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Abandonware: The Ethics and Essentials

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The_Pope 24th January 2009, 11:58 Quote
Nice article, Joe. I'm not sure how many people are worried about the legality of Abandonware, given how widely just-released first party games are rampantly pirated these days. The trade in ROMs for emulation on various platforms is also a sticky issue.

Abandonware is something of a curious concept, if you consider other media rights, as fans of it suggest that because XYZ company has gone bust or their hardware no longer available, the game must therefore be free.

Imagine if all films ever released on VHS or Laser Disc magically became free in 2009 just because their hardware is obsolete? Not the strongest argument I grant you but music, film and book copyright (and therefore royalties) last DECADES, but seemingly not in the gaming universe.

A more serious point I wanted to make having read this article - I fear Abandonware (the free kind at least) will become less and less available in the future. License owners will be far less likely to release their IP when all kinds of ancient games are being repurposed for Mobile Phones and plaforms like Xbox Live Arcade. I probably won't be the first person to dub this Nostalgiaware but suddenly there is a new way to make fresh cash from 1980's franchises, so why risk that by giving games away for free?

Some developers will continue to do it, as a way of "giving back" to their fanbase. But I fear big publishers won't, and anything that isn't already "public domain" will possibly never be...
naokaji 24th January 2009, 12:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Pope
A more serious point I wanted to make having read this article - I fear Abandonware (the free kind at least) will become less and less available in the future.

I agree, even if for a different reason, I think in the age of digital distribution the argument that you can't buy a certain game anymore will go away, try to buy a legal copy of lets say the orginal simon the sorcerer now in game, you won't be able to, but take HL2 in 10 years for example, if steam will still be around you will still be able to buy HL2 legally from teh orginal developer / publisher.


Nice article and GOG rocks, I've used them and I am more than happy, especially with the fact that they patch the games to be compatible with vista.
Jordan Wise 24th January 2009, 13:28 Quote
Syndicate is well hard! How the hell do you shoot people on the first level? I've clicked the damn gun and all they do is follow the target!
Zurechial 24th January 2009, 13:28 Quote
Great article. It's honest and informative, which is what the Abandonware scene needs.

Though it's no longer updated, The Home of the Underdogs deserves a mention, even if only for its vast library of reviews on the games it hosts/links.
http://www.the-underdogs.info/
I'm not sure if their downloads still work, but they did the last time I checked it out.
Goty 24th January 2009, 13:44 Quote
What, no Starsiege: Tribes?!

=P

Tribes was my first online FPS and was the title that really got me into PC gaming. I think I might have to go grab a copy and see if it will run under Vista....
bowman 24th January 2009, 14:01 Quote
Syndicate is the best game ever. Yes. Anyway, the free version doesn't work in 64-bit. I guess I'll just have to hope GOG.com gets around to releasing it.. Unfortunately all the morons have voted all kinds of crappy games up on top of the wishlist so I guess it'll be years before it happens.

Rumor has it there's gonna be a sequel now.. Who wants to bet it'll be a consolized tragedy?
Matticus 24th January 2009, 14:44 Quote
Excellent article. A nice way to kick off a day of not doing my work.

On the subject of making games freely available. Rockstar has made it possible to download the originals GTAs and Wild Metal for free. Not exactly no strings attached as you have to sign up to their mailing list, I imagine you can cancel your subscription to this if you wanted anyway.

And they state that they have been made to run on "modern PCs" so I assume they have actually bothered to put a bit of work in aswell.
stoff3r 24th January 2009, 17:11 Quote
no mention of red alert :/

anyway its freely available here: http://www.ea.com/redalert/news-detail.jsp?id=62
g3n3tiX 24th January 2009, 17:12 Quote
I didn't know Blood was abandonware, and wanted to play it again (I played it once 10 years ago, always wanted to play it again since, but i forgot).
Dosbox+blood=happy.
Bluephoenix 24th January 2009, 17:17 Quote
surprised Freespace 2, descent, etc are not on the list, as volition and interplay are nowhere to be seen and no one picked up the licenses, but there is a project to improve Freespace 2, the Freespace 2 SCP (source code project)
Smilodon 24th January 2009, 17:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matticus
Excellent article. A nice way to kick off a day of not doing my work.

On the subject of making games freely available. Rockstar has made it possible to download the originals GTAs and Wild Metal for free. Not exactly no strings attached as you have to sign up to their mailing list, I imagine you can cancel your subscription to this if you wanted anyway.

And they state that they have been made to run on "modern PCs" so I assume they have actually bothered to put a bit of work in aswell.

I did download GTA 2 a while ago. It worked on XP, but the CPU worked at 100% almost all the time.

