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Star Wars Galaxies Emulator Test Server Hits Alpha 192

Posted by timothy
from the star-systems-through-slippery-fingers dept.
CoffeeHedake writes "The SWGEMU (Star Wars Galaxies Emulator) Team has successfully run their first Alpha stage test of a reverse-engineered version of Sony Online Entertainment's Star Wars Galaxies server software. An announcement was made on the SWGEMU bulletin boards that something special would be shown in their IRC channel at 12:00AM EST Today. A hosted video montage of the successfully connecting the SWG client to an emulated server, loading a character, zoning from one area to another, and other huge leaps were shown in the clip." Read on for more information, including links to the video clip.
CoffeeHedake provides a pointer to the forum and current announcement, and links to the video at several mirrors:

CoffeeHedake continues "This all comes after much very bad press for SOE, after completely changing the game mechanics of Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided. The game has had a rocky history, with nerfs and bugs abounding, but the latest 'NGE' or New Game Enhancement patches have led to the detrimental decline in player population. SWGEMU was formed with the hopes of allowing players to 'roll back' their experiences to a Pre-'Combat Upgrade' state of the game, months before the ill-fated NGE was implemented."

"The SWGEMU will allow private, emulated game servers to be run by anyone with the hardware and bandwidth to support the load, possibly allowing customized environments, and game mechanics, as well as a 'dungeon master' control of the server, possibly even over a LAN."

"News has spread, even throughout the Sony Online Entertainment forums of SWGEMU's latest success. No word from Sony, as of yet."

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Star Wars Galaxies Emulator Test Server Hits Alpha

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  • I'll give odds (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trigun (685027) <[xc.hta.eripmelive] [ta] [live]> on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:34PM (#15607842)
    That this goes the same way that the everquest server emulator went.
    • Re:I'll give odds (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IflyRC (956454)
      They'll get hired? Either the EQ Emulator people or the guy who cracked the EQ encryption was hired by SOE. I don't remember which.
      • Re:I'll give odds (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Trigun (685027) <[xc.hta.eripmelive] [ta] [live]> on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:55PM (#15608022)
        The people got hired, the project got mothballed.

        One years salary is cheaper than a lawsuit, and does not set a precident the same way losing a lawsuit might.
      • It was the guy who cracked their encryption for ShowEQ.
    • Re:I'll give odds (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tackhead (54550) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:52PM (#15608007)
      > That this goes the same way that the everquest server emulator went.

      "Execute Order 66. Wipe them out. All of them."

      Then again, considering how the SWG game has (de)volved over the past couple of years, maybe "Do Not Want" is the appropriate snarky one-liner to use here.

      Sony could do the gaming world a lot of good if they laid the smackdown on the NGE (sucky thing in current release) and permitted the pre-CU (the "live beta" that got released for the first couple of years) codebase to be emulated. They've gone on record as saying they'll never revert to pre-CU gameplay, so why not put the pre-CU game engine to good use? With decent scripting, you could make a pretty good game out of that. The reason SWG sucked donkey cock wasn't really the fault of the engine, it was that SOE never grasped (and still doesn't understand) that Star Wars is a story, not a skin for an FPS.

      • They've gone on record as saying they'll never revert to pre-CU gameplay, so why not put the pre-CU game engine to good use?

        Because then there would be an alternative for people who want a Star Wars Themed MMORPG.
    • There are private Warcraft servers too.

      www.wowstatus.net
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:34PM (#15607844) Journal
    You might notice that if you click a link with a swgemu.com base, it redirects you to Crayola, Teletubbies or Lego's site. This is because of how the hosting service is implemented. Almost all the swgemu sites I go to require me to cut and past links into the browser and to make sure they are preceded with http://./ [.] So for instance, paste "http://forums.swgemu.com/viewtopic.php?p=24081#24 081" into your browser and you should see the linked forum.

    This is, of course, with the exception of the screenshots hosted by gamerspace [gamerspace.net] or the video [youtube.com] (which really just seems to be a transition of the stills). Note, I'm not sure if the YouTube video is the same as the one from the mirrors, I'm still downloading that.

