MobyGames – adding promo images & concept art, with your help!

282-skullgirls-concept-artAs many of you know, I’ve – as a spare-time project – been involved in helping to run veteran game database website MobyGames for a couple of years now – there’s more about this on my ‘You Might Know Me From…’ page.

But the latest thing we’ve done, just announced by Tracy Poff on the MobyGames news page, is adding the ability to contribute watermark-free, hi-res promotional images of all kinds to the website – including official screenshots, wallpaper, concept art, & other images.

As Tracy notes: “Here at MobyGames, all of our content is contributed and created by our users. Our descriptions are written, our screenshots selected, and our box art scanned by our contributors. As a result, we have a lot of things you can’t find anywhere else.

This focus on original content has left us, until now, with a gap in our coverage of games: we didn’t have a place for official screenshots, concept art, or any other images that game developers and publishers themselves created. We couldn’t be a comprehensive database without these, so I’m pleased to say that we are now accepting contributions of promotional images for all games in MobyGames!

What kinds of images does that mean? In short, just about any official image: official screenshots, official wallpaper, concept art, and other odds and ends. We’ve been testing this for a few days, and a lot of great things have been contributed already!”

Now, why is this important? Firstly, because a lot of old games don’t have the best hi-res assets out there online, especially not non-watermarked. We’d love to get people uploading official assets from press CD-ROMs & even before that! (Also assets from your own games!) You’re also welcome to return art to the ‘current’ web from the Wayback Machine, as some of our contributors have already been doing.

2445-go-go-break-steady-renderIt’s particularly useful if we can find older art that isn’t already on an existing website in one place – for example with these Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts renders from 2008, which are only elsewhere on separate Wikia pages. (Similarly, this Go! Go! Break Steady art appears to be partially on GiantBomb, but nowhere else on the open web in its entirety. Both of these set of assets are from the excellent GamesPress‘ ‘Elite’ section courtesy of Microsoft, btw, and we’re hoping to work with GP more.)

It’s also great to get clearly labeled and dated screenshots from before the game came out – for example these screens of Kameo from 2 years before its release. (Much easier to work out the genesis of a game through its pre-release screenshots that way.)

In any case, there’s 106,000 SKUs in the MobyGames database, so we’re not expecting tonnes of custom art for every single game. But we’d love any of you to add assets that you think need preserving. It’ll help add to what we hope will become one of the most important non-watermarked source of higher-res game images on the Web. (If you have bulk sets of assets that are offline and you’d like to get them up there, contact me and we can work something out.)

305-dishonored-concept-artFinally, I’ve also been looking closely at where MobyGames should be headed, given that there’s a lot of video game databases out there.

Many readers tend to gravitate towards Wikipedia & GiantBomb, because they have a lot of detailed – and often excellent – Wiki-style in-depth descriptions of the game.

Moby can’t really hope to compete with that – and doesn’t, since we have a brief ‘objective’ description instead, and concentrate a bit more on data.

Where we _really_ have unique data is really in two places – in original video game covers/screenshots, often for obscure & older titles, and in meticulously typed-in credits – especially from retail games. (And this is all wrapped up in an actual database, making it useful for research & access via an API to connect to other systems!) So a lot of our work will likely go towards improving these type of visual/credits/API assets, rather than slamming to get every single new Steam game onto the site, etc.

So, our next steps after this? MobyGames’ API – which will be open for non-commercial use, of course – is at the testing stage and should roll out in the medium-term. We’re also working on some new ways for developers to submit their own credits easily. And then we’ll be doing a larger-scale redesign of the website’s front end, hopefully – but that’s going to take _quite_ a long time, obviously.

In the meantime – if you want to go add some art, even just official screenshots, go grab a MobyGames account, search for a game, and click the ‘Contribute’ button in the top right – you’ll find it pretty easy!

[This post’s top image is some nifty Skullgirls concept art, now archived on MobyGames, hurray.]

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