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racketboy
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What Keeps Emulation From Being Authentic?

by racketboy Sat May 12, 2007 10:36 am

I'm in the middle of writing up an opinion piece about some aspects about emulation that keep it from being authentic when compared to the "real thing" and if it's really worth worrying about or not.

Anyway, I'd like to get your thoughts on what are the biggest roadblocks in your mind for an authentic experience.

Is it mostly graphical flaws, audio issues, the feel of the controller, or something else?
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grittykitty
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by grittykitty Sat May 12, 2007 11:47 am

i'd say the controller is the number one problem. playing super mario bros 3 with a dreamcast controller feels a bit out of place. on some occasions, less-than-perfect audio emulation brings it down a notch as well, as the sega smash pack for dreamcast and it's subsequent rom loader has proved not only to me but the dreamcast community as a whole. i would rate poor graphics emulation as important, but if the game doesn't emulate well in that aspect i won't even play it at which point i forget about it and it no longer matters.
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lordofduct
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by lordofduct Sat May 12, 2007 12:09 pm

the controller
sound emulation
lack of a TV (in most cases...)

Even when the speed kinda matches, it still feels a little off.

And what is the most important reason to me:
When playing on an emulator you have quick access to TONS of games immediately with save states and other nonsense. If I got even slightly annoyed with a game, I just hit 'file' 'load new rom'. And bam I've got hundreds of games to choose from. In cart form (or CD) it isn't as easy to just swap games, or get your hands on them. I don't know, but this really keeps me from playing emulators.
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fastbilly1
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by fastbilly1 Sat May 12, 2007 1:10 pm

Knowing that it is emulated. I usually emulated through a tv using a SNES controller, but it still doesnt feel right because it is not the original. It is like I am lying to myself, but over a superfulous matter.

Granted it makes life alot easier just to carry one pc than four consoles.
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GSZX1337
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by GSZX1337 Tue Jul 03, 2007 4:16 am

The controller
Graphics Glitches
Audio Glitches (personally, that's number one for me)
The fact that you can just hit escape and go into Mozilla Firefox and look up cheats/guides :lol:

Basically, it's just that the nostalgia is gone. It's just a freeware (if you don't care about legality) game when you run an emulator. Most people prefer to actually hold the game, put it in the console, and hit that power button.
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by durkada Tue Jul 03, 2007 12:26 pm

Everyone makes good points, but when discussing arcade emulation we should also take environment into consideration.

While emulation may make some efforts to present a bezel similar to the arcade, there is simply nothing like having a beautifully adorned cabinet surrounding the game. And, of course, this doesn't take into consideration stunning efforts such as Discs of Tron -- with the surreal enclosure that puts you in the Tron universe (with a little imagination). The DoT cabinet, in fact was so immersing that you could forget you were in a crowded, incredibly noisy arcade. Not that DoT was the only one -- I still think Sega is pumping out racing games that seat 12 players. The four player version of Warlords, for instance, is not to be missed -- even though its only a cocktail table, it still forces the players to "face-off" against each other.

Controller limitations become a more heinous problem with arcade games as well. While the PC has suitable substitute for most consoles -- or hell -- you can, in most cases, rewire the original to plug into the PC with an appropriate interface -- with the Arcade, its not nearly as feasible. Unique controls such as the handle bars on Paperboy, the joystick of 720 -- simply do not exist in the PC world.

But, no -- these are not significant enough to stem the tide of emulators. They will, forever, retard the experience -- it will always be an emulation, never authentic. But, having a library of impossible to purchase games at your fingertips is extraordinarily cool. Being able to cram the world's arcade into a lone computer -- well, its close to gaming nirvana.

Graphic, audio glitches -- these things tend to get repaired.
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by marurun Tue Jul 03, 2007 1:57 pm

I think a lot of the emulation challenge has to do with the screen. Computer screens, CRT or LCD, have much higher display resolution. Lower-res graphics just don't look right on them no matter how you adjust the filters. Low-res graphics are pretty much meant for TV screens, as TVs just naturally adjust the image just so. Although Genesis games do often look better on the computer due to their really poor quality video output to TV.
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by extrarice Tue Jul 03, 2007 3:22 pm

