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Home of the Underdogs FAQ

Last updated on August 6, 2004

Comments, questions, etc. about Home of the Underdogs or this FAQ should be directed to the webmaster.

The following document is a list of Frequently-Asked Questions (and their answers) regarding Home of the Underdogs (http://www.the-underdogs.info/), a non-profit site devoted to the preservation underrated PC games. (Home of the Underdogs and all pertinent materials therein are Copyright 1998-2000, Home of the Underdogs.)

This FAQ is meant to be address questions we typically get via e-mail, as well as give an in-depth explanations of design goals and features of the site as well as its philosophy. There is also considerable cross-references within the FAQ itself, due to the integrated nature of the site. Therefore, please read it to the end before you contact us. We will not answer your e-mail if the questions you ask are already covered in this FAQ.

First Important Note: If you use Windows XP and have little or no knowledge of DOS games, bill22's wonderful Guide to running old DOS/Windows games on Windows XP is a highly recommended first read. In this comprehensive guide, bill22 will show you not only how to run DOS or older Windows games on your system, but also useful tips and techniques to run them well, with sounds and the right speed.

Second Important Note: If you have game-specific technical questions that this FAQ doesn't address, check out the HOTU Tech Help - a great site created and maintainde by Jefe Picaro. If you have questions about the HOTU Store, please read store FAQ instead.

Also, if you just want to know what file extension (e.g. *.RAR) means and how to deal with them, read our handy Guide to File Extension first.

Select one of the above links to jump to that section or question.


Design Goals

What is Home of the Underdogs?

Home of the Underdogs (HOTU) is a museum of PC game underdogs-- games that were underrated and/or undersold when they were released. We believe that only by paying tribute to them (and distributing them if they were discontinued by their publishers) can the memories of these overlooked titles be preserved in the gaming community. Our aim is akin to Project Gutenberg, a vast archive that aims to make books and information available in electronic format to the public at no charge. As we consider HOTU a museum, so do we consider ourselves historians. (For copyright issues, we cover that later in this FAQ).

It's also designed for our visitors to get lost in (in the positive sense of the word).. to be overwhelmed with huge doses of nostalgia, and to be inspired to play these games again or try them out if you missed them the first time around. This is why we concentrate on the content -- Don't think of HOTU as a giant repertoire of games (although it now is, to our amazement); think of it has a cozy place you can come at any time to relive your childhood, discover some new ones, and meet fellow oldies lovers in this little community. You'll get the most from the site if you browse games one by one, read our reviews, check out related links and cross-references for each, and most importantly, play the games. You'll get much more enjoyment than if you simply rush to download everything in sight, only to hoard them on your hard drive or CD-R and never look at them again. Take the time to smell the roses :)

In addition to keeping the games' memories alive with informative reviews and downloads, we also aim to make HOTU as nostalgic and content-rich as possible. For every game on the site, you can rate it and check out other games we think you may enjoy, in the "If you like this game, try..." box. Many games are also classified as one or more theme(s), which you can click on for the theme's definition and a list of games in that theme. Moreover, the majority of games contain links to one or more of the following: manual, FAQ, hints, fan sites, and related links.

HOTU is also similar to MobyGames (our greatest inspiration for this design) in that the site is designed around a completely cross-referenced database, allowing practically anything you see on-screen to be a link or query to more information. Using the game sheet for "Circuit's Edge" as an example, let's say you want to play more games by the same company. Just click on the developer's name (Westwood Studios) and a new sheet comes up with company profile and a list of all games that Westwood developed. You can then click any of those games, and their info sheets come up, on and on ad infinitum. If you are interested in its contemporaries, clicking on "1990" in the "Year" box yields another query results page that lists all 1990 games that are on the site (this is the same result as choosing "1990" in the "By Year" drop-down menu in the left navigation bar). Furthermore, putting all game entries in a database allows us to create useful queries that are updated automatically. For instance, you can view a list of all Top Dogs in any genre by clicking on "Top Dog" tag. If you want to see top games from the perspective of our visitors instead, you can view them by clicking on either "by download frequency", or "by user rating" link next to genre header box.

What is the Scratchware Manifesto I see on the left menu bar?

The Scratchware Manifesto is a statement of purpose written by several designers who are dismayed with the state of today's gaming industry. Like us, the authors of the manifesto long for the golden days of PC gaming, when games were more original and fun to play than today's hordes of mundane, "me-too" titles marketed by businessmen who abhors risking the corporate purse strings on innovative but unproven titles. We long for the days when designers were treated as "artistes" of their medium, entrepreneurial pioneers who worked without the fears of not meeting a Christmas deadline or making games that aren't compatible with 3D cards. We hope that games featured on this site will help inspired a new generation of game designers to reach back into the past and rediscover what great games are truly made of. We are honored to host the Manifesto, which will be updated by the author as time permits-- or hopefully when the industry changes for the better ;) We encourage everyone to read it and spread the word around.

What gaming platforms and time periods are covered by Home of the Underdogs?

We cover only underrated games that were released for IBM PC and compatibles, from time immemorial (or at least from the beginning of PC gaming history, i.e. around 1978). From time to time, we may include underrated games for other platforms as well (e.g. Apple II, Commodore 64), but only when their PC version was never released, and always for a good reason. For example, Dani Bunten's Apple II game Cytron Masters is included here to complete the collection of one of the best game designers ever. Non-PC games are always accompanied by programs you can use to run them on the PC (i.e. the "emulators").

What are the criteria for choosing games for the site?

