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The Secret History of Mac Gaming


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#121 Cougar

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 03:35 PM

View PostMatt Diamond, on 10 May 2018 - 03:20 PM, said:


The Escape Velocity screenshots - I don't know what game these 3d computer-generated landscapes are from, actually..


The game used prerendered CG landscapes for the planet landings...but it's a bit strange those are the only screenshots.

#122 Matt Diamond

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 07:39 PM

View PostCougar, on 10 May 2018 - 03:35 PM, said:

The game used prerendered CG landscapes for the planet landings...but it's a bit strange those are the only screenshots.
Thanks for the info. That is strange. The text itself notes that "most of the game takes place in space".. and I had even searched google images for "escape velocity game" to see if those images might be in-game planet landings. No help for me there; ALL the google images are the classic top-down 2D space view you'd expect.

Oh well, not an error per se, but still a kind of mistake. Maybe like happened with Ferazel's Wand screenshots, the normal, dark screenshots didn't reproduce onto the printed page well? Obviously other publishers have solved that issue so I put it down to Unbound's inexperience, or possibly it was a limitation of the type of paper used.)
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#123 mossy_11

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Posted 10 May 2018 - 08:13 PM

View PostCougar, on 10 May 2018 - 01:48 PM, said:

Richard, I plugged your book in my question for Rand Miller's Myst Kickstarter AMA. He had good things to say, though he didn't really answer my question (lol). It's at 55:44. https://live.kicksta...ith-rand-miller

The whole AMA was really great, and I learned a lot even as a crazy Myst fan. (The Miller's dad was originally going to be Atrus!)

Thanks! I'll watch the whole thing later, but I jumped straight to your question to hear what he had to say about it. Rand gave an interesting answer, even if it wasn't quite for the question you asked.

View PostMatt Diamond, on 10 May 2018 - 03:20 PM, said:

I finally finished the book. As usual, I learned something on every page, even on topics I thought I knew well.

[comments and stuff, omitted for readability]

Erratum:
The Ferezel's Wand pics didn't come out in the print edition- too dark and illegible. They are ok in the eBook though.
The Nanosaur screenshot is labelled "Bloodsuckers".
The Escape Velocity screenshots - I don't know what game these 3d computer-generated landscapes are from, actually..

Yeah, I was a bit bummed when I saw the Ferazel's Wand screenshots and had to kinda squint to make out the details. Something to do with the paper used, I think, and probably the images needed to be edited to make them brighter to compensate. The EV screenshots were all from the planet landings. I don't know why Darren used those rather than the gameplay shots I had in our shared folder; I'd guess because they are visually very interesting and intriguing, whereas the 2D space environment isn't. But I never asked him, and I kind of liked the way he highlighted some easily-ignored but beautiful part of the game.

Here's the full set of EV screenshots I took for Darren to draw from. You can find the source for each one used in the book there: https://www.dropbox....JfC6hcwLoa?dl=0
And since I'm all about preserving this history, here's the official EV press kit: https://www.dropbox....Irg23bs-ha?dl=0
Author of The Secret History of Mac Gaming - https://secrethistoryofmacgaming.com/ - out March 22 2018 in the UK and online

#124 mossy_11

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Posted 27 June 2018 - 09:51 PM

I just finished a livestream with Robyn Miller in which we celebrated the 30th anniversary of The Manhole's public debut. Lots of cool stories here, including some stuff that even I didn't know. We played some Cosmic Osmo as well, and even snuck in some Spelunx action at the end.

Here's a replay: https://www.youtube....h?v=-kX5E7yOHJg

Same replay is also on my Twitch channel at https://www.twitch.tv/videos/278446619
Author of The Secret History of Mac Gaming - https://secrethistoryofmacgaming.com/ - out March 22 2018 in the UK and online

#125 Cougar

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 10:28 AM

It was fun! Glad I asked that question if there are any nods to Osmo or the Manhole in Myst/Riven, because now I know where my favorite puzzle comes from!

#126 Matt Diamond

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Posted 28 June 2018 - 08:48 PM

Sorry I missed it-- hope to find time to watch the video.

In unrelated news, I was looking in a box and came across my old Taskmaker manual. It's pretty classy. Even shareware games sometimes had hardcopy manuals in those days! As opposed to now, when even AAA games don't.
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#127 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 29 June 2018 - 04:50 AM

Currently listening to the podcast, which is quite entertaining. Thanks for doing it Richard!
"They're everywhere!" -And now, time for some Legend of Zelda.

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#128 mossy_11

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 07:27 PM

I gave a keynote talk about Mac gaming history at an app developer conference this week. I believe there'll be a video up in a few weeks, provided the tech worked -- will post it here.

