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Abandonware going downhill?

Posted at 11:40 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Yes, I know, this is the usual whining of the 'disappointed old-timer whose time is over'. But listen to my points before you dismiss it completely ;)

Approximately half a year ago, we saw a huge run on Abandonware. It really got a lot of attention. I don't want to discuss all the pros and cons of this attention, but rather concentrate on one specific aspect which makes and shapes the 'scene': the sites.

While that craze lasted, a lot of new sites started up. Most of them were crap of course: "hey this is my new abondonware page download these gamez more to come soon" and then a few direct download links of games the 'webmaster' most likely had never played (downloaded from another site, uploaded the archive to his free webspace without even opening it ever). And then never any updates.
The flow of good new sites stayed constant at the same time though. Relative to the total new sites, the percentage of good sites decreased of course, but it wasn't really fatal.

The run of new sites has ebbed down - thankfully. I really hated it when people told me they'd only put up Abandonware because it's 'the newest craze and useful to get attention'! But lately, I have started thinking about the sites I really liked recently. A 'systematical analysis' showed I couldn't think of any new site which really made it into my awareness for many months.
In the same period of time, the usual amount of old sites died / shut down. Amongst them, good ones.

And now to my conclusion: there aren't any new sites to replace the classic good ones! The only quality sites which are being launched these days are made by 'old-timers' who either resurrect their old sites or start new projects after doing something else before. That can't be everything! Aren't there any true game collectors anymore who can actually provide something out of their own collection with real memories which really come from years back? It seems all 'new webmasters' get their 'collections' from other sites! Which seen for itself is not bad (I'm doing this, too), but again - it can't be everything! Where are the fresh views, the new impulses? No, I'm not talking about the millionth discussion about the definition of Abandonware. I'm talking about new approaches to the concept, controversial views, etc. Where is it? Why can't I find it? Is it really just because I'm a grumpy old man in standards of Abandonware (after all, my site is one of the five oldest surviving ones.... which is sad :()?
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Posted at 13:07 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Random thoughts:

1. It really sucks when something you've honestly cared about for a long time suddenly turns into a fad, and everybody seems to be doing it because their neighbor/friend/dog told them it's cool. So, I agree, it's a good thing most of those sites disappeared into oblivion.

2. Why aren't there any (good) new sites appearing? Well, I think one possible explanation might be: you guys have the field covered. I mean, imagine Joe Gamer, who's been around for a while, got a few games under his belt and decides to put up a site about the oldies he used to love. He does some research on the subject and (inevitably) stumbles upon HOTU. Faced with the sheer scale of the thing he probably thinks to himself "There's nothing I can add to this. I'd be better off doing something else. Maybe a site about toothpaste caps, I don't think there's many of those." The same is true, on a smaller scale, for your site. Of course, there's always room for niche sites, with more in-depth cover of a few sub-genres or lesser known games, and I'm sure we'd all like to see more of those. But for the most part, I'd say there's little room for someone to come into the scene and make an impact. Or, in other words, it'd take the sort of effort and dedication very few people have these days.
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Posted at 13:27 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Interesting points. I do agree on the discouragement because of 'uselessness'. It has never really come to my mind that the 'market' might look 'covered' to some people.

And even when someone starts a site, it is certainly harder to get any real attention quick these days. When someone started a new site two years ago, he immediately got comments from all sides, encouragement, proposals. These days, a newcomer can be happy if he gets a few hits :(


One argument speaks again this all though: if someone really takes an in-depth look at HOTU, what will he find out? That it covers everything and therefore, no new site is needed? Or that it is a massive and huge collection about extremely common and current games which is lacking any real unique information - some kind of Mobygames with downloads?
I'd go with the second option. Logically, I haven't visited HOTU for many months now because it just doesn't contain anything which is interesting to me (note: it does contain a lot what is interesting to me, but that part is the old portion of the site and I've already seen it all there).

So now a new question arises to me: are those people who are discouraged by HOTU (or whatever other site - there is always something crucial missing) real game collectors and fans? Sure, you were talking about "Joe Gamer" with "a few games under his belt". But would such a person really be satisfied with a paragraph long quote from another site and then the 'personal conclusion' "two thumbs up"? If he's really a fan of those few games he has? Shouldn't such a lousy covering rather encourage him to spread his 'more objective' view on this? And then, he'd be started....
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 13:42 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Dizzy does make some good points, I mean look at TUOL. There are over a hundred sites listed on there, and sure, a lot of them have the same games over and over again, without any reviews, but still, there they are listed. Also, it is a big jump to go from just reading the site reviews, to making ones own site. If you get involved with the "scene" (I hate that word, by the way) it is much easier to make a site, as one knows what is going on. I'll take myself as an example here, I went around looking at abandonware sites for pretty much a good portion of 2 years before I even LOOKED at a forum. I think I might've stumbled onto abandonware around '98. I finally visited the TUOL pub sometime in early '00. Even now, when I finally learned some HTML, I made a site, but it is very hard for me to maintain, because I can't do stuff with it I'd like... all my old game disks are back at home, and the computer to run them is at home...

