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Open Sourcing Old Games.
July 10th 2002, 20:49 CEST by Nova Z

I really wish that once a game becomes unsupported (or unprofitable), that the source would be released so that the game could could be maintained by users.  I'm tired of plucking an old game from my pile, only to find that for some odd reason, it doesn't run.

My recent frustrations (and the source of this topic) is the fact that Heavy Gear doesn't want to run on my home system.  It runs on my work system.  A quick look at activision's support pages show that the game doesn't work with systems that have multiple cdroms.  Now, seriously, most systems have multiple drives nowadays.  I think the game might actually require a c: Harddrive, and a D: cdrom (which is the same config as my work PC).  Now, I'm betting that given the source code, it would be nearly trivial to fix this issue.  At most it would require a bit of effort.  Of course, the chances of ever seeing the source for an ancient game like this is low to non-existant.

However, couldn't the release of source for old games benefit both ways?  The publisher could dip back in to the pool of user support, and use the added changes to support re-releases of classic games.  As it is right now, getting a 'classic gaming pack' to run on a modern system is an exercise in futility more often than not.

It's happening more and more lately, but not enough.  And you know it doesn't hurt anyone, if anything, it helps.  I mean, if it's good enough for Carmack, it's good enough for everyone, right?
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#1 by Leslie Nassar
2002-07-10 20:49:36
http://departmentofinternets.com
What's in it for me?

and the doctor's praying to Buddha, "send me to another town!"
#2 by Warren Marshall
2002-07-10 20:52:50
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
The reality is, most companies don't have the source for old games.  Seriously.  I'd bet if I asked Tim for the source to many of Epics old games, he'd be at a loss to produce it.

"It's pretty common for pussies, dumbasses, and their families to blame their problems on vague influences like the media and society. The truth is, fuck you."
#3 by Caryn
2002-07-10 20:56:07
carynlaw@pacbell.net http://www.hellchick.net
In addition to what Warren said, I think "Your Friend" brought this up in another thread: the issue is often too legally complicated for companies to do this. There may be licenses involved, partnerships, etc.

"I can't drink POSSIBLE beers! I need ACTUAL beers! Damn you quantum physics!"
#4 by InsideWhat'sLeft Behind
2002-07-10 20:56:27
What a shame, I would really look forward to a Jill of the Jungle with TCP/IP play.


Ehm...

"It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquistion of a student who would be a fine pianist." - Sergei Rachmaninov
#5 by Greg
2002-07-10 20:59:12
Sure, if the source was released you would be able to make the changes you need. However, there have been some games where the source has been released, and it wasn't necessarily good.

id has released the source to Wolf, Doom, Quake, and Quake 2. Volition released the source to Freespace 2. That's good and all, but have you ever looked at any of it? Very interesting if you can understand it, but the code was in no way written for other people to be looking at it. So unless you are really dedicated about working with the source, it is much easier to look at it for 5 minutes, then throw it away because you will never actually do anything with it.

You should do, what should be done, by you.

-Ancient Japanese Proverb
#6 by q-bert
2002-07-10 20:59:34
q_bert_2000_2000@yahoo.com
I think if it is (legally) possible for companies to release the source, then they should, if for no other purpose than to see what gamers do with it and see what they want.  Companies should set up some kind of deal where when the game is unprofittable then they can publish the source (or at least sell it).  That is another way to make money off a dead non-selling game.

What is this box for again?  I think  I'm confused...
#7 by InsideWhat'sLeft Behind
2002-07-10 21:00:05
And..? I don't really see the problem here...

"It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquistion of a student who would be a fine pianist." - Sergei Rachmaninov
#8 by InsideWhat'sLeft Behind
2002-07-10 21:00:18
In response to Mr. Greg, that is.

"It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquistion of a student who would be a fine pianist." - Sergei Rachmaninov
#9 by Your Friend
2002-07-10 21:01:05
Dearest Leslie,

   Having access to old games running on modern OSes without shaky emulation layers would be what is in it for you.

