It all started a few years back when I bought a new notebook computer, one without a disk drive, as is becoming more and more the fashion these days. I had a sudden hankering to play Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic, my favourite ever turn-based computer strategy game. I did not fancy carrying around an external disk drive just so I could play a very old game that used its disk as a security measure. (You could not play at all without the CD in your computer’s drive.)
I can’t remember how I found myself at Good Old Games but I found a copy of AoW: SM there for download and at a very reasonable price. The basic idea of the site was a bit like Steam, except without the DRM and mostly concentrating on good, old fashioned games. (I know — the name is a bit of a giveaway, isn’t it?) Essentially you buy a game on the site and you can download it to any computer you own, back it up to disk or USB stick, whatever you like. There are no restrictions.
It was great. Age of Wonders downloaded just fine and my armies were soon dispatched in search of Shadow Demons to slay. And that was it for me and GOG.com for a few years. I had got what I wanted at a fair price and I was on my way. I was mainly a Mac user at the time and I kind of had the idea that I would download some older games and run them on Parallels Desktop because their system requirements were low enough to run even on a Windows virtual machine. I never got round it.
The year before last my son Daniel, knowing how much I liked the first Witcher game, got me Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings for Xmas. I was busy, what with the new baby and all, so it took me a few months to get round to installing it. When I did, it was an utter disaster. The game needed a massive amount of patching and simply refused to install the required patches. Nothing I did seemed to solve the problem.
Going online in search of a solution I came across an interesting item. CD Projekt, the makers of The Witcher were also the owners of Good Old Games. They had made available an online backup of Witcher 2 at the site. All you needed to do was type in your game code and you could download away. It seemed too good to be true but off I went. Lo and behold not only was it true, but the version of the game on the site was the latest iteration with all the patches preinstalled. In keeping with Good Old Games philosophy it had no DRM either.
Let me repeat that. It had no DRM. This was a top tier big budget game and it was available for download without any form of copy protection to anyone who had paid for it. In a day and age where big game developers seem to be tripping over each other to load new forms of DRM onto their work, here was a studio who seemed to value the convenience of their customers. A little Googling revealed that CD Projekt had a history of troubles with DRM and had just decided to abandon it altogether on their site. God bless them.
I was impressed by this. I was impressed by the site as well this time around. It was a real nostalgia fest. There were games dating back to Septerra Core—a PC based Japanese RPG clone from the 90s that I had fond memories of—to Heroes of Might and Magic. There were all the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale games I never got to play the first time around all without DRM and modified to run on modern machines.
There were games I owned such as Neverwinter Nights. I bought it to play on my DVD driveless machines. There were hundreds of games, many of them classics. Their graphics may not be ninja-tastic but their game play is great. A lot of them are in styles that have gone out of fashion but which I enjoy (turn-based strategy games for example). During some of GOG’s many sales they can be had for next to nothing. I found myself buying up more than a few and playing them. The value for money is immense.
Nowadays a few indie developers are making their work available on GOG. Some of the games such as Driftmoon are in genres I really like. Anyway, I have rambled on here, when all I really meant to say was that if you have any interest in good, old-fashioned games you should take a look at the site.