As the name suggests, Home of the Underdogs focuses only on underrated and/or undersold PC games that were overlooked by most gamers. This means that you will never find well-known, best-selling games such as Sierra's King's Quest games, reviewed on this site. Although deciding whether or not a game is underrated is somewhat subjective, there is one overriding criterion a game must fulfill: it has to be good-- if a game can't hold our interest for long, then it apparently deserves to be forgotten and is, therefore, not underrated (instead, it may often be overrated). Many games are commercial and critical failures for the right reason: they are terrible :)

Of course, not all underdogs are created equal, so you will find that sometimes the reviewer will really criticize a game and concludes that yes, it is underrated, but not by much. That's why we give "Top Dog" honor to distinguish between the truly underrated classics and the marginally underrated, best-forgotten junk.

Beside being a good game, every underdog on this site must fulfill one or more of the following criteria:

  • It remains relatively unknown and undersold despite critical acclaim (or because of a lack thereof). Great games often get overlooked because of poor marketing campaign, market saturation, or simply a change in consumer behavior as reflected in the current trend. Multiple "Best Adventure Game of the Year" awards, for example, hardly helped Dreamforge's outstanding Sanitarium gain a foothold amid 3D action games.
  • Sometimes a game itself is relatively well-known, but its developers are not. Master of Orion, for example, was a big hit for MicroProse, but hardly anyone recognized that it was developed by SimTex (and the head designer, Steven Garcia). This partly explains why SimTex' last game 1830 was a commercial failure: it was released by Avalon Hill, a big name in wargaming but an obscure one to strategy gamers.
  • Some games on this site may have been best-sellers when they were released on non-PC systems, but failed when they were ported to PC, usually due to the fact that the PC as a gaming platform was inferior to many others. For instance, an early IBM AT boasted only 4-color CGA graphics and scratchy PC speaker sound, while a contemporary Commodore 64 offered 16-color graphics and high-quality sound and music. Most Cinemaware games, for example, were both commercial and critical successes on the Amiga, but failed to attract the same following on the PC. Since HOTU is a site devoted to PC underdogs, we feel it is natural to honor such games alongside underdogs that were designed specifically for the PC.

Is Home of the Underdogs an "abandonware" site?

Yes and no. Many underdogs on this site have been discontinued by their publishers due to disappointing sales. They are therefore abandonware by definition. However, our goal is to pay tribute to underrated PC games of all ages, so you will also find reviews of recent underdogs that have not been abandoned by their publishers. In such cases, you will always find a link to either the official order page, or a large, reputable on-line store, in the "Get the game" box on the game's info sheet.

A quick way to find a list of most underdogs that are still sold by their publishers is to select "1997" or later years from the "By Year" drop-down menu on the left navigation bar. Most of these recent games are still sold by their publishers. We strongly encourage you to buy them-- their developers need all the income they can get to make future classics for our benefit :)

But isn't abandonware illegal?

Unfortunately, yes. Despite the fact that publishers no longer derive revenues from these games since they have stopped selling them (and any revenues from retailers that still sell them were gained a long time ago, at the time of sales), it is illegal to distribute them so long as copyright holders have not released them into the public domain, and 95 years after the games' release have not elapsed. For more in-depth information on this issue, We recommend the following articles and websites:

Despite the illegal status of abandonware, we believe that we are offering a valuable service to the gaming community: classic game collectors have a chance to retrieve games that have otherwise been lost or rendered defective with the passage of time. As our Disclaimer printed on every page makes clear, we will gladly remove download links to any game that is either 1) still being sold by the publisher, or 2) at the request of the publishers themselves. Encouraging publishers to continue publishing great classics of yore has always been this site's foremost goals, and we will gladly link to the publisher's order or download site without hesitation should they make their products available again, whether commercially or as freeware.

That said, we are continually seeking permission from copyright holders to distribute their games on this site. If you are a copyright holder and would like to grant us permission (or request that your games be taken off-line, as the case may be), please contact us. If you want to voice support for abandonware, check out the following petition sites:

Aren't you impairing profitability of the games' publishers and retailers by uploading them?

We are not impairing game publishers' profitability, as they have already realized profits from sales to the retailers (similar to the book industry). Admittedly, we are perhaps impairing the profits of retailers who still carry abandonware titles (insofar as anyone who wishes to buy them is content with downloading the file from HOTU). However, while we recognize and applaud the efforts of such retailers, we believe it is impractical to link to sites that sell only a handful of copies, which will sooner or later be irrevocably out of stock since the publishers no longer intends to print more copies. For example, announcing that game X can be bought by calling up a small shop in Belgium is hardly the most effective way to achieve our goal, which is to preserve underrated games for posterity. On the other hand, astute visitors will note that we do link to large on-line retailers that still sell abandonware titles (e.g. Chips & Bits and CD-ROM Access) because they have sufficiently large amounts of copies that demand could be sustained for a while.

As zealous game collectors ourselves, we also believe that it is always best to own the games in their original packaging, not only because it is the only form of legal ownership (and the "bragging rights" that come with owning one of the few remaining copies of out-of-print titles), but also because of the fun "freebies" that add tremendous value to the games and enhance the playing experience. Infocom games, for example, were vastly popular not only because they were excellent, but also because of the creative "freebies" Infocom would include in the box. We believe that very few gaming enthusiasts could resist the temptation to track down the original boxes, had they seen the 3-D comics (complete with 3-D glasses) that came with Leather Goddeses of Phobos, or the unique scratch-n-sniff card (with smells ranging from pizza to supposedly "alien" odor) in the Leather Goddesses of Phobos box that the player would be asked to scratch for appropriate smells at different points in the game. It isn't surprising that Infocom games always sell for a high price in on-line auctions.

Nothing pleases us more (other than finding games on our Want List) than hearing from visitors who found original copies of games they had never heard of through our site. Our Links page contains many links to auction sites, game exchanges, and large on-line vendors of both new and old games. In the future, we plan to add many freebie information to our Special Collections page (e.g. snapshots of "Best Freebie Comics" and "Best Freebie Figurines") to help increase the demand for games in original packaging as more gamers realize how much they are missing out.

