Shelf Life: Darkadia

By Quintin Smith on April 18th, 2011 at 10:38 am.

If I were Valve I'd release Half-Life 1 and 2 in a double-pack called Life

The RPS Social Club this Saturday wasn’t all drinking and progessively more excitable and less intelligible video game conversation. Us being geeks, there was also a certain amount of showing one another cool stuff on our smartphones, cool stuff like Darkadia, which came to me courtesy of RPS reader Flimgoblin. In alpha at present, Darkadia is a free service that lets you display all the games you own on a virtual shelf, and I like it quite a lot.

This video of a baby penguin being tickled also did the rounds at one point. Aw!

At present, the cool things about Darkadia are simply its enormous catalogue of box art (harvested from the Giant Bomb database) that covers everything from 1980s releases to modern indie games, and that you can choose to view your collection by games you “love”, creating your own, personal Hall of Fame, games you own but haven’t finished, or even games that you own but haven’t played yet.

All good stuff, and Darkadia’s roadmap of planned features here includes Steam integration.

I’m hoping we see services like this one honed in the coming years. I love digital distribution like I love my mother, but it’s a shame not having a tangible collection to go pawing through. I look at the beautiful box art Locomalito organises for his freeware indie games (you can see it in the bottom right, there), and it saddens me that those aren’t objects I can somehow add to a collection. More of this sort of thing!

What features would you like to see in a game display service, readers? I’d like a rudimentary physics engine so that I can use the mouse to throw games which displease me off the shelf and out of the window.

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71 Comments »

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  1. Wulf says:

    …it amuses me that they have a nicer shelf graphic than GoG.

  2. Decimator says:

    I love it! (The penguin that is)

    • Teddy Leach says:

      It’s adowable!

    • aerozol says:

      Made my day.

      Although people should try not to post links to re-ups of videos on youtube. I don’t understand why people have to upload other peoples videos over and over : (
      Then those annoying edited ones start going in, and you can’t find the one you want anymore…
      Just saying.

  3. Gnoupi says:

    The idea of putting games on a shelf is interesting, GOG.com is doing that already (but only with games you bought with them, of course). It is indeed satisfying to watch, in this age of digital distribution.

    But for the rest of the project, I feel that something like GamerDNA is already answering more or less to the idea: http://www.gamerdna.com/

    You can make your own profile, have your games and playing time added automatically from Steam and XFire, and even socialize (for people who are into that).

    • Branthog says:

      GamerDNA never really made sense to me. It was all sort of built around socializing your gaming, in some way. But who is actually going to go to a web site and look at what you accomplished today or this week in a game? I mean, you might care about your own account, but you’re not going to go look at what a bunch of other random people did.

      At least it looks like their site is a little more refined than it used to be. It used to be a real pain to look at and navigate. A real case of doing several dozen things half-assedly instead of excelling at one thing.

    • faelnor says:

      One more in the already too many “unique” game collection database services.

      I have an account at unikGamer, which is a bit similar without the social aspect but more of a “Top 10 XYZ games”. I wouldn’t mind such a virtual shelf added to it.

  4. Branthog says:

    I wonder what the business model is. Just getting eyeballs to advertise to on the site, eventually?

    This was actually a project I’ve been working on, myself. A sort of web based “collector’s database”, since there’s a real dirth of such things around in my own investigation. I guess I can scratch that now and move on to something more interesting.

    • Clean3d says:

      Perhaps you will be able to make game recommendations, or the system will make them for you. It then lists websites where said games can be purchased, and Darkadia gets a bit of cash for the referral… maybe?

      On second thought, I’m not sure how well that would work. For the most part I already know which games I would like, and where I should look for them. Also, I’m not sure I’d buy a game based on an automated recommendation or suggestion from a random stranger. Nevermind then.

      All the same, for some reason I really like the idea of this service.

  5. Laneford says:

    This is totally useless and wonderful together at once.

    I am immediately filling up my shelf with old school amiga classics.

    IT HAS OLD SCHOOL AMIGA CLASSICS!

