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IMG Interviews Pangea's Brian Greenstone
February 8, 2006 | Tuncer Deniz

IMG: Frame rates has always been a problem for Mac gamers with PowerPC Macs. Now that the switch to Intel has happened, what new challenges remain for Mac games?

Greenstone: I've never been convinced that the frame rate issue was because of the PowerPC. The PowerPC was a great chip if you knew how to use it. But most of the Mac games out there are ports of PC games that were written and optimized for the Intel architecture. I never had any performance problem with PowerPC because I wrote my code to make use of the PowerPC's features. Knowing how your chip uses the stack, how many integer and floating point units you have, how memory is fetched, etc. all makes a huge difference in performance, and the PowerPC and Intel architectures work very differently in that way, so you have to code specifically for it.

The only technical challenge I really see is dealing with Input Devices on OS X. As everyone knows, the HID Manager is a piece of junk, and using input devices like gamepads and joysticks on OS X is a pretty miserable experience. That's really the only major challenge that I have to deal with on a daily basis. It's a tech- support nightmare.

As for non-technical challenges, retail distribution is always a big one when dealing with Mac software. The Apple stores are pretty much it for retail these days. CompUSA, Fry's, etc. don't add up to much, and the profit margins are extremely low. We don't care about this issue anymore, however, because about 3 years ago Pangea ditched the idea of doing retail and just went with direct sales off of our web site. Even though this cut out sales volume in half, our overall profit went up about 250% - best business decision I ever made. But the direct sales / download plan doesn't work for most of the bigger publishers because they're developing ports of PC games that are gigabytes in size, so downloading isn't really a feasible option. They're forced to go retail. If we could get Walmart and Target to carry Mac software then things might look up.

IMG: You've decide to not even bother with a CD version of Enigmo 2. Why not?

Greenstone: Well, even though we've gone with the direct sales model we usually do offer CD versions of our games on our web site. But for some reason, nobody wanted the CD version of Enigmo 1. For every 50 copies of the download version that we sold, we might sell 1 CD version. So, rather than get stuck with a bunch of inventory again, we decided to only sell Enigmo 2 as a download since that seems to be what people prefer. The download for that game is pretty small - only around 30MB.

IMG: Looking back, are there any of your games you wish you hadn't done?

Greenstone: Hehe... well... there are certainly games I think sucked; like "Weekend Warrior", but the only game I guess I wish we hadn't done is "Billy Frontier" because it just didn't turn out the way we originally planned. Visually it's fantastic, the music is fantastic, the original idea was fantastic, but the execution was not. But for $15 it's probably a good buy.

IMG: What are you planning on doing next?

Greenstone:I'm not entirely sure. I've got several ideas in my head that I want to play with once Enigmo 2 ships. At least this time I'm motivated and not suffering from burnout anymore, so I should be able to get moving on some new prototypes soon!

Related Links
Pangea Software
Enigmo 2



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