I'm confused! Can you just summarize your upload policy?

The following chart should make 'our policy' clear to everyone:

HOTU view on game status

Do you upload full version of shareware games?

Only if they have been abandoned by their publishers. We treat shareware underdogs the same way we treat commercial games: if their publishers still publish them, we link to the official site where you can download the shareware version and register it. If you see a download link in "Get the game" box instead of an off-site link, that means the game has been abandoned or made freeware by the publisher. In these cases, what you can download is always the registered version.

What isn't Home of the Underdogs?

Home of the Underdogs has a very focused goal--to record and preserve underrated PC games to prevent them from fading into oblivions. We are not interested in reviewing best-selling games, nor are we interested in competing with large games database sites such as MobyGames (though they inspire us a lot). As such, you will not find the following on Home of the Underdogs:

  • "Warez," i.e. any game or program that is still being sold by its publisher. Although we are aware that both warez and abandonware (as we define it) are illegal, we do see strong differences in moral justification (simply put, there is no moral justification behind a warez site). Our rationale on uploading abandonware is outlined above.
  • Full CD-ROM versions of abandonware underdogs. Due to space and bandwidth limit, it just isn't possible for us to upload full CD-ROM versions of most games, even though they were discontinued. We try our best to link to on-line vendors that still carry them in stock, and although we normally abhor CD-rips because it strips the game into the minimum playable denominator, we sometimes decide to upload CD-rips for games that are really difficult to buy anywhere, and where stuff that are left out from the rip (e.g. voices and music) aren't necessary to complete the game.
  • Best-selling games or non-PC games (with a few exceptions). Please re-read our criteria section above on how we choose games for the site.
  • Patches or bug-fixes (we have neither time nor space to maintain this; Games Domain and The Patches Scroll are your best bets of finding patches)
  • Technical support for game-specific problems. We neither have the time nor manpower to answer technical questions (besides, the publishers *themselves* abandoned the games and all technical support). If you have a problem with a game that neither the "Technical Notes" section on the game's info sheet, nor this FAQ does not address, please post in the "Technical Help" section of our forum and hopefully someone can help.

General Usage

Is there a fee for using Home of the Underdogs?

No, and there never will be. All our downloads are free because our intention is merely to preserve underrated games before they are lost forever, and it is definitely not our right to charge fees for something we neither own nor created. (Okay, so we're giving away even stuff that we DO created, such as the dozens of .pdf manuals that take ages to scan.

But I want to express my thanks for the site. How can I help?

Well, thanks :) To show your appreciation of our efforts to preserve underdogs, here's how you can contribute to the site in return.

Why do you use ad banners?

While we dislike ad banners as much as anyone, they are necessary as a source of revenues we need to cover server and bandwidth costs. Because we upload a number of abandonware games, and abandonware is illegal, free servers (e.g. Xoom, Geocities, and Spaceports) are no longer a viable hosting option for us as they routinely erase such content from their server.

Although we need to display an ad banner, we try to make it as inconspicuous and unobtrusive as possible, and allow only advertisers who we believe are of interest to our visitors. Because we always add underdogs to the site and increase our bandwidth to accommodate more visitors, we would appreciate it if you could click the banner from time to time to help us pay the costs of expansion. Some clicks are also necessary because advertising agencies can drop sites whose click-through rates are below industry-wide standard (currently 0.28%), or allocate banners with very low payout rates. Besides, you might discover a good product or site you never knew existed :) Thanks!

Are cookies required to use Home of the Underdogs?

We use cookies to track users' votes on games to ensure that a "one man, one vote" rule is adhered to. We also use cookies to enable the "autologin" feature of our forum. And we may implement download limits per user in the future that will be based on cookies. The explanation as to the nature of such cookies will be added to this FAQ if and when that happens.

Rest assured that cookies we use are very harmless, meant to make your browsing experience more convenient, and collect no personal information about you. Please read our privacy policy for further information.

Why do I keep seeing the "this image is hosted at Home of the Underdogs" image, even though I am already browsing the site?

You need to tell your security software (for example, Norton Internet Security or Norton Personal Firewall) to pass referer information to our URL (www.the-underdogs.info). For instructions on how to do this for Norton's products, please read this page. This problem could also be related to the referrer settings of your ISP's firewall.

What are themes and how are they different from genres?

Genres are broad, by-now-standard types of games, while themes refers to the premises or style behind them. They are two different ways of classifying games: if you are a strategy game buff, for example, you can browse the list of games in that genre. On the other hand, if you are a cyberpunk fan who just want to play cyberpunk games, you can browse the list of all games on HOTU that are set in the cyberpunk world. This list will show games from the various genres, such as Neuromancer (adventure) and Chaos Overlords (strategy).

Themes are an interesting and fun way to find related games, but unlike genres, they don't have a one-to-one relationship with games: every game belongs to one and only one genre, but they may have one or more themes. Sango Fighter, for example, is an action game with 3 themes: Oriental (because it is set in the Orient), Multiplayer (because it has multiplayer options), and Anime (because it was designed in the Japanese anime style).

We sometimes use themes to group games into useful or interesting lists that may not have anything to do with their premises. "Unique," for example, denotes truly original games, the likes of which have never been seen since their releases. Likewise, "Multiplayer" refers to any game that offer multiplayer options. It's not a genre, which is why we didn't call it one. In short, you can think of "themes" as primarily premises, but also useful non-genre categories of games. Watch out for more themes in the future!

Please be adviced that not every game is associated with a theme-- most puzzle and sport games, for example, do not have any themes.

I want to see only downloadable games on the lists! Why can't I?

We don't distinguish between "downloadable games" and "non-downloadable games" on our lists simply because we do not want this site to be considered merely a "file repository" - but a comprehensive "virtual museum" of underrated games both new and old. Downloads are provided only as a last resort, when we cannot find any buy links on-line. We want to encourage our visitors to buy the games we honor as much as possible, and separating our lists into downloadable/non-downloadable will undermine this effort.

