They lost the source code to what!?

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Tain

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#1
I've seen posts all over GAF over the years talking about how some (almost always Japanese) developer lost the source code to their old game.

R-Type III, when ported to the GBA? The original code wasn't around, so the port wound up blowing.

Sonic the Hedgehog apparently had a similar situation for its GBA port, as well.

Taito lost Bubble Bobble's source code in 1996, I've heard.

Any other stories?

Not gonna lie; a friend of mine is writing a paper on this, and any sources would be hugely helpful. Especially for that Sonic the Hedgehog one. Thanks.
 

Raging Spaniard

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#2
Isnt the source doe for that Panzer Dragoon RPG for the Saturn lost as well? I think I remember reading something about that, I might be wrong though (couldave been that due to the Saturn's infrastructure, the code would be extremely hard to compile on other systems)
 
Jun 2, 2008
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#11
Toys for Bob lost the source code to Star Control II for DOS. Thankfully they did manage to have the 3DO source code, which ended up going open source and the community ended up making a superior game to the DOS version by combining all of the features from both versions.
 

ausoff2

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#12
I've heard all these rumors of the source code being lost, but does anyone have any sources to cite? I'd be interested to read up on exactly what effect that's had on the industry. Certainly an interesting topic.
 
Jun 10, 2007
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#13
shagg_187 said:
Don't know much about lost source codes. The only thing I know of was that Neversoft wasn't provided source code to Guitar Hero II when they were making Guitar Hero III.
Yep, Harmonix got to keep it as part of their agreement with Red Octane/Activision.
 
Mar 3, 2008
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#21
EmCeeGramr said:
Isn't the whole "OOPS WE LOST THE SOURCE CODE" excuse a pretty weak one anyway? Can't they just use a working copy or ROM and work backwards?
Not really no (deassembling optimized compiled code is a horrible mess).
 

Tain

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#22
Isn't the whole "OOPS WE LOST THE SOURCE CODE" excuse a pretty weak one anyway? Can't they just use a working copy or ROM and work backwards?
That's actually a bit of my fascination with it: what cases do they have the source and work off of it, and what cases do they use emulation?

Certainly there are plenty of cases where emulation's easier for simple "porting" (in the sense that the game will run on another platform), but it sometimes sounds like they have no choice.
 
Jun 6, 2004
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#24
Magic Knight Rayearth on Saturn had similar problems when they brought it over to the states.

Isn't the whole "OOPS WE LOST THE SOURCE CODE" excuse a pretty weak one anyway? Can't they just use a working copy or ROM and work backwards?
No.
 

Fersis

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#26
Thanks to a stupid dude i lost more than 10.000 lines of code
After that i didn't write any code for two years
 
Jun 25, 2005
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#29
Heh, I figured that "working backwards" wasn't really a good solution, but okay. :lol

I guess that explains why two of the bad ports Tain mentioned are portable: the GBA couldn't run a full-speed Genesis emulator.
 

soco

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#31
EmCeeGramr said:
Isn't the whole "OOPS WE LOST THE SOURCE CODE" excuse a pretty weak one anyway? Can't they just use a working copy or ROM and work backwards?
it is possible, but that's incredibly time-consuming. the issue isn't always the actual code itself but isolating tables and the comments and such. you've also got code that generates other code, unpacks itself, and decodes sections. it's even more difficult to disasm this when you have a system architecture that involves pages, such as the TG16, whereby a jump to a specific page and location could be any where, and older developers often exploit this and just swap out the pages based on certain occasions.
 

grandjedi6

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#32
Tain said:
Sonic the Hedgehog apparently had a similar situation for its GBA port, as well.
Are you sure about that? They've ported and remade the game enough times elsewhere that I severly doubt that claim. And even then it wouldn't really explain the shittyness of the GBA port.
 
Jun 4, 2006
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#33
Hero of Legend said:
Did Sega really lose the code for Sonic 1? Considering that the Mega Collection and VC versions are practically perfect aren't they? Well... I never played the original on a Genesis anyway, so I wouldn't know. :p
They are roms of the old games, emulated.
 
