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Games Entertainment

The Abandonware Question 281

An Anonymous Coward writes: " has an interesting article on abandonware games. They go so far as to seek out opinions of "game makers" with some interesting results. Some of them actually are flattered that their games have gone to that big abandonware site in the sky. Then there's Al Lowe (Leisure Suit Larry creator) who jokingly replies to the question of why gamers seek out free games, "Because they're cheap bastards, that's why! Always looking for something for free! Sucking the lifeblood out of us poor humble programmers! Now leave me alone so I can download more free pirated music!"" The first couple of pages are boring, with predictable opinions from big publishers. But it gets more interesting as you go on.
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The Abandonware Question

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  • by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) <> on Sunday February 24, 2002 @10:59AM (#3060508) Homepage
    I missed out on a lot of the years of gaming. I didn't have a Nintendo when I grew up, I didn't have a Genesis or all of the other games.

    I use Abandonware to play the games that everybody else talks about. (It's been a near joke playing Final Fantasy I, and marveling that this launched a multi-billion dollar gaming franchise.)

    What amazes me is how stupid most publishers are. How hard would it be to take Ultima Underworld I and II, Shadowcaster, update the code to a Win32/OSX/Linux base, then sell the CD for $20 and say "Hey, folks - the great games you loved? Come pay us $20 for it!" 90% of the development work is done, they just have to get an engine in.

    Square gets it - look how they're rereleasing Final Fantasy games on the Wonderswan color - and making a mint. How much work did they really have to do? A little engine work, check it out, and *poof* - profit.

    I abandonware because I can't find these games any other way, because the publishers won't do it. Heck, if they just sold the porting rights to another company (the way that Macplay [] ports Win32 games to OS X), they could leave the success/failure to somebody else, and probably still make a good profit.

    But until publishers get half a brain that the past can still be profitable, I guess I'll have to keep going around them and downloading it for free elsewhere.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24, 2002 @11:31AM (#3060576)
    If you had a car wreck, refused to settle because you wanted more, then went to court for a lousy 10% more, the judge would laugh at you. He'd say "you were offered what you asked for, get out of here."

    Same with abandonware. Lots of people are perfectly willing to pay for this stuff, but the publisher refuses payment, even full retail. This happens lots of times in the business software arena. Try sending in the license fee for Wordstar, ParadoxDOS, your money will be returned.

    It's an equity issue, and equity no longer applies under copyright law.
  • by tukkayoot ( 528280 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @11:37AM (#3060586) Homepage
    It's one of the few good objective pieces that seems to look at the issue of abandonware/emulation from a few different angles... and it comes right on the heels of that Control and Creativity [] piece ran on slashdot recently.

    My personal feelings on abandonware are that there's really nothing wrong with it. I think it's healthy for the market and wonderful for players.

    When I was about 9 years old, my father bought me Starflight... a game we saw on the shelves of Radio Shack and thought looked cool. We enjoyed it but never got very far because the game has a high probability of corrupting itself (otherwise it's a terrific game... a true classic). Years later I realized that surely someone must have preserved a copy of the game that I could download... and thanks to abandonware, I was right. I tracked down a copy for download and fiddled around with my system until I could get it to work... and it was just great... it was a minor obsession of mine for several weeks and I finally beat it, getting my father's money's worth out of the purchase. Lot's of nostalgia, lot's of fun. Who gets hurt here?

    I dismiss most of the arguments of the game publishers, and especially the stance of the IDSA. The bulk of their argument is that legality equals morality, which any freethinking individual probably realizes isn't true... or else laws would never be repealed or changed.

    I also don't understand how Abandonware sites hurt their intellectual property rights as many of them seem to claim. They still own the copyrights, they still own the trademarks. Nobody is going to tell Nintendo that they don't own the rights to produce Mario games because they fail to rabidly attack an abandonware site with a Mario Bros romdump from a 20 year old arcade board. Nobody is arguing that Mario Bros is "public domain" from a legal perspective. The one fellow put it succintly "It's piracy, but so what?" The pirates aren't challenging the rights of the publisher's... they only hurt the publishers by denying them revenue, and in the case of the vast majority of abandonware, they're not even doing that.

