Monday, January 30, 2012

EPISODE 65: "Open The Vault!"

New show! You go watch now! YOU GO WATCH NOW!

The main thrust of this episode - the need for the license-holders to classic games to get that material back out there for the good of the medium, the fans and themselves - is one I expect to see become a BIG discussion-point as digital-distribution tech becomes as prominent for gaming as it is for music and movies. Golden-age games are going to get out there (much moreso than NOW, I mean) one way or another... so the industry might as well get out in front of it. The all-but innevitable spectacle of Nintendo (and you KNOW it'll be Nintendo) morphing into Metallica to downloadable-classics' Napster would be a pathetic sight I'd rather we avoid.

ALSO! This is the first of the new episodes to "fully" embrace the new presentation-format for the story-segments - i.e. a brief "teaser" before the opening credits followed by a (sometimes) lengthier chunk of it at the conclusion of the main episode. This particular "chunk" involves a MAJOR development for the "RetroThinker" character that I can't wait to hear what people think of. Embedded episode and SPOILERS after the jump:

So! If you're wondering, this is NOT the way RetroThinker's story was originally set to play out; though it has been since at least shortly after I began shooting the live-action footage for these segments.

When I initially sketched out this whole arc, the Yellow Jewel (and now you know why RT wears his silly yellow shirt) was going to be the power source for a time machine RetroThinker would seek out and attempt to use to return to his own era - which would then malfunction and A.) set up an easter-egg for the NEXT arc and B.) "generate" an evil version of himself called NecroThinker (who was concieved, from the beginning, as a Black Lantern parody who commanded video-zombies.) RetroThinker would then battle NecroThinker - ultimately sacrificing his chance to return home to defeat him - and the "malfunction" would be revealed to have been a deliberate act by the Monster Voice Guy.

But while setting up the "final" scripts, it occured to me (and yes, audience feedback was a contributing factor here) that there wasn't really all that much "difference" between OverThinker and RetroThinker as characters - in as much as OverThinker and "real Bob" are both pretty fixated on retro-gaming as it is - so having the new bad guy fought by a guy who was already too much like the hero was going to come out sloppy and could probably be made more interesting. What you now see the beginning of here, a sympathetic good-guy becoming a villain and OverThinker having to combat a retro-centric villain, was the obvious choice is terms of taking the story in a different direction while continuing the goofy/low-rent Tokusatsu send-up vibe I've been aiming for.

The only aspect of this episode I'm not 100% satisfied with is that NecroThinker's costume doesn't look as good here as I wanted to - we had a narrow production window for the matching-shots on the transformation, so we went with temporary version of his cape as I hadn't finished making the "final" one at the time. It looks alright (the final version is made of heavier material but has the same basic color and design) but I'd prefer it "move" a little less like the plastic tablecloth we made it out of. Ah well. The mask, at least, remains suitably creepy IMO.

As for what comes next? Stay tuned ;)


Arturo said...

What do you mean by Nintendo turning into Metallica? Are they handling their properties like assholes or something?

Anonymous said...


Ristar and Bubsy were from the Genesis era, which Retrothinker froze himself just before - how would he know them as "his heroes"?

Jay said...


Yes. Yes they are.

Raph said...

That is an excellent point.

Concerning Necrothinker: did black gloves really not seem like a good idea ? I know it's supposed to be goofy, but it kinda ruins the whole effect (more so than the temporary cape imo).

akkuma420 said...

Necro Thinker? -__- (sigh...)

Misterprickly said...

I agree with Bob when he says that companies have to make their past products more readily available to the average gamer.

It would also be great if the console companies produced some LEAGLE emulators for gamers to use; thus ending THAT controversy.

JPArbiter said...

Personal favor to all the commentators out there... please stop pointing out that Retrothinker froze himself before the release of the Sega Genesis and SNES and thus it makes little sense to have him familiar with Sonic, Busby and the like.

this is what is called "The Shrug of God." an obvious plot hole is left untouched for the sake of the overreaching story.

El Pibe Progre said...

Nerd fanboy explanation for the 16-bit paradox:

While Retrothinker was in the cryogenic capsule, he could experience "glimpses" of the early 90's (due to a glitch or something) and thus he saw how awesome Sonic was even though he never played the game himself.

Problem. Solved.

Naner said...

@Jay: Do you really think so? I know they could be doing a better job at it, mostly by adding more titles to Virtual Console, but I don't think the system is bad.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few classic Nintendo games - like Earthbound or Goldeneye - that can't be re-released due to legal issues. What a shame. :(

Popcorn Dave said...

Good video, I basically agree. But for the love of GOD can you PLEASE turn off the auto-play? Ugggh. Every time I refresh to check if there are new comments, bam! Another ad starts blaring at me.

Okay, with that said, on to the content:

The problem is that they ARE releasing old games, they're just doing it in a way that suits them and not the customer or the medium. The rights holders have decided that the easiest and most lucrative way to make money off their old copyrights is to cherry pick a few "no-brainer" premium titles, release them only in a heavily locked down distribution system like iOS or a console's online market, and charge $10 for it. Honestly, who can blame them? I bet you ran down to the shops on Day One to buy Ocarina of Time on the 3DS, didn't you? Of course you did. $60 for a 15-year-old game, well, no wonder they don't want to release their entire back catalogue at bargain price.

Sadly, part of this pricing model is limiting the number of games available, both on the off-chance that they might make more money off less popular titles later, and also to keep prices high on the games that DO sell well. When you've got thousands of 2D platformers available for $1.99 each, it becomes harder to justify selling Sonic 2 for $10, but if you just sell Sonic 2 on its own for $10 and don't offer an alternative, people might go for it. Personally I'd definitely pay for Sonic 2, except I already bought it on Megadrive and again on the PC compilation, so being charged another 7 quid seems a bit of a joke.

It's frustrating as it basically turns getting a game you want into a crime; they're not selling it, but they're not going to let you get it from somewhere else either.

The wider problem, which applies to other media as well, is that IP-hoarding has gotten completely ridiculous and companies need to cut that shit out. At least in other media, that IP actually gets released most of the time; in games they just seem to sit on it. I don't know how you stop them to be honest. I sadly have to admit that I don't think the business case for "opening the vault" is very strong, as retrogaming is a pretty small niche outside of the big franchises.

MovieBob said...

FWIW: RetroThinker knows who Sonic is because he had access to Japanese gaming news, which would've carried announcements and/or rumors of Sonic when he was being created and pre-hyped there in late-1990.

