http://i.imgur.com/3ADDzGC.jpg
Interviews
GOG.com is a cool digital games store focusing on getting great DRM free games in the hands of gamers for awesome prices. I have been a fan of the site because it really distinguishes itself as a purveyor of classic games and a sort of digital archivist of gaming culture and history. You can totally see that in the way they curate the space behind such amazing works as Baldurs Gate and Simcity 2000. Recently I dropped my friends at GOG.com a line and they were amicable enough to answer some of my questions. The interview goes into rad-territory covering the Indie Games explosion, Linux, Age of Empires 2 and Star Wars. Yeah, apparently the people GOG.com think about Star Wars too!

I was put in contact with Trevor Longino at GOG.com and want to thank him for taking the time to talk with me.

jdodson: GOG.com releases classic games and gives them a nice fit and finish for release on modern operating systems often times bundles art and soundtracks with the game. As you get the approval from the publisher to release a game do you at times get the source of the original to recompile for games that don’t work in a modern OS?

Trevor: 99.9% of the time, no. We get our games from our employee's private collections, as well as scouring ebay and other similar site for auctions, hunting for original releases. Then we work with that. Some games take more work than others to persuade them that sticking to their original release systems doesn't really pay off to their legacy. The most stubborn ones give our coders an occasional headache, but in most cases we manage to pull it off.

jdodson: Recently there has been a pretty strong push to porting games to Linux with such projects as The Humble Indie Bundle and most recently with Steam. Any plans on supporting Linux in the near future?

Trevor: We put a lot of effort into launching on Mac--it took us more than a year, from start to finish, to carry it off--and we're thrilled how well it's been going for us. Moving to Linux and keeping our high level of customer service and simplicity of use is something that presents challenges for us at the moment--there are many distros and flavors, and picking how to support what, for how long, and where is quite a challenge. So while we've looked into this and are continuing to evaluate it, we haven't found a solution that meets that high standard to our satisfaction yet. Never say never, but--at least for the moment--we're going to say, "not now."

jdodson: I love Age of Empires 2. How hard would it be to make this available on GOG.com? I would love to be able to play this game with my friends again without major game surgery. That said, do you at times approach companies about games you would love to see on GOG.com?

Trevor: We have a community wishlist feature on our site, where you can vote on the games you would like to see in our offer. Age of Empires 2 is currently number 26 on that list, so we can see that there's a pretty high demand for it. We always take what the community has to say into account when deciding which games we should try to acquire for our store. Well, that and our personal favorites, of course. Those tend to be pretty much in sync with what users want, by the way. After all--we're all gamers. We always seek to bring you all the best available titles, so--as long as there aren't any unbeatable legal obstacles in our path--you can assume that all your favorite games will end up on GOG.com eventually. Time truly is on our side.

jdodson: What do you think of the recent news that JJ Abrams will direct Star Wars VII? Do you think JJ will bring back Jar Jar Binks or the Gungans? Personally “Messah not suren of theesa plan.” Don’t get me wrong, JJ is superb but he did Star Trek... I don’t know.

Trevor: Man, I don't know! We're pretty much torn in half about this in the office. There never was much of a conflict between Trek fans and Star Wars fans in GOG.com, so the only controversy here is JJ Abrams himself. I mean, he did more than a decent job bringing us the Star Trek reboot movie, he gave us Fringe, a show that managed to bring us some top-notch science-fiction and actually pull off a finale that wasn't half-bad despite its flaws. Even his Cloverfield turned out to be a fresh breath of air in the monster movie genre. The geek is strong in this one, obviously. Probably even strong enough. But then again--the finale of Lost? Yes, sure, he didn't write it--but he allowed it to happen! Just when you want to say "yes, this guy really knows what he's doing and we can trust him not to break the Star Wars franchise any further", that horrid anti-climax of an otherwise good show comes to mind. Oh well, we'll see.

jdodson: GOG.com now sports an awesome Indie section with games such as “Legend of Grimrock,” “FTL” and Torchlight. It also seems like GOG.com is moving to support more modern games. Do you see a time where GOG.com supports new releases from companies like iD or 2K?

