Recommended gaming emulators

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nevermoreraven
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Iscritto: 10/15/2014

What free software emulators do you recommend? I am able to do 3d acceleration on my computer so 3d games I can play also.
To me I think the games are like an mp3 file vs ogg file it maybe a proprietary format but you can play it with free software. What are your views on rom games and free software?

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

> To me I think the games are like an mp3 file vs ogg file it maybe a proprietary format but you can play it with free software.

The games are programs. Running a proprietary NES game in a NES emulator is no different from running a proprietary DOS game in DOSBox, or running Windows in a virtual machine.

https://onpon4.github.io/other/gaming-trap/#emulators

You can't compare a data format like MP3 to a program. Data formats only store data (in the case of MP3, audio). They are not executed in any way. The issue with formats like MP3 is that they are encumbered by patents, which is completely different from and only very slightly related to the issue of proprietary software.

For games, try looking through the repo, and also here:

http://libregamewiki.org

andermetalsh
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Iscritto: 01/04/2013

About the SNES, you have free assemblers as xa65 in Trisquel to write games for SNES emulators (as a challenge, to learn CPU machine language or whatever)

Calinou
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Iscritto: 03/08/2014

Why not make modern games using modern tools instead? Like, with Godot. This way, they can run on all platforms easily.

andermetalsh
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Iscritto: 01/04/2013

I know about Godot (Tanks of Freedom is cool ;) ) , but hey, sometimes developing something for old machines feels like an adventure.

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

Are there any real-world examples of SNES programs developed without the official SDK, using only an assembler?

andermetalsh
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Iscritto: 01/04/2013

IDK about real uses, but the FSF has a entry for a pseudo-sdk to compile in 65816's ASM for the SNES based on the xa65's syntax: http://directory.fsf.org/wiki/Snescom

quantumgravity
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Iscritto: 04/22/2013

"The games are programs. Running a proprietary NES game in a NES emulator is no different from running a proprietary DOS game in DOSBox, or running Windows in a virtual machine."

They are different.
Roms are less complex, never designed for a PC and are by nature incapable of containing the same malicous functionality as an PC operating system like windows does.

You're repeating this obviously wrong statement over and over again; please take those facts into consideration.

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

> Roms are less complex

No, they are not, except in a very trivial sense: these games were often written in assembly in the days of systems like the NES and Atari 2600, and assembly languages are by nature more "simple" than higher level languages like C.

I am actually offended that you insult my profession, video game programming, by saying it is "simple". Do you have any idea how complex the program driving a game like Super Mario Bros is? Then, do you have any idea how much more complex a game like Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog is? Really, stop and think about it for a minute. The complex slope physics and ramps in the Sonic games didn't come out of thin air, and the Mega Drive didn't have a powerful physics engine built in. That software is in the ROM of the Sonic games, as a compiled binary.

Some games really are relatively simple to program. But those games are usually called "Pong", and even they aren't entirely trivial.

> never designed for a PC

Irrelevant. But in the early 1980s, there were PCs that ran almost exactly the same games as the dedicated game systems at the time. They even used cartridges as well. So your statement is factually wrong.

> and are by nature incapable of containing the same malicous functionality as an PC operating system like windows does.

No, they are by nature incapable of performing the same malicious functionality, because they are isolated. Windows installed on a computer with no Internet access is just as isolated. Windows installed in a virtual machine given no Internet access is just as isolated. DOS programs ran in DOSBox are just as isolated.

If taking measures to ensure a proprietary program cannot do anything malicious is sufficient for you to consider using the program, that's your choice. But please don't pretend that you aren't using a proprietary program based on this.

quantumgravity
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Iscritto: 04/22/2013

"Then, do you have any idea how much more complex a game like Super Mario World or Sonic the Hedgehog is? "

The original super mario bros 3 rom for nes is 380 kb;
A normal version of windows contains gigabytes of executable data -of course there is a difference in complexity.

"I am actually offended that you insult my profession, video game programming, by saying it is "simple"."

I don't know where you get this idea from.
I never said "video game programming is simple". I said that the old nes and snes roms are much simpler of a program than windows, because you argued that running both software is THE SAME and there is no difference; obviously nonsense.
Besides i never talked about the process of making those games.

"No, they are by nature incapable of performing the same malicious functionality, because they are isolated. "

Yeah so why should anybody put in malicious features in the first place.
Like: Yeah, we make a game for super nintendo, let's put in some spyware that can never do anything.
Again, compare that to windows.

"If taking measures to ensure a proprietary program cannot do anything malicious is sufficient for you to consider using the program, that's your choice. But please don't pretend that you aren't using a proprietary program based on this."

Again, you weren't reading properly; you always state that running old emulator games is THE SAME as running any other proprietary program. I say it's not THE SAME.
Never said that those old roms are free software; they are, by definition, proprietary.
But there are significant differences to other nonfree software like windows, and this does matter when deciding whether to make a compromise or not.
For you, they are still not acceptable, and that's fine. But don't make false statements all the time.

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

> I never said "video game programming is simple". I said that the old nes and snes roms are much simpler of a program than windows

This is true. I did slightly misread your comment. Sorry about that.

