Mac Source Ports Status Report: April 16, 2022

So just to post something, here’s what I’m in the midst of with regards to Mac Source Ports.

I have the ioquake3-based game World of Padman building but it crashes when it connects to most servers. It appears the authors provide their own builds for Mac, but they’re the result of an automated process. Like a number of source port projects they don’t have someone involved with Mac experience. They’re working on a new version soon so I may hold off and try again when that ships.

I caught the attention of a Jedi Knight fan site named JKHub and someone from the site asked me to take a look at jk2mv which looks to be a port of the multiplayer for Jedi Knight II. As I’ve done the other Jedi Knight open source games and also ioquake3 it seems straightforward and I have an Intel build working but there’s a snag on M1 I’m trying to work out.

I’ve got a list I’m maintaining of the source ports I want to do, and I’m doing them in phases/passes. First pass, anything that builds into an app bundle (so, an “.app”) and that I can get going on Apple Silicon fairly quickly gets done. Second pass, anything that builds and runs on Apple Silicon and is cognizant of the Mac but isn’t doing its own app bundling, third pass, anything I can get to build that runs but clearly has no Mac-specific considerations. I’ve deviated from this a little bit (System Shock/Shockolate and Rise of the Triad/rottexpr would really be third pass ports) but I’m trying to prioritize. The holdups on those deviations were they didn’t have any code in them to look for data outside of some place like a subfolder of the executable location. It’s not hard to put code in there to look under Application Support, but it’s more work.

Back when I first announced the site on Reddit someone asked if I had a Discord. I didn’t but with a few taps on my phone, I did. It was absolutely an afterthought, but it’s turned out to be a surprisingly active thing, we have over eighty members now and some of the more active ones have gone and found more games to port or link to, so shout out to my Discord community.

One thing I was surprised to see had the potential to build out of the box for the Mac was the Serious Engine. Back in 2016, Croteam released the source to Serious Engine 1, which powered the first two games in the Serious Sam series, Serious Sam: The First Encounter and Serious Sam: The Second Encounter. Those games have been remastered/remade multiple times now but the original files work with this release. I haven’t completely worked through what’s going on yet but I was able to get it to build, however the exact arrangement of data files for the two games is a little weird. By default it wants to build the second game, but you can also have it build the first game, but then the first game won’t run without some files it appears are only part of the second game? It’s weird. But it’s got potential.

The big fish I’m working on right now and one I’d love to get going on the site is The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, courtesy of the OpenMW project. Morrowind was never open sourced but these guys have created an engine that can run it anyway. Lots of projects like this get started, very few make it to a playable state, OpenMW is an exception. I know people have had it running on Apple Silicon before and I have it building but I can’t get it to run, and out of the box the Intel version through Rosetta has issues (though, when you mess with stuff like this enough sometimes it’s not clear if it’s because there’s an out of the box problem or if you’ve messed with something and some preferences file hidden somewhere on your system is gumming up the works). Anyway I’m going to keep picking at it.

At some point I’m going to need to explore the possibility of letting either Intel-only games on the site or games that are maintained but not signed and notarized. Obviously the goal would be to get everything up to the state of being Universal 2 but at some point you have to think – what is the more important goal, having everything up to this rigid standard or providing access to source ports for Mac owners even if they’re not perfect?

For example Warzone 2100. This is a game that was released in 1999, open sourced in 2004, and then its data released as public domain in 2008. It has a fantastic open source project that has a slick, professional website with downloads for macOS, Linux and Windows, and it’s even a Universal 2 app. Should be a no-brainer to add them to the site as a Third Party Build.

So what’s the holdup? They’re not signed and notarized. Their app is Ad Hoc signed but it’s not signed by an Apple Developer account or notarized. These guys are so close to being perfect that instead of trying to do my own build I reached out to them. Naturally it’s not like they weren’t aware of the notarization thing, but the holdup seems to be: there does not appear to be a way, currently, for an unincorporated entity to get a paid Apple Developer account. You’d either have to get it in someone’s name or incorporate as a legal entity. Someone’s name means someone would have to get the account and no one on their project can or is willing to do this (and I’d volunteer but then I’d have to share my Apple credentials) and incorporating as a legal entity is a costly proposition for a non-profit project.

Indeed, all the signed/notarized builds on MSP that I make are signed by me, Tom Kidd. But if you didn’t know about me you’d check the signature and see it’s just “some rando” who signed them. I looked at the other third party builds I’m pointed to and yeah, all of them are just “some rando” as well. In some cases it makes sense (Iliyas Jorio personally maintains the Pangea builds so his name on them makes sense) but it’s sort of a flaw in the concept since if you’re firing up, say, dhewm3 it’s just signed by some random person.

The one exception I found was OpenTTD, they actually have a signed app whose signer is named “The OpenTTD Team” but it’s because they incorporated, in Scotland apparently, as OpenTTD Distribution Ltd. So, a legal entity.

As a side note, I was initially surprised that an Ad Hoc signature meant anything. So, there’s unsigned code where it’s not signed at all, and then there’s code signed with a certificate, like an Apple Developer certificate, and in the middle there’s Ad Hoc signed where you’ve run the codesign utility on it. I think Xcode just does this for you automatically, or it can. A big change with Apple Silicon was that on Apple Silicon you can’t run unsigned code at all. It has to be at least Ad Hoc signed (and even as I type that I’m not sure I have that right).

Thing is anyone can Ad Hoc sign something. There’s no proof of who did it or why you should trust it. So why is it a requirement now for Apple Silicon? My best guess is that, in addition to the fact that signed code (with a certificate) can tell you who signed it, it also tells you it hasn’t been tampered with since being signed. An Ad Hoc signature doesn’t leave an audit trail but you’re at least reasonably certain that it hasn’t been tampered with since whoever signed it did so. At least that’s my best guess.

My current thought process is: I want to get more stuff on the site, then I can consider letting in exceptions. I may need to reconfigure how the little cards work too, make it more clear that something is signed or just Ad Hoc signed, or is Intel-only, or whatever.

Granted if it takes as long to get Morrowind going as it did Ion Fury I may bend that rule a little quicker, we’ll see.