Writing software and giving it away is an interesting concept. For one thing, (good) software tends to be really hard to write. That is the reason most free software aka “open source” has such horrible user interfaces. User interfaces are hard to get right; they tend to confuse users. For those not “in the know,” open source software could theoretically be modified by anyone, so it is more flexible than Windows which comes in a “one size fits all” variety. This is theoretical because modifying an existing program’s source code is like trying to renovate a freeway without closing it. It is possible to do, but rarely done.
Usually free software is written to “scratch an itch” of the programmer, which is entirely true in my case. I loved the old Shandalar Magic game, as well as the interactive Magic tutorial that came with the starter pack. I wanted to play Magic against the computer, just plain and simple. I also wanted to be able to play sealed and draft games if possible. I also wanted to use modern cards, rather than Shandalar’s Alpha-Legends odd set of cards. Shandalar didn’t have any fatties without horrible drawbacks.
I’ll continue to work on MTG Forge and add a few cards here and there, but basically my itch has been scratched. MTG Forge has been downloaded 8,000+ times and Star City Games has published an article about it. I still have the impossible dream of adding tons more cards and I continue to work on the next version of MTG Forge. I would love to be able to program all of Lorwyn, but I would be doing very good if I could just do 10th Edition. The combat part of the program needs to be rewritten in order to implement first and double strike, which will be a pain. Programming the actual cards isn’t too hard if everything else is done. The cards are just the icing on the cake.
Hopefully this explains a little bit about who writes free software as well as why. I have also explained why free software tends to be buggy and hard to use. Personally, I feel like more free games should be written, since games are fun. I would love to play someone’s version of Marvel/DC’s VS or any other trading card game for that matter. The best way to support your favorite free software project is by sending e-mail, hint hint. I (Forge) can be reached at “mtgrares yahoo com”