How do I get back to the homepage?

Click on the spacedog picture in the left-hand corner of the top menu bar, or the "News" button.

What does Top Dog mean?

We award Top Dog to underdogs that we feel are severely underrated: great games that deserve a second chance. Although we carefully select games for the site (terrible games, after all, are better forgotten), they are not equal in quality. Top Dog is a way we distinguish truly great underdogs from the pack. Of course, this process is completely subjective, so you are welcome to voice your opinion by rating a game very low if you don't think it deserve the Top Dog status, or even submit your own review if you strongly disagree with ours.

Clicking on the Top Dog tag on any game's info sheet will bring up a list of all Top Dogs in the same genre. Comparing this list to Top Games lists (by download frequency, and by user rating) will give you a good idea of how our opinions stack up against our visitors'. Of course, we strive to convince you of our opinion every way we can .

What does Real Dog mean?

Real Dogs are marginally underrated games: games that might be considered underrated, but not by much. In other words, these games are real "dogs", i.e. really bad games we want you to avoid. Most of these games are here only because a lot of people begged or threatened us to upload them :) Also, this site isn't "Home of the Worst Games," so don't expect to see too many Real Dogs on this site-- we'd rather save the space for the Top Dogs .


Download Issues

How can I download anything?

If you have never downloaded anything from the Internet before, here are 2 easy steps you should follow:

  • Step 1: Make sure you've got the archiver programs. We highly recommend PowerArchiver and WinRAR, which unzips all the compression formats we use here, including multiple files. More conventional archivers are WinZip, WinAce, and ARJ. Most files are in .zip, .ace, .rar., or .arj format (some .rar and .arj files are compressed again into .zip files to allow easy downloads).
  • Step 2: Download and set up download managers such as GetRight, or Netvampire -- they are download assistant programs that will save you a lot of time by allowing you to resume broken downloads later. Make sure you set up "browser integration" so every time you click on a .zip file these programs will start automatically. Important note: You need to set referer information for this site in your download manager to http://www.the-underdogs.info/downloadfile.php
  • Step 3: On each game's download page, you need to type a 5-letter word that appears below the spacedog logo on the page, for example:

    Download screen

    You need to type the above 5-letter words EXACTLY AS IT APPEARS (capitalization matters) in the box on the download page before downloading any game. Please reload the picture (in most browsers, by right-clicking and then select "load picture" to make sure you get the most current code. After your download starts, you will be able to resume using download managers.

    This method is to make the life of linkstealers (people who "steal" our bandwidth by linking to our files directly without permission) a bit more difficult and, therefore, make our downloads faster to our visitors as stolen bandwidth is freed up; we are sorry for the inconvenience.

    Please check documentation that comes with your manager on how to enter referrer information. Here are some information for commonly used download managers:

    1. If you are using an old version of GetRight (anything before v5.0), make sure to download and install the "GetRight Referer Manager" from their add-ons download page. This add-on will allow you to enter the correct referrer information manually. Getright 5.0 already has referer manager built-in, so you can enter the information by going to "Tools" > "Get Right Configuration", then"Advanced" > "Protocols", click on the button "Special Referer Values" and add the new entry as follows: Server: the-underdogs.info, Referer: http://www.the-underdogs.info/downloadfile.php
    2. For NetVampire, you need to go to "Job Settings" and to "Advanced," then set referrer field to http://www.the-underdogs.info/downloadfile.php

You can also download a specific file inside the archive by following a specific link next to download link. This is very useful if you have previously downloaded a game, but found CRC errors inside the zip (see below). This way, you won't have to download the big zip again :)

For a large file, you will also find a "download with BitTorrent" option. For more information on what Bittorrent is and how it helps us and you, please read the next FAQ section below.

What is BitTorrent and how do I use it?

From Wikipedia: BitTorrent is a peer-to-peer (P2P) file distribution tool. You can get the latest version from the official site and read the well-written documentation and FAQ there. We offer the BitTorrent download option for large downloads on the site. If you get a slow download speed, that is likely because there is not enough seeders for that file yet.

Please note that our one-download-at-a-time limit applies to BitTorrent as well, so you WILL be banned if you are downloading more than one .torrent file at a time (or one .torrent file and another normal zip file).

Once you finish downloading from this site with BitTorrent, please consider leaving the zip file you just downloaded on your hard drive so that others may share your bandwidth, i.e. helping us 'seed' the file. The more seeds we have, the faster the site will load for everyone.

Help! My download manager won't capture the download link!

Probably this is due to a (quite common) bug in your download manager that won't let it recognize GET command in HTML. Here are some possible solutions:

  1. Hold down ALT and CTRL keys while clicking on the "GO" button next to the code input field. FlashGet and most other download managers should then be able to launch with the link captured.
  2. For GetRight (versions 5.0 and above): in the config screen, go to "General" tab, and then click on "Monitor" and then "Advance" button. This will bring you to "Advanced Click Monitoring" page. Use the following settings for "server path contains" fields: set "Catch" for files.the-underdogs.info?code= and "Ignore" for http://pagead2.googlesyndication.com?client= (this is to stop GetRight from catching all the ads - thanks to Matt M. for this tip)
  3. A possible solution by GHackmann: "If you've got the referer setting in your download manager set up correctly, but you can't convince it to accept the link, make a bookmark with this link:

    javascript:document.writeln(document.forms[document.forms.length - 1].action + '?firewall=' + (document.getElementsByName('firewall')[0].checked ? 1 : 0) + '&code=' + document.getElementsByName('code')[0].value);

    Then, when you're ready to download, fill in the form as usual, but instead of clicking the "Go" button, select this bookmark. Then copy-and-paste the URL it gives you into your download manager. I repeat: this will not work unless your referer setting is correctly set up and you fill out the form on the download page completely."

