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RIP HotU
February 18, 2009 1:37 AM   Subscribe

Home of the Underdogs is no more. Although in decline since 2006 or so, it was once *the* place for abandonware. HotU hosted 5000+ game reviews (by contrast, the "next-best-thing-still-around", abandonia has around 1000), the majority of them with the games available for download, including some titles that are now incredibly difficult to find.

Wayback machine.
Previously on metafilter.
posted by juv3nal (77 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is terrible news
posted by jtron at 1:48 AM on February 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


.
posted by Shepherd at 1:53 AM on February 18, 2009


God DAMN it but I hate when the first I hear of something awesome is a report of its demise.

... rrg ..

RIP, nonetheless
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:02 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by robtf3 at 2:10 AM on February 18, 2009


They also had a crazy-extensive archive of scanned pdf adventure gamebooks which I'll miss terribly too.
posted by juv3nal at 2:10 AM on February 18, 2009


Oh that is just terrible news. I have great memories of countless hours wasted playing gems like Princess Maker 2.

Sad day.
posted by arha at 2:13 AM on February 18, 2009


You could generally find, not only the games, but cover art, scanned manuals, and all the goodies too.

.

Indeed.
posted by Avelwood at 2:25 AM on February 18, 2009


It's just the webhost that went bankrupt, so they could still move to another right? RIGHT?!?!
posted by PenDevil at 2:31 AM on February 18, 2009


This was a fantastic source of video game history. I went here countless times to find a specific title or manual, or to just browse around and jog my memory. It was a comfort to know that no matter how obscure the game, if it was old enough there was a good chance HotU would have it. They will be sorely missed.

End of Line
posted by doctoryes at 2:32 AM on February 18, 2009


Sad!
posted by krilli at 2:37 AM on February 18, 2009


I was trying to find something there just this weekend but getting no response.

I archived a lot of game manuals from there that I wanted to keep at least.
posted by troy at 2:40 AM on February 18, 2009


There really ought to be a site that keeps abandoned sites alive. No, Wayback doesn't count since it only archives HTML. I mean a site that keeps the full database going.

Years from now people will appreciate the benefit of playing with abandoned sites.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:56 AM on February 18, 2009


Is there a mirror of this anywhere?

If not, this is a huge tragedy. There is no record of this history, no archive of the 30 years worth of work that got us to this day and age of videogames.
posted by Lord_Pall at 4:13 AM on February 18, 2009


In fact, I would pay for a backup if anyone knows where I can get one.

It's a shame if the public site is gone, but the information contained, the history contained within that archive is absolutely priceless.

Yes, it's melodramatic, but I've gone my entire life collecting computer games in their original boxes, trying to maintain an archive, a collection of the memories and experiences that made my career nowadays possible.

Without going too overboard, this is like losing the film vault at one of the film studios, having it just evaporate in the middle of the night and nobody notices. Sure, we have some secondary sites to fill up the gaps, but no offense, Abandonia is like a mom and pop video store next to the underdogs library of congress grade listing of all that has come before.
posted by Lord_Pall at 4:18 AM on February 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


NOOOOO! That was where I got my copies of System Shock 1 and 2!
posted by dunkadunc at 4:19 AM on February 18, 2009


You could generally find, not only the games, but cover art, scanned manuals, and all the goodies too.

Yes. Despite appearances, this isn't really the loss of a bazaar so much as of a museum.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:19 AM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Ouch. that is really sad. Although, like many of the posters on the linked comments, i stopped going there years ago as she had basically stopped updating. The major shame is that, with minimal effort, she could have no doubt gotten someone else to take over and run the site for her. There was a rather large enthusiastic membership. And ditto kid ichorous. I used to just go to the site and peruse the histories and backstories behind games, seldom actually downloading. It was like a visit to the museum.
posted by jadayne at 4:25 AM on February 18, 2009


Yeah, Home of the Underdogs has been having problems for years, this is very sad but also not unexpected. I also want to add that although it wasn't exactly legal to host game images just because no company cared if they did, they did a really good job at HotU at having information about all games but only providing downloads for the ones that were actually abandonware.
posted by burnmp3s at 4:26 AM on February 18, 2009


God DAMN it but I hate when the first I hear of something awesome is a report of its demise.

