The incoming future of video games will not be streamed, in the cloud, or in social games available on-line for free, and this is a fact that I have tried to explain before. The topic of this post, conversely, is the series of positive novelties that the success of digital delivery as a supplementary tool for releasing games has brought to the industry, the developers and to whom must purchase these games in the end. In that sense, the lack of a physical copy of the gaming software is widely repaid by a greater range of choices for everyone.
From the mist of the video gaming past a genre thought extinct returns, thanks to a title provided with “an oldschool heart but a modern execution“: the genre is the grid-based dungeon crawlers one, the game which brings it to the present is Legend of Grimrock made by Finnish developer Almost Human. LoG has been released starting from April 11 on the software house site, Steam and on GOG.com, and in this last case the release is particularly important because it matches the renewal of the gaming digital delivery “alternative” service for PC.
Even though it has partially overcome its original mission to be the cornerstone of legal retrogaming on PC, GOG.com (formerly Good Old Games) continues to delight old gamers’ taste (and even the new ones tired of the usual FPSes or the dumb casual games for smartphones) by releasing true gems of the past equipped with compatibility fixes for the latest Windows OSes. During the last days the digital store has practically ran wild in that regard delivering the first two chapters of the Thief series and announcing the coming of the historical Full Motion Video horrors made by Trilobyte.
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 latest weeks have probably been among the most turbulent ones in the brief history of Good Old Games: the retrogaming store has caused controversy, released “new” classic titles of the PC gaming past and has preannounced an important novelty for the product type that will soon be available on its virtual shelves. The digital delivery service created by the Polish publisher CD Projekt is in a sense victim of its own success, and of the ample trust granted by its users as an alternative channel for on-line videogame purchases.
Despite it offers a service aimed at a very selected public of video games fans, in the latest weeks Good Old Games has been the most discussed topic on-line. “GOG.com simply cannot remain in its current form“, an unexpected message on the retrogaming store homepage stated, and many believed that the service had shut down for financial issues or who knows what. The truth was, it was discovered some days later, that the GOG.com management had decided to close the long beta phase of the site with a shocking marketing stunt.
During the past few days two important facts happened in the emulation world: DOSBox, the virtual machine that accurately replicates the PC world obsolete hardware has been updated with a new version release, while the Dreamcast emulator nullDC has found itself at a crossroad in its erratic history. Both cases concern software that are almost unique in their kind, and both the news are worth being told for the practical effects they have on the many fans using them.
On the occasion of SourceForge.net’s project of the month award granted to DOSBox, I asked the crew behind the best PC/DOS emulator out there to reply to some questions about the project. The developers were busy with the last works on the new version of the emulator, thus the interview was changed to include some DOSBox 0.73 related features and finally in the past days the crew was kind enough to send me back the replies I was seeking for. There is no Big Scoop (tm) here nor I was asking for one, but I hope the conversation is an interesting reading anyway.
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.
If there’s something that the new digital store Good Old Games has clearly emphasized is the fact that retrogaming can become a business, but at its heart there must necessarily be the passion and the commitment of hobbyists able to feed that business with their coding and software engineering efforts. Without projects amateurish in shape but extremely sophisticated in essence like DOSBox and ScummVM, to say it frankly, probably GOG.com would have never opened.
Though they belong to a genre already considered defunct and inadequate for the mainstream videogames market years by now, adventure games have a glorious past, a past that deserves to be remembered and of course replayed. At the center of a good part of this effort of collective memory there is ScummVM, the already quoted virtual machine which acts like an interface between the feelings and the puzzles from the good old times and the modern operating systems.
A few weeks after the announcement of the private beta program broadening, the Good Old Games folks are officially stating the public opening of the site in these hours. The retrogaming digital store is now ready to receive the orphans of the good ol’ games and who struggles in the abandonware and the incompatibilities between old software and new OSes, hoping that the economic results will be enough to attract new publishers willing to a embrace the peculiar business model chosen by the CD Projekt guys.
UPDATE: A lucky user writing from the USA has received via mail the invite code that GOG.com has granted me. Happy retrogaming to him, to me and everyone enjoys the experience
Dunno why (yet), but the beta of Good Old Games, the digital store of retrogaming that would like to become a point of reference for the peculiar audience to which it refers, isn’t closed yet. Not so bad, anyway, personally I’ll profit to continue to test the service, buy some old classic that I still haven’t played and more generally devote myself to my preferred activity after sex. That is retrogaming
A month after the announcement of the Good Old Games beta broadening, the CD Projekt folks have finally sent to me the access code for the retrogaming store, the digital delivery portal that would like to become a reference point for gamers with a folk memory to protect and above all the desire to replay the good old times of the former videogaming. Waiting for the store’s public opening and to spend some money for the first purchases, in the next paragraphs I’ll begin to report some preliminary considerations drawn from the brief “tasting” sessions of what GOG has currently to offer.
UPDATE: on the DOSBox official homepage Qbix writes that, “after careful studying the statistics“, the date in which downloads summed up the 10 millions amount has been determined in July 21. Because of this the contest with the CD edition of Dune as a prize is still valid, and the winner selected “randomly” from the 4 people that guessed the date will be contacted shortly to receive it.
That’s an important goal achieved by “the x86 emulator with DOS“: DOSBox has passed over the crucial amount of 10 millions downloads, including all the supported platforms’ versions. As stated on the official forum hosted on VOGONS, the stats on SourceForge.net (the delivery platform that hosts the emulator) of the 17th of August have scored 10,025,792 downloads, and now DOSBox is the 43rd of the 50 most downloaded FOSS projects.
Good news from the Good Old Games project, the on-line store that plans to change the retrogaming phenomenon into a business of DRM-free digital downloads. The message sent me via e-mail in these days talks about a success beyond the expectations for the closed beta program, therefore it has been decided to extend to anyone the opportunity to test the system.
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.