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Author Topic: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?  (Read 6624 times)
Blueparrot1966
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WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« on: July 04, 2006, 04:43:23 pm »

Seeing things like UQM and DOSbox has really gotten my wheels spinning lately.  For a long time, the hobby has been parting ways with "old duffers" like me (39!).  More and more, new stuff I've tried sits on the shelf, and I find myself wishing for another round of games from 10+ years ago.   No matter what a person's tastes are, I think everyone who's played long enough remembers Master of Orion, Warlords, X-Com, and a good double handful of true classics from the 80's and 90's.

I firmly believe that a company could make good $$ just scooping up old classics, either buying the rights cheap or just going with public domain material like UQM did.   They could update the graphics, do what's needed to run them on modern rigs, and put them out to buy- basically unchanged from the original.  Sure, the payoff wouldn't be a dump truck full of cash, but you wouldn't have to lay out tens of millions to do it either, as is required for a modern A list title..

But what do I know, I'm just an old, unhip game geek.  Yesterday's news.  It's all about MMORPGS, RTS, and action action, action!  What a silly git I am, to still want to mess with turn based strategy, or a good (even turn based!) rpg.  (Sigh).  It's a shame.  Guess I'll just have to take up golf or fishing, some kind of "grown up" hobby....
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #1 on: July 04, 2006, 04:57:30 pm »

The answer to that is easy.

Gaming companies from 10+ years ago have gone defunct and the rights to those games have been eaten up by larger corporations such as Infogrames or EA. Such mega-corps sit on the copyright licenses for such games and refuse to budge on them for any price in the vague hope that they might revive it later.

I would elaborate further but I have to get back to work. That should cover most bases though.
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Blueparrot1966
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2006, 05:15:19 pm »

Yeah, I'm not shocked, I've even heard of this in a couple of specific cases.  But it sure isn't the answer I'd hoped for.  Even if those big mass market monstrosities DO get around to reviving stuff, it probably isn't going to be anything I'd like.  grr...
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2006, 09:11:49 pm »

Yes, but I haven't those games that are given on legal abandonware sites lost their copyright? I know a site that really gives only those games that aren't ESA protected, meaning that aren't sold anyomore. Anyway, I thought that there's a specific time after wich you loose copyright. But, I'm not an expert so don't blame me if I'm wrong about legality.
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2006, 12:54:01 am »

In most countries in North American and Europe, copyrights expire several decades after the death of the author (or about 100 years after publication if the creator is a corporation). This essentially means that, in the US and most European countries, the copyright has not expired on a single computer game and will not do so for many years.

Abandonware sites are, with the exception of those few that distribute only with the copyright holder's permission, heavily engaged in copyright violation. Most of these sites get away with it by being situated somewhere with lax copyright laws or law enforcement, removing games as soon as the copyright holder complains and/or keeping a low profile.

Personally, I feel that copyright law should be modified to allow access to works that are no longer being distributed. One way to do this would be to allow anyone to produce and distribute copies of a work as long as the copyright holder is reimbursed (e.g. by enforcing a copying tariff). On the plus side, this allows copyright holders to make a profit without doing anything. The problem with this idea is the business infrastructure necessary to collect payments and distribute them to copyright holders (in practice, a government-run agency would have to handle this).

A simpler idea, albeit less palatable from the business point of view, would be to drastically decrease the time until a copyright expires (e.g. to 15 years). This is unlikely to become reality in the US, where copyright terms continue to increase, but is possible in Europe.

Also, for the record, UQM is not public domain. The source code is under the General Public License and the content may be distributed as part of the game (see the COPYING file for details).
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2006, 04:28:49 am »

There are such companies.  Sort of.  I know that "Sold Out Software" repackages oldish goodies like Worms and Populous: the Beginning, but I'm guessing that they also install something else on the machine (their CD covers all say "powered by .Now technology").  They don't rewrite the game though, just sell it as it was.
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2006, 12:25:18 pm »

Sold Out seems to replace the installers with their own ".now" system, which apparently installs the game, applies patches and installs whatever you need to read the manual (Adobe Reader, usually). The games seem to be unmodified (for example, Worms is still a DOS program and is clearly indicated to be incompatible with Windows Me and XP).

I would love to see Sold Out expand their selection (how about some classic stuff instead of all this post-1995 junk? Wink); with enough games available to customers worldwide they could essentially wipe out the abandonware problem.
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taltamir
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2006, 12:43:34 pm »

the way things are going this is just going to be harder and harder...

Original copyright law DID expire after a reasonable person... which was extended due to heavy lobbing, which was extended again due to heavy lobbing, and again, and again, and again... Not only that, but unlike any other law they managed to make such extensions apply to already made things rather then only to future titiles (normally law is not retroactive, its only a crime if it was illigal when you did it! and if it is no longer a crime you are not going to have your penalty revoked). With the current trend copyright will NEVER expire and is being expanded all over the world... Also it will be slanted more and more towards the holding corporations rather then the actual authors. Heck much of your DNA is currently being copyrighted by companies in a giant race for "intellectual property"

I remember reading in australian news some time ago when police evacuated a building of its workers to allow RIAA representatives to raid the place and shutdown a company that made some p2p software there. And the new iraqi government passed laws to mimic american copyright laws and honor them less then a week after it was formed...

Don't expect to see revival companies until the "right to read" revolution comes about in 2062 Tongue
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/right-to-read.html
UQM is a truely unique instance in this regard...

However, beyond law there is public opinion, and those are shifting... I actually meet many people today who think "fair rights" are unfair to businessess and so on...

