Community Choice Awards Q&A with ScummVM

After last month’s Community Choice Awards, you told us that you wanted to hear more about the projects and from the developers. We put out a call on Twitter for your questions, and sent them to each winner.

Our first response comes from Max Horn, a.k.a. Fingolfin, ScummVM project lead. ScummVM won the Best Project for Gamers category.

What made you choose to make your project open source?

I joined the project after it was created, so I can’t give a definite answer to that one, but I think the original motivation to write ScummVM was to have fun reverse-engineering the games, to be able to play them again, and to let others share the fun. In retrospect, going open source was important because it allowed lots of people to help out — by improving the existing code, adding new engines, and porting ScummVM to new devices.
I don’t think ScummVM could have gone where it is now as a closed source app.

What does your development environment (OS, IDE, etc.) look like?

Mac OS X 10.5 running on a MacBook Pro. No IDE — I use BBEdit as my editor (and have been doing so for a decade now or so), and to compile code, together with gdb for debugging. I keep trying out XCode and Eclipse, but always very quickly go back to the editor+make+gdb combination, because those IDEs are all so terribly slow. Whenever I get a new machine, I try it again, hoping that now it will be fast enough, but it seems IDE producers compensate for faster CPUs by adding more bloat.

How long did it take you to develop your project and how many people contributed to it?

ScummVM was started in 2001, so people have been working on it for about eight years. During this time, we have had patches from several hundred people. Of these, maybe 70-80 made bigger contributions. In 2009 so far, a bit more than 40 people made commits on our project.

How many open source projects have you worked on? What is your favorite?

I have submitted patches to dozens of projects (including some I keep forgetting about; sometimes I am surprised to find my name in “thank you” lists). But serious contributions — maybe 6-8? My all-time favorite is ScummVM, but I enjoyed working on all of them. And there are some projects I really would like to get my fingers on, but unfortunately, days still have only 24 hours. Hopefully they’ll fix that eventually ;).


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