Don't read the obituaries.
posted by pracowity at 4:31 AM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


NO NO NO FUCK NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO :( :( :( :( :*(

.

(i also got my system shocks there among many other things)
posted by thedaniel at 4:31 AM on February 18, 2009


I emailed Sarinee directly to see if she had backups, or knew where I could get them. I'll post back here if she responds. Might not be the right person, or she thinks it's a stupid thing to care about nowadays, so we'll see if she responds.
posted by Lord_Pall at 4:34 AM on February 18, 2009 [4 favorites]


Lord_Pall, see if she's looking to rehost. I'm sure some of us would be interested in donating.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:47 AM on February 18, 2009


Sounds like something Jason Scott might be interested in archiving.
posted by armage at 4:53 AM on February 18, 2009


Since they haven't updated in some time (months? years?) this isn't a surprise, but I'll miss the site. It introduced me to Freespace 2, eventually leading me to the updated open source version - one of the few games I go back to time and time again.
posted by Muttoneer at 5:01 AM on February 18, 2009



What a huge shame... I had a lot of fun re-living my early gaming days thanks to HotU. I was even the custodian there for Renegade Legion: Interceptor, going so far as to track down one of the guys who worked on the game, Scot Bayless, and talked to him about the game a bit. I even got him to autograph the user manual from my copy of the game!

HotU also inspired me to say hi to Christy Marx, designer of Conquests of the Longbow, after discovering an easter-egg of sorts in which she encourages you to write to her.

HotU was a great repository of not only games, but information. I hope someone picks up the torch. :(
posted by Jinkeez at 5:05 AM on February 18, 2009 [5 favorites]


HotU was too good to be true for way too long, and it transcended mere video game downloads. There was a lot of good information in there. Someone even gave my stupid game a nice write-up and a little accolade. Much love for the Underdogs and I really hope someone grabs an archive and runs with it. And tells us where they ran to.
posted by Spatch at 5:24 AM on February 18, 2009


.
posted by davemee at 5:42 AM on February 18, 2009


Passing around an archived version of the entire site is exactly the sort of thing bittorrent is for. I sincerely hope something like that happens, though I rather doubt it will. It would make for an amusingly large download at least.
posted by CheshireCat at 5:52 AM on February 18, 2009


.

I loved that site.
posted by MikeMc at 6:01 AM on February 18, 2009


Damn!

.
posted by Edgewise at 6:02 AM on February 18, 2009


Couldn't they just give the copy of the site over to someone else who can afford to run it?
posted by Mastercheddaar at 6:31 AM on February 18, 2009


.
posted by Electrius at 6:44 AM on February 18, 2009


Keep us posted, Lord_Pall!
posted by SpiffyRob at 6:49 AM on February 18, 2009


I was going to say you could just copy the download links and hope the Wayback Machine got them (it does archive images and files, but it seems to take a bit more luck). But because the site masked the file locations and prevented people from downloading more than one file at a time, it'll take a good bit of web fu to dig the files out of the Wayback Machine.

The more known games will have clones, but you'd need to know what to look for. But the loss of all the other "museum pieces" is probably the bigger hit. If it was built, it can be re-built.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:14 AM on February 18, 2009


.

I spent a bit of my teenage years on there. I've been away from it for a few years due to college and other personal interests, but the loss of HOTU, as it existed, still leaves me a bit downtrodden.
Not just the actual game software and its instruction books, but her great reviews and insights allowed readers to gain a better understanding of how PC gaming really influenced today's games and the consoles.

It also provided an organized venue for new games developed by small budget developers (scratchware), which continued the styles of gaming that these abandoned games (underdogs) had pioneered.
I definitely recommend to read the scratchware manifesto , which first (afiak) appeared on HOTU in ~2001.

.
posted by fizzix at 7:33 AM on February 18, 2009


.