What does "Oops-- this link is broken" message mean?

The message means a file that is supposed to be there is not, i.e. the link is broken. While we try to maintain 100% working links, sometimes a few files slip our collective fingers due to typos or lack of time to upload. ALL broken links will eventually be fixed-- please check the News page regularly, as well as the game's info sheet.

I keep getting the "Tricked" page! What's the problem?

First of all, if a download link appears at all, that means the file is present (or you will see an "Oops-- this link is broken" message instead of a link; see above). If you see this page when you try to download, please read carefully what it says.

Please note that there are two different "Tricked" pages, for two different (basic) reasons: failing to provide the download code, and failing to use the correct referrer tag.

When using Getright to download a game, if all you get is a file called 'error.htm', do the following:

  1. Double-click the Getright icon in the Taskbar (next to the clock)
  2. Goto the menu option 'Tools/Getright Configuration...'
  3. In the dialog box that appears click on the 'Advanced' tab and then click the 'Protocols' tab.
  4. Activate the 'Send "Referrer" in requests:' option and then the 'Generated from the download URL.' radio button.
  5. Click on 'OK'
  6. Goto to the 'Downloads' tab and then 'Auto-Segment' tab, and make sure the 'Automatically do Segmented ...(snip)...' option is unchecked
  7. Click on 'OK'.

You should now be able to download using Getright.

You should also check that the download code is passed properly to the download managers, and that if you are seeing problems, whether they're caused by the lack of referrer, lack of download code, or something else.

My download manager tells me "file doesn't exist" when I try to download!

Please read this FAQ carefully. If you don't see any "Oops! This file is broken message," that means the file is on the server, and the problem either is on your end (i.e. you didn't configure download manager correctly -- again, read this FAQ), or our server is busy. We code the pages in such a way that it will NOT produce download link at all (but instead the "Oops" message) if the file isn't actually there.

Why is BitTorrent/Windows/IE telling me a ZIP file I just downloaded "cannot be found"?

This error occurs because BitTorrent/Windows/IE is not saving the file, but is instead trying to open it from the current (temporary) location. You can fix this as follows:

  • For Windows XP and above: Go to Control Panel --> Folder Options. Then, click the File Types tab, and browse down to where it says ZIP file. Click the Advanced button, and make sure the option "confirm open after download" is checked.
  • For Windows 98 and below: You can find the same option under "Tools" menu in the Window Files Manager.

Your downloads/BitTorrent downloads are so slow!

Downloads are slow because we see 800+ simultaneous connections and 250GB+ of traffic on a daily basis. Needless to say, bandwidth doesn't grow on trees, so please support us if you can. Naturally, the site is much slower for the first 4-5 days after a News page update.

As to BitTorrent: first, it is only as useful as the number of 'seeders,' i.e. people who have the same file as this site on their hard drive and who are often connected to the Internet. Second, it won't help if we allow BitTorrent for all downloads. That's because we have thousands of files, which gives rise to a very desegregated traffic pattern. BitTorrent is most useful for sites with very concentrated pattern - i.e. lots of people downloading one file, not lots of people downloading thousands of files. So, in order for BitTorrent to be useful enough to really help defray our bandwidth costs, we literally need hundreds, of 'seeders' whose computers are on 24/7 and who have completed zips on their computers. That's the only way this site can get faster for everybody.

How do I download PDF manuals? All I see is a white screen!

Most PDF manuals on this site are quite large, so you should disable Adobe Acrobat's automatic website integration and then left-click to save the file instead of trying to view it on-line. Please read the manuals page on how to do this. You also need Adobe Acrobat Reader 4.0 to view the PDF files (earlier versions will not work).

Why do I keep getting CRC errors when trying to extract files?

This error most likely occur because your Internet connection was interrupted before the download was finished, and your download manager mistakenly assumes that it was finished. The best way to remedy this problem is to use the specific file download link that is shown next to every game download link. With this feature, you can download any specific file inside the big zip-- very handy for when you just need a small 100KB zip file and don't feel like to download the whole 50MB monster again :)

If the problem persists even after you re-download several times, then the file is probably bad on our end-- in that case, please contact us and we will re-upload the intact version.

What are these .rar / .a0* / .001 files and how do I extract them?

Like .zip, they are compressed file formats: .rar files are WinRAR format, and .a* files are ARJ format files-- please read our download instruction above for information on where you can get appropriate archiver programs to extract the files.

Please note that WinZip does not extract ARJ files automatically, unless you install ARJ as a helper program. Even so, it may not extract multiple ARJ files (i.e. those that end with .a00, .a01, etc.) unless you change the program options. For these reasons, we recommend that you use IZArc or WinRAR instead.

Also, most CD-rips came with an .NFO file, e.g. RAZOR.NFO and so on. These files contain instructions to unzipping, installing, and running the game, so read them when you see them. These rips were done by various "warez" groups, and although we don't condone their actions, we are grateful that they did these rips, because otherwise games risk being lost forever.

In Windows, .NFO file looks like a file with magnifying glass on it). You CANNOT left-click to read it, since Windows will mistake it as a Windows info file and attempt to read it that way. Instead, open it from Notepad or a proper .NFO viewer. We recommend DAMN NFO Viewer.


Download limitations and banning

In a nutshell

Download only one file at a time. Do not use download boosters such as Download Accelerator. Otherwise, you will get temporarily banned. This rule applies to BotTorrent (*.torrent) files as well.

Why the banning?

Our bandwidth is not infinite. At all times, there are roughly 250-500 file transfers going on simultaneously. Even though we have over 5 Mbit/s dedicated for this, you can easily calculate the average download speed per person. It isn't too high.

