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Lord of the Underdogs
March 26, 2009 2:21 PM   Subscribe

Home of the Underdogs (previously, previouslier) has been resurrected -- and enhanced with community-driven features (user comments, user added reviews, user ratings, etc.) -- by Lord_Pall. That is all. [via mefi projects]
posted by cog_nate (55 comments total) 75 users marked this as a favorite

 
Lord_Pall, you are a hero.
posted by TheWaves at 2:31 PM on March 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


This is a thing of beauty. Before the old site went under it was pretty unusable, every click would bring a pop-up/under even in FF, and the search was pretty wonky (if memory serves). This is just gorgeous. Thanks so much.
posted by bookwo3107 at 2:31 PM on March 26, 2009


This is a great project. Thank you.
posted by box at 2:32 PM on March 26, 2009


Yay! Oh I am so happy, you just made my day. Thanks for the update, cog_nate.
posted by erinfern at 2:34 PM on March 26, 2009


Oh, noes. Just when I thought that I might get some work done.
posted by octothorpe at 2:36 PM on March 26, 2009


Nice work, LP.
posted by graventy at 2:37 PM on March 26, 2009


And downloads are back!
As you can see, they're going up. Figure about 4 gigs uploaded so far, another 4 to go. That doesn't cover the missing files, but the whole backend is setup for batch importing of huge numbers of files. Basically, I dump them into the system and it auto updates. Expect another batch of files to get hooked up in a few hours. I'll run the final update tomorrow morning and then we'll start to fill in the gaps.

Layout of the downloads and details/icon for the listings needs work, but at least it's there.
When first posted to Projects, downloadable bits weren't back yet. Not that the downloads were the only thing that made the site worth-while, but they were a major draw. Well done, bravo, and thank you, Lord Pall. From your first efforts to track down a back-up to this fantastic re-creation of the old site. How did you get the pieces? From an archiving point of view, it'd be interesting to know the history of the site's rebirth.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:41 PM on March 26, 2009


I salute you, Lord_Pall
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:42 PM on March 26, 2009


Is this true? Can it be?

Oh, please do not be stealth malware or some shit.

Space Dog! You're Home!

( *woof* )
posted by absalom at 2:42 PM on March 26, 2009


Add punctuation to the end of that sentence to suit.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:43 PM on March 26, 2009


Respect.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:48 PM on March 26, 2009


It's like you made a website for my childhood.

Bravo sir! Bravo!
posted by The Whelk at 2:52 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would also love to hear how you managed to do this. How much was recovered?

(Oh, yeah, how can I help?)
posted by absalom at 2:53 PM on March 26, 2009


Back in the other thread, Lord_Pall kept saying, "somebody should do something about this."

Well somebody has.

Rock on, L_P.
posted by lekvar at 2:57 PM on March 26, 2009


All hail Lord Pall! Long live his glorious regime!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:59 PM on March 26, 2009


fuck yeah. you're the man, now, underdog.
posted by shmegegge at 3:01 PM on March 26, 2009 [12 favorites]


Awesome, I was always hoping someone would bring HotUD back! Thank you!!
posted by pravit at 3:05 PM on March 26, 2009


Wow. Home of the underdogs has always been a great online resource and you can bet your ass the internet is thankful to you, Lord_Pall. I'd be interested in knowing how you came about going through with this.
posted by dead cousin ted at 3:18 PM on March 26, 2009


"Do-er of the month" award, coming up. (sidebar, at least)
posted by anthill at 3:19 PM on March 26, 2009


Lord_Pall,

For maximum effect, please press your knuckles against the screen.
                        _    ,-,    _
,--, /: :\/': :`\/: :\
|`; ' `,' `.; `: |
| | | ' | |.
| RE | SP | EC | T ||
| :. | : | : | : | \
\__/: :.. : :.. | :.. | )
`---',\___/,\___/ /'
`==._ .. . /'
`-::-'


posted by Dr-Baa at 3:52 PM on March 26, 2009 [15 favorites]


All hail Lord Pall! Long live his glorious regime!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:59 PM on March 26


I don't believe papal proclamations. This new royalty will just be a puppet of religious leaders.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:52 PM on March 26, 2009


Well crap. That didn't look as cool as it should have.
posted by Dr-Baa at 3:53 PM on March 26, 2009


Oh man oh man oh man ohhhhh hell yes!
posted by the dief at 4:03 PM on March 26, 2009


Your Time Machine Sucks: "8I salute you, Lord_Pall"

Your Time Machine Sucks: "10Add punctuation to the end of that sentence to suit."