   Having said that, I think this is largely a lost cause.  As I mentioned in another thread, there are a ton of legal issues (that then become cost issues) when it comes to open sourcing old games:

   Could potentially open up developers to patent claims, (eg. "Oh, well I didn't realize game XYZ used the marching cubes algorithm..now that I see the source code it is clear they did.  Patent Lawsuit.")

   Many developers use third-party licensed code that they have no control over.  While this is fairly recent for entire engines (eg, quake, unreal, lithtech), it has been common practice for a long time with old sound libraries, etc.  Sure the OSS people could go and replace this code with free alternatives like OpenAL/SDL or even just a DirectSound layer, but the company would have to be very careful with the code packaging and release to ensure they didn't let any code they don't own out.

   Public companies could fear shareholder legal action.  Shareholders of for-profit company generally aren't too keen on people giving stuff away for free, even if it is no longer a direct revenue stream for the company.

   May cause lost revenues in the future in some specific cases.  For example, some companies like Capcom actually do release binaries of their old games to run under emulation.  If you have an up-to-date OSS version of the same game, that market, as small as it might be, wouldn't exist.


   All in all, I believe the legal costs alone would be enough for most developers/publishers to not do this.  Even if they wanted to, they might have to lay out $100k in legal fees just to dot the Is and cross the Ts.  And what do *they* get out of it?  A bit of good PR maybe, but not enough to be worth it, especially if everyone were doing it.

  Some developers, like id, can get away with this because they are private and small enough to have a handle on all the content within the engines, they are not the norm though.  Most developers in similar small-company situations tend not to own the complete IP rights to what they create (the publisher does).

  I won't bother too much with the technical problems of open source... such as the fact that many older games were written in assembly language on a dead platform, by one person, largely uncommented... and it would be easier to just reimplement them than try to "port" the source, etc.


  With Love,

    Your Friend
#10 by Greg
2002-07-10 21:02:08
There isn't a problem. But I hope people don't expect to get nice, clean, documented code.

You should do, what should be done, by you.

-Ancient Japanese Proverb
#11 by Greg
2002-07-10 21:02:30
In response to Mr. IWLB, that is.

You should do, what should be done, by you.

-Ancient Japanese Proverb
#12 by Greg
2002-07-10 21:04:01
Though, I do like what the Exult people did with Ultima 7. But that was a major project where they rewrote the entire application, and not just a couple tweaks here and there to make it run better on their platform of choice.

You should do, what should be done, by you.

-Ancient Japanese Proverb
#13 by Morn
2002-07-10 21:05:22
morn@planetcrap.com http://hmans.net
Hmm...






                                                                                      o_O

Hendrik "Morn" Mans • morn@planetcrap.com • admin/coder/lover/kraut
I hope nobody will sue me: C R A P R A D I O | last 10 songs
#14 by Warren Marshall
2002-07-10 21:08:41
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Bear in mind, this also opens the door for cheating.  This happened with the Quake1 and Quake2 source.  Sure, there was cheating before, but now the cheats have the entire source tree at their disposal.

"It's pretty common for pussies, dumbasses, and their families to blame their problems on vague influences like the media and society. The truth is, fuck you."
#15 by Your Friend
2002-07-10 21:09:32
Dearest Warren,

  I believe it is a matter of public record that Tim Sweeny has said he'd love to open source ZZT but the source code was long ago lost.  So there is certainly truth to your statement.  In any case, for many games of the pre-ZZT era, I'm guessing that even if you had the original source code it wouldn't be much better than a raw disassembly dump of the binary.

  With Love,

     Your Friend
#16 by InsideWhat'sLeft Behind
2002-07-10 21:11:47
Greg: Okidokes.