    Another argument a few of them made was "Well, we might want to release a classics pack one day." This is a semi-legitimate argument, but in reality we know that the only "classics packs" that are truly successful commericially are those that package together a few familiar arcade classics... not more obscure PC titles. Most people only buy "arcade classics collections" because they are familiar with playing those games in arcades.

    What is the market for a classics pack of old PC games, on the other hand? There aren't going to be very many people who are going to plunk down $20 for a bunch of old games with EGA graphics that they're not familiar with. If people ARE familiar with the games, on the other hand... it's probably because they legitimately owned the games at one point in time.

    And the truth that we all know is that very few people are actually trying to sell 10+ year old games... at least not without heavily retooling the game (like Frogger 3D).

    So Abandonware really is quite harmless. I'd like to think that there are a few current and future game designers out there getting exposure to these "Golden Oldies" like Starflight for inspiration on how to do more with less and that thanks to Abandonware, we will (and have been) enjoying better games. I really think the IDSA is doing the gaming community and the companies they represent a disservice by going after abandonware sites so diligently, but I guess they have to take a hardline stance on all forms of piracy to convince their members that they're doing their job.

  • Leisure Suit Larry (Score:3, Interesting)

    by British ( 51765 ) <> on Sunday February 24, 2002 @11:38AM (#3060587) Homepage Journal
    Didn't they sell more copies of the Leisure Suit Larry hint books than actual copies of the program?
  • by Crspe ( 307319 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @11:38AM (#3060588)
    Be careful about the question that you ask ...

    I think the question should not be whether people would be willing to pay for the software if it was still available for sale (probably not, but depends on the price - at $2 there is a good chance, at $39.95 - not likely).

    What we need to ask is whether Abandonware supporters would happily remove titles from their sites if a company started selling the game again. Here I think the sites would happily remove them - The titles are available, no need for the abandonware site to distribute it.

    As long as this is true, then I think that abandonware sites are morally correct, although they are almost certainly breaking the letter of the law.
  • KISS, idiots! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @11:46AM (#3060606) Journal
    Keep It Simple, Stupid!

    Look, piracy is a known thing. It's just gonna happen. So, what the publishers really should do if they are so concerned about their IP - make a downloadable version of it that requires a key to unlock. Sell the key for $10 and be done with it.

    Then, they
    1. Have a clean, clear claim to their IP as "not abandonware",
    2. Make some residual money
    3. Won't give anybody a reason to bitch 'cause the game is no longer available.

    I really like what Maxis did with Sim City Classic - they ported it to Shockwave and you can play it right on their website! (and you stare at a few ads, oh well)

    As far as "won't work with Windows XX" - port it to freedos! (could this be one area where Linux actually outshines Windows in -gasp- support for DOS !!@!?!??)

  • by Crspe ( 307319 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @11:57AM (#3060623)
    I remember at least a year ago I was looking through my collection of CD's and came across my old Civ2 CD (checking copyright on CD ... from 1996). So I thought - great, I would love to play this again. The install went fine, and I was up and playing quite quickly (enjoying the questions about whether I want to enable the tiny tiny videos/heralds as they need 16MB of memory !!?!?!)

    Then I fairly quickly realised that the first releases of Civ2 were quite buggy / unfriendly, but that these had been fixed in a series of patches (I think 14 of them in the end). When I first bought the game it was no problem to download the patches from the microprose site, but there was no chance of downloading it from infogrames (or whoever happened to own it then). So I searched around and found the patch on some download site.

    Now, The patch is also protected by copyright, just as much as any abandonware game is protected. So, do those companies who oppose abandonware so vigorously also oppose this distribution of this patch? I think that to claim that distribution of a patch for an old game is just as bad as distributing the latest release on some warez site is just stupid. Hopefully these companies would say the same thing, but im not so sure...

    (Having just checked the infogrames site, I can see that they now have the patch available for download! Full marks to infogrames for still supporting the game!)
  • by tukkayoot ( 528280 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @12:05PM (#3060634) Homepage
    The real question is, are they truly supportive of it as a matter of principle, or do they simply enjoy getting something for free; being unwilling to pay for it if it was available through legal means?

    In my case, both.

    I support the principle behind abandonware... though not really because it's not sold anymore. I like it because it's an unofficial public domain of sorts... it's a way for budding game designers to have cheap and easy access to the history of video games... classic or little known gems of yesteryear that a person wouldn't spend a penny on continue to get exposure... and I think that's a good thing for gamers and the gaming industry in general.

