Before Papers, Please came along and dominated our hearts and our awards ceremonies with its grim tale of bureaucracy and poverty in a totalitarian state, we were reliant on Cart Life to make us feel empathy for our fellow men and women. The simulation of a life spent running a food cart won the Seumas McNally Grand Prize at IGF 2013 and caused Adam's heart to grow two sizes.
But creator Richard Hofmeier has pulled the game from Steam. Why? Because he's now offering it completely free along with its source code, so you can start to tinker with its innards.
At the time of writing, Hofmeier's website is down due to the sudden spike in traffic that follows open sourcing your game. But when asked by fellow developers why going open source meant he was no longer selling the game, Hofmeier replied that he was "done supporting it / fixing bugs. Time to stop charging & open it up (despite fears of code nakedness)." Which is awfully generous.
If you already bought Cart Life on Steam, the game will remain a part of your Steam accounts. If you've never played it, now you've no excuse. Here are two out of context paragraphs from Adam's WIT:
When I realised I could just take a bus to the store I felt like an idiot but I didn’t feel like the game had misled me. It seemed acceptable that Andrus didn’t quite know how to widen his own horizons yet, or wasn’t comfortable doing so. He’d relied on the proximity of the pub because it was safe. But then it became a habit. I’d stop for that morning beer every morning and make sure to have a couple more every evening.
Why was that? Because it broke up the monotony of work and because, sad and true, I was hoping that someone would spark up a conversation in that dark little room. A few words of kindness. The only ones I heard for the first couple of days were from the guy serving me and he was being paid to be friendly. It’s lonely out there and lonely people make strange decisions, even when debt and doom are heading toward the door.
AND IN THE GAME.
I really hope going open source leads to a whole world of Cart Life-inspired derivative works, expanding the boundaries of the original's available characters and carts with new people, new roles, but perhaps also carrying the theme towards entirely new experiences.
Thanks, PC Gamer.