Hello everyone, I thought that this was a good time to reflect on the past, present and future of Kliktopia, the archive site for games made using Clickteam's tools.
How I got into the Klik community
Back in 1997 when I was nine years old I visited my friend Eggy's house and he showed me some games he had made in The Games Factory. After having fun playing them for a while he gave me the opportunity to make my own game. While this game was only a simple platformer and my friend did most of the work, the idea that game creation was within my grasp was enormously empowering. I no longer had to design Lemmings puzzle levels with pen and paper or simply play what others created, I could make a whole game of my very own.
I lived in a small town which was far from the nearest city, and it felt great to be part of a huge online community of ‘Clickers’ supporting one another with no thought of personal gain and mostly just wanting to share what they had made and enjoy what other people had made. With games uploaded and downloaded for free and me knowing English as a first language the only barrier to getting involved was time, and back then I had plenty of it.
So, I added my own creations to the Geocities website I had created the previous year and took part in link exchanges, and over the years became involved in various communities such as Code-it, the Clickteam Forum and The Daily Click. We chatted on forums, we continued those chats on AIM, ICQ and the #K&P IRC channel, and we formed game creation collaboration groups, and sometimes there were even in-person meetups (such as the 2007 Click Convention which I attended). I even started my own websites such as mooRPG which focussed on online games made using the 'Klik' tools and got involved in online Klik games such as SmileyHouse (where I became a secondary developer) and Tank Wars Online (where I made maps and was a forum administrator).
The origin story for Kliktopia
While my presence in the Click community faded significantly after I went to University and got involved in other projects, I got back involved in 2018 when I began working on Kliktopia. There are a few factors behind me embarking on the Kliktopia project.
One reason is getting involved in a history project for a local wildlife site which combined 'oral histories' (i.e. recording people talking about their memories of the site in an organised way) with serious sleuthing into historic documents, and wanting to do something to help preserve the memories and 'artefacts' of my Click community Aand 'give back' to a community which I still think of fondly..
Another factor is hearing from people who had lost their own games which they had made when they were younger, and being pleased to help them when I had a copy of their games which they had lost but I still had from having downloaded them many years ago, but feeling sad for not being able to help others who could not find the games they made or the games they played.
I tried to get Kliktopia online as soon as possible because I knew that delays could result in the loss of information that might otherwise have been preserved as more old hard drives crash and backup CDs become lost of unreadable.
So in light of this the approach I took was to take is to capture these Klik games in bulk, without trying too hard to filter for quality as every game is someone's creation and is something that someone else might think of fondly, and one of the best ways to ensure that we have the game that any particular person wants it to collect them in bulk, with as much automation in the process as possible. I decided that screenshots were invaluable in helping people determine if the game was the one they were looking for, and it was also an easy way for people to gauge a sense of the genre and quality of the game
How we've done so far
I'm so grateful for everyone who has helped make Kliktopia a success. It has by far exceeded my expectations!
Kliktopia was launched at the end of March 2020 with just over 1,000 games which I processed on my own. I started with the games from existing archives such as those from the 1995-1999 Klik Archive maintained by Anders Jensen-Urstad (including Marcello's Relive archive and the Silky's archive) and the archives collated by RehaSoft, Podunkian, Jess Bower and Sam Beddoes. I also drew on my own games and games download folders from 1998 to present which I had copied from computer to computer over the years. I took screenshots for all of these games, except for the games found on the martin2k website which already had them. I have promoted the site through The Daily Click (where I became an administrator in 2018 after requesting games be added to the Click Museum) and people have helped spread the word through social media (including some helpful posts from Clickteam themselves). However, based on people getting in touch it seems that a lot of people find the site through search engines when in a bout of nostalgia they try to search for a game they have been looking for.
The site launched with the Kliktopia Uploader tool to make it easy as possible for people to search their own computers and CDs to find and select games to contribute to the archive. I also launched the Discord channel and did callouts for people to contribute games and to join the ‘screenshot team’… and they did! The full list of contributors are at https://kliktopia.org/ but the standouts include msg who has done the majority of the post-launch screenshots as well as contributing more than 400 games from the Polish Klikibaza archive, yxkalle who created his own automated tools to help locate and download over 1,000 freeware Klik games in bulk, and Chris Street and DaVince who together contributed more than 200 games uploaded to The Daily Click in the early-to-mid 2000’s (many of which were no longer available as the original hosting no longer works).
Kliktopia isn't just about downloadable games, though. Yxkalle created a tool to play Vitalize! Games which inspired a revival of the V-Cade online scoreboard system hosted on Kliktopia’s server. I also host a number of servers for games made using Click software through 3EE’s MOO (Multiplayer Online Object), MOO2, MooClick and MooGame objects. This includes a revival of the SmileyHouse server (which manages to use the original server code and accounts thanks to Code6’s handy personal archive), and hosting for Tank Wars Online and the Flanville games by Scott Cawthon. This means that many games which I played and was involved with back in the early 2000’s are now available for people to play again. We even had a few organised SmileyHouse reunions and online gaming sessions where people could chat through Discord (combining old technology and new).
We have succeeded in capturing the majority of the freeware Klik games that people involved in the communities I was involved in would remember. However, there are still plenty more games out there (including hundreds which have been contributed but have yet to be processed). I've been working to try and make this process as automated as possible, but taking screenshots and processing games still takes time. If you have the time and want to support msg on the Screenshot team then get in touch with us on Discord!
I would also like to expand beyond the games to also help preserve more aspects of Klik history and make it more accessible. This involves helping make it easier for people to find the old developer websites which were preserved by the Internet Archive, and collating old interviews carried out on various websites. It also involves creating new content to reflect on the past, including interviews with the developers who are currently making Click games (e.g. those sharing games on The Daily Click) or who have memories or who have memories from the past. Want to help carry out such interviews? Get in touch with us on Discord!
And of course we want to continue to bring attention to Kliktopia to encourage people to search their old hard drives and backups to find more games to contribute to the archive. Please help us spread the word!