Steam/GOG

Comments, problems, suggestions about Oric emulators (Euphoric, Mess, Amoric, etc...) it's the right place to ask. And don't hesitate to give your tips and tricks that help using these emulations in the best possible way on your favorite operating system.
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Dbug
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Steam/GOG

Post by Dbug » Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:29 pm

In these few last months, there's been quite a lot of old games made available through the Steam or GOG (Good Old Games) download platforms, many of these running either inside a repackaged DOSBox or ScummVM.

I was wondering if it could make sense/be doable, to do the same thing with Oric games :)

Let's say we design a custom version of Oricutron or Euphoric that implements some of the Steam API (example: Achievements), and that can directly boot to a game and not afford any way to select other floppies or tape: A dumb down version basically.

That brings a number of questions:
- Would Xeron or Fabrice be ok with the idea
- Would that be legal (question about the Oric roms for example)
- Would that be doable
- What about money retribution: Say that Barnsey decides to put HNEFATAFL on Steam, and it's a huge success: He makes $1000. Should he keep it all, or should some of that go back to the author of the emulator and whoever did the Steam integration?
- Is that a totally retard idea, or is it actually cool?

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by Godzil » Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:39 pm

I don't want to make you loose your motivation, but I have a friend who made games on iOS/Android, olders computer (like the Falcon), some retrogaming consoles, and PC/Mac.

He try to put some of his games on GOG/Steam and all the answer he got was no we don't want your stuff on our store.

Here a discution with him about this on another forum (in french sorry for the english speaker): http://www.yaronet.com/posts.php?s=168209 (and his website where his games are displayed: http://onorisoft.free.fr/retroshop/index.html )

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by Dbug » Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:16 pm

Well, if things were easy, they would not be interesting to try :)

Getting the things accepted on the various stores is indeed complicated, but that's more or less a problem that everybody has. It's not proper to old school titles, it's just that there's so many games theses days that the selection has gotten stricter.

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by Xeron » Sun Feb 08, 2015 9:07 pm

feel free to use oricutron :)

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by Dbug » Thu Feb 12, 2015 3:02 pm

Xeron wrote:feel free to use oricutron :)
Thanks :)

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by NekoNoNiaow » Fri Mar 23, 2018 3:23 am

Resurrecting this old thread. ;)

On that topic, note that GOG started accepting new (read "non old") games on their store a few years ago (after that thread was started) and now even allows Early Access games which clearly shows that they are willing to accept other kind of games than just Good Old Games. ;)

If you look at the "classic offering" on GOG on marginal platforms (compared to the PC) such as the Amiga the following games are available and play obviously via some form of emulation with some very thin UI layer on top:

* Chaos Engine (Bitmap Brothers)
* Rocket Rangers, Wings, Defender Of The Crown (Cinemaware)
* Cannon Fodder 1 & 2 (Sensible Software)

And possibly a handful that I might have missed.
All of these are essentially an emulator packaged with the original game.

Which is incidentally how many classic PC games are shipped on GOG: DosBox + the original.

So, I would say that there might be hope in publishing games on GOG for retro platforms which are not necessarily as important as the PC.
They might object because of the small expected number of sales but it seems worth trying with a solid, newly developed game.

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by ThomH » Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:10 pm

If it's not too self-promotional, I'll just point out: Clock Signal's SDL kiosk mode is exactly the sort of emulator described, and should work anywhere that SDL works, subject to currently assuming that there's a keyboard providing input. The reason I don't generally mention that you could build for Windows is exactly that it doesn't have any built-in menus whatsoever. It'll auto-launch whatever you provided at the command line and that's exactly everything it'll do.

Actually, thinking on that, I guess I'd need to change two lines so that it wasn't looking in UNIXy places for the Oric system ROMs, and if I'm doing that I might as well support bundling of a default configuration file so that you can launch it directly from the executable rather than from a shell script or batch file. It'd be a ten-minute job.

Follow-up question though: wouldn't bundling the Oric ROMs into your Steam/GOG product be problematic? Especially as Microsoft probably technically retains some sort of ownership, and are still very much active.

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by NekoNoNiaow » Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:09 am

ThomH wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:10 pm
[...]
Actually, thinking on that, I guess I'd need to change two lines so that it wasn't looking in UNIXy places for the Oric system ROMs, and if I'm doing that I might as well support bundling of a default configuration file so that you can launch it directly from the executable rather than from a shell script or batch file. It'd be a ten-minute job.
I agree that this would be ideal from a non-technical user standpoint.
But still, note that some of the PC games I got from GOG are actually not packaged in a single executable, the individual files, including the DosBox executables and config files are accessible individually. Now, this might be the result of Mac applications being actual folders disguised as executables but maybe they do the same on Windows? I have not verified that.
ThomH wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 7:10 pm
Follow-up question though: wouldn't bundling the Oric ROMs into your Steam/GOG product be problematic? Especially as Microsoft probably technically retains some sort of ownership, and are still very much active.
Isn't the copyright on the Oric boot screen referencing only Tangerine and not Microsoft?
But indeed, if MS still retains copyright to part of the ROMS, including them in any software package without their approval would be copyright infringement. This said, MS are probably not considering their BASIC or 8 bit code as very valuable market wise so I would not be surprised if they were willing to grant generous licensing terms.

It would definitely be worth trying.
If someone can confirm that there is still MS copyrighted code in the ROMs and wants to try, I would suggest trying to get ahold of the ex-XBOX manager which "ported" Halo to the Atari 26000, he very likely still retains good contacts at Microsoft and would certainly be the right kind of person to ease them into giving it a good thought.

Note that whichever company holds the rights to Tangerine assets would also likely hold the copyrights to the parts of the ROMs which are not held by Microsoft. They would have to be found (likely arduous), contacted (easier), and convinced (I think this could work worth trying).

