The developer behind an ambitious server emulator for Battlefield 3 has opened a sign-up page to alpha test their "Venice Unleashed" software that claims to be able to offer Battlefield 3 players a game server ecosystem unshackled from the restrictions of the official EA and DICE Battlelog service.
Developer NoFate already claims to have unlocked heretofore hidden features in Battlefield 3 such as a native spectator mode and freeform flying in paused game scenes, as well as the ability to modify game mode options that would be locked out on Battlelog (via PC Gamer):
Created by NoFaTe, Venice promises control “over a wide set of features and settings that were initially hidden,” including spectator mode and other “half-implemented or disabled game features.” According to the signup site, Venice also supports the creation of mods and new gamemodes “without the need of performing complicated and game-breaking file modifications.”
Venice emulates BF3′s Blaze networking backend, but it is not a DRM workaround—the Emulator Nexus network repeatedly stresses that a licensed, up-to-date copy of BF3 is required to play. Nexus and NoFaTe are also behind a Battlefield: Bad Company 2 emulator and custom client.
Server emulators are generally frowned upon by games publishers, but the cease and desist action is usually justified as an anti-piracy measure, so we're not sure how EA might response to this particular operation.
Players looking forward to unlocking full mapmaking and total conversion modding for Battlefield 3 should manage their expectations, as the kind of modifications indicated by NoFate are generally just the more rudimentary game hacks like tweaking movement and weapons variables, disabling gameplay elements, or removing visual filters --most of which are thwarted on official servers due to anti-cheat efforts.