I love truth in advertising, and the guys from CD Projekt (responsible for bringing us The Witcher) were certainly upfront when creating their new site. The European publisher wanted to make a site that would charge a reasonable amount and give gamers older games that were out of circulation in a convenient, DRM-free package that you can download forever. I *know* … so why are you still here!?!?
It goes beyond just packing up the existing games and charging folks to download – the developers at GoodOldGames have gained access to the source code for all of the games and crafted updated installers to work on Windows XP and Vista PC’s. They have also patched the games and eliminated compatibility issues so that while these are still the same games we loved from a decade ago, they now run on XP & Vista properly.
The initial problem I had with the site isn’t so much a problem as a dilemma – I already owned the overwhelming majority of the games. I wanted to support them right out of the gate, but had very few games that I could buy … so I immediately grabbed Jagged Alliance 2, as I’d never played it. But there wasn’t much else I could get. And even with recent announcements – the addition of the first Gothic, Sacred, the early Unreal games, and a few others – I am still faced with already owning all of the games that interest me.
Yet last night I did something that I hadn’t planned: I bought Fallout 1 & 2 from GOG.com. Yes, here are games that I already own for the PC and Mac … so why buy them again?
Well, it all goes back to this seeming obsession I have with small laptops lacking internal optical drives. It started with the HP Omnibook series in the early 90′s, but games were generally on floppy disks back then. It really hit full stride with my Toshiba Portege in the late 90′s, but since then most everything I’ve owned has had a built-in optical drive.
That has changed this year with the introduction of ‘netbooks’. These devices, such as the HP 2133 Mini-Note I reviewed here, are smaller than a notebooks but larger than a PDA and run a full Windows (or Linux) operating system. The trade-off is that they offer lower-powered processors, less memory and storage, lower resolution (and smaller) screens, and no internal optical drives.
I went through the process of installing a number of games back when I got the HP2133, and ran into the issue of certain games needing a CD in the drive to function properly. Back when I had the Toshiba, I had my first experience with a ‘no CD’ program when I tried running ‘Mysteries of the Sith’. I have told that story before, but suffice it to say that in the last several years I have learned that the primary use of such files had little to do with CD protection or helping out those without built-in CD drives. So I do not use those programs any more on principal … but that left me with the problem of being unable to run the games without the CD. My next step was to do something that I find less distasteful – create a disk image and mount that using a CD emulator program. That takes up more disk space, and works fairly well for many games – so I used that for things like Baldur’s Gate, Divine Divinity and Arcanum. But some other games had problems with that solution, but I worked through most of them and abandoned the rest.
Fast forward to today: I have sold off my HP2133 and bought a new (and more powerful) Lenovo S10 IdeaPad. So I start again with the installation of software including games … and the fun starts all over again. I begin by installing some staples – Neverwinter Nights with both expansions and all Premium Modules, Divine Divinity, Arcanum, Wizardry 8 and Baldur’s Gate. I also wanted to add Fallout and Fallout 2. But as I started fiddling with getting Fallout 2 installed I ran into problems. Eventually I got it loaded and created a disk image, but couldn’t get it running and didn’t have time – or desire – to fiddle around anymore.
That was when I made my decision.
I headed to GoodOldGames, added both Fallouts to my cart and clicked ‘buy’. Very quickly I had two ~500MB downloads working their way towards me. From there, I simply double-clicked and the games were quickly installed. They have a custom installer that checks the install file, then launches into a very simple installer that offers simple options and then quickly – and simply – installs the game. Once installed, there is no special requirement of needing the install file – I actually installed from a USB drive onto my Lenovo s10 without a single complaint.
From there I was able to start the game from the icons on the desktop and it was just like launching the game any other way – it went through the intro movies and into the game. I have started both games and gotten through the first parts and into the ‘meat’ of the game without any issue. That is just the way things go with these games – I have heard only success stories so far; tales of folks who have had problems installing some of these games in the past but no issue with the GOG installer.
I encourage you to go take a look – you can grab some great games from the past decade in a simple, single-file, DRM-free installer file for a very reasonable price – in fact, no game is more than $9.99! Take a look!