Rather than taking a vacation from writing code and reverse engineering the chips inside old gaming machines, emulator developers use the hottest period of the year to release updates for some of most significant projects in the modern emulation scene. During the last three months new versions of ScummVM and Dolphin arrived, while a project seemingly started to absorb all the emulators in the world presents an important innovation regarding one of the most beloved consoles from Nintendo.
By ending a wait that lasted almost two years, the developers of ScummVM announced the arrival of a new version for the virtual machine preferred by graphic adventure fans: also known as “Lost with Sherlock”, ScummVM 1.8.0 is hailed as one of the most hefty releases ever prepared by the team with the addition of many games and game engines, the substantial update of graphics and sound sub-systems and the availability of new conversions for minor platforms.
2015 started well for fans of old-school graphic adventures, thanks to a new official release of ResidualVM and the addition of a couple new titles to the always-growing list of games supported by ScummVM. The two gaming virtual machines are related, seeing that ResidualVM was created by the same developers of ScummVM, and they both are projects defined by a steady advancement process devouring new games like a Grue devours players lost in the Zork underground world.
More than two months after version 1.4.0 came out, ScummVM is now updated with release 1.4.1 (code name “Subwoofer”). The new version of the virtual machine for adventurers and retrogaming lovers is depicted by developers as a “maintenance only” one and it is mostly designed to fix several bugs found in the previous release, even though ScummVM 1.4.1 does bring some of the new features introduced afterward.
What follows is a report for a long series of news occurred in the emulation world during the last period, and by “last period” I mean the latest months before the beginning of the new year at least. For this reason, in some cases I can’t exactly talk about “news”, but it felt right to me to emphasize them considering that these are already established advancements that will be the foundations on which to build the future ones. After all emulation is an ever-evolving world, and I want to start over to tell its progressing without losing too much important things along the way
After having reached its “full maturity” with version 1.0.0, celebrating the occasion with a significant amount of improvements, the old-times adventurers beloved virtual machine updates itself once more. ScummVM release 1.1.0 (code name “Beta quadrant”) brings some new features, squashed bugs, support to seven new games within the compatibility list. And some annoying regression defects too that should anyway be worked out “in about four weeks” with an upcoming release.
It isn’t exactly the end of the world as we knew it, but the dynamism of adventure games publishers and developers in the summer of 2009 seems to have a weight in the great order of things anyway. The fact is that years after their (alleged) commercial and creative death graphic adventures continue to come out, and in some kind of reboot effort the genre noble fathers try to suggest the way for a possible new renaissance of “point and click” games through the marketplace of digital stores already projected into the future.
Apparently spring affected the ScummVM coders in a positive manner, because after a waiting of six months between release 0.12.0 and the 0.13.0 one only two months more were enough to see a new version coming, namely the 0.13.1 one available on the official servers since a few days. The short period intervened since the previous release justifies the lack of new supported games, as this time the focus is bugs correction and the improvement of consoles and portable platforms versions.
Yeah I know, it’s an old new, but considering that we are talking about a text adventure dating back to 28 years ago a few months more or less aren’t of so much difference. Moreover Zork isn’t only ready to return on the web with a permanent on-line multiplayer adventure but also on ScummVM, adventurers’ preferred virtual machine that recently grew rich with part of the videogaming universe ascribable to the mythologic adventure created in the mists of time by four MIT hackers.
The classics, by definition, never go out of fashion, let alone if they are the graphic adventures of past decades. And the preferred tool of true adventurers is ScummVM, a software that works as an interpreter between data files of such adventures and modern operating systems. After 6 months since the release of version 0.12.0, in these days developers have delivered a new main release of the virtual machine, which includes novelties both for the interface and supported games.
Alerted by the inexorable advancing of the next digital dark age, the European academy started a preservation plan for digital contents and artefacts with great ambitions. The KEEP (Keeping Emulation Environments Portable) project considers with particular care videogames and intends to create what has been defined the first “general purpose” emulator, capable of providing access to obsolete media and formats for nowadays and future generations.
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.
Waiting for the Architect of adventure games Ron Gilbert to unveil the (certainly) moronic face of the DeathSpank hero to the world, if one was in withdrawal from “point & click” games he could always practice with ScummVM, the virtual machine designed for the preservation of the good old adventures from Lucasfilm/Lucasarts (and much more) released in these days in its new, sparkling version 0.12.0.