Here's a great example of orphaned software getting a new lease on life. Ambrosia Software created a great little shoot-em-up, Asteroids clone called Maelstrom. It was a little game for the Mac that I played circa 1993. At the time it was a sight to behold-- beautifully pre-rendered 3D sprites, taking fullscreen advantage of those big, 12-inch color Macintosh screens (gasp!). Well, the company doesn't maintain it any more, but they did the gracious act of GPL'ing the source code. That means that anyone can then take it and do what they'd like with it (as long as released derivatives of it also include the source code).

When Ambrosia stopped working on Maelstrom (which was Feburary 15, 1996 according to the FAQ), it was on version 1.4.3, and it only ran on a Macintosh. Today, (thanks to the efforts of Sam Lantinga and others) you can download Maelstrom 3.0 for MacOS Classic, MacOS X (as a native Carbon app), BeOS, Windows (95 up through XP supported) and Linux no less. Plus there are additional sprite and sound packs available. It even has multiplayer support.

Kudos to Ambrosia Software for loving Maelstrom enough to set it free.


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One of my favorite Mac games, long since abandoned, is back up in GPL and available for free download on [Read More]


Joel said:

Many late hours did we spend in the Faculty Resource Center playing that game, if I recall correctly. :)


Eddie said:


Maelstrom is one of the greatest games ever created for the early mac days. As a junior in h.s. i wasted away much of my life playing it. My favorite features were the Simpsons sound pack we had for it. Thanks for keeping a legend alive!!

Jeff said:

Maelstrom led to my "almost" demise. I am not a gamer but got addicted to the game. My soon-to-be-wife pleaded with me to stop. My eyes going back and forth, up and down. I started to get dizzy--even when I wasn't playing the game.

It got so bad I couldn't stand up straight in an open space (interestingly, an enclosed space, like a car, was fine). After seeing specialists they assured me I didn't have a brain tumor. While the symptoms got better when I was*forced* to quit the game, it wasn't until just two years ago that the mystery was solved.

It turns out I have a perceptual problem. At close range my eyes do not work in tandem (sort of like a frog's independent eyes!). Oh, you can't see it and I don't appear to be a reptile. But it has affected my vision.

After finally finding a eye doctor who cleared things up he said I probably had this condition since childhood (could this be the reason I became an artist?) but that my excellent eyesight compensated for it. Playing Maelstrom only exacerbated the condition that was only becoming apparent as my aging eyes began to show their years.


This article was published on September 18, 2002 11:40 PM.

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