A simultaneous Mac/PC/XBox release of an original game is basically unheard of in our industry. We get our games ported more often than not. The PC version ships, it sells well and then some months later, we get our version with the happy little Mac OS face on the box. However, Peter Tamte of Destineer Studios sees things differently. For the past few years it's been his mission to bring an original title to three platforms in one fell swoop. Insanity? Perhaps. Yet, we Mac users tend not follow the rules. With the release of Close Combat: First to Fight, Peter's mission will be complete; a simultaneous Mac/PC/XBox release.
Michael Phillips: So, first, for the neophytes out there, tell us a bit about yourself and Destineer Studios.
Peter Tamte: I'm a bit of a Mac games freak. Ages ago, I started MacSoft. Then, I worked for Steve Jobs at Apple as senior director of worldwide consumer marketing, and then I joined Bungie as executive vice-president. Right after we sold Bungie to Microsoft, I started Destineer with help from Kirk Sumner, who is a brilliant engineer I worked with at MacSoft.
Destineer has the odd distinction of being publicly unveiled by the vice-president of Microsoft's game division during a Steve Jobs Macworld Expo keynote. We've been busy shipping Mac games and working on our game engine ever since.
MP: First to Fight is your first true multiplatform release; was it a challenge coding for the Mac, PC and XBox?
PT: It's a huge challenge to develop simultaneously across three platforms, which is why most developers don't do it. But, it also gives you huge advantages. For example, because the development tools and hardware platforms are so different, we think that the forced discipline of cross-platform development gave us significant performance and stability advantages in our code, and we think it resulted in a more robust and usable game engine.
MP: Are there any unique challenges inherent in bringing a game to both the Mac/PC and XBox?
PT: The advantage of Xbox development is that it's just one platform; you don't have to worry about compatibility across multiple variations, which is a big problem with Windows development. The disadvantage is that the Xbox only has 64MB of RAM, which really forces you to optimize your memory usage in extreme ways.
MP: Are there any major feature set differences between the XBox and Mac versions of First to Fight?
PT: The two biggest differences are that the Mac/PC versions offer higher-resolution graphics (with the right graphics cards), and we built some special "aim-assist" technology (and adjusted the difficulty) to make up for the lower precision of a controller.
MP: What sets First to Fight apart from, say, Rainbow Six?
PT: Users are telling us that First to Fight plays very differently than R6. First, R6 is very much about micro-managing your team. In First to Fight, we had about 40 Marines just back from combat in Iraq teach us exactly how a Marine fire team operates. Quite the opposite of R6, in First to Fight, you shouldn't micro-manage your team. Also, in First to Fight, you can use authentic military tactics such as Suppressing Fire and Combined Arms to move against your enemy.