    I also support Abandonware because the companies no longer support the games, and people who purchased a game license who lost the physical media on which the game was stored (or the silly copyright toys that lots of old games used) have a way of enjoying the products that they legitimately own... without putting a burden of service and support on the game publisher (which might not even exist any longer).

    Those are the reasons why I think abandonware distribution is a noble cause in general. It's the reason I've donated a few bucks to The Underdogs.

    On a personal level, I "rationalize" downloading abandonware by telling myself (and it's the truth) that there is no way I could feasibly purchase the software these days, and that even if I could, I probably wouldn't... I'm not taking anything material away from anyone. It's a victimless crime, so to speak.

    I personally don't download "abandonware" that isn't truly abandoned, that someone is actually trying to sell... if I do, it's software that I feel I have a legitimate right to use (as in, I purchased it sometime in the past.) Maybe many others aren't as "scrupulous", but it's seldom an issue since very little of what most people define as "abandonware" is readily available... that's why it's called "abandonware".

  • by astinus ( 560894 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @12:07PM (#3060641) Homepage Journal
    It's not uncommon for publishers to release sequels of old games long after the fact - a personal favorite of mine was the orginal System Shock; I was fortunate enough to buy the enhanced version when it first came out, and it's still in my top 5 list of games. SS has a devoted fan following online, who occassionally provide .zip files of the hard-to-find CD version to any one who asks - simply out of love for the game.

    Eventually, the publisher answered years of petitions for a sequel, and released SS2 - another incredible game, which came out against Half-Life and other insanely popular games, hurting its sales a good bit. Not to mention less than stellar advertising. HOWEVER. . .

    The longtime fans of SS1 started telling everyone they knew to buy the sequel. They distributed copies of the original to everyone who would take it, and sales of SS2 began to pick up. Unfortunately, the publisher had already gone out of business due to some other problems, so the benefits of the abandonware upswell were rather lost.

    Companies should be glad people are picking up their old games that aren't making them money any more. Worst case scenario, it's retroactively establishing their reputation for good, solid games; at best, it's giving them an increased fan base for possible sequels.

    So no, I don't think I'm doing anything wrong for leeching Gauntlet II or Blackthorne, since I can't purchase them directly from their publishers. I'm showing my support for them, and their sequels should they be ever be released. If you can't support them with money via direct purchases, abadonware is your only choice.
  • by Wdomburg ( 141264 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @12:23PM (#3060684)
    There is a black and white issue here. Distributing copies of a copyrighted work without the permission of the "author" is illegal. However, in my opinion, it is far from being in the publisher's best interest to take action against the distribution of abandonware titles.

    The questions they should be asking themselves are:

    1) Does this harm us?

    2) Can we capitalize on this?

    The first question pretty much comes down to two key issues - is there loss of revenue, and does it dilute intellectual property.

    Unless there are ongoing efforts to sell a particular title, it is not generating a revenue stream. This is pretty straight forward.

    There may be a question as to whether it could be used to generate a future revenue stream; e.g. via the release of "classic" packs. This, however, is not feasible in a games current form unless it runs on a currently available platform.

    So, in terms of revenue, the publisher is out of luck unless it runs on Windows or Macintosh. They may do an port of older games, but that depends on a value add in order to make it a sellable asset.

    The second issue - protection of intellectual property - is pretty much a red herring. These are not trademarks; no matter how many times someone illegally copies them, it will not prevent them from successfully enforcing copyright on them in the future.

    So onto the second question - can this be capitalized on? The answer here is a resounding YES.

    The biggest benefit of abandonware, illegal or not, is that it helps maintain a franchise. If there is any question of the value of having a well known, wide spread franchise, one only need look at Ninetendo.

    There is also a lot of good will to be culled from releasing old games (in their current form, not applicable to future releases) under a free beer license.

    What my suggestion to publishers would be is to release these games under a license allowing free play, but not free redistribution, and then license redistributions rights to abandonware sites, not for money, but for advertising space.

    When applicable this would make an ideal launching pad for advertising updates of old classics, or new games in a series, as it targets the people who loved the originals enough to go searching for them.

