« TechStuff

Preserving Video Games

2022-07-13 | 🔗

Why is the preservation of video games such a complicated mess? And what's the big deal with preserving them in the first place? We look at how enthusiasts and historians are trying to find ways to prevent old games from being forgotten.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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the welcome to tech stuff, a production from I heart, radio, the key there and welcome to tech stuff. I'm your host Jonathan Strickland, I'm an executive producer with I heart radio and how the tech art you know but today I would talk about the issue of video game preservation. Inspired to do this because of something that recently happened within ibeesoft a game company. That's. while the poet lightly its had a pretty darn controversial few years, but would be self makes lots of different game titles and one particularly popular franchise from them is the assassin his creed series what one of the entries in this long running franchise came out way back in two thousand. Twelve and It was called assassin's, creed, three liberation and notable, or a few reasons one was that the
their controls, a carriage named Eveline de ground pray, who happens to be first female assassin in the series that the player could control before that they were all male protagonist later on, ubisoft released a remastered version of the game: titled assassin's creed, liberation, hd anyway steam Is the video game store the digital video games store? So it's not online store. Run by valve, which used the primarily be known as a video game developer now, is mostly known as the company that runs steam anyway, steam posted a message on July, eleventh two thousand and twenty two. That said, at the request of the well sure assassin's creed, liberation, hd, is no longer available for sale on steam, which is fair these things happen, but he's will allow some into technically can you're out of print, although in this case that's kind of a myth,
because we're talking about digital sales, but who besought decided to up selling copies of this game, now, salted started also previously announced that be ending multiplayer functionality for several of its games, including assassin's creed, can be disappointing to hardcore fans, but the same time you can kind I understand why it's happening because supporting multiplayer means that a company has to run servers that host those multiplayer sessions, which also maintaining those servers and responding if something goes wrong with them so older games the player base. That's still access saying multiplayer might be so small that it's difficult to justify the ongoing expense of keeping those servers online, particularly it's a game that doesn't have a subscription model to it. Right if it's a game where multiplayer was part of the features of the game that you got with the
purchase of the full game, and it's not ongoing expense. Then the company is footing the bill for providing that service. Even after people are no longer really buying the game. It's but you know it's kind of understandable from the perspective of the business, however, These days, a lot of games, choir at least some sort of online component. Typically as part of digital rights, management or drm just terrible, but here's how it goes. The basic idea is that the game, you're running on your local device, like on your computer or whatever, checks in with A home base server that belongs to the company in order. fi that the copy of the game that you are playing is legitimate, and at that point home base servers, says yeah go had let let him play the game or the game isn't legit or The connection- can be made for some reason. This
Her tells your local machine, hey, don't let us jerk face play that game. They probably stole it so players who just want a single player experience right like it's a game, that's just meant to be played on your computer. There's no online component, there's no multiplayer component. If those those folks, have a poor internet action or no connection to the internet. It's kind of drm is a huge hassle because it means there's no real way to access the game legitimately, but that's the dear emma I've done full episodes about this in the past. Are it let's get back over to be soft soap in its initial message that was published on steam. The implication was that the assassin's creed game wouldn't just be unavailable to purchase from that point forward. But would act be rendered completely unplayable that people who had purchased a cop the of this game would be on.
