Apple on Omni, OS X Gaming
3:09 PM | Michael Eilers | Comment on this story
Since before the launch of Mac OS X the name Omni Group has been integral to Mac gaming on that platform; they were the developers who ported Quake 3 Arena 117 to the native Cocoa environment of that new operating system, producing the first commercial-level game release for OS X Public Beta. Now that OS X final is here (updated to 10.0.2 as of today) Omni Group has another slew of releases planned for the near future: Cocoa versions of Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2, American McGee's Alice, Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force and Oni.
Apple has just published an in-depth feature article on Omni and their current and future projects. This cutting-edge company which seems to be on the forefront of OS X technology is actually a group of "old-school" NeXT programmers who have been waiting a long time for a wide audience to appreciate their specialized skills. Of course NeXT is the programming environment upon which Mac OS X was partially based, and their flair for the Steve Jobsian mindset allows them to produce rapid Cocoa ports of the already-portable Quake 3 Arena engine. Soon Omni will also release a port of Oni, which was previously released as a partially-functional Carbonized version, and they have even more in store for the future.
While the number of developers out there producing Cocoa titles (which will only run on Mac OS X) is very small and will likely remain so for some time, Omni's role is quite valuable in one aspect -- they are proving by example that Mac OS X is a great OS for gaming and game development.
Omni Group's ambitious streak -- which has gotten them into minor trouble on occasion -- extends beyond mere ports; in fact the article reveals that they have their sights set on original game development for the platform, based of course on OS X core technologies. While it is too early to even hope that some PC development companies might look to OS X as a new basis for developing cross-platform games, Omni's work may be a proof-of-concept for other Mac developers. Here's an excerpt on their future plans:
While currently incredibly busy porting existing games to Mac OS X, what does Shipley think about original development in Cocoa, which is Mac OS X’s native programming language? Well, there was a PC title known as Drakkan which featured dragon flight, but that faded to obscurity due to lack of fanfare. In any case, those who are interested in this slightly-rogue development house and their future products will find this article a fascinating read. We can't wait to take Omni's finished products for a spin.
Apple on Omni Group and Games
“Cocoa is an amazing environment for all kinds of programming,” he says, “and we’ll finally be writing our own games over the next couple years.
“What you’ll find is the games we write will be attempts to do something truly different,” he continues. “For instance, it’s always bothered me that there have been, at my rough count, about 200 different airplane flight simulators written over the years, but nobody has ever written even a single dragon flight simulator.
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