December 8th, 1999

[8:30 AM] Into The Maelstorm (Under GNU Open Source License)!
by Staff

Ambrosia Software has jumped on the open source bandwagon by releasing the code for Maelstrom 3.0 under the GNU license. The company is seeking to propagate their creation by letting others port the title or build new versions of the game. According to Ambrosia:

Ambrosia Software, Inc. embraced the burgeoning open source movement with an early Christmas present when it released the source code for its first arcade smash hit, Maelstrom, under the GNU General Public License. For the first time, users can peek at the programming which makes an Ambrosia game tick.

Maelstrom, the classic rock-smashing game that launched Ambrosia to fame, was called 1993's Best Shareware Game by MacUser and ZiffNet/Mac. It received 4 stars in MacWorld, and the ShareWare Industry Awards Association pick for Best New Macintosh Product. It also took first place in the 1994 Mac Home Journal Reader's Choice Awards, and MacUser UK's Best Entertainment Software Award.

In the heart of the Maelstrom, you must pilot your United Planet Border Patrol recon craft. It's a trusty ship that has earned medals for few and deaths for most others. If the storm of asteroids doesn't faze you, enemy Shenobi ships and autonominous mines are waiting to blast you into space dust. Additionally, there are other natural space disasters such as vortexes and supernovas that have a habit of ruining even the best space pilot's day.

Maelstrom, which was originally written by Ambrosia's el Presidente Andrew Welch, was ported to Linux by Sam Lantinga in 1995. The 17,000 lines of C++ code can be freely edited, modified, and compiled on any platform, from Red Hat Linux to Windows NT.

Version 3.0 of the game contains additions and improvements by Sam, such as networked multiplayer deathmatches, screenshot capability, gamma correction, and a worldwide high score reporting mechanism. Of course, once the code is in the hands of developers everywhere, there's no limit to the number of modifications possible in the future. The software also contains no registration or payment mechanisms, making it a totally free version of Maelstrom.

The General Public License, or GPL, was created by GNU in 1989 "to guarantee freedom to share and change free software". By encouraging open development standards, developers share code for the betterment of all free software. While the GPL was used mainly for application, utility, and operating system development, the release of Maelstrom's source code should remedy the relative dearth of action software code available to the free software community.

You can find more information, and a peek at the source code, at the Ambrosia Software web site.

The Mac Observer Spin: Programmers wanting to get into higher-end game development will find this is a perfect opportunity. Of course, seeing the game grow and improve would benefit gamers everywhere. Ambrosia is one of the brightest spots in the Mac game and shareware market and should be applauded for making this code-base available.

Ambrosia Software