NecroThinker doesn't necessarily "know" who Bubsy etc. are, but his power-source does so there they are.

I guess that's how it works, at least :)

Alphonso said...

Just before watching this, I'd come across an article with a similar stance:
Of course, that makes sense since the SOPA/PIPA affair has made the legality of software preservation rather topical.

I must say, I really appreciate the switch to the teaser/lecture/teaser format. This is the most streamlined the show has ever been since the introduction of the story element.

And since you specifically asked for feedback about the RetroThinker's development: I enjoyed seeing his transformation to NecroThinker, as it's an obvious parallel to the OverThinker's lecture. (It's so obvious, in fact, that the lampshading at the end was kind of annoying, but I'll let that slide.) The connection between the story and lecture aspect of the show is much stronger with NecroThinker than it was with PyroThinker, CryoThinker, or AntiThinker.

On the other hand, the RetroThinker isn't really fleshed out enough for me to be invested in him as a character. Did he accept the NecroThinker powers out of wistfulness for his gaming golden age or out of a desire to enact revenge upon those who took it from him? It's hard to tell because he communicates almost entirely through memetic phrases--his story is lacking a consistent tone: comedic, tragic, or otherwise.

Salem said...

Personally, I always liked the storyline elements of the show. i always knew the retrothinker might become a badguy or something but I didn't expect how or why, I guesed he might go mad and gain the power to destroy the entire video game industry or something but this is awesome too.

I think the Virtual console would be better if the companies decided to release old games faster and in bigger quantities every week, I had high expectations of it ever since it was announced but it dissapointed me by how slow it is, there are still classics that haven't been released yet.

Neocasko said...

Well, I think that emulators are a way to fix it and in my opinion, it's bullcrap to complain about its legality the way many do. But I do wish things like XBLA and the Virtual Console would take archiving old games more seriously. Like it or not. Unofficial "illegal" emulation on the Internet have more variety and options than the two services combined. We already have an archive on the web for video games, it's just that either too many people ignore it because they are unaware of it, or they shun it because they act like it's immoral piracy, and I think that's sad.

So yeah, I dare you guys to look up "video game emulation" on Google. You may be surprised what you might find. We just need to make this stuff more accepted.

assman said...

Good thing pirates are there to preserve our history. Thanks again, pirates, for doing an important service to society.

Seriously, this stuff is abandonware. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Dmman said...

Bob, this is one of the best episodes you've done. Great, important topic! The question is, how can we in the fandom affect change, outside of illegal emulators?

Gotta, say, I'm really excited for how this storyline goes! Well done!

Lenny said...

Hey, Bob. I still have to watch some of your episodes (last one I saw was the one about Miyamoto retiring), but I wanted to ask you, do you own a 3DS? Are you ever including it in one of your episodes? If you won't but you own one, could you give your opinion on it? I already have one since day 1, but it'd be interesting to know your opinion, especially now that another 2D Mario is on the way.

Anonymous said...

"If you want to legally play and/or study it (Dragon Warrior) in its original form, here's what you've got to do:

Own a working Nintendo Entertainment System.
Own a TV and connection cables that are compatible with a Nintendo Entertainment system.
Own a functional Dragon Warrior game cartridge.

Unless you already have most or all of those things it is actually easier to read an Acadian text from 1300 BC than it is to play a video game from 1985"

No, Bob. No, it is not easier. Finding a free rubbish translation of ancient texts on Google is not the same thing as experiencing the original the way it was intended, just as I'm sure you'd argue playing Super Mario Bros. 3 on an emulator is not the same as playing it on an NES. I've read the best translations of Homer, and I still don't dare have the audacity to claim that I've actually read his work, nor will I ever until I've spent enough years studying the Ancient Greek language and read it in the original Greek.

By the same token, looking at pictures of the Sistine Chapel is not the same as actually being at the Sistine Chapel and gazing upon it with your own eyes. Watching the very first films ever made on YouTube is not the same as watching it with authentic equipment. Listening to live music on your iPod is not the same as listening to live music in person. Watching modern adaptations of drama is not the same as experiencing it in the historical context and venue in which it was meant to be consumed.

Losing a tiny portion of games from the nascent period of the medium is not a tragedy. Nor is losing half of all films made before the '50s, really. You want to know what's a tragedy? It is estimated that Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides wrote over 200 tragedies combined, yet only about 10% of their output still exists. And that's just the output of three men lucky enough to have survived for nearly 2500 years, not every author of Classical Greek drama altogether.

It was a tragedy when the Library of Alexandria burned down. It wouldn't be a tragedy if Steam suddenly disappeared and thereby ensured that its entire digital library was lost forever.

We're ignorant to hundreds of thousands of years of human history, and thousands of years worth of art, as well as literary and oral traditions, are lost forever. Don't you dare argue that losing a few NES games from the 80s is just as much a catastrophe.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to discourage video games from being preserved, especially when the possibility exists to have the medium fully (or near as makes no difference to 100%) extant from the very beginning. But if I had to pick between erasing Super Mario Bros. 3 and The Odyssey, I know which one I'd save.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I think this is the best case for emulation right now. There are so many classic games that can't be experienced through virtual console or other means. I mean, there is nowhere where I can get an NES or SNES, compatible components, and games, and so I turned to emulating some classic games, such as Earthbound and Battletoads. Earthbound isn't going to be released on VC, and Battletoads I've never seen, and I'm never going to be able to play them on the actual console, but through Emulation I'm able to play them. There are so many other similar classic games that will never be released right now, and so that is why I stick up for emulation. Now, there should be a point, and I personally draw the line around SNES/Genesis for consoles and GB/early GBA for handheld emulation, and there should be a line to it, but for now emulation is the best way to experience these classic games.

Also, with what you said about mobile gaming, many companies are wising up to it. I've seen recently many companies releasing older games on it, with the biggest ones I've seen so far being Sega and the classic Sonic Games, Capcom who has alot of arcade and early games on there, and Hudson, with games like Bomberman. Also, I've recently seen Square Enix releasing the classic Final Fantasy games (I and II last I checked), the classic FF: Tactics, Secret of Mana, and CHRONO TRIGGER (I love that game so much). Companies are wising up and using the I-Store for many old games. I'm waiting now for Nintendo to start it, because they can make a TON of cashing releasing some classic NES and GB games on it, like say the original Mario Games, maybe the original Pokemon games, etc. They are sitting on a potential goldmine, and yet aren't paying attention to it because it would mean giving some of their properties up to competition, which I can understand, but still, there are some games the VC can't give a good representation of, and the VC is normally clunky anyway, and so utilizing the mobile gaming platform of the Iphone may be a way to go.

