Interview: John Calhoun on the Origins of Glider (Part 2)

mossy_11 on Tuesday, 07 December 2010. Posted in Mac Classics Reborn

GliderPRO-9rooms

John Calhoun's Glider games hold a special place in the history of Mac gaming, acting almost as an icon of the platform through much of the 1990s. They spawned a hugely dedicated fan base, which produced a ridiculous amount of original content both for and about Glider -- especially Glider 4 and Glider PRO, the later versions.

I caught up with Calhoun over email recently, and quizzed him on the origins and development of the series. This is the second (and final) part of that interview. Read on to discover how Glider grew from a shareware to commercial product, what inspired the new features of Glider 4 and Glider PRO, how the game's community shaped its development, what Calhoun thinks of the Mac indie scene, and more.

You can catch the first part of the interview here. And also be sure to check out Dreaming of a Thousand-Room House: The History and Making of Glider, which provides context and a narrative for this interview.

News Round-up: November 10 - December 5

mossy_11 on Sunday, 05 December 2010. Posted in News

apple-logoIn Apple and Mac gaming news, iOS 4.2 was released two weeks ago, bringing “multi-tasking” functionality to the iPad; a Steam hardware survey suggests that most Mac gamers are using laptops; Feral Interactive has released a Mac port of popular action-RPG Borderlands; Aspyr’s Mac port of Civilization V has landed; Telltale has released a poker game, Poker Night at the Inventory, with Max (from Sam & Max), Strong Bad, The Heavy (from Team Fortress 2), and Tycho Brahe (from Penny Arcade) as the opponents; id Software’s Rage has hit the current generation of iOS devices; and the Grand Theft Auto 3 trilogy has finally made its way to OS X.


stellaAtari 2600 VCS emulator Stella received a big update last month. Version 3.3 lists around twenty bug fixes, improvements, and additions to graphics display, application performance, debugging, and more. See the official Stella news page for release notes and the main site for the latest download link.


MacifomCycle-exact and Cocoa-native NES emulator Macifom has been updated to version 0.15. This new version adds support for games that use the MMC3 mapper on TxROM boards and games that were designed for SUROM boards, in addition to providing various other improvements. See the official site for full details.

More updates after the break.

The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle

mossy_11 on Tuesday, 30 November 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

game-boy-original-bugs-bunny-box-frontBugs_Bunny_Crazy_Castle_splash

Honey Bunny is being held prisoner in a castle and only Bugs can save her, but you’d have to read the manual to know that. I had no manual back when I played The Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle on my Game Boy, so I thought maybe it had some kind of escape theme. Years later I discovered the real story, but that didn’t really matter. Bugs Bunny Crazy Castle is an action-puzzle game, and a fun one at that.

I was obsessed with completing this game as a kid, spending hours trying to master it and using dozens of sheets of paper to write down my passwords (yep, no save slots). The music and sounds are now permanently imprinted on my memory, and always make me feel like dancing. It is a game with personality, mixing a distinctly Japanese flavour with the traditional Looney Tunes humour and animation.

Interview: John Calhoun on the Origins of Glider (Part 1)

mossy_11 on Saturday, 27 November 2010. Posted in Mac Classics Reborn

glider3-helicopter-small

John Calhoun's Glider games hold a special place in the history of Mac gaming, acting almost as an icon of the platform through much of the 1990s. They spawned a hugely dedicated fan base, which produced a ridiculous amount of original content both for and about Glider -- especially Glider 4 and Glider PRO, the later versions.

I caught up with Calhoun over email recently, and quizzed him on the origins and development of the series. This is the first part of that interview. Read on to discover where the idea for Glider originated, how the game came to exist, and how it dramatically altered Calhoun's future.

And also be sure to check out Dreaming of a Thousand-Room House: The History and Making of Glider, which provides context and a narrative for this interview.

Dreaming of a Thousand-Room House: The History and Making of Glider

mossy_11 on Tuesday, 23 November 2010. Posted in Mac Classics Reborn

Imagine a house filled with thousands of rooms, each unique in some small way. Now pretend that its occupants are mysteriously absent, yet the house is teeming with life, and there is no connection whatsoever to the world outside -- not even a single window. Goldfish jump in and out of their bowls, which are haphazardly placed; a nearby basketball bounces of its own accord. Elsewhere, an exposed pipe drips water in a darkened room and balloons magically rise through the floor.

