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Favourite PC game of my youth

Around 1993 Bullfrog studios released a game guarenteed to win the hearts and minds of troubled youth such as myself. This game was Syndicate and it got us computer geeks thinking about how evil corporations are long before it was hip (not that we'd know about it if it was hip I guess).

Here's a video of the intro sequence and a low resolution, no sound version. If you have the hardware to run it on, or the emulation skills, here's the actual game.

This game is a part of our culture. It was the first time you could sit down at your PC and play the role of the bad guy. I think it is such a shame that software like this is left to rot. If Bullfrog were to tell us how to decode the data files in this game we might have a chance of writing an implementation for win xp or linux (or whatever the next platform is that we'll all be running). To get these videos I used msdos running under vmware.

Special thanks to "Erik" for supplying me with an mp3 of the intro music. He tells me you can use DosBox (with a frontend) to emulate an environment that will run Syndicate quite well (even with sound). Settings to use: cycles=10000, sblaster=true, xms=false, ems=false, core=normal, machine=svga. But you might have to tweak these. You should check out this site for more sounds and other great stuff.

In other news, I've been contributing some code to the FreeSynd project which aims to rewrite the game for modern platforms using the original data files. We've had to reverse engineer the file formats as no information has been forthcoming from Bullfrog. I recently received some information about the AIL sound system used by Syndicate. This could be helpful in adding sound to FreeSynd. Also, I've written a version of dernc for linux based on the FreeSynd code, that some people might find useful.

Out of interest I looked up the copyright registration of Syndicate. The claimant is Bullfrog Productions but everyone tells me that EA actually holds the copyright now. I've had a lawyer tell me that the copyright may have returned to the original authors though, as the uk has curious laws that allow that. It'd be nice to get a disclaimer of copyright from everyone who might have a claim over it, just so we can legally distribute the game, but as long as no-one is trying to sue me I don't think I'll rock the boat.


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