Interview with the Underdogs

By: Derek Yu

On: August 3rd, 2009


Rob Cummins did a great interview with Sarinee Achavanuntakul, the founder of Home of the Underdogs, one of the earliest and most important abandonware sites (now defunct but in various stages of unofficial resurrection). Aside from abandonware, HOTUD was one of the first big sites that I remember featuring indie games and developers. I think the modern scene owes her a lot – thanks, Sarinee! And thanks, Rob, for the interview.

  • Tanner

    Along with the also defunct Gamehippo, HOTU pretty much introduced me to indie games. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them, I’m sure.

  • shockedfrog

    HotU was an awesome site, and definitely helped grow the good side of the modern scene. I hope the resurrection goes well, though that kind of thing always concerns me a bit, site resurrections tend to lack some of the spirit of the original site, but if it keeps the info alive and they can eventually restore a good number of the downloads, I guess it’s a good thing.

  • MisterX

    I also used and liked HotU in the past, but nowadays I’m very skeptical of Abandonware sites. As that term is not clearly defined, I find that these sites tend to decide what is and isn’t Abandonware far too freely. Surely, I wouldn’t deny how very useful these sites can be. But, just as an example, Metal Gear Solid 1 was uploaded to HotU, although the developer is still actively in business and the whole series is as up to date as it could be.
    I’m not sure what would help, maybe just more discussion of which titles should be “declared” Abandonware and which shouldn’t. Until then, though, I’ll remain highly skeptical and won’t just glorify sites like HotU.
    I’d agree, though, that it helped indie gaming, but with TIGS, the IG Blog, etc. it isn’t needed for that anymore.

  • Moi

    The original devellopers of the games generally don’t earn a penny when the old games are resold on new online shops such as GOG or the WII virtual console. For example, when an old NES or Genesis game is released there do you really think the graphists,musicians and coders get money? no, generally the game’s right have been sold and resold to a new editor or some sort of IP management company that has nothing to do with the original devellopment studio.
    what’s worse is most of these donwloads are crippled with some kind of DRM that makes their life expectancy very short, so it’s definitely not a solution for archiving.
    That’s why, yeah abandonware and emulation are a cause worth fighting for and HOTU was the greatest website of all so thanks saree.

  • Moi


  • Eclipse

    I was, and i’m still, an avid retrogamer, HOTU was my homepage for a long time, and as long as the old ones i discovered and played most of the freewareindie games for that site too, so thanks Sarinee, it was a wonderful period and i possibly owe you part of my life

  • MisterX

    Maybe the original developers don’t, but the company owning the rights still earn when they sell their licenses so the respective games can be sold via, for example.
    My main problem in this case is that those Abandonware sites don’t just stay in the “gray area” concerning legality. While it may mostly be considerably illegal that they offer games they don’t have the rights to, the holder of these rights usually doesn’t care or is maybe even defunct, I don’t know for sure. But, anyway, in the case of Metal Gear Solid 1 as the example, it’s clearly illegal. The developer is not defunct, the rights are still owned by a company who cares, therefore offering MGS1 on HotU is not any different from offering it on some warez site.

    And, by the way, the great thing about GOG is that their games are actually _not_ in any way crippled by DRM, that’s why it came to it exist in the first place. So, at least concerning the titles which are offered there, I think a project like in contrast to other online shops is a much worthier cause to fight for :)

  • Canti

    I don’t wanna insult anyone, but could someone post the phonetic pronunciation of her surname?

  • Zacqary Adam Green

    I had no idea that the HOTU founder had such an awesome and Control-C inducing last name.

  • geist

    Thai last names are always a mouthful.

  • john

    jeeees, you guys seem to never have met anybody outside of USA, or read a name that comes from outside of USA ??

  • crukid

    Thanks for posting this, Derek. It’s a great interview. And she named dropped you.

  • misterY

    please excuse my nephew , he’s been watching this corporate IP Propaganda 24/7, he just can’t help it :))

  • TheCube

    I loved HOTU. That was my page for a long time. I think that was actually when I was introduced to BitTorrent, ironically.

    I also was introduced to one of my favorite games of all time, Sacrifice. Wouldn’t have even heard of that game if it weren’t for HOTU. I can’t even remember most of the games I got off of there, but I know it was my introduction to the idea of a small developer actually making something other than a 5 minute flash game, as was my view at the time.

    So, that.

  • misterY

    he doesn’t understand archiving or categorizing at all…. you should see his messy room ! :))

  • KayelGee

    Great interview.
    HOTU was the site to find old games from my youth and games I didn’t even know existed.
    There are so many great games, which even today are great games, if these weren’t preserved, we would really lose something awesome.

  • MisterX

    Oh so funny ;) You’re right, of course, about these uses of Abandonware sites, I didn’t mean to play these down. I wouldn’t say that Abandonware sites are a bad thing. I’m just concerned about that one specific topic, basically a blurred line between Abandonware and Warez.

  • Radix

    Hotu was my homepage for a few years too. I remember it being kind of depressing when the time between front page updates started stretching out longer and longer, and then people worrying about ‘Underdogs’ when there was that tsunami or whatever, and then the site finally going down and freeing me of that need to keep checking for updates.
    I saw this via dessgeega the other day. Great interview. I never took the time to find out anything about the site owner in the past so this was kind of a knowledge bomb.

