The Open-Source Free Games Revolution: Return of The Clones

As computers continuously evolve to more and more sophisticated specifications and operating systems, we are in danger of losing some of the most beautiful and classically-crafted games ever – Enter these passionate groups of borderline-obsessive programmers, through which, some of the greatest games of yore live on.

If you’re anything like me, the wrong side of your mid-twenties, hurtling towards an early-mid-early-life crisis, you’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic recently – seeking solace and escape in the same sources of solace and escape of your youth. With a gut-shot of excitement, you find the dusty, stained, jewel-case of your favourite late-90s PC game, remembering those lost days of blissfully-neurotic play. Longing to rekindle those days, in your sweaty palms you take the CD to your glossy, post-modern, super-powerful laptop – You open the CD/DVD RW drive – Place the CD in the tray – Close it… and then…

Nothing…

… Just Nothing…

You see, we’ve come so far, yet left so much behind. As programming and the operating systems of modern computers spirals into the future, backwards compatibility is of little concern to the commercial behemoths which lead the way. They press forward, with expensive gigabytes of flashy, 3D environments to roam within, abandoning the immersion, or intricacy of playability that their landmark moments boasted.

Want to retreat? The past doesn’t work any more. Or didn’t – Why spend your money on the latest commercial outings when you could load up a Virtual PC onto your machine (an inelegant, desperate solution) or you could look to these hardy fellows.

Unto the breach step these small groups of talented gaming fans who look to recreate the classic games of the Windows 98 age, and make them compatible with the world of Vista and Windows 7. Several of the greatest games of all time, the timeless, have been made truly timeless thanks to faithful recreations, and some have gone even further, modifying and improving on already great.

I first became aware of this practice when I attempted to play Transport Tycoon Deluxe a few years ago. Released in 1995, it was never going to work in 2009, but this business/sim/strategy game from Chris Sawyer, the man who created RollerCoaster Tycoon, claimed so many hours of my youth that I was desperate to revisit it. I was delighted to discover Open TTD, which “attempts to mimic the original game as closely as possible while extending it with new features” It succeeds wonderfully, and is as smooth and addictive as original, with a host of new features, new graphics and available modifications.

%d bloggers like this: