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Old 01-03-2017, 04:23 PM   #1
Katsunami
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Old games vs. old books and music in the digital realm

In the Vent and Rant thread in the lounge, I've mentioned a few times that I intended to have GOG.com clear all games out of my library of which I knew I'd never be playing. Just before new year I had them do so.

Some of you may well know that I like GOG.com a lot because of their "You buy it, you own it" DRM-free policy. I went overboard through the years, by buing this favorite, that game I missed back then, such game that looked good, and another classic here and there. Most I bought during huge 60-90% sales, often for $1-$5.

At around 40 games, it wasn't nearly as bad as some people's Steam libraries I read about when looking around the internet though.... still, it feels better now that the games are gone and I only have the ones I'm going to actually (re)play (21, at this point). I've started to (re)play those games, from the oldest and shortest ones to the newest, and I'm going to do only one playthrough.

The oldest game I have that is unplayed was released in 1998; everything older that I (still) have on CD, released between 1992 and 1997, has been finished at least once.

During all of this, I realized something. I also have an e-book library containing 875 books, including over 50 Delphi classics. I'll never, ever read everything I own, but to be honest, it doesn't really bother me. Same with audio CD's. I've got over 800 CD's acquired over a 20 year time span, digitized into FLAC format. It'll take me two years to listen to each CD only once, if going by one a day. That also doesn't bother me.

Why did the many (often old) games bother me, and the books and music don't? I realized games will age technically, and books and music won't. I'll probably be able to pick e-books and music from my digital libraries for the rest of my life, at least with a bit of care with regard to formats.

I am 100% certain that in 10, 20, or even 30 years or later, programs will exist that show me EPUB files or play FLAC music. These formats are too common to just be dropped. If they happen to be dropped, other formats will have been developed. FLAC is lossless and can be converted to any other lossless format without damage, and EPUB is as lossless as possible at this point. I'm sure there will be ways to convert to newer formats down he line.

If there's software to use the original formats, or if the conversion is done well, the files will be as usable (or even more usable) in 10-50 years as they are now.

Not so for games. I've always had the feeling I'd need to be playing them NOW, because the clock is ticking and time is running out for them.

They become older, and some of the ones from the 90's are getting really hard to run on a new system. Some don't even work and need a virtual machine. Even if you get a game to run, you'll just have to compare games to one another; pick a 15 year old game, be it top-down 2D RPG classic such as Baldur's Gate, or a 3D shooter such as Return To Castle Wolfenstein, and compare it to a titles released in 2015-2016... or even 2010, for that matter. Even though those games looked good in their time, they look barely passable when compared to newer titles. I'm not even talking about the low resolutions such as 640x480 and 800x600 that are getting harder and harder to stomach on newer high-DPI monitors. Upscaling can only go so far.

Books and music only age in the style of writing, or orchestration/instruments used. However, you either like it, or you don't. Books and music don't become 'bad', or unusable, like games. It's up to you if you want to read them or listen to it, completely depending on taste.

There are some organizations that are trying to preserve old games. What are your thoughts about this? Is it worth trying to preserve a 1998 classic such as Baldur's Gate, in the hopes someone will try to play it in 2048; or in 2098? What about 2148 or even 2450?

Even though writings and music created 500-125 years ago are not the staple anymore, many, many people read them and listen to it.

Will people in 2150 be playing games created in 1980, 2000, or 2020?

Is it worth it, or even possible, to preserve old games, or are they doomed to be lost in oblivion?

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Old 01-03-2017, 04:50 PM   #2
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Some old games I like better than the newer ones. I like Civ 3 better than Civ 4 and haven't been tempted by later versions. I like Alpha Centauri even better.
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:05 PM   #3
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My games library is probably in no better shape than my ebook library. I have bought games on gog and steam while not owning any hardware capable of playing them. I have rebought games multiple times without ever finishing them. I don't really see it as too much of a problem, as long as I strive to keep a lid on it, as I do with ebooks.

I think the situation now - with the likes of gog repackaging old games with emulators; with console manufacturers emulating old systems on new hardware; with games being ported to iOS and android for smartphones - is better than it has ever been for preserving old games.

I also feel that games now are typically written in a more agnostic way - they aren't so tied to the hardware - and can be updated and ported more easily. I rather suspect the Enhanced Edition of Baldur's Gate is easier to work with than the original.

