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Community Discussion: Blog by Jesse Cortez | Dtoid Community Discusses pt 16: Emulation and Game ModdingDestructoid
Dtoid Community Discusses pt 16: Emulation and Game Modding - Destructoid

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I am a Ph. D. chemist from the University of California, Berkeley. I have been playing videogames since as long as I can remember! My past favorite games include Secret of Mana, TMNT: Turtles in Time, the Resident Evil series (Jill is SUCH as master of unlocking), FFVII, Smash Bros Melee, and many others.

I've definitely gone through phases in my gaming "career". I used to LOVE fighting games in the time of Tekken Tag and Marvel vs Capcom II (my favorite fighting game), but now I find myself drawn to the more story driven games, and very recently, the music games....:)

But....fighting games are making a comeback! SFIV! MvC3! BlazBlue! Beware everyone, Tactix has put a quarter on the screen and is challenging you for battle!


It was mere chance that brought me to Destructoid back in early 2007, and through it all I've stayed because of the great writing staff, a community that cares, and lots of new internet and IRL friends. Destructoid has changed my life. True story.


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Check out the past installments of my DTOID COMMUNITY DISCUSSES! Series:

Part 1: DLC
Part 2: Achievements
Part 3: Gaming Journalism
Part 4: Next Next-Gen Consoles
Part 5: Retro Renaissance
Part 6: Games That Suck
Part 7: Educational Games
Part 8: Evolution of Gaming Music
Part 9: Gaming Merchandise
Part 10: Iconic Games
Part 11: DESTRUCTOID!
Part 12: GDC
Part 13: Videogame Movies
Part 14: Competitive Gaming
Part 15: Level Design
Part 16: Emulation and Game Modding
E3 Edition: Microsoft
E3 Edition: Nintendo
E3 Edition: Sony
Part 17: Triple A Titles
Part 18: Fighting Games
Part 19: Digital Distribution



Card courtesy of TheGHost


Rock Band tag courtesy of CutieHoney

Thanks guys!


Last but not least, Chad Concelmo and I are the same person. Go ahead and ask him. :P

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Hey all! Welcome to another edition of Dtoid Community Discusses! It's been a busy couple of weeks for me here, and I'm nearing the completion of my first research project (fingers crossed). Anyway, for those uninitiated, Dtoid Community Discusses is a weekly (or biweekly depending on my grad school) c-blog feature which involves asking Destructoid community members to discuss a topic, which I place in this cblog. You can check out some past discussions on the sidebar (over there).

This week, I went to the forums for some topic ideas, and this one comes from JT706. The topic is emulation and game modding, and here is the topic that I sent out to our panel:

Tactix

Modding. Its no secret that many gamers like to emulate games and even change them to their own liking. Sometimes game companies just let it slide, while other times, they come down hard with an iron fist (i.e. Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes). In there cease and desist, Square Enix claims that ROM altering and modification is illegal.

However, there are some mods that were successful! Just think of Garry's Mod, and how Valve basically ran with it and is now also making money off of it. Anyway, what do you think of moding/emulating? Is it really illegal? How should game companies deal with the inevitability of it occuring? If you guys could mod any game, what game would you like to see modded and how so? Mother 3 – DO WANT! "

Our panel consists of Technophile, Ckarasu, and JT706....read on to find out what they thought!



Ckarasu

Hmmm. Emulating and its legality is a somewhat tricky question. Personally, I believe people should just buy the game instead of downloading it and denying the publishers and developers the money they deserve (especially if you want a sequel).There are a few exceptions like if the game is out of print, or it was never released in the US. In those cases I believe that it is acceptable to use emulators. I mean, how else am I going to play a translated version of Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden (let alone buy the game)?

Modding games, on the other hand, I have no problem with. Why should company's care what people do with their games so long as they're buying the game? They're still making money, so it shouldn't really matter.

Technophile

I'm no lawyer, but I was under the impression that unless you sell it, it's not "illegal" so to speak. Sure, modding the game and distributing it typically violates all sorts of license agreements and terms of use, but "illegal"? I don't think so. Then again, I'm no lawyer.

I think Valve has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to handling the mod community. The support it and they hire from within it. Valve gets a good reputation with the modding community and Valve gets free content. Well, not free in the sense they just take it and upload it, they do their own work on it but I believe the bulk of it is done already. If companies want to support it, they should take a page from Valve. Square is going about it the absolutely wrong way.

Emulating on the other hand, I have to agree with Ckarasu. I just don't think most companies are going to pursue it on a user to user basis. It's too difficult to prove with all that "it's ok if you own a legal copy" stuff. I think they will continue to go after the sites that host the roms rather then individuals, especially now with platforms like the Virtual Console and PSN where this stuff could potentially come out and revenue is lost. As far as older games go anyway. I think emulating or torrenting anything that's come out in the last 4 years or so is just straight up theft.

Ckarasu

Yeah, Valve seems to really know how to approach the issue. Instead of getting angry, they actually endorse it. I'm not sure why Square Enix fails to see the profit from this. I guess they're just uptight. I mean, it's not like it would really hurt them to make use of the modding community. Hopefully they'll learn that mods can be a good thing, but I wouldn't count on it.

