In Noclip’s latest documentary, Danny O’Dwyer and his crew follow the path from CD Projekt’s origins as a little-known Polish games distributor to running one of the better known games stores. GOG may just be ‘Gog’ now, but they used to be ‘Good Old Games’, updating and returning forgotten games to sale and competing against piracy both well-meaning and otherwise.
While more business-focused than Noclip’s other documentaries, it’s still fascinating, expertly produced stuff, and GOG’s founders speak frankly about the problems they faced. At first, no studio wanted to risk selling games up on an unknown storefront that promised zero DRM at the moment when it was most in vogue across the industry. A deal with Interplay – one of their old contacts from their physical distribution days – gave them a foot up and a few high-profile games, and the site grew rapidly from there. Tracking down who owns the rights to old games is still a complex, messy process, as the documentary reveals.
A goodly chunk of the documentary is dedicated to the lengths GOG went to in order to make some of these old games work, or even just find in some cases. Just because GOG secured distribution rights didn’t mean that they had a clean build of the game to sell. In the case of many older games – especially from that awkward era of early hardware accelerated 3D – extra legwork was required. Thankfully, existing communities were often eager to help in getting things running again, as they mention was the case with Carmageddon.
Accompanying the documentary is a small tie-in sale on GOG. While mostly focused on the older games that gave GOG their first foothold, there’s a few more recent deals in there. I notice that Singularity (Raven Software’s last game before being repurposed as a Call of Duty multiplayer map factory) is down to £3.79. It’s a fun, dumb shooter with time-bending powers. I’d also highly recommend Monolith’s early FPS Blood (£1.49 in the sale), especially now that you can play it smoothly on modern machines via source-port BloodGDX.
Alice recommends lurid horror-comedy FMV adventure Harvester (£1.09 on GOG). Because of course she would.