Mar 18, 2009

The Home of the Underdogs: It Returns!

The Home of the UnderdogsThe Home of the Underdogs was the first site I really cared for, deeply enjoyed and daily visited since the era when a 33.6k modem was considered high-tech. I happily witnessed countless upgrades, radical design changes and a ton of new, indie, obscure, classic and old games being constantly added. What's more each game came complete with excellent reviews, download (or even buying) options, links, covers and all the info a PC and/or retro minded gamer could ask for. Then, quite suddenly and after a couple years of inactivity, HotU just disappeared as Sarinee lost her web host. The internet cried and went to abandonia for a drink.

Enter hotud.org. A brand new attempt -with an artful gamer touch, mind- to revive that historic abandonware site, add some web 2.0 bits 'n' bolts and once again call it The Home of the Underdogs! Thousands of games have already been added, things look more than hopeful, vibrant and properly retro, and I would strongly suggest you pay the thing a visit.

39 comments:

  1. And a great website it is. Nice to see it back.

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  2. Absolutely dear Nreive!

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  3. Excellent news, I was quite sad that HotU left the building.

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  4. So was I mate, so was I...

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  5. :D Sorry I didn't get back to you yesterday gnome - but I'm glad you posted the news. I'm really looking forward to seeing the HOTUD community grow again and make it the best place for ye olde abandoned games on the web! :)

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  6. That's absolutely fine dear Chris. Think I'll come and join the brand new hotu community now...

    Cheers!

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  7. I recently read about its closing in the last issue of EDGE and wondered how I missed such a brilliant site. I'm glad to see it's back!

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  8. You missed it? You poor soul you... Well, I guess there's no need to despair dear Tom :)

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  9. Fantastic news. Thanks for the heads up, Gnome! I was afraid that Underdogs was lost to the ether forever!

    StickHead

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  10. I have been real busy for the last couple of months and apparently missed the passing of my favorite web spot. I have been a fan of HotU for quite a few years, its the first place I would look for abandonware. I'm glad you've taken up the torch. I am an avid gamer and often play my old DOS games, so I really enjoyed what HotU brought to the table. Is there anything a fella like myself could do to lend a hand?

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  11. @pizzabandit - of course! Join up over at the HOTU forums and once we've got the downloads linked up with the site, we can start figuring out how the heck to expand the site (the games, screenshots, all that stuff!)

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  12. The underdogs are back and now they're kicking some ASS!!! The old site was really too slow to load even with DSL. I used to load it with a PTSN connection, my god the hours were really really long..

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  13. Well, thankfully StickHead it's back! And we also got a new Jaguar racing game for the ST, don't we?

    Oh, and Pizzabandit, I think that a few reviews and ratings might be helpful, thought it seems they are not properly stored online yet...

    Any ideas Chris? I had a Willy Beamish review disappear you know.

    Hehe, absolutely remember that Dualnames. And to think my first internet connection back in 1996 was a slow PSTN one I could only use for 2 hours! Then again it was free. Courtesy of the NTUA.

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  14. I should be clearer - the reason I didn't formally announce HOTUD on my own site was because the site is *NOT* ready yet. We're constantly modifying/wiping/editing the database - so don't write a whole review for the site yet!! Head over to the forums and we'll try to coordinate our efforts there. :)

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  15. Hell yes!

    I have to admit I kind of neglected the site for the last couple of years, but back when I first started getting into retro pc games I used to visit it a lot.

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  16. Good ol' habits, eh dear Nebacha?

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  17. This kind of posts is the reason why I follow Gnome.

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  18. Why, thank you Bastich!

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  19. You know, now that I think about it, HOTU was where I first encountered IF.

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  20. See? It's historic it is. And it has helped me discover a ton of fantastic games too...

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  21. Hope they get the downloads back up soon though, as I'm itching to waste hours playing games I've never played!

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  22. I think downloads will be available in only a few weeks dear Tom. Apparently there are still some technical issues to fix...

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  23. Rather disappointing that everyone gets all excited over simple piracy. HOTU games are not legal to download. The copyrights to most games on the site have not run out, nor are they in the public domain.

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  24. Sigh. You know, I'm against piracy when companies are still making a profit off games, but these just games just aren't being sold anymore outside of the second hand market (where the developer that made them sees no slice of the profits).

    So, really, what harm is there in preserving games that would simply disappear forever? These games would be lost if it weren't for projects like these, thrown out or confined to the vaults of some random games company. The formats these games were published on are becoming more and more obsolete with every year, and a real effort needs to be made to preserve them.

    Plus, it gives younger gamers and others a chance to play games that they would never get the chance to play otherwise. I don't understand why anyone could possibly be against that.

    While I do respect copyright it needs a serious rethinking in this day and age, as not everyone is out to damage a companies profits. This is simply no other way most of us can play these games outside of the second hand market where, as I mentioned, the publishers see nothing of the profits anyway.

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  25. If a company is long out of business anyway and there's no chance of these games seeing re-release then there is no harm being done. I'm sure the original creators would be happy that people are still enjoying their ancient but still great titles in 2009.

