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 high and low all around. 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

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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.

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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.

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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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Ceremony of Innocence

mossy_11 on Monday, 18 October 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

ceremonyThe rise of the CD-ROM in the 1990s brought great excitement to artists and storytellers interested in the digital medium. At last they could explore the concept of multimedia -- sound, animation, text, and graphics could be put together in one coherent piece of artistry and shipped out to millions of people.

It worked in theory, but not so much in practice. Most multimedia CD-ROMs released commercially were awkward to use, uneven in their artistry, and downright boring to explore. Many tried to cross the line from “interactive multimedia” to “game” -- to mixed success.

But one in particular was always likely to be an exceptionally successful -- in quality if not sales numbers -- piece of interactive multimedia. It was Ceremony of Innocence, an adaptation of artist and author Nick Bantock's Griffin and Sabine trilogy.

News Round-up: September 3 - October 7

mossy_11 on Thursday, 07 October 2010. Posted in News

pd6fm_box_161x166pxParallels Desktop 6 for Mac is now available. The new version boasts enhanced performance, remote access via iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch, easier setup, up to 80% faster 3D graphics performance, and Surround Sound 5.1 support, amongst a wealth of other features. Check out the official website for more information.


jpcsp_logoJava-based PSP emulator JPCSP has made considerable progress in recent months, with the latest release (0.6) offering a host of new features and major improvements. The developers boast compatibility with more than 70 games (commercial and homebrew). See the release notes for full details on the update, and the homepage for more information about the emulator. [Thanks dickmedd for the tip.]


DapplegreyQuickfire updates have been released for DOSBOX front-end Dapplegrey, which is now at version 2.16. Changes include more freedom to choose which DOS executable file to use when starting a game, in addition to a few related tweaks to the interface and behaviour.


mini_vmacAn alpha build has been released for Macintosh Plus emulator Mini vMac’s upcoming 3.2.1 update. Described by the developer as the “netbook edition,” the update promises more accurate timing in CPU emulation, while a new feature called “AutoSlow” allows users to conserve battery power by reducing the emulation speed to 1x when no input or output occurs for two seconds. See the Mini vMac website for more information.

More updates after the break.

Civilization 1 & 2

mossy_11 on Monday, 04 October 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

For much of my existence on this earth, I have been an unashamed Civilization addict, Sid Meier's historically-themed strategy masterpiece. The series has done more to cultivate my interests today than anything else, helping to determine my majors in school (history and computer science), my fascination with interactive systems, and my goal of a career in game design.

I was only four years old when the original Civilization came out in 1991, and I knew nothing of the game until a few years later, when my brother entered private school. He came home after school one day with Civilization installed on his laptop and showed it to me. I was hooked instantly -- before I’d even played it. The developers had abstracted an entire alternate history of Western civilization into this simple game that offered so much emergent complexity.

Civilization1BoxArt_originalCiv2boxart

Conker's Bad Fur Day

HDL on Monday, 27 September 2010. Posted in Retro Game of the Week

Editor's Note: I remember seeing advertisements for this game on TV and thinking it looked absolutely hilarious in its reversal of "cute" cartoon characterizations. HDL gives you the low-down on just how deep and "mature" the humor ran in this uncharacteristically adult Nintendo 64 action-adventure/platform game. -mossy_11


Ever wonder what an obscene version of Looney Tunes would be like? If youʼve ever imagined vulgarities coming from characters like Bugs Bunny, you may have some idea of what this game has in store.

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Unlike most games with a cartoony approach, Conker's Bad Fur Day makes no effort to hide its brusque nature, even before you start playing. Not long after the game is turned on, protagonist Conker the Squirrel cuts the iconic Nintendo 64 logo straight down the middle with a chainsaw. Even the gameʼs menu select screen is actually a tavern, containing many of the crazy characters Conker will interact with in his story. This approach was partially responsible for the gameʼs less-than-stellar commercial success, on top of being released only months before the GameCube in 2001.