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Means of production and all that

Some rather cool news items about the subversion of the classical "industry-consumer" model have appeared lately.

First, writes about a remake of LucasArts' Maniac Mansion:

The amount of energy fans put into the games stuns original programmers.

"I think it's incredible," said Maniac Mansion co-creator David Fox. "When we first released these games, we figured people would be interested for two or three years, max. The fact people still care enough to put this kind of work into the games, it's amazing."

But Fox doesn't talk much about the remakes with colleagues who still work at LucasArts. Distribution of these remakes could cause some problems in the courts.

Not the first time this has happened, and the legal grey zone sounds familiar too. I, for one, am glad someone found the English version of Ambermoon that I worked on in 1993 but that was never officially released, and made it available (I'd link to it but the Thalion Webshrine is down right now). I'm also glad people fixed the bugs that were in there ;)

Second, there's an Ultima Online emulator, and it just went open source. I didn't even know there was an emulator - I don't keep up much with MMO games. This sounds similar to bnetd, the free server. Except that got squashed. I doubt you could emulate one of the current major MMOs, but perhaps I'm wrong.

Third, some Sims 2 user content is infested with hacks. That was bound to happen with content that's functional instead of just static (e.g. textures, 3D models). But help is at hand:

The hackers, who never intended their hacks to be viruses, have even written their own AV scanner to find and control the outbreak.

Fourth, Team Xbox has an editorial about the RSS feeds of Halo 2 player stats that Bungie is offering. Using open standards to allow players to access and mine their data, very cool. Bungie doesn't need to offer any advanced functionality: other people can write it themselves.

Last, and the story that most surprised me: PlanetSide Community Takes Action to Market Game.

"Enilk Libb VII writes 'Frustrated by Sony Online's lack of dedication to their game, the Planetside community has taken the initiative and started a 'Guerilla Marketing' campaign designed to attract new players to the game. Players know that Planetside is good - perhaps even a genre defining title - but that it often goes unnoticed in the gaming market, saturated as it is with FPS games. Forums dedicated to the discussion of computer games, it was decided, are the perfect places to advertise. A template was designed with links to a spectacular video of Planetside (made by a regular Planetside player), a 7-day free trial of the game itself, and a downloadable installer. A thread was started on the Planetside Forums and the players got to work. The effect of the campaign has been noticeable. Populations are growing noticeably. Due to the influx of new players, many veterans of the game have volunteered to be part of a team whose job will be to contact new players and 'buckle them in'.' Now if they'd only lower the pricetag..."

(All of these stories via Slashdot Games.)