GliderIconPaper helicopters materialise out of the ether, only to disappear just as suddenly, while two slices of bread hop up and down in a toaster that sits on a small table. And you are a paper airplane, at the mercy of air currents, whose very survival depends on the avoidance of these strange and wonderful -- yet simultaneously mundane -- household objects.

This is the world of Glider, a classic Mac game with a devoted fan base that remained strong for over a decade. It spawned from the mind of John Calhoun, whose childhood was filled with dreams such as the one described above. His dreams took on a kind of reality with the release of Glider 1.0 in 1988, although this first version was rather simpler.

The game evolved considerably over the following decade -- growing in depth and complexity, expanding its fan base, adding a level editor, and even picking up a commercial release. This is the story of the origins and evolution of Glider, from its humble beginnings as a mere experiment to the aftermath of Glider PRO -- the final version of the game.

NBA Jam

mossy_11 on Monday, 15 November 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

NBA_Jam_splash

Razzle Dazzle! Boomshakalaka! He’s on fire! These nonsense words and phrases are permanently imprinted on my psyche, so great was the impact that Midway's arcade basketball game, NBA Jam, had on my youth. In honour of the recent franchise reboot, I’m taking a look back at the original NBA Jam. I hope you’ll join me.

When I was a kid, my friends would often have their birthday parties at video game arcades. We had the entire arcade to ourselves for a few hours, with unlimited play on any machine. The first thing I looked for was always NBA Jam; I couldn’t get enough of its wild antics and crazy fun. This was basketball, minus the boring bits, with the kind of self-mocking edginess that attracted me to movies like Wayne’s World and Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

News Round-up: October 8 - November 9

mossy_11 on Tuesday, 09 November 2010. Posted in News

mac_os_x_lion_bannerThe next major version of Mac OS X will be called Lion, it was revealed at a “Back to the Mac” media event on October 20. Due for release in mid-2011, Lion promises to bring dozens of features and ideas from the iOS devices. It remains to be seen how well these features will work with the larger Mac screen and a keyboard/mouse set-up.

macappstore


But the big talking point has been the Mac App Store, which will be similar to the iOS App Store. Many (including myself) predicted this move to a central repository for Mac software, and the general consensus seems to be that it is a good thing -- provided the Mac App Store remains just one of many ways to obtain software for your Mac. Apple is soliciting submissions for the store, which is due to launch early next year.

macbook-air


In other Apple news, the new 11” MacBook Air fills a long-vacated hole in Apple’s laptop line-up -- last occupied by the 12” PowerBook. The base price of US$999 makes for a very tempting deal. Xserve, Apple’s rackmounted server line, will be discontinued on January 31. Apple has provided an "Xserve Transition Guide" to help existing users migrate to the Mac Mini or Mac Pro server solutions. Apple also revealed that its port of Java for Mac OS X is officially deprecated.


apple-logoApple also reported a Q4 revenue of $20.34 billion, an all-time record for the company. Year-over-year Mac and iPhone sales increased by 27 and 91 percent, respectively, while iPod sales dropped 11 percent in the same period. Check out the press release for a full run-down.


Leading Mac emulation headlines is the news that PowerPC Macintosh emulator SheepShaver has been updated twice in as many weeks. The new build offers a number of ‘under the hood’ changes, partial support for bin/cue files, and 64-bit mode for Snow Leopard users. See the E-Maculation forums for a download link and additional information. [Thanks WatchSmart for the tip.]

More emulation news after the break...

E.V.O.: Search for Eden

Pixelcade on Monday, 01 November 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's note: I was playing the game while I edited the article. It strikes me as being just as interesting and fun as Pixelcade says, and I can't help but wonder why Spore was not more like this. Check out the article, then get the game -- evolving your creature is immediately addictive and satisfying. -mossy_11


At some point in my misery called high school, on a good ol' fashioned "I don't feel well" sick day (which was conveniently a Friday), I drove up to the local video store and looked for a few games. Browsing the covers it seemed to me that every game was the same -- I had either played it or had no desire to. Out of nowhere appeared this cool looking box with the letters E.V.O.: Search for Eden (although with all the cool graphics I only noticed the E.V.O. part).

The back of the box had my favorite style of pixel graphics, featuring lots of color and creative designs. I thought, "What the hey, I'll give this one a shot for the weekend." Upon getting home and powering it up I was welcomed by an impressive musical score, which played as the game's title came into view over a space shot of half our planet. I have always enjoyed science and the history of how things came to be, but I had no idea I was about to embark on a creative study of evolution and the geological time scale, as they were understood by scientists at the time.

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