able to access their game at all, even if they were just trying to play local single player mode nor would they be able to run any of the downloadable content ordeal see that they had purchased for the game. These would issue a follow up statement. That said, be who owned the game already would still be able to play it there even be able to re download it. So on steam. You have a library of games, games may or may not actually be downloaded to your computer, but it's a record of all the games you have purchased throughout. her time using steam and if you want, you can redownload a game to install it on a new machine. Let's say that you're upgrading your computer, you've decided to which to a brand new new computer. system that can run the latest games, but you also have a soft spot for some older games. Well. You can redownload them to your new machine, so ubisoft said
players will still be able to do that, they'll still be able to access the game that they purchased. However, they will not be able to access online content or dlc for that game. That would be unavailable anyway that whole mess prompted this episode, because with so many games requiring online services to function, the games themselves are otherwise confined to a local device. happens when the company that provides that online service goes out of business because that has how more than once in the video game world or what happened if a company like ubisoft, decides to shift resources away from continuing support of older games that have smaller player bases. The thing you, suddenly becomes inaccessible even The code is fine, and even if you have a machine that otherwise could run the game without a problem, you still can't access the game broached means it becomes difficult to preserve such games and in some
cases. It could even the illegal for you to try and do it their cases. It might not be illegal, but it might be practically impossible. so these games are lost in time like tears in rain. Let me know if you got that reference, now some of you might be saying I didn't even know, video game preservation was a thing or maybe a few of you could be saying. Why is it important to even preserve video games in the first place? And it's totally fair, but not everyone is into video games. That's cool right! I'm not into every kind of art there is doesn't mean the arts- bad, I'm just not into it, but there are out of folks who are really into video games, including those who consider video games to be a type of art. I I've been to be one of those people. I don't necessarily think video games at least most of them typically qualify as high art, but I do
there's a lot of artistic expression that goes into creating video games, whether it's from character, design or level design or even gameplay elements, or textures that you use to enhance visuals or the story that plays out over the course of a game there. A lot of avenues for artistic expression, so, though, might not classically, think of as artistic like gameplay elements, you might think o Your pressing ate a jump, that's nothing, but you. Get some of these games and some of the elegant approaches to game play elements in them. You started there is an art to this, people who are particularly artistic, concrete. It really transformational experiences through that. So even you strip all the art away right if you deny that there's anything artful about video games the factory Is the people and a lot of people. In many of these cases, I mean some of these games have
hundreds of folks who worked on these those people. which really hard to make that game happen. They labored over getting the various components up to snuff and then Also worked really hard to make sure all these different components actually work together, so that one thing doesn't break something else and let's be fair. video game companies are not always successful. In doing this, there are plenty of examples of broken games out there. Some of them got less broken overtime thanks to patches and stuff, but we have seen no shortage of the it just didn't work properly, but I still feel like the word, of the people who do dedicated their time and their their skill and their knowledge to creating these games should be acknowledged. and it should be preserved. I think two big things that prompt both to question the need to preserve games. Are that there still this,
perception among some people, the video games are meant for kids, like video games are for babies, they're, just silly diversions and there's really no reason to put in the effort into preserving those things there's another. Perception that undermines the concept, preserving video games and that's that they are so tightly connected to commerce. They are a product you know, like You would go out and buy a hammer, but you wouldn't necessarily want to preserve the hammer for posterity. Not all games are made specifically to be sold, but the vast majority of them are so They aren't really considered art. By some folks However, I would argue that most art is actually meant to be sold. It's not just meant to hang on a wall. hand, the artist makes no money from it. We know if art was never sold, artists wouldn't make a living, and you know what patronage or it's selling it sufficient or whatever
and commerce always have a relationship with each other. Otherwise you run out of artists because they all starved to death. Then of course there are countless examples in say the fashion world, where people spend truck loads cash on designer goods, and they consider these art, like the fashion world, that is art art there has been made to be worn. some way, but even while people are spending those truckloads of cash on the latest fashions, they do so knowing that if they are buying, is going to be out of fashion in six months to a year like the thing that is avant garde and desired today is going to be almost dismissed years time which that is the stuff that wrinkles, my brain, video games I get fashion.