That's sad. I've gotten a lot of joy out of HotU.
posted by bjrn at 7:45 AM on February 18, 2009


Damn.

Fortunately, I've already got my copies of "Star Trek: 25th Anniversary" and "Rise of the Triad" from them. But, still, damn.

.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:11 AM on February 18, 2009


And like the underdogs we are
Shining bright, but now disappeared
And like the underdogs we are
Passing like some fading stars
Like some fading stars

.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:14 AM on February 18, 2009


Another .

A friend is starting up a video-game blog with a weekly podcast I partake in, and I tried going to HotU this weekend for reference material to talk about. I remember from months ago that the site was seldomly updated and had been having issues, so I chalked up the connection problem to a temporary problem. I tried going to Abandonia, but the site just isn't near as awesome.

Sad to see this morning that the connection problems weren't temporary and that we are, in fact, loosing a part of history.
I just hope that she'd be willing to give control over to someone else at this point. People would definitely be willing to keep HotU going.
posted by jmd82 at 8:16 AM on February 18, 2009


I remember HotU back when it first started on those crappy free web hosts way back in 1999 or 2000. Absolutely fantastic resource and I'm sad to see it go. Hopefully a backup exists somewhere and the owner will make it available as a massive torrent.
posted by Diskeater at 8:35 AM on February 18, 2009


Damn.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 9:08 AM on February 18, 2009


As a long-term member of the community around said site (the forums used to be awesome, WAY back when), this is indeed very sad. But it isn't news. This has been coming for years and years, now. A protracted death.
posted by Dysk at 9:09 AM on February 18, 2009


.
posted by joedan at 9:23 AM on February 18, 2009


Maybe Abandonia can incorporate the archive (including the non-downloadable games) and collect donations/Amazon referrals for the extra cost?
posted by nasreddin at 9:26 AM on February 18, 2009


snif! I think sourceforge or freshmeat might be the real source for abandon ware. :)
posted by jeffburdges at 9:29 AM on February 18, 2009


.

First they sacked the Library, now this. Damn.
posted by tiamat at 9:46 AM on February 18, 2009


nasreddin, some people have popped by the HotU IRC channel (EFNet, #underdogs if anyone cares) to ask about that, but I don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. For starters, we don't know of anyone kicking about with an archive...
posted by Dysk at 9:46 AM on February 18, 2009


Not surprising but very sad. It was a terrific site.
posted by lysistrata at 9:58 AM on February 18, 2009


.
posted by sveskemus at 10:03 AM on February 18, 2009


Sad to see it go. HotU was a real gem.
posted by benign at 10:03 AM on February 18, 2009


.
posted by valkyryn at 10:08 AM on February 18, 2009


Hmmm ... I work for an ISP which does web hosting. But I'm not sure if my boss would want this on his system, at least not without payment. Well, it would be easier if I had any idea what sort of bandwidth is involved. Anyway, maybe it wouldn't be the best idea, as we're not a large host and have to pay more of a premium for bandwidth than the large hosts. But I'd be interested in finding hosting for this, even if it's not for my company. Knowing what bandwidth it requires would help a lot, though.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:28 AM on February 18, 2009


.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:30 AM on February 18, 2009


I'm actually astounded that nobody bothered to create a mirror of it. Usually when I find a cool or bizarre collection of stuff (like DFC, arnold.c64.org, etc) I back that baby up, since I don't trust that anything will stay online forever.
posted by crapmatic at 10:31 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Passing around an archived version of the entire site is exactly the sort of thing bittorrent is for.

Better yet, a bittorrent based back end for the software (the torrents are already out there) and a HotU style front end with tagging, forums, search, manuals covers etc.

Anyone? Please?
posted by Otis at 10:44 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


.
posted by shmegegge at 11:36 AM on February 18, 2009


I was under the impression that HotU has been kind of a sketchy, spyware laden place for at least a couple of years now. But, my god, when it was run well. . . That wonderful little space dog was my Buddha. Very sad.
posted by absalom at 11:50 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


There are other abandonware sites, but none of them has the breadth and scope of the Underdogs. I hope they come back soon, bigger and better.