I salute you, Lord_Pall?
posted by mindless progress at 4:12 PM on March 26, 2009


...turns out... blue... ..epeat, this is Fido-1 to Houston, over. I'm okay. It turns out we're not alone out here. And they're flying friendly colors... white-on-blue...
posted by kid ichorous at 4:25 PM on March 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was just thinking about this the other day. Thank you, Lord Pall!
posted by saraswati at 4:27 PM on March 26, 2009


YES
posted by OverlappingElvis at 4:45 PM on March 26, 2009


Good on ya, Lord_Pall.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:19 PM on March 26, 2009


Lord_Pall has become a legendary champion! Hail Lord_Pall!
posted by gamera at 5:40 PM on March 26, 2009


I for one re-welcome our space dog overlords.
posted by paladin at 6:01 PM on March 26, 2009


Holy Crap. I hope Space Empires is the game I think it is.
posted by sciurus at 6:45 PM on March 26, 2009


Woot! Good job L_P!

/wishes the project *all* and *only* the best
posted by porpoise at 7:47 PM on March 26, 2009


awesome. HOTU had dropped off my radar the last year or so.
posted by Frasermoo at 8:02 PM on March 26, 2009


Great work Lord_Pall.
posted by joedan at 9:30 PM on March 26, 2009


FUCK YES!
posted by Snyder at 10:00 PM on March 26, 2009



After the site went down the google revival group appeared and discussion began. There was a fairly unpleasant argument with the other members in the google revival groups. One group wanted a pristine version of the original site with no changes. All custom, all done with exacting detail. I wanted something back up and running fast in a known CMS using off-the shelf elements.

Unfortunately I think I incurred some bad blood with those guys because rather than talk about revival, I pushed forward. I tried to get them involved, but the response I got was that they'd rather do nothing than use something off-the-shelf. They wanted to recreate the site as a museum, not as a community expandable site. It was very upsetting, not just because of their refusal to help, but getting the middle-finger from the very core group you're trying to help was infuriating.

So I pushed forward on my own using off-the-shelf components. Jreviews, Joomla, JomComments, Remository. The core site was up and running in a few days, albeit with the original Joomla design.

The existing design and Layout was all done by a friend of mine, Chris Lepine. He's been nice enough to help, even with his limited time. It's still in-progress, but I couldn't have done any of it without him.

As for the data, Sarinee uploaded the raw XLS file after the site first went down. It was all of the original text from the site, reviews, listings, filenames. There was no data to go with it.

The Images were gathered from 2-3 different snapshots, from the Internet Archive using Warrick, as well as a few other more complete snapshots. That gave me around 14,000 images to work with.

The Data and the Screenshots didn't match up though. Somewhere, Somehow, the shots got mangled. Some had short names, long names, etc. And in a lot of cases, the shots didn't exist. I did a bunch of XLS magic and a few C# console apps to move the shots around and get them hooked up. It mostly worked. All of the missing shot entries you see have a missing cover shot, but a legit screenshot.

The text wasn't too mangled, but I had to convert it to a form I could batch import into Jreviews for expansion. I mostly had to figure out a nice way to make summaries from the reviews automatically, which involved another c# app (I should learn perl.. heh)

After all that got hooked up and Imported, I started to monkey with downloads. I've got gigs of these games from various sources. No rhyme or reason or commonality on names either. Another C# app to sort the files into proper subfolders corresponding to the necessary names.

Unfortunately there was no commonality between the dl listings and the reviews. I had the single filenames in, but because of when I did the import, there were no links to the dls. I wrote a few maintenance scripts to batch process all of the downloads and hook them up to the appropriate listings. With a bunch of help from the guys in #PHP, it miraculously worked. And I can now use it to batch update once new files go up too..

It's been a massive, obsessive undertaking actually, even if it's only been a short time. Lots of lost sleep and obsessing over functionality, but I'm thrilled with where it's at.

Users can add, expand, revise listings. It's a community archive now, not a static site. I just enabled everyone registered to add listings and am promoting members of the community to editors so they can refine the listings.

It's now a living breathing archive, not a static museum.


Anyone who's Joomla/PHP/HTML savvy who can help with layout, navigation orI'm looking for either volunteers or people with reasonable rates since I'm running low on huge quantities of time to dedicate to this for improvements.

I'm also starting to look for some more robust hosting if you've got suggestions on that end.