    I should also point out that the forums are tightly moderated as swgemu is not looking for trouble with legal issues regarding SOE. I think they've had tangles with them in the past and don't enjoy discussing it. I don't actively post on swgemu but am thrilled by the idea of what they are trying to create. The concern by SOE is not only stealing paying customers but also the fact that if this is open sourced, then anyone will be able to see the reverse engineering work which means a whole lot more attempts on hacking the servers.

    Most importantly, there are no dates set whatsoever for this project. I am just sitting back and waiting for hopefully a chance to play a game I once knew and loved. A game that exists no more. Pre-CU SWG.

    I guess it had such a huge client that most of the functionality had to be sitting on each client machine and the server required some interaction. Hopefully this reverse engineering provides a stable alternative. If you'd like to contribute, help them with the datapack [swgemu-datapack.com] done in a Wiki format! If you're interested in development for the team and know C/C++, check out this post [cprogramming.com].
    • by daranz (914716)

      You might notice that if you click a link with a swgemu.com base, it redirects you to Crayola, Teletubbies or Lego's site. This is because of how the hosting service is implemented. Almost all the swgemu sites I go to require me to cut and past links into the browser and to make sure they are preceded with http://./ [.] [.] So for instance, paste "http://forums.swgemu.com/viewtopic.php?p=24081#24 081" into your browser and you should see the linked forum.

      Actually, it seems like they redirect you if you send

  • Bets anyone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:34PM (#15607847) Homepage Journal
    That they will see their first take-down demand by EOD?
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:35PM (#15607859) Homepage

    Sony files lawsuit in 3..2..1..

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
  • by grasshoppa (657393) <{skennedy} {at} {tpno-co.org}> on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:36PM (#15607860) Homepage
    For the two people that still have the client installed!
  • Oh dear god... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:38PM (#15607890) Journal
    Well, that definitely opens SWG up for continuation for when SoE decides to flush the project, and it makes it possible to implement some of the changes that people have been clamoring for forever, unhindered by Sony's jackassed design philosophy

    And it's going to make it possible for Sony's legal team to achieve their "absuive lawsuit quotient" months ahead of schedule.

    Seriously. It's like they're begging to be crushed. I can't think of a company with less sense of humor than Sony, and I really can't think of anyone who protects his IP better than Lucas. They're going to combine to form some sort of mega-legal-robo-proctologist, and they're not going to stop until they get to the back of the SWGEMU team's teeth.

    I guess I'm happy and sad for them. They're like happy little lemmings.
    • by Tim C (15259) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:11PM (#15608160)
      They're going to combine to form some sort of mega-legal-robo-proctologist, and they're not going to stop until they get to the back of the SWGEMU team's teeth.

      Oh dear God indeed - my mind's eye! That's an image I *really* didn't need!
    • Yea. And theyll lose publicity like hell.

      They're going to combine to form some sort of mega-legal-robo-proctologist, and they're not going to stop until they get to the back of the SWGEMU team's teeth.
      • Yea. And theyll lose publicity like hell.

        This is Sony. What makes you think they give a damn about getting bad press or alienating customers?

        I mean in this case they even have some excuse that they're protecting their IP, but they've been known to do worse stuff just because they could. From SOE's heavy-handed handling of customer relations, to the Sony rootkit of their music division, to the PS3 interviews (especially the one where they say you should get a second job already if you can't afford a PS3), to

        • But this time lucas is in it. And the reason that nge was done was because lucas have been very annoyed with the state of the game - it resembled anything but star wars, and sw fans were complaining. If they hadnt pressure lucas, and lucas sony, nge wouldnt happen.
    • Consider the huge number of fanfics, movies and other fan-made stuff for Star Wars. Lucas is completely ok with this-IIRC, he even judges fan film contests. The sticking point is trying to make money with it- you want to release a film for free download on the net, fine, but don't try to sell a DVD. So long as these guys keep it free, I suspect he won't care.

      Sony's another story- I'm sure they have legions of lawyers just waiting to piss off more people.