  • Flamebait

    That was interesting in the extreme. I’ve wondered recently why Sarinee let it die, and now I know. But the story of its birth and life were awesome as well.

    “Along with the also defunct Gamehippo, HOTU pretty much introduced me to indie games. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for them, I’m sure.”

    Same sites for me back in the day. I think around the same time I also started checking the formerly excellent “Freegames” section of Megagames.

  • Stargoat

    Great interview.

    “I believe in what Larry Lessig said, which is that we need a new system of doing things. I think that if someone … maybe goes to the ESA and approaches them and says, ‘If you’re not going to take up the responsibility of opening up back catalogues for people, then at least can you grant us a Creative Commons license to distribute.‘”

  • Lemontears

    She seems like a very good person, oh and her site was pretty cool too.

  • Toadsanime

    As someone else also said, I have both GameHippo and HotU to thank for me really being in this scene at all.
    Actually, that and Acid-Play.

  • jonas

    hotud was like that ultimate friend that had all the games and let you copy them to diskettes to take home. ah… good times growing up with that site :)

  • Ezuku

    HoTU was the thing that introduced me to all the old games that existed before I really started gaming. It will be sorely missed. It did make my hurt pain to see the site very slowly die like how it did.

    Also, most Thai (Indian too) names are pretty huge.

  • someonespecial

    a >As someone else also said, I have both GameHippo and HotU to thank for me really being in this scene at all. Actually, that and Acid-Play.

    Yup, same here. I remember literally being shocked when I tried to browse Gamehippo one day and noticed it had found an early grave.

    @MisterX: Well, the PC version of Metal Gear Solid is a relatively old game that’s unlikely to ever get re-released and hard to get a hold of at a reasonable price. So I guess it fits the mold.
    Also I don’t see what the the fact that the IP is still being actively used by the copyright holder has to do with it.
    Or do you believe it’s somehow ethically wrong to download Wasteland from some abandonware site now that Fallout 3 is out?

  • someonespecial

    Ah, I screwed up on the quote there, forgive me ;)

  • Anthony Flack

    HOTU provided an invaluable service in documenting, archiving and preserving old games in an era that treated them as utterly disposable. We still don’t have properly established legal archives and libraries of video game history so we just have to do what we can. Screw the law. I don’t care. The law is shit. This isn’t commerce, it’s culture.

    “jeeees, you guys seem to never have met anybody outside of USA, or read a name that comes from outside of USA ??”

    Foreign names should be limited to two letters or less? But if Sarinee is Thai, she should have a cute little short nickname that people use instead of her long, formal one. All the Thai people I’ve known have done.

  • Kamos

    The Hall of Belated Fame was a great way to learn about great games that never became famous. And the scratchware manifesto was, at the time, the indiest thing I’d seen.

  • MisterX

    someonespecial: But is that all it takes for something to be “Abandonware”? Jedi Academy from 2003 is also hard to get by now, but I think nobody would argue that it’s Abandonware.

    Well, I obviously don’t have proper arguments to back this up, and I guess this discussion falls out of place, here, anyway. Generally, though, I think it would be worth it to define more clearly what Abandonware should be.

    Okay, a bit more on the topic of HotU nostalgia, I can say that I would have probably never found out about one of my favorite games, the excellent DOS multiplayer game Marshmallow Duel, hadn’t it been for Home of the Underdogs :)

  • Anthony Flack

    No video game should be hard to get!

    That’s the purpose of “abandonware” – there’s really no such thing; it’s a stop-gap measure, created out of desperation because we don’t have proper archival libraries of video games.

  • Paul Eres

    interesting that it all started because of ‘sword of the samurai’ — that was one of the best games. stunning ega (or was it cga) graphics, it really used those colors well. unique gameplay that i’ve never seen before or since.

  • Stargoat

    There’s a community ressurection project happening for gamehippo, too. So far… not much progress has been made. Comprised of old forum members, and a few of the reviewers, it’s happening at

    There’s also another gamehippo ressurection project (at, but those guys suck, so don’t go there.

    …but they actually have a functioning site and a few reviews.

  • MisterXY

    MisterX: not that I give a crap about Metal Gear, but what are they at now, the fourth iteration in the series? How many of the people that work on the franchise now, from Cow Eating Ogre to Code Monkey, do you think worked on the first game in the series?

  • PoV

    HOTU was a great site. Totally the indie site of days yore. A little game of mine did the international gaming mag cover disc and freeware site circuit, but it didn’t get much traction on English gaming sites. My friends and I always held HOTU high regard. I never really considered the possibility that it’d get listed. Lo and behold, one afternoon I hop in to our IRC channel and get the URL from a friend with his comment “Congratz, you made it”. That certainly stands out as one of my prouder game making accomplishments.

  • Sparky

    I probably owe HOTU my current level of involvement with enthusiast game development. Once upon a time I wanted a regular industry job as an artist.

    I would visit the site, looking for old commercial games, and every so often I’d come across something by Kenta Cho or some other freeware developer. I’m very grateful that the site hosted so many inspirational freeware games- it was really empowering to see great modern games still being made by small teams. This had a big effect on my own decision to start making games.

    Best wishes, Sarinee, with whatever you do next.