.
posted by lekvar at 11:54 AM on February 18, 2009


If there's no archive to be restored, then it must be rebuilt from scratch. Who's with me?
posted by BoatMeme at 11:55 AM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


You have my bow, BoatMeme!
posted by Jinkeez at 12:24 PM on February 18, 2009


When you ask "who's with me," what are you asking for?
posted by JHarris at 1:02 PM on February 18, 2009


Oh, I suppose I'm asking for a show of hands in support of such a ridiculously ambitious venture, if there is truly a need. Is there anyone who would or could help with content? Is this even a good idea to try and tackle? I have a couple thousand Abandonware games stashed away on CD, and the know-how to build a stunningly functional archive site. Starting from scratch, our imagination is the only limit.

If the loss - assuming total loss - is such a huge blow to Abandonware, and Abandonia will never suffice, then maybe it is time to build the ultimate Abandonware site. I say that knowing full well the epic scope of this task, that success is not guaranteed and that it could take years of effort to bring it to that level.
posted by BoatMeme at 1:39 PM on February 18, 2009


On further thought, JHarris, here's precisely what I'm asking:

Is it worth elevating from a one-line comment to a serious idea?
posted by BoatMeme at 1:52 PM on February 18, 2009


My original plea for contributors back in 1997. At the time, the site was more like Moby Games, but it was always in the plan to add downloads.
posted by BoatMeme at 2:05 PM on February 18, 2009


This is incredibly sad. I found my wife a copy of the only computer game she's ever really like (Bandit Kings of Ancient China) through Underdogs, and the amount of stuff they had available that's part of gaming history was just staggering; as people have said, this is less the loss of a warez resource and more a museum closing.
posted by rodgerd at 2:06 PM on February 18, 2009


A lot of old games -- if not as complete a list as could be found at the Underdogs -- can be found at Good Old Games. They charge, but only a little, and the games are DRM-free and jiggered when necessary to work on XP/Visa.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:59 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


oh no! they had full scans of the zork gamebooks! interplanetary spy! shit i'd never even heard of. this is a damn shame.
posted by jcruelty at 4:18 PM on February 18, 2009


.

Also, extra frustration. I bought more than one title through their store.


posted by Samizdata at 4:27 PM on February 18, 2009


.

It was this site that gave me the first inkling that I was no longer a young man.
posted by wintermute2_0 at 5:15 PM on February 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


Perhaps it was eaten by a grue?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:18 PM on February 18, 2009


I think this thread deserves a mention that the founder of HotU is a Thai NGO worker who is currently devoted to local issues. Not only is it quite surprising that someone from Southeast Asia was running an abandonware website, I think it's inspiring that she turned away from the Internet to do the sort of city-to-village aid work I'm researching right now.
posted by shii at 6:12 PM on February 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


No responses from anyone involved. I'll continue trying and see what I can find out.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:00 PM on February 18, 2009


.
posted by parjanya at 11:04 PM on February 18, 2009


Aw, man. I always respected HotU, especially for its Top Dogs that included some really old rpgs with excruciating graphics.

.
posted by ersatz at 8:21 AM on February 22, 2009


Sarinee's 2/19 twitter re: HotU
posted by juv3nal at 6:08 AM on March 1, 2009


And now Fringer has posted on her blog Home of the Underdogs Revival Project. Basically the gamefiles are gone, but the database (with game titles, information, reviews) is still there. Read the blog post for more info.
posted by bjrn at 3:38 AM on March 2, 2009 [1 favorite]


And now Fringer has posted on her blog Home of the Underdogs Revival Project. Basically the gamefiles are gone, but the database (with game titles, information, reviews) is still there.

That's great news. I know that it's sad that HotU in its previous form will no longer exist, but it sounds like this will actually lead to the excellent database info being used as a basis for new projects. As the blog post suggests, the game images are still available out there in the form of torrents, so that's actually the least important part of the site to save.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:26 AM on March 2, 2009


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