Mac Source Ports Progress Report: September 14, 2022

I actually started a new post and progress report back in July, but I got sidetracked and didn’t finish it and a lot of things have happened since then so I’m going to just recap them all in this post. The one thing I will pull over from that unfinished post is that this is my development process in a nutshell:

Anyway since then, I’ve added several ports

Tyrian/Tyrian 2000 (via OpenTyrian/OpenTyrian2000)

This is a now-freeware (formerly shareware) SHUMP that has great retro gaming cachet because it’s legit an old game. The original game was Tyrian and the re-release with a fifth episode was Tyrian 2000 and they have enough differences that two source ports are necessary to play them both. I incorporated some new code in Objective-C that allows the executable to find the data in an app bundle but I’ve since learned about a method in SDL that does this already so in the future for things like this I’ll use that if the port already uses SDL.

Old School RuneScape (via RuneLite – third party build)

I’ll be honest I don’t get RuneScape. Not because it’s an MMO that looks like it could run on a potato but because the developer both maintains a new and old version of the game but also allows for third party open source clients. The business model is a head scratcher. Still, I’ve known people over the years who spend top dollar building up massive PC rigs and then the first game they play could run on a Pi Zero you could fit in your wallet. So whatever, they have signed and notarized (but not Universal 2) builds, so I’m linking to them. Also this helped me work out a system of being able to add multiple architecture versions to the site, code I had in place before but didn’t work well because nothing used it.

Cro-Mag Rally (third party build)

Another Pangea port from Ilias Jorio.

Theme Hospital (via CorsixTH)

Like GemRBCorsixTH has hurdles to being a Universal 2 build but unlike GemRBCorsixTH‘s use of something called Luarocks is difficult enough to work with that I decided it wasn’t worth it so I’m just releasing it as two builds. I figure future releases of GemRB I’ll do the same.

Unreal Tournament (via OldUnreal – third party build)

I’m irrationally excited about this one. The OldUnreal project has been maintaining the 1999 game for years now and they now have it native on Apple Silicon. It’s not open source, and I did chat with them about a couple of quirks of packaging for Universal 2, but they did all the work on this themselves and I’m just linking to it.

Fallout 2 (via Fallout 2 Community Edition – third party build)

This one is amazing – some dude just out of the blue reverse engineered the Fallout 2 engine and it plays the game perfectly. Despite the naming it’s not an official product, he did the DevilutionX thing where there’s two versions, one aims to be a recreation of the Windows 95 engine code, warts and all, and the other is designed to be compiled and run on modern machines. He just posted about it in /r/macgaming. I made a Universal 2 build and mentioned it to him, so he decided to do his own and I just link to that now. For years another project called Falltergeist tried to do something similar but stalled out, which makes this one even more impressive.

Arx Fatalis (via ArxLibertatis)

This one was kinda straightforward, though there’s still an issue with some menus and localization, but now you can play this old RPG on Apple Silicon natively.

Ultima VII: The Black Gate and Ultima VII Part Two: Serpent Isle (via Exult – third party build)

I had looked at Exult months ago and it looked tricky to get going and was seemingly a long dormant project. Well apparently back in April they added Apple Silicon support of all things and they sign and notarize so I added the games to the site.

Super 3D Noah’s Ark (via ECWolf)

The one game ECWolf runs that I initially skipped, I went ahead and added it when I learned that not only did it support the game but the ECWolf guys working a deal with whoever owns the carcass of Wisdom Tree is the reason we have it on places like Steam and GOG now. So whatever, let’s add it

Bug Squish, Circus Linux!, Vectroids, Mad Bomber, Gem Drop X, Entombed, and Defendguin

These are odd, so bear with me – Bill Kendrick, author of Tux Paint, asked on Twitter if anyone wanted to port some old SDL games he had to the newest versions of macOS and I got tagged so I took a swing at it. These are seven small games, mostly remakes of older games on things like the Atari 2600 and they’ve been ported to damn near everything. Once I figured out the trick to building/packaging one I went ahead and did them all. I was going to just make one post with all of them but the formatting was wonky looking so I made seven entries. The author was elated, especially since at least one of these had never been on the Mac before.

These are unusual in that they’re games most people have never heard of, not modern ports of old commercial games, but it’s almost “MacSourcePorts as a service” so I went ahead and did them.