Trevor: We seem to have misplaced our futuregazing goggles :-( That said, we're all about bringing good games to people in need of entertainment, so that doesn't really fall far from our usual agenda. If iD or 2K is willing to sell games in the GOG.com fashion: that is to say, no DRM, Fair Prices, with tons of extra goodies and love for our customers, we'd welcome them on board.

jdodson: What three games would you personally be happy with bringing to GOG.com if nothing was standing in your way?

Trevor: X-Com: UFO Defense, System Shock 2, and Street Rod. Ha! I got you now, haven't I? "What's Street Rod?" I'm not surprised you don't know it. It's an early 1990s game developed by a small Polish studio called California Dreams. What's it about? Think Geoge Lucas' "American Grafitti". Crazy teenagers hanging out in front of diners, pimping-up their rides, and racing each other 1970s style. Sweet thing. We can't locate the rightholders, though.

jdodson: I wonder what GOG.com's response to this very important message is?
http://i.imgur.com/3WO65ML.jpg

Trevor: Why, of course it's:

Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

jdodson: Some of our favorite gaming experiences of the past few years come from the Indie Gaming scene. How do you think Indie Gaming is changing how traditional publishers operate?

Trevor: We see the indie scene as a reflection as what we like to call the golden dawn of game development. Back in the old days game developers couldn’t rely on eye-candy graphics and power of marketing, so they had to compete with each other by the means of original ideas, good story, and solid level design. I see the exact same mechanisms fueling indie game development right now. The indie scene as a whole as a distinct retro vibe to it, as a matter of fact. I wouldn’t go as far as calling this a new renaissance of game design, but it’s safe to say that a lot of good things are happening in the industry and the root of it lies in the past.

jdodson: As GOG.com looks to 2013 I wonder what you guys have on the roadmap you wouldn’t mind sharing?

Trevor: We continue to use the same one each year: bringing good, DRM-free games at fair prices to broader and broader audience. Throwing in some extra goodies and customer love to the package. There's really not much more to it, that I could tell you.

jdodson: GOG.com, Steam and Origin are the big players that come to mind when I think about digital games stores. I wonder how GOG.com looks at Steam and Origin and how you plan on moving forward in the space while drawing a stronger distinction between these other services?

Trevor: Steam is the 800-pound gorilla in the market, and there’s a good reason for that. They weren't the first to come up with the idea of selling games for download, but they were one of the first, and they were better than their competition. They managed to change the expectations of the public and the way people shop for games online. Steam took risks--keeping in mind that Valve was a successful company in its own right, and could afford to experiment in ways that a startup couldn't--and took a key role in shaping the marketplace to what it is today. Many companies, including GOG.com, exist in part because they blazed the trail. But following right behind Steam isn't the way to make successful company. There are a lot of others out there who've tried and who haven't been different enough from Steam to succeed. We're different from them by design, and our strengths lie in that difference. We intend to continue to focus on those strengths--our three core values of DRM-free gaming, fair prices, and customer love--and find ways to bring more content that our audience will love, regardless of its age.

jdodson: Thanks Trevor, I wish GOG.com a really awesome 2013!

http://www.gog.com

If you want to vote on a game to make it to GOG.com, you can do that here:
http://www.gog.com/wishlist/games
I feel like I'm alone in thinking that the Lost finale was pretty good.
over 1 year ago
Still need to watch Lost, its on my Nerd list of shame still. I have some friends really into Lost and they keep asking me to watch it.

:D
over 1 year ago
I try to not ask too much, as I don't want to drive you away from Lost lol.

I liked the ending of the series too, you're not alone!
over 1 year ago
Good interview! Love me some GoG.com!

I tried to get my friends to throw down on the idea of Disney buying Lucasarts/Lucasfilms, and I got nothing but "well, we'll see...". Now with this announcement of Abrams directing, I'm personally thrilled, not because I think he's a god, but I trust that he'll take good care of it. However, I am worried that he won't be able to make it visually distinctive from his Trek movies. The only other people that I would rather have direct, at this time, are either Joss Whedon or Christopher Nolan.