Technophile makes a good point about emulating. It just isn't worth it for them to go after someone who downloads a ROM. They'll, lose more money and it won't even help solve the problem. I don't think there is an easy way to solve the issue. DRM has done nothing but increase piracy and disdain towards the companies that use it. I suppose the only real way to prevent rampant piracy is to get on the good side of the gaming community. If people like you and want more of your games, then they're less likely to pirate them. It won't solve the problem, but it helps.



...ahead of the curve when it comes to handling the mod community..


JT706

It seems that the divide between the companies that promote modding and the ones who try to quash it are clearly defined: PC game companies encourage modding, console game companies try to stamp it out, or at best refuse to acknowledge it.

PC games have been encouraging mods since the original Doom, creating an online modification community that's launched careers and spawned entirely new game franchises- if it weren't for dedicated fans slaving away over keyboards and mouses, we wouldn't have Counterstrike or Team Fortress. In the PC gaming world, modding is so welcomed that newer games such as Civilization 4 and the Elder Scrolls are released with source code either bundled with the software or available online.

Console games, on the other hand, are baffilingly opposed to fan mods. In spite of logging hours and hours of free labor to open up Mother 3 to North American audiences, the most reward the people at Starmen.net are ever going to get from Nintendo is a lack of legal action against them- unlike, say, the group of Smash Bros. Brawl hackers who recently got a C&D before they could release a new character texture pack. Of course, there's also at Chrono Compendium: Crimson Echoes is now the second Chrono Trigger fan game to be stomped on by Square Enix, following CT: Ressurection.

Maybe someone else here can imagine how this policy makes business sense- the shortsighted aim of "stopping piracy" is hardly served by attacking the makers of fan games, and, as Valve and others have proven, the windfall of promoting mods- new games and dedicated employees- far outweigh the imagined profits of legal action.

Tactix

I'm not much of a PC gamer, so I don't know much about the game modding community, but I do believe that it is something that companies shouldn't get angry about. If anything, a good mod will only cause gamers to want to purchase the game even MORE in order to play the mod. (I'm sure the presence Garry's Mod sold tons of games for the Source engine alone). And some mods are just awesome, like the fact you can change all of the sounds in Left 4 Dead to Randy Savage :D.

I think that since retro games are so big now and companies are trying to cash in with VC and PSN is part of the reason for the huge push to fight piracy. Before companies knew they could make so much money on releasing their own "emulators", it wasn’t a big deal. Now it is.

Anyway, speaking a little about emulation....We know that Nintendo was excited to release a new DSi in part to fight off R4 users, but ALREADY there is a way to emulate games on the DSi. What should Nintendo do about R4's and the like? Do you guys NOT own an R4?

Technophile

It's funny how all the examples you mentioned against console modding were all Nintendo. Nintendo has always been against anything that isn't officially licensed by them. That's the way they are.

I think the real reason we don't see a whole lot of console mods is because it's a closed box system. Not only do the developers and publishers have to make sure it's on the up and up but they also have to get Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo to allow people to modify their hardware or allow people to distribute mods via their network and that's never going to happen. That's why there will probably never be a "legit" modding community for consoles. Mods are one of the benefits of PC gaming, whereas with consoles you can pretty much guarantee a level playing field competitively (usually, provided people don't hack the game).

I'm all for stopping piracy, but it's never going to go away and attacking legitimate fans isn't the way to do it either. In that I totally agree.

As far as R4's go, never had one. Never modded my psp either. I used to emulate back in the day, but I don't even do that anymore. I've nothing against people who do, I just don't feel right doing it. Not since I started working in the industry anyway and seen how much work goes into making even a crappy remake for XBLA. That and honestly, it's kind of a pain in the ass. Finding roms that aren't messed up or play weird or finding emulators that work right. I'm lazy.



Always against whats isnt officially licensed by them....but anyway, this image came up when I google imaged searched Nintendo, which comes from Cronosblade's cblog. I could think of no better picture to represent Dtoid :P

Ckarasu

I believe that console modding can one day become "legit". It may be a while (maybe the next generation of consoles, if there is one). Sooner or later, I think the companies will one day see how profitable it can be. Until then, I guess you will have to go to PC gaming if you want fan made content.

I think another problem (in regards to piracy) comes from how easy the internet makes it to upload and download games. You don't even have to use a Torrent to download them, as there are plenty to find at Mega Upload, Mediafire or Rapidshare. Sure, some are reported, but many seem to remain unnoticed for a while (or are replaced soon after deletion). You simply download, extract and play. It's just too easy, unfortunately.

Like Technophile, I have not hacked my PSP or used an R4. The DS has plenty of good games at affordable prices, so I never felt the need for it. The PSP, on the other hand, doesn't have any games that I'd want to pirate. Besides, I would feel too guilty to actually download a game illegally (for any of the recent consoles, that is). I'm a softie, I know.

Tactix

I'm just curious, would you all consider things like Game Genie/ Game Shark a light version of console modding? If so, did you use a Game Genie back in the day? I remember my Game Genie added so much playability to the games I had and actually made me want to buy certain games just so I could use it. What were some of your favorite Game Genie codes?

Technophile

I just wanted to mention that the game shark is awesome and I totally had one. I consider it what it is, basically a hacking tool. It changes the hexadecimal values in the code to do it's work, so I would totally classify that as a hacking tool. It was a genius idea and I honestly hope they made a ton of money off of it. It was probably the closest to modding on console as we will see for a long long time in my opinion.

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Anyway, thats all for this week. Stay tuned for next week, when I am planning for some epic DCD E3 coverage! Until then, go play games!



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