El Pibe Progre said...

I forgot to add:

Please Bob, turn off the auto-play setting. It's annoying.

spork said...

Though I agree that they should open up the vault of old games, it's not the only way old games can be saved. Check out Console Classix ( It's a legal way to play many older games. Their library includes Atari 2600, Colecovision, NES, Sega Master System, Super Nintendo, Genesis, TurboGrafx-16, Nintendo 64, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance and Game Gear. And yes, that includes Dragon Warrior and Dragon Warriors 2, 3 and 4! Even if publishers won't save the games, retro-game providers like Console Classix can.

Sabre said...

I agree with the problem, disagree with the solution. The solution, imo, is to release roms, source code, specs ect. of the hardware side. Legalise roms of any game out of print for, let's say 5 years, and maybe release source code of the games themselves if possible.

Things change when you emulate and re-release, eventually the small changes will add up, and there are mountains of legal issues. Also, your way has to be applied to every game past, present and future.

Doing it on a per console basis will be less work overall AND allow people to play the game exactly as they were, not through the filter of 3 dozen ports. This would also allow reproduction of special hardware such as track balls for dedicated fans, all the while getting around all the legal issues by having the games be re-released or go public domain.

Daniel R said...

You bring up some good points and I wonder...

Does the industry as a whole take an interest or get involved in the training of young developers and programers.
Does say, Capcom provide universities with major Game Development Education branches with copies of the original Street Fighter or does Square Enix provide them with copies of Dragon Quest or Chrono Trigger.
I recall once hearing about a college course based on Portal and its intricacies and another based on Smash Bros and the hidden complexities of its fighting system but thats about it.

Their's probably a very simple answer and I may just be being ignorant, but if anyone has the answer I'd love to know.


I very much enjoyed the plot segments. I'm looking forward to watch the fight with NecroThinker.
After all, in a certain way Necro is kinda the "corrupted" OverThinker.
He allowed his love of Retro gaming to get the better of him and is willing to do anything it takes to bring his champions back.

Notice the return of Wart, Qbert, and Bubsy all of which are relics of a bygone era in gaming and have returned. Stronger then ever before; however, in the most ironic of ironies they have returned in a grotesque fashion. A shadowy shadow of their former selves, a perverted and twisted display of what they once were.
Behold! The RetroThinker, once a celebration of everything good in Retro gaming. Now nothing more than an evil zombie- or in its original Latin, Malus Cadaver!
Truly this has been a rough night. Some say the earth was feverous and did shake! My young remembrance cannot parallel a fellow to it! For woe be upon he who shalt attempt to unravel such problems.

See, I can over think things too. ;P

In all seriousness though, Very well put together.
It got down right cosmic when Monster Voice guy came around.

Popcorn Dave said...

Legalise roms of any game out of print for, let's say 5 years, and maybe release source code of the games themselves if possible.

Nice idea, but there's no incentive for IP holders to allow it, and the law would unquestionably side with them. Retro games still make money, so why would companies give them away for free so soon? And what happens if a game goes out of print and a company re-releases it later on? Does the rom become illegal again? Any solution which limits the amount of time companies can make money out of their own IP is doomed to fail.

Here's a great breakdown of the issues regarding "abandonware" and the messy legal/moral quagmire that it is. Not only does is abandonware's legal status completely different from most people's moral position, but until there's a strong business case for selling old games legally, it's pretty much a stalemate.

Popcorn Dave said...

PS Spork, thanks for that link! I can't believe I hadn't seen that site before. Renting games over the Net... brilliant idea! I'd die happy if they created an Xperia Play version.

Popcorn Dave said...

(sorry for triple post)

Hi, I accidentally linked to a random page in the middle of the abandonware article. Here's Page 1 for anyone interested in the legal/ethical issues surrounding abandonware.

Mischlings said...

On the off chance you see this, Bob, I'd like a bit of clarification. With the Nintendo things (should take the reins off, a quote like that), would you go so far as to say that something like Super Mario All-Stars or a similar compilation of older (SNES and before) Nintendo-owned games should be released, say, on PS3 and 360 and iOS and Android and PC and Mac, along with the expected Wii and WiiU release? That seemed to be what you implied, but I just wanted to make sure.

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope the RetroThinker can be brought back. I would really like for him to have a happy ending. I think that ending would involve him discovering the place where innovation and creativity in gaming continue to flourish.

The Indie scene.

Yes, I think that maybe if the RetroThinker got a glimpse of the independent gaming scene, it would restore his faith in games, maybe even change him into someone else entirely. How does "The Game IndieThinker" sound to you exactly? Might even get an episode out of it.

Also, this was, I'd have to say, relatively short for an OverThinker episode. Then again, I think that's because I'm used to them having gotten so long. I just feel you didn't get to discuss the topic of "opening the vault" enough.

Anonymous said...

Bob, I'm disappointed. You had the perfect opportunity for an Altered Beast reference there when Necrothinker said "Rise!" I thought you were going for it, especially after he said "I command you".

Sylocat said...

You're saying that we didn't foresee Retrothinker becoming the new bad guy? Pardon me, but on the last video, I left a comment predicting exactly that.

Now then, for my thoughts:

There was a recent article on The Escapist talking about how piracy is preserving the early days of our medium, which covered a lot of the same points. Granted, this video was probably well into post-production (if not already put up on Advantage) when that column came out, so it's probably them who ripped off you.

As for the storyline:

I actually preferred it when you wove the skits into the commentary, but I'm probably the only one who preferred that, so I can sort of understand why you changed the format... sort of.

Evil Monkey said...

They did this just to push your buttons Bob.

Sam Robards, Occasional Gamer said...

Speaking of The Simpsons game, here's a little tidbit for you, Bob!

Sabre said...


I know. That's why I think the focus should be on hardware. Trying to get some sort of public domain system going would be nice, but the big companies aren't going to let it happen. They don't care if Megaman Legends is lost to history for example. Their interest is making money.

The hardware side has no limitations. Do you really think Nintendo is going to re-release the NES as is, or the Dreamcast is going to come back? No. If they did, it would be a machine like those TV games you see at stalls selling bootleg toys.

