Let the games begin

by Celina Bledowska, on 13 June 2022

Senior software engineer and video game modder and archivist, Codie Stella knows a thing or two about raising the dead. No, we’re not discussing ghouls 👻, Codie Stella is a game resurrectionist.

Passion for programming

Codie Stella started making addons for Garry’s Mod in their teens and realised that they really enjoyed doing this. A web & game dev, 3 years B-Tech course, at Peterborough regional college followed. Having graduated they pursued a four year degree course, at UEA, an integrated Masters in computing, where they were introduced to neuro-imaging and machine learning with a practical application that can be used in the field of Alzheimer’s research. This work involved the use of more cost effective MRI scans rather than the more expensive PET scans.

Bringing games back to life

Seven years ago fans of the Halo game, specifically Halo 3, attempted to convert the game from Xbox 360 to PC and CodieStella became involved in this project. Minecraft, too, is one of Codie’s interests. “It’s a game that’s been around for 12 years, it’s a game that’s hugely popular and over its life it has changed dramatically. Comparing the early versions to those that exist today, you’ll see that these are almost two totally different games.”

Codie Stella went on to explain that what they like is that people can relive the experiences that were enjoyed when first playing the early version. Codie Stella started playing Minecraft in 2011 - when Minecraft was still in a Beta phase. Restoring the old versions has become something of a passion.

Abandoned games

Team Fortress 2 (TF2) has a massive following, it was released in 2007 and the game is still immensely popular, as Codie Stella says, “the game developers have all but abandoned it but people still want to play the game.” This is the time for community action. Codie Stella added:

When the community can step in and support these old games that the developers no longer wish to support, this shows passion for the game and allows devotees to keep it going.

Most recently Codie Stella’s work on Halo3 and working on the Xbox 360 “has been a bit of a challenge.”

Keeping game devs happy

In terms of people like Codie Stella and the community stepping in where game devs no longer tread, “it’s an interesting area.” Minecraft developers encourage modding and even hire modders. They even release the source code of every update. Sadly, should you touch anything Nintendo related you might get more than you bargained for. The company will “tell you to stop immediately, they do not like modders.”

To some extent, Codie Stella understands why this might be so. “There are bad ways to do it [modding] and some people have stolen code and this might be why some companies are guarded.” When game developers open themselves up to modding that can be both good and bad. “But the companies can gain from the modders’ interest in a specific game.” Legally, the whole area is grey and precedents are still being set.

To find out how you can take part in video game preservation to resurrect your favourites, and hear about hacking comparisons come and listen to Codie’s fascinating talk at 13.45 on 16 June.

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