So in conclusion, one needs some things to start a good site
1. Interest of older games
2. Knowledge that Abandonware concept exists
3. Agrees with the concept of Abandonware
4. Have some help
5. Knowledge of computers
6. Very good knowledge of the games they put up, and developers and such
7. Dedicated

That's tough. and no, I'm not satisfied with HOTU.

Tuss
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Posted at 13:58 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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The overall number of sites has not changed much in the last two years. It's always between 100 and 140 on the largest ring of the time.

Quote:
it is very hard for me to maintain, because I can't do stuff with it I'd like
That is a point I would like you to elaborate on. What is hindering you from doing what? What are these plans you can't put into action? Or is this just only referring to 'my disks are at home'? In that case, it's not much of a reason, but more a question of time and some planning.

Now let me look at your requirements. 1, 5, 6 and 7 are the real basics, yes. They must come 'out of the person' itself. So if the problem lies in any of these points, humans have changed.
2 is something not very hard - when you're only slightly interested in any classic game, you can hardly avoid stumbling upon an Abandonware site (you can see that if you enter a simple game name into Google, there will always be Abandonware sites amongst the top results).
Finally 3 and 4. I don't think most people who start an 'Abandonware' site have thought much about the widely used definition, so I guess that's not a requirement. The help is something I'm worrying about, too. That is indeed something which has gone downhill: people help each other, but only within certain 'groups'. A 'newcomer' will almost never manage to get any help (and if it's only advice) from an 'old-timer' which is very sad! The problem doesn't lie 100% on the side of the 'establishment' though (the main portion does - and I would never take myself out of this guilty group). For some reason, the vast majority of the 'newcomers' don't seem to dare talk to some 'big guy', they are probably too intimidated by something to even ask for the most basic help like comments or something! So there is the next question: why? What are 'we' (since I belong to that group of 'establishment' ) doing wrong to look so 'above everything'?

Finally, one word about your site, Tuss. It was a very positive surprise when you opened it because it focuses on 'weirder', less covered games. That is one of the main things I'm missing. It's always Sierra adventures, Dune 2, Warcraft and those along with some more extremely common stuff :(
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 14:05 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Quote:
it focuses on 'weirder', less covered games


Well, that is the answer of why I can't form my site to the way I want it. I have stuff at home that I've never seen on any other site. Sure, I could bring it up here, but it won't run. I'm required to have a Windows XP or Mac OS8 computer here. I'm in quite of a bind. I'm going back home tomorrow, but it will be likely for only a day and a half. I like to see everyone back home, so my site takes a back seat. I have a ton of time up here, but I have yet to figure something out.

Also, my points I made in my previous post was just a general outline. I pretty much agree with everything you said, and I believe intimidation has something to do with it. The Web is a very strange place sometimes.

Tuss
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Posted at 14:12 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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I agree with you about HOTU: in trying to be the ultimate abandonware site, they wound up spreading themselves to thin, as is often the case. Still, I find it very usefull as a reference and starting point (the downlods don't hurt either, of course :)). I can see that from the point of view of someone who's been around the "scene" (I'm not mad about that word, either) for a while it is not very interesting, but seeing it through the eyes of a newcomer I bet it look pretty daunting. I mean, it's got so much stuff. Of course, people who really care about their old games can and should make their own efforts (and thanks to a bunch of those people us humble abandonware fans a few quality sites to browse), but putting up a good site from scratch, as you undoubtedly know and Tuss pointed out, takes a lot of work, and for most people it's just not worth the effort.
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C'est pas la chute qu'importe -- c'est l'atterrissage
Posted at 15:56 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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And why is there nobody who thinks it's worth the effort now when there apparantely were people back 'in the days'? Never many, yes, but there were always people who were dedicated, people who gave their very best.

Is it maybe also related to the higher design standard visitors demand nowadays? Up until '99 or even 2000, it didn't matter much if your site looked 'awful'....
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 16:33 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Especially since HTML is not the 'norm' anymore. It's all different languages, or other things like Flash, is what people expect now.

Tuss
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Keep your stick on the ice
Posted at 16:36 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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I don't think the casual visitor cares what language you're using to make your site. The effect is the same with most of them anyway: common scripting like PHP (or Breaker's beloved ASP) only create normal html pages anyway, the difference is just on the server side. As for Flash, that (thankfully) died a few months ago as a 'mass trend'.

