from the fan-friendly dept
We've made the argument for some time that a product, service, or company's fans and community are an asset not to be trifled with. If a community is embraced and the company is awesome, the results can be so beneficial as to be downright heartwarming (hattip to our own community, for always impressing me). This can manifest in a multitude of ways, from free and massive promotion to the community actually helping to make the end-product better.
It's that second example that is most apropros for this story. Let me introduce Peter Thorman, who also goes by the handle Durante on the interwebz. Who is he? Well, he's the fan who fixes crappy console-to-PC ports, improving the fan experience. And he does it for free, because he's a fan.
When Rising Star Games released Deadly Premonition: The Director's Cut for the PC last month, the port of the Twin Peaks-esque cult favorite horror game had some serious issues. Chief among them was the fact that the game's resolution was, highly atypically for a PC game, locked to 720p. The outcry was immediate and vocal.And he did, in a way that would be impressive in general but is all the more so considering he had to reverse engineer everything without access to the source code.
But in spite of their outrage, many users expressed hope for a savior to come to their aid. "You on it, Durante?" asked one user. Like a Batsignal, the call was out.
The answer came less than an hour later. "I should be able to fix this."
The original port on the left, with Durante's patch applied on the right
As it turns out, Thornton has done this for many PC ports and has become something of a legend to gamers. As I mentioned before, this isn't something Thorman is paid to do. He does it because he's a fan of the game, interested in coding and computer science, and generally seems like an awesome guy. But if you're looking for his prime motivating factor for putting in what amounted to 70 hours worth of work:
"My primary motivation," Thoman said, "is because I don't like playing games at low resolution."You're welcome, everyone else that wants to play the PC version of the game. Here's where this gets really fun: how many people kept the game instead of returning it, or decided to buy the game after finding out the now-famous Durante had released a patch for the game that made it better? It's impossible to know the answer to those questions, but surely there was some impact. The developers of the game had said they'd release a patch as a fix as well, but that the resolution of the game was way down the priority list, leaving fans for whom that was a major factor out in the cold. Until Durante stepped in. They probably owe him a big fat thank you, at the very least. In fact, some fans of Thorman's have suggested he offer his work to companies as a paid service, but he insists it's just a hobby.
"I do this for fun," he said. "The more you do it as work, the less it will seem like fun."And the game companies benefit. Who says free never did anyone any good? Meanwhile, this ought to be a lesson to every producer out there on just how big an asset their fans and communities can be.