A you just have to take one look at me and you would know he doesn't get fashion. That's fair! Then observing that fashion is, is silly or frivolous. I just don't get it let's talk about video game preservation. So one of the methods I have talked about in fairly recent episodes of tech stuff is the main platform and main is in a in a and it stands for multiple Arcade machine emulator, main purpose- is to emulate, or stimulate if you like this the tree and programming of various game platforms. The games themselves come form of roms, r, o ems or read only memory they up. There are people who have copied the owed off of classic video games to preserve those roms, and originally these roms were programmed directly onto microchips. So if you
the open up, a classic arcade game. You would see a whole bunch of circuit boards with chips on them and they since the game like the game, is physically coded onto the circuit boards and those mike chips include the the the read only memory. That is the game itself. So in order create a copy of that. You have to strip the code. offer the wrong. That's not always easy. In fact it's pretty complicated, and then you also have to create software that imitates the operation of that actual circuit, so that the roms will run properly and that So is a non trivial thing so arcade machines and then later on, cartridge based consoles and also computers would have, that were programmed in physical circuitry isn't particular right, like that's, there's a circuit board in a cartridge and that's what the game is programmed on.
then later on. You would have things like images that would be put on optical discs, we'll get to that too. So the main but for mimics the get tree allowing the copied code from whatever the original rom was to play on a computer always play perfectly well. Sometimes the emulator is just an approximation of how the game would work. In other cases, The approximation is incredibly accurate to the point where it feels like you're playing the original arcade machine. It depends play on the level of emulation for that particular game, as well as the specs on the machine you're running mehmaan in the first place act in talk more about maim and emulation, and the reasons why this is important for preservation. After we take this quick break
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games now obviously a lot people have used names, software to create like a home, arcade machine, that's capable of running hundreds or thousands of different games like can. Even go online and find companies that offer these things where they will have a computer often powered by a raspberry pi, which is a very basic computer, it's running, maim, emulation software and s like a smart card just loaded with gigabytes of roms on it. that was not the original intent of creating maim what the idea wasn't hey, let's create a way for people to get access to these, hundreds of arcade machines in the comfort of their own home. It was the idea that we need something that can preserve these games, because the hardware that the games are built upon will degrade over time and eventually the law.
asked remaining cabinet of any given game, will stop working? And at that point the game is law So this is a way of preventing that loss from happening it just so, happens, that it also means that you could create a bull arcade in one machine by down lots of roms. However, you should know downloading roms can the illegal it's technically, be right violation because you're downloading a copyrighted work, without legitimately purchasing that work. doesn't mean that doesn't happen everywhere. It does, but it's still illegal. Now. Never mind that in some cases at least there's no way for you to buy a legal copy of the game or, if dil de may be that the only legal way to buy the game is to find someone selling it on a market like ebay, and it might be incredibly expensive price
it'd be and there's no guarantee that those will work by the way like you might go out and spend it a couple of thousand dollars buying a classic arcade cabinet find out that You need to do a lot of maintenance on it in order to make it work properly. The the circuitry, if treated well, will typically hold up for a very long time, but things like the actual buttons and controls they wear out. We just wear and tear so yeah you can get to a point where there's just there very few avenues, for you too at a legitimate purchase of a game, the way maim is supposed to be used, that someone who has a legal right to a ron like they own a game or maybe they even own the ip for the game. well, they can download the rom for their own use and they run the main software on a computer. They can act. that wrong- and it's totally legal. So, for example, let's say that you and I
and purchased an arcade machine, a classic game like elevator action, which. I I absolutely anonymously- love and no. I cannot justify it, but I love that game. Well, let's say you bought a I iD that you went out. You purchased a copy of it. You could legally download a rom of elevator action and it serve either as a backup or as a replacement for the rom on the arcade machine itself. If it had stopped working so it's kind of like making a backup of a recording for your own personal use. That's acceptable, that's fair use, but if you didn't already own, a copy of elevator action, then downloading the wrong with it essentially piracy on. Essentially, it is piracy as for maim itself may miss
