Ares (video game)

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Ares Logo.png
Developer(s)Nathan Lamont
Publisher(s)Ambrosia Software
Platform(s)Mac OS
Mode(s)single player, multi player

Ares is a space strategy video game created by Nathan Lamont of Bigger Planet Software,[1] and first released by Changeling Software in 1996. In 1999 the game was re-released as shareware by Ambrosia Software and released as open source software and freeware in 2008.[2] The key feature of the game was its ability to zoom in and out smoothly; this allowed the player to switch between a close-up view, which emphasized space combat skills, and a strategic view of the entire map.


Ishiman vessels defend a newly captured station.

The player is cast as the commander of the U.N.S. Apollo, humankind's first interstellar vessel, dispatched at light speed to investigate the source of a signal broadcast at Earth from one hundred and fifty light years away. On reaching the source, the crew is told that, due to relativistic effects, Earth has by now been taken over by the religious Cantharan Order, and the signal was a ruse from the friendly Ishiman, who wished to maintain humanity as a free race; the Ishiman planned to find a new world for the crew of the Apollo. Although the advanced but peaceful Ishiman are unwilling to enter into direct war with the Cantharans, the Apollo's crew is able to persuade them to supply a limited amount of their technology in an attempt to free Earth. Upon undertaking their new mission, the ship is renamed the Ares.


Ares offered combat situations and strategic planning combined by allowing the player to directly control a single spaceship, at the same time as building and commanding others.

Ares consisted of a saga between 6 main alien species, with humans being one of the less advanced races in the universe: the Audemedons, the Salrilians, the Ishimans, the Cantharan, the Gaitori and the Humans. There were however, numerous smaller species which come up throughout the solo play levels, such as the Obish, the Elejeetians, and the Bazidanese. These species were however not available for online play.

The single player game consisted of a story plot and 21 levels. When released as a shareware game, Ares came with limited functionality and was limited to the first six levels, giving the user a taste of the story, and incentive to register the game. Ares multiplayer mode set the Ares masters apart as the skill needed for winning against human opponents was higher, as the computer AI was not very strong in the solo levels. Nonetheless, once the solo levels were completed, multiplay was where most users went.

In multiplayer 5 different game modes were available. Each game had with it a set of absolute strategies to use which usually worked–yet finding these strategies took time and adaptation. There was room for creativity, supreme piloting, or supreme strategy as well.

Ares left its imprint on the Macintosh Gaming League with its own page, organized by Ares supporters. Clans were also found around Ares briefly. One of the oldest and highest ranking clan was called "TAG".


Ares was developed by Nathan Lamont originally only for Classic Mac OS systems and not other platforms like Windows or Linux. It runs natively also in OS X Classic environment available for non-Intel-based Macs. The only possibility then to run Ares under other operating systems, while only working for single-player mode, was using a Macintosh emulator like Basilisk II or Sheepshaver.

The game was published by Changeling Software and released in 1996. Due to the publisher's poor marketing the game had not much economical success on initial release and the publisher also didn't awarded any game sale profits to the developer.[3] Publisher Changeling became defunct in 1998.

In 1999 the game was re-released and better marketed as shareware by Ambrosia Software.[2] This revision of the game added a level editor named "Hera", which allowed Ares levels to be edited and plugins to be made, similar to the plugins available for Ambrosia software's hit game Escape Velocity.

Source code and asset release[edit]

In 2008 the Ares source code was released under the GPLv2 software license and most assets under a CC BY-NC Creative commons license by Nathan Lamont.[4][5] In 2011 a LGPLv3 license option was added.

Community development and ports[edit]

The availability of the source code and assets resulted in continued development by the game's community. There are two projects focusing on updating Ares to run on OS X and porting it to Windows. These projects are called Antares, and Xsera. Both projects have beta/alpha releases of their work available online.


  1. ^ Bigger Planet Software
  2. ^ a b Ares on
  3. ^ "If I already bought the Changeling version, do I get this version for free?". Ambrosia Software, Inc. 2005-09-15. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  4. ^ About on In 2008, Nathan Lamont released the original source code to Ares under the GNU GPL 2.0, and most of the media under the CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. In 2011, he added the option of using the GNU LGPL 3.0 for the Ares source code.
  5. ^ About on