People have cracked the copy protection stuff long ago. Plus we see backwards compatibility built into certain machines, so we know it's doable. The main bump in the road is stuff like Xbox Live where a system is inherited.

Make no mistake, there is no interest in companies releasing this stuff. Yet it's still infinatly more practical than re-releasing the entire NES library every 5 years. The ultimate goal would be a third party system that plays all the old games, either from disc or from some kind of internal storage. We could do it now, in theory. Building those machines in a cost effective way is the problem.


On an unrelated note Bob, if your reading this, I have a video idea for you. In a shop today the 'retro' section was all PS2 and Xbox games, including Halo. As a retro gamer, does that mean you are now ready the let Master Chief into your heart? :3

biomechanical923 said...

I like the new format of the show. Separating the content has made the "overthinking" feel more thoughtful and the story feel more dramatic.

I think the publishers don't want to open the backlogs because they rationalize that people buying old games will somehow prevent them from buying new games.

When a publisher has spent millions of dollars overhyping their new crap, and expecting to make back a large portion of their investment in day-1 or week-1 sales, they dont want to be competing with their own former products.

I guess that's one of the benefits of piracy and emulation, eh?

Popcorn Dave said...

I don't see any benefit at all to recreating a physical system rather than an emulator, except maybe in a few special cases where there was some weird hardware like the Virtual Boy or something. What's all this about it being impractical to release the whole NES library every five years? This is 2012. All they have to do is stick all the games on a website and put emulation software on every new console and OS (which is exactly what happens now illegally anyway). Making third party hardware really is overthinking it a bit.

Sabre said...

The reason being a middle ground between practicality and idealism.

On the idealism side, all publishers and developers would submit their games, as well as other related stuff like source code, to a none profit who maintains a collection of every game and as much game related stuff as possible. Not going to happen.

The practical solution is what we have now. Hobbyists maintaining an illegal collection of roms and emulators, while collectors get and maintain there own private collection. It's murky legal ground, slow, and more importantly, decreasing faithfulness as both hardware fails and software requires increasing amounts of jury rigging. Good luck trying to find a faithful, 100% compatible N64 emulator for example. If it existed, trying to find a controller in mint condition is almost impossible because the sticks wear down.

Saving the games as roms is doable. Playing those roms in an accurate way is not.

-We know companies either can't or won't release the entire NES collection legally.
-We know the market for games outside of the big names like Mario is small, just look at game room.
-We know from arcade collectors that old hardware, accurate is a problem.
-We also know that for 3D consoles, and even certain 2D arcade games, accurate emulation is an issue due in part to the rapid development of graphics hardware.
-We know from PS3 and Wii that this is easy fixed by people with the access.
-Finally, we know that there is no money to be made from selling old consoles otherwise they would re-release old consoles like the NES.

So, my opinion, for a semi legal, accurate preservation of old games, that they give access to the hardware and system code to the hobbyists. That way, hardware modders can build their own systems, while fast, accurate emulators can be made for any system. Gamers can play the old games that would never get a re-release, and companies like Nintendo or Good Old Games, can use that software as a base for their own re releases. Everybody wins.

Ian N said...

Being a designer that basically grew up playing nothing but games from the SNES era forward I can agree fully that they are a very worthwhile experience to learn from. I can also say that I don’t think you can ever make a game perfect and that flaws are actually what make some games so endearing.

As many have said, the best way to preserve this is via digital means, and as with every digital medium available on the internet, it cannot be policed. Emulators have been around for much longer than ten years and I’m sure most people follow a rule of “if it’s two gens old, it’s okay!” because it’s simply impossible to get a hold of some games without emulation. Got a working NES? Good. Got a working copy of dragon quest? No? It died because of the limitations of its storage medium? Oh well just buy another one… oh you have to get it second hand which is arguably as bad as just downloading it since the original creators don’t get squat. Heck most of us are probably going to outlive the original creators, are Nintendo still going to be around selling remakes of Zelda and Mario in 40 years’ time? Because while it’s not a nice concept to think about; the original creators likely won’t and probably won’t even see a dime if they do.

The solution isn’t finding ways to sell games again to new generations; it’s to say “hey guys, want to go play Mario? Well why not just get it from the digital museum!” I honestly believe if the original creators are never going to get any money from it, then why should anyone else? Especially in this coming age of independent publishing when small teams of three or four people are making games and selling them. Same with books. The internet is a wonderful publishing tool.

The internet is a great way to inform and teach, but everyone is far more focused on it making money. And yes I agree with Popcorn Dave, if you’re going to allow people to just play old games, use Emulation. Movies don’t NEED an old VHS player to be enjoyed because all you did was sit and watch it, our vision and hearing senses aren’t going anywhere so no reason to reinvent an old medium to view them when a new one shows them just as well. The DS and tablet based games might be harder to emulate, but at the rate technology is developing, tablets will probably be a house hold item right alongside mouse and keyboard.

Drew said...

It's worth mentioning that, until the industry gets its collective act together, the list of things that gamers have done for the cause of preservation is a list that absolutely has to include piracy:

Smashmatt202 said...

Is it just me, or does Ivan suddenly look a lot smaller in that opening shot. Like, his wings are a lot bigger compared to his body, what's up with that?

I think I see where the Game Overthinker is going with this... There aren't enough people interested in the preservation of video games. Written work, art, movies, they have their buffs and they managed to (somehow) be preserved over the years. Why no with video games?

...Oh DON'T tell me that the Game Overthinker actually printed out the script the put it in the book he's supposedly reading! D:<

BTW, Konami's The Simpsons arcade game is CLASSIC! I have fond memories of seeing it at Chuck E. Cheese and various other arcades!

Well, at least there are nuts and freaks who actually preserve their games and stuff, so they're there... Out there, somewhere.

No for all of you about to go on Bob for supposedly building up how awesome the SNES and NES are, SHUT UP! Believe it or not, there WERE games BEFORE the PlayStation and BEFORE the "modern age of gaming" that helped shape how video games are today, and we NEED to make sure we don't forget about them!

Hell, remember Extra Credits' open letter to EA? You know how they went into how EA was founded and the games they made way-back-when? THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT! EA actually CARED about the media it was in, but now look at it!

