If somebody said to me a year ago, "Mike, Macs will boast Intel processors, they'll have the ability to natively boot Windows XP via software entitled, 'Boot Camp' and you'll have a totally brilliant and hot girlfriend," I would have cried lunacy. I would have said, "Steve Jobs and God would never let such things happen." Yet, here we are, and all of the previous are true today. Scary, no?
The ability to natively boot into Windows XP means that anyone with a new higher end Intel based Mac can easily play any PC game from Half-Life 2 to Rome: Total War. Many fear that Boot Camp could damage the Mac games industry, an industry largely based upon porting top-end PC games to Mac OS X. Recently, I had a chance to chat with Peter Tamte, founder and president at Destineer Studios, the parent company of MacSoft. Tamte, of course, also founded MacSoft. In our interview, we discuss everything from Intel based Macs to Boot Camp's effect on the Mac games industry.
Michael Phillips: Apple's shipping almost their entire product line with Intel processors. All that's left is for the Power Mac G5 to go the way of the dodo, then the transition will be complete. What are your thoughts on Apple's current Intel offerings; do you consider any of them to be solid gaming machines?
Peter Tamte: Yes. The MacBook Pro is one of the best gaming laptops available. Sure, there are a few laptops that have better graphics capabilities (but not many), but these laptops have about 45 minutes of battery life, are ridiculously heavy, and have this obscene brick that you have to carry around with you. The MacBook Pro is gorgeous, light, and has an awesome CPU and GPU in it. And, the iMac is awesome too. Keep in mind that many Windows PCs come with those pathetic Intel Integrated Graphics chipsets now. The iMac kicks butt on these machines. Plus, don't forget that Apple and third-party drivers are getting faster and faster every couple months, too.
MP: So, Boot Camp has been around for awhile, people are probably playing Half-Life 2 on their MacBook Pros right now and surely mumbling phrases like, "HL2 on my Mac ZOMG!" How is Boot Camp affecting business at Destineer/MacSoft? Are big budget ports still in your plans?
PT: Yes, big budget ports are still in our plans. In fact, we'll be making an announcement about one of these during the next few weeks.
MP: How do you see Boot Camp affecting original Mac game development?
PT: Boot Camp is hugely helpful for our original content (non-ported content is now 85% of Destineer's sales). Boot Camp will grow Apple's market share a lot, which means we will have a much bigger group of people to sell our Mac-original games to. We plan to release most of our original games simultaneously on the Mac. We expect that most Mac users who have Boot Camp will still prefer to play on Mac OS, which is why they bought the Mac in the first place.
MP: What do you feel is more detrimental toward native Mac gaming: middleware, such as Havok, or Boot Camp?
PT: I believe Boot Camp is helpful to native Mac gaming because it will grow the number of people who have Macs. Keep in mind that the size of the installed base of Macs is the #1 factor that determines whether a games company decides to invest in a Mac-specific title.
MP: Do you personally use Boot Camp for any gaming?
PT: I have tried it out. But, I don't do it regularly right now.
MP: Destineer/MacSoft released Close Combat: First to Fight simultaneously for the Mac, PC and XBox. How was that experience? Will you be doing more of such releases?
PT: The original games we have under development will ship simultaneously on the Mac, as well. And, keep in mind that even though First to Fight was our very first internally created game, it was still a Top-10 Best-seller on Xbox the month it shipped (which is very rare for a developer's first game), and it also won Macworld Magazine's Hall of Fame award. You should expect our next games to be even stronger.
MP: Last year, Destineer partnered with In-Q-Tel, a CIA funded venture firm for developing realistic training simulations; the US Marines have already used First to Fight in training simulations. The US Army has funded development of their own hugely popular game, America's Army. What do you say to those who feel that gaming overly romanticizes joining the military to younger gamers?
PT: I would be honored if I learned that our games helped an individual choose to volunteer for military service, or any other kind of effort in which they served a purpose greater than themselves. Plus, with loudly broadcast reports every day of injuries, deaths, and really tough conditions for those who serve right now, I don't think there are too many young people who are confused about the sacrifice they choose when they serve. What's really interesting is that, even with this knowledge, so many choose the sacrifice.