In other news, my next book project with Unbound went live several hours ago. This time I'm digging into shareware games history, with the same people-focused approach to the storytelling but a bit of a different, more linear (though not totally linear) structure since the story's not as complicated.

https://unbound.com/...areware-heroes/

There'll be Mac gaming coverage in there (and DOS, Amiga, Atari ST, Apple II, etc), but probably not a great deal of info that wasn't in Secret History of Mac Gaming -- so mostly just rehashes of the shareware bits from that book, but I should be able to get some new interviews that didn't end up happening there for whatever reason (like Ingemar Ragnemalm, for instance) as well as find some leftover material that didn't fit last time but does this time.

I'm open to suggestions for shareware games and devs to look into, whatever the platform. And as always happy to answer any questions.
Author of The Secret History of Mac Gaming - https://secrethistoryofmacgaming.com/ - out March 22 2018 in the UK and online

#129 Cougar

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 01:03 AM

The only bit of shareware that I'd like to see (that wasn't in The Secret of Mac Gaming) is a blurb on Mac/WinBrickout by Carson Whitsett. It was an amazingly fun Brickout clone with tons of Easter eggs, switches, powerups, and, most importantly, an AMAZING, easy to use level editor. I would spend hours making levels, and applying textures stolen from AppleWorks to make the bricks and levels have a different feel than the original. Carson loved it so much that he polished it up and put it in the game. It was originally made in 1993 for the Mac IIci, and I encountered it at version 4.0 when I was about twelve, probably. I'm not sure if it's "significant" enough to be included in the book, but if you're interested I can shoot him an email. I'm sure it's an interesting story given that the game has been around for so long. And I'm sure he'd love to hear from me after all this time, haha.

And now I've just discovered it's on iOS! And it's been there for SEVEN YEARS! Unfortunately, my level set didn't seem to have made the cut. :(

#130 mossy_11

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 08:50 PM

Oh wow. I'd forgotten about MacBrickout. I don't remember which version I had back in the 90s, but that and Brickles Pro definitely gave me some fun times.

It likely won't get in the book beyond a name in a list of shareware Breakout games or at best a couple of paragraphs, but I'd be interested in learning the story behind it. If nothing else, it's more material for my still-theoretical Secret History of Mac Gaming volume 2 project.
Author of The Secret History of Mac Gaming - https://secrethistoryofmacgaming.com/ - out March 22 2018 in the UK and online

#131 Matt Diamond

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Posted 30 August 2018 - 09:01 PM

It's kind of apt to fund this book using crowdfunding. Or maybe it's ironic, given that the thesis is that shareware largely disappeared after a while.

I don't have much in the way of suggestions, even though this is a topic near and dear to me.

* I know you tried and failed to get hold of the Cap'n Magneto author for the last book, but maybe its worth another attempt? Send him a copy of Secret History to get his attention, maybe:-)

I had modest success with my shareware games but it doesn't rise to the level for including in your book. I will mention two things from my experience though, as food for thought.

* One is that Wozniak himself registered a couple copies of my games. (His check is framed on my wall.) An email snafu destroyed our correspondence, but I remember him telling me that he was registering them to put them on the Macs in the class where he taught gifted students about computers. I don't see an angle for your book there, unless you could somehow land an interview with him to get his views on shareware. (Good luck with that!)

* The other thing happened to my wife. For a while I was getting one or two registrations per week, often from France or Japan. It was very cool. So my wife mentioned to some guy at a party that I had put out a couple  shareware games. "Oh, NOONE sends in money for that" he assured her. She told him he was wrong repeatedly, citing the letters we had gotten just that month. He just could not accept it. He didn't even claim she was lying! It was obvious to him that noone in their right mind would send money unless forced to. So she had to be wrong. He couldn't say HOW she was wrong, but clearly she was. Classic case of cognitive dissonance.

I also wondered if subconsciously there was an element of self-preservation to it. If she was right then he might feel a little guilty about not registering any games. Much easier to believe that she was somehow mistaken so he could carry on playing for free. Humans have a funny way of finding ways to justify and reinforce decisions they've already made.

Anyway I don't expect you'll be delving deeply into the psychology of why some people paid for shareware and others didn't, but it's something I've wondered about. And it still has some relevance today with mobile apps- there are apps that accept donations, but most of them are f2p with IAP and/or ads. Even the classic funding model of charging a fair price up front seems to be on the decline. So what chance does shareware have?

