Digital Rights Management (DRM) technologies and their noxious inclination to spoil the day for PC gamers are steadily at the focus of the gaming debate, and almost everyone takes for granted the fact that it’s a contemporary issue not concerning games of the past at all. Nothing more wrong: maybe some years ago (or many years ago) they were more trivially called “copy protection”, but DRM restrictions continue to do harm even among people that engage in the noble art of retrogaming or are interested to digital contents preservation.
The funny thing of Internet is that you can get into everything, even what you expect less: in the past days I have been interviewed by Swiss newspaper laRegioneTicino on abandonware, retrogaming and related topics. The resulting article, available in PDF format in the technology section of newspaper’s site or here on Sir Arthur’s Den as well, is a reduced version of the interview made via e-mail. Nothing particularly impressive, actually, but surely it’s something I had pleasure to do
Lord Pall, administrator of the spiritual heir of abandonware site Home of the Underdogs, sent me an e-mail in the past days letting me know that works for pushing forward the almost-dead project of Sarinee Achavanuntakul continue at full pace. “We’re still alive with most of the games listed, a semblance of a community, and a nice chunk of user added listings and reviews“, Lord Pall writes, saying that there is still a lot of work to do but the site development goes on as expected.
The phoenix of abandonware hasn’t had the time to rise again from its ashes, that it has soon split in two separate parts with no communication between them. The efforts of the community gathered around the discussion group Home of the Underdogs Revival Project have actually led first to houtd.org and, some weeks later, to homeoftheunderdogs.net. Both sites claim to be the “official” home of the new Home of the Underdogs, and plan to pursue its “mission” in different ways, rather difficult to conciliate in a unitary approach.
Like the legendary bird rises again from its ashes, the most important site of abandonware recently sunk into the oblivion of disconnection is preparing to return to life thanks to the joined efforts of enthusiasts and experts and with consent of its original caretaker, which announces the start of the revival project and apologizes for having been absent so much time to let such a precious resource for classic videogaming die from starvation.
Home of the Underdogs is dead, long live to vintage videogaming. It’s unlikely that memorial words will be wasted in the IT industry for the occasion, nevertheless the event is worth highlighting: founded by the Thai woman Sarinee Achavanuntakul in September 1998, HotU eventually became the largest historic videogames archive (mostly) for DOS and Windows platforms, representing one of the major landfall points of the phenomenon at the boundary between illegality and collective cognizance better known as abandonware.
The Polish producer/publisher CD Projekt have had the nice idea of focusing two great trends of the PC gamers community, the one majority (digital delivery) and the other marginal (retrogaming) to build up a new business, that should turn real for the next September under the appearances of GOG.com, acronym meaning for Good Old Games.