Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 8th Jul 2017 10:31 UTC
Games

The people who make enhanced editions of old role-playing games like Baldur's Gate and Planescape: Torment want to do the same thing for Icewind Dale II. There's just one problem: nobody knows where to find the code.

It's hard to believe that things like this happen - Icewind Dale II was released about 15 years ago, developed and published by big, popular companies. You'd think the source code would be properly protected and stored.

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Comment by ssokolow
by ssokolow on Sat 8th Jul 2017 11:54 UTC
ssokolow
Member since:
2010-01-21

On the plus side, if it's the reverse-engineering that's too expensive, maybe they could pay the GemRB guys a smaller amount to compile a document detailing what they've already figured out.

(From what I remember, GemRB's flaws and incomplete support for games like Planescape Torment and IWD2 are mainly a case of "we know what to do, we just don't have time to implement it".)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by ssokolow
by Kochise on Sat 8th Jul 2017 12:02 UTC in reply to "Comment by ssokolow"
Kochise Member since:
2006-03-03

Remember the recovery of Jurassic Park 3D (or Turok 2) source code found in the hard drive of a sgi computer that was about to be dumped? Don't expect big companies to waste money on archival of obsolete stuff. Perhaps that could change thanks to the retro craze running worldwide. Perhaps because the latest titles are just bs.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Comment by ssokolow
by leech on Sat 8th Jul 2017 15:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by ssokolow"
leech Member since:
2006-01-10

Geez, if only they'd use github or release the source code to the wild like responsible developers after X amount of years... ;)

Look at id's games. They now are ported over to all sorts of systems where they were initially not released. Hell someone is working on Quake 2 for the Atari Falcon (yeah, sure he's gotten the engine to run at like 5-10fps with texture mapping, but that's absolutely amazing for a 16mhz 68030...)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTxwfRl_I0U

Would be nice if the old Bioware engine was allowed to be open sourced.

Reply Score: 4

RE[3]: Comment by ssokolow
by grandmasterphp on Sun 9th Jul 2017 08:28 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by ssokolow"
grandmasterphp Member since:
2017-05-15

No everyone can just release the source code.

There are licensing problems especially if you used any third party libs. Also getting a build working with some bespoke projects take literally magic to get going and there is probably only one guy in the office that actually knows how to get thing building. Most companies did't bother with CI / CD until relatively recently.

Edited 2017-07-09 08:29 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Really ?
by LTronic on Sat 8th Jul 2017 15:26 UTC
LTronic
Member since:
2014-10-13

Seriously.

I founded a video game company 10 years ago specialized in retro gaming.
I can tell you this happens actually *most* of the time, even - if not mostly - with big companies.

You can guess I can't tell more because of NDAs and associated legal bullsh*t, but thousands of games have seen their source codes lost. Basically, I usually consider anything older than PS2 generation (where most companies at this point had some archiving process) being potentially (at least partially) missing source code and/or data.

Edited 2017-07-08 15:27 UTC

Reply Score: 5

RE: Really ?
by JLF65 on Sat 8th Jul 2017 21:54 UTC in reply to "Really ?"
JLF65 Member since:
2005-07-06

And that is exactly why emulation is so important. The majority of games ever released will only ever be playable on original hardware (which becomes increasingly scarce as time goes by), or emulators. Eventually, it will be only through emulation as all hardware eventually breaks down.

Reply Score: 3

Comment by Darkmage
by Darkmage on Sat 8th Jul 2017 16:01 UTC
Darkmage
Member since:
2006-10-20

Even when the sourcecode is known, often art assets get lost. Wing commander 2 had several ships missing from art archives wing commander 3s movie tapes are missing preventing a HD remaster with better graphics.

Reply Score: 2

worrying trend
by yoshi314@gmail.com on Sat 8th Jul 2017 16:51 UTC
yoshi314@gmail.com
Member since:
2009-12-14

homeworld cataclysm, blood, and now this game joins the 'source code was lost' club.

Reply Score: 1

mandatory archiving
by unclefester on Sun 9th Jul 2017 01:04 UTC
unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

It should be mandatory for commercial software to be archived by organisations such as the the Library of Congress. It should also be mandatory for all source code to be released to the public after 30 years.

Future historians will probably be talking about the 'Missing Decades' between 1990-2030 where virtually all the information disappeared.

Reply Score: 4

RE: mandatory archiving
by Brendan on Sun 9th Jul 2017 07:12 UTC in reply to "mandatory archiving"
Brendan Member since:
2005-11-16

Hi,

It should be mandatory for commercial software to be archived by organisations such as the the Library of Congress. It should also be mandatory for all source code to be released to the public after 30 years.


It should be mandatory for people to photograph their toilet paper before flushing, and upload those photos to the Library of Congress too...

The fact is that games are disposable and have very little historical significance. Companies create them to make some $$, and once they've made their $$ they get flushed. They are not important historical documents.

Future historians will probably be talking about the 'Missing Decades' between 1990-2030 where virtually all the information disappeared.


Future historians are more likely to be glad that they don't need to wade through mountains if irrelevant trash just to find something like the Deceleration of Independence.

