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    Article by Dark Watcher
Emulator Hacks and Their Effects On The Community
Article by Dark Watcher
Views: 31119
Date: Wednesday, July 14 - 2004

Imagine that you are the author of this article. You invested both time and effort in order to create something both informative and entertaining. You are pleased with this article, and decide to share it with everyone.

Now imagine that you are surfing the web. You come across the article you have written. A few of the words are changed, but a good majority of the article material is yours. There is no mention that you are the author. At the bottom of the page is someone claiming to be the author of your work. How do you feel?

Emulator hacks are essentially copies of an emulator with a few changes. They are hacks because they are created without the permission of the original authors. Over the years these hacks have cause problems within the emulation community. They present legal issues, upset the original authors, or simply piss off the emulation community as a whole.

There have been many that have surfaced over the years, but here are a few worth remembering:

In January of 1999, a remarkable Nintendo 64 emulator called UltraHLE was written by Epsilon and RealityMan. The emulator was discontinued in September 2000. It wasnít long after that an emulator called SupraHLE surfaced to continue the life of UltraHLE. Although said to be a new project, it proved to be nothing more then a hack. This stirred up some drama in the emulation community. Later, one of the authors (RealityMan) would state that he did not mind the project. SupraHLE was then embraced by the community. It provided some improvement to the original, but was later discontinued as well.

It was January of 2000, and CPS-2 Shock finally broke CPS-2 encryption. Dave, the author of Final Burn, added the ability to play CPS-2 games. The community was ecstatic with itís release. Folks began demanding updates with each decrypted game. Hackers lost patience and created their own hacked version of the emulator. These hacks, as well as the flaming email demands, caused the author to abandon the project. It became one of the biggest controversies of the emulation community. Luckily, time healed old wounds, and Dave released his source to a few emulator authors.

November 2001, a Playstation emulator called Emurayden surfaces. It is quickly discovered that Emurayden is nothing more then a hack of Connectix Virtual Game Station. Since Connectix VGS was sold commercially, it caused legal issues for many sites. The hack was still embraced by a few websites since it offered added features that the original did not have. In March of 2001, Sony would attain the rights to the VGS emulator making the Emurayden hack even more illegal. Emurayden continued development well into 2002, but many larger sites in the emulation community kept away from it. This marked the first instance of a hacked commercial emulator.

It was October 28th 2001, a team of authors created one of the best sound plugins to ever grace a Playstation emulator. Eternal SPU had a feature rich version, and a lite version. It quickly became a favorite in the emulation community. In April of 2002, a new sound plugin called Veritas SPU appeared out of nowhere. Users quickly noticed a resemblance to Eternal SPU. It was then found to be a hack combining both the regular and lite versions of the Eternal SPU plugin. The Eternal authors were outraged and left the following post on their website (Keep in mind the authors are Japanese, but their statement was easily understood):

"Eternal SPU" was hacked!! ? ?

Bad news for us...

This gave a big shock to our team. The cause is Veritas SPU plugin. This plugin is changed and released without our permission of our Eternal SPU. Because, we *do not* release the source code of Eternal SPU and it does not admit changing it by any methods. It is certain that Veritas SPU plugin will have *a bad influence* on our project from now on...

PSX SPU Plugin Development Project ď

In a united show of support by many bigger sites of the emulation community, the Veritas hack was removed. In recognition, the Eternal team gladly continued work on their plugin.

Shortly after the Veritas incident, the announcement of a new playstation emulator called ePSXiPC appeared. It was July 9, 2002, and news of the emulator came with the following announcement:

Iím finishing coding the first version of ePSXiPC and I will release it, this or next week, really I donít know, but Iím sure itíll be before August.

Now Iíve upgraded my PC, and Iím using Windows XP, so I thought..., XP users are not using Connectix VGS and bleem!, so this first version goes for all who uses Win XP cos` emu will have an amazing GUI. So this version will be called ePSXiPC v1.0 - XP Edition and will be released with the ďnormalĒ version of ePSXiPC, both running on all Windows Systems.

- Savestates are NOT SUPPORTED YET! cos` I`m having problems with that.
- Implemented F10 hot-key to pause emulation while playing.
- Implemented Esc hot-key to exit emulation and return to GUI.
- Memcards save/load working OK!, now uses *.emc format(ePSXiPC Memory Card, is the same than *.mcr format, only changes extension)
- FAST EMULATION, but requires high-performance computers

Upon itís release, suspicions began to arise due to similarities to the ePSXe emulator. By July 17th, a coder by the name of Xeven made the final discovery that ePSXiPC was in fact a hack of ePSXe. What was worse is that it offered no added features other then a cosmetically altered user interface. The entire emulation community was burned by the incident. It caused enough paranoia for many to doubt the release of a new emulator called PSXeven (Which was created by the same coder who found the hack). Luckily, the ePSXe team did not take offence to the poor hack. Also, PSXeven turned out to be an amazing PSX emulator.

December 2001, a developer named Shinya Miyamoto releases a promising Sega Saturn emulator called Giri Giri. Years later, the emulator is purchased by Sega and goes commercial in Japan only. It didnít take long before illegal copies and hacks to surface around the net. Similar to what was done with Emurayden, many larger sites of the emulation community kept away from it due to legal issues. Recently a new hack of Giri Giri has surfaced called Cassini. There have been many debates to the legality of the emulator. Even if the emulator is no longer sold commercially, it is still a hack until Sega or the author Shinya Miyamoto state otherwise.

If you have read all the way down to this trip down memory lane, then you now understand the effects that hacks have had on the emulation community. Whether you choose to use hacks is of your own free will, but at least you can see things from another perspective. It also can help you understand the policies that many sites have against hacks. Hope you enjoyed this article, and at least give us credit should you decide to hack it ;)

- Dark Watcher


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