    Of course, this is only my opinion, and doesn't count for jack in the real world :)

  • Re:KISS, idiots! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Arawn ( 36250 ) <> on Sunday February 24, 2002 @12:25PM (#3060687)
    The only problem with charging even a small fee for an old game is that once people paid for the game they would expect support. Many publishers do not have the resources to support these old games which might not run corectly on newer computers.
  • by ( 142825 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @12:31PM (#3060701) Homepage
    The abandonware issue is a good argument to support the shortening of copyrights for software.

    Instead of copyrights for 50,75, or number of years since Mickey Mouse + 10, we change copyrights back to 25 years, renewable. On software, we make the copyright 10 years renewable. But, make a new version (currently a derivitive work) legally it's own work so that the entire package, not what changed from the earlier version starts the clock anew.

    Or another way is until the company stops supporting that product and providing free bugfixes. IBM has end of service dates announced for their software, so that once that data passes, you are on your own. That plus 1 year might be a good copyright expirition date. Or at least so that you can make copies to give away (for cost of media), not to allow one to start selling Windows 95 as a profit making enterprise.

    How many people out there are running Windows 3.1 or DOS 3.3?

  • Re:KISS, idiots! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sawbones ( 176430 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @12:46PM (#3060741)
    I've heard both of these arguments before - if we change money we have to support and if we don't defend our copyright then someone will come out with Commander Keen does Dalas or somesuch. What I wonder is if it would be possible to develope something like an AGPL (abandon... yeah). Basically have a license publishers can release these "abandoned" games under that says you the user are free to use this game, distribute this game at no cost beyond the cost of distribution (just in case bandwidth costs become astronomical and covers things like ad banners on sites), and possibly port it to other platforms. You are NOT, however, licensed to create any derivative works (beyond porting to other platforms) or use artwork, characters, whatever from this title in any other work.

    That way the publishers are happy because they're not liable for support and they've prevented the Keen Kills O-Town unlicensed titles from happening. Gamers are happy because they get to play the games that publishers no longer want to distribute or support. Abandonware sites are happy because now they're all nice and legal.

    Probably never happen of course, but it could be nice.

  • by ScepticalTech ( 559355 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @01:18PM (#3060846)
    You clearly have no idea how hard it was to get the sound working on some of those DOS games. An 'open source DOS' boot setup would result in a whole lot of silent games on all the crap sound cards people use that are by no means Sound Blaster (or Ad Lib, or whatever odd sound card various legacy games supported at the time) compatible at the hardware level.
  • by Indras ( 515472 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @01:28PM (#3060872)
    What amazes me is how stupid most publishers are. How hard would it be to take Ultima Underworld I and II, Shadowcaster, update the code to a Win32/OSX/Linux base, then sell the CD for $20 and say "Hey, folks - the great games you loved? Come pay us $20 for it!"

    Not all game makers don't get this. Some do, and occasionally don't even make profit from it. Why? Many factors; low profit margins, no advertisement, only people who love the game will buy it, and it's so outdated, that the passersby at the store who pick it up will be disgusted when they get it home to play it.

    Unfortunately, all of those do happen! For instance, Microprose (before they were bought by Hasbro, then by Infogrames) released a five-CD pack of all their classics; X-Com: UFO Defense, X-Com: Knee Deep in the Dead, Master of Magic, Master of Orion, and a demo CD. I picked it up for $20, because I love XUD, MoM, and MoO, but when I showed it off to my friends, they were appalled that I would spend that kind of money for that "junk." Keep in mind that these weren't updated for DirectX or anything (like Warcraft II:, so they still ran in DOS and had Conventional Memory problems, etc. and the same EGA graphics.

    The fact is, only a small percentage of the consumer market would be interested in things like this, like collectors and big-time fans. And many expect the programmers to put something in really special, or make huge modifications to the code upon re-release.

    Few games can make profit like this, but there are exceptions. Such as the Oregon Trail series, which is now up to version five and runs in Win32, as opposed to the Commodore (correct me if I'm wrong here) and Apple IIe platforms it was designed on. But that's educational, too.

    My suggestion? Make the game/application/operating system (maybe) public domain, and sell CDs or downloads of the source code to anyone who asks, for a small fee to cover the costs of the transaction for the company. This will let the real enthusiasts get a new collectors item without the makers having to publish anything, plus it can now be ported to new operating systems without the makers having to program anything (a la Quake 2).

