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PostPosted: Sat Mar 25, 2017 4:09 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 14, 2016 2:55 am
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Location: Gothenburg, Sweden
When i was a kid and subsequently a young teen, there was a special shareware scene for Mac users. Some of the games recieved PC ports eventually, but the new versions always seemed to come to Mac first (distributed on CDs that came with MacWorld and other magazines for those of us with limited online access). In a sense, mac felt "indie" compared to the commercially targeted pc platform.

One of the most prominent games from that time (according to my personal experience only) was Realmz, a shareware gonzo fantasy open world RPG engine so closely related to Dungeons and Dragons that the author got a legal notice and had to change up a whole bunch of terms. To the best of my memory, there's three kind of scenarios: Official scenarios (included with the software), officially endorsed scenarios (written by fans and deemed good enough to be included in the software and sold on the official homepage), and fan scenarios who for some or other reason never got official endorsement.

The business model was that for each scenario, there would be an encounter at a critical point where you'd need to register your purchase of that particular scenario. Roughly, 50% of any scenario would still be free to play and there would generally be a bunch of interesting quests that could be completed.

In 2008, Tim Phillips (the author) released registration codes for most official scenarios for free. The homepage has since then been expired but that information lives on on a few message boards.

The officially endorsed scenarios that were included with the software are another story. If you wanted to be able to play the full length of them, you'd either need to somehow track down the individual who made it, hope s/he's interested in doing business. Not an easy feat. If there's contacts anywhere, it'd be some expired .edu mail.

The thing is, Realmz was a MAJOR game in the 90s Mac user scene, now stuffed away in an obscure corner. I wonder how many other sharewares who have a similar fate - that there's no way (sans possibly hex editing) to experience the full included content.

Shareware has a nostalgic and honest air, but it seems the formula was not built for longevity. What could the community have done better?

EDIT: I guess i'm really wondering this: to what extent is old shareware failing? Do you know of any other examples?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:21 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 09, 2008 9:18 pm
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Location: Pennsylvania, USA
I think it's just like anything, times change. Today's equivalent of shareware is low-priced, digitally distributed software on steam, humble bundle, app store, play store etc. I.e. it's not shared, but it's a very convenient and cheap model that does not involve big publishing deals where you have to press the software on thousands of discs and put them in boxes etc. which is the same thing that shareware worked around in the past, for the most part. It's just nostalgia you're experiencing. The needs of the software market are being served in different ways now via different technologies and infrastructures. It's more out in the open and more people are involved. So that cozy, "obscure" feeling is gone. That feeling is gone from nearly all things nerdy. It seems every man and his dog has a github page and goes to game jams these days. Small communities such as the NES homebrew community is probably the closest one can get these days to preserving the comfortable "small world" feeling that one enjoyed back then.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 5:30 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:04 pm
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Any download-only billed software is going to be harder to find after its distributor ends.


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