Sometimes the sound and music is off.
The color palettes can be slightly off.
The tactile experience of using a keyboard or "incorrect" controller (like a DC pad on NES emulation) for the emulated game kind of breaks it for me. Since I usually grew up with the games I emulated, playing the game with "not the right hardware" just doesn't elicit the same feeling from me.
Mainly, though, I'd say the "precision" of emulation breaks the suspension of disbelief for me. On a television, the resolution is so crummy that the pixels and limitations of the sprite blocks aren't as noticeable, but are very obvious on a computer screen (or other emulation system). Hence the development of "scanline" filters in emulators.
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by metaleggman Wed Jul 04, 2007 2:36 am

lordofduct wrote:And what is the most important reason to me:
When playing on an emulator you have quick access to TONS of games immediately with save states and other nonsense. If I got even slightly annoyed with a game, I just hit 'file' 'load new rom'. And bam I've got hundreds of games to choose from. In cart form (or CD) it isn't as easy to just swap games, or get your hands on them. I don't know, but this really keeps me from playing emulators.
This is what I believe is the true flaw in emulation. You simply don't have this in real life. Even if you do have a complete library of NES games in real life, you still have to get the game, put in there, possibly fiddle with it, and then start playing. With roms you just load up and go. I think arcade emulation on even an arcade machine might be like this...Too many games. Plus, with arcade emulation, you usually can just keep popping quarters, which is good for a game like metal slug 3, which would cost a kings fortune in quarters to finish in the arcade, but keeps you from really learning how to play a game with a lot of skill for the most part.
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by baphomet_irl Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:14 pm

marurun wrote:I think a lot of the emulation challenge has to do with the screen. Computer screens, CRT or LCD, have much higher display resolution. Lower-res graphics just don't look right on them no matter how you adjust the filters. Low-res graphics are pretty much meant for TV screens, as TVs just naturally adjust the image just so. Although Genesis games do often look better on the computer due to their really poor quality video output to TV.


yeh CRT tv's (well most of them) were a lot blurrier than monitors - to the extent that when Carmack was asked about the textures on the DC version of Quake3 he said that 'it will look pretty much the same' due to the overall blurry filter look on CRT TV's

so emulating on a monitor at full screen can never truly look the same, as its much sharper than it was 'back in the day'

although tbh I think this is far less of a problem than the crapness of playing something on an LCD not at native res - with the bad edges etc. - although I did play Street Fighter Alpha Anthology on a PS2 going into my friends 46" X Bravia (1080p), and it seems that at that high a dot amount/resolution, that the matrix of the screens dots is finally big enough to not look like an anti aliased mess when playing low res 2D.

I have to say that unlike a few people on this forum I dont hate emulation, but I do recognise its weaknesses (and strengths)

I like emulation for:

* Playing games that I would never get to play on their actual console or in the arcade, short of selling my kidney to buy them on eBay
(im looking at you NeoGeo, Radiant Silvergun et al. ;) ) - and sometimes emulating machines which never even came out in this part
of the world (FM Towns)

* Nostalgia - I still have an Amiga 500 somewhere, but Im too lazy to actually set it up again after all these years so WinUAE suits me
fine. The same goes for my beloved C128

* Taking lovely screenshots and making wallpapers :)

* The occasional mod/retexturing project (OK the only one I know is the Ocarina one, but i quite liked it)

* In the case of GBA games, I actually dont really like playing on handhelds, so I actually prefer emulating these games - (and I love
Minish Cap running in OpenGL on VBAdvance - it runs full screen in pure unfiltered square pixels :) )

* Running 3D games at extremely hi resolutions (I remember my jaw dropping when I first saw Gran TUrismo running on Bleem using
filtered textures etc.). Also running with weird filters on - ePSXe has plenty of these - pseudo paintbrush and cel shaded ones for
example

* I also just kinda find it interesting seeing how well something can be emulated

What I don't like about emulation:

* Choppy sound - almost no emulator that I know of has ever been entirely 'glitch free' in this department. Although WinKawaks
and Zsnes come pretty close IMO. Having said that in the case of arcade games maybe the higher quality of home speakers make
you hear glitches you never knew before.

* I cant always get my DC stick working properly with them, and in general having to mess about setting up options for emulators,
whereas with the real thing, you KNOW the game will just work (well unless the cartidge or CD is dirty etc. lol)

* It doesnt feel the same as sitting on a couch with a controller and lying back, the keyboard and the upright chair lend a certain
formality to PC gaming IMO. Although yes I know people will talk about emulation on consoles themselves, but apart from
DreamSNES, I rarely play emus on consoles (apart from just recently the VC stuff on Wii, which I thoroughly enjou)
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