On Lost, I didn't care for the ending, and not in its explanation, but in it's execution. I blame Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse for that. That was their baby, and I feel like they just gave up at the end. Probably not the case, but that's how it came across to me.
over 1 year ago
@scrypt I think he will be able to make it stand out. Remember that in ep IV - VI it was a pretty dirty world. Star Trek has always been pretty germ free, Star Wars... well until the prequels was a pretty dingy, dirty galaxy. Since JJ is a __HUGE__ Star Wars guy I imagine he won't forget this. I don't imagine we will see much sparkle cam/shaky cam, I think/hope he will make different choices there.
over 1 year ago
That interview is pretty rad. I rate GoG above Steam for me because of their extras and better customer service. I guess the smaller scope helps, though.
over 1 year ago
Glad to hear that GoG doesn't focus on their competition as an obstacle to be overcome, but instead focuses on improving their own product. I like GoG because their love for the same games I grew up with (The Tex Murphy Series, the original Unreal, Phantasmagoria) is evident in the packaging: soundtracks, manual scans, additional images bundled right alongside the binary blob of reminiscence.

Also, many of the early DOS titles utilize DOSBox, so it's not difficult to adapt them to running under Linux. The GoG team has already done most of the hard work in configuring EMS, XMS, soundcards and the like. So, the configuration for the game takes a few tweaks and works like a charm.
over 1 year ago
bean, not sure if you're aware of this: http://www.gogonlinux.com/

Not official, but you sign into this app, and it downloads your games and configures them for running under Linux. A meager list of supported games so far, but still interesting.
over 1 year ago
@panickedthumb Thanks for the link! I'm going to have to check that out later.

The limited number of games supported is probably because it appears to be a one-man show for the most part. Definitely got my interested piqued.
over 1 year ago
GoG is really fantastic, but I think they have a serious struggle to deal with on the indie front. On the one hand there is the aforementioned Steam. If you look through GoG's indie catalog you'll see the majority of the games have been on Steam for quite some time and gone through many of the renowned "Steam Sales". As an example, I have almost all the games on their list and got them all for pennies on the dollar. Also, you have games that are obtaining exposure through Greenlight (which GabeN says is going to be made less restrictive and more alluring for indie devs very soon) meaning when they release on Steam, whether before or after a GoG release, they will have a built in audience there.

On the other hand you have the obscure indie games that never had a chance to shine on Steam. Those are usually games that got a community start on IndieDB which is directly tied to Desura. As a result most of the people who have been creating and/or catching the buzz from those games, are already in the Desura network, and smaller devs tend to focus more time there than anywhere else, especially since it will be more cost effective for them.

I think what GoG really needs to do here is essentially create a new ecosystem for the general gamer. Those that rely on Steam as a third console option and have never heard of Desura. As such they need to actively assist in the development of games that are stable, polished and away from the fringe. If they can cultivate enough of a library in that area, and find a way to make the purchase of the games through their system more appealing then I think they can carve a permanent place in the market. It will definitely be a challenge though.
over 1 year ago
Also, Lost finale was great as far as I was concerned and JJ can make the next trilogy with sock puppets and it will be better than anything Lucas would develop.
over 1 year ago
I think MIasmata is one of those games that made much more of a splash on GoG than Steam. Even though it's been out on Steam for a while, I hadn't heard of it until GoG put it on their front page making it look pretty cool. I think they have a slower release schedule and easier to manage storefront on their side. I'm up to date with literally every game they've hosted while I have no idea probably 80% of the games on Steam even exist. It's a weird thing, but I check GoG's store pages more than Steam because it's just easier for me to get through.
over 1 year ago
Another thing to keep in mind with GoG, is that their game offerings are all DRM-free, something not many (if any) other services can claim. I have a large Steam library, and yet I've picked up quite a few games that Steam hasn't included in their library (Syndicate, Icewind Dale, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, and many others), or that GoG was first to offer. I have a Desura account, but haven't used it in ages. I prefer Steam's interface, and I didn't want to have to deal with two exclusive game library environments.
over 1 year ago
@scrypt +1. Its also very different from Steam in that GOG.com is a digital locker. You download the .exe files from the web app, which is totally rad. I don't personally mind have different people in the market because really, Steam and GOG.com are very different.
over 1 year ago
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