‘Impossible’ Port Master Randy Linden Talks Jurassic Park, BOTW, And His Favourite Ports

Header: Porting as a Creative Process in Gaming

Porting in gaming is often seen as just a tool for a different creator, but philosophically, it’s fascinating to consider it as a creative process. The job of a port is to faithfully reproduce the intent of the original experience as much as possible and sometimes, this means making improvements to the game when running on newer systems with different frame rates. However, the preservation of games is a critical aspect that porting should prioritize. In an interview, a game developer working on a Jurassic Park retro-collection re-release for modern systems discusses their involvement with gaming preservation in general.

Header: Working Toward Gaming Preservation

The game developer is currently part of the Carbon Engine team, which focuses on preserving older retro games. They combine emulators with retro games and produce physical versions of these games to ensure their preservation. For example, they have collaborated with Limited Run on a Jurassic Park collection, which features a series of games from different older systems, now playable on platforms like Switch, PlayStation, and Xbox.

Header: The Process of Porting Retro Games

The game developer explains that they work directly with the intellectual property holders of the original games. They handle all the licensing and legal arrangements to ensure everything is taken care of, and then license and publish the games. The process involves using the Carbon Engine, a set of emulators, and modifying the ROMs to remove any logos or copyright messages that may no longer be applicable due to the absence of the original developers or license holders.

Header: Maintaining Communication with Original Coders

In some cases, the game developer is in contact with the original coders of the retro games they work on. The interview mentions examples where the original coder of a game like Worms: Armageddon reached out to them. These interactions allow them to collaborate and find ways to make the games compatible with modern systems.

Header: The Challenge of Programming for Older Systems

Programming for older systems like the Super NES requires specific knowledge and skills. The game developer emphasizes that this knowledge is not passed down easily from generation to generation, as the technology evolves rapidly. However, they mention a few individuals, including programmers from Limited Run, who possess the necessary expertise in working with various older systems.

Header: Constraints as a Source of Creativity

The interview explores the idea that constraints can lead to increased creativity. The game developer agrees, highlighting how the limitations of older systems drove unique game designs and playability. They mention the example of Mario’s iconic appearance being inspired by the graphics limitations of the time.

Header: Exciting Future Projects and the Relevance of Systems

The game developer mentions their ongoing work on Jurassic Park and other games using the Carbon engine. Although they can’t disclose specific details, they express excitement about challenging technical projects. They also anticipate a future where the systems themselves become less relevant, similar to how DVDs or Blu-rays can be played on any compatible player.

Footer: The Evolution of Porting Modern-Day Games

The interview touches on the challenges of porting modern-day games to different hardware. The game developer predicts a point where systems become less relevant, and there’s a common ground for portability, regardless of the manufacturer. They believe that the industry has reached a stage where the focus is less on pushing technical limitations and more on creating enjoyable gaming experiences.