> because you argued that running both software is THE SAME and there is no difference; obviously nonsense.

But I never said that video games were identical to Windows, either. I said that running these proprietary programs is no different from running Windows in a similarly sandboxed environment. In both cases, your liberty is disrespected just as much, and your privacy is in just as little danger. Complexity is irrelevant here, as is the size of the executable. The only relevant factor is whether or not effective sandboxing is possible, and with the exception of some programs that require Internet connectivity to work, effective sandboxing is always possible.

> Yeah so why should anybody put in malicious features in the first place.

I never said they did. That's not the point. The point is that it doesn't matter that Windows has malicious features if you effectively block them from having any effect. Windows is known to be malware, but as long as it's run on a computer unable to connect to something else (like the Internet), the malware cannot work, so its presence makes no difference.

quantumgravity
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Iscritto: 04/22/2013

" In both cases, your liberty is disrespected just as much, and your privacy is in just as little danger."

Still it is different.
On a disconnected windows pc, you can do work with it like writing your letters, doing calculations etc.
There are millions of things you can do with it, and once you start, you really lose controll over all of those. Not in the sense of malicious functionality, no;
after all that's just a side effect of proprietary software.
You really can't, let's say, fix a bug in a program that you really would need to get fixed for work.
You're helpless at this point. What made this possible?

1. The program you used is proprietary
2. You used it for things that are important for you

It IS important to which extent you use proprietary software, and by nature those old roms are very limited in the way they can be used.
Much more than a sandboxed windows.
And yeah, if i decide to use the sandboxed windows just for playing minesweeper, i really see no big difference to running a (fictional) minesweeper nes rom.
It is then clearly less harmful to me;
not using it at all would be the least harmful, of course.
But there are some gradiations here.

Btw would you argue that using a sandboxed free debian system with nothing proprietary in it except 300 kb of blobs to be *the same* as running a sandboxed windows system from a freedom point of view?

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

> you can do work with it like writing your letters, doing calculations etc.

This is completely immaterial. You can probably do some kind of work with some games, too. What you use a program for has nothing to do with whether or not it respects your freedom. Being more useful doesn't mean a program is disrespecting your freedom more.

> You really can't, let's say, fix a bug in a program that you really would need to get fixed for work.
You're helpless at this point.

You know, doing work wasn't what I had in mind when I brought up running Windows in a virtual machine. What I had in mind was playing proprietary Windows-only games. "Running Windows" is not synonymous with "doing important work on Windows".

And bugs can get in your way in game software, too. There are some games which have been released that have bugs preventing the game from being winnable, or in some cases, even runnable. Action 52 is a huge offender in this area.

That's not the fundamental issue, though, unless you're in favor of open source. The fundamental issue is your liberty. A proprietary program infringes on your liberty, and this is true regardless of how much or how little it inconveniences you, or what secondary effects it has on your life.

> (fictional) minesweeper nes rom

Oh, that isn't fictional. It exists:

https://github.com/SBasalaev/nesmine

> Btw would you argue that using a sandboxed free debian system with nothing proprietary in it except 300 kb of blobs to be *the same* as running a sandboxed windows system from a freedom point of view?

Running those "blobs" is the same in terms of how it impacts your liberty as running Windows. In both cases, you are running proprietary software. Again, the size of the executable, what job it does, and what secondary effects running the software has are immaterial to this question.

That doesn't mean that these are questions that aren't worth asking. But they are different questions, and this isn't the point. The point is that there is nothing special about NES programs that makes the four freedoms apply to them less than it does to other programs. If you can justify running a proprietary NES program, you can justify running a proprietary x86 program such as Windows for exactly the same reason.

Jabjabs
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Iscritto: 07/05/2014

This topic cuts to the very core of free software. There is no doubt that these games are non-free in every sense. The issue for people is that do they want to be locked into this poor deal for the sake of entertainment?

There should be no debate expect for each individuals decision on what they want to run, so long as they know what the issues are.

quantumgravity
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Iscritto: 04/22/2013

"What you use a program for has nothing to do with whether or not it respects your freedom."

True, but it makes a difference when asking "how much does the violation of my freedom harm myself?".
This is a central question when making compromises which, until today, everyone of us has to make (given he uses a computer).

Btw even rms argues that it is ok for a piece of data to be non-free if it doesn't do a practical job (he then concludes that art is okay to be non free).
I don't see how those old games do a practical job.
Also he thinks a microwave oven containing non-free software is ok since you don't use it as a computer.

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

> Btw even rms argues that it is ok for a piece of data to be non-free if it doesn't do a practical job (he then concludes that art is okay to be non free).
> I don't see how those old games do a practical job.

This is a strawman of what RMS has said. RMS has explicitly written that proprietary game software is just as unethical as any other proprietary software. Here, for example:

https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/nonfree-games.en.html

The software in a video game is doing a practical job. You aren't looking at a ROM and admiring its beauty. You are loading it onto a computer and executing the software contained within it. That software is what makes the game experience work.

