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Kudos and Criticism

by Ambrosia Software Users


Mailbox

This section features reader responses to Ambrosia's software & service. We will include the good with the bad, and address any problems brought to our attention. These are real people writing real letters about real issues. Feel free to drop us a line.

The Question that Would Not Die

At the beginning of this month Jason received a letter from a user who brought up some very good points asking some questions that deserved a response. His letter follows.

"Will you ever go commercial?"

"No, Ambrosia Software is committed to bringing the Mac gaming community quality software at low prices and is dedicated to the electronic distribution concept."

This is a typical Q&A in your "Kudos and Criticisms" section of the Ambrosia Times. With this letter to the editor, I intend to prove you wrong. To do so, I will touch on three basic points.

The first point is that the commercial Mac game market is hurting right now. All of those games that have been successful are simply ports of commercially successful PC games. We need talented and creative development teams working on original Mac concepts to start to gain some recognition in the realm of computer gaming. Games are the sexiest form of computer application. No one drools over a cool business suite, but put a video game display with amazing graphics up in an electronics store and it will be surrounded by kids before the phosphors on the television screens warm up. This kind of dedication and zeal is common in gamers and Mac users alike so wouldn't it make sense that the Mac should be a flagship game platform? Ambrosia is well known for it's creativity and dedication to quality, so it just might be what's needed to jumpstart the Mac game market.

I agree with his points, but I don't see why we would have to go commercial to do any of these things. I feel we can keep doing everything the way we do it and still produce commercial quality games for a fair price.

The second is that one large, monopolistic company will eventually push out all other smaller shareware developers, thus hurting the Mac gaming scene. Although there are great games being produced by shareware developers, it is hard to compete with a company with the resources of Ambrosia who can pump some dollars in high-rate equipment and set aside the time to make commercial quality software. The student programmer is starting to be ignored in favor of the larger companies such as Ambrosia.

Let's keep the talent fresh instead of discouraging kids from game development and making them find a new hobby. One of the coolest things about the Mac is that it's a rebel machine; it's subversive. Lone wolf developers can make some great games with a Mac and lots of sleepless nights. Does anyone doubt the quality of games such as Glider or Glypha by John Calhoun? Or what about Andrew Welch? Maelstrom was pretty much a solo effort, so remember your roots and stop edging the little guy out.

I don't agree with this at all. Shareware is still the most democratic way to distribute software. Anyone can put up a site and start distributing their product.

Most of our games were developed by Lone Wolf developers. Matt Burch is almost solely responsible for Escape Velocity, Ben Spees did Harry and David Wareing did Mars Rising.

I also don't see how we are discouraging kids from producing shareware. I would think that Andrew's experience would be an inspiration to any up and coming programmer. Of course, anyone who would like to develop their game or program to its fullest potential can do so with Ambrosia's help and support. I think Andrew would have appreciated someone with experience running his beta tests and offering tech support for his products.

Finally, Ambrosia is shooting itself in the foot by staying in shareware. Shareware is still on the whole an unreliable system. While Ambrosia has had a rather high success rate, imagine what it would be if Ambrosia were getting serious shelf space in stores across the country. It could reach people not yet online. It could reach people who don't trust shareware. It could attract more talented developers to its team. Ambrosia has outgrown the shareware system. It's resources are so great, it cannot reach it's full potential without commercial distribution. Imagine a CD-ROM adventure done Ambrosia-style. Or what about a large-scale simulation game? Wouldn't it be great? Ambrosia Software remaining in the shareware system would be like id Software staying in the shareware business. It's ridiculous.

Again, I disagree. I think the internet and ftp is the best way to distribute software. We don't have to fight for shelf space, worry about packaging costs, or bear the costs of disk production. Granted, there are potential customers we can't reach, but really the vast majority of computer users who use games and shareware are plugged into the internet, and if they aren't now, they soon will be.

Ambrosia is one of the best assets the Mac has because they are constantly able to produce quality products and know how to market them. They also make games, the programs that best show off a computer's capabilities. Although they are a great asset, they are also hurting the Mac gaming community and themselves by continuing to rely on the shareware system. Almost gone are the days when the lone wolf developer can make a killing on shareware, almost dead is the Mac commercial gaming market, and chomping at the bit is Ambrosia, limiting itself by staying in a system meant for the little guy.

Brian Jones
Gaz Software
http://www.gazsoftware.com

The Mac gaming industry is hurting, but I don't see how us going commercial will change that. As long as we do our best to make the best games possible we are doing our part for the Mac gaming community.


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