And Bob brings up a good point, after all, the only things that get remembered in terms of movies, books, etc. are the really GOOD stuff, and the really BAD stuff. You'd be amazed at how insightful a bad game can be! Check out Egoraptor's Sequelitis: Castlevania 1 vs. Castlevania 2 to see what I mean.

...Damn, only 7 minutes and 35 seconds long? Lame... but I guess he said all that needed to be said.

Evil-deep-voiced guy... Alright, I guess... Oh, I'm sorry "Monster-voiced guy". Eh...

I actually remember seeing a Q-Bert commercial! ...Like, 5 years ago, or something.

So, um... Was Q-Bert really worth reviving? What exactly can you DO with Q-Bert, anyway? Aside from, jumping up and down blocks...

A YELLOW gem, like the red and blue ones before it!

FUCK YEAH, that is an awesome-looking sword!

By the power of yellow stone... I HAVE THE POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh noes, the Retrothinker is evil now! And he's got a lame voice, and a lame mask now! "Necrothinker", eh whatever.

You know, part of me wishes that Nintendo would bite the bullet and bring back Wart and Mouser from Super Mario Bros. 2, they were awesome characters that I can TOTALLY see in new Mario spin-offs.

I really, really, REALLY wish Bob would STOP using the Retrothinker as a means to being back games and characters from "the good old days" in general, instead of only the games he SHOULD only know about. Like Anonymous said, Ristar and Bubsy were released in 1995 and 1993 respectively. Even if the Retrothinker SOMEHOW had inside knowledge of games to come, how could he possible know and respect them, ESPECIALLY when they were released YEARS after he was supposedly frozen. This is why I never liked the idea of storylines in the Game Overthinker, Bob Chipman NEEDS to hire a writer to knows not to make amateur mistakes like this!

I like how the video is acting like this is such a big deal, but really, I just don't give a crap.

"Betcha didn't see that one coming, did ya?" I... kind of had a feeling it did, actually.

So yeah, "interesting" plot twist, I guess. I'd like to see where you're going with all of this, just so I can make fun of how lame it all is by the end.

Nick said...

I kind of saw this coming, but not in this form. Briefly during Episode 62 - when RetroThinker announced he was freezing himself, but before it was established that he only woke up when PyroThinker destroyed the Sharkade - I thought he had ALREADY woken up and gone insane at the state of modern games, and that RetroThinker WAS Monster Voice Guy.

Also - Yeah, I noticed the Black Lantern reference. :)

Anyway, I approve. *thumbs up*

Jannie said...

I personally agree, somewhat, with what Bob is saying but at the same time it comes off as disingenuous to claim that you need all this old stuff to play Dragon Warrior or Mario 3 or whatever. I'm sorry but we have emulators, romhacks and huge numbers of homebrew games built from and on the backs of these "classic" gaming franchises--this isn't going to be LOST, if anything its been better preserved than any form of entertainment in history. The slavish and, no offense, obsessive and smothering love of gamers assures that.

I can Google Dragon Warrior right now, and in a few hours I can come up with enough emulations, hacks and games made from it to fill a hundred hard drives.

But then again, I'm one of those starry eyed "digital future" types who thinks everything is going to be online in a few years anyway, so if salivating over old RPGs and mascots no one cared about 20 years ago is what it'll take to get the industry's ass in gear...well fine, yeah, sure, bring back Izzy or we riot!

Whatever gets the job done.

As for the RetroNecroWhoeverthinker...I'm not going to go into how irksome I find this obsessive love for retrogaming, I've already made my opinions clear. I "lived through" the "fall" of the "gold age", finger quotes, myself and frankly I was glad to see it gone. I can't fathom why people like to look back on their childhood and pretend all the asinine things they loved when they were three feet tall and had IQs in the low 40s were somehow high-art but everything new is OMG SO BAD U GUYZ!!! (I'm looking at you Transformers fans) but if we have to go through this story arc to get to the meat of the discussion every episode, fine. Again, whatever gets the job done.

On the off chance this happens, I would like to see NecroThinker meet a young enthusiastic gamer like he once was...who was born in the last fifteen years, and who loves Halo and GTA and Gears of War the way he loves Mario and Zool and Bubsy (who, precisely, liked Bubsy even then? Who?) and then he has to question if he's actually fighting for some lost halcyon age or if he's just being immature and unwilling to accept the passage of time. Finally he realizes that he'd be hurting the future gamers if he deprived them of their heroes the same way he was hurt when his faded away, and that, as a relic of a passed age, it is his job to step aside and let the future come even if it hates it for personal reasons.

And then Rainbow Dash will appear and fly me away to Equestria because that's more realistic than retrogamers ever admitting that maybe some value can be found in games made after 1996.

The sad part is twenty years from now, I can see fans of Gears and Modern Warfare acting the same way and forming an unholy alliance with Nintendo fanboys to destroy whatever modern gaming innovations appear in that future. It'll be like Days of Future Past only sadder and sweatier.

Jannie said...

Oh one more thing:

I almost forgot to add that, in addition to the huge numbers of online versions of these games, they were produced in gargantuan numbers back in the day along with the equipment. It literally cannot be any more difficult to find a working NES and some cables than it can to find online translations of ANY language.

I know because I have ALL of my old consoles and have played them in the past. It takes a small amount of effort--and granted I'm not good at it--but making modern TVs work with old systems is not something particularly hard. Nor is finding the old systems, for cheap, online.

Really, you can't genuinely argue that ANY era of gaming is in fear of ever being lost now that the internet exists. Someone, somewhere has a copy, an emulation, a rom, et al.

The internet already preserved games pretty much forever, frozen in stone like a Medusa's victims. In fact now you can find new, completely unique versions of your favorite games--you can own the original Dragon Warrior and dozens of different versions of it, maybe one where Charles Barkley is the main character even, just as a random example.

But again, I can see how it could be used as an olive branch to get the industry's ass in line, but realistically its just not true to say this stuff is in risk of being "lost".

Perhaps, if I were to guess, that's kind of the problem I have with retrogamers' persecution complex, personified by RetroThinker himself I guess.

They talk about the "old days" and how they're somehow lost or gone or whatever but that's not true. In fact its the exact opposite, the stuff is not just available but widely available, even for free in many cases. AND with many amenities and additions that didn't exist when this stuff was new. Yet they immediately turn around and presume that someday, everyone will "come to their senses" and forget about Master Chief and return to the cold, neglectful grip of Nintendo.