Whether or not a game feels dated is another question. On the one hand, yes, there are obvious technical shortcomings on older games, particularly those with young technologies - Wolfenstein might look blocky, because it's at the start of the 3D wave, but something contemporary like Final Fantasy V still looks pretty great because 2D Sprite art was mature - and they are going to look primitive unless they are rewritten. On the other hand, is the failure to see past the primitive graphics actually a lack of sophistication in the audience? Like not being able to appreciate a black & white film, or a silent film? The game of Wolfenstein is still pretty fun.
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Old 01-03-2017, 05:14 PM   #4
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I happen to find a lot of older music is a lot better than some of the newer music. That's due to two things. The loudness wars and that some older music is just better.

The loudness wars ruins the dynamic range and in some cases, the music is pushed so close to 0db that is actually distorts. That seems to be what a lot of people are into these days. The best way to fix this is to stop buying victims of the loudness wars and only buy music that's not that way. Then maybe the record companies will get the iead that the loudness wars is a rather bad idea.

Old eBooks are not going to be a issue if you use ePub. ePub is XML in a ZIP container. Even if ePub goes away, as long as there is no DRM, all you have to do is unzip the ePub and you have it's component parts. Chances are you'd be able to do something with those parts and make a new eBook.

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Old 01-03-2017, 05:50 PM   #5
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I couldn't imagine hiding games in my GOG library. Like you, I've scooped up numerous old games for pennies on the dollar, though I mainly stick to playing a few old favorites (Outlaws, Blood, TFC, Fallout and The Temple of Elemental Evil will always have a home on my hard drive).

I disagree that old games will become unplayable. Granted, I would face major challenges installing and running Outlaws or Thief from my original CDs, but GOG's emulator magic has worked wonders. Redneck Rampage runs better via GOG than it ever did when it was brand new (the slacker developers programmed it for DOS and released it in the days of Windows 98).

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Old 01-04-2017, 12:43 AM   #6
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"Old games" and you're only going back to the 90's? Come on! What about Rogue? What about Space Invaders? The classics will never die.

More seriously, software development is a mug's game (says this software developer). As soon as you stop work on something it is out date (if, indeed, it was not already) and destined for the great bit bucket in the sky. Music and words at least have a chance at a longer life, though very few will achieve great longevity.
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Old 01-04-2017, 06:17 AM   #7
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"Old games" and you're only going back to the 90's? Come on! What about Rogue? What about Space Invaders? The classics will never die.
Old games? Try Monopoly, Risk or Sorry. Even farther, try Poker, Chess or Go. Or even a long long time ago, try craps.
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Old 01-04-2017, 08:57 AM   #8
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I wish I could still play some of my old Nintendo games.
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Old 01-04-2017, 09:06 AM   #9
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Old games? Try Monopoly, Risk or Sorry. Even farther, try Poker, Chess or Go. Or even a long long time ago, try craps.
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One of the nice things is that there are some pretty good implementations of Chess on the various tablets and smart phones.

I've always wondered why the old board war games didn't transition to computers. I guess that it was just too expensive for the user base.
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Old 01-04-2017, 09:08 AM   #10
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Risk is available on multiple platforms. There is even a version for the Xbox One.
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Old 01-04-2017, 11:47 AM   #11
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I wish I could still play some of my old Nintendo games.
It's called the NES Classic Edition. It was a hot gift this Christmas.

Or you could just look for an emulator and ROMs.
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Old 01-04-2017, 11:49 AM   #12
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One of the nice things is that there are some pretty good implementations of Chess on the various tablets and smart phones.

I've always wondered why the old board war games didn't transition to computers. I guess that it was just too expensive for the user base.
Not sure which war games you are looking for. But I have PC versions of Risk, Diplomacy, Axis and Allies, Battleship...
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Old 01-04-2017, 01:40 PM   #13
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It's called the NES Classic Edition. It was a hot gift this Christmas.

Or you could just look for an emulator and ROMs.
Yes, I'd seen that, but it's expensive doesn't have the silly games I loved: Adventures of Lolo (1, 2, and 3), Mappy Land, and Kickle Cubicle. I've tried the online versions of a couple of them, but the controls feel awkward and confusing. I wish I could have them as apps.
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Old 01-04-2017, 02:07 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by DrNefario View Post
My games library is probably in no better shape than my ebook library. I have bought games on gog and steam while not owning any hardware capable of playing them. I have rebought games multiple times without ever finishing them. I don't really see it as too much of a problem, as long as I strive to keep a lid on it, as I do with ebooks.
Did so as well, with regard to rebuying. I now have the GOG.com versions of Neverwinter Nights 2 and Dragon Age, even though I had the physical versions before and never finished them.