If everyone downloads many files at the same time, everyone's download speed would be worse. In addition, since every file download requires one server process, our hardware requirements would be multiplied.

We took years to collect these underdogs, surely you can have patience too? Greediness won't help downloads go any faster, and you are hurting other people's speeds as well.

What triggers the ban and when is it removed?

Every minute, a monitor program checks how many file transfer connections have been initiated from the same IP address. If there are many of them, all of them will be killed, and that IP address will be blocked (firewalled out) from downloading. The rest of the site works fine.

If you get banned, all of your existing downloads time out and are left unfinished. The download page will also tell you about this when you try to download something next time. It will also tell you how many transfers were going on at the time of the ban.

Be warned that even a very small file can trigger the ban. That includes text manuals, walkthroughs, and other non-game files.

Also, browsing the files and marking them to be downloaded later with a download manager while transferring will sometimes trigger a ban.

If you are using a WWW proxy (whether you know it or not-- ask your ISP for more details), our server sees multiple connections originating from behind that proxy as coming from the same computer. Therefore, sometimes false alarms happen. Certain big ISP's force you to use transparent proxies. A good example of these is British Telecom.

All bans are removed automatically with certain intervals. More of these below.

How long do the bans last?

There are three kinds of bans:

  1. up to 3 hours for downloading 2 files
  2. up to 24 hours for downloading 3-5 files
  3. up to a week for downloading 6+ files
The intention of the first ban is to wake people up, to make them realize what they're doing. The others also include a certain punitive effect for excessive greediness as these should not happen by mistake. :-)

What should I do to do it "right"?

Only download one file at a time. You may use (and it is recommended, for resuming) download managers such as Go!Zilla and GetRight, but make sure that they're not working in an accelerated mode (ie. splitting one file to multiple transfers, simultaneously).

Important note: You need to set referer information for this site in your download manager to "http://www.the-underdogs.info/downloadfile.php" - please check documentation that comes with your manager on how to do this. If you are using GetRight, make sure to download and install the "GetRight Referer Manager" from their add-ons download page. This add-on will allow you to enter the correct referrer information manually.

If you're using a proxy, disable it for files.the-underdogs.info. For example, in Netscape, this can be done by entering files.the-underdogs.info to No proxy for setting.

Always use the default download method (in downloadfile.php) if at all possible. This way you don't get banned through no fault of your own.

What should I NOT do?

Some shareware download managers (at least Download Accelerator, JetCar and NetSonic have been reported) split one download to many (e.g. four) to speed it up. You should not use them to download files from our site.

Also, there is a Windows registry patch kindly provided by SpeedBit (developers of DA) to curtail Download Accelerator. If DA is your default download manager, it shouldn't automatically start downloading from our site anymore. Please note, however, that you can still get banned if you start the downloads manually. This should make it possible to use Download Accelerator on other Web sites, except here.

Don't try to download using the old deprecated mode if you can avoid it; sometimes you just can't (firewalls). Don't blame us if you get banned using this.

Naturally, don't download more than more file at a time even with your regular browser or download manager :).

I haven't downloaded anything yet, but I'm still banned!

You're using a transparent or voluntary WWW proxy. If you can disable the proxy (in your browser settings), please do so. Other than that, there isn't much you can do, except wait for the expiration of the ban and try again later. You could complain to your ISP, though.

It's also possible that your ISP is doing NAT (Network Address Translation) and someone else using the same global IP address as you has been banned. There is nothing we can do about this. ISP's that don't give out at least one real IP address should be hanged by their customers as they cause a lot of grief (not just for us).

I was only downloading one file, and I got banned?!

Either you were using a proxy (see above), or you were using a download booster without realizing it. See below for details how you can diagnose that.

How does transparent proxy evasion work?

Transparent WWW proxies are implemented so that if you connect to a WWW site, it automatically detects that this is a WWW request, not for example FTP. This is done by checking that the destination port is the WWW default, 80. All of this traffic will be transparently routed through a proxy.

Our file server operates in both the default port, as well as 8080. When you download a game, the connection is made to port 8080, and your ISP's detection mechanism will be fooled.

This will not affect the speed in any way.

Using this method, you won't get banned if someone using the same proxy does something stupid that triggers the ban for him/herself.

Certain big corporations restrict outgoing traffic heavily, only allowing WWW traffic through via port 80. There is a second download method listed on the download page for them. If you get banned using this, go bash your work mates, not us :-).

How do I verify that the download manager is working properly?

To see if your download method is acceptable, you can test it as follows:

  1. Start downloading a file. Wait until the actual transfer begins.
  2. Go to DOS Prompt, and execute the command: netstat -n.
  3. The output should be something like this:
    Active Connections
    
      Proto  Local Address          Foreign Address        State
      TCP    127.0.0.1:1222         127.0.0.1:1223         ESTABLISHED
      TCP    127.0.0.1:1223         127.0.0.1:1222         ESTABLISHED
      TCP    192.168.1.1:2958       192.87.106.226:80      ESTABLISHED
    
    The line(s) with Foreign Address 192.87.106.226:80 in ESTABLISHED state are the important ones.
  4. If there is one such line, your download mechanism is working cleanly. If you have more than one entry, you're using a forbidden download booster such as Download Accelerator. If you get zero entries, something unexpected has happened.
  5. You may cancel the transfer now. You can test the system in the same way with queueing and resuming too.
  6. If you do testing/debugging with our server, the foreign address to look at is 192.87.106.226 (though this might change in the future).

How can I help increase speed?

Please click on our banners once in a while when you visit the site. That way, we can get better adverizing campaigns and invest in increasing the bandwidth. :)

How do I contact someone about the ban, or ask for help?

First of all, there is no need to contact us to apologize. Bans will not be removed on one-by-one basis. If you have to contact us about any issue concerning bans, please use bans@the-underdogs.info address.

