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.