    Like the article says, though, this is "gray area" which is perfect for the developers, because it keeps the games in people's minds, and it will probably stay that way.
  • I've got the Interplay Ultimate RPG Archives sitting on my desk right here; Bards Tale Construction Kit, Bards Tale 1 2 and 3, Might And Magic Clouds of Xeen and Darkside of Xeen, Stonekeep, Ultima Underworld 1 and 2, Dragon Wars, Wasteland, and Wizardry Gold. I grabbed the Quest For Glory Compilation a while ago, when you could still find it; 1, 1 Remake, 2, 3, 4, 4-CD Enhanced. And the various language packs. Too bad the damn things won't run properly on anything new; I'm trying to get a clunky old 386 laptop I found to work with an external monitor. In my drawer, here, I have the Forgotten Realms Archive; the good one. Pools of Radiance, Curse of the Azure Bonds, Secret of the Silver Blades, Pools of Darkness, Hillsfar. Eye of the Beholder 1,2,3. Dungeon Hack, Gateway to the Savage Frontier, Treasures of the Savage Frontier. Menzoberranzan. Some of these games I played on my Commodore 64! I have in my closet the Dragonlance gold boxes, the Buck Rogers ones as well, purchased from Ebay for the manuals. One or two are the Mac versions, one's an IBM I think. Who cares? Hell, one of the Buck Rogers ones is still SEALED. My point? I can and do purchase legitimate classics packs whereever and whenever I can. But lots of places don't allow it. Origin made a BEAUTIFUL set of Wing Commander 1, 2 and 3 all rebuilt for Windows 95. And sold it for about two weeks. Now it goes for 200 bucks on Ebay. I still play Master of Orion 2, because it DOES'T ASSUME it's running on a 486. Hell, Wing Commander 3, for DOS, runs great, on my P4-1800, but claims that my 6x DVD-ROM is 'faster than a CD-ROM can possibly be.' I tried to get Bochs running, but the documentation is horrible. I'd love for somebody to build a plug and run distribution that would give you a several hundred meg hard drive, direct access to the floppy and CD ROM drives, the soundblaster stuff working, and easily tunable to run at the speed of a 386/16, 486/16, 25, 66 or 100, and maybe a P-60 and P-100.
  • by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @02:02PM (#3061035) Homepage
    It seems to me that these abandonware sites are performing a service akin to the Library of Congress. From their mission []:

    The Library's mission is to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations."

    I can see the fiscal reasons for not archiving software, but perhaps its time for the library to address these issues. If a case were made for the benefit of Congressmen and Congresswomen, then I think it would be hard for big business to lobby against it.

  • by MadFarmAnimalz ( 460972 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @02:19PM (#3061124) Homepage
    I for one fail to see why giving a game out for free can make copyright enforcement harder. Just so I don't get moderated back into my fat32 partition, let me illustrate. I have a copy of Borland C++ 4.51 licensed for personal use which I got off a PC Plus coverdisc. It is fully functional and nominally free, if you forget about the magazine they stuck on it. This act has not diminished Borland's ability to enforce their copyright. I think Mr. Will Wright of Maxis has a somewhat limited understanding of licensing options.

    I reluctantly must admit I see how abandonware might very well infringe on the developers' rights. When you retain copyright for a game that was last sold 8 years ago, you technically reserve for yourself the option of re-introducing it. Distribution under abandonware terms means losing this option.

    And I disagree respectfully with those who consider this issue related to the length of copyright enforcement; there is no link. If a certain medium can only be copyright-enforced for 6 months, there will still be illegal duplication of that medium within those 6 months. The issue here is not whether 10 years is enough or not; the issue is the legal status of abandonware. And as far as that's concerned, I think the law is most unfortunately clear.

    The question now is how to reconcile the legitimate claims of abandonware maintainers/users with the legal rights of copyright holders?

    Developers and publishers, IMHO, must begin to consider the promotional potential of that abandoned software. LSL 1, released for free with a few ads in it for LSL42, will never cannibalise the sales of LSL42. We are beginning to see a lot of this happening with magazine cover disks. It's called promotional material, Mr. Publisher.