"It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquistion of a student who would be a fine pianist." - Sergei Rachmaninov
#17 by Cliff
2002-07-10 21:12:03
cps46@rcn.com
It may well be difficult or impossible in many cases to release source to older games; nonetheless companies building games now could, if they wanted, plan on future source releases to make that less painful.

Leslie: Why would a dev want to do this?  A few reasons.  From a self-interested perspective, it can build good will.  From a somewhat longer term perspective, programming has always been a collective endeavor.  I don't care how good a programmer you are: you are building on what other folks have done before, and sharing your code (after you've made your money) is a way to give back and it keeps the cycle going.  It's the Right Thing to do.

One thing I definitely would like game devs to do: stop putting hard upper limits on things like screen resolution.  Make such upper limits (as presented in the options) a registry or .INI setting, so that a few years from now, we can replay it at 4096 x 3272 with a huge ass draw distance.

Because sometimes, we all need a little hot camel lovin'.
#18 by Shadarr
2002-07-10 21:12:34
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I think there are a lot of really solid arguments against open sourcing abandonware, enough that it won't happen on a large scale.  First, there's the legal implications.  Even just researching what those are is more trouble than it's worth to most companies.  And in a lot of cases, it's the publisher that owns the copywrite but the developer has the actual source.  Then there's the practical hassle of bundling all the source up out of CVS or sourcesafe into a zip file and putting it somewhere.  Somebody has to do it, and there's no revenue attached.  Considering that most game companies are running from milestone to milestone, they aren't going to waste developer cycles on giving something away.

Personally, I wish games would ship with the development environment--the scripting tools, the level editor, whatever modeller or conversion tools they used--so that it's easier to make expansions and mods.  For example, Alpha Centauri had a faction editor, Civ 3 does not.  I want to play as the Canadians and define all the traits to my liking, but I can't.  I'm betting Firaxis didn't write all the existing factions in raw C++, and releasing that sort of thing would add value to the game while it's still on store shelves.  This makes more sense to me than releasing the source to old games which cannot make money for the company unless some group of rabid fans is willing to pay $1000 for it.
#19 by Warren Marshall
2002-07-10 21:14:10
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Cliff
One thing I definitely would like game devs to do: stop putting hard upper limits on things like screen resolution.  Make such upper limits (as presented in the options) a registry or .INI setting, so that a few years from now, we can replay it at 4096 x 3272 with a huge ass draw distance.

I think it's fairly rare to find a game coded for hardware acceleration that uses hard limits like that.  Most of those hard coded limitations are usually associated with software renderers, where controlling what the user sees is important regardless of their machines.

"It's pretty common for pussies, dumbasses, and their families to blame their problems on vague influences like the media and society. The truth is, fuck you."
#20 by Matthew Gallant
2002-07-10 21:14:58
http://www.truemeaningoflife.com
However, there have been some games where the source has been released, and it wasn't necessarily good...Very interesting if you can understand it, but the code was in no way written for other people to be looking at it.


...

Whaaaaa?

Are you saying, "why bother because nobody else will be able to do anything with it?" That's just false. Somebody's already done Doom to make it work with OpenGL. It happened fairly quickly after the Doom source was released, as well.

Current market value of the Max Payne IP according to a comparison of the market capitalization of Take Two pre- and post- sale: approx. -$281,000,000.
#21 by Shadarr
2002-07-10 21:16:41
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
What the hell, why did blah skip an entire line?  I think I saw that in someone else's post too.  Morn?
#22 by Your Friend
2002-07-10 21:16:59
Dearest Cliff,

   I agree with you on the point of hard coding limits, but most developers are past this stage now.  Virtually all D3D titles offer you a full list of the enumerated hardware devices they find on the system.  The situation is a bit trickier for OpenGL based games (such as Quake3-engine games) since determining exact resolution/freq options at runtime is a fair bit trickier and error prone in that environment.