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I think the situation now - with the likes of gog repackaging old games with emulators; with console manufacturers emulating old systems on new hardware; with games being ported to iOS and android for smartphones - is better than it has ever been for preserving old games.
True, with regard to keeping them running. Their graphics are becoming really hard on the eyes though, on newer monitors. 640x480 on a 15 inch CRT was fine. On a 2560x1440 monitor... not so much.

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I also feel that games now are typically written in a more agnostic way - they aren't so tied to the hardware - and can be updated and ported more easily. I rather suspect the Enhanced Edition of Baldur's Gate is easier to work with than the original.
Yes, true enough. However, Beamdog ported te game to the BG2 engine before fixing that engine to run on newer systems without hacks. The original Baldur's Gate experience is gone. As your character now has capabilities provided by the BG2 engine, but the enemies don't, you're going to become overpowered very fast.

Not to mention the huge amount of game breaking bugs on release, and the adding of 'new' content that is NOT on par with the original. You don't jackass with a classic.

They should have just written a new GUI for the original BG1, fix the original engine, and (re)create higher resolution portraits and graphics were possible.

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Whether or not a game feels dated is another question. On the one hand, yes, there are obvious technical shortcomings on older games, particularly those with young technologies - Wolfenstein might look blocky, because it's at the start of the 3D wave, but something contemporary like Final Fantasy V still looks pretty great because 2D Sprite art was mature - and they are going to look primitive unless they are rewritten. On the other hand, is the failure to see past the primitive graphics actually a lack of sophistication in the audience? Like not being able to appreciate a black & white film, or a silent film? The game of Wolfenstein is still pretty fun.
I partly agree. While I can look past low-end graphics and still play old games, I do concede the fact that The Witcher 3 is much more awesome to be looking at than Baldur's Gate 2... or even Dragon Age (2009) which blew me away back then.

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Yes, I'd seen that, but it's expensive doesn't have the silly games I loved: Adventures of Lolo (1, 2, and 3), Mappy Land, and Kickle Cubicle. I've tried the online versions of a couple of them, but the controls feel awkward and confusing. I wish I could have them as apps.
If you are somewhat technically inclined, or know someone who is, it's easy enough to setup a NES/SNES emulator, find some ROMs on the internet, and play the games using a €15 controller.

I know; using downloaded ROMs isn't really legal if you don't own the physical versions as well, but I doubt anyone will care. This would be a decision you'd have to make for yourself.

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Old 01-04-2017, 02:14 PM   #15
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I happen to find a lot of older music is a lot better than some of the newer music. That's due to two things. The loudness wars and that some older music is just better.
I wonder if J.S. Bach-like music is still being written. That guy, and others in the baroque era, did some seriously complex stuff.

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The loudness wars ruins the dynamic range and in some cases, the music is pushed so close to 0db that is actually distorts. That seems to be what a lot of people are into these days. The best way to fix this is to stop buying victims of the loudness wars and only buy music that's not that way. Then maybe the record companies will get the iead that the loudness wars is a rather bad idea.
True. When looking for older music, I always get the oldest CD version I can find because of this. My entire library has a huge dynamic range, apart from some albums released in later years, of which there are no older versions.

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Old eBooks are not going to be a issue if you use ePub. ePub is XML in a ZIP container. Even if ePub goes away, as long as there is no DRM, all you have to do is unzip the ePub and you have it's component parts. Chances are you'd be able to do something with those parts and make a new eBook.
I expect EPUB to be convertible into basically every other format that is going to be devised. The HTML/CSS spec and add-on EPUB files are well understood.

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I couldn't imagine hiding games in my GOG library. Like you, I've scooped up numerous old games for pennies on the dollar, though I mainly stick to playing a few old favorites (Outlaws, Blood, TFC, Fallout and The Temple of Elemental Evil will always have a home on my hard drive).
I have ToEE as well. I assume you played other RPG classics from the 1998 - 2006 era as well

Quote:
I disagree that old games will become unplayable. Granted, I would face major challenges installing and running Outlaws or Thief from my original CDs, but GOG's emulator magic has worked wonders. Redneck Rampage runs better via GOG than it ever did when it was brand new (the slacker developers programmed it for DOS and released it in the days of Windows 98).
While they may run, it's completely possible the graphics will become unusable. I'm now playing Sanitarium, but sometimes I have to refer to a walkthrough because I'm overlooking things on screen. Everything can be an object (possibly), and something that looks like an undefined blob of pixels on my 1920x1080 laptop screen sometimes is an object I require. IT's worse on my 1920x1200 24.1 desktop screen...
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