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One on One With Glenda Adams (Part 20)
April 30, 2004 | Tuncer Deniz

One on One with Glenda Adams, a monthly feature at Inside Mac Games, is essentially a conversation between two old friends talking about various Mac game related topics. The impromptu conversation deals with topics such as the strength of the overall Mac market, OS X, Apple, and more.

Tuncer: Well, let's start off with the customary first question. Care to give us an update on some of Aspyr's upcoming games?

Glenda: Things have really been hopping here- Call of Duty has gone gold and is in duplication, Medal of Honor:Breakthrough and 007 Nightfire are both at final candidate and awaiting final approvals to go gold. We're also very close to final on both Space Colony and Delta Force Black Hawk Down as well. All of the games having been turning out very well, I have to give a lot of credit to our QA department, they have really stepped up their efforts and done some amazing work on recent titles.

Other games that are a little farther out we're working on like Battlefield 1942, Splinter Cell, Simcity 4 Rush Hour, and Homeworld 2 are in various stages of development, there will be more to say about those as they get closer to release.

Tuncer: One of the more lively and surprising announcements Aspyr has made in recent memory was Battlefield 1942. Can you give us some details on why it took so long to negotiate that deal and were you surprised by the reaction of Mac gamers?

Glenda: BF1942 was such a huge success that Electronic Arts and DICE (the original developer) were obviously very protective of it, and it just took a lot of work to get everybody signed off on the project. This was one were Aspyr's licensing group really had to be persistent, and I think it was well worth the wait. One of the key areas that helped us finalize the deal I think was to have our own internal development group. That gave us extra security and resources to devote to the game. BF1942 will have been the largest development effort we've ever committed to for Mac game, and we plan to support for a long time to come. As far as Mac gamers' reactions, they were what I had hoped they'd be- people were extremely pumped to hear it was coming, and I think it's going to be one of our biggest sellers of 2004, if the initial reaction is any indication.

Tuncer: There's been some confusion as to whether Battlefield 1942 would support mods as well as PC to Mac networking. Can you clear that up?

Glenda: PC to Mac networking is fully supported, the game will play on Mac, PC, and Linux servers and be fully compatible. It will support GameSpy and PunkBuster as well. For mods, we have already done testing with a few mods, and plan to test with all of the most popular mods from the PC to make sure they work. While mods will be 'officially' unsupported, that only means if you can't figure out how to install them you can't call Aspyr to ask how I'm counting on the Mac BF1942 community to spring up very quickly with Mac-specific instructions on how to download and install all the popular mods, since there aren't any changes to the PC files necessary, just unpack them and put them in the right folders.

Tuncer: One of the things you hear often from Mac gamers is their frustration with the fact that some of Aspyr's games feature Mac-to-Mac only internet and network play. Can you explain why Aspyr sometimes is forced to do that?

Glenda: It always comes down to a technical or licensing issue. In some games, like Homeworld 2, the PC version uses DirectPlay, a Microsoft library for networking that has no Mac equivalent. To reverse engineer that (and not run into any legal issues) is an insurmountable problem, so we have to support on Mac network play. In other games there can be technical issues in the way the game's network code is written that cause problems. In C&C Generals, the game relied on bit-level floating point calculations being identical between players. So we'd have to guarantee every single calculation in the game produced an identical result to the the most minor decimal place when calculated on the PowerPC and the Pentium. There are enough small differences in how the compilers optimize floating point code to make those numbers not match, and so the game goes out of sync. Having a game that supports PC to Mac play but goes out of sync after 5 minutes would be worse than not having PC to Mac play at all.

On the licensing front, sometimes a game uses a proprietary game matching service to find other net players. An old example of this was the Microsoft Zone. Since that service was never implemented on the Mac, there was no way to have Internet play between PC & Macs in a Zone game. There are still a few services like that out there, and while we do everything we can to convince their owners to do Mac versions, we don't always succeed.

The good news is that we do have lots of fully compatible PC<>Mac games, like Call of Duty, Medal of Honor: Breakthrough, and Battlefield 1942. So for those people who really want to play against PC's, there are still lots of opportunities.


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