Heroes of Might and Magic II (via fheroes2)

This is a project that seems to have done the work necessary to bundle themselves so it was straightforward to get a build going

Blake Stone: Aliens of Gold and Blake Stone: Planet Strike (via bstone)

A couple of quick entries from this Wolfenstein 3-D engine game. Someone on my Discord mentioned that they were building fine so I added them

Commander Keen in Invasion of the Vorticons, Commander Keen in Goodbye, Galaxy! and Commander Keen in Aliens Ate my Babysitter (via CommanderGenius)

Turns out CommanderGenius was doing the work already to make app bundles and look in the right places for data so adding these three games was easy enough. The third one is weird though since it’s not on any commercial services any more, so I debated whether or not to make it. But this is definitely a deal where making the website entries and the icons was more work than the build itself.

Hexen II (via uHexen2)

This one is sort of a perfect example of the conflicts I have on this stuff. Once I got their old build running and playing the game I wanted to get it going on modern hardware since it’s a fun game. But the OpenGL version doesn’t run on Apple Silicon natively for some reason and the Intel build occasionally doesn’t run. So do I hold off until it builds right? Get in there and fix it myself? Or do I put it up with caveats since at least in the meantime people can play it? I ultimately decided to put it up with caveats.

Because here’s the thing: the site has an anniversary coming up. And I’ve got this idea that I don’t know if I’ll be able to pull off but it would be cool if I did.

a) Have 100 games going by the time the first anniversary rolls around, and

b) I have something special in mind for game #100

Today is the one year anniversary, apparently, of me buying the M1 Mac mini (or maybe it was yesterday) and starting the process to make this site. It’s not the one-year anniversary of the site since it took a while to come up with it and launch it but a year ago I got the bug to start making these ports. Near as I can tell I launched the site on or around October 25, 2021. That gives me a month and change to see if I can get to 100 games. Since I list by games and not by ports, I can do things like the bstone source port powering two games. And those seven SDL games bumped up the number a lot too. Maybe that’s cheating, but whatever.

As of this writing I’m up to 82 games. So I’m not clear on if I’ll make the number by then. But we’ll see.

It is more or less the case that my focus has been on getting the number of ports/games up, not necessarily in making sure the ports are completely up to date all the time. I kinda figure after I’ve done 100 games and most of the ones on my to-do list that are feasible are done, I’ll spread the focus out, like making alternative ports for existing games (i.e., adding QuakeSpasm in addition to vkQuake, etc.) or in beefing up the site (a reworking, possibly using a CMS, is probably going to be due once we have a hundred entries).

In any event, that’s the latest.

Mac Source Ports Progress Report: June 21, 2022

I just added a build of GemRB to the site, a source port recreation of the Infinity Engine, so I’ve been able to add three new games to the site, Baldur’s GateBaldur’s Gate II, and Icewind Dale. Reportedly, Planescape: Torment is also playable but I couldn’t get it to run personally, and Icewind Dale II can reportedly run but not be completed so I just stuck with listing the three that GemRB seems to be confident about.

I was really trying to get OpenMW to work but I ran into some snags and I’ve not been successful at finding many/any folks who have had it working on Apple Silicon. The OpenMW guys were nice and helpful but they leveled with me: none of them have Apple Silicon Macs so none of them could really help.

So to switch gears to something that seemed more feasible I looked at GemRB which had the advantage in that it made its own app bundle from CMake files so I figured it would be a straighforward deal – build two versions, make a copy that has the resouces and lipo the executables and libraries together, bundle it up and call it wonderful.

And if you’ve looked at how long this post is you’ve probably guessed correctly it wasn’t that straightforward.

It almost was – I had it building two versions for the two architectures and it ran great. Cool, so let’s assemble this guy and get him out the door. This is where I ran into the first snag.

GemRB uses a plugin architecture. It’s actually pretty neat and pretty well done and I’m sure it’s instrumental in getting the project to support numerous games. However, while the project does use a .dylib for certain things, the plugins are all .so files. A .so file is akin to a .dylib on Mac or a .dll on Windows. So my first instinct was to lipo them together to make Universal 2 .so files. Which lipo happily did, and otool even showed them as having the architectures I expected. All was well.

Except they wouldn’t load. This is when I realized: it’s because .so files have no concept of a Universal 2 anything. If they were using .dylib files we’d probably be in business but they’re not, they went with .so files on macOS because they have the common denominator of being useful in Linux/UNIX platforms. What I’ve learned over the years (and I should have thought of this before I messed with the .so files) is that the Mac is pretty much the only platform with this concept of multiple architectures in a dynamic/shared library. This is mostly due to how Apple can dictate the platform, including how it switches architectures. So they invented this concept of a Universal 2 library that can hold both architectures and contains a header to point to where they start and stop.

