Nearly twenty years after its release, the source code for the controversial game POSTAL is now freely available from its developers, Running With Scissors. What exactly inspired this release at this particular time isn’t clear, as the developers had offered to release the source code previously, but only if someone was able to port the game to the Dreamcast. In the developer’s post, they are still hoping someone will create that Dreamcast port, but have released the code as a “belated Christmas gift” anyway.
It is also noteworthy that the bulk of the post about the code’s release praises POSTAL Redux, a remake of the original game and how much better it is than the original game. The Postal series, which is Running With Scissors’ only franchise, is frequently the focus of controversies about violent video games. The original game received some amount of criticism, although POSTAL 2 was a much more infamous title. POSTAL 2 was often cited in the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court case, Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, which ruled against a California law preventing minors from purchasing violent video games.
Even if you have no intention of using the source code for anything in particular, it is always interesting to read through a game’s comments and code to see what went into development. For instance, comments in the code for fire in POSTAL show what kind considerations had to be made: “This is used for a special case when the starter of the fire is not the thing using the fire as a weapon (e.g., when a guy catches fire he can use the fire on other people by running into them causing them to catch on fire; however, if his own fire kills him it is to the creator of the fire’s credit that he dies). The full code is released under the GNU General Public License version 2 and can be downloaded from bitbucket.
Take a look at the code yourself and see if you can find any notable comments or code snippets to share.