The expanses of WolfWings' land
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March 11th, 2004
March 11th, 2004
March 11th, 2004
March 11th, 2004
March 11th, 2004

[User Picture]10:22 pm - Remember how emulation used to be legal?
Nintendo just patented emulation, patent filed in the year 2000.

More specifically, the patent covers any emulation that involves any form of analysis or conversion prior to beginning emulation. From my reading of it, that means that dynamic recompilation of CPU instructions is out, which covers pretty much all PS1, N64, and other 'speed over quality' emulators meant to make games actually playable.

Second, the patent covers things that skip frames to keep the game properly realtime. Which covers anything else made to keep speed up over quality in emulators, and which amusingly covers all versions of MAME for several years, including those from before the patent was even filed, as a side-effect.

Basically, anything that doesn't brute-force emulate every little niggly bit of a system, that takes any kind of shortcuts for playability or to run on lower-end machines, is covered by this patent. And it's blatantly, completely, and utterly trivial. Nothing in the patent is new. It's not even a new packaging, emulators from 1995 were doing everything in that patent, and the patent itself appears to be a direct response to UltraHLE, as it was filed shortly after UltraHLE started wandering around.

What's UltraHLE? An emulator that did something very special... it only emulated the core CPU and memory systems correctly. The other chips were (effectively) ignored, and the polygon data and so-forth was pulled directly from the system memory. Basically, it was like having a map and model-viewer watching the memory of the N64, and drawing the information with native code instead. It made emulating the N64 possible on P200's in some cases, despite the very high system capabilities.

The downside to UltraHLE? If it didn't explicitly support a game, the game flat-out didn't do anything at all. It was like having a seperate graphics driver for every single game you wanted to play. A bitch, but damn was it fast and compatable with the games it DID work with.

And somehow Nintendo has snuck through yet another prime example of a bullshit patent, and is now starting to wield it like they just started a text-adventure game with nothing but a hammer in their inventory, swinging it everywhere and at everything they think they can. Prepare for some ugly backlash, and not just from the small-time video-gaming community.1 commentLeave a comment
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