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Friday, January 13, 2006

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MWSF: IMG Chats With Aspyr Media's Glenda Adams
7:55 AM | Jean-Luc Dinsdale | 11 comments

As part of IMG’s MacWorld