So which is it retrogamers? Do you want whole chunks of gaming to just disappear, or do you want it to be preserved forever? Or is there some arbitrary cutoff date after which all copies and files containing copies of a game must be purged for the good of future generations who obviously don't know any better since they refuse to play games made before they were born?

If I sound confrontational, I genuinely just find this whole line of thought monstrously hypocritical.

Sylocat said...

@Jannie: But then again, I'm one of those starry eyed "digital future" types who thinks everything is going to be online in a few years anyway,

The storage density of digital media is very high, but it degrades incredibly fast (by the standards of informational storage mediums) and it's all based on assumptions that may not be verified within the next decade. I challenge you to read information with a modern computer from a zip disk, a Jaz drive, a laserdisc, or a ZX Spectrum tape. This stuff is less than fifty years old, but it could easily have degraded to the point of being unreadable, any hardware still available may have become unpluggable and broken, and they use proprietary communication protocols and you have to reverse-engineer the file system (do you know how long it took to get Linux to support NTFS?).

Yeah, "everything" will be online eventually (assuming human civilization doesn't tear itself apart long before then... what was that you said about emigrating to Equestria?), but "online" moves fast. The cloud isn't cut out for long-term storage, so it depends on transferring data to a series of short-term storage media. But all it takes is one sufficiently large blip in the system... a system that is entirely dependent on cheap and constantly-available energy, maintained by a society that is actively resisting any attempt to shift to energy sources that will not wind up destroying the entire world... and oops, it's gone.



The sad part is twenty years from now, I can see fans of Gears and Modern Warfare acting the same way and forming an unholy alliance with Nintendo fanboys to destroy whatever modern gaming innovations appear in that future.

Because that will be so different from how MW fans are acting now.

biomechanical923 said...

@ Jannie

I don't think anybody's saying it's hard to get your hands on any game you want. I think what Bob and some of the commenters are saying is that it's difficult or expensive to obtain some games legally

It's no secret that publishers are adamantly opposed to emulation, regardless of whether or not they intend to do anything with their own IP. This means if there's a rare old game you really want, you can cross your fingers and hope to find it on ebay or at a yard sale, or you can obtain it illegally.

I don't think it's unreasonable for gamers to establish a digital library for the sake of preserving games for future generations.

Publishers can argue that you're "stealing" their IP all they want but they're not interested in benefiting anybody but themselves. Wouldn't it be absurd if book publishers started suing libraries?

Jannie said...


If its hard to get them legally, get them "illegally", if you want to call it that--though personally I'd argue its not even piracy.

Clearly these people do not intend to release these games, so in this case it's not applicable to call it piracy--no product is being stolen sense these games are not being sold, therefore no one would lose money one way or the other. Ergo, emulate the hell out of them.

I mean, not to flaunt my "criminal" activity, but obviously no one else wants them but us so I see no reason not to take them.

Sylocat, all of that may be true, but the fact is that there are so many hackers and crackers and, no offense to anyone, techno nerds out there that I can't see it being a serious problem.

SOMEONE has found a way around everything you just mentioned (except the thinly veiled implication of a Mad Max apocalypse...but still) and I know this because every time some company releases a new kind of DRM within minutes someone finds a way around it--most likely because they've been studying the matter for a while beforehand, I'd imagine.

When you have a community of people with that much time on their hands and that kind of in-depth knowledge of technology, trust me someone will figure it out. At worst, you have to do a lot of Googling and asking around web forums until you find it, at best you'll get an answer the first time you ask on some forum.

And before anyone says that's wishful thinking, take note that, as far as I know, someone has found a way to emulate Tattoo Assassins.

Tattoo Assassins.

Let me repeat that, in case you're thinking you read it wrong:



Somehow I don't think a community THAT dedicated to gaming would let something as important as Dragon Warrior go extinct. At this point I'd be shocked if someone hasn't figured out a way to play all the crappy broken games on Action 52 that were ORIGINALLY unplayable and broken and oh look just as I said that, I typed it in on YouTube and, yes, someone has.

Trust me gaming's history is in good hands, it's safe and sound. If anything the gaming community seems to be populated by hoarders who can't throw anything away no matter how useless it is.

Jannie said...

Another thing is, and this is something that will rankle some people, but maybe some parts of gaming history need to just lie fallow if it IS somehow impossible to update them.

The reality is we're all framing this discussion in the realm of stuff like Dragon Warrior or something, games that are actually important and had a lasting impact and were or are relevant. But as I said, you can find Tattoo Assassins online if you want to.


I mean, I hate to sound crass, but why in Gods name would you even WANT to preserve that? Just because something is part of our history doesn't mean you have to actually have physical copies of it around. The Holocaust was part of our history, we don't keep stoking the fires of the death furnaces because it'd be a shame to let them go out. That's just nonsensical.

Yes it would be tragic if some huge chunk of gaming disappeared but what the ACTUAL likely hood of anything worthwhile disappearing? How many roms of the original Mario games are out there? How many of Sonic, or Contra, or Pong? Games that actually mattered. Games that had something to offer, some that even still do (says the die-hard Sonic fan).

What are the chances that those games, those actual relevant parts of our history, will go away? Practically none. Now its likely that twenty years from now no one will remember, say, Leisure Suit Larry or Izzy the olympic mascot, or Biker Mice From Mars but then what? Who cares if they get lost in the shuffle, those games were shit.

Oh no, the misogynistic douchebag, failed olympic marketing tool, and crappy TMNT ripoff will be forgotten and lost to Lord, well, we'll just have to muddle through somehow without them. I know I'll miss Larry's creepy smile and popped collar, and Izzy's completely unremarkable characterization and ad hoc story, and who can forget Biker Mice From Mars of which I recall nothing save for the fact it had a lot of Snickers ads in it and I think it was also a toyline.

Sorry but maybe some parts of gaming history aren't worth saving. Maybe they'd still be important enough to be profitable on the virtual console or XBLA or whatever IF they had been relevant and well-received in the first place. And I know that sounds horrible but God forbid we actually have some perspective here and admit some of this stuff wasn't worth preserving in the first place.

And anyway, like I said, that's not a problem since you can find all of these games and more "illegally" (even though I'd argue it shouldn't be) online so its a completely irrelevant question if we should re-release these games officially or not...they were only briefly "not released", and have been widely available for years now for free, online.

And if the companies don't like it they can't very well stop it, even SOPA would not have stopped people from just sending the files around on a person-to-person basis and SOPA is dead now so we're in the clear.