  With Love,

    Your Friend
#23 by HiredGoons
2002-07-10 21:23:07
I'd pay to play Midi Maze online.
#24 by crash
2002-07-10 21:24:34
an interesting idea. wouldn't really matter to me, but then i'm probably unusual in that i have, erm, well, five machines from various eras configured so i can still play these old games.

highest i ever got with mouse and sound drivers loaded was 613k free, though. sigh. my geek-fu is weak.

Sorry, I misread your second point, remove 'unreal tournament' and replace with 'tetris' -Ryvar
#25 by InsideWhat'sLeft Behind
2002-07-10 21:29:57
628 kB without EMS here if my memory serves me correctly. That was with DOS 6.22 which didn't have BUFFERSHIGH, FILESHIGH and FCHIGH and whatnot as DOS 7.x could.

"It goes without saying that technical proficiency should be the first acquistion of a student who would be a fine pianist." - Sergei Rachmaninov
#26 by chris
2002-07-10 21:35:01
cwb@shaithis.com http://www.cerebraldebris.com
Look... someone just give me a version of Darksun that runs on WinXP, okay? That's all I want, out of this recurring discussion.

I'd add star control II in, but it looks like Toys For Bob is (finally) already working on that. w00t!

-chris
#27 by deadlock
2002-07-10 21:39:38
http://www.deadlocked.org/
I dunno, I think this is one of those things that we'll always wish for, but never really get, for the reasons stated and probably for many more (one of them being that the developer/publisher just can't be arsed).

I have said before, however, that I would love if developers would release new executables for their games to make them compatible with newer OSes. I know, it's not reasonable to expect companies to continually update older products, but it'd still be nice...

When they come to ethnically cleanse me
Will you speak out ? Will you defend me ?
Freedom of expression doesn't make it alright
Trampled underfoot by the rise of the right
#28 by Matt Perkins
2002-07-10 21:40:27
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
chris Re: darksun

That would be fricking awesome...

Oh yeah, and while were on that kind of wish, can I get the old X-coms running reliably?  I can half ass them now, but it would be nice if they could actually run on XP without all the fiddling and crashing...

If that Matt Perkins XXX sees the light of day, it will be interesting to see what happens. - yotsuya
#29 by Shadarr
2002-07-10 21:40:59
shadarr@yahoo.com http://digital-luddite.com
I'd be happy with a version of Dark Sun that I could run on anything.  I bought it for 10 bucks and never got it to run.  Tried a bunch of different boot disks, talked to those geekier than I about tricks for freeing memory, but never got it to work.
#30 by Cliff
2002-07-10 21:41:37
cps46@rcn.com
Warren, 19
I'd have to double-check, but I'm almost positive Midtown Madness has a hard 1024 limit -- no reason that I can see, it's a Direct3D car game.  I know I've seen this in other games as well, but can't name any offhand (haven't played games for a while)...Thief and System Shock 2?

In any case, there's other limits as well, such as draw distance, that could benefit.

Because sometimes, we all need a little hot camel lovin'.
#31 by UncleJeet
2002-07-10 21:44:05
Dearest Blahdefuck,


    Your pathetic attempts at recognition are extremely annoying and quite insipid.  I would advise that you stop trying to have a "hook" and start being normal instead of so damned weird.

    Also, I'm stupid.


With Love,

Cockface

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#32 by Cliff
2002-07-10 21:44:52
cps46@rcn.com
Speaking of geek-fu, can't you retrogaming XPers multi-boot into DOS?  Or failing that, run Bochs or VMWare?

Because sometimes, we all need a little hot camel lovin'.
#33 by UncleJeet
2002-07-10 21:46:17
Cliff -

  Or better yet, just use old computers with old operating systems.  Honestly, life's just been all downhill since the disappearance of the Turbo button.

