Microsoft have open-sourced 3D Movie Maker by popular demand
Some hope it might, weirdly, lead to open-sourcing Carmageddon
In a curious bit of historical preservation, Microsoft have released the source code for 3D Movie Maker, a fondly remembered piece of software from 1995. You might best know it from Jerma985's oft-memed Rat Movie (pictured ↑ above). This comes amidst a wave of source code releases for Argonaut Games' BRender engine, which was also used by games including Carmageddon 1 & 2, Privateer 2: The Darkening, Queen: The eYe, and and Croc. This could lead to fan-updated versions which are easier to run on modern computers.
Created by Argonaut in the 90s, the BRender 3D engine was used both in their own games and licensed to other developers. Now, thanks to the advocacy of Foone Turing, source code for several versions is publicly available.
In April, Turing bugged Microsoft on Twitter to give them the source code for 3D Movie Maker, laying out their hopes to update and update it. The former CEO of Argonaut, Jez San, saw this tweet and responded saying he held the rights to the engine and was happy to open it but didn't have a copy of the source. Well! Turns out, a few folks had BRender source for one reason or another, and after some wrangling and tidying, Foone has released source for several versions, with even Microsoft officially joining in.
So! You can now download the 3D Movie Maker source code, as well as source for several other versions of BRender: the 1995 DOS version used by Privateer 2, the 1997 version used in Croc, another 1997 version, and a 1998 version. Turing's personal wiki has more info on different versions, documentation, and such.
Turing also noted they reached out to THQ Nordic, Carmageddon's current owners, hoping code for the murderous racing series might follow now that BRender is open. Lacking source code, a group of fans have been working on reverse-engineering Carmageddon for years.
The first hope with source code releases is that fans will be able to update the engine so software can easily run on modern systems without faff, workarounds, and weird fixes. That's always welcome. And then, maybe—hopefully—people might be able to expand games with new features. For example, open engine source code is why these days fan-modified Doom engines can support everything from modern screen resolutions and more-complex mods to full-on raytracing.
People do still make movies in 3D Movie Maker (and the spin-off Nickelodeon 3D Movie Maker), mind. The 3DMM.com forums show a new release every few days, ranging from skits and startlingly edgy short films to Ren & Stimpy crossover episodes. It's also to thank for the Jerma985 short film with the oft-memed lyrics "Rats! We're rats! / We're the rats! / We prey at night we stalk at night / We're the rats!" / "I'm da giant rat dat makes all of da rules!"
Correction: this article was initially incorrect about the BRender engine's lifespan and some of the games which used it.