  • by PixelPirate (984935) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:42PM (#15607913)
    When I read that title, all I could see was eight well dressed lawyers also wearing the garb of the village people dancing to the tune of YMCA, but instead shouting "DCMA!" "I make use of the DCMA!"
  • So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LordPhantom (763327) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:43PM (#15607925)
    To be honest, a big fat SO WHAT.... truth is, SOE screwed the game over so hardcore that even die-hard star wars fans have already moved on. It's splendid that they're creating an emulator, kudos, BUT I seriously doubt they'll see the fan support required to grow further than a curiosity to gamers.

    Those of you weeping over this, try http://www.eve-online.com/ [eve-online.com] Sure it's nothing like SWG, but it's a MMORPG that actually seems to give a damn about it's userbase and isn't catering to the largest $$ segment of the population.... Not that I'm bitter or anything! (Rest In Peace SWG.... Rest in Peace).

    • EVE rocks, yes.
    • Re:So what? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:20PM (#15608227) Homepage Journal
      Here's the so what - everyone complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. SWG players, or ex-players, complain about what Sony has done to their game.. well, here's a chance for the gamers to do something about it. They'll get to run their own version, that works the way that they want, without being teleported into space for daring to want things to run in a better way than they are now. It's easy for someont to bitch the way something is done, but it can be damned complicated to go out and fix it yourself.

      I think of all the talent and passionate hacking involved in an effort like this, and it breaks my heart to think that it'll probably get shut down by lawyers.
    • Eve astroturfing? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Wind_Walker (83965)
      Why is it that every single MMORPG discussion on Slashdot ends up with a 5-rated post espousing the virtues of Eve-Online? I'm not saying you're directly to blame, but it seems to me that Eve-Online has some great PR people who constantly beef up their sales, always with a link to the site.

      Kinda upsets me a bit.

      • I've really noticed this myself. I don't think it's astroturfing, I think it's just that EVE is the sort of game that produces that particular sort of fanaticism in the players it works for. Also, the EVE player culture, because EVE is small, actively encourages people to evangelize; it's not like WoW needs its players to go out and tell players the Good News. Everybody already knows about WoW.
        • Well, it's more akin to "this is the greatest MMOG I've seen so far but the world doesn't seem to care enough" :)
          That was at least my reaction after playing it for a while.
          • Eve's great, but that greatness is precisely what the average WoWer looking to hit level 60 doesn't want.

            Eve is open, no top limits. Nothing to brag about - there's always someone, or a consortium, with a higher number.
            Non-gametime skill growth. Nothing to do better to level faster.
            A non-IRC interface. It's not a "group with 50 people and chat while buffing" type of game.

            I agree that Eve kicks ass, but I've always loved tactical space sims and have been playing them multiplayer since Galactic Empire (anyone
      • Or perhaps it's simply users who love the game? I am in no way affiliated with EVE - I'm simply a convert. Biased? Damn straight, and with good reason. Opinions aren't always a bad thing you know :)
  • by creimer (824291) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:47PM (#15607952) Homepage
    May the Emulator be with you!

    Unless Sony's legal department shows up with the police, then you may want to ditch the Emulator instead.
  • Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cpu_fusion (705735) on Monday June 26, 2006 @03:54PM (#15608017)
    Imagine the interesting content and rulesets that could be created by people not bound by the revenue-focus of Sony.
  • by Fei_Id (937827) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:07PM (#15608115)
    Its just like Ep 4 ANH. Lucas is the Emperor and Sony is Darth Vader. Ironic and funny that the shoes on the other foot now.
    • Vader grabs developer by his neck

      Vader: Where is the source code you wrote?

      Vader lifts him off his feet

      Vader: What have you done with those binaries?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:07PM (#15608118)
    *Waves hand*