==
Good luck with the book, Richard! I'll add my backing soon, once I've decided whether to go digital or hardback.
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#132 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 12:01 AM

View PostMatt Diamond, on 30 August 2018 - 09:01 PM, said:

It's kind of apt to fund this book using crowdfunding. Or maybe it's ironic, given that the thesis is that shareware largely disappeared after a while.
Short of the 'share' part, which is moot since it is available for everyone anyone with a few clicks, current Apps that you download for free and then unlock using an in-app purchase works the exact same way. So Shareware is kind of back.
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#133 Matt Diamond

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 12:30 PM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 31 August 2018 - 12:01 AM, said:

Short of the 'share' part, which is moot since it is available for everyone anyone with a few clicks, current Apps that you download for free and then unlock using an in-app purchase works the exact same way. So Shareware is kind of back.
Interesting!

Even back in the day there were arguments about how to define shareware. Purists only used the termif the software was given away completely-- no unlocking of features ("demoware", "crippleware"), no artificial delays or intrusive popups reminding users to pay ("nagware").

One thing all of these variations all had in common was that the developer was selling the software directly. The publisher and/or distributor was a middleman who was being cut out. Maybe that wasn't an official part of the definition of shareware but I think it was strongly implied. Since Steam, App Store, Windows Store etc are taking a slice of the profits in exchange for distributing the software, I don't think it can be considered shareware any more. But I agree with you that its all related.

The first two bits of shareware I remember were both for Mac: Cap'n Magneto (game) and Red Ryder (modem control & terminal emulation).
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#134 Janichsan

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 02:20 PM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 31 August 2018 - 12:01 AM, said:

Short of the 'share' part, which is moot since it is available for everyone anyone with a few clicks, current Apps that you download for free and then unlock using an in-app purchase works the exact same way. So Shareware is kind of back.

View PostMatt Diamond, on 31 August 2018 - 12:30 PM, said:

Interesting!


One thing all of these variations all had in common was that the developer was selling the software directly. The publisher and/or distributor was a middleman who was being cut out. Maybe that wasn't an official part of the definition of shareware but I think it was strongly implied. Since Steam, App Store, Windows Store etc are taking a slice of the profits in exchange for distributing the software, I don't think it can be considered shareware any more. But I agree with you that its all related.
I think the current model is rather "trialware" than actually "shareware". One important part about shareware was always, well, the sharing, i.e. the possibility of simply copying the unregistered software and spreading it to anyone who wanted it. That simply does no longer work with the trial versions from the App Store or Steam.

Quote

Even back in the day there were arguments about how to define shareware. Purists only used the termif the software was given away completely-- no unlocking of features ("demoware", "crippleware"), no artificial delays or intrusive popups reminding users to pay ("nagware").
I don't think I have ever seen completely free software labeled as "shareware". This would have been "freeware". "Shareware" always implied that you have to cough up some cash to fully unlock it. At least in the circles I frequented.

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#135 Thain Esh Kelch

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Posted 31 August 2018 - 03:05 PM

View PostJanichsan, on 31 August 2018 - 02:20 PM, said:

I think the current model is rather "trialware" than actually "shareware". One important part about shareware was always, well, the sharing, i.e. the possibility of simply copying the unregistered software and spreading it to anyone who wanted it. That simply does no longer work with the trial versions from the App Store or Steam.
Not the binary itself no, but I can easily share you a link, which gives you the binary. So wether I give you a link or a CD is really not very different, it is just the medium that has changed, and I really do consider it more or less the same.
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#136 Matt Diamond

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Posted 01 September 2018 - 07:21 PM

View PostJanichsan, on 31 August 2018 - 02:20 PM, said:

I don't think I have ever seen completely free software labeled as "shareware". This would have been "freeware". "Shareware" always implied that you have to cough up some cash to fully unlock it. At least in the circles I frequented.
Yes, freeware was completely free. I think we agree on that point. :-)

As I recall it, the purest form of shareware didn't have unlocks or time limits. Some people (let's call them idealists :-) insisted that that was the only proper usage of the term, but most people used "shareware" as a blanket term which also included nagware, demoware, and donationware. (Like the way "hacker" used to mean something specific, then quickly was used for other things, and now it means all those things.)

I'm not saying anyone is incorrect for using "shareware" to mean nagware or demoware, especially now. But I do have a soft spot in my heart for "pure" shareware. That form of shareware is pretty much extinct now.
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#137 mossy_11

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 09:53 PM

Yeah, the purest form of shareware was the full program, unlocked and unlimited, with a notice requesting payment if you like it displayed prominently only on *the first run* (and then relegated to a menu or credits screen or something else you can easily ignore). It was a kind of hybrid of the old hacker ideal of everything being free and the then-new concept of software as a commercial product — a way to make money without completely selling out.

I'm taking that broad "blanket" definition for this book of anything that was distributed freely with a request for payment — whether that registration would mean you get source code, extra episodes/features, no more nag screen, or nothing at all except good vibes and a subscription to the dev's mailing list. The interesting thing with shareware games is that pretty much nobody was making more than "pizza and beer" money until Apogee came up with the episodic model in the late 80s, whereas developing shareware utilities was always a viable way to earn a living.

