Revert3D after the break…


We often forget that time is relative; That aging is faster or slower depending on what you are. Some species of turtles live well over 100 years old; Some insect species last barely hours. Each lives what is considered for them to be a full life.

Computer games are more “insect” than “turtle” in terms of aging – What looks positively amazing today will look quite dated five years from now. Don’t believe me? Then check out the top-of-the-line video games released five years ago and ask yourself if you’d still be willing to pay full retail price for them, especially with what is being offered today. Quake 1, one of the quintessential first-person shooter games of all times, is over 15 years old. Even with open source enhancements such as more refined models and other graphical wizardry, the engine still appears limited compared to it’s bleeding edge contemporaries. Without such open source enhancements to the engine, Quake 1 would be difficult to install on Windows 7 and XP operating systems, never mind play. Such is the life of a video game, tied unfairly to an operating system that, itself, lasts only a few years at most.

As anyone who has read this blog could surmise, I lived in the Golden Era of PC Gaming, back when a venture into a video game store yielded PC games and not much else. Times, of course, change – Today, just the opposite is true and except for a sparse shelf or two, retail PC games are all but extinct unless you enjoy playing the current “evergreens” like World of Warcraft or The Sims.

In that Golden Era, many PC games would go on to become cult classics – Games that never financially rewarded their developers but grew in popularity as the years progressed instead of fading into obscurity. One such game was “System Shock 1” (then, of course, just “System Shock”). While System Shock was not the full polygon experience that Quake 1 was, it was still quite a marvel to behold – An RPG played in first-person. Enough shooting for those seeking action, enough quests and role-playing elements to entertain the RPG buffs. The CD-ROM version held voice acting that transformed the text messages collected throughout the game into a compelling storyline.

The System Shock franchise is that rare franchise that never faltered, sort of like the video game equivalent of the movie “Alien” and “Aliens” – Each held in high regard, each related to the other yet different enough to have their own identity. Sadly, the System Shock franchise splintered afterwards into two “spiritual successor” franchises – The “Dead Space” franchise on one side and the “BioShock” franchise on the other. I’ve never had the courtesy of playing either “Dead Space” game and what I did play of “BioShock 1” did not enthuse me to complete it or regard it as anything more then a game that shared part of a title to a previous franchise and nothing more.

As operating systems change, computer games of a bygone era age and grow less compatible with modern reality. While there is still much appreciation for System Shock 2, with varying efforts to keep the game playable, not much effort has been made to keep System Shock 1 from fading into memory… Until now.

A group of programmers are attempting to build a System Shock 1-like engine called “Revert3D” which will recreate the same type of engine that System Shock 1 used but be compatible with modern day operating systems. While it is not a direct effort to recreate System Shock 1, the effort was apparently born out of such a desire. Several games could be faithfully recreated with this type of engine as well.

Computer gaming has lasted long enough to see it’s earliest efforts, regardless of quality, fade into obscurity. Magnetic media, such as floppy discs and cassettes (yes, kids, computer games used to come on cassettes – Ask your parents), degrade over time in even the best conditions. Compact Discs (CDs) are vulnerable to “bitrot” where the discs similarly lose their ability to be read over time based on storage condition, usage and age. DVDs and Blu-Ray DVDs will not be immune to this phenomenon and even “Digital Downloads” are vulnerable to having their validating servers lost, rendering all those 1s and 0s completely useless.

I hope that “Revert3D” succeeds in being created so that, over time, System Shock 1 (or a very close facsimile that doesn’t infringe on the intellectual property) may be playable again for a new generation of players. Older games do not receive the gratitude from newer players and that’s understandable – Weaned on modern graphics and capabilities, older games have little to offer younger gamers in terms of eye candy or excitement. Yet these older games are invaluable nonetheless because, without them, there would be no modern games for them to enjoy. Without “Quake,” there is no “Half-Life,”and there is no “Call of Duty.” Without “Tribes,” is there a “CounterStrike” and without that, would there have been a “Left for Dead”? World of Warcraft owes a debt to “Ultima Online” and that game owes a lot to the “Ultima” single player RPGs that came before it.

Time is relative and computer games inevitably age. However, just as humans must still suffer inevitable wrinkles, bald spots, arthritis and other age-related ailments as they get older, computer games don’t necessarily have to. “Revert3D” is one such effort to keep older games from aging and for that, I applaud it. I look forward to it’s completion.


2 Responses to “Revert3D…”

  1. Robert Says:

    Hey, thanks for your review! 😀 We also got a “playable” demo now! Greetings

    • Lutonaut Says:

      Hi Robert and thank you for reading my blog.

      I continue to follow the Revert3D project and look forward to the 1.00 release. While I must confess that my game designing skills are not as immense as I would like for them to be, I know that there are other people who have such talents and will likely use those talents with this engine. History has been kind to the computer game “System Shock 1” in that it’s reputation has only grown throughout the years. Efforts, such as the Revert3D engine, to keep aspects of our gaming heritage alive for present and future generations to enjoy are always greatly appreciated.

      Again, thank you for reading my blog.

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