totally legal to download maimed doesn't have any games on it. Natively. It's just a program that emulates different kinds of hardware main is kind. The of like a console in a way. It's the thing that lets you play the games, but it is not the games themselves. So the erratic You should not be downloading roms for games that you don't already own, however, A lot of games are otherwise unavailable. The companies that made some of those games have long since vanished. So there's no, where were you to go down to buy them or sometimes another company has come around and scooped up the old ip from someone who has gone out of business Sometimes I can be hard to track down like you might think. Oh there's this great game. I love when I was a kid the company that made it went out of business. I have no idea who owns that intellectual property, because chances are someone bought it when The old company went out of business so
There are a lot of cases were finding a legitimate way to purchase the game you want just doesn't appear to exist, and that is frustrating being said. There are some game creators who have granted permission for folks to download roms of their games. So these are creators who have the right to do that right. They are the folks who actually own the intellectual property in the first place so They have the capacity the authority to grant permission to people they can download the roms, and the main website does link to roms that meet that qualification. However, you're not going to find any real big names in that list. fact. You may not recognize a single title. There are a couple of dozen titles that fall into this category. I looked them over and I recognize any of them. None of them were titles that I was familiar with, so they get the stuff that you, you know and love, you would have to go elsewhere, now
I mention arcade machines, but that is not the only hardware that mame emulates since two thousand and fifteen. The main platform has integrated a separate emulator called mess m s, s which stands for multi emulator super system, so mains, primary purpose, was to preserve arcade game that otherwise would eventually disappear once that last working cabinet gave up the ghost mess focuses or on consoles an computer systems, most of which are well out of production, and I supports nearly one thousand systems in total. Not all of them are fully functional, however. So, while it count all the ones that are included in the emu later and you'd get up to more than nine hundred. You have to keep in mind. but those are only partially functional. There really big names on that list by the way and clean than intended entertainment system or any s
Super nintendo nintendo, sixty four as on their second genesis also, is, the mega drive is on there. The sega dreamcast is on their older, You're on there, too, the atari twenty six hundred and clique of vision and in television are all on their and obviously lots for a game consoles as well as for computers, payment- I mean? There's everything from texas instruments to apple two computer systems, to commodore computers, to amiga and more now. These are all devices that have long since been out of production, which means You're not going to be able to buy a new one he'd be able to find a working used one somewhere, the chances are emulation, is going to be the only way you will experience a law, the programming that was originally made for those devices. Now again in a lot cases that software is not tat, we abandonware meaning abandoned, where abandonware is something where there's
no legitimate owner of that ip anymore. has been abandoned. It is, it just exists, thing on its own with no owner above it someone somewhere owns I ve for most of the software, that's out there so you might think of it as abandoned where, because nobody's done anything with it for a very long time, but legally speaking, it's not because that does still belong to some company or person out there now It may be that that entity doesn't care if folks, download, roms or images of that of that program. or a game or whatever I case means. Essentially, copy of the code, not an actual picture of something, but kid just assume that and it certainly. the case everywhere I mean some companies like nintendo, for example, are
really well known for being super protective of their work, even if there is no way to purchase the titles from the company itself anymore. the look at nintendo and you look at how for first, party games the price a comes down like you could look at. Party games that nintendo sells to this day and the game themselves might be years old, but the price hasn't budged, it really gives you a hint at nintendo's perspective on this kind of thing, which I'm not saying is a wrong perspective. I'm just saying it indicates that you're not likely define and tender- oh sure, glad download images of gains. We don't care that. I can't ever happening. However, put aside the ownership question for a moment to get back to the central point: of this episode the main and mess platforms and others that are like them to provide a way to preserve the games and
programmes as well, but we are focusing mostly on games that had been made for these old plan. Forms that are no longer in production. I'll be emulators. We it gradually lose access to that work will be fully dependent upon companies, issuing work, which they ever do and peters change, so quickly that a lot of stuff that was made for older systems becomes impossible to access. Otherwise, without an emulator right, like you can get old pc programmes and try to run them on a modern pc and sometimes it just becomes inoperable. You can't even use it. I remember distinctly how sing, a version of the class six star wars, arcade game, the wire frayne game that she saw the arcade way back in the eighties, and I had a the pc version of that game and play the side and kind of lost track of it, and then we upgraded computers a couple of times as when I was a kid
