Beamdog have been on a retro remastering rampage in recent years, fancying up and re-releasing Icewind Dale, the two Baldur’s Gate games, and Planescape: Torment. Their spree of updating games built on the Infinity Engine has reached one tricky obstacle, though: they can’t find the source code for Icewind Dale II. Beamdog say they fancy giving a remaster a go but they need the source to even see if that’s even viable. They’ve been searching, reaching out to people who might have it, but no luck so far.
Beamdog said in a blog post last week:
“At this time, the source code for Icewind Dale II can not be found. We’ve reached out to former developers and publishers with no luck. No one seems to know where it’s got to. Consider this our open call to fans for the code, patched or otherwise.
“We’d love to complete the Infinity Engine series and bring you all the game you’ve been asking for, but to make Icewind Dale II: Enhanced Edition a possibility, having that source code, preferably patched, is needed before we can even start assessing whether the project is doable.”
How does a game get lost? Too easily. The companies with financial interests in preserving it have been battered over the past 15 years, for starters. Icewind Dale II developers Black Isle Studios a year after releasing it. The game’s publishers, Interplay, largely exist now in name only, having been gutted and flirted with bankruptcy several times. And preservation has rarely been a priority at video game companies anyway, with some scrubbing source files after release to save disk space (money).
Even if people who worked at either had kept a copy themselves, storage mediums have limited lifespans – and people rarely hold onto old drives and discs forever.
Icewind Dale II’s source might still be around somewhere but the odds of finding and successfully salvaging it go down with time.
If anyone does have a copy of the source, Beamdog would like to hear from ’em. If you don’t have it yourself, Beamdog say, don’t play private eye and go bugging former developers about it.
It would be nice if, in some glorious future with bountiful cultural funding, an institution did exist to secure and preserve games. Amateurs are doing some good work but the scale of a scheme to preserve everything would be monumental. Alternatively, we could embrace the fact that all flesh is grass and everything we create will one day be dust so we may as well lean into it, treat games as fleeting fancies, surrender to nothingness, and embrace the wild world whooshing past. I do often find option 2 attractive.
Ta to PCGamesN for pointing Beamdog’s post out.