February 13th was a sad day for gaming - the wonderful, brilliant, amazing library of video game knowledge and excitement known as "Home of the Underdogs" went down - probably for good. For the last year, downloads were unbearably slow, and word has it that the webhost actually filed bankruptcy. The heroic Sarinee Achavanuntakul has seemingly not been involved for the last few years. Wikipedia links us to this twitter feed with no details.
Seriously, why is that allowed to happen? Are there not enough people globally that would donate a few bucks a year to keep a resource like this alive? I know I would gladly pay probably 100 bucks if I thought it would save that site, maybe more. You may say, "Oh, well there are lots of abandonware sites out there." Not the same. None of them (that I know of - if I'm wrong please link me) have the same level of insight, discovering not just old games but independent games, treating all games equally and judging them by their own merits. I learned so much about video games from that site, I dare say that I would not be the same person if I had not discovered it.
Someone said on a forum regarding the site's death:
I just wish the Sarinee would have allowed community leaders to take over administration of the archive, instead of abandoning it with little communication about future intentions.
Well... Someone should take the site over. Surely the database is still somewhere. If someone active with a lot of time on their hands (and who didn't treat old games like they are second class) began updating it again, I think it could be huge and certainly make money.
Either way... Thank you, Home of the Underdogs!
I wrote a passionate email to Sarinee last night after making this post, and she responded, clearing up some issues and providing some hope to us HOTU fans:
"The main reason HOTU went down is that our webhost filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy sometime last week. I got an e-mail warning only about 6 hours ahead of time so I wasn't really able to recover anything. The good news is that there *is* some discussion about reviving the site; I've had several offers already from people who are determined and are in the position to help (e.g. a game preservation group who has access to university grants for this kind of project). Plus I do have all reviews in one huge Excel file which should be relatively easy to transfer to SQL or similar database, and I have seen HOTU games packaged neatly into torrents around the web.
I'll post an entry on my personal blog (www.fringer.org) sometime soon to explain what's being done, how people can help etc. Rest assured that HOTU will one day return, probably in some Wiki-fied form so that people can contribute and fix outdated info more easily than before."