In a shocking twist ending: the pirates saved gaming's history, its sad it came to that but in the end everything turned out alright, so whatever, thank God for small miracles and all that.

Jannie said...

Also, let me clarify some things:

First, I AGREE with Bob on most of this, I think frankly he didn't go far enough. If there is some company sitting on a bunch of IPs they clearly never intend to release or release in certain regions, I see no reason at all why NOT to just take them. They either weren't going to come out or were going to not come out there anyway, so the company isn't loosing money and we get to have the game, in the hands of people who give a fuck, so that's literally a victimless crime.

Ideally if a company doesn't produce a new game (or movie or show or comic or whatever) in a franchise every so often the IP should just become public domain, and available to all. That's never going to happen because the entertainment industry is run by assholes, but that's just my view on it.

But even still, all this stuff IS available online, so saying it will somehow be lost is simply not true. I can assure you that Battletoads game is, I have that game myself, for example. Yes I'm one of the twelve Battletoads fans in the world.

But anyway, like I said a lot of the stuff that will, inevitably, get lost in the mists of time probably isn't going to be worth tracking down anyway. Literally, nostalgia is the only reason why some crap like this (and physical media at all, but I digress) even still exists.

And no, you can't use it as a "what not to do list" because that whole idea, that someone can assemble a list of what not to do, is nonsense in any context let alone something like game design. You can't show me a picture of a shitty drawing and suddenly I become Picasso. And even if you could that's not a reason to keep it around, that's just a reason to document what went wrong and avoid best, it's a paragraph in a book, at worst its something so obvious that you shouldn't need to explain why it was a mistake. If someone is making a game, and needs to have what was wrong with Superman 64 explained to them...then that person needs to be fired from your studio.

But, again, none of that matters because EVERY game EVER made, I assure you, still exists out there on the web somewhere. I personally can tell you that there are games out there so incredibly obscure I swear they were never even released commercially, but are now available, infinitely and for free, to anyone with an internet connection.

That in a way is the great lie behind stuff like Steam, the Virtual Console and XBLA...we don't need them. We have all that stuff already. It's called the internet. It was Steam before Steam was Steam, and frankly it works better too.

Paul said...

Is Vizzed legal? If so that solves some problems

awwnuts07 said...

Well, until the game companies get in their head that releasing those back catalogues to future generations is a good thing, there's always the illegal roms floating out there. Not ideal, but practically the only way to play really old, obscure games from the pre-playstation era.

Marcomax said...

@ Jannie

I'm still disappointed that you don't have your own blog. Your comments are about as interesting as the episode. It really feels like your trying to engage in some type of conversation. I put you, Mads and Popcorn Dave in a Tier above most of the other random commentators. You can consider me a fan of all of you.

I can understand the confrontational tone. The whole reason I like Movie Bob's "The Game Overthinker" is because he is an unabashed Nintendo fan on top of being very well spoken. But other people can find it annoying. I didn't really grow up in the "golden age" of gaming but at the same time it doesn't feel like I've adopted modern gaming. I was fully planing to not buy a new gen gaming console period because it felt like I had to get all 3 or none at all. I'm only using a Wii now because my family got it. On the side I've been using my PC for gaming now on top of the Wii.

Wow I was rambling for a while. My point is I like your writing Jannie and I hope you stay as long as you like the show. If we as a community have made you uncomfortable I'm sorry. I don't have any ill will against Halo, COD, Shooters or modern gaming. Everyone has their preferences. I still remember you large breakdown post a while ago and it's stuck with me. I wanted to write this post back then but didn't know how to work my thoughts. I felt like a real ass for liking that episode when it was making you feel unwanted. I don't want that and I have a feeling Movie Bob doesn't either. When he said he was changing the direction of the Retrothinker arc I immediately thought back to you and your stance on retro gaming. I'm not a moderator but I do want to ensure that everyone is enjoying themselves.

Shane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shane said...

Oh, I hate to sound like another butt-hurt fan, but I have to say.

I feel these videos are getting too self-indulgent, specifically how you constantly pause to make little comments here and there in the action itself, and for an extended period after the show. "Retro-Thinker is the new bad guy... I bet you didn't see that coming, huh?" Ugh. I actually don't mind all the story stuff, I just wish you would stop shoving direct commentary into your own videos and just let me fucking watch it.

I guess I should expect a degree of this self-pandering from a man who proclaims himself the ONE MAN to destroy ignorance. Please, quit destroying your own story if you're so proud of it.

Hemu the Cookie Lord said...

Isn't GoG already doing the steam-but-for-classics thing?

Anonymous said...

I'll leave this for Bob

Sam said...

Something else to bring up is how Gamestop is not trading old games from before DS, PS2 or Gamecube anymore. I know there might be legal issues, especially with Sony and Nintendo selling downloadable copies of games from back then, but I still have to shake my head. Unless they sell everything that is and was part of video game history together, then they still need to sell everything that is and was history, especially when there are still great games not available on Virtual Console or PSN.

--Unrelated Topic Time!--
Okay, Bob, I don't know how to email you, so I'll just paste a link to a blog post I wrote here. I thought you'd be interested, but I also want some more attention on Armored Core. Maybe also inspire you to do an episode on overlooked games, like that one game review of that cowboy pig game.

William G. said...

Bob, I think I prefer moving the story heavy stuff to the end of the video. This gives my brain enough time to "switch gears" so to speak and better appreciate each part of the episode.

Keep posting, good buddy!

Dark.One said...

i agree with you saying that companies need to release their old classics. is it nintendo that stops them or is it copyright BS that stops them. i mean who owns battletoads, or double dragon? i believe it was tradewest that had them in their haydays, but now??? on a side note, im super surprised that the Arcade version of ghosts n goblins appeard on the nintendo VC. i believed that more arcade games would come to the VC, but that never happened. theres so many games that need to come out!!!

Mavrickindigo said...

It's a new year, so I thought I would give this show a shot again. Maybe figured you'd grow up and top playing dress up and go back to when you were good (pre Anti-thinker saga). But I read the whole post, saw the "previously on" segment at the beginning of the vid, and closed the window.

Oh well, I guess better luck next year

Philipp said...

Hello GameOverthinker, greetings from the freezing Germany!

You did a very entertaining video on a good topic, thank you very much!

I do agree with your idea to share the value (and worth) of nearly 30 years of game development with the world.