I found the game and I thought oh, I want to play. This haven't played in a very long time, loaded it up. I play the game because now it ran so screamingly fast that just touching. The joystick would make it jerked. The at stir jerked the rider up or down or whatever things are moving so quickly on the screen. You couldn't see anything and you blink once and you would see game over so it became impossible to play. I needed to have an emulator in order to run that code at the proper speed, and I did it so that games. Became inaccessible to me Let me give you another less frivolous example: some both of my parents write novels and when I was a kid, my parents bought an apple two e computer, my dad is it primarily so that he could write books and short stories using the apple, although he would also play the occasional computer game on there, too I remember him being particular
the fond of the game wizardry, which was canada, adee, a style dungeon crawler, computer rpg benny, a dad used a relatively primitive word processor program on the apple to write out his first few books and You saved these chapter by chapter onto floppy disks. It would take more than a dozen floppy lobbyists to hold a single novels, manuscript In fact, I once accidentally deleted an entire chapter of his work because he had left the computer to go. Do something else, and he had not saved the file for a little bit and I thought he had just left the computer on. So I was thought I was being conscientious wanting to waste electricity. So I turned the computer off wip. So if you ever wondered why the novel moon dreams didn't go the way you thought I was going, that was probably because of me anyway. Flash forward its a couple of decades, since we had a working apple computer. So assuming the data on those,
Lobbyists is still intact witches a very big assumption, because magnetic storage is not permanent, it will degrade over time but it's still intact. We would still have to find either a working apple to a computer and copy of that word, processing program in order to access those files or we'd have to an emulator that would run on a modern computer plus external floppy disk drive that could connect to a computer, possibly through an interface like usb or something otherwise, that that is just going to slowly rot on those floppy disks which honestly is probably what's going to happen. good news is those are books, all published rates naturally tracked down copies of the books, though it could take a la searching. Most of those books have been out of print for nearly forty years, but as for the earlier drafts of those books, some of which were had notable differences from the published. one of the book
there's one children's novel in particular my dad wrote where I thought the original draft was in every way superior to the published version of the book, those might be lost forever. So emulators are one method we can use to preserve games and other types of of coded content, and that works pretty well for local games, as in games that are meant to run on a local device that may or may not be connected to the internet, but I said earlier, there are a lot of games, an increasing number of games, in fact that rely in part or entirely on some sort of online component and let's I called the dm games and, like I said, I've thought about the roma lot in fairly recent episodes. So we won't go into too much detail here, Now some games might just need an initial check in, but increasing lots of games require a persistent online connection.
These games, and and just to be clear, it's games that do this lots of different software does this to these games? what's called an always on drm or persistent online authentication requirement. So if you lose your connection to the internet, likely to get a little pop up notification within the game, explaining that the connection to the authentication server is down this is going to affect your experience in some way. Double. The game might no longer count any progress towards achievement because it can't verify that you're, not cheating or it might be unable to save your progress in the game as you play it now. Today a lot of games will save progress locally on your computer and then once you have We established a connection with the authentication server It might give you the option to either revert to the save that was established by the server. The last time you were connected. or you can choose your local save,
it's probably more recent, and then that will just overwrite the older one on the server and you can go from there and there's no other interruption. But if that server That authentication server goes offline either due to malfunction or the company chooses to no longer support. It then would The owners of this game suffer their unable to access all the features of their game or some cases are not able to launch the game at all. Thus there is a single point of, failure for this game- and it's not even within the players control to address it, Their hardware might be working just fine, but because of the connectivity requirement, they are unable to play the game that they legally purchased, which doesn't seem fair. Well, I'm going to talk more about that and how this ties: into the issue with piracy in just a moment and then get back
