It seems that once a year or so, someone floats the idea that Apple should get into the game publishing business. The theory goes that Apple should either buy a game developer company that is for sale, or by fund in-house ports of popular PC games, or even develop Mac-only games. Regardless of whether this is actually a good idea, people find it tempting simply because they want a richer Mac games market, with more Mac-first games and more cross-platform support.
Instead of waiting for Apple to wave some kind of magic wand to solve the problem, Carlos Camacho decided to take matters into his own hands in 1998 by starting iDevGames, a website where Mac game developers share code, artwork, and knowledge with one another. Hundreds of members now frequent the iDevGames forums, donate reviews, tutorials, code, sounds, and graphics.
A few years later, Carlos started the uDevGame contest, where Mac developers create original Mac games under a punishing three-month deadline. The developers get prizes and publicity and players get some free games to play. The source code for all entries is published to help future developers. Call it a grass-roots campaign to encourage Mac game development. One early success story: Rocco Bowling, a winner from last year's uDevGame, just published the cross-platform strategy game Solace with Freeverse Software.
uDevGame is now entering its third year, and Inside Mac Games managed to distract Carlos Camacho from the preparations to find out how this year's contest is shaping up.
IMG: What originally gave you the idea for the uDevGame contest?
Carlos: During the early days of iDevGames, some of the forum members discussed the idea of having "mini-challenges." The idea was to provide useful code for the developer community, as well as offer a goal for developers to work towards. I thought the mini-challenges to be a good idea since iDevGames, or should I say, our platform was severely lacking in useful code for Mac developers. As you know, having well-written source code can be a great educational aid and help to foster new game projects for our platform.
Although there are some established contests and challenges sponsored by websites and industry organizations, they tend to have a PC-slant to them. During the Spring of 2001, I began to test the waters for something beyond the mini-challenge concept -- a full-blown game programming contest aimed at the Macintosh developer. To make developers join, I knew one key would be to offer prizes in the form of development tools, which the winners could use to further their art. Unlike many contests though, the prizes and winning are not the only driving force behind uDevGame.
To return to your question, uDevGame comes down to making our community better; better for the winners, better for the people who can learn from the entrant's source code, and of course, for the many lucky gamers who can enjoy the free games that are released.
IMG: I'm curious about what drives you to spend your own time and money running iDevGames and uDevGame each year. The costs are substantial, yes?
Carlos: iDevGames is nothing without its volunteer staff and world-wide community, so even though many of our members are quick to place praise on me, I feel they all deserve to be recognized for their contributions to the state of Mac gaming. Of course one key factor to being able to work on iDevGames is the wonderful understanding that my wife Miwa has over the joy the site brings to me.
In regards to the financial burden, I started iDevGames back in 1998 to help bring Mac developers together, and to learn from them so that I would gain the knowledge I needed to create my own games. As the site took off, I started to realize that I would have to put my plans of game development on indefinite hold since running the site was consuming a great deal of my time. However, I felt confident that the site would grow and that opportunities would present themselves once we built a strong community. I think we have that now, and judging by our traffic and interest in uDevGame, iDevGames can start moving towards some new goals. (Which has recently happened.) For myself, I feel that I have learned a great deal from operating iDevGames in terms of the gaming business and technology, and so I feel it is an investment in my own life goals -- which of course is to return back to my earlier dreams; making Mac games!