There is a big "but" (and i cannot lie, other gamers might deny): The more and more this game get publish, the less they are taken seriously, old cartrides are tossed away as outdated and even more things get lost due to minor tweaks, changes and censoring besides the publisher. An example is "Ocrina of Time half moon replaced".


When i worked as a teacher I recalled pupils talking about bad rehashes of Earthworm Jim, Sonic, Mega Man on their cellphones, all the glory cramped down in a little, sluggish screens ruining most of the old style, mechanics and so on. Most of the melodies were missing, everything was kind of misplaced. But with the name of our heroes on it.


I once brought "Metal Slug collection" to school for them to see and Sonic Mega Collection (on Wii/GC) and they said: "Just old shitty games, controls dont work".
-And the were right. This port looks awfully pixelated and blurry, they were laggy and did not feel right.So, ports are not always a good way to go.They put games out of frame to compete on the same screen as later HD renditions.


With these kind of collections I brought 25+ games on 2 discs (genesis collection , steam etc.are much more) and none was taken seriously, because of the sheer mass you gain for little money. I remember paying 50 DM (=$25) for Sonic 2. Now it is down to not even $2 on steam. I guess with a gem so cheap, less and less people will care for individual programmings, much is lost in some kind of bargain bin. If you paid full price (time does not matter) you wanted the game to be completed.


There is a new trend of having "everything" or "as much as possible" in the gaming market wich exploits the games, customers and collectors alike: Many gamers want to have as many games in ther "list" as possible, steam lists go up to 200+ games with only little of them ever checked for more than 1 hour: But the game still counts as "sold". That can lead to a misconsuption it was actually good and be produced more upon...steam sale is a festival of cutting games worth-people buying without sense, because it is cheap.Many games get cut so fast and so brutally (like Just Cause 2 - $13 in 2010) noone appreciates the console versions that much.

Some kind of "frame" for the medium would make sense, like a notice "game best played on CRT with steroe sound"...

VJeff said...

I expect to be disappointed on this, but I'm holding out hope that Sonic Generations will play a part in the culmination of this "arc".

Sylocat said...

I don't think the apocalypse is going to be a Mad Max-style one so much as a Rifters Trilogy-style one.

In 2008, a boat anchor severed four underwater cables and cut communications capacity between Europe, the Middle East, and India, by seventy-five percent. And the internet traffic is still doubling every five years, with many free sites switching to paywalls because they can't make money off ads anymore (thanks to people wanting everything without wanting to pay for it... gee, how shocking).

Popcorn Dave said...

Thanks for the shout-out, Marcomax. I'd totally read Jannie's blog too.

Jannie (sorry for the late reply, been busy lately), if no-one preserves the bad games, how will you be able to show people that the retro era was overrated?

I think it's valuable for people to have a comprehensive overview of a medium beyond just the usual gallery of classics. To know how important Mario was, you have to know how many games tried to rip it off, and so on. It's not so much about "keeping them alive" as it is about preserving an accurate picture of the medium. To borrow an example from an article in one of the comments, Hotel Mario might be a bucket of old poo, but if Nintendo only show us Mario 3 over and over they're painting an inaccurate picture.

You're right that none of what Bob's saying really matters when we can get anything we want for free anyway, but I have my reservations about assuming things will continue into the future. We don't know how much of the emulation scene will survive the transition to the cloud - how do you copy a game when it's not even on your computer in the first place? Maybe emulation and abandonware will carry on just fine, maybe not, I guess I'd just like to be on the safe side. Also, if the preservation of the medium is left to hobbyists, they will, by definition, stop doing it when it stops being interesting, and ten years from now people might just not be interested enough to maintain those nice, simple rom sites that we love so much.

Generally, I think the major 8 and 16-bit consoles will be okay as the files are so tiny and the systems so basic; I'm more bothered about the PS1 era. N64 emulation is still flawed in my experience, but the bigger issue is that due to the large files, games from that generation are getting caught in the crossfire between filesharers and media companies. How many PS1 games were on MegaUpload? Yes, yes, those companies will never STOP filesharing but they can make it damn difficult, and if it's not popular enough to have a lot of seeds on BitTorrent, difficult is as good as impossible.

The anonymous bloke above is right to say that comparing this to the lost works of Homer and the Library of Alexandria is rather overstating it, but given the relatively small effort involved it's a shame more companies don't just open their vaults.

As I said above, though, I don't think the business case is there outside of the classics. Nerds have a bad habit of thinking that the general audience wants the same things they do, and although many people say they'd "happily pay" for such-and-such, you have to wonder how many people are really going to pay for something they already downloaded for free. Maybe if takes off we'll start to see a wider selection appear, and hopefully it'll be in a less restrictive way than XLBA and the VC are doing things, although I don't think it'll ever be as comprehensive as people like Bob would like.

UpgradeJ said...

Graham said...

It looks like someone IS opening the vault!

An unfinished Atari 2600 game was recently uncovered and is going to be released to the public for the first time in 30 years.

Anonymous said...

Definitely, invest in some gloves. They make all the difference. If you want to push the black lantern/necron spoof a little more consider turning the sword into a scythe. Maybe a scythe version of what this kid has. Just some suggestions for no particular reason.

counterpoint said...

I agree with your point broadly, however, I don't think specifically your analogy quite holds up.

Shakespeare/Beethoven/Citizen Kane = Mario, Sonic,The original Final Fantasy. These games are, for the most part, quite available. True, there are examples of classics like Dragon Warrior I that may not be, but in generally the behemoths are accessible.

History remembers the Shakespeares, etc., but there are many, many more contemporary artists of his time that we have forgot. Some of them were probably excellent. Similarly, the vast majority of the games of our time and the twenty years before us will disappear, and a few iconic titles will be remembers as embodying the "era" as a whole. Truthfully, this is actually good for the future student - it's enough time reading just shakespeare, let alonetons of his contemporaries, without ignoring the new writing of OUR time. Thus, I think largely the game companies will/are preserving the stuff that NEEDS to be preserved. People are understandably upset that EVERYTHING isn't accessible, but in the future - when this is truly "history - is it really a problem that "Herman's Head" isn't available to view for the non-historian?

As an (musical) artist myself, I'd love to make the history books, but chiefly my role is to exert my sensibilities on the culture of MY time. If I'm lucky enough to be i the history books, great, but I need to worry about the here and now if I'm going to be relevant.

So yeah, I agree, but am not sure the problem truly exists as much as you are indicating.