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by ThomH » Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:01 pm

NekoNoNiaow wrote:
Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:09 am
I agree that this would be ideal from a non-technical user standpoint.
I've ticketed it for myself, which generally means it'll get done because I'm loathe to close those things without resolving the underlying problem.
NekoNoNiaow wrote:
Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:09 am
Isn't the copyright on the Oric boot screen referencing only Tangerine and not Microsoft?
But indeed, if MS still retains copyright to part of the ROMS, including them in any software package without their approval would be copyright infringement. This said, MS are probably not considering their BASIC or 8 bit code as very valuable market wise so I would not be surprised if they were willing to grant generous licensing terms.
It's definitely Microsoft BASIC, and I strongly suspect that Microsoft didn't fool for Commodore's trick of a one-off purchase of unlimited distribution rights a second time, but I think you're right that likely nobody there still cares.

It might be interesting to know what proportion of modern titles actually require the system ROMs to be present once loaded. Otherwise an extremely slender copyright-free shim and a machine snapshot might be a solution? I've not seen a formal documentation, but Peter Gordon's snapshot code seems sufficiently straightforward to be able to reverse engineer the Oricutron format and likely turn it into a de facto standard if desired.
NekoNoNiaow wrote:
Sat Mar 24, 2018 5:09 am
Note that whichever company holds the rights to Tangerine assets would also likely hold the copyrights to the parts of the ROMs which are not held by Microsoft. They would have to be found (likely arduous), contacted (easier), and convinced (I think this could work worth trying).
In a former time, I tried to chase up the copyright on some of Acorn's 8-bit system ROMs, then more like 15 years old than 30. My conclusion was that, mostly, the people who have inherited rights don't even realise it.

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by Dbug » Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:42 am

Post recent games don't even know that the BASIC rom exists, I would not be surprised if they would boot fine with the rom chips removed.

Basically, on startup, when the microdisc is connected, it's the Microdisc eprom which is overlaid on top of the overlay ram, and we boot on that.
The eprom then loads the boot sector and runs it: At this point we are in control, we disable everything except the overlay ram, and that's it.

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by ThomH » Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:56 pm

That probably raises some questions about the Microdisc ROM, and similarly might lead to the same queries re: the Jasmin or any other disk system you've provided a compatible boot sector for, but it would substantially reduce the list of potentially interested parties. If it definitively removed anything Microsoft might have an interest in, I think that would be a big win.

The risk with Microsoft might not be so much that anybody there cares about retaining rights over the Oric ROMs so much as that it's considered a better move just to protect everything than it is to pick and choose.

It sounds like an emulator that wanted to be entirely free of issues might even just be able to spirit sector 2 into memory and launch from there, no system ROMs at all? Or, at worst, a negligible replacement Microdisc ROM could be written. No need to communicate what's going on, or to deal with error conditions.

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Re: Steam/GOG

Post by NekoNoNiaow » Wed Mar 28, 2018 2:43 am

ThomH wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:01 pm
I've ticketed it for myself, which generally means it'll get done because I'm loathe to close those things without resolving the underlying problem.
Nice! Thanks.
ThomH wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:01 pm
It's definitely Microsoft BASIC, and I strongly suspect that Microsoft didn't fool for Commodore's trick of a one-off purchase of unlimited distribution rights a second time, but I think you're right that likely nobody there still cares.
Ahah, indeed on both count.
Note that MS has recently allowed the MS DOS early source code to be released (non commercial use obviously) so I am confident they would probably be opened to do the same for their early BASIC interpreters. (http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm/mi ... urce-code/)

From the above link:
we needed Microsoft’s permission to release it. We are very grateful to Roy Levin, Managing Director of Microsoft Research, Silicon Valley, for working many months to make that happen.
This seems to be the guy to contact to make it happen. ;)
ThomH wrote:
Mon Mar 26, 2018 6:01 pm
In a former time, I tried to chase up the copyright on some of Acorn's 8-bit system ROMs, then more like 15 years old than 30. My conclusion was that, mostly, the people who have inherited rights don't even realise it.
This seems to be a common situation in the Amiga word as well and I suspect this would make it easier to acquire these rights as part of a preservation effort (off topic but always worth keeping in mind). Since these IPs are essentially worthless to them, they might be more receptive to the idea of letting them go.
ThomH wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:56 pm
Dbug wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 7:42 am
Post recent games don't even know that the BASIC rom exists, I would not be surprised if they would boot fine with the rom chips removed.
Basically, on startup, when the microdisc is connected, it's the Microdisc eprom which is overlaid on top of the overlay ram, and we boot on that.
The eprom then loads the boot sector and runs it: At this point we are in control, we disable everything except the overlay ram, and that's it.
[...]If it definitively removed anything Microsoft might have an interest in, I think that would be a big win.

It sounds like an emulator that wanted to be entirely free of issues might even just be able to spirit sector 2 into memory and launch from there, no system ROMs at all? Or, at worst, a negligible replacement Microdisc ROM could be written. No need to communicate what's going on, or to deal with error conditions.
Yup, and this would be fairly straight forward to develop. Giving it a permissive open source license could encourage anyone to depend on it without any risk of liability.
ThomH wrote:The risk with Microsoft might not be so much that anybody there cares about retaining rights over the Oric ROMs so much as that it's considered a better move just to protect everything than it is to pick and choose.
As the MS DOS example I linked to above shows, they might be more receptive to the idea nowadays.
Although the idea of a community-developed custom boot ROM is a worthy alternative to have, contacting them does not look like a waste of time.
From a very pragmatic historical angle, it taps into the notion of them being pioneers in home computing, one that they might want to keep alive.

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