RetroCollect Video Game Database Preview: Scope

VideoGameDatabasePreviewScope

Our video game database is being modernized on a big scale and this preview series is your chance to get a sneak peek. Today we'll be looking at the broadened scope of the new database.

If you haven't yet, we recommend you read the introductory post to this series. You might also want to check out previous preview posts.

With our video game database, we always wanted to be as inclusive as reasonably possible. However, there were some limits as to what we could and did store in our current database. We are removing a lot of those limits with the redesign, and this post highlights some of those changes.

Platforms

Back in 2010 we started our database with console games only, but we added handheld titles quickly. Our goal has always been to include every video game made though, and our current database design actually supports any kind of platform. However, there were some limitations to this support which meant that we did not actually add e.g. computer games. This will change. The new design fully supports any kind of video game platform or type, be it (micro-)computer games, arcade games, dedicated (LCD) handheld games, browser games or mobile apps. In the past, we always added platforms by adding the full release database for that platform at once. This approach doesn't make sense with these kinds of platforms though, so we will be changing to a classic "add games one by one" approach. You'll be pleased to hear that this also means that you will be able to add games yourself (more on this in another preview).

Modern Games

Not only will we be supporting new types of video game platforms, the fact that games can now be added one by one also allows us to support modern platforms and releases right away. Yesterday's latest PS4 release is missing? No problem, just add it! Don't worry though if you're only interested in retro gaming, there'll be no disadvantages for you. We will still focus our data completion efforts on the oldest games in the database.

Release Types

Okay, so all platforms are now in, but what about different types of game releases? What about demos, prototypes, mods, hacks, fan translations, unreleased games, total conversions, add-ons, expansion packs, DLC, emulated re-releases? Will you be able to add and properly track all of these things? Why yes, you will!

Preservation Efforts

There are other ways than just more different games in which the scope of our database will be expanding. One exciting new feature we're working on is the possibility to store information about various game preservation initiatives out there. You can store if and by which preservation group every game medium in our database has been preserved. Data like this will allow easily checking whether your personal copy still needs to preserved and which items in general haven't been preserved yet or not in an ideal way. We've always been very interested in video game preservation (which is why we co-founded EFGAMP) and hope this will further advance preservation efforts.

Proper Credits

One area that has been clearly been neglected in our database so far is credits. Who worked on a game, and what did they do? Right now we mostly track companies. While we have added new aspects in that area too, it's the personal credits which truly represent a step forward. The new design allows storing who did what under which name, where they have been credited for this involvement (e.g. manual, in-game credits and source code) and more. Lots of you have been asking for this, so we're sure this will see lots of use.

System Requirements

With the addition of computer platforms, system requirements become an essential part of a game's profile. Unfortunately, every database out there has severe problems storing system requirements in a meaningful way that allows proper filtering, searching and comparing. We are happy to say this area has received lots of attention in our design process. As such, you can expect very detailed support for all kinds of requirements (CPU, RAM, peripherals, runtimes, operating systems, you name it) as well as support for peripherals or technologies (be it 3dfx Glide, the Roland MT-32, a Super Scope or a Game Boy Link Cable). This works on version level, which means you'll be able to see that e.g. the original release did not support a certain sound card, but a re-release does - or a patched release! (Yes, full support of patches is coming...). This is also true for tracking supported graphics modes, which are fully modeled including resolution, supported colors, pixel aspect ratios and more.

Magazine Reviews

Finally, let's take a look at game reviews. We have always supported magazine review scores, but we'll be expanding this support significantly. The new design properly stores magazines and their issues, with a link to all contained reviews. Reviews will list reviewers and properly state which port/version of a game was rated. On top of that, we'll also be supporting other review sources like websites. And probably best of all, there'll be review score aggregation as well.


Last Updated ( 28 August 2016 )  

Comments 

(Link to this comment) LaundroMat 2016-08-28 13:49
Great work! Will the database be opened up to third parties who wish to use the data too?
(Link to this comment) hydr0x 2016-09-17 07:48
We definitely have plans for an API, yes.
(Link to this comment) Wizbiscuit 2016-08-31 08:11
excellent stuff indeed...
(Link to this comment) Celsius 2016-08-31 15:54
recently made a Mega Drive list with all the review scores of uk, german and dutch magazines I have/could find...took me 2 months. Also started with french magazines and a 32x reviews list.
(Link to this comment) fandenivoldsk 2016-09-01 15:11
Will the database also support hardware, or is it software only?
(Link to this comment) hydr0x 2016-09-17 07:51
Quoting fandenivoldsk:
Will the database also support hardware, or is it software only?


Yes and no. We will have data about systems, their variants and boxed releases, as well as peripherals. But, initially, there will be no collecting tracking feature for these, sorry.
(Link to this comment) Jones 2016-09-01 19:42
If you can add games that are missing what is going to stop the countless variations on peoples spelling etc? Like capitilization, (Final Fantasy /final fantasy) ? games with numbers wrote differently ( Final Fantasy 7 vs Final Fantasy VII ) etc. This could be a massive pain in the ass when it comes to looking up titles.
(Link to this comment) Faalagorn 2016-09-04 23:14
MobyGames have a list of Alternative Titles, which also includes other languages, transliteration s and informal titles (like shortenings). Wikipedia uses disambiguations . While I'm not sure if maintaining these wouldn't be too much hassle, storing alternative names would be one solution to it.
(Link to this comment) hydr0x 2016-09-17 08:18
Quoting Jones:
If you can add games that are missing what is going to stop the countless variations on peoples spelling etc? Like capitilization, (Final Fantasy /final fantasy) ? games with numbers wrote differently ( Final Fantasy 7 vs Final Fantasy VII ) etc. This could be a massive pain in the ass when it comes to looking up titles.


We'll detail the process in another post, but there will be a multi-layered user level system. At first, all your submissions will be screened by selected staff before actually being added.
(Link to this comment) Faalagorn 2016-09-04 23:09
I'm glad to see computer games being added to RetroCollect, finally I will be able to categorize my huge collection someday :).
However, I have question related to RC scope: with all the additions, what makes it different from MobyGames? I'm seeing it's following the same approach with preservation, albeit maybe a bit more focused on collecting approach. I also kinda liked the fact that with heavily moderated game list, it RetroCollect was quite authoritive source on how many (unique) games were released on the system - hopefully with the addition of incomplete platforms it won't lose that aspects, just how using MobyGames for this matter is quite harsh.
(Link to this comment) hydr0x 2016-09-17 08:28
Actually, our broad goal has always been similar to MobyGames, we just didn't go as much in that direction as we had planned before. There are various reasons why we think our database needs to exist despite being similar to MobyGames. One core aspect of this is their deeply flawed core data model, which means they will never be able to accurately track certain game/version relations. I might write a full preview post on this topic, we'll see.

Don't worry though, the authoritative source aspect will still be there. You will be able to see which systems have 100% coverage, you will also be able to see if a specific game's physical existence has been verified. On top of that, it will be possible to save a "source" (document, scan, photo, text, link....) for every piece of data.
(Link to this comment) Bestboy7851 2016-09-15 14:23
So The Elder Scrolls III Morrowind GotY release on Xbox will be added? Cool.
I've been waiting for the day that it would happen. I've had it in my collection for nearly or over a year.
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