The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

Neglected shareware and freeware

In August 2006 I wrote on my old changelog:

The vast majority of the games I added this year were freeware and shareware games, and most of them were puzzle games, board games, and Tetris clones. There are several reasons for that. First of all it is simply nice to be able to directly offer the game you are writing about. Then I increasingly became aware that many of these games are in danger of getting lost. The BBS that were their main channel of distribution have long ceased to exist, more and more of the big FTP servers vanish too. Occasional a BBS got converted into a website, but this is the exception, not the rule. Some old shareware CDs have been put on the web, too, but not every author allowed his games to be put on CDs.

Besides, these websites are little more than collections of download links, there are no screenshots, maybe a short description that is not always accurate. There is no way to look for a certain type of game. Many of the games I have uploaded you could not easily find elsewhere. And it’s getting more and more difficult. Some of these games were easily available only a few years ago. There is a high motivation in this. Whether or not I write an article about (say) Dungeon Keeper will not change anything. But whether or not I upload an old Othello or Tetris clone may make the difference whether or not this game is still available a few years hence.

I find that this is still true in part. When I added Connex to Download Central, I had trouble at first getting it to run on WinUAE. So I looked if I could maybe find a screenshot somewhere I could use.

No.

Hall Of Light and EAGER both restrict themselves to commercial games. Lemon Amiga does not, but doesn’t have it either. A number of google searches yielded no results.

There’s a certain paradox here. Since the late 90s we have an abandonware scene dedicated to distributing old commercial games. Occasionally sites have been shut down, DMCA notices have been sent and specific games removed. There is now a working infrastructure, any potential abandonware webmaster can easily find out which games he may offer with impunity and which not.

On the other hand, the shareware and freeware, what used to be incorrectly called PD in the golden age of computer gaming, the games that are perfectly legal to distribute, get ignored. Databases often shut them out. Nobody seems to care about them. Gamebase64 is really an exception here: They’ll document any game that ever existed. Unfortunately, similar databases do not exist for most other platforms.

Of course—on a lighter side, this means that Download Central is now the only place where you can download Connex and see a screenshot. Heck, maybe it’s even the only screenshot on the web!

And this is, at least in part, why I’m doing all this.

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3 responses to “Neglected shareware and freeware

  1. EJR Tairne September 30, 2011 at 16:04

    Hey. On this note, I’d like to ask if you have come across any further games designed with Recreational Software Designs’ Game-Maker (not to be confused with Mark Overmars’ more recent software). You have a few that I know of, including some of my own. I’m just not sure what else is out there.

    For about a year I have been trying to build an information archive about these games at http://www.aderack.com/game-maker/. Some of my detective work has included rigorous file extension searches at sites like cd.textfiles.com, but that’s no good for files in .zip or .lha archives. So I’m trying to put out as many feelers as I can for games that I may have missed.

    I love the site and blog. Keep it up!

    • Gonnagan October 1, 2011 at 09:17

      I fear I won’t be able to help you much here. I wasn’t even aware of Game-Maker until shortly, and I the only game on your wiki I have something about is Pac. But if I come across something you don’t have yet, I’ll let you know.

  2. EJR Tairne October 4, 2011 at 15:51

    You’ve also got Nejillian Flux up there, which I have yet to write up properly but which has a placeholder page on the wiki. I can’t remember if there was anything beyond that, but that was enough to catch my attention.

    Hey, thought I might as well ask anyway! Thanks for the help.

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