[MUD-Dev] Failure of Emulation was EthernalQuest

Valerio Santinelli tanis at mediacom.it
Wed Jan 8 23:20:28 New Zealand Daylight Time 2003

eric rhea wrote:
> On Wed, 1 Jan 2003, Valerio Santinelli wrote:

>> I can't recall anyone talking about EthernalQuest, the EverQuest
>> unofficial server emulator (http://www.ethernalquest.com/).  As
>> of now the v0.6.x serie is becoming playable and the first
>> servers are popping up around the world. I wonder how Sony is
>> going to react to this trend that is going to be much similar to
>> the one rised with UO.

> Faithful emulation is a pipe dream. By Faithful emulation I mean
> to recreate the sum of the experience of an existing MMOG (or
> whatever you would like to call it).

Communities like the one floating around EthernalQuest are hard to
die just because it's going to be really hard to emulate their
preferred game.

> While it may not be true now, the "EQ Emu" team was working on
> their own product. Theirs was light years head of anything that
> could be done with EthernalQuest. This would be about a year or so
> ago. I spent some time with the emulator, mostly out of spite to
> prove to myself and other underground members of the EQ community
> that, in fact, certain things could be done, but that something at
> Sony prevented them from happening.

I thought EthernalQuest was their project since the beginning. I
didn't know they were developing something different before.

> I have a very specific question about these emulators: what is it
> about emulation that companies really fear? Could it be considered
> healthy competition? Could it be empirical validation that certain
> things /could/ happen, and that proof as such would be bad PR?
> Conspiracy theory? You bet!

I think that they're mostly fearing loss of subscriptions if the
emulator is really good. Why should I pay for playing on the
official servers if I can play for free on player run servers that
are capable of emulating the game almost perfectly? (Not yet, but
that's the goal) It happens that sometime even users support is
better than the one of commercial games. Mainly because of the
smaller playerbase and the ratio between GMs and players that allows
them to answer to support calls efficiently.

> I titled this thread the failure of emulation. I did so because I
> simply do not see emulation as ever becoming a serious contender
> for an existing product. Here are my reasons for this.

>   1. Emulation requires support staff, customer service to get
>   things running because we are often talking about technical
>   wizardry, not "click icon, make it go". IRC chats and online
>   forums tend to be used for this, but since no one bothers to
>   read the manual (RTFM), the spirit for support often decays
>   quickly.

I do not agree. That's not always the case. If you work with your
community and build good communication channels you can convey
knowledge to a good percentage of users who are going to support
other users in the future just because they already know the answers
to their questions.  If you build forums, documentation areas and a
good announcements policy, you can overcome most of the repetitive

This is true with Open Source projects, too.

I speak from my experience with PostNuke, an Open Source Content
Management System. Every day lots of posts of support requests are
flowing in the forums but both us developers and the support team
(made by users who committed to supporting other users) are doing a
good job answering all the questions and always giving directions to
where the most common answers can be found. And it works. People are
happy and the community helps itself.

>   A person reading the thread might say to themselves, "but there
>   are only a handful of players who would do this. The community
>   will support itself."  The community will not support itself
>   because of the virtues that are supported by that community. The
>   community is more like a snake. Tame until you start fumbling
>   around with it.

Have a look at most of the successful Open Source projects. This is
not true at all. Have a look at Linux. If your statement ever
applied to Linux, nobody would have ever used it professionally due
to lack of support.

>   Further, you quickly discover there is a breakdown.

>     a. Those who support
>     b. Those who make content
>     c. Those who develop for the pure branch
>     d. Those who, like myself, make experimental branches

>   Of these four types of people, only (a) does any support. Rarely
>   will b,c, or d lend support to anyone other than their own
>   groups. Why? Motivated self-interest. If I help someone who is
>   doing something like what I am doing, then it has greater
>   likelihood of a payoff than helping some newbie learn how to
>   read the manual. That's my theory, as it is the only one that I
>   could come up with that makes sense.

People with strong egos are going to act exactly as you are
saying. But there's a lot of people that are motivated even if
giving support does not bring home a cent.

>   2. The expectation of the players. The link below is a larger
>   rant (careful of word wrap) that is supported by many other
>   server ops. A server op is a person who maintains a particular
>   EQ Emu server.

Expectation is a bad beast. I agree on this being a problem in a
first place. But it's something that is going to become less and
less a problem as time goes by and features start flowing in the

>   3. "We are experiencing technical difficulties at this time." 
>   The Hassle of version checking. Often the emulator does not
>   support a particular version and unless you have a piece of
>   software to patch your client to the particular version
>   supported by your internal server, then you are SOL (and that
>   doesn't involve a moon, either). Particular hardware support for
>   the client. What of exploits in the client that can be enabled
>   in the client? What?  Exploit in the client? Yes, very much
>   so. One discovered enabled arbitrary code to be executed after
>   sending a particular sequence to the client. Scary stuff.

This has been an issue with UO emulators, too. But it's something
you learn to live with since there's no way around. You know that if
you're going to emulate the server of a commercial game you're bound
to its client and whatever the developers at Sony are doing.


Valerio Santinelli
tanis at mediacom.it
HateSeed Gaming Magazine http://www.hateseed.com/
My Lab http://tanis.hateseed.com/
In Flames Italia http://www.inflames.it/
One Man Crew http://www.onemancrew.org/

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