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  26. That's exactly why services such as GoG.com and GameTap are coming out. GameTap and the companies that have the rights to those games are making money. Just as GoG.com is. The fact is, many of those games on HOTU are still making money. How can you justify piracy under those circumstances? Preservation of those old games is fine, and legal under the DMCA, but not distributing them. I am all for playing the classics, which is why I buy them.

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  27. Ok, so those games that are available from pay sites such as GoG.com and Gametap should probably be removed, but I doubt that the wealth of games on HotU will all be eventually available on services such as those. Don't forgot that those sites still have to make deals with publishers, and if publishers aren't interested in making a profit from their old games then what happens to those games? It's all well and good preserving them, and I respect that, but what about those that want to play them?

    I don't mind paying for classics, but if publishers aren't willing to make them available then people really have no choice. I don't agree with piracy when a game is widely available, and still making money, and someone just can't be bothered paying for it, but if those games aren't available in the first place then you can't really blame people from setting up sites like HotU. If anything it only shows the love that these gamers have for old defunct games, taking up their spare time and money to create sites like HotU.

    The only instances I turn to piracy is when there is no other means of paying for whatever I want. If companies aren't willing to make products available to a wider audience than it's their own fault. They're the ones missing out on profits from someone who is totally willing to pay for them in the first place.

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  28. Actually, Ithmeer - you seem to have missed out on the whole point of HotU. If you remember the old site, whenever downloads were still (legally) available, Sarinee would point the user to a web site where they could purchase it through the publisher/developer.

    HotU was not about piracy per se - there are many other web sites devoted to that. HoTU was/is all about promoting "underdog" classics that nobody else has ever heard of, and would have otherwise faded into oblivion. Do you think GoG is interested in releasing 'The Incredible Toon Machine' or 'Albion'? Neither were profitable, but both were excellent games; GoG and GameTap and wonderful services that I'm happy to see out there - but they're only interested in mainstream releases.

    HotU fills in a grey space that isn't captured by any existing services. HotU links out to any places that have legal copies for sale - that has always been the practice.

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  29. Tom: You make some good points, but while it is a shame that some companies will maybe never release their old games, that does not make piracy right. With a little searching, you can find many DOS games for under $20, and even under $10. I found System Shock 2 for $8.99 about two years ago on Amazon.com (I realize this isn't the oldest game example, but that game is quite impossible to find). If you can't find a game on either Ebay or Amazon, however, I don't know. It is a difficult situation if the only possible way to play a game is to pirate it.

    Chris: GoG.com does not only offer mainstream games. For example, have you ever heard of a game called Robinson's Requiem? I definitely hadn't. GameTap is much more mainstream, but they still offer some amazing games. In regard to HOTU, I have great respect for aspects other than the downloading of old games, such as their manuals and other valuable info. I think the site provides an atmosphere that, instead of condemning piracy as morally and legally questionable, in fact encourages it. As an example, I often visit a site called liberatedgames.org that offers games that were once commercial, and all the time, people who are new to the site post things like, "I heard this game is liberated! It must be cause I found it on HOTU and Abandonia!" HOTU should display clearly that their site offers pirated games, so that younger gamers don't grow up believing that HOTU is legal.

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  30. What a truly interesting conversation. Guess I'll stay around and take notes :)

    (pours himself a drink and waits)

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  31. Hmm, apparently Tom and Chris have had their say. Too bad. It really was an interesting discussion. Unless you'd like to discuss, my dear gnome friend?

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  32. Always and despite ridiculous time constraints my friend! Then again, I'm afraid I don't have something particularly new to add. And I do believe that piracy isn't a unified thing. In some cases I find it absolutely acceptable to be frank and I would really feel bad if I gave -say Vivendi- money for an old game whose creators would earn nothing. Then again I do like the convenience of gog.com. And abandonware site... :)

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  33. I completely disagree wit the way the copyright system is set up, especially in the case of old games. I don't think it's fair that companies like EA can gobble up the rights to games whose companies no longer exist. These games should fall into the public domain by default. My biggest problem with HOTU is not the piracy, but rather that they don't call it what it is.

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  34. I definitely agree on the first bit with you Ithmeer, though I would have to admit I wouldn't mind paying the creators themselves even decades after they'd released a game. After all they are trying to survive too.

    As for HOTU, well, I do see your point. I just don't think that it's such a major one. After all abandonware as a term seems to be pushing for the creation of a new legal category.

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  35. Just because a game is no longer 'selling' does not give anybody the excuse to call it their own and to freely distribute copies of the game. The producer of the game invested good hard cash and many hours of honest labour in its construction. They created it and as such are entitled to protect the copyright for as long as the law of the land sees fit. They own the coding, ideas and format of the game and they should be the one who decides how it is to be distributed - or not - as the case may be, not the likes of 'HotU'.

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  36. I definitely see your point dear Balrog, though you must admit that most people would be willing to pay for something provided they actually can. Thus, the way I see it, those sites simply help actually preserve games and maybe even revive interest in them. Also quite a few of these games have been officially released as freeware. Oh, and most abandonware sites never provide downloads for games that are still available for sale, instead linking to the respective sites.

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  37. Good to see this site back. You would not believe how many games I got off this site. :P

    And now I can get more. Woohoo!

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