Here's a perfect analogy: suppose we had some kind of video disc format. Instead of being a standard video format like video DVDs are, the disc sends a program to the player telling the player how to play the contents of the disc. This would be exactly the same as how video games are distributed. So then, tell me: would you consider those proprietary video players distributed on those discs to be acceptable, because you "don't see how those old movies do a practical job"?

If the answer is "no", you are being inconsistent. This theoretical custom video playing software is no different from the real custom game playing software distributed with video games. The only difference is that movies are all watched the same, so there's no need for anything like this.

If the answer is "yes", however, then the way you judge what is a program means we have a simple solution to make peace with the copyright industry. All they have to do is send us a proprietary JavaScript program that can read their secret video formats and show them on the screen, and we can run that program in a sandbox! Now, where have I seen that before...?

> Also he thinks a microwave oven containing non-free software is ok since you don't use it as a computer.

It's much more specific than that. What he says here is, "if updating software is not a normal part of use of the device, then it is not a computer." So his exemption might apply to those cheap gaming devices that have all of their games (or their only game) built into them. But when you get programmable cartridges involved, they no longer have that distinction. Inserting a cartridge into the NES is loading a program onto it.

quantumgravity
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Iscritto: 04/22/2013

"The software in a video game is doing a practical job. You aren't looking at a ROM and admiring its beauty."

Well, I think here is the core of our disagreement.
I am not looking at the rom itself but at the GAME and admiring its beauty.
And no, i'm not working with it, not at all.

"You are loading it onto a computer and executing the software contained within it. That software is what makes the game experience work."

This conclusion i cannot understand at all.
Game experience is never work for me; my pc might "work", but i'm not.
If I look at a painting (art) that is displayed by a electronic photoframe, i also don't do any work but the technical device does.
Sure it's not working like a cpu but this technical distinction does actually not matter at all in reality; at least i don't see any reason why it should matter.
And even if the photo frame would be -technically- a tiny computer that can't do anything but displaying a fixed set of preinstalled images, i still just look at art while i'm using it, though the device might be "working".
I think you're running in some kind of paradox here.

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

The original super mario bros 3 rom for nes is 380 kb

What difference does it make. It still is software whose source code is secret and that you are not legally allowed to share. No freedom 1, 2, and 3: it is proprietary software. It does not respect the essential freedoms of the user.

quantumgravity
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Iscritto: 04/22/2013

Please refrain from putting my quote completely out of context.
You're just bumping into a discussion, grabbing some sentence and shout "why does this matter!"

I was arguing against onpons statement "The games are programs. Running a proprietary NES game in a NES emulator is no different from running a proprietary DOS game in DOSBox, or running Windows in a virtual machine."

I raised some points why it is _different_.
I never argued that they are not _proprietary_ .

vita_cell
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Iscritto: 07/19/2015

Yes, like ROM vs Shareware/adware/malware DOS games. Not the same thing.

As I know, ROM is only a memory dump from a carthridge. Not like DOS games for example. But all are still proprietary and non-free.

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

As the name implies, a ROM file is literally a dump of what's on a ROM. But CDs are ROMs, too, and a lot of proprietary programs come on CDs. Heck, at least old versions of Windows came on CDs. There isn't any fundamental difference introduced by a proprietary program being distributed as a ROM dump instead of some other kind of file; a ROM is just a storage medium, after all.

levlaz

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Iscritto: 01/29/2013

Great comments onpon4, people tend to not think of games as programs, this is a common problem. Thanks for the link, I have not seen that before. :)

moxalt
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Iscritto: 06/19/2015

> What free software emulators do you recommend? I am able to do 3d
> acceleration on my computer so 3d games I can play also.
> To me I think the games are like an mp3 file vs ogg file it maybe a
> proprietary format but you can play it with free software. What are
> your views on rom games and free software?

I have pretty much the same view. I play DOS abandonware (some free,
most of it non-free) using DOSBox. It is an excellent program.

moxalt
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Iscritto: 06/19/2015

Oh yeah, Mini vMac is pretty good too, and GPL. You need to source your
own system ROMs though.

AppleWin is (was?) my Apple II* emulator of choice back when I used
Windows. I haven't needed one for some time though... *sigh*. I miss
the bleep noise and the ] prompt.

It is GPL.

Anyone know of any good Apple II* emulators for GNU+Linux?

andermetalsh
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Iscritto: 01/04/2013

Which games do you need from the Apple ][ ;) ?

A cool "simulator" (not actually emulating) is to run apple2 from /usr/lib/xscreensaver/apple2 which is in the package 'xsreensaver-data-extra'

Install 'bsdgames' too ;)

/usr/lib/xscreensaver/apple2 -program /bin/bash -fast

/usr/lib/xscreensaver/apple2 -program adventure

pragmatist

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Iscritto: 03/03/2016

rms has said that games can be considered software, art, music, text, and story, and each part can be dealt with separately as far as its legality. So I suppose if you can extract the image files, or audio files, or text files, you can view them as non-functional, and the corresponding rules apply. If you are RUNNING software, however, then it is very simple: if it has the four essential freedoms it is free, and if it is missing any of those four it is not free.