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Interview with Chris Danford, creator of StepMania

January 2, 2005

in All Articles,Games

StepMania is a game modeled after “Dance Dance Revolution”, one of those fancy exercise-while-you-play video games (read more about StepMania).

The difference is that StepMania is Open Source Software (OSS). That is, it’s free. Chris Danford is the lead designer and creator of StepMania, and took some time to give his thoughts about OSS and where it’s going.

Andy: How do you think open source software can compete with commercial software companies?

Chris Danford: It’s the quality of the people who work on open source software that make many of these projects so successful. OSS contributors enjoy what they’re working on so much that they spend their free time doing it. Also, OSS developers are often more in-touch with their users than commercial developers – they answer questions on community message boards, make heavy use of their own software, and their reward is to see people happy with their work. That level of dedication and passion is missing from a lot of commercial projects I’ve been involved with.

Andy: Why do you personally develop OSS?

Chris Danford: I started working on open source software as a learning experience. It’s a great opportunity for aspiring programmers to review the works of others and to have their work reviewed by the community. I continue to work on open source software because I’m still learning new ways of solving problems and because it’s fun working with other talented and dedicated people.

Andy: What drawbacks do you see in the OSS model?

Chris Danford: Manpower and motivation are big limitations in the free open source projects I’ve seen. It’s hard for most projects to keep a schedule because they’re at the mercy of volunteers to get work done. There are times in a project when lots of people are working hard and everything comes together, and other times when progress is slow. Also, there are many important but mundane software projects that don’t get much attention from hobbyist OSS programmers.

Andy: What’s your favorite OSS game (besides StepMania)?

Chris Danford: Tux Racer is my favorite and FreeCiv a close second!

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