Heck my roomate thinks that libraries should pay royalties to authors based on every person who reads each book (where each person pays for every book they read to the library)... And he isn't the only one...
« Last Edit: July 05, 2006, 12:54:27 pm by taltamir » Logged
Lance_Vader
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2006, 06:48:54 pm »

The purpose of copyright law is NOT to enrich the creator of intellectual property.

It is to reward and encourage creativity and innovation.  That's why I think our copyright laws are already too far over the top.  We need to rein them into a reasonable time frame.  Ninety-five years after publication is simply too much time, even as far as a corporation goes.  Current copyright laws seem to DISCOURAGE innovation in many circumstances, because they turn this innovation into an elitist club that you can't join unless you're already a member.
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Lukipela
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2006, 09:06:22 pm »

Wait what? How does it discourage innovation? You don't get to join the club unless you come up with something new, unless of reusing someone elses old stuff. Isn't that encouraging innovation?

(Not that I think copyright should be ebnforced for a century mind you, but your statement makes as muc sense as the guy who kept going "Mickey belongs to us now. It's time to let him go")
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BrainFromArous
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2006, 11:30:34 pm »

Considering how many people think that "abandonware" is a legal category, perhaps the Retro Gaming advocates have done their work TOO well...? 

My own Retro Lament... plugging StarCon2, no less!
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2006, 02:28:11 am »

Okay, in response to why there isn't a "Company" that distributes these retro games, it's because there's no need to sell them anymore, they'd only make profit from old geeks who already have the game but can't run it. That's why we port these games people, it's been done to plenty of DOS games: Eradicator, DooM, Duke Nukem 3d, Star Con 2, Deadlock, and other great games. If you want, I could even round up a list of sites where you can download all of these ports for FREE! The only requirement for them is that you have to have the original version of the game, because these ports commonly still use files that only the original versions have (UQM is an exception), and as an example of these files, Zdoom still uses wads and Lmps, and Rancid Meat's Duke3d Port still uses the original lvl files.
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2006, 07:51:26 am »

The only requirement for them is that you have to have the original version of the game, because these ports commonly still use files that only the original versions have (UQM is an exception), and as an example of these files, Zdoom still uses wads and Lmps, and Rancid Meat's Duke3d Port still uses the original lvl files.

And how do they check this? Anyway, I doubt (although I could of course be wrong) the legality of this very much. Sure, the companies probably don't care seeing as they're old games, but that doesn't make it any more legal. Or am I wrong and they have obtained some sort of permission from the owners to port and distribute these games?
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2006, 12:09:40 pm »

And how do they check this? Anyway, I doubt (although I could of course be wrong) the legality of this very much. Sure, the companies probably don't care seeing as they're old games, but that doesn't make it any more legal. Or am I wrong and they have obtained some sort of permission from the owners to port and distribute these games?
Most of these ports are based on source code released by the developers under an open source license (e.g. the source code of UQM, Doom and Quake have been released under GPL) but the content is still under a less permissive license (TFB allows unmodified distribution of content as part of an UQM distribution, but id hasn't changed the content license at all, so you essentially have to pay for the full Doom or Quake content). Most of these source ports are entirely legal (and encouraged by the original authors, as they extend the lifespan of the game by improving compatibility, graphics quality et.c.). In some cases, e.g. Ken's Labyrinth, the full content may also be modified and redistributed (but only non-commercially).

In some cases, the game engine is reverse engineered and rewritten; for example, ScummVM reimplements LucasArts's SCUMM system without using any of the original code. ScummVM is, thus, not a derivative work of anything LucasArts has made (it's essentially another implementation of a SCUMM interpreter, based on reverse engineered specs; this is legal for the same reason most PC clones are legal despite the BIOS being a clone of IBM's PC BIOS).

From a legal point of view, you're pretty much in the clear as long as you either follow the licenses written by the original authors or never, ever, distribute anything based on their code (i.e. reimplement all the code).
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Re: WHY isn't there a "revival" company?
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2006, 01:50:22 pm »

Most of these ports are based on source code released by the developers under an open source license (e.g. the source code of UQM, Doom and Quake have been released under GPL) but the content is still under a less permissive license (TFB allows unmodified distribution of content as part of an UQM distribution, but id hasn't changed the content license at all, so you essentially have to pay for the full Doom or Quake content).

I'm still slightly confused here. So Doom and Quake or released under GPL and can be ported, but you cannot actually donload the port unless you own the game? Meaning that basically, if you download the port without owning the original, you should somehow be able to pay iD software (or whoever they are nowadays) for it?

If the question seems silly, keep in mind that my knowledge of software licensing is quite limited, which is why I asked abouty this in the first place.

Quote
In some cases, the game engine is reverse engineered and rewritten; for example, ScummVM reimplements LucasArts's SCUMM system without using any of the original code. ScummVM is, thus, not a derivative work of anything LucasArts has made (it's essentially another implementation of a SCUMM interpreter, based on reverse engineered specs; this is legal for the same reason most PC clones are legal despite the BIOS being a clone of IBM's PC BIOS).

But in order to run a game on the ScummVM system ,you must still purchase or own that game right? Or have they released their older games as well?

Quote
From a legal point of view, you're pretty much in the clear as long as you either follow the licenses written by the original authors or never, ever, distribute anything based on their code (i.e. reimplement all the code).

Forgive me again if I don't undesrstand again. Even if the code of somethign is reimplemented, doesn't graphics and suchlike still have an inherent copyright? I mean ,even though porting SC 2 to a new format changes (I assume) the code beyond recognition, all gfx and suchlike are still originals. Wouldn't this hold true for any title you port?
« Last Edit: July 06, 2006, 04:52:34 pm by Lukipela » Logged

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