If you are reporting that you shouldn't be banned at all (e.g. haven't downloaded anything yet!), please include at least the following information:

  • What you were doing at the time of the ban;
  • Did you use the main download link (from files.the-underdogs.info:8080) or the other (:80);
  • The number of simultaneous transfers as reported in the "banned" page;
  • The date and the time reported in the same page;
  • The IP address reported in the same page;
  • The IP address of your dial-up (or similar) device, Start - Run - Winipcfg;

It would help to save the "banned" page you see, and send us the copy of that page. Several issues concerning bans have already been discussed in our Forum, so you should check it out too.

Why am I getting very low (0.2 k/s or less) download speeds?

First of all, if you are seeing a severe drop in download speeds to 0.0 - 0.1k/s, that most likely means you have triggered the ban (i.e. by downloading a second file before the first one finishes) without realizing it. You should wait until the ban is lifted, then redownload the file from the game's page. Please read the banning section above for more detail.

In all other circumstances, downloads speeds should always be at least 1-2 kbytes/sec, if your normal speed (e.g. when downloading files from other sites) is about that much (dial-up modem). For cable modems and DSL's, speeds vary a lot. Usually they are 5-20 kbytes/sec, depending on the load and your location.

If your speed is ridiculously slow, you can report it to speed-problems@the-underdogs.info

When reporting include at least the following:

  1. The download speed;
  2. The speed and type of your network connection;
  3. The speeds you get to other sites (and their locations, if known);
  4. Whether the speeds have always been this slow (or since when);
  5. Whether you checked if you had been banned;
  6. Output of ping -n 10 files.the-underdogs.info or equivalent;
  7. Output of tracert files.the-underdogs.info or equivalent;
Please note that if your round trip time is high (>500ms) or there are a lot of lost packets (>15%) as seen from ping output, your problems are most probably caused by your ISP or their network connections.

My download immediately stops and I can't resume! What happened?

You've probably triggered a ban (i.e. by starting to download a second file while the first is not finished), but didn't see the notice because you didn't start the second download from the game page (but from, say, GetRight's download list). Please read the banning section above for more detail.


Gamehost & Comments

Why do I have to register to post comments?

The most important reason is that we would like to maintain a certain level of quality for site content. Juvenile comments of the "this game suxxorz" nature are not very meaningful, since anyone who wants to express one-word opinion can simply vote on a scale of 1-10 on the game page. Our comment system is a way for users to share opinions, and gaming nostalgia, in ways that a numerical score cannot capture. Comments therefore must first be approved before they are shown, and registration allows us to track each commenter separately and effectively deal with troublemakers who like to post inappropriate comments.

What are your criteria for comments?

Just about anything that isn't juvenile, irrelevant, obscene, moronic, or monosyllabic (e.g. "this sucks") will be approved. We also don't consider '1337' jargon a comprehensible language, let alone English. So please don't bother submitting comments that read "this rox" or "0wnz j00" - save that for Jeff K. and his fans (tell them we say hi).

Also, please do not comment about how game X doesn't work on your computer. Please post in our Technical Help forum for that purpose instead.

Here are four example of "good" comments:

  • Reminiscence about gaming experience: "Wow, this is the first game I played when my Dad bought Apple II. I remember it being very hard, especially the boss character in level 4. But probably any game would be hard to a 9 years old :)"
  • Helpful technical notes: "I found out that Moslo won't work on the game if your computer is an Athlon; you have to use Turbo or Bremze in that case to slow it down. It's great once it runs at the right speed!"
  • Interesting game anecdote/trivia: "Hey, anyone knows that the designer of this game later designed Flight Unlimited 2? No wonder the game engine in this one feels familiar. "
  • Critique of the site's or gamehost's review: "I disagree with this game being a Top Dog. It's one of the worst games I've ever played. Maybe the award was based on the decent first level. But it goes downhill very quickly, with tons of monsters that are really frustrating to kill. "

Please feel free to response to previous comments, but be mindful of netiquette. We don't want the comment area to devolve into a public flame war. If you can't think of anything more to say than "this game is great," "the review sucks," or "review way too short," or insult reviewers/other posters, your submission will most likely be rejected.

If you have more to say about the game than our 1,000-character limit allows, please consider applying to be a gamehost: see the next section below.

How long does it take for comments to get approved?

If your comment fits our criteria, expect to see it on the site within 3-4 days at most after your submission. It may take longer if we are busy with our real lives, or if there is a high volume of pending comments that we need to review.

What is this "gamehost" stuff on the comments page?

"Gamehost" is a feature that allows HOTU visitors to help add useful information about any game they enjoy for the benefit of fellow visitors. Hosting a game means taking care of it :) A gamehost can add his/her own comprehensive review, more related links, and approve, edit, or delete user-submitted comments about the hosted game.

The gamehost feature is not a substitute for our existing content: it is a supplementary feature that allows users to contribute meaningfully to the site. Rest assured that every new underdog we add to the site will always come complete with a review, full release information, and other information you have come to expect. Gamehosts help us enhance the experience :)

Okay, that sounds interesting. How can I host a game?

You need to apply to host a game. To apply, go to the game page for the game you want to host, then click "Apply!" button in the top right corner (next to reviewer's name, below rating menu). You will then be taken to the gamehost application page. The application is simple: type your own review of the game. If you are approved, the review you submitted will be filed as "gamehost's review" and shown prominently on the gamehost/comments page. You will be notified of whether or not your application is approved or rejected via e-mail.

Naturally, you cannot apply if there is already a gamehost for the game you want to review. You would have to wait until the current gamehost resigns.

What are your requirements for gamehost reviews?