It was still fun, though. :)
UncertainGod 24th January 2009, 17:40 Quote
Syndicate is one of the greatest games of all time and I would love it if GOG added them to their catalog so everyone go HERE and vote for the syndicate games.
CardJoe 24th January 2009, 17:45 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurechial

http://www.the-underdogs.info/
I'm not sure if their downloads still work, but they did the last time I checked it out.

Home of the Underdogs doesn't have active abandonware downloads at the moment - it's constant falling down.

Also, Starsiege Tribes is given away as freeware, so no abandonware ;) Freespace 2 has been kind of donated to the community, but Interplay is still very much alive and working on a Fallout MMO. They went bankrupt etc, but managed to stay in business by selling certain licenses off.
bowman 24th January 2009, 18:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by UncertainGod
Syndicate is one of the greatest games of all time and I would love it if GOG added them to their catalog so everyone go HERE and vote for the syndicate games.

^ THIS.
Skiddywinks 24th January 2009, 18:10 Quote
Syndicate <3
Blood <3

bowman; Get DosBox. I recently finished Syndicate (again) on my Vista 64 install by using DosBox. It is dead easy to use, and even if you have no idea how to use Dos (I was in the same position), the instructions are very clear and easy to follow.
Omnituens 24th January 2009, 18:12 Quote
The thing about system shock 2 is - I WOULD buy it if you COULD. Make it work on newer machines and release it on steam = £££

OR remake it in a newer engine (ie source, not that godawful U3 engine) and charge more for it. Id buy it.

Who here WOULDN'T buy SS2 in the source engine?
Jordan Wise 24th January 2009, 18:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnituens
The thing about system shock 2 is - I WOULD buy it if you COULD. Make it work on newer machines and release it on steam = £££

OR remake it in a newer engine (ie source, not that godawful U3 engine) and charge more for it. Id buy it.

Who here WOULDN'T buy SS2 in the source engine?

Wahey, another person that thinks UE3 sucks (Its all shiny headless shoulder men) and Source ftw!
Jasio 24th January 2009, 21:00 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goty
What, no Starsiege: Tribes?!

=P

Tribes was my first online FPS and was the title that really got me into PC gaming. I think I might have to go grab a copy and see if it will run under Vista....

Seconded. As well as the original Starsiege (mech based combat), predecessor to Tribes but using the same engine.
Cobalt 24th January 2009, 21:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnituens
The thing about system shock 2 is - I WOULD buy it if you COULD. Make it work on newer machines and release it on steam = £££

OR remake it in a newer engine (ie source, not that godawful U3 engine) and charge more for it. Id buy it.

Who here WOULDN'T buy SS2 in the source engine?

SS2 in source would be epic win. I've played that game so many times over the years.
bigkingfun 24th January 2009, 21:38 Quote
I still consider the marathon games (mac) some of the best fps games ever.
http://www.bungie.net/Projects/Marathon/default.aspx

Have they ever been released for PC, or abandoned?
sad panda 24th January 2009, 21:54 Quote
Thousands of people, including me, download newly released and not yet released big budget titles everyday and don't get sued. Given that fact, I think it is highly unlikely that you will get sued for downloading a game made 10, 15 years ago.
remixme 24th January 2009, 22:48 Quote
Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Ignition!

Great game, received virtually no recognition at the time. Only reason I got to play at it was because my friend got it from Virgin Megastores as it was marked down and looked severely mispriced for a new game at the time. He got me hooked on it, but I forgot about it because I didn't have my own copy and couldn't remember the title! Lets hope its as good as I remember when I eventually get round to playing it.
azrael- 25th January 2009, 01:28 Quote
"Look at you, hacker... "

System Shock 1 and 2 have to be my all time favourite games eclipsing even the Half-Life series. Even though the game graphics are incredibly dated for both games they both have some of the best story-driven game play ever created. Actually, I prefer SS1 to SS2 because it's just that bit more spooky than SS2.

SS2 runs perfectly well on current hardware, by the way. A friend of mine and myself played the game in co-op mode not long ago. Haven't been able to run my CD version of SS1 for quite a while, although I haven't tried with DOSBox yet. Incidentally SS1 was the first PC game I bought, coinciding with the purchase of my first CD ROM drive.

I'm sure most people know this already, but for those few that don't: BioShock is considered to be a sort of spiritual prequel to the System Shock series as many of the BioShock developers originally worked at Looking Glass Studios and Irrational Games (and possibly Origin).
willyolio 25th January 2009, 02:01 Quote
syndicate was brilliant! i never actually finished the game, though.
boiled_elephant 25th January 2009, 05:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by azrael-
"Look at you, hacker... "

That still freaks me the hell out. I must get back into that game sometime...it was just so damn buggy, and then I reformatted...
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