    Looking forward to Lemmings XP.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @03:21PM (#3061405) Homepage Journal

    Copyright is explicitly required to advance the arts and sciences. The old games fall under arts I would say.

    In order to advance those arts, publishers and creators are granted legal protection for their works to ensure their ability to profit. However, that profit is NOT the goal of copyright, the availability of the work is the goal. It's just that in a capitolist system, profit is a good incentive.

    Reasonably, in exchange for the granting of legal protection, the copyright holder SHOULD be accepting a social responsability to ensure the continued availability of the work. Hoarding the work, or simply allowing it to rot and using copyright to prevent others from preserving the work is preceicely in opposition to the purpose and justification of IP law.

    A fair and constitutional copyright law would require that preservation as a condition of being granted a copyright. This was not considered in the 18th century when the constitution and the first copyright law were enacted since at the time, copyright only lasted 14 years and thus there was little danger that a work would be lost by the time it's copyright expired. In addition, the works (books) were not subject to bit rot. Unlike a 5.25" C64 floppy, it's not at all hard to read a well cared for 22 year old book.

    By extending copyright many times over, Congress has introduced the very real possability that by the time a copyright expires, there may be no salvagable copy of the work in existance. Changes in the nature of a 'work' introduce the probability that by the time copyright expires, there may be no hardware that can even read, much less execute the software. In some cases, the hardware might be so obscure that nobody remembers exactly how to reproduce it. Quick, what was the record density of track 17 on a C64 floppy? Anyone remember the encoding scheme. Now, in another 50 or so years (when the copyright on Mind Mirror FINALLY expires), how many people will remember. What are the odds that the original floppy you bought in the early 80's will still be readable even if someone does remember how?

    Can someone please tell me how losing that work forever will advance the arts or sciences?

  • what sierra said... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by El Panda Grande ( 551730 ) on Sunday February 24, 2002 @03:27PM (#3061429) Homepage
    I loved a lot of the old sierra adventure games of the late 80's early 90's and wanted to buy copies of the ones I didn't have. When I discovered I couldn't but them anywhere, I e-mailed seirra, asking for premission to download there stuff for free. The guy said he was amazed that I was still playing the games they made before I was even born, and I may download them with his blessing. He only warned me that they couldn't offer tech support. On the flip side, Lucusarts still sells their old games for 20 bucks a pop. I wonder if they make much money off them, they wouldn't tell me!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24, 2002 @03:36PM (#3061471)
    Actually, Hasbro is _still_ selling Master of Orion II. I have the CD right next to me here. I picked it up for a measly $10 at CompUSA two or three months ago.

    ...It even has an absolutely hilarious disclaimer on the back of the case. "In using this CD-ROM, you may choose to use the Internet. You acknowledge that Hasbro Interactive is not responsible for the Internet or whether it should continue to exist in its present form or whether or not a governmental agency, either foreign or domestic, will control, regulate, or disband the Internet."

    Yeah, I'm gonna go sue Hasbro when the Internet goes down. Woo woo.

  • An interesting tale (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 24, 2002 @07:07PM (#3062428)
    Years there have been efforts by the community to get their hands on the Ultima7 sourcecode, due to the fact that it had serious problems with memory management and should be fixed to preserve that game. Well even EA was contacted and didn't react for a long time. Shortly before the release of U9 finally somebody could be found who looked into the matter, oh well nothing was heard thereafter, although there were rumours that the code was found! To make it short the community took their fate in their own hands and

    a) wrote windows drivers for U7 to make them work more or less

    b) simply reverse engineered the whole U7 engine and wrote their own engine which brought the game up to modern standards (exult... which can be found a

    c) started several projects to remake the old Ultimas with modern standards

    Only to find themselves being attacked by an EA suit openly in a wired article (I have to say EA before they wired article didn't even care to answer the mails from the remake authors sent to them).

    This clearly explains the shortsightness of those corps. Instead of supporting the community, by giving them source code, or information and maybe benefitting in the long run (aka they could bring out a fan Ultima collection with all emulators, and remakes), they cry mine mine mine, and dont touch my intellectual property! They should really learn from the Linux community where an entire business has arisen out of it!

Some people manage by the book, even though they don't know who wrote the book or even what book.