fully featured, you will realize why MESS doesn't play your pokemanz.
  • Re:DRM + DirectX (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pla (258480) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @09:36AM (#26826395) Journal
    Good luck trying to beat the various forms of DRM through an emulator (without using a crack).

    Which leads us to one nice aspect of emulation - You can pre-crack the DRM of the image, and just don't implement it at all in the emulator.


    Also DirectX is also a bitch, specially the earlier versions (4-6) have various compatibility issues.

    Emulating a known API takes far less work than emulating actual hardware at the per-chip level - Thus the reason it took a decade and numerous speed hacks to get decent SNES emulation, while we had PS1 and N64 emulators fairly stable (if slow) even before the EOL of those consoles.
  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Thursday February 12, 2009 @10:47AM (#26827245) Homepage Journal

    If we take for granted that preserving history includes videogames, shouldn't game companies that don't disclose specifications, ROMs, etc. be considered as targets for some kind of anti-history-archiving laws, if such a thing exists?

    And if such a law exists or ever exists, we get in the same "differents countries, different rules" and "how much time to we give them before asking for the specs", etc.

    I bet Tecmo would apply to have a Disney-esque protection on Pac-Man, for example.

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