|Ambrosia Software: Shareware of the Gods|
June 19, 2003 | Michael Yanovich
The date: a few weeks ago.
The event: A single bolt of lightning flies out of a clear blue sky, striking a deserted field.
The result: A fiery inferno. While no one is hurt, the lightning strike stars a fire that burns the field dry, leaving nothing behind but a single word clearly written in ash on the ground.
The word is: Ambrosia.
If you play Mac games, you've probably heard of Ambrosia Software. One of the Mac's premiere shareware developers and publishers, Ambrosia has been making games and utilities with the passionate zeal that comes from drinking the gods' nectar. And once IMG's crack news staff saw the writing on the lawn, we got the hint. It was time to do an article on them.
We contacted Ambrosia Software's Office Woozle, Tom Anthony. And yes, that is his official title. As Tom said: "We don't take things too seriously!! Developer Liason, Webmaster, Beta Manager & All Hours Server Fixing Guy are titles you could use if you want something more official sounding; my roles are numerous."
No, Tom. Woozle will do just fine!
As I was saying, we asked Ambrosia's resident Woozle a series of questions related to the burning field incident, and while he appears to have no direct involvement with flinging lightning bolts around in a haphazard manner, he did have some very interesting things to say about Ambrosia?
IMG: Hi, Tom. Why don't you start by giving us a brief history of Ambrosia Software, as well as your role in the company.
Ambrosia Software, Inc. is a small company dedicated to bringing you quality software, excellent support, and innovative ideas all at a reasonable cost. Started in the early '90s when Andrew Welch created Maelstrom, Ambrosia creates personal productivity tools that make using your computer a more enjoyable experience, as well as anti-productivity tools (games) that are just plain fun. Andrew started the company for fun, and thankfully Ambrosia has maintained this principle, we like to think this has contributed to our success.
I was a long time Ambrosia fan after being hooked by Maelstrom and Escape Velocity years ago. It was an industry I was interested in and when I got the chance to join the most exciting company in Mac games I jumped right in. I do all sorts of things and no two days are ever the same! I liaise with our developers and testers, trying to keep everything moving, as well as deal with broken down servers and, occasionally angry customers... Recently I have been working on our new, soon to be launched, web store -- providing instant license code gratification to all who buy!
IMG: How has Ambrosia managed to stay successful for as long as it has? It's been through the peak of Apple's success and the late 90's pit that Apple almost didn't climb out of. Does being a shareware company give you any advantages to rocky economic landscapes?
Apple has a loyal user base, meaning even during its worst times there were a lot of people supporting Apple and so were continuing to buy software. All we have done is striven to keep doing what we do best, making great software! In the case of games we have always tried to center on providing long-lasting playability and, obviously, fun gameplay.
Being a shareware company obviously has advantages and disadvantages, we don't have the overhead of producing physical units, but for a lot of people having no physical product is off-putting. We are as much as affected by these things as other companies -- we just try to concentrate on doing what we do well so people will have confidence their money is well spent.