So that means to do this I’d either need to figure out what was involved with switching the project to using dylibs on macOS (eventually I discovered it’s using dll files on Windows), or deliver two different apps, or copy over the two different versions of the plugins to parallel directories and load from there. I decided on that last option.

I try to change as little as possible but I wound up having to modify the CMake files to copy the items to the right directories, and modifying the code to sniff out where it’s running and load the files from there. It was a touch on the tedious side, and it violated to some extent my impetus to try and modify as few files as possible, but eventually it worked.

And then days later I had the more or less literal Shower Thought: maybe if it just uses .dll files on Windows, it could have used .dylib files after all. I don’t know how much of the process to load in a Universal 2 dylib is truly intrinsic to the operating system and how much it relies on code support. Lots to learn, but if I revisit this in the future I might see if I can get .dylib support working and/or how hard it would be.

Interestingly when I posted the build I noticed it wasn’t getting many downloads. Which is fine, I’m doing this as a hobby, plus GemRB actually does offer a Mac bundle on their site, just unsigned and for Intel only. When I posted to Reddit though, the first question was: I don’t understand, Baldur’s Gate already runs on the Mac, right?

Well, yeah it does. But, it’s kinda complicated.

All these games ran on the Infinity Engine from BioWare. They came out over a period of a few years from 1998 to 2002. Then BioWare moved on to other things – namely, the Aurora Engine for Neverwinter Nights which migrated from the 2D sprites of Infinity to 3D polygons. At some point when it became feasible to sell old games digitally, especially via vendors like GOG who specialized in older games, these games started appearing on places like GOG.

Then in 2012, Beamdog approached BioWare (now owned by EA) with the idea to license the Infinity Engine to enhance it and then sell enhanced editions of the games, which they did. The results were games like Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition and Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition. Places like GOG originally sold both versions but eventually they dropped direct sales of the original in favor of just bundling it as an extra with the Enhanced Editions.

GemRB requires files from the original version, not the Enhanced Edition. Which means if you don’t own it already you need to buy the Enhanced Editions, which includes the originals, but also means you now own a version that already runs natively on the Mac (albeit for Intel).

So what’s the point of GemRB? Well some people prefer the originals to the Enhanced Editions (I’m not really versed on all the differences personally). But also: to some extent the whole goal of this project is to make versions of source ports to run on modern and future Macs. A secondary goal is to make apps which can play games that might not be otherwise available but that’s not always the case.

Or to put it in Cave Johnson terms: “Science isn’t about why, it’s about why not!”

One area where GemRB might eventually shine: the one Infinity Engine game that does not have an Enhanced Edition is Icewind Dale II. The reason? The source code has been lost. You run into this in the game industry from time to time and often it’s the case that eventually someone stumbles on an old CD-R or an old hard drive someone thought was dead, or even the occasional floppy disk, and finds it. But as of right now Icewind Dale II‘s code is MIA, so there’s only two ways that game is going to run on modern machines: either they find the old code, or the game’s code and the differences to make it happen get reverse engineered. Beamdog seems disinclined to do the work themselves (not that I blame them, the amount of QA work for a commercial product is probably daunting) so if the support in GemRB matures it might be the only way to play that game.

In any event if anyone keeps up with my blog I started this entry weeks ago and didn’t finish until a week into July. Life’s been busy, I’ll blog again soon.

Mac Source Ports Progress Report: June 1, 2022

I’ve had some Real Life™ stuff going on so I haven’t been able to make a whole lot of progress on getting more source ports happening, but in the meantime I ran a couple of Twitter polls about something I mentioned a while back and the response on that, coupled with the lack of activity and something else I noticed, I decided to take action. Long story short I’m now linking to five (well, really three) third party builds that do not check all of the criteria.

To recap the criteria so far has been

  • Universal 2 (so, both Apple Silicon and Intel 64-bit builds in the .app bundle)
  • Signed by an Apple Developer certificate
  • Notarized by Apples notary service

This way,

  1. The games will run natively on both Apple Silicon and Intel 64-bit Macs (with the Apple Silicon thing being a particular strong point)
  2. The games will run after downloading them without stopping the end user from running them via Gatekeeper
  3. The code has been confirmed to be checked by Apple for malware

This is the goal as a minimum, but I’m also good with hosting or pointing to additional builds, like the build of ioquake3 that is Universal 1 (runs on PowerPC as well).

