Articles tagged with: mac gaming

Growing up Mac: Windows to Another Dimension

mossy_11 on Wednesday, 05 May 2010. Posted in Opinion

When Windows 95 came out, I didn’t care. Sure, I was just a kid, but I could clearly see that it was inferior to System 7.5.5. Years later I learned this isn’t strictly true -- although the feature gap was almost non-existent (despite what Windows’ marketing suggested), they each possessed different strengths and weaknesses. But all I saw was an ugly interface, a continued reliance on the dated DOS back-end, and the infamous blue screen of death. And games still looked better on the Mac, even with the aging hardware.

It was like a window to another dimension, where somehow everything bad reigned supreme over all that is good. I didn’t like it. I wanted to close the shutters and pretend there was no other dimension. But there was no escaping Windows, and I soon came to terms with my aversion for the OS, thanks in large part to a game called Civilization II and a little thing called the Internet.


Growing up Mac: Life with a Plus

mossy_11 on Thursday, 29 April 2010. Posted in Opinion

My introduction to both video games and computers came from a rather unusual source for a child raised in the 1990s. Other kids my age were inheriting 8-bit consoles or picking up the Super Nintendo or Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, or they were experiencing the torture of MS-DOS. As for me, I had a Mac. Not a shiny new Mac, mind you, but an aging Macintosh Plus, with a monochrome 9-inch monitor, no hard drive, and 800 KB floppy drive. Most of the time, I had to first use the boot disk to start the system, then switch to the game disk, although a few games were bootable. Freezes, which were not uncommon, were typically resolved with a resounding whack to either the side or top of the computer. Sometimes, though, a hard-reset was required. And that often resulted in a “sad Mac” on startup.

I (like many others on this site, I expect) have fond memories of games that most people -- even those who live and breathe gaming culture -- have never heard of, and likely never will. Glider moved me with its whimsical world where the paper plane was king. StuntCopter entertained me with a falling stick-figure and a horse that could be knocked over. Spelunx taught me about gravity, lightning, and the power of learning through play. ShufflePuck Café consumed me as I tried to beat all its weird characters. Dark Castle offered an atmospheric action/puzzle/platformer hybrid that was years ahead of its time. Banzai, Super Maze Wars, Artillery, MacSki, Memory, Amazing, Block Out, Maelstrom, and many other unique little games exposed me to all sorts of ideas, filling my childhood with hours of fun and entertainment.


mossy_11 on Monday, 08 March 2010. Posted in Mac Classics Reborn

A helicopter, a tiny little man, and a horse-drawn wagon. That doesn't sound like much of an idea for a game, but it's the basis for StuntCopter, a shareware Mac game released by teenage programmer Duane Blehm in October 1986. Blehm released two other games -- Zero Gravity and Cairo ShootOut! -- and updated versions of StuntCopter before his untimely death a few years later. His parents decided to release the games into the public domain, where they have become increasingly difficult to run on current hardware.

But now gamers can once again enjoy the simple-yet-gratifying gameplay of StuntCopter (without jumping through hoops to make it run). The game was ported to OS X by Antell Software in 2004 (get it here; requires Mac OS 10.4 or later), and to the iPhone by nerdgames in 2009.


The Current State of Mac Gaming: Looking Ahead

mossy_11 on Saturday, 27 February 2010. Posted in Opinion


Mac gamers are a sad bunch. Every few years someone or something comes along that is going to transform the Mac gaming landscape. But nothing happens. Promise after promise has been broken, and few good things have emerged. So you can excuse the cynics who say gaming on the Mac will never amount to anything. Most look elsewhere for their gaming fix, either unsatisfied with or unaware of the paltry offerings on display, especially given the oftentimes-long delays and poor performance compared to other platforms. It seems like the Mac just isn't on anyone's radar. But, as has been the case in looking at the past and present of gaming on the Mac, the issue is more complicated than it at first seems.

The Current State of Mac Gaming: Don't Forget the Little Guys

mossy_11 on Tuesday, 16 February 2010. Posted in Opinion

Small developers have long had a strong following on the Mac, from the early days of shareware with Pangea Software, Duane Blehm, John Calhoun, and Cyan (amongst others), to the emergence of Ambrosia Software, Spiderweb Software and Freeverse in the mid-90s, and countless others who have tried their luck making games for the Mac.


The Current State of Mac Gaming: Commercial Reality of Today

mossy_11 on Sunday, 07 February 2010. Posted in Opinion

Last time, I wrote about history of gaming on the Mac.  We took a look at how it came to be in such a sorry state by the time Apple announced the move from PowerPC to Intel architecture.  We left off with the reaction to the Intel switch from developers, commentators and users. Some predicted the transition would be the final death-knell of Mac games, since there was no longer a barrier to playing Windows games on the Mac. Others suggested it would kill the porting industry, but only harm rather than destroy business for the few surviving developers of original Mac games. The more optimistic types thought it might be a boon for Mac gaming, as both porting and multi-platform development would be significantly easier now that Macs were built from the same parts as their PC brethren.


Glider PRO

mossy_11 on Sunday, 31 January 2010. Posted in Mac Classics Reborn

The quintessential paper plane simulator, John Calhoun's shareware classic Glider first emerged in 1988 "for all Macs". Its basic premise involved the player guiding a paper plane through 15 rooms, while avoiding obstacles (including a cat) and keeping the "glider" airborne, with the help of upward air movement from vents. Subsequent versions added new rooms, features, and obstacles, but the gameplay remained essentially the same.

Glider's simple mechanics and undeniable charm spawned a dedicated fan community, consisting mostly of modders, who created new levels or "houses" for the game. There was even a fanzine for a few years in the mid-90s.

Glider PRO, the fifth major version of Glider, was released in 1994 for Macs running System 7 or better. It was repeatedly updated to run on newer hardware, and even got a commercial release on CD, before publisher Casady & Greene went out of business in 2003. John Calhoun released all versions of Glider as freeware soon after.


The Current State of Mac Gaming: How It Got This Way

mossy_11 on Monday, 25 January 2010. Posted in Opinion

The Mac isn't exactly known for its ability to play games. And given the repeated snubbing from big publishers and developers in recent years, this isn't without reason. But it hasn't always been a wasteland for games, sparsely populated by a handful of the PC's sloppy seconds. In this series of articles I will discuss the highs and lows of Mac gaming.  We start with some history, then we will look in-depth at the current situation, and finally we will take a look to the future.