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IMG Interviews Pangea's Brian Greenstone
February 8, 2006 | Tuncer Deniz
Pages:12


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Inside Mac Games recently sat down with Pangea's Brian Greenstone to get his thoughts the company's latest game, Enigmo 2, the switch to Intel, and what is in store for Pangea in the near future.


IMG: You've been working on Enigmo 2 for a little while now. Why did you decide to do Enigmo 2, instead of, say, Bugdom 3 or a new game?

Greenstone: Enigmo 2 has really been a long time in the making. It was originally started immediately after Nanosaur 2 shipped, and at the time Enigmo 2 was going to be an entirely different game - no water droplets or anything like that at all. I had a totally new puzzle game idea that I wanted to try. But, I was suffering from major burnout and after working on Enigmo 2 for a while and realizing that my new puzzle idea wasn't going to work out, I decided to take some time off. A year and a half later the burnout finally ended and I was ready to get programming again. I decided to continue where I left off and do Enigmo 2, but I ditched the original concept for it and instead decided to do the current concept. Enigmo 1 was a hugely successful game for us, so it seemed logical to do another version of it, but this time to totally jazz it up.


IMG: What kind of challenges did you encounter while making Enigmo 2?

Greenstone: Performance is always the main challenge with a physics-based game like this. Most of our other games only spend about 10-15% of the time doing things with the CPU, and the rest of the time is just spend rendering the 3D scene. But with Enigmo 2 that's reversed and the processor is just cranking away doing millions and millions of math calculations every frame to process all of the collisions and physics. It took a long time to optimize all of that so it would run at a high frame rate on older machines.

The second major issue was the 3D interface. At first we modeled the 3D interface after ones commonly used on 3D modeling applications like Maya. This might be fine for an expert, but we quickly found that for a puzzle game that my mom was going to play, we had to come up with a new way of interacting in 3D space. So, after months of hacking at it, we came up with a really intuitive interface for manipulating objects in 3D space with only a 2D input device.


IMG: You've been one of the first Mac developers to release Universal Binaries of some of your older games. How do you like the new Intel iMac? What don't you like about it?

Greenstone: The new Intel iMac is great! There are clearly some bugs here and there in the OS, but that's to be expected with a new system. The performance of the machine is amazing, and I think this is the best iMac design yet.


IMG: One of the things that people seem to be impressed with is Rosetta, the dynamic binary translation that allows PowerPC apps run on these new Intel iMacs. How does Rosetta fair with some of your older games?

Greenstone: It runs Cro-Mag Rally perfectly! The original Enigmo runs well, but it's definitely a bit slow - we'll have to release a UB version of that at some point. Unfortunately, most of our other older games only run on OS 9, and since there's no Classic mode on the Intel Mac's those games are gone forever.


IMG: Overall, do you think it was a good decision by Apple to switch to Intel?

Greenstone: I don't think it was good or bad overall. From a development standpoint, the Intel chip is a pain in the butt for various reasons, so on the programming side I think it was bad. But on the user standpoint it really doesn't make any difference. It still looks and runs just like a Mac, so it doesn't add or lose any features that we had before (other than Classic mode). It's still just a computer that runs the same old apps. Hopefully, however, this will encourage more companies to port their PC-only applications to the Mac. I'm just a little worried what it will do to the Mac game market if Windows is ever able to run natively on these machines.



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