Thanks for covering this space! I just found your writing, and I love your work.

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Hi Wes,

Great article and write-up. I can totally feel your passion in this space, and it's an area of PC gaming that is despite the explosive growth on the scene, is rarely reported in mainstream gaming media (other than purported piracy issues).

I want to offer you an entirely different perspective of the entire Switch emulation scene that not a lot people realize and why Breath of the Wild arguably launched the entire next gen Nintendo emulation scene when it was published. If you would indulge me, I may have an entire podcast episode worth of topics to cover, but let me give you the high level points.

The first area would be the legality, and ethics of emulation. Emulation by itself is not inherently illegal -- if anything, the practice of reverse engineering and emulating software from a different hardware has been around since the early days of personal computing. It is an necessary tool for video game preservation, and despite the "illegality" of ROM sharing on the internet, it has created a public trust of video game preservation to a certain degree -- the fact that we can easily access and play old DOS games whose developers were long defunct is quite striking. Moreover, ROM/emulation preservation may be the key components for developers who lost their internal development code and want to develop an updated re-release of a title -- this is more common than we realize.

Second, in my opinion, BotW fueled a practically niche hobby/area at the time, and took it to the next level as a result of player frustrations on the software performance on the Switch when compared to the off-the-shelf PC hardware in 2017 at the time. BotW, by all counts, is a perfect game released on a massively underpowered hardware in 2017. The Wii U was released in November 2012 using a modified and slightly more powered Broadway (Wii) CPU -- note that even the Wii, in 2006, was severely underpowered compared to Xbox 360 and PS3 at the time. To put it bluntly, BotW was released in 2017 with the hardware limitations in the equivalent of GTX-500/600 series (Fermi/Kepler) and Sandy Bridge/Ivy Bridge Intel CPU line. It was literally five years behind the curve. By that point, Intel had Kaby Lake (which was more optimized and can push 1.65-2x performance) and NVIDIA was just about to release GTX 1000, which would have doubled the performance out of the gate from the GTX 900 from the prior year.

In other words, by 2017, even at launch, an emulated Wii U version of BoTW on PC would have far superior performance with the benefit of five to six years of generational leap in computing hardware -- this was unheard of. The fact that the emulation team was able to modularly inject mods (FPS++, graphics packs, etc) to boost BotW CEMU's performance to 4k 60 FPS in 12-15 months time frame was amazing feat in itself, but had Nintendo released BotW in a much more powerful hardware in the first place, it would never been an issue. Once the emulation community figured out how to inject user created mods into the game, there was no turning back: BotW's true call of nature was on PC, using CEMU, and mods. The only other game that can come close to BotW in this time frame would have been the Witcher 3.

Third, this trend continues with Switch and TOTK. In the 6 years between BoTW and ToTK, the generational hardware leap on PC was even more pronounced compared to the 6 years prior. Raytracing now is becoming a standard, and DLSS/FSR upscaling now is becoming common as well. We just hit DDR5 and DirectStorage will change how we load games in real time. Oh yeah, and Steam Deck? that is going to be another full episode of discussion why the Steam Deck is a smoking gun evidence why Nintendo needed to refresh its hardware before releasing TotK. Aaand... Nintendo made the decision yet again to develop TotK on a six year old, already underpowered Switch. It's not even a fair contest -- ToTK day one on PC is THE experience to have (despite all the hiccups and what not). Nintendo could have solved this problem easily by releasing the game on a new hardware platform, but chose not to do so despite calls from every single direction (consumers, investors, developers) to release an updated Switch hardware.

Against this backdrop, I will say that the BoTW/TotK emulation situation is a unique situation that would never had happened but for Nintendo's multi-generation release of underpowered machines. Nintendo could easily solve this by releasing a hardware that is on par with the current gen such that off-the-shelf PC hardware would need 5-10 years to catch up before the emulation can be superior to the native machine. This issue simply does not exist in XBOX or PS5 because they are still on the curve compared to the current-gen PC hardware -- it is simpler to buy the multi-release or buy the console to have the ultimate experience. BotW and TotK? You have to emulate to unlock the full potential of these two amazing games, and that is the tragedy of Nintendo's best games released in our lifetime.

If you made it this far, let me know if you want to discuss some more -- I've been using emulators since the days of SNES emulators in early 2,000 (emulating Chrono Trigger on my dell laptop), so I have 20 years worth of emulation experience under my belt. I also used to subscribe to PC Gamer religiously back when Gary Whitta and Greg Vedereman were EICs. Candidly, I was going to write you an OP-ED piece on your take about theboy181's drama because in my opinion it paints the community ugly to the mainstream without understanding the true picture of the emulation scene -- but after reading your readonlymemo posts -- I want to have a sit down and discuss things with you, and see if you see what I'm seeing and we can collaborate on some of your articles.

Thanks for reading, and looking to get in touch with you soon.

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