So, no, I don't think anything other than html is needed or expected.
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 16:41 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Still, visitors I think expect a good looking, professional site, because the better sites were able to put that together in one boat: Good reviews, Good games, and Good looking. I agree with your Flash point. Flash was just a way of making sites with no content, but it is still popular with larger corporations just so they have a 'presence' on the web.

Tuss
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Keep your stick on the ice
Posted at 16:46 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Yes, but since I don't visit many commercial sites, I couldn't care less about Flash anymore ;)

The rest was my initial point, yes. Another sad fact :(
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 17:10 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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True

So did we answer yet whether Abandonware is going down hill?

Tuss

Edited by Tuss at 19:11 on September, 13th 2002
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Keep your stick on the ice
Posted at 18:32 on September 13th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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If I was a newbee and I wanted to start a site I wouldn't know where to begin, it's not like there is a sign saying "free protected data storage", they don't know to come see you Creo.
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Posted at 03:38 on September 14th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Quote:
Posted by Delos at 20:32 on September, 13th 2002:

If I was a newbee and I wanted to start a site I wouldn't know where to begin, it's not like there is a sign saying "free protected data storage", they don't know to come see you Creo.
Now that is a really unqualified comment! And you claim to have been involved in a site back on '98? It's hard to believe that when you apparantely have no clue how it went back then...

To explain this: people 'back then' didn't need an invitation to contact other webmasters! They (rightly) assumed that there would always be some kind of 'link', that they could lose nothing in trying. Do you think I waited until the big guys of the time when I started got aware of my presence on their own?
Today, the exact opposite: even when I contact new webmasters about something (even something utterly positive, like a link exchange), they don't even reply! What's the matter with these kids?

Edited by Mr Creosote at 06:32 on September, 14th 2002
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 18:16 on September 14th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Actually, when The Depot was created, we spent 60% of the time changing from Geocities to Yahoo, and to other places like Angelfire.

We struck a deal with a company that sold computer parts, we would get free protected space, but on every page their had to be a banner with ads that directly put money into their bank account.

This went fine for a while until the owner thought he could do a better job and locked our user names out and took over total control.

Until about 4 months ago when my HDD died, I had all the graphics of the webpages. I spent hours trying to convince Swizzle (a.k.a Net Assassin) to give me the back-up disc, but he decided to trash all the games and webpage reviews because he was so upset over the betrail of a fellow abandonware lover. :(

And it was a qualified comment, back then there were no protected servers, we had to wait until an account was shut down by the company we uploaded the games to, but these days there are 3 or 4 servers providing the whole community.
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Posted at 04:16 on September 15th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Another extremely unqualified comment! This quote
Quote:
And it was a qualified comment, back then there were no protected servers, we had to wait until an account was shut down by the company we uploaded the games to, but these days there are 3 or 4 servers providing the whole community.
shows you have no clue what we've been talking about here. Because hosting has not been an issue, nobody ever touched this subject before you.
At the same time, it shows your lack of knowledge about the current 'scene': the vast majority of sites are still on free servers. But as I said - that's completely off-topic here.
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 04:41 on September 15th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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Hosting is a big issue! You might not realise this because your one of the old boys, but look at it from the perspective of a new comer.
If you have to set up a site AND find hosting ever month, then you need more then one person to work on a site.

Also, this 'vast majority', can you please give me some examples of larger site, say 100+ games that use 'free servers'?

Also, just to make sure we are on the same wavelength, when you refer to 'free servers' your talking about Geocities etc?

You asked about why we think it's going downhill, and my answer is it's running out of puff because of little things like this.
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Posted at 04:46 on September 15th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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This is an excerpt from a FAQ I've written some months ago.
Quote:
Hosting issues
Up until '99, the Abandonware scene was through and through a 'hobby' one in this issue. Sites were put on free hosts, some of which were better, some worse. But the surprising thing (from today's point of view) is that they actually could stay there! Abandonware was still a very new phenomenon, there were only very few sites, most of which were small - 100 games already counted as a huge archive. That is why free hosters didn't really have to care about it - or maybe they weren't even aware of it all that much.
In '99 though, with the rising of many huge sites like Home of the Underdogs, the hosts switched to a more aggressive stance. While they had at first only asked the webmaster to remove the copyrighted contents (if they did anything at all that is), they now began to delete offending accounts on spot! And they apparantely began to actually search for those accounts and didn't wait for them to be reported anymore.
The next step was a logical reaction from the Abandonware webmasters: they began to move to paid hosting and dedicated servers. The first 'securely hosted' sites with domains were probably the Gamingdepot (on Output's Surfsolutions server) and Tox Games (on Tox' own server).
For most webmasters, 'life' went on as before though - just that they had to re-upload their files more often and 'carmouflage' their accounts better. Common techniques for the latter were renaming downloads to .bmp, spread files across various accounts, put up fake pages and all that stuff.
From early 2000 on, domain names got more and more common. These webmasters sacrificed their anonymity by that, sometimes grudgingly (as a side-effect of having a good URL), but in most cases with the proudness that they don't have to hide for what they're doing. These 'domain-based' sites were mostly hosted on other people's dedicated servers.
The situation with the free hosts grew even worse with every week that passed. At some point it was obvious that sites could only survive for long if they were hosted on some dedicated server. That or they were doomed to stay small forever. More paid hosting accounts and servers were set up, but it's still not nearly enough to provide enough resources for the existing sites.
Today, most sites still start up on free servers. But in many cases it's also webspace from ISPs. If they're lucky, they're offered hosting by someone. Otherwise, they have a hard time once their site grows.


