Alright, lots of stuff to respond to.
Cougar, on 28 April 2016 - 12:24 PM, said:
As a Cyan fanatic, I'd be awesome if you could interview Rand and Robyn Miller. And there really isn't a whole lot out there about the early days of Cyan. Most interviews are about Myst and onwards.
I was a mere babe when most of these games were in vogue, so I will be reading this book primarily to be edumacated. So I will cede the games that you should cover to old people like Matt. But I'd add Prince of Persia to his list, and Ferazel's Wand (my favorite platformer.) Also, Pangea Software, since most of their games were bundled with iMacs.
Aside from that, it would be great if you could devote part of the book (maybe the ending?) to the question of archiving. Your book is a way in itself of preserving the heritage of Mac games, but what of the games themselves? i.e I stated above that the only way for me to play Cosmic Osmo today is to play it in Windows, and that sucks. Many Mac-only games are very difficult if not impossible to play nowadays. Recently with iOS, we've seen a bit of a resurgence in old games getting ported to the platform, but touch controls are often not ideal, and oftentimes there are legal issues preventing games from being ported. (Ferazel's Wand will forever be stuck in Sheepshaver because the developer had a falling out with Ambrosia. Sigh.)
Archiving is an especially pertinent issue for Mac software because Apple doesn't give a crap about backwards compatibility; Microsoft has the opposite problem because they are beholden to slow-moving businesses.
(As a side note, if anyone is interested in a cool science fiction story about philosophical problems of AI under the guise of porting/archiving issues, I recommend The Lifecycle of Software Objects
by Ted Chiang. And Chiang in general; he's amazing.)
I had long interviews with both Rand and Robyn. They were surprised that I was so keen to discuss their pre-Myst stuff. I adore those early Cyan games, so rest assured they will get lots of attention. As noted elsewhere in this thread, I'll be telling the Manhole portion of the story in an upcoming podcast episode. But the book will go deeper still into their pre-Myst work.
PoP may get a mention, but interviewing Jordan Mechner goes too far beyond the scope of the book. I have enough work squeezing it all into 100,000 words as it is. I've interviewed Ferazel's Wand (and Harry the Handsome Executive as well as a few lesser-known games) creator Ben Spees. I also had a two-hour interview with Pangea's Brian Greenstone.
The archiving note is an interesting one. Sites like Mac Garden have done a brilliant job on preservation of the original games, but emulation of pre-Intel Macs is not great. And as you say, not only is it possible to play old Windows games in recent Windows versions without an emulator but also many classic Mac games have been rereleased for Windows but not OS X. I'll think about it, but I can probably talk a bit about this in the concluding chapter.
As a side note, I had wanted one of the reward tiers to be a collection of shareware and public domain Mac games, for which I would have written a guide to help people understand the context of each game and get them started playing it. I couldn't figure out a way to do it such that someone could get the collection and have it just work. They'd need to download and set up an emulator first. I didn't feel comfortable asking for money for a reward that would require so much technical know-how on the backer's part.
Matt Diamond, on 28 April 2016 - 09:10 AM, said:
Edit: author Richard Moss appeared in the thread before I finished posting this! But the question still stands...
It's clear that Mr. Richard Moss has done his homework. He's got Delta Tao, Ambrosia, Cyan, Freeverse, Bungie, John Calhoun (Glider Pro) and Glenda Adams in there. Many others whose names I don't know but whose games I'd probably recognize in a heartbeat. I think I saw The Colony flash by in the video..
Are there any games or creators that you didn't see, and are afraid he might miss?
Cap'n Magneto by Al Evans: Possibly not the first Mac shareware game I saw, but its the first one I remember. Sadly I was a poor college student at the time and never sent him money. One of the inspirations for me to work on my own shareware game, though I didn't release it until years later.
Fools Errand by Cliff Johnson: Aside from being a good puzzle game, you can see Cliff playing with this new user interface and being inspired by it. There's a puzzle requiring dragging along a narrow path; another requires rapid precision clicking. A couple clues are hidden until you mouse over them. And one particularly devious puzzle which was only solvable by exploiting the way early Mac programs processed events: if you clicked on the menubar the game was effectively frozen until you finished selecting a menu item.
Duane Blehm: I saw his name flash by in the video but I'd like to know more about him. His name appeared on several pieces of 80's shareware including Stuntcopter, but he died young ("suddenly", which might be a euphemism for suicide). The story I heard was that at first his grieving mother didn't know why so many checks were coming in for him; she didn't know about his hobby. That's all I know but I've never forgotten him; I'd love to learn more.
As a footnote it might be interesting for the book to mention that some of the old games live on in some form or another. Examples include Return to Dark Castle; Cliff Johnson's sequel to Fools Errand; the kickstarted Shadowgate remake. Even Cap'n Magneto is apparently playable again, still shareware.
Which reminds me: I believe I owe Al Evans $20.
I tried contacting Al Evans last year and he never responded. Will try him again. I've talked to Cliff Johnson about his career before
. (And not everything from that interview made it into the article.) I would love to talk to Duane Blehm's family, but don't know if I could track them down. Likewise, there aren't many records of BBS/Usenet/etc discussions from that time. I am asking other shareware devs from the era about him and his work, though, so he certainly won't be glossed over.
macdude22, on 28 April 2016 - 08:55 AM, said:
Is it full of old mac games?
It is full of stories about how old Mac games were made and played (and in some cases expanded upon by fans).
Matt Diamond, on 28 April 2016 - 04:27 PM, said:
Chris Crawford is a highly influential game designer, cofounder of GDC, but controversial and outspoken. He had a huge hit with Balance of Power. Trust and Betrayal was a very innovative game that sold poorly (kicking myself for selling my copy of that.) He wrote other innovative games, some for Mac. (He includes post-mortems of most or all of his games in one of his computer game design books.)
3 in Three: Another Cliff Johnson classic. Never got ported from Mac.
Inline Design published a bunch of Mac games that also appeared on other platforms, and its not clear to me which ones were Mac-first. Mutant Beach was Mac only (unfortunately my copy was unplayable on any Mac except my first because it didn't cap the frame rate.) Inline also published Darwin's Dilemma, which I loved but again I don't know if it was Mac first.
Maxis? Mac and Amiga were the launch platforms for SimCity. Maxis was not a Mac-first or Mac-only developer, but they released almost every games for Mac, until they got bought by EA. So I don't think they quite fit the theme of the book, but maybe they're illustrative of the market.
Okay, I'm spending way too much time on this. Sorry for the flood, everyone!
I spoke to Chris Crawford last year
about his new thing and he said he was happy to talk to me for this book. I just have to set up an interview. Inline Design I hadn't considered — will look into them. I've been torn about Maxis. I'm thinking about maybe contacting Will Wright because I know the original SimCity's UI was inspired by MacPaint and SimCity 2000 was made on a Mac then ported to DOS. I'll be mentioning how Maxis and Blizzard were among the only companies that treated Mac users as equals when I get into the porting houses chapter.