    These aren't the emulated servers you're looking for.
  • Yoda says.. (Score:5, Funny)

    by saboola (655522) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:09PM (#15608129)
    Allowed by lawyers, this will not be.
  • it was a good game (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xeithmazz (932003) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:20PM (#15608229)
    i played this game several times for a couple months at a time (launch, during the CU, during the NGE) and all they did was make it suck more and more as time went on. sony killed the star wars mmorpg, let it be dead.
  • by rob1980 (941751) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:21PM (#15608234)
    Reverse engineering a SWG server is like staring at someone's poop to guess what they had for dinner.
  • by PWNT (985141) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:33PM (#15608315)
    I am not entirely sure the correctness (and want someone to clarify if I am incorrect) of these next few statements. Purchasing the game is different than playing online in the SWG servers. Some may find there is no distinction, however Sony sells the game, and bundles a FREE 1-2 month pass to the servers. The game is sold separately. From a contractual standpoint, does this not mean the consumer has ALREADY paid for liscensing costs for SWG? The server does not manipulate the actual Lucas Arts IP, mearly gameplay aspects. Adding to the fact that this should fall under "fair use" exemptions, so long as the core Lucas IP is not messed with. Sony mearly provides some algorithm development and a data storage/serving SERVICE for a FEE. Supposing it was all clean room reverse engineered, as stated above, so long as the actual data on the install CD's (or updated to whatever patch #) are not altered, we should be in the clear. The instructions residing on the server are probably not covered by copyright. Am I wrong?
  • by Prototerm (762512) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:36PM (#15608347)
    It took them this long to get it to Alpha because they couldn't figure out how to implement the Sony root kit inside the original (joke, joke).
  • by SlappyBastard (961143) on Monday June 26, 2006 @04:59PM (#15608529) Homepage
    After all their pissing consumers off, this would be an ideal time to make nice and put a foot forward to explore user-run servers as a wave of new interest, rather than an assault upon their business model.
  • If they used content from the other servers. It's probably imminent anyway.
  • by Cheerio Boy (82178) on Monday June 26, 2006 @05:44PM (#15608906) Homepage Journal
    Everybody recall BNETD [eff.org]?

    If you want anybody to be able to reverse-engineer things for compatibility purposes then you better speak up right now. Otherwise this will be smacked down as hard as BNETD was.

    And BNETD wasn't even substituting for a pay-to-play service so you can imaging what Lucas The Hutt's lawyers will do on this one.

    You thought Vivendi was bad...
  • by WCMI92 (592436) on Monday June 26, 2006 @06:15PM (#15609129) Homepage
    The CU and NGE versions bled that potential away. When SOE decided back in 2004 to scrap the core game rather than to fix bugs and inconsitencies and add content to it, they destroyed SWG's growth, and laid waste to the best MMO engine ever produced.

    In Pre-CU SWG, you could NEVER SPEND A MINUTE in combat and still be just as vital a part of the game community as a Jedi Master. It had a combat system and UI that was awesome, you spent time on strategy, not toolbar watching and button mashing. It had no levels, only skills.

    The CU took the heart out but left the body mostly intact. It was a boring and slow combat engine and nerfed player power to the point of requiring a group to do mundane things like level grinding. Non combat roles got marginalized at that time as anti decay kits and uber loot rewards from the expansions replaced crafted items.

    The NGE then destroyed the body, taking away the skill system completely and reducing 32 mix and match professions to 9 static ones. Jedi ceased to be a long term game aspiration and became selectable on startup. There ceased to be anything at all to work towards.

    Throught ALL of this we have been screaming for classic servers, which would make the pre-Cu vets like me very happy. No, says SOE, play THIS or else.

    Well, even John Smedley admitted on the SWG forums that SWG players have been voting with their feet and that subscriber numbers have been falling since the NGE. Their response has been to shove half assed versions of stuff taken away since NGE back into the game slowly but surely. Rumor has it after the latest combat revision (yes, they are STILL changing the combat system every 6 months) that subscriber levels dropped even more, and consequently, the lead developer recently posted about bringing back turn based combat with a target lock (like all other MMO's use).

    So now we have the pre-Cu emulator. The time has come for SOE to either give us our game back, or else, we will take it out of their hands. The Emu project is about to go open source, and no matter what they do with lawyers, just like DeCSS they won't be able to stop it once that code is out there. /target Smedley /rude /db
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Monday June 26, 2006 @06:26PM (#15609186)
    Please don't tell me this is true? You've wasted your braintime on the most milked franchise in the history of mankind only to be sued to chunky kibbles by Sony/LucasArts/YouNameIt the instant this goes gold? Please, no, don't tell me this is true.
    If only they had put their efforts into Planeshift [planeshift.it] to get it on with a viable open source alternative to WoW and GuildWars. But, no, they had to ripp a commercial product. Great. Wonderfull.
    What a waste of brainpower.
    • The most milked franchise? Granted.