  6. d32 says:

    One really useful feature would be: Use the massive data provided by users to create ‘cluster maps’ or correlation between owned/well rated games and build recommendation engine upon it. See movielens.org. Or at least API to their data so I can program it myself.
    I really need personal game recommendation, as my interest are quite niche and therefore metacritic score has no meaning for me (does it for anyone?).

    • Laneford says:

      something a bit like LastFM? Would be awesome yeah.

    • darkadia says:

      You read my mind. :)

    • Gnoupi says:

      In this case, it would be indeed nice (a site like GamerDNA limits recommendation of “similar games” to the same genre and most popular. Leading to things like this: http://www.gamerdna.com/game/magicka-ibm-pc-compatible. Yeah, I’m sure GTA 4 and Mafia 2 come directly in mind when you think Magicka)

      Myself, I will check it back when Steam integration will be done. I don’t feel like adding my 100+ steam games now when it will be automated later :-]

  7. Premium User Badge

    Flimgoblin says:

    Tis a friend of mine who’s put it together (@rob_schmitt on twitter) – not sure he’s got a business model for it yet – just built it because he wanted something that did what it does.
    Also, woot, fame! *got mentioned on RPS* *does a dance*

    Edit: also reply fail, that was meant to be @Branthog…

    • darkadia says:

      I can confirm this.

      (The friends bit).

      (Fine. The business model bit too.)

    • colinmarc says:

      Are you a developer, or a designer, or both? ‘s a nice looking site, what made you pick drupal?

    • Urthman says:

      How hard would it be to tell this thing my Steam name and have it look up my public list of Steam games I own?

  8. thepaleking says:

    Cool. Now I can pretend to own a bunch of games.

  9. Daave says:

    A Sumotori Dreams-style minigame where you can make virtual games boxes fight each other a la Harry Hill, because there’s only one way to find out which game is better than another…

    • Temple to Tei says:

      All the old ones would win! The weight of the manuals would crush all modern oppostition.
      This is a true reflection of a game’s greatness.
      Hmmm, though some of the CE versions nowadays are crazy.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Oozo says:

    Since I wanted a service that let me include my ever-growing collection of books, dvds and albums alongside my game collection, I went for MediaMan instead – it costs a few bucks, but since its latest update, it’s pretty ok, and even looks fine. It takes its pics from amazon, though, so you are often forced to find the boxart and import it manually. And there certainly is no such fancy stuff like Steam integration…

    I was surprised to find it pretty difficult to find the “ultimate” software for that kind of thing, though – in our insatiable consumerist society etc. pp., you’d expect a bigger demand for that kind of stuff.

    Oh, and the penguin is awesome.

  11. berjalan says:

    Dammit! Now I’m going to have to spend hours compulsively filling my shelves with every game I’ve ever owned.

    • Temple to Tei says:

      Not true to life though.
      No dog eaten, vomited back up again boxes that I can see.

  12. roryok says:

    sweeet. I’ve been using a rememberthemilk list for this and it’s ugly. Been collecting big box classics on ebay and I’m trying to keep track of them all

  13. Ginger Yellow says:

    What features would you like to see in a game display service, readers?

    Obviously, displays of the maps/keyboard layouts/posters etc that we used to get with PC games as standard.

  14. Teddy Leach says:

    A friend and I had a game-off on Steam yesterday. He beat me.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Rinox says:

    Sounds like physical game copies are becoming the new vinyl.

  16. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    Oh dear, this has only served to illustrate exactly how many games I’ve picked up in Steam sales and forgotten about. I don’t knoe what’s stranger, the games that came in bundles that I don’t know anything about, or the moment where I thought, “Wait?! I own Hitman:Blood Money?”

    One thing I’ve found slightly annoying is that it doesn’t let you choose the platform you owned the game on. I have a few Dreamcast and 360 titles on the shelf now, despite not even owning either console.

  17. darkadia says:

    Look at me basking in the glory of an RPS mention.

    Server’s going mental, but still standing!

    Edit: This is awesome, guys. Welcome to all of you who’ve signed up.

    • Premium User Badge

      Rikard Peterson says:

      And now the server couldn’t handle it anymore. I tried to sign up, but got “User bluepic1_dark already has more than ‘max_user_connections’ active connections.”