into video game preservation, but first, let's take another quick break, this clip is brought to you State farm family isn't, and so is having money. That's why state farm has your back by offering surprise we great rates on home and auto insurance. They can help ensure the things important to you and the great rates help your budget like a good neighbor state farm. Is there call or go to state farm I come for a quick today and all them I was going up the occupations last april, one I had do not athena in my mind, I didn't think like okay, I'm it'd be a big boss and I'm going to work with all these. You know different type of powerful men, but you know it's just like don't think for one: second that you are not as smart. As you know, let's say these white men in their fifties These are sixty that are running a corporation guess what you are just a smart and you bring so much
more to the table state farm, proud, sponsor of the micro good buddy as network, listen to new episodes of your favorite, Michael Judar, shows available on the ice, radio, app apple podcast or wherever you listen to pod, prudential knows the importance of having a rock in your life it needs a rock. A rock help you turn the far fetched into within reach. When you have one you can reach a potential. Your dream, your goals, when it comes to your financial goals. Potential is the rock you can rely on with our knowledgeable financial professionals. We can help you get to new heights plan, invest in sure, retire visit, prudential dot, com, uzi or rock potential insurance, company of america, newark new jersey,
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the okay, so we were talking about how any sort of issues with connecting to an authentication server can create a an. The bull experience for a legitimate owner of a video game, copy While, meanwhile, you got people who are engaged in piracy who are illegally downloading games, they're, stealing games, they're cracking Those authentication requirements, because obviously if you've stolen the game and the server detects that this is not a legitimate copy, you're not going to have access to those features. So you gotta get around that right. So pirate can launch their copy and play it with no problems, at least for games that are local single player games. It's a little bit different from multiplayer games, because getting nothin indication servers for online play requires a lot more work, but at least
for single player experiences. It's not an issue. Once the game has been cracked yeah, you might not have access to things like achievements, but you'll be able to play the game so folks have gone to say that always on drm is just in bad technology like it's just, doesn't work it's a bad idea, because it does not do what it's supposed to do it supposed to prevent piracy, but people are still pirating games and meanwhile it creates a ban. Experience for legitimate owners, the other people who actually spent money to purchase a real copy of the game, they're the ones who get affected my always on drm. The pirates have worked a way around it, So it's a double whammy right. There doesn't do what it's supposed to do, which is stop piracy, Adams and it impacts the people who are legally purchasing the games. I argue, drives more and more people to piracy, it's kind of a self. The feeding tool anyway, back to video game preservation, so in this case the cracked
might be. The only games stick around as if a company were to go out of business or to shift asked away from supporting a particular title like ubisoft, is doing then that particular title might lose some or all of its functionality the cracked games, which have severed action to home base will continue work- or at least work as much as they possibly can, since online functionality will still be affected. If the company running servers to support whatever that functionality is. Let's consider the m m o world for a second I most stands for massively multiplayer online, so it kind of a general category and there are of sub categories under it and emma pretty much describes. One aspect of what these games are all about, namely these are games that are played online so that in a net connection is required and they,
for a large number of simultaneous players. Leslie massive multiplayer, a viable, her subset of a memo. Games are mme, o r, p, Jeez or emma games that our role playing games, a famous one that still going on is world of warcraft? That's kind of like the flu ship example of m m, o rpg's, historically speaking, but there are other games that came and went and would have told disappeared if it for dedicated fans who would commit their own resources to keeping instances of the game running by running their own servers. One such example is star wars, galaxies, which is obviously a game set in the star wars, universe. That game originally launched back in two thousand and three. Then it was numerous updates and expansions, but the player base. Is diminished slowly over time
