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Matt Diamond

Member Since 30 Jul 2001
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 09:17 PM

Posts I've Made

In Topic: The Secret History of Mac Gaming

05 September 2018 - 12:51 PM


View Postmossy_11, on 03 September 2018 - 09:53 PM, said:

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.
Yeah, that was my experience. Money dribbled in slowly over time.

The one big payday was from a PC games publisher (SofSource). Their business model was to license select shareware and publish it commercially. The published games were displayed on racks in stores like Sears, positioned as impulse buys.

To kick off their Mac line SofSource licensed both my games, plus two others (Diamonds 3D was one I think). Unfortunately Sears and maybe others decided not to carry the Mac line. SofSource lost money and got out but I got to keep the advance. I still have some boxed copies the publisher sent me, plus a couple I bought at CompUSA as a lark.

I was contacted by other publishers too but most seemed very shady. SofSource seemed to go out of their way to treat developers fairly (we kept the rights to our games and could even keep selling them as shareware.) I was sad the Mac line didn't work out for them.

In Topic: The Secret History of Mac Gaming

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.

In Topic: The Secret History of Mac Gaming

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.

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).

In Topic: The Secret History of Mac Gaming

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.

In Topic: What Mac games did you recently finish?

27 August 2018 - 02:50 PM


As a rule I am not good at platformers, nor do I like boss battles. So I was frustrated quite often while playing this, but i wouldn't have dreamed of stopping because the game is so delightful and funny, and sometimes even touching. Really happy a sequel is in development.

Also finished Overload's single-player mode. Not sure how much longer I'll keep playing its challenge mode (bots) and multiplayer (mostly hardcore players who are much better than me).

(Not sure what to play next. I've made good progress on my Steam backlog, tempting to keep the streak going with another close-ended single-player game. Maybe HL2: Ep2, or a point-and-click adventure game.)