On the lighter side, anyone who wants to add sections, expand listings, or simply help out, drop me a line and I'll get you hooked up.
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:32 PM on March 26, 2009 [27 favorites]


This is beyond excellent. All those link to all those games, back again. The fact I really don't actually need to have a social life is confirmed. All is as it should be. Lord_Pall - thank you!

sciurus - re: Space Empires. As a suggestion, 4 is better than 3 as it's not so much "spreadsheets in space", and they've done some much-needed tweaks in gameplay. I used to play #3 when Malfador had released it and liked it a lot, and find #4 is better (even aside from the fact that you can research and build ringworlds and Dyson spheres around your local stars). If you like the 4X turn-based empire management thing, I'd recommend StarDock's "Galactic Civilizations" as well. It's inexpensive and the designers really do listen to the players and make improvements based on that feedback.
posted by Zack_Replica at 10:38 PM on March 26, 2009


Nicely done. I'm happy you took the direction you did with it, Lord_Pall. I can't understand why someone wouldn't want it to be a easily expandable database. New underdogs are appearing all the time.

Having created one of the Top Dogs on that site is one of my proudest accomplishments.
posted by Durhey at 10:42 PM on March 26, 2009


Oh yeah. this wouldn't have been possible without my lovely, immensely tolerant wife, fellow Mefite ValkoSipuliSuola (Not her real name)

Weeks of single-minded focus and bizarre muttering about php and csv files, weeks of late nights, waking up at 2AM and obsessing over emails or software hiccups. Any other wife would've brained me with a rock and stomped off, but she didn't. She supported the effort, cost and time involved, simply because that's how she is.

So Thanks ValkoSipuliSuola! Love you!
posted by Lord_Pall at 10:42 PM on March 26, 2009


Great resource, but you couldn't get rid of the janky joomla favicon!? GAH!!

i keeeed, great work!
posted by slater at 11:10 PM on March 26, 2009


Fixing the icon now.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:22 PM on March 26, 2009


Icon is fixed.
posted by Lord_Pall at 11:35 PM on March 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


I hope this isn't inappropriate for the blue, but the site must cost money to run. Is there a way for people who don't have the time to volunteer work to help keep it running?
posted by ghost of a past number at 12:31 AM on March 27, 2009


I hope this isn't inappropriate for the blue, but the site must cost money to run. Is there a way for people who don't have the time to volunteer work to help keep it running?

Right now it's not necessary as it's on a low-cost shared host, but I suspect I'm going to be migrating to a dedicated machine if popularity continues to tick up. I'll look into some sort of donation program to cover the hosting costs.

I'm in the process of moving the downloads to a dedicated machine too, so that should help.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:33 AM on March 27, 2009


This is great. One question: what happened to all the gamebook scans that were hosted on HOTU? Are they hiding on then new site somewhere, or did they not survive the hiatus?
posted by AndrewStephens at 3:02 AM on March 27, 2009


I've got them, and the db for the listings, just haven't hooked it up yet.
posted by Lord_Pall at 4:38 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wow, this has made my day. Thank you, Lord_Pall, for reuniting me with games like Balance of Power and Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator! I'm looking forward to the ratings system to kick into action so I can discover more classics.

Once again, thank you!
posted by SamuelBowman at 5:43 AM on March 27, 2009


Terrific work!
posted by bystander at 5:47 AM on March 27, 2009


Amazing. This is wonderful, Lord_Pall.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:43 AM on March 27, 2009


One question: what happened to all the gamebook scans that were hosted on HOTU?

These were the most useful part of the site to me, in fact. I have many of the older games I want, originally on floppy or cd, now migrated to iso files that reside on my file store. The manuals are always a bit of a problem though. Many older games even had copy protection based on manual lookups, so the books were/are essential to play the games. HotUD was a great resource for these. I'm very glad to see that hasn't been lost.
posted by bonehead at 7:27 AM on March 27, 2009


Gamebooks are different actually. The ones from the original site were almost like choose your own adventures with stats. I think like the Lone Wolf books or something.

I never really went through the archive really, and I've even got em local..
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:00 AM on March 27, 2009


I wonder, Lord_Pall: What are the naysayers saying now that the refurbished site is a reality?
posted by Rhaomi at 4:44 PM on March 28, 2009


That it's horrible, terrible and going to collapse under it's own weight.

They're pushing forward with a competing site as well.
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:55 AM on March 30, 2009


I want to download the Realms of Arkania trilogy since I can't find my disks anymore. Please hope me.
posted by Justinian at 1:20 PM on March 30, 2009


Registrations are currently disabled on hotu? NOOOOOOO.
posted by Justinian at 8:37 PM on April 1, 2009


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