I'm fighting terrorism by playing violent video games!
#34 by Your Friend
2002-07-10 21:51:15
Cliff, my good man,


   There are indeed HW accelerated 3D games with hard limits but as I mentioned before they tend to be older games.  A big reason for this might have been that prior to the DirectX5/6 it was quite a hassle to properly enumerate all working device settings in D3D.  It is now very easy to do this, however.  Thus I don't see this problem much on recent 'AAA' Direct3D games.  So I think you are starting to have your wish granted.  In terms of draw distance, that can be a tougher nut to crack as the draw distance is quite often tied to the visibility determination system of the game, not just the zfar of the video device.  With modern video cards, more developers are starting to use inherently more flexible visibility schemes (eg, the BSP with static PVS is slowly starting to disappear), and as such I believe your wish on the draw distance issue may come true as well, though it will take a bit more waiting.


 Hoping all your wishes come true,

    Your Friend
#35 by None-1a
2002-07-10 21:51:19
I'd have to double-check, but I'm almost positive Midtown Madness has a hard 1024 limit -- no reason that I can see, it's a Direct3D car game.


Nope, it scaned for supported modes then stored them in an ini file, it did have a habbit of screwing up that detection with higher settings, some people could never get it above 800x600 because of that. You could however put what ever you wanted into that ini file.
#36 by Ashiran
2002-07-10 21:55:53
XP is the OS that helps you. It does all kinds of things for you you don't want!

"Good writers are harder to find than nice breasts" - morn
#37 by Post-It
2002-07-10 21:58:48
keithlee@speakeasy.net
Shit, at this point I would settle for being able to run Deus Ex on my PC. Ever since I switched to WinXP and got a GF3 card it hasn't run, it just locks the computer in a black screen. :(  (Any advice?)

I'd have to say that the legal hassles involved in releasing old code would be the problem. You'd have to get everyone on the project to sign a release/waiver form to the rights/profits, which means you'd have to hire a lawyer, which costs money, on something that gives you no return. No company is going to do that except for small privately run companies like Id, who do it because they think it's cool. No, the audience for older games just do not offer any type of profit return for the investment it would require to open-source all the old code. Sure it might endear some sort of loyalty or feelings of good-will to the company, but it is hard to turn that into real world dollars.

"It's a bird!  It's a plane!  Oh shit, It knows we're home!"
-Chris Johnson
#38 by Greg
2002-07-10 21:59:48
Though I suppose one benefit of releasing the source would be to get rid of all those kludgey checks in games like Tie Fighter (Win9x) that don't like a version of DirectX > whatever they coded to, or don't like the way joysticks are accessed, or whatever. Just checks that should have been denying older versions but were also, intentionally or unintentionally, also denying future versions.

You should do, what should be done, by you.

-Ancient Japanese Proverb
#39 by Cliff
2002-07-10 22:05:02
cps46@rcn.com
I want a big-ass red OVERRIDE switch for my computer.  Don't tell me what I can and cannot do.  

Re-installing an application over previous installation on a tight drive, and it tells you there isn't enough space?  OVERRIDE.  Wrong version of DirectX?  OVERRIDE.

Because sometimes, we all need a little hot camel lovin'.
#40 by Warren Marshall
2002-07-10 22:06:35
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
What I hate are games that check if they're running on Win95 and won't run if you're not.  I think Fallout1 did this ... it seems to work on Windows XP for some reason, but on Windows 2000 it refused to run the installer because I wasn't using Win95.  !?!?!

"It's pretty common for pussies, dumbasses, and their families to blame their problems on vague influences like the media and society. The truth is, fuck you."
#41 by Warren Marshall
2002-07-10 22:08:48
http://www.wantonhubris.com/
Cliff

Yeah, I've often talked about the glory of the "Fuck off and just do it" button.  Software that tries to think often backs itself into a corner.  

I want to install over this app because some files are fucked up.
"Hey, it's already installed, so you don't need to install it again!"
Fuck off and just do it!  *click*

"It's pretty common for pussies, dumbasses, and their families to blame their problems on vague influences like the media and society. The truth is, fuck you."
#42 by Ergo
2002-07-10 22:08:58
I got it to run on Windows 2000, but I had to do the dance first.