Jun 7, 2004
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#38
The source code to the Famicom version of Final Fantasy III (not the U.S. FFVI) is said to have been lost, hence a port was never fulfilled despite being announced on the Wonderswan previously.

Instead, a 3D remake was created.
 
Jun 25, 2005
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#39
soco said:
it is possible, but that's incredibly time-consuming. the issue isn't always the actual code itself but isolating tables and the comments and such. you've also got code that generates other code, unpacks itself, and decodes sections. it's even more difficult to disasm this when you have a system architecture that involves pages, such as the TG16, whereby a jump to a specific page and location could be any where, and older developers often exploit this and just swap out the pages based on certain occasions.
yeah but these are game developers we're talking about, just crack the whip and promise you'll give 'em a sandwich when they finish
 

oBa

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#41
Sega losing source code is an understatement, they in most cases never keep it. At a previous company I worked for, Sega had contracted us to do a pack of their retro titles. When asked for the source code for the titles (approximately 75 genesis and sms titles) Sega responded with "we don't have source code for any of those projects". and even better they suggested we "go out on the internet and download the roms from various rom sites".
 
Jun 8, 2004
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#42
Final Fantasy III was originally planned to be ported to Wonderswan after Final Fantasy I and II, but when they got around to it they couldn't find the source code, so they had to port Final Fantasy IV instead.
 
Aug 1, 2004
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#43
Video assets are a completely different thing. I can see those being lost, easy. But code? VERY hard to 'lose.' It does happen, but not on finished products, usually. More likely you'd lose an old build or something. Every programmer should have the entire code base on his machine anyway.
 
Oct 28, 2007
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#44
Tain said:
Not at all. That's why I'm curious about sources, for that one more than anything.
I don't know if sega "lost" the source code for their older games like Sonic, but I do know that the PC releases of those megapacks that each had like 6 games were emulated. That said, if I was going to release some old ass games on a PC that was way overpowered compared to my original system I would have probably emulated them as well, so I don't think that you could just say the code was lost since it was emulated.
 
Oct 15, 2006
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#45
Hero of Legend said:
THAT was due to the whole thing about the credits being recorded, so they couldn't remove Clover's logo. That I'm positive about.
Such a lame excuse. They could have just covered the Clover logo, instead they remove the entire credits (and song).
 

soco

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#46
EmCeeGramr said:
yeah but these are game developers we're talking about, just crack the whip and promise you'll give 'em a sandwich when they finish
a sandwich isn't enough to get me motivated to do that.

i've had to do it a few times for other things and it's the biggest pain in the ass you can imagine, especially when you're working in a seriously of tight nests of the code. i have pages of assembly i've went through and documented to understand what sections were trying to do.

chances are in most cases i could rewrite a similar game faster than reconstructing the source code.
 
Jun 25, 2005
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#49
soco said:
chances are in most cases i could rewrite a similar game faster than reconstructing the source code.
That's another thing I was wondering. In the case of many older games (the ones which are most likely to have had their source code lost), wouldn't it be relatively easy and simple with today's technology to just rewrite them using the finished game and other materials as reference?

I can see the problem with something like FFIII, because that's an RPG. But Sonic and R-Type? Platformer and scrolling shooter ROM hacks and clones made in Flash are made by the dozens.
 
Jun 8, 2004
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#50
M3wThr33 said:
Video assets are a completely different thing. I can see those being lost, easy. But code? VERY hard to 'lose.' It does happen, but not on finished products, usually. More likely you'd lose an old build or something. Every programmer should have the entire code base on his machine anyway.
And when that hard drive crashes?
Most people, including businesses, didn't know the value of backups until this last decade. A lot of early stuff has been lost forever.

Actually, it's not been mentioned in this thread yet, but Southend said they had to reverse engineer R-Type I and II for the new XBLA game, as Irem don't have the source code anymore.
 
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