      I’ll try again later.

    • Premium User Badge

      Flimgoblin says:

      It’s ’cause he said “still standing”… death blow. Seems to be up and down a bit with the traffic.

  18. deanbmmv says:

    Playfire used to have a digital shelf style going on, alongside achievement stats n such, then they went and completely redesigned their site n scrapped the shelf idea. :(
    If you’re on a Mac and have a game collection: http://www.delicious-monster.com/ It does more than Games with movies n books too.
    If you’re on Windows here’s the knock-off version: http://www.imediaman.com/
    I used it for a while, but tbh you fill it up, then you never really use it again and just launch your stuff from Steam, and use Raptr to catalog your games. It’s not so good with finding obscure box art either. It’s kinda just does a google image search n asks you which is best.
    Then again it does seem to have improved quite a bit since I last used it, I don’t remember it having chrome like tabs.

    Anyway my summer project is to bypass the virtual shelf altogether and just get a bunch of blank DVD cases n print out box art for the digital games I have to bulk up my anaemic gaming shelf. Valve are driving Ikea out of business.

  19. vandinz says:

    Yeah, yeah. This is all well and good but why haven’t you reported that you can now use ONLIVE in the UK?

    • Premium User Badge

      Crimsoneer says:

      Wait, what? I haven’t heard of this anywhere, and OnLive blog doesn#t seem to say anything new…

    • vandinz says:

      Yeah, this I don’t understand. But it’s true. I’ve been playing it since last night, from Manchester. Just go to http://www.onlive.com/go/signup sign up for free, download the client and BOOM, you’re in. As you stated though the news is none existant and the official site says nothing. Unless they’re just rolling it out on the sly to test it? Anyhoo, see you on there! :)

    • Paul says:

      I have been playing on Onlive for a few months now, in Czechland, in acceptable quality..

  20. Premium User Badge

    Lars Westergren says:

    It’s a neat idea, but I don’t think I’ll sign up, I don’t need another reminder of how much money I spend on games. :-/

    People tickling a penguin, that was adorable. I see you and raise “People being love bombed by a lion”.
    http://bengoldacre.posterous.com/stop-everything-watch-this-on-full-screen-and

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      That made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! <3
      Thank you!

  21. thegooseking says:

    Man, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for for months.

    What would I like to see that’s different? Maybe two ‘complete’ flags: one for having finished the main game, and one for having got 100% of the achievements and so on. Also a ‘wanted’ flag (instead of an ‘owned’ flag, actually, would make sense). Also (though I’m not sure how easy it would be with this database) the option to choose which platform you have it on. The shelf is really nice, but it would be nice to also be able to just show it as a list (which I see is on the roadmap). I also don’t quite get the point of private notes, and I think public notes would be more useful.

    Also, I’m not quite sure why Portal 2 is missing from the database, but Half-Life 2 Episode 3 is there. Unless… ( I couldn’t find Ōkami or Brütal Legend, either, and I tried them both with and without special characters. Or The Path. I had no problem finding all four when I searched on giantbomb…)

    • Moraven says:

      Yes, different complete flags would be great.

      In my media spreadsheet I mark off for games completed once, and another for complete completion (did all 3 endings, unlocked all achievements, unlocked all special characters, defeated secret boss).

  22. Corrupt_Tiki says:

    It doesn’t have ArmA or ArmA 2; for shame!
    Still filling up my shelves though ;P
    Also some titles could use the ‘proper’ box art, like DCS:A-10C for example, and I also second the opinion that you should be able to choose which platform box is displayed(Just for the sake of tidyness) other than that very nice!

  23. bill says:

    Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

    that penguin was awwwwwwwwww!

    The shelf idea sounds cool, but I sense that i’d fill it up and then never look at it again.
    And the fact that my Unfinished and Not Played lists would be so big would depress me.

    I’ve seen a few similar software solutions, but i don’t remember the name. I do like the idea that it’ll automatically find me shiny box art though. Nothing beats shiny box art! Except baby penguins! Awww!

  24. Sarlix says:

    I can’t show you a shelf full of boxes, but what about a box full of boxes!

    And yes, my bookmarks contain youtube links for every conceivable situation.