In particular, what I see and foresee happening a lot is this: a bunch of people are buying the latest Macs and all they know is they want to play games on them and they don’t know or understand anything of the logistical specifics of how Macs work post-2020. They know there’s this cool new M1 processor in them but they don’t know what that means, just that it’s cool and fast and battery efficient and all that jazz.

They have no idea what it means to have broken Intel compatibility. And to a certain extent they don’t really need to care either. If a game was running in 64-bit mode on an Intel processor on a Mac before, Rosetta 2 will let them continue to play it. For a while. Eventually Rosetta 2 is going away but it’ll be years down the line.

The other thing is I figured a bunch of people will just want an easy way to play Game X with as little hassle as possible. They don’t know what OpenGame32 is or why it will run Game X they just want to double-click on the thing and play the thing. That’s one of the primary functions of Mac Source Ports: to limit the friction of the experience of doing that.

However, I’ve decided that, especially at this juncture, the occasional compromise is warranted. That is to say: on a very select and curated basis I’m going to allow games that do not adhere to all three of the bulleted criteria above, but I’m going to make it very clear when I do.

The biggest reason is just that I think right now is a good time to highlight some impressive if imperfect (insofar as the criteria is concerned) work. I’m becoming a fixture on /r/macgaming/ which is a mid-to-lower sized Reddit community and I’m seeing all the time “what games are there to play on my M1?” and “how can I play Game X on M1″ where Game X is something on Mac Source Ports. The subreddit allows for daily self promotion and I’m… adhering to that.

But at the same time I’m thinking: there are five games right now which I could list and would be a great answer to the question “what games are there for my M1?” except they don’t hit all the criteria. What’s more important: sticking to the plan and never wavering or providing imperfect but suitable answers?

So with that, I decided what would be better for the Mac as a gaming platform would be to highlight the community work on occasion even if it doesn’t check all the boxes. I’ve added five games across three source ports.

Like I mentioned before the game Warzone 2100 is a great fit in numerous ways: it’s a 1999 computer game (1999 being something of a Golden Age for people like me – olds, in other words), it’s open source, the content is freeware now, and it has an outstanding source code project complete with professional looking website. It runs on Mac and it’s Apple Silicon native. The one and only issue is it’s not notarized, but rather Ad Hoc signed (so, someone ran the codesign utility on it but not with an Apple Developer certificate). I spoke with the developers and they had valid logistical reasons for it not being notarized (you can read about it here).

Being open source and freeware I could conceivably build my own version and host that, but these guys have done so much work I don’t want to steal any of their thunder. One of the things I’m cognizant of is if a source code project makes its own Mac build and then I make mine and siphon off downloads from them, they might look at the Mac port and say “well no one really downloads this thing so we can just drop support for it”. Quite the contrary, I’d rather drive downloads to their site if possible.

I’m still going to communicate with them and let them know of any solutions I run into, but in the meantime there’s this full, free 1999 computer game that runs on Apple Silicon, it seems like a waste not to add it. I’ve labeled it as Ad Hoc Signed so we’ll see how that goes.

In that vein, another game I get a lot of requests for is Re-Volt. This is a blink-and-you-missed-it racing game, also from 1999 (not kidding) that shipped on the PC and the Sega Dreamcast. From the outside it would just seem to be a typical kart racing game, albeit one with a cute twist (you’re racing small RC cars around full sized urban environments) but it has a devout following. How devout? They reverse engineered a source port with no existing code. The result is RVGL.

The problem was it wasn’t available digitally anywhere, and it was never released for free, so it tended to be the sort of thing where you’d get the files from *somewhere* and run it. But then GOG re-added it. Turns out there’s been some drama surrounding the game’s rights so it’s had intermittent availability.

And like Warzone 2100, it’s a deal where it’s native on Apple Silicon but it’s not signed or notarized. And unlike Warzone 2100 it would probably be a good candidate for me to rebuild and notarize, except for one thing: it’ not open source or source available. I’m not sure why but I’m seeing some reports that the authors might be concerned about getting in trouble for reverse engineering the code (after what happened to the RE3 project, it’s a valid concern) so they’re keeping it under wraps.

I’ve reached out to the authors but in the meantime I’ve gone ahead and added it with the Ad Hoc Signed warning since I’ve had so many requests to add it to the site. Plus if someone clicks the GOG link and buys it I’ll eventually receive a few pennies, which is nice.

