Re: [stella] The future of emulation

Subject: Re: [stella] The future of emulation
From: Rob <kudla@xxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2000 20:06:01 -0400
At 01:19 PM 8/26/00 -0700, Glenn Saunders wrote:
>>Then again, I've gotten all the Hasbro 3D revamps in the cutout bin after
>>6-8 months of release (in some cases cheaper than the e-games knockoffs)
>Believe it or not, but titles like Frogger and Centipede have very long 
>sales curves compared to most titles--because they don't really have to 
>succeed based on them being "state of the art".  So obsolescence isn't 
>really a concern.  Check the sales charts and see which titles keep
>>but never any of the emulation-themed stuff like Activision Classics or the
>Well of course there is a lot of competition from free emulation.  I think 
>that's the biggest issue.

What I was getting at is that the 3D Hasbro games have come down in price
rapidly, while the emulated stuff tends to stay above the $20 mark for
whatever reason.

>>wonder if whoever owns Taito now will sue Hasbro for their Arkanoid-ripoff
>>3D version of Breakout the way Hasbro sued e-games ;) )
>Isn't Arkanoid a Breakout ripoff?

Maybe Hasbro could argue that in their counter-suit ;)  But of course
Arkanoid is like 15 years old and Atari never tried suing them before, so
they may have lost their right to enforce the copyright against "improved
versions" of their game anyway.  (I'm not at all sure e-games would have
lost had they chosen to not settle; I think it more likely they couldn't
afford to fight Hasbro's deep pockets.)

>If you just want to play the games, you can download them, legally or 
>not.  The purpose of doing an emulator should be for the history and the 
>glossy presentation first, the games second.

I assume you meant "commercial emulator" here.  I'm primarily interested in
2600 emulation for (1) game playing (as you say, legally or not) and (2)
easing development.

>Also, remember that Activision Classics is for the Playstation.  That's a 
>closed system.  No non-commercial alternatives there.

They have it for the PC too, though, right?  I know I've seen at least two
volumes of supposedly emulated Activision 2600 games for the PC.

>Our proposal to Hasbro was to include everything Hasbro has the rights to 
>(including all the 3rd parties they retroactively gobbled up, plus protos) 
>on one CD.

Ahhh, much better.  That was Activision's mistake IMO, a lousy bang for the

>This would be with reformatted scanned in manuals, documentary footage, 
>trivia, and a nice graphical front-end.  I think that would be worth $30 
>vs. ASCII manuals, raw ROM images, and primitive emulator front-ends, don't 
>you think?

I don't (well, aside from the scanned manuals which I think is a great
idea,) but of course I'd buy it to support emulation products anyway.

>If it were done on DVD you'd easily be able to do it all on one disc.  We 
>have indeed explored the possibility of doing this for a particular 

>upcoming game platform some people may know that is now well behind the 
>shadow of Playstation 2, up to and including having a dev system on free 
>loan from them.

Whether this is the Cube or the X-box, it sounds like a neat idea and I'd
pick it up (if I were a modern console gamer.)

>On the PC platform, maybe.  What about Playstation?  Why then did 
>Activision Classics sell so well since it violated all the rules by having 
>a bad emulator, not enough titles, and no history stuff?

I didn't realize AC did all that well, sorry :)  And I was figuring overall
market, not just Playstation, but if the console alone can support it, great!

>Not to mention that Kaboom doesn't support any sort of analog controls.

That's awful, and must have involved some funny recoding.

>the converted.  Corporate budgets also have the ability to provide a 
>financial motivation to get a higher quality of spit and polish on these 
>packages than is practical for freeware emulation which is created by 
>part-time hobby coders.  And lastly, corporations have the law in their

I don't believe financial motivation will ever be as great as passion in
niche markets like this one, but I expect we'd disagree ;)

>We still have a couple leads but they are still far off and pretty 
>thin.  Hopefully something will happen but the sum of my experiences to 
>date indicates that these companies see little market left for commercial 
>2600 emulation, at least on the PC and consoles.  We may still be able to 
>do something online where people don't have to pay to play.  Witness 

I think that the next wave of next-gen consoles will need emulation titles,
but I guess the PSX is mined out.  The web thing sounds nifty, though to
date too many folks have been willing to put up with poor Java imitations
of classic stuff.  (Some Java emulators are quite good though, like the
Space Invaders and Phoenix ones.)

>But imagine Atari 2600 emulators on people's websites acting as interactive 
>banners.  I've seen Java applet banners that play like Defender.  Coke Wins 
>with a clickthrough to  I don't know how I'd feel about that.

I'd much rather see Java than CaptiveX or Director (being a Linux guy who
can handle neither) but it does sound like a nice vision.  (There's a Java
port of Stella that's been underway for years but I don't think it plays
any games yet...)


kudla@xxxxxxxxx ... ... Rob

Archives (includes files) at
Unsub & more at

Current Thread