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Untapped avenues

Date: Tuesday 19th April 2011
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For the first time, last weekend, I actually bought a game from Steam that wasn't specifically Value related - like Halflife Episode #Whenever we can be arsed to make it or Left 4 Dead. It was an indie game called VVVVVV for a whopping £3.99! I had intended to use Steam for this very purpose, as in downloading indie games, since I'm a bit too much of an oldie and still prefer physical media for my mainstream games but I was rather impressed with the title.

This reminded me of another site, similar in style to Steam, but offered older games like the oooold DOS/Win 95 era games, such as Alone in the Dark, Total Annihilation, Blake's Stone and more for prices from $9.99 and lower. Better still is that these games are modified to run on Win XP and Windows 7 (both 32 and 64-bit versions).

The site? Good Old Games or GoG for short

So I decided to pick up Dark Reign and it's expansion Rise of the Shadowhand for $9.99. I do have a physical version of these games but....they won't install properly on XP. Dark Reign moans that I don't have DirectX 3, despite that I have version 9.0c. Luckily, after downloading the setup file from GoG, it installed without a hitch and plays wonderfully. But the difficulty setting seems to be horrendous as the AI units are pretty relentless and brutal at times! I had to restart the 3rd mission 5 times before I fathomed a workable strategy that allowed me a chance at winning the scenario for more than 10 minutes of playtime.

Their game catalogue is pretty impressive and I wondered just how on eath they managed this feat, after a bit of investigation, i.e. one search on the magic Google-about, I found that most of these games are either pre-patched, used open-sourced engines or have some sort of compatibility mode.

Now, this got me thinking.

I've seen *a lot* of decent open source engines:

  • Aleph One - for the Marathon Series
  • Exult - for Ultima VII
  • ScummVM - mainly created for the LucasArts point and click games, but then extended for other point and click companies

And here is a company (with permissions/deals from the original publishers) who sell these games to interested parties. So why don't the original publishers do this themselves? Instead of moaning about piracy or, as we all realise, moan that they aren't getting enough money from games - mainly *not* getting the money from someone who sells the game on second hand.

Here they have the perfect opportunity to still sell their older titles (which comes as a bonus when they revive a franchise) as I bet the new generation of gamers would love to have a go at the older games in the series. True, you could argue that these games have lost their monetary value over the years, since gaming technology has moved on since then. But when you see a multitude of "AAA" games that only rely on graphics alone to sell the game, that excuse becomes a mute point!

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