The Daily Grind: Where do you stand on MMO emulators?

    
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Emulators. They’re a touchy, murky, grey-area subject for many people and one that we don’t touch on a lot here on the site due to their often quasi-legal status. But we can’t ignore the fact that they exist, and so I want to devote today’s topic to asking where you stand on the issue of emulators.

Keep in mind that there are three categories in play here, more or less. There are emulators of currently operating MMOs, there are emulators of dead MMOs that studios often turn a blind eye to (such as Star Wars Galaxies or Earth & Beyond), and there are studio-sanctioned player-run servers, as in the (eventual) case of Asheron’s Call.

Personally, I’m torn. The law is the law, but in the case of abandoned projects, I would much rather see them continue in some format than left to rot. What do you think?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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hateborne
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hateborne

Cramit
I completely agree. I started up on the EQEmu server, ‘EZ Server’ years ago while I was starting college and too broke to pay for anything. I was an 8yr Evercrack addict, so I figured it would be worth a shot. Almost 4 years later, I’m having a blast playing it. It started out very much like EQ, only on a much more rapid pace. I played, thinking 70 would be neat, some soloing of raids and then it’s over. Well…that was wrong, very wrong. The custom content doesn’t START until 70, which is where it got REALLY addictive. The game effectively feels like Baldur’s Gate in the Everquest world, as players are allowed and encouraged (almost required) to play a small group of characters utilizing MacroQuest2 and other goodies. It’s actually incredibly fun to build up and control a small team, similar to Baldur’s Gate, only using buttons to trigger actions instead of clicking each character and selecting an action.

Fast forward a year, the server owner/developer/GM/troll (and a good friend) passed away unexpectedly (is there any other way?). Everyone was panic’ed, wondering where EZ would go and what would happen. This was hugely surprising that an EMULATED MMORPG had a community of a few hundred worrying about the state of their free sandbox. The co-owner reached out and I ended up taking the reins. It’s been a wild and difficult ride, but it’s been a satisfying one being on both sides of the fence.

Grimmtooth 

The part that draws a lot of criticism is that the server does allow small amounts of donations from time to time, which is used almost exclusively to send to his (passed server owner’s) widow. Every month, she gets a fairly nice Western Union wire from myself and the other gent running it. He and I work for free (1.5yr now), we have never used a penny for anything other than hosting costs, hardware replacement, and keeping a friend’s widow in good shape as he no longer can.  Admittedly, we could likely pay for hosting out of pocket, only open donations AFTER the server fails (which is unlikely to succeed), but then that leaves a good friend’s widow SOL. This is an edge case and not be considered the norm though. :-)

For any interested, look up EZ Server Online. Good times, free to play, welcoming community.

Grimmtooth
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Grimmtooth

I know this will be an unpopular opinion but what the hell. 
It has always been amazing to me that there are so MANY MANY things that people think its ok to on a computer that they would never ever do in the meat space real world. Bully, Con, Lie, Cheat, Steal its all fine.
I will concede there is a shortcoming in the laws for MMO’s that have been abandoned by their makers but there is a remedy, update the law. I mean what will that take an act of congress.. :)
For me personaly I won’t sign up for an emulator for an existing game on principle alone.

Craw
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Craw
Cramit
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Cramit

I have to admit that in the past 3-4 years I have yet to find a new MMO that beats out the emulator server I play of old EQ.  Not even active EQ can come anywhere near it because of all the changes that have taken place.  Now that’s not to say that some emulator projects I haven’t had good success with.  There is one emulator that I have tried recently that I was amazed at how watered down the experience was and didn’t seem fun since it was only half the game the server played it seemed.

In the end though, I am all for emulator servers.  I really don’t have a problem with them and depending on your age in the MMO industry, they can be a bastion of hope.  In my case, I have over 15+ years in MMO’s and I can’t find a modern game with the mechanics that I enjoy playing.  Even with the game I play having it’s Live servers still going.  This pretty much turns me into only enjoying emulated MMO’s because they bring back the mechanics and playstyle that I enjoy.

  I will admit that they might not be for everyone but I have found that if you feel your favorite MMO has been gutted, watered down or just plained ruined by whatever situation and you can’t seem to find another one to replace it?  Well then you should probably look for an emulator project, as they are the only kind of servers that will actually keep a certain playstyle or vision of a game alive.  Right now if it weren’t for the EQ server I play on, I would be MMO-less until one of the modern games I am waiting for came out and at that point, it might not be my hobbie anymore because of stagnation.

  I think emulator projects also help in a constant argument that we see on MMO sites.  People who are of the mind that “this system won’t work in a modern MMO…” or “This playstyle is over…” type of comments, usually shouted at the folks that yearn for their old style MMO’s back or at least spiritual successor’s.  It helps in this kind of argument by basically giving an example of, “Hey go to this website and check at the server population…. there is obviously still a market for this gameplay/mechanic/whatever”.  Now it may not be in the 100,00’s but if folks actually took a tour of some of these emulator sights, they would see that there is still a large market of folks looking for a return to some of the original mechanics of MMO’s of the past.  Whether they wanna hear it or not, emulators are great examples of how some MMO gamers have persevered in a gaming industry that doesn’t necessarily market to them anymore.

Gas Chamber Gerhan
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Gas Chamber Gerhan

jackofrost yea, the AC thing was strait out of left field, I was shocked to hear they had a guy bringing AC2 back to life (not that id play it these days, it’s far to old and clunky compared to the newer games i’ve been spoiled with, not to mention bad).

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

Dead game, free, etc. There’s a point where I don’t care about the law anymore, and that’s when the original game is shut down for a while and no one is directly making money from it (obviously servers have to be paid for). Emulation itself is a greater boon to gaming than any single company (even Blizzard imo) can provide.

Kuvajokeri
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Kuvajokeri

I am all okay with them. If you bought rights to use the client, you should be able to use it to connect to where ever you want.
What I am not okay with, however, is profiteering, since even if the server is it’s own code, the client remains what it is. That is unless the creators of the server emulator itself pay a portion of their server’s income to the developer of the client, but that’s unlikely to ever happen in such cases.

What I am also against is when free and open source emulators are put to use by people and profiteered on. Or when these emulators are modified but the modifications are never released to the public (taking open source code but keeping the improvements you make to yourself).

Faith77
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Faith77

As long as no money is changing hands, I have zero issues with emulators.

Celestia
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Celestia

What would I give for a City of Heroes emulator?  Just about anything.

alexheartnet64
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alexheartnet64

+1 for “it’s okay only if the game itself is no longer up”.

The notable exception to this of course is if the developing company specifically allows for it.