On Preserving Video Games

Game developers have the same problem that record companies have: they may lose their digital assets or face compatibility problems when deciding to publish older titles.

Having no source code almost proved to be a showstopper for [Scott] Hawkins when a company he previously co-founded known as CodeFire was developing Sega Smash Pack for the Game Boy Advance in 2001. Sega Smash Pack was a compilation that contained Golden Axe, Ecco The Dolphin, and Sonic Spinball, released in 2002.

Hawkins and his team had little or no access to source code for any of the games during its 2001 development timeframe. They were forced to recreate Golden Axe from scratch with a utility that compiled all of the in-game art assets. The source code for Ecco the Dolphin was located at an external developer that had adequately backed up the project. Hawkins retells a story about locating the source code for Sonic Spinball, which ended up being found in an unlikely location.

Instapaper worthy.

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