  25. Jonathan says:

    Jesus Christ, how am I meant to remember every game I’ve ever played? Damn you, Quinns, for the hours of my life I’m about to lose.

    edit: Oh jeez, and it goes way back too — I have to remember all of my Amiga games?

    • Cognitect says:

      I suggest you browse through these lists. They helped me remember a number of old games I used to play I had almost completely forgotten about.

  26. Sarlix says:

    RE: penguin clip – Try that when its 4ft tall, it’ll peck your blooming eyes out.

  27. sexyresults says:

    Nit picking but multiplayer shouldn’t really have a finished unless that means.. over it?

  28. StingingVelvet says:

    That’s neat, though seeing the Xbox cover for a multiplatform title bugs me. Also I’m a box collector, so I already have my real shelves.

  29. The Dude says:

    Oh wow, I was just looking for something like this to keep track of the enormous pile of games I haven’t yet played. Thanks, RPS!

  30. Ridnarhtim says:

    I like that site ^^

    Here is my profile

    http://darkadia.com/member/Ridnarhtim

    (still adding games)

  31. Fumarole says:

    The Backloggery does something similar.

  32. dragonhunter21 says:

    Well, yes, if you buy a game from Steam with the intent to show off the box to your friends, you’re going to be sadly disappointed. However, if like me and many others, you use DD to actually play games, it’s rather nice. For example, the first game I bought to use with my new gaming rig was Crysis. Went back to play it a year or two later, and the disk is scratched and I’ve lost the CD key. Steam had a sale later that month (Love them Christmas sales) and I picked up Crysis and Warhead/Wars for ~$10 (even though I’ve got a working copy of Warhead/Wars, key and all) and I’ve never looked back.

  33. dragonhunter21 says:

    Question: How should I categorize MP games, like CS, TF2 or Gmod? Obviously I own them, and I play them (Over 1300 hours in Gmod, I’m sad to say) but you can’t really beat them.

    This is gonna bother me forever.

  34. boskee says:

    Some people have mentioned GOG, but the shelf UI comes from a well-known OS X application called Delicious Library. It allows it’s users to scan barcodes of the products they wish to add and I think it would be great to have this feature on Darkadia. That would obviously require a stand alone app tho.

  35. Wolfhound says:

    It needs to be able to import your Xfire or Raptr library otherwise it’s a pain in the neck to manually input hundreds of games.

  36. Alextended says:

    I always thought gog should have made their view a simple application you can download and add non-gog games to if you wanted… I guess this is getting close to that.

  37. vodkarn says:

    “Physical cardboard boxes from the 80s and 90s are where its at. SHow me a shelf of them and i might be impressed.

    Digital distribution = waste of fucking money”

    I get the biggest ‘dooouuucccchhhheeeeee’ vibe from comments like that. And I’m the kind of asshole who does indeed keep boxes of older games. Perhaps I should rethink my methods of collecting.

  38. elmuerte says:

    Like most of these sites, they’re a pain to manage once you get a collection of a decent size (300+).
    I think I added most of my collection, but it’s difficult to check.

  39. suibhne says:

    Seems to have a limit on the number of titles it can support, as it summarily deleted everything after “K” on my account. Oh well, that was wasted time. Here’s hoping that turns out to be a simple display bug, with the title data retained in the db.

    Aside from this showstopper and the general graphical slowness on my work machine (with sad little Intel Integrated Graphics), I quite like the idea.

    EDIT: A short-lasting hiccup, apparently. My titles are back now…all 350+. Sigh.

  40. wererogue says:

    I want to see wishlisting of games, with links that people can follow to purchase gifts for each other’s collections. Ideal feature: each link would also display the current price at that vendor.

  41. Cognitect says:

    Darkadia’s search function seems to be a bit iffy. Some games just never show up in the search results, no matter what search terms I try. I’m sure it’ll eventually get fixed, but in the meantime there’s an easy workaround: look up the game in Giant Bomb’s database, make note of the index number and then use it to find the game on Darkadia.

    For example, here’s Doom on Giant Bomb (index 7326), and here’s the corresponding Darkadia page you can use to add the game to your library.