Two thousand and nine sony online entertainment which ran the game, alerted players who had urges, uncertain servers, Those servers would soon be shut down and the player would be given the capability to transfer their character to one of the remaining servers that Sony would continue to operate. However, in two thousand and eleven sony would shut down. The whole shebang so? Why did you do that? Will one reason was that these star wars, based in m, o r b g star wars, the old republic, was about to launch so the company wanted to dedicate its resources to supporting the new game and also push people to move over to the new title: keep him and these animal are be jeez. The way they generate revenue is that these were subscription based services right for the most part you subscribe and pay a monthly fee in order to maintain access to the game. So, unlike
most video games, where you purchase at once, and that said this as a model where you are having a recurring payment to the company This is before we get into stuff. Like you know, in game content and micro transactions, which is the predominant revenue generation model that we see today like that. how video game companies are really making revenue now is that they have ways to continue to sell you stuff within a game so that you can on spending money on a title and a lot of titles end up being free to play, but to get access to all the cool stuff. You got a cough up. The big bucks anyway, Sony decides to shut down star wars galaxies now where's galaxies that had a pretty robust set of features, including a player centric economy in which players could buy and sell goods that other players had crafted or that they had crafted they could become
bounty, hunters or smugglers, or you know, a jedi or whatever. It was again Proceed a positive reviews and the players who are still with the game toward the end we're really re to say, good bye, so some of them didn't there are a couple of different dribs that set out to emulate the server system that ran star wars galaxies. One such group formed the s w g emu project, so it's s, w g e m- u and actually aim to create servers that ran an earlier version of star wars. Galaxies one didn't include a change that was made to the game's combat system a little later on there is another group called project S, w g that has set out create emulated versions of the servers running the later versions, the game so the one that actually did incorporate some of those changes to combat plus other expansions. So
there are fan, run servers out there, some of them are still under construction, and these are key being that game alive, and otherwise it would just be gone. That's cool but not all companies are keen to allow unofficial servers to operate, For example, electronic arts or a company that was once said on a pole from a consumer to be the worst company in america. used to rely on a company called gamespy to online multiplayer functions for some of their titles. Titles like battlefield heroes and battlefield. Twenty one, forty two, but you know There's always a bigger fish, and sometimes bigger fish have different ideas of what they want to support so what happened with game spy I jean merged with game. Spied in two thousand and four, then zip d. This has acquired a gene and then left
It was decided to shut down a whole bunch of services that had been run through. I g n and game spy because it was, you know, an expense it. It was having to maintain and run these things and Ziff Davis is like why We paying to do this, hardly anyone uses it shut it down and that klute it online multiplayer functions. The games like the battlefield ones I mentioned were using so a group fans began to run servers that would allow players to keep laying the online multiplayer functions of those games together. To be able to do that, they had to get copies of the games. That would be. compatible with this approach and the Their view was that this is a way of preserving again they love and preserving a part of the game that was big part of the experience. There are players who bought battlefield games. Just he's multiplayer muds, because that's really where the meat of the game was like there
There are plenty of examples of games out there that might have some limited single player content, but the vast majority of the experience is really aimed at multiplayer But why should you just accept that The thing you bought no longer has all the features that it was supposed to have available to you. Why should that be allowed? So the ans ran the service for a few years, but in two seventeen a said a legal notice to them and asked them to shut it all down which they did and when you think about you can understand. Ea is a big company. It's got deep pockets, you don't really want to get in an ip dispute with them and yea was saying: hey, you know what you don't. Have the authorization to do stuff like distribute content, it. Has our logo on it and our trademarked com, an intellectual property on it. and the people running. The server said. You know you tell me right: we don't have that authority.
It's not our right. We can't present ourselves as representing a company when we don't have any connection to that company, so they shut it down. Now Many fans and preservationists this activity, has become a huge point of frustration if there are no legitimate ways to access or to preserve a game, then there is a risk that game is just going to fade into obscurity forever. All that work will just be forgotten. the games industry has argued at the nature of their work, means that an old title can re emerge on a new platform pretty much anytime and technically that is True, if a company deems that there's enough of a market to justify the effort that would be involved day he can make those old titles available again. Some cases, it could be a relatively trivial effort, but in others it could require the creation of an emulator or they might have to port.