"Brian, there's a message in my Alpha Bits! It says 'OOOOOOO'!"
"Peter, those are Cheerios."
-The Family Guy
#43 by Your Friend
2002-07-10 22:12:30
Dearest Cliff Warren,

  One of the things that still bothers me quite a lot about games to this very day are those that won't let me alt-tab out, or use the Windows key, or in general just don't allow me to leave the game screen when in fullscreen mode.  This is horrible.  This sucks.  Any developer who does this sucks.  Don't try to be clever.  Spend the time you wasted on kluding tricks to disallow me from alt-tabbing on learning how to restore lost hardware surfaces, you fucking idiot.  Asshole! Motherfucker!


  With Love,

    Your Friend
#44 by Greg
2002-07-10 22:12:55
Warren:

What I hate are games that check if they're running on Win95 and won't run if you're not.

Most were due to checking to see if you were running an NT variant. Because NT4 didn't have DX5+ support, games with DX5+ won't run on NT. So rather than just checking for NT4 (or better yet, the DX5+), they check for NT period. So Windows 2000 comes up as NT, even though it supports all versions of DX.

You should do, what should be done, by you.

-Ancient Japanese Proverb
#45 by Matt Perkins
2002-07-10 22:14:56
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Greg

2000 didn't support all versions...  or at least it didn't run some of later versions when I was running it.  It had limited, slower hardware access compared to 9.x where you could do anything.  I don't know the level of support on 2000 currently.

If that Matt Perkins XXX sees the light of day, it will be interesting to see what happens. - yotsuya
#46 by Your Friend
2002-07-10 22:15:04
Dear Greg,

   Very true.  Sadly its even easier to check the DirectX version than it is to check the OS version.  Why some developers didn't do this is beyond me.  Sigh.


  Your Friend,
    
     Your Friend
#47 by Charles
2002-07-10 22:16:50
www.bluh.org
I didn't expect this to get voted in.  I know why.  I wrote it cause I was miffed.  And still am.  Now Heavy Gear 2 doesn't work.  Just plain won't run on Win2k.

Capitalism and patents suck.  Stockholders suck, keeping secrets sucks.  I just wanna be able to play my motherfucking games after companies stop supporting them.  I don't want to have to time travel, or spend months collecting ancient parts and software in order to play them.

Anyway, this thread is stupid.  I know all the answers to all of my questions.

...is the new SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP.
#48 by Your Friend
2002-07-10 22:17:14
Dearest Matt,

  Are you sure you aren't talking about NT4.0?  Greg is correct, DirectX3 was the last hardware accelerated version of DX for NT.  There was an unofficial DX5 release for WinNT but it was only meant for developer usage and wasn't hardware accelerated at all (used the HEL for everything).  Windows 2000 always supported the latest version of DirectX from the 2K Beta 0 release through the full release.

With Love,

   Your Friend
#49 by Matt Perkins
2002-07-10 22:19:03
wizardque@yahoo.com http://whatwouldmattdo.com/
Your Friend

I'm not remembering what it was, but 2k didn't support something about games...  I'm probably just off my rocker, but I know had to dual boot because some new games wouldn't run in 2k...  I don't remember why.

If that Matt Perkins XXX sees the light of day, it will be interesting to see what happens. - yotsuya
#50 by Creole Ned
2002-07-10 22:19:25
I had that problem with MoH. For some masochistic reason, I decided to pick up the single player again, but the patches made my saved games incompatible with the current version. So I figure, no problem, I'll just install another copy of the game.

Nope.

Run setup.exe again and I get the choice to uninstall or re-install the game. Great. Now, I'm sure there's some way I can fool it and install a second copy, but bleah. I ended up loading in the map I was last playing on through the console and taking it from there, anyway. It's actually a much better solution, but still...

"I don't bemoan the great paste" - LPMiller
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