The Secret History of Mac Gaming

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Post: #1
https://unbound.co.uk/books/macgaming

Very interesting project in the works, for those interested in the early history of Mac games. For oldtimers like me it's a real trip down memory lane to watch the video and read the list of names the author is planning to feature.

For that matter if you browse the list of people who are giving money to support the book you may recognize some of names from Mac gaming history. I spotted 6 or 7 and I'm sure I missed some.

Anyway I backed it and thought there might be others here who'd be interested.

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Post: #2
It looks like it might be a really interesting book. Watching the short intro video is definitely a blast from the past. Spectre and Marathon just came to mind a couple of days ago. Funny to see them pop up Wink

Story time: I am currently toying with ray tracing and wondering if there is a way to make it happen in real-time, even if it looks like crap compared to modern triangle rasterization. I imagine real-time ray traced stuff might look similar to old-school Doom, Marathon, SpectreVR, etc, except with many of the simple things that come with ray tracing like nice shadows and reflections and refractions. So I got curious about OpenCL and then discovered Apple offers crappy hardware for it, even on the really expensive models. Then I got to realizing that there is literally no hardware upgradeability on Macs anymore... Not that it's ever been widely available, but there's NONE now. And that got me recalling how things have always been with Apple being primarily a pre-packaged computer hardware company, and why developers largely prefer PC's, just as I find myself gravitating there myself right now.

To this day, I am still flummoxed by Apple's insistence that it should not or cannot sell OS X for commodity PC hardware, ESPECIALLY now that the vast majority of its revenue comes from something other than Macintosh computers and they sink truckloads of cash into developing things like watches and automobiles. Totally. Do. Not. Get it.

On top of that, it *feels* like they have (now long ago) completely demolished the "rebel yell" that used to exist in the indie Mac game dev community and are trying to replace it with a lottery gold rush system that only they control.
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Post: #3
There's no question that Mac game development is a shadow of its former self. Apple's hardware moves have something to do with it, but I'd say it was the iOS market that sucked the air out of it (and out of iDevGames, and out of Inside Mac Games.) The lack of upgradeable Macs is just another nail in the coffin, at least for hardcore gamers.

I was suggesting some topics for the book's author, though it turns out he was WAY ahead of me on most of them. One of the suggestions was iDevGames. I made a short list of uDevGame contest alumni, and I found it pretty impressive:

• David Rosen: 2002 winner Black Shades; he founded Wolfire Games and published Luguru. His brother Jeff Rosen joined later. Jeff Rosen is now well-known for creating Humble Bundle.
• Justin Ficarrotta won with Kill Dr Cote, later published by Freeverse as Kill Monty. He later moved into iOS development.
• Rocco Bowling: he did well in some contests, then wrote a few games for Freeverse, and is now a succcesful iOS developer.
• David Frampton: 2003 winner w/Chopper, which he took shareware. He got in on the App Store gold rush by quickly porting Chopper to iOS. Then he did The Blockheads. Now he's semi-retired on the proceeds, and surfs a lot.

(Who did I forget?)

It's sad to see iDG now, but it really accomplished something in its time. Making that list cheered me up a bit.

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Post: #4
Quote:(Who did I forget?)

Oh man... I can't recall clearly at the moment, but I know there are more! Zwilnik comes to mind with Slotz and Fish!, etc, on iOS, not to mention his other cool stuff.

Funny you mention Rosen and the Humble Bundle thingy, since I just bought the latest "hacker book" bundle a few hours ago. Social synchrony is an odd thing. I remember being in a few minor arguments with David here many years ago, and I was recalling that when I bought it. Nice guy, but what jerk! I kid, of course. Rasp

Yeah, iDG definitely helped spin off some success in Mac and iOS games. I guess it's been replaced now by newer social media sites like stackoverflow and reddit, or something. I haven't personally seen any modern analog of the idevgames community though. I wonder where everyone scattered to? I wonder if there is a new favorite site?

I greatly miss some of the expertise that gathered here. To me, that, plus the freedom, were excellent. Much better than the "democratic" noise-fests on large social media sites like reddit and the ultra-control and hush-hush of corporate-owned boards under NDAs (if you know what I mean). Even stackoverflow just doesn't work as well for me, although it is certainly helpful. I really wish there was a way to resurrect iDG. I suspect it would not be restricted to the umbrella of "mac and iOS game development". Maybe it's time to embrace Linux!
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Post: #5
Quote:Oh man... I can't recall clearly at the moment, but I know there are more! Zwilnik comes to mind
I forgot that he was around! I don't think he entered any of the contests though. Am I wrong?

The book's author mentioned that he spoke to Karl Becker, who was in a couple of our contests. But the reason he's in the book is apparently he did some Hypercard games back in the day. Who knew?! (The book is mainly about the 80's and 90's, I'm told.)

Quote:I greatly miss some of the expertise that gathered here.

Ditto. I guess it was the contests that pulled us together. Kind of a trial by fire. What a pain they were to run, but they built a strong, mutually supportive community, and it was clear who knew their stuff.

I think you are right that having just a Mac game dev contest might be too limiting. I know there are communities of people who just do 8-bit games, or make new cartridges for Atari 400 or whatever, but I don't like the idea of Macs being relegated to that kind of niche. The OS isn't obsolete, but they just don't seem to inspire the indie game devs like they used to. And sites like IMG are gone too.

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Post: #6
Quote:I don't think he entered any of the contests though. Am I wrong?

Hmm... I don't recall. I don't think he did though, so I think you're right.