- Brendan

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: mandatory archiving
by Gusar on Sun 9th Jul 2017 08:47 UTC in reply to "RE: mandatory archiving"
Gusar Member since:
2010-07-16

The fact is that games are disposable and have very little historical significance. Companies create them to make some $$, and once they've made their $$ they get flushed. They are not important historical documents.


You don't think there's any game out there that had an impact on society, not unlike certain movies or tv shows have had?

Games, like movies and tv shows, are primarily entertainment, but at the same time they are also culture. And culture should be preserved.

Note, I'm not saying every game is culturally significant, far from it. But I think future historians should make decisions about that, not you or me.

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: mandatory archiving
by LTronic on Sun 9th Jul 2017 18:33 UTC in reply to "RE: mandatory archiving"
LTronic Member since:
2014-10-13

Brendan,

I can only disagree with you.
Video games are now vastly considered as some kind of art, and museums are being more and more interested into games.

While I agree maybe 80% of video games production have no historical value, some of them are really important to bring to the future generations.

Do you really think Space Invaders has no historical value ?

Do you really think Another World (Out of this World in the US) would have been presented to MoMa if it was something considered to be flushed ?

I could of course continue the list through decades of video games, you get the idea.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: mandatory archiving
by unclefester on Mon 10th Jul 2017 02:55 UTC in reply to "RE: mandatory archiving"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

The Library of Congress, and similar institutions, are historical archives. They store information without making a value judgement. Ninety-nine percent of what they store is probably complete crap.

Reply Score: 2

RE: mandatory archiving
by james_gnz on Sun 9th Jul 2017 11:03 UTC in reply to "mandatory archiving"
james_gnz Member since:
2006-02-16

It should be mandatory for commercial software to be archived by organisations such as the the Library of Congress. It should also be mandatory for all source code to be released to the public after 30 years.


I'm not sure it would be worthwhile archiving all commercial software. It would be a big undertaking.

I'm also unsure about requiring the release of source code. I used to think it would be a good idea, but I now wonder about potential problems. As grandmasterphp has pointed out, sometimes getting a project to build can be a dark art. It may depend on particular versions of particular tools, so while the binary might not run on newer systems, the source might not compile on newer systems either.

If software was popular, then the odds are that someone's got a copy somewhere. It could probably be reverse engineered, if there was enough interest, if only it was legal to do so. Perhaps that would be enough.

Besides, I think a bigger issue is probably software that runs on (or depends on) a server. When the server closes down, there are no binaries to run on emulators or reverse engineer.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: mandatory archiving
by ssokolow on Sun 9th Jul 2017 14:02 UTC in reply to "RE: mandatory archiving"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

If software was popular, then the odds are that someone's got a copy somewhere. It could probably be reverse engineered, if there was enough interest, if only it was legal to do so. Perhaps that would be enough.


Yes, but that's much harder than renovating an existing codebase, no matter how arcane.

For example, the highest-quality and fastest-matured backends in ScummVM resulted from cases where the copyright holders donated the original engine source, so it was much easier to verify that all of the little corner cases in the engine's behaviour were preserved.

Reply Score: 3

RE[3]: mandatory archiving
by james_gnz on Wed 12th Jul 2017 04:50 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: mandatory archiving"
james_gnz Member since:
2006-02-16

It could probably be reverse engineered, if there was enough interest, if only it was legal to do so.

Yes, but that's much harder than renovating an existing codebase, no matter how arcane.

I get that, but again, I think a bigger issue is probably software that runs on (or depends on) a server.

Software that runs on a server can not be reverse engineered from the binary, because no binary is distributed. There will never be a time when the binary can be copied, legally or otherwise. Software companies can completely monitor and control everything that users do with it, and all the data they use and produce with it. Running software on a server allows software companies to do everything they have ever wanted to do with copyright law, the DCMA, TPM/DRM, or what have you, and more.

The battle is shifting. It is becoming less about "the desktop", and more about "the cloud".

Trying to address problems on "the desktop", by fixing copyright law, now risks just shifting problems to "the cloud", where they will be even worse.

Reply Score: 1

RE[4]: mandatory archiving
by ssokolow on Wed 12th Jul 2017 19:46 UTC in reply to "RE[3]: mandatory archiving"
ssokolow Member since:
2010-01-21

Fair enough. In the games sphere, that's one of the big things Ross Scott (the "Freeman's Mind" guy) is railing against.

There's no much I can do about it myself, but I am always careful to minimize my reliance on cloud-based stuff.

(All my games are offline-playable and LAN-multiplayable, DRM-free purchases I make my own backups of. The only cloud-y things I rely on are inherently network-based, such as communication services. Aside from games, the only closed-source things on my system are my BIOS, nVidia drivers, Flash, and a couple of utilities necessary for work. etc. etc. etc.)

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: mandatory archiving
by unclefester on Mon 10th Jul 2017 03:10 UTC in reply to "RE: mandatory archiving"
unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

A few years ago I met a man in his 80s poring over a thick wad of bifold printouts at my local library. It was the only hard copy of a very important Fortran scientific programme he had written in the 1970s. The original media had been lost or was unreadable and he had been recalled from retirement to resurrect it because nobody else properly understood the code.

Reply Score: 2