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Five emulators that are keeping dead MMOs alive

swgMMO emulators fascinate me from a fan and academic standpoint.  I’ve never had much interest in engaging with them, not just because of their shady relationship with the law, but also because of the sheer amount of bugs, workarounds, and potential to up and disappear if the property owner decides to levy the boom on them.

However, part of me thinks it’s cool that fans love these games so much that when an MMO is canned, dedicated players band together to keep it alive via emulators.  Again, I don’t condone it, but this is just something that fans do across all forms of entertainment — fan fiction, fan-made films and TV projects, restoring vaporware, remaking old games with new specs, mods, and so on.

So I was curious how many deceased MMOs have emulator clones out there that are keeping the spirit of these games alive.

1. SWGEmu

Yeah, so the Star Wars Galaxies crowd did not take to the abrupt cancellation of their favorite sandbox calmly, and several fled to the notion of emulators for salvation.  SWGEmu didn’t start up because of the game’s sunset, but came about because fans were dissatisfied with the combat upgrade patch (this emulator attempts to recreate a pre-CU environment).  The team claims that it does not use any of SOE’s code, but has rebuilt the game from scratch.  It also claims that the project is 100% legal because of this.

From hearsay accounts, SWGEmu going pretty strong, with a lively RP community.  You can read up more on the basics of the emulator’s history and goals in the FAQ.

2. Earth and Beyond Emulator

Earth and Beyond has been closed since 2004, but I guess that there are players out there who thought this was the absolute cat’s pajamas when it comes to space MMOs or something, because there’s been a lot of work done to get up this emulator.  The team has even put in new and restored content, such as three classes that never made it to the original game.

EA is aware of the project, but is either ignoring it or (according to some accounts) has given it its blessing, making it one of the only emulators I know of that has gotten a thumbs-up from the previous/current owner of the property.

3. The Matrix Online Emulator

Yes, there is an MxO emulator, although it doesn’t seem like it’s been getting a lot of attention since last year.  As it stands, it’s an unfinished project, although some can apparently play it.  There’s another emulator called Hardline Dreams which looks equally shaky.

4. The Infinite Salsa

This is the Tabula Rasa emulator, although I don’t know much about it other than it’s moved sites and changed names at least once.  The info is behind a message board registration process and I’m not going to register just to see what’s there.

5. SBEmu

Shadowbane’s fans (there are fans? I guess there are!) have a slick site up and a massive project underway to reverse engineer this puppy and get it out to players.  I’m pretty impressed how often the dev team is reporting on their progress.

12 thoughts on “Five emulators that are keeping dead MMOs alive

  1. Of those I have only really played with SWGEmu… but I have to say their community is awesome and helpful. You can’t really log in without someone wanting to help you out 🙂

  2. I played SWGEmu for over a year, only stopping because there are so many other games out there right now. The players in there are plentiful – so many that there is lag in the major cities! It feels like there are more people playing it than many of the currently published MMOs. And the development team actually listens to the community and works on the game issues requested in the forums!

  3. Don’t forget RunUO. While Ultima Online is still alive, a bunch of folks have built an emulator for the game. I downloaded the code as it gave some insight into how a MMO is coded. It’s pretty obvious a ton of effort has gone into it.

    I did look into the Earth and Beyond emu, but didn’t find much, I didn’t realise this was that far down the road. Pity I no longer have the EnB client…

    And I echo Llokki. Didn’t know a TR emulator existed. Cool.

  4. SWGEmu. Oh the temptation. But next to time limitations stopping me, i guess i have one other good reason to skip it. The game has a special place in my heart, it clearly was one of a kind, but i have no idea how it aged. Digging it out again and playing without the awesome people from that time, would quite certainly leave me disappointed.

    So, i will maintain the magic and rather keep the game in memory than on the harddisc.

  5. WTF? What about Everquest 1 ? It’s called Project EQ and it emulates Ruins of Kunark which is circa 2001? What about Dark Age of Camelot Emulator? What about World of Warcraft emulator with private servers? Yeah yeah I know some people might hate them but I tried them all they all work so all your dreams of getting that uber weapon or fighting that epic boss is just at your fingertips and with a couple more commands you can edit HP and/or items to your liking. C’mon, do your research before putting up a top best 5 hmm? =(

  6. Most of those servers are dead, some of them are not actually end user host able emulators. None of them are worth running emulated or client wise, except maybe Matrix online as it actually has a single player only follow up called “Enter the Matrix”.

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