Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Steam Releases vs ScummVM

Today LucasArts re-released some of their adventure classics on Steam. Immediately people started to wonder about ScummVM. Let's see...

It came out of the blue, and nobody ever expected such turn. We even had internal jokes that LEC would rather release "Jedi Fights the Green Tentacle" than another Monkey Island game or any of their old adventures.

I think ScummVM did its job really well. We kept a big fan base of the games alive and even growing. We released our software for number of platforms, including such hot devices as iPhone and Wii. Finally LucasArts seemed to realize that there is market for 2D point and click adventures, and their new re-releases are geared towards just that. Well, kind of.

There was a certain speculation on the technical side of the re-releases, basically whether they will be ScummVM-compatible or not.

Thus, we already checked the binaries of some of the games, no surprise there, they use Windows port by Aaron Giles, not ScummVM. As of the ScummVM compatibility, we see that here were some changes that make the games incompatible with the current ScummVM version. They are very trivial changes, though (moving the content of one file into another), and do not seem to constitute any kind of copy protection. Of course one can wonder if they did this deliberately to break compatibility with ScummVM, but since it is so trivial to deal with this change, this seems somewhat unlikely.

Thus, it is matter of five minutes hack for adding support of these games to ScummVM, as basically it is just a slight format change, not any kind of copy protection or encryption. Adding such kind of support would remain completely legal, just as ScummVM was always legal with running other game versions, and nobody rights will be violated.

However, we decided to abstain from it at least for now. It seems that LucasArts' folks are pretty aware about us, we've been even mentioned on their twitter account, and there is a chance that we could be contacted. We do not want to interfere with their sales and/or any upcoming plans for other platforms. Also we are really open for cooperation in this regard and will be more than happy to make any upcoming releases run with use of ScummVM.

9 comments:

Christian said...

Hello sev,
thanks for clearing thatt up. Also sorry again for posting how to make it work with a stock ScummVM on the forums, as I wrote, I didn't think it would/could somehow harm ScummVM in any way.
Also I actually doubt too, that the changes were made to explicitely make it incompatible with ScummVM. After all, the needed data is in no way encrypted, and basically only included into the windows executable.

ender said...

I'd assumed LucasArts were just bundling Aaron Giles recompiled engines. And those re-releases didn't have any gamedata changes I'm aware of. Pity :(

Joystiq wrote a nice pingback you've probably already seen:
http://www.joystiq.com/2009/07/08/psa-lucasarts-steam-distributed-games-dont-work-on-scummvm-b/

- Ender (fearing hell is freezing over :)

Khaaaaaan said...

Being on a Mac and not wanting to install Windows on it, LucasArts is losing a Monkey Island SE sale (at least for the time being).

I understand why the ScummVM team doesn't want to interfere with LucasArts' business. I, however, believe LucasArts could only benefit from ScummVM supporting the remake.

Of course, in another sense, the ScummVM team is simply delaying the sales of MI SE to people that refuse to install Windows or buy an xbox. So no harm is really done to LucasArts or anyone with that particular decision except the excruciating wait.

I still don't understand why MI SE wasn't released for Mac. Aaron Giles was responsible for the Mac ports. The Mac platform is doing better than ever. And I'm sure the fan base that is still on Macs would have loved to see a Mac version. I'm one of them.

berarma said...

Don't forget Linux users. A lot of MI fans using DOS back in the day have migrated to Linux by now.

0fx said...

This is a real shame - it is strange that on the one hand they on the one hand deliver the game even together with the old DOS and Windows 95 executable and then on the other hand take away the DIG.LA0 file and stick it into the new EXE. Apart from that, nothing seems to be changed. Everything will work with scummvm and the old executables will work with Dosbox/Wine as soon as the LA0 file is there but not without it :(

j337 said...
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Faemir said...

I would be utterly grateful if you would consider updating to fix these games, I finally have a way to get them legally... and oh look I can't run them. I'm a Linux user, which is why this is a problem for me.

If you can't/won't do it then that's absolutely fine, but I would greatly appreciate it if you could say if anything has happened since this newspost etc?

niffiwan said...

Hi, this is unrelated to this post but is about the ScummVM wiki. Since I'm unable to edit it, I was wondering if you could add to the "Discworld series" page that support for Discworld Noir is currently being worked on: http://sourceforge.net/projects/tinselnoir/

Eugene Sandulenko said...

@Faemir No, nothing changed

@niffiwan We know that see scummvm-misc project lead by main Tinsel (DW game engine) developers.