the original game to new platforms and that's not really same thing as preserving a game, because ports of games can really, two fundamental aspects of the title, but it it's hard to argue against that industry perspective, because it is technically possible to bring back these games I mean that's obvious because of the emulator community. They they're doing it themselves without the authority to do so. So it is While a dozen historians of already proven that possible to bring these games back and to run them on modern hardware, sometimes with almost perfect replication. So if enthusiasts and historians can do it, then surely the companies that own the ip can do it too, and sometimes they do, but sometimes Don't they can choose not to do that. many cases they probably wouldn't choose to do it, because the effort to do it would not end up being paid off
it'd, be too few people to go out and buy the new version of the game, even if the old, their people who really really love thy, gain there, not enough of them to justify the effort of doing this. So because they have the right to do it. Then we're kind of stuck right like they. They can reissue a game if they want to, but they don't have to and because of that, that's why we get to the situation where preserving games gets to be difficult, occasionally groups like the electronic frontier foundation or ia theft will to argue that the case for preservation, it serve as an exception to copyright and fall under the umbrella of fair use so that it should be perfectly legal. babies, emulator and copies of games, but that's tough battle because the companies that own the ip tend to be pretty convincing to politicians know get cynical and say that's because these companies spend a lot of money to lobby politicians and that the pollen
fishing, listen to people who give them money- or you could just say They can afford to have really influential lawyers. Both arguments hold some validity to them. Now the good news is Are a lot of people working to make sure these games don't just disappear. That in the future will be able to access and experience these games. Least on some level the games will likely not have the same appeal. Cuz the graphic and be outdated. The scope of the game will be much less ambitious, but the ideas in the presentation could inspire people to create new games that they otherwise never would have imagined. They could spark something. I mean part of creativity, is built. upon things that you have encountered before. Well, you can only do that if you're able to encounter those things. So that's why prince she is so important plus. Do we really want to live in a world where you can't play elevator action. If you want to cause, I don't so that's kind of
This current situation about video game preservation. How it has the sort of her answer. Ground, and I think for the large, I like the the community, the main community, even though got tons of people who are using maim, coral illegally, in many cases that's overlooked because company aren't really doing anything with the ip anyway, like there not actively trying to reassure you old, arcade machines, because the arcade model no longer really exists, at least not on a sustainable grand scale. But that's not the case across board. You do occasionally get these moves like em, like the the fair the recent trend of companies to reissue, small versions of old hardware like the the nintendo entertainment system, the super nintendo where you get really
what's an emulator in a box that has couple dozen games on it. You have cases like that, so are ways that companies are cashing in. His old ip Thus there is a very strong argument to say, like we can't allow people to just download for free because it is part are our assets and we are actually doing stuff with them, but Every title that is getting kind of a reissue our hundreds that just kind of are gathering dust, so he adds a complicated situation and you can definitely see arguments on both sides that have validity to them. I d we want to see titles preserved, but I would love to be able to see a an approach where There's collaboration between the industry historians. So that the process can be
that isn't going to encounter opposition like isn't going to be legally challenged. And then possibly shut down because that would just mean that all that work would have gone to waste. So that's kind of what I hope for I don't It happening soon, but I do hope, and for the record there are some video game traders out there who definitely feel that way, who feel like preservation is a legitimate and important thing all right, that's it for this episode. I do have another episode where I'm going to be talking about preserving data and the challenges, preserving data in a way that is long lasting and accessible. That's going to be in, inspired by a listener request. Actually, so what do that because it does tie into some of the things we talked about here today. If you have gestures for topics I should cover in the future. There a couple ways to reach out one is: you can leave me a message on the radio, podcast app
please I how radio happy just download it for free navigate the text off the little microphone icon. Click on that you can leave a voicemail message for up to three he seconds. If you want me to use the message in the context of an episode going let me know and I'll be sure to do that, you can reach out to me on twitter the hand over the show is tax stuff h, as w I'll talk to you again. Releasing text off is an eye heart radio production for more pod tasks. From my heart radio visit the eye, Heredia apt apple pie, casts wherever you listen to your favorite jobs
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Transcript generated on 2022-07-26.