Famous free hosts
There were some 'famous' free hosts which each were very popular during their time. First of all, there was Spaceports which was known for tolerating Abandonware. This was achieved by the friendship between the Abandonware webmaster Dr Cow (webmaster of Abandonware and Beyond) and the owner of Tera-Byte of which Spaceports is a subcompany. From late 2001 on, the quality of Spaceports' services dropped drastically though: they added lots of ads, put up bandwidth restrictions and even started kicking sites. Even Dr Cow's own site was deleted (with the excuse it happened 'by accident')! Nowadays, Spaceports has become almost unusable with many unclosable pop-ups and all that stuff.
In 2001, f2s had its heyday for a short period of time. They offered 25 MB of free webspace without any ads. In addition, their servers supported Perl, PHP and MySQL. In spite of their servers not being the fastest, many sites used it to host their sites (without downloads) - especially the scripted ones. f2s closed their free hosting service a short time later. Maybe it was just used too much...


Organised scene-internal hosting
There have always been efforts from the owners of secure hosting to provide some service to other webmasters - in other words: to host their sites. In '99, there was Pheature Solutions which offered 30 MB on Output's dedicated server. It died with its webmaster's departure from the scene. In 2000, TUOL offered hosting (50 MB) on Tox' server in exchange for one banner per page being displayed. No new sites were taken anymore after a short time, the sites which were already on the server could stay though. In November 2000, the Abandonware Ring started a hosting service on their dedicated servers. They offered 'virtually unlimited' space for one banner per page. As popular as this offer was, the quickly it died again (sites were kicked in February 2001) when it became obvious that the bandwidth requirements could never be financed with just this one banner. Many sites had to look for a new home suddenly, many even died.
At the moment, there are no open hosting offers. Complete site hosting including downloads is normally provided on a basis of friendship between webmasters, not via submission form.

It answers basically all of your 'questions. So don't tell me I don't know about how it is! In contrast to you, I've always been talking to new webmasters (the few which reacted to my e-mails).

Quote:
You asked about why we think it's going downhill, and my answer is it's running out of puff because of little things like this.
Before, you said something completely different. This is really tiring when you're jumping with every post, when you're always trying to bend everything right as it suits you. Just take this following quote
Quote:
If I was a newbee and I wanted to start a site I wouldn't know where to begin, it's not like there is a sign saying "free protected data storage", they don't know to come see you Creo.
and tell me again this made sense in the context you posted it.
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Now you see the violence inherent in the system!
Posted at 18:32 on September 15th, 2002 | Quote | Edit | Delete
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It make sense the way he posted it, you are the one reacting over that sentence. However, I'm not posting to talk about that, but to add to the subject.

Some months after discovering Abadonware (and The Good Old Days), I was thinking about creating my own ABW page too... Several points discouraged me, most of them already discussed here (lots of other site already, not enough experience, etc).

The real point which really discouraged me was this one; I visited a lot of sites to get myself an idea of what was going on... Of course I met the sites with no reviews at all, then I met the sites with very crappy reviews, then I met the sites with good reviews, then I met the sites with very good reviews... BUT, none of those reviews shared my own oppinion of the games. When they gave a high review I was always thinking the game didn't really deserved it, and same thing for a low review that I thought it would deserve more.

I then realized that, whatever system you may think and use to classify and review the games, it will never really be something the majority of people will agree to, since personnal feelings and taste in games interfere a lot with anybody judgment.

Since I didn't wanted to simply add yet another site with somebody feeling (mine in this case), I thought that the best solution to this would be not to do reviews at all like the sites you were refering to earlier in this thread.

However, you said that a site with only links and no reviews is utterly lame and unacceptable... An opinion that I share too. Decided not to do anything, end of argument...
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