A good general rule of thumb is to look at the site review on the game page, and either write a more comprehensive review, or one that looks at the game from a different perspective (The Games Domain's "second opinion" reviews are good examples of these). While we have no specific requirements, your submission should meet the following guidelines (some parts paraphrased from GameFAQs.com with permission):

  • Format: All reviews will be posted in HTML format. Only text with bold, italic, bullets (ul and li), and "A HREF" hyperlink tags are allowed. No HTML codes that denote tables, graphics, scripts, or any other embellishments are allowed in gamehost reviews. Please note, however, that line breaks (i.e. pressing ENTER in your review to start a new paragraph) are recognized properly, so there is no need to use "P" or "BR" tags after every paragraph.
  • Style/Grammar: The review must be in English and readable. A small number of spelling/grammar mistakes are okay (we will correct them for you), but a good working knowledge of the language is much more preferable. Reviews with excessive typos/grammatical mistakes will be rejected. Please try to proofread your review with a spellchecker before submission.
  • Originality: The review MUST BE YOUR OWN WORK. Rip-offs or even paraphrasing of others' work are not tolerated in any way. If you submit someone else's review and we find out after we have approved it, you will lose not only your gamehost status, but also your user account. You can submit a review that has already been published elsewhere, as long as you wrote it - but please note the original publication at the bottom (e.g. "first published on Intelligamer.com" -- with an appropriate HTML link).
  • Language/Tastefulness: Reviews with any foul language or otherwise tasteless remarks will be rejected. Please also don't use too many smileys/emoticons. A few well-places ;) and :) can lend a warm personal touch to your review, though.
  • Length/Content: Reviews should be at least 300 words in length or longer. Longer is usually better, but don't be redundant or pad your review with random comments just to make it longer. While you don't have to touch on every aspect of the game, try to cover as many of the following elements as possible: plot, gameplay, difficulty level, graphics/sound, playing length, and replay value.
  • Historical context: This is very important, particularly because the vast majority of underdogs on this site are old games that obvious cannot compete with today's games in terms of production values. It is therefore meaningless to state the obvious such as "the graphics in this 1987 game is really horrible; the game doesn't even support 3D cards" or "this [1989] game looks really primitive compared to Unreal Tournament." Instead, put the game in the right historical context when you review it: vis-a-vis similar games you played that were released during the same period.
  • Spoilers: NO SPOILERS. What's a spoiler? Giving away a surprise plot element, secret, or hint about the game. Any information that you don't get in the first five minutes of playing the game or reading the back of the box. Don't do it.

You are urged to save a copy of your review locally in case it is rejected, as we do not archive rejected reviews. Once your review is approved and entered into our database, it becomes the property of Home of the Underdogs, and you will be fully credited.

Why is my gamehost application declined?

Most likely because your review didn't meet our requirements (see above). But don't feel bad: sometimes in the rejection e-mail you will find a note from us saying why your review was rejected. Sometimes it only takes a minor revision/addition for your application to be approved, in which case we will point out in our e-mail. In that case, please feel encouraged to revise your review and submit it again :)

Furthermore, you will always be told which "review admin" rejected your review (review admins are foolhardy volunteers who help us evaluate gamehost applications) - you can contact the review admin directly if you have valid concerns by sending him/her a private message on the forum. To see who the review admins are, visit the Usergroups section of the forum, and view "reviewadmin" group.

I'm now a gamehost. What can I do now?

Congratulations, and thank you for taking the time to contribute :) Once you are a gamehost, you will see your review on the gamehost/comments page. Your personal "hosted games" section (accessible from your members' options on the left menu, once you logged in) should be self-explanatory. Here is a rundown of what you can do as gamehost:

  1. Approve, edit, or delete user-submitted comments. For guidelines, please read the comments criteria section.
  2. Edit your gamehost review of the game. This is useful in case you want to update your review to comment on new releases, patches, etc.
  3. Add, edit, or remove your own related links about the game. These should not be the same as the existing links in the "Related Links" section on the game page. Your own links will be listed in the "gamehost's links" box next to your review. Please provide a brief description for each link. There is no limit to the number of links you can add.

How many games can I host?

You are allowed to host up to 10 games, so make your choices carefully :) This limit is to provide everyone the opportunity to host the games they are interested in.

I want to transfer my gamehost status to another user. How can I do that?

From the gamehost summary page, you can go to the "gamehost transfer" section where you can fill out a request form that will be sent to the user you want to be a new gamehost. Since the gamehost function is meant as a service for fellow gamers, please do not abuse this feature: you should use this form only when you have very good reasons to do so. For example: suppose you are already hosting Falcon 3.0 but later met a user named "falconfan" who maintains a great Falcon 3.0 fansite and is much more knowledgeable about the game than you are. If you think falconfan has the time to add/maintain related links for HOTU and wouldn't mind hosting the game, then perhaps you might want to transfer the gamehost to him.

The bottom line is that you should transfer gamehost only when you are certain that the new gamehost can do better than you :) We also urge you to contact the new gamehost first by private message on the forum to ask if he/she would be willing to accept the transfer, so you don't have to wait for a "no" answer. Our request form should be considered a "final, official step" to formalize the agreement and replace your gamehost status.

Once the new user accepts the transfer request, he/she will become the new gamehost for that particular game. Your existing gamehost review and/or related links will not be erased, but the new gamehost now has the ability to edit/remove them as he/she wishes.

I no longer want to be a gamehost. How can I resign?

If you feel you no longer are interested in hosting the game, and cannot find another user who wants to take over, you can e-mail us and we will deactivate your gamehost status. Please note, however, that your review will be deleted and all links removed in this situation. As this is a hobby site, we don't expect gamehosts to spend a lot of time maintaining links. If you could simply check the status of related links you added once in a blue moon, there's nothing else you need to do. Given this minimal time requirement, we hope gamehosts will remain so for a long time to come. So please consider carefully before you resign, and try to find some other vic... err, volunteer, who is willing to be a new gamehost (see previous section on gamehost transfer).

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