I'll definitely be asking everyone I interview for their thoughts and memories about the economics of shareware and their reasons for adopting the particular type of shareware. Hoping to find more quirky examples like the Continuum "beerware" story, too.
Author of The Secret History of Mac Gaming - https://secrethistoryofmacgaming.com/ - out March 22 2018 in the UK and online

#138 Cougar

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 11:50 AM

Finally finished The Secret of Mac Gaming today. I saved the last few chapters for an appropriate time because I loved the book so much. Now that I know there will be more in the form of a pseudo-sequel, and I am waiting on pins and needles to hear about a job, today was the perfect time.

Some final thoughts:

-Ferazel's Wand is my favorite Mac-only game. I spent many hours making a level set called Orthographic Universe instead of actually finishing the game.

True story: When Welch and Spees had the falling out over Ragnarok, Welch banned him from his forums (he stubbornly kept posting unregistered as his name spelled backwards) and forbade him to finish his OS X port of Ferazel's Wand. My 15-year-old self was so pissed that I wrote Welch an angry email, saying that it was pathetic that his stupid feud was hurting his own customers. Welsh sent me a terse one-liner back saying that I couldn't possibly know what I was talking about. LOL. Well, he wasn't wrong...still, it would be nice if one day he could forgive and forget and rerelease it on macOS and iOS. It's too good of a game to not get preserved.

--Speaking of Ambrosia, its site is looking more and more defunct. It's having trouble loading and the last news update was a SnapzProX update in 2016, and apparently it's partially broken under High Sierra. It's sad if for nothing else that I wish Ambrosia had been able to better maintain their games over the years. Several of them would have made great iOS ports.

--Which reminds me, concerning Shareware Heroes: Richard, how do you plan on addressing the overlap between TSMG and your new book? I think it would be weird to have a book on Shareware not include anything about Ambrosia, for example...will you include a paragraph about it, with a blurb to check out your other book for more info? Or address the omissions in an introduction?

--I was thrilled that Nightfall got a mention. I didn't think anyone else but me had played it. Probably the first 3D game I ever played. I always wondered what happened to the company. They posted a G4 altivec (lol) demo of their new engine and then, their website never got updated again. It's still up today. Despite the 3D apparently it runs well in Sheepshaver. I should give it another go--unlike the Myst series, I've forgotten all the puzzles.

--I had no idea that MacGamer and MacGamer's Ledge was two different websites! I just thought MGL shortened their name. My fondest MG memory was writing an alternative ending to Riven and winning a copy of Myst III: Exile. I wish I could find a copy of that story somewhere...

#139 mossy_11

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Posted 04 September 2018 - 09:55 PM

Neither Welch nor Spees wanted to talk about their falling out when I interviewed them, but they gave the impression that it's water under a bridge now. I think Spees has the rights to both Ferazel and Harry nowadays. He was talking about bringing them back for iOS last I heard from him, but that was a while ago so not sure what the status is on those now.

Definitely planning to include Ambrosia and the other major Mac shareware happenings in the new book. Wouldn't feel right to ignore them (Ambrosia especially, given how big they were in their prime). I do want to limit the overlap as much as I can, though, so I'll be shortening any stories that get carried over from Secret History of Mac Gaming and trying to pull in new/leftover material that wasn't (I never got to speak to Ingemar Ragnemalm, for instance, so maybe I'll talk to him this time, while there are unused Ambrosia stories and lots more detail on Jeff Vogel's work that I could go into).

I think I'll probably point people to the other book for more detail, though, because these Mac shareware stories are fantastic.

I love Nightfall. I actually missed out on it back when it came out, despite knowing about the game — didn't have a computer that could run it. Then I couldn't find a copy anywhere (and wasn't in a position to import) for years after that, until finally I emailed them one day in I think 2012 and they sent me a free copy (I offered to pay but they said not to worry).

Had intended to do a retro review and making of story on Archive.vg, but it fell through when the site went on hiatus, so I'm really glad I could get their story into the book. They're on my list for possible future livestreams, in the same style as the one I did with Robyn Miller a few months back. I'd love for more people to know about the game. (And yes, it runs near-perfectly in Sheepshaver, from what I've played on there.)
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#140 Cougar

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Posted 05 September 2018 - 11:42 AM

View Postmossy_11, on 04 September 2018 - 09:55 PM, said:

Neither Welch nor Spees wanted to talk about their falling out when I interviewed them, but they gave the impression that it's water under a bridge now. I think Spees has the rights to both Ferazel and Harry nowadays. He was talking about bringing them back for iOS last I heard from him, but that was a while ago so not sure what the status is on those now.

Wow, that is great to hear! Crossing fingers it turns into something. I never got into Harry and it would be nice to try it out.