      Wasted their braintime on accomplishing this goal? Not granted.

      Why? Because this group of people would, more than likely, NEVER have worked on Planeshift. Why? Because they LOVED and were highly interested in Star Wars Galaxies. They felt the pre-CU world of SWG was an open playfield, a veritable land of riches where those who wanted to grab a laser rifle and hunt down a Krayt could do so. Where those who wanted to strip mine the planets for that last ounce of uber ore to
    • The problem is not brainpower, it's creativity. While there are lots of people capable of reverse engineering protocols and emulating the necessary data structures there seems to be a distinct lack of developers with enough vision to create something new from scratch. Likewise, the sky is full of people who _want_ to create something new but can't follow through on a technical level.

      Maybe it's also about motivation: create an SWG emulator now and enter the hall of fame, and very possibly be either hired or
  • It's a bit sad to see projects like this happen. As someone else mentioned, there's a lot of serious work going on when making an emulator.

    Unfortunately, it's wasted effort. Consider that in this case the emulator writers are facing two companies not known for their patience in dealing with people violating their intellectual property: Lucas and Sony. It's only a matter of time before the lawyers come knocking.

    I'm a small-scale online game developer myself, and I appreciate the work that goes into this t
    • The whole emulated server game hasn't yet been truly test in court. Bnetd guys just kinda gave up. The server emulator isn't, evidently, based off of stolen code, and they treat the client like a black box. I don't see where any 'intellectual property' (there is no such thing, there are copyright, patents, and trademarks) is being 'stolen' or misused since it doesn't make an alteration to the Sony SWG client. But, then again, I am not a lawyer, I have a backbone, no yellow streak down my back, and my he
      • Once a creative work is made by the author, congress assigns the original author sole rights to create and distribute "derivative" works. The deal is, what constitutes a derivative work is and always has been a bit murky. Consider the popular UO emulators. Each of these servers depends necessarily on the installation of the client base maps, in order to make service decisions regarding player positions, and so forth. Does the server emulator's dependency on the base maps make it a derivative work of the UO
        • >Does the server emulator's dependency on the base maps make it a >derivative work of the UO client?

          No, simply using another work does not turn your own work into a derivative work.

          Also note that in many countries, the concept of derivative work does not exist in the same way or is much more lax in its definition and use, hence it is not such a big problem as in for example USA:
      • Yeah, the bnetd team kinda gave up. Why? Most likely because they couldn't afford a legal defense, and it would have been a fool's errand for a lawyer to take up this case pro bono. So, yeah, it will not be "truly test[ed] in court" until someone puts up a defense against an army of corporate lawyers, which I do not see happening soon.

        Which is essentially my point in my original post. It really makes little difference if the emulator is 100% legitimately reverse engineered, they still violate other aspe
        • >Which is essentially my point in my original post. It really makes
          >little difference if the emulator is 100% legitimately reverse
          >engineered, they still violate other aspects of the intellectual
          >property such as trademark. Kinda hard to advertise a "Star Wars
          >Galaxies" emulator without violating at least 2 trademarks that I can
          >count.

          How so? And based on what countries law? (I can't find any information on were they are based by the way). Simply USING a trademarked word is not infringemen
        • "There most certainly is intellectual property [reference.com]. Once something is defined in the dictionary, I think it is time to take your fingers out of your ears and stop screaming, "LALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" Intellectual property is a description for a variety of laws covering copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. It's a convenient shorthand in common use, even if it is not specifically defined in U.S. laws. Pretending that this does not exist or doesn't affect you is the best way to get
  • Am I the only one who was disappointed when it didn't turn out to be something that can emulate a galaxy?
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleem! [wikipedia.org]

    Bleem was basically sued out of existence even though I'm pretty sure they were in the right and no existing playstation code was used. The difference may be that Bleem was a commercial enterprise and this SWG emulation apparently is not. I guess that's a pretty big difference but I'm still surprised that they were allowed to get as far as they have.

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