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The Quest To Build Xbox One and PS4 Emulators 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-build-it-they-will-play dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Will Xbox One and PS4 emulators hit your favorite download Websites within the next few years? Emulators have long been popular among gamers looking to relive the classic titles they enjoyed in their youth. Instead of playing Super Mario Bros. on a Nintendo console, one can go through the legally questionable yet widespread route of downloading a copy of the game and loading it with PC software that emulates the Nintendo Entertainment System. Emulation is typically limited to older games, as developing an emulator is hard work and must usually be run on hardware that's more powerful than the original console. Consoles from the NES and Super NES era have working emulators, as do newer systems such as Nintendo 64, GameCube and Wii, and the first two PlayStations. While emulator development hit a dead end with the Xbox 360 and PS3, that may change with the Xbox One and PS4, which developers are already exploring as fertile ground for emulation. The Xbox 360 and PS4 feature x86 chips, for starters, and hardware-assisted virtualization can help solve some acceleration issues. But several significant obstacles stand in the way of developers already taking a crack at it, including console builders' absolute refusal to see emulation as even remotely legal."
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The Quest To Build Xbox One and PS4 Emulators

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  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday December 09, 2013 @12:22PM (#45640259) Journal
    On the plus side, emulating an AMD x86 and GPU is likely to be considerably easier (especially since AMD's current or near-future PC parts are likely to be extremely similar in most respects, though you will probably have to go up a few speed grades to deal with the emulator running on top of a full OS) than emulating either the relatively fast PPCs of the previous generation (PPC-on-x86 is done; but doing that really fast is another story) or the slow-but-somewhat-esoteric-and-absolutely-every-oddity-was-used-and-abused architectures of the older consoles.

    On the minus side, the odds are good that both new consoles (especially the Xbox, given MS's software side; but probably the PS as well) contain a lot of software that, while not integral to the tightly-optimized-graphics-twiddling aspects of the games, will probably have to be given a fairly precise "WINE-like" treatment to avoid breaking things all over the place. Not necessarily impossible (as WINE itself demonstrates); but definitely a different game than the 'emulate the hardware and let the ROM do as it will' emulators that work for older consoles.

    On the very minus side, it would not be out of character for either MS or Sony to have added some nasty copy-protection-related cryptographic goodies that will be very hard to emulate. MS, given their PC background, might well have gone for a TPM. Architecturally, emulating one of those would be cake by the standards of what the emulation scene has taken on, except for minor matters like the endorsement key. A TPM emulator that emulates a TPM loaded with the 2048-bit RSA private key of your choice? Sure, no problem. The correct private keys? That might be an issue.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09, 2013 @12:38PM (#45640411)

    The PS2 has 3 major emulators. There's ePSXe which everyone tries to use now. PCSX2 that everyone used. And pSX (if you're looking for pure no-frills emulation but higher compatibility).

    The PS2 emulation scene is about where the SNES scene was about 12 years ago. Now it's just a matter of refinement. I agree that a working xbox emulator would be quite nice, but the PS2 is not limited on the emulator front. The N64 emulation scene needs a crapload of work. You try playing much more than SM64, Zelda, or Mario Kart you're going to be in for a rude awakening. If it were a wine project, some generous ubuntu user might classify any of the N64 emulators as Bronze. And that's the best you can hope for. There's finally 2 dreamcast emulators, but the support needs to go up. Right now you're at the stage of "If it doesn't work on this one try the other, otherwise wait and hope." And there are even recent DC games that can't even be ripped. 3DO emulation has one emulator. And nobody has tried the library enough to even know where the support stops, where things are broken, or anything. There's one Saturn emulator. etc. etc. And as a MegaDrive purist (Genesis) both options for emulation are rather shit for sound and some graphic layer emulation.

    The old problems aren't 'solved' as your statement seems to suggest. Not that other people can't work on this idea (which is easier on paper. Much harder in practice). But you don't have the advantage of hardware power to brute force more recent gen systems on modern systems. Just look at the processing power required for the Higan Accurate (if you can even run it) profile for Super Mario World. Then come back and tell me that the Xbox360 should be a snap.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09, 2013 @12:51PM (#45640571)

    I'm not really a gamer but aren't most of the Top games already written on existing game engines that have been ported to desktop even if a particular game hasn't? How hard would it be to modify the game engine to allow stripped resource files from a console game to be run on the desktop? Would it be more or less difficult to modify all the popular game engines than create an emulator?

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