Quote:... but I don't like the idea of Macs being relegated to that kind of niche. The OS isn't obsolete, but they just don't seem to inspire the indie game devs like they used to.

Not niche. Not obsolete. But yeah, "uninspiring" is about right. I was thinking more like it has become uninteresting to game developers by the way Apple has positioned it economically for game developers (intentionally or not). It's like it was already hard, and they seemed to make business decisions that made it much harder. For instance, the Mac App Store is something that many, if not most Apple customers seem to demand nowadays. Apple started off restrictive with it, demanding a very high royalty for themselves, lured in developers, providing only download bandwidth, and then later increased their restrictions, while still charging a ridiculous royalty rate. It just makes no sense when you look at the platform.
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Post: #7
The book looks like a nice trip down memory lane. So I backed it too. Smile

For me it's the graphics support on OS X. Apple is getting farther and farther behind. Their OpenGL is 6 years (!) out of date now. Metal is neat, but it's not exactly feature complete on the desktop, and I'm also pretty uninterested in making a game that is locked to Apple. I've more or less lost hope that they will support modern GL, and I suspect that Vulkan support is years away if they are going to support it at all. I haven't even mentioned the hardware yet. Sad The Radeon 295 in my iMac was above average when I got it, but I wasn't kidding myself that it was worth the money I paid for that GPU. It was the best they had to offer at the time. On half of their models, you pay a premium price for an integrated GPU and outdated drivers. I really like my retina iMac, but I have a really hard time seeing myself buying another high end Mac in a few years.

I like to tease Unity for being designed like it's from 2005, and until maybe 6 months ago that was pretty true. They are finally starting to use features that Apple doesn't support, and along with it comes the awkward realization that Apple is quickly becoming even more out of date than they are. I too am quite strongly considering that Linux might soon be the home of any fun projects I want to work on.

Scott Lembcke - Howling Moon Software
Author of Chipmunk Physics - A fast and simple rigid body physics library in C.
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Post: #8
Scott,
Apologies for not listing you and Andy (i.e. Howling Moon Software) when I was trying to list accomplished iDG alumni!

Yeah, Apple may be at a weird tipping point. On the one hand Metal is generally considered an improvement for iOS. Plus their Mac marketshare is still going up so the market isn't telling them they've made a mistake yet. But when I hear stories like yours I fear that they've given up even the appearance of graphics parity with PCs.

It feels like a return of the pre-OpenGL days. (One difference is they have enough marketshare that Metal isn't likely to be completely ignored.) In theory I have Unity to isolate me from all this, but when I hear you say that Unity Tech are also complaining then I'm concerned. Is this something they've talked about publicly? Do you have a link?

Too bad Carmack isn't around to yell at Apple. :-)

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Post: #9
"Apologies for not listing you and Andy (i.e. Howling Moon Software) when I was trying to list accomplished iDG alumni!"

It's not like we've made it that big. Rasp

"but when I hear you say that Unity Tech are also complaining then I'm concerned"

Well, they've complained for years that Apple is behind (and that's been true for a long time). I always took that with a huge grain of salt though since until very recently Unity was still using an GL 2.x renderer! When they release the 5.4 beta, they will have mostly filled out the 3.x feature usage (with the exception of uniform buffers), and will have some 4.x usage that Apple doesn't support (compute shaders, etc). They've been talking about a lot of features that Apple doesn't even support (reverse float buffers, AZDO). It will only get more awkward from here if Apple continues business as usual.

Scott Lembcke - Howling Moon Software
Author of Chipmunk Physics - A fast and simple rigid body physics library in C.
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Post: #10
Quote:It's not like we've made it that big.

Everything is relative. You have some impressive accomplishments, AND you are still plugging away at it. My hat is off to you.

And thanks for the perspective on Unity and Apple. I am not up on modern/advanced graphics so its nice to get an expert opinion.

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Post: #11
Sorry I missed the rest of the conversation here! The thread subscription options seem to be randomly in opposition to what I expect: I always want to be subscribed, but somehow I'm not, sometimes.

Quote:Too bad Carmack isn't around to yell at Apple. :-)

Sadly, I get the feeling that Carmack wouldn't matter to Apple anyway. Annoyed

This is a company that is building a spaceship-shaped office in Cupertino and researching building cars, and selling wristwatches. But we are still held behind mid-level commodity PC hardware if we buy the most expensive Mac, which costs a ransom. Scott is suggesting this will be awkward going forward with Apple, and I think he is being polite.
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Post: #12
Yeah... I mean I really like my retina iMac, but I'm not kidding myself that I could have gotten better hardware at much lower cost had I gotten a 4k screen and vanilla PC hardware. I'm likely not going to be in a place in my life where I'll just say "why not?" when it's time to upgrade again.

Scott Lembcke - Howling Moon Software
Author of Chipmunk Physics - A fast and simple rigid body physics library in C.
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Post: #13
Final push on the Secret History of Mac Gaming book. In the last few days the % of the goal has jumped from 47% to 60%, which is great. But if anyone reading this was on the fence, now is the time!

Side note, the author put up a podcast recently using his interviews with Cyan to tell the story of The Manhole, the spiritual predecessor to Myst. http://ludiphilia.net/podcast/6-the-manhole

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Post: #14
It made it to 100 for the record Smile
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Post: #15
Yep, and with only a few days to spare!

Rich says that since it made the goal it can stay up a while longer. He's planning a stretch goal or two, possibly an additional chapter.

Now at 109%. Looking forward to it!

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