August 2, 2001

Is Tux a traitor? Tux Racer 1.0 is only for Windows, for now

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
Sunspire Studios, creator of the penguin-filled Tux Racer game, will offer the 1.0 release sometime before the end of August, according to lead programmer and Sunspire CTO Jasmin Patry. The first non-beta release will take the code proprietary, because the commercial computer gaming industry doesn't look kindly on GPLed source.Patry, who wrote the original code for Tux Racer and holds the copyright, says that Sunspire has nailed down a few lucrative OEM (original equipment manufacturer) deals with the Windows port of the game. Tux Racer is a downhill ski race through realistic mountainous territory. A tiny penguin slides, belly-down, over ice and snow and around various obstacles. You can choose your level of difficulty, and if you don't like Tux, the 1.0 release will be more politically correct. Sunspire is adding other little critters, including a seal, a polar bear, and a female penguin.

When the first release of Tux Racer comes out, it will be an OEM release and will only be available for Windows, because Sunspire has not secured a retail publisher yet, and there aren't any Linux OEMs. The tuxracer.com Web site is pretty emphatic about its claims that the retail, boxed version of Tuxracer 1.0 will be for Linux, Mac, and Windows, but no deals with publishers have materialized yet.

That means Linux and Mac users will just have to wait. Patry says that Sunspire is working to get a deal with a publisher who would issue a boxed version of the game, which would include ports for Linux, Macintosh, and Windows. "That would still be the 1.0 release," says Patry, "and if there were any updates to the OEM version we'd issue a patch."

Since the 0.61 release, the proprietary version of Tux Racer has branched off into closed source. "We want to get the features that will go into Version 1.0 into a better state before releasing them to the public," a statement on the Tux Racer Web site reads. Patry says that the decision to take Tux Racer proprietary should not be viewed as a slam to the Open Source community. He says that there hasn't been a lot of participation from developers, anyway. "We've had very few contributions" of code to the project, he says. "The major contributions have been user constructed [race] courses." No community contributed code will be included with the retail product, according to Patry.

"We hope to eventually release the source code for 1.0 under the GPL," says Patry.

In the meantime, J. Nathan Matias is taking matters into his own hands. He's put together a project called Open Racer, a GPL-branch of Sunspire's Tux Racer. "It is my
hope that Open Racer
develops in a different direction
than the commercial Tux Racer
in order to keep from direct
competition and wasteful strife
with Sunspire Studios," he writes. "This project is proceeding with full approval from Sunspire, as it will be a project based upon the Tux Racer source, but
not directly competing with Tux Racer."

Matias makes it clear he is looking for someone to take over maintenance of the project. "I hope someone will come along with a real vision for the project and take over." Matias plans to put the project on SourceForge as soon as other developers join in. Interested coders can visit the Open Racer Web site or email Matias at rubberpaw@sourceforge.net.

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