And then there’s the OpenRA project. This one is basically the opposite situation – it’s actually signed and notarized. However, it’s not Universal 2, it doesn’t have native Apple Silicon support yet. It’s in the works and it looks like it’ll be in their next release, but in the meantime it works fine via Rosetta 2. So since it’s notarized and since Apple Silicon is in the works, I figured it would benefit the community to point out that it can play Command & ConquerCommand & Conquer: Red Alert, and Dune 2000. I had to add some scaffolding to the site’s code to handle showing the fact that it’s not Universal 2 or even 1 (no PowerPC support) and an Intel-specific icon but they’re there.

As if that wasn’t weird enough, it has a fairly novel if unusual approach to content management. Apparently at various points in time versions of Command & Conquer and Red Alert have been released as freeware. So if you don’t have the games or own them it can download a subset of data from the games to play. I think it skips video cutscenes and music for bandwidth reasons, but the other way is if you provide the game with either a pre-existing installation or an installation disc. Obviously there’s not currently a way to install it on a modern Mac (that I know of) so a disc seems like the next best thing – except of course for the lack of a disc drive on, well, every Mac these days (last model with a drive was like 2013 I think?).

But of course I had to try this and I saw that the release of the games under the title The First Decade (which itself is like 14 years old now yikes) was one of the discs that worked so I broke out the SuperDrive that I’ve carried around in my backpack for eight years and maybe used like five times and… yup, it works.

It’s like a floppy disk drive: you almost never need it but when you need it you *really* need it

The Dune 2000 port can do something similar and I’m not sure if Dune 2000 was ever released as freeware, but it’s almost definitely abandonware since it’s been out of print forever and EA likely doesn’t own the Dune license anymore anyway. So to me that’s a different situation than, say, Re-Volt. I guess one of the perks of linking to a source port like this that doesn’t include the data but can bootstrap it from sources is that the blame is elsewhere. Also this project has been around for years, and litigious EA hasn’t seen fit to put the smack down on it so it’s probably ok.

So yeah, I don’t see this becoming a habit but I decided to add five games using three source ports to the site even though they bend the rules on the criteria slightly, for the reasons I explain above.

Mac Source Ports Progress Report: April 28, 2022

I’ve added a build of j2mv to the site, it’s a multiplayer client for Jedi Knight II. The OpenJK project had a single player client for JK2 but not one for multiplayer. Daggolin was able to figure out the trick to getting OpenJK working on arm64, he was able to apply similar logic to j2mv, which I incorporated.

I’ve updated DevilutionX, the source port of Diablo, to the latest code. They had a formal release of 1.4.0 and this includes that, plus some stuff off the main branch. I’m not sure what my long term strategy should be yet, I think at some point I’ll want to make builds based off labeled or tagged commits but I’m not sure the best way to do that. As in, for DevilutionX they have a commit they tagged as 1.4.0 and then there’s like 60+ commits after that. My build includes the 60+ commits after that which, so long as they didn’t break anything, is probably fine. Maybe at some point I’ll have a “stable release” and “latest code” thing happening.

My focus at the moment is to try and get as many games/ports as possible going, with an eye on automation down the line. At some point I need to get releases packaged into .dmg files instead of just zip files of the app bundles. Not sure if this would be less likely to trigger the “this file is not commonly downloaded” thing Chrome does when (I assume) the zip file contains executable code for the first X number of downloads.

Someone pointed out that the dhewm3 bundle for DOOM 3 did not feature the code to run the Resurrection of Evil expansion pack. I rectified that and did a new upload.

Iliyas Jorio let me know that the fourth and final Pangea Software game he maintains, Mighty Mike, is now signed and notarized so I added it to the site as well. I wasn’t sure if I should have listed it as Mighty Mike (Power Pete) or not – it was released in 1995 as a commercial CD-ROM title from Interplay/MacPlay under the Power Pete name, in 2001 Pangea regained the rights to the game but not the name so they re-released it as Mighty Mike via shareware. Maybe I have my timeframes mixed up but I’m kinda surprised to hear there was still shareware happening in 2001.

And then on something of a lark, despite still trying to get ES3 happening, I decided to do The Ur-Quan Masters, aka Star Control 2. I’ve never been into this game but it’s one of those titles where it’s frequently on the lists of best games ever made, and subsequent attempts at sequels or remakes haven’t really been a hit, sort of a RoboCop effect.

I’m always fascinated by backstories like this – the developer is Toys for Bob which, unlike a lot of developers from the 90’s is still technically around, though for a while there they were stuck in licensed game hell. In any event, Star Control II was ported to the 3DO where they used the then-novel CD-ROM technology to add speech and different music to the game.

Apparently the source to the original DOS version is completely lost, but the 3DO port’s code was still available so they made it open source. Then at some point they made the content for the game be freeware under a creative commons license. The one thing they didn’t own and couldn’t release was the Star Control name, which is in some legal limbo clusterfuck that continues to this day, so the project is The Ur-Quan Masters, which was the subtitle of the original game.

Since the game uses very little if any 3D graphics (there’s some level of OpenGL in there but it’s primarily a 2D game) I figured it would come over to Apple Silicon fairly easily. And for the most part it did, with a couple of hitches.

Most of the source ports I work with use either Make or CMake to handle builds, with probably 2/3 or more of those being CMake. I’m still figuring out the best practices there but I’m coming around to liking CMake projects the most because they’re much closer to uniformity with what works.

There’s some outliers – a few projects use nonstandard stuff, like Ninja. The DXX-Rebirth ports used SConstruct which I’ve never even accidentally run into anywhere. The Ur-Quan Masters, however, uses its own homegrown build system. It’s not that bad, it is to some extent a scripted wrapper around Make, and they have another script that builds an App bundle, not entirely successfully but nothing I can’t work around

The problem is it has a menu system. You have to select a few things by specifying numbers, and even that’s no big deal except it requires intervention and I can’t automate it. Star Control 2 came out in 1992 and The Ur-Quan Masters started in 2002, so it’s a 20-year-old source project for a 30-year-old game. Maybe they’d do it differently today but a number of today’s practices either didn’t exist or weren’t mature in 2002.

Anyway without a ton of hassle I had it doing a Universal 2 build and even included the data files so it can be the full game (according to the FAQ on the website, this is permissible). But the problem was – the sound was fucked up on Apple Silicon. The graphics were fine, the sound had an issue.

There’s two or three libraries included in source code form that appear to be sound-related. My first thought was perhaps one of these has an updated version that works with Apple Silicon so I could just copy over newer code, but the UQM devs actually left a note to future developers that these were custom versions of these libraries, so that was out – no telling if a new version of the code would work at all.

Then on a Hail Mary hunch I figured – ok, so if it’s working on Intel Macs and screwed up on Apple Silicon Macs, could there be some sort of code in these audio libraries that’s being configured for Intel. So I did a search for “x86_64” and found two places doing an #ifdef thing. I added arm64 to the list of defined variables and it worked. Essentially it was two places that had to define a typedef for 64-bit machines and this code predates arm64 (or at least Apple Silicon). The website for the port says the 0.8 version released late 2021 was the first release in almost a decade.

In that vein, I added a new “Full Game” badge to source ports on the site to indicate releases that include the game data or at least don’t require you to download or configure anything out. Looks like right now with the Pangea titles, the Marathon titles, Star Control II and a few others, there’s a dozen full game releases on the site.

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.

Mac Source Ports

On the one in a million chance that there’s someone out there who still reads my blog, or is still subscribed to the RSS feed despite me not posting in *checks notes* years, and does not look at the front page, here’s a post to point my latest venture: Mac Source Ports.

The short version is I’m using it to post signed and notarized app bundle builds of video game source ports for the Mac to run on Intel and Apple Silicon processors.

The long version is here.

So that’s the first reason I’m making this post.

The second reason is: I’m actually going to use the categories on this site to categorize thing. And by categories I mean category: one category for Mac Source Ports posts. I’m going to link to it from the main Mac Source Page.

I figure a blog to say what I’m working on and where I’m at with things would be relevant.

Why not just put that on I guess I could, but for right now I’ve got that thing hosted somewhere it would be nontrivial to say “and run a PHP site in this subdirectory, oh and can you even do databases?”

Right now is entirely custom code. I don’t know how long term feasible that is or how long before I’ll need to suck it up and move to a proper CMS, but for now it works and I can do anything I want with it, although it’s a touch on the tedious side.

Anyway, I’ve tried using this as a platform to put my thoughts out there and I’ve kinda fallen off of that, then I tried using this as a platform for my professional works and, well that kinda fell off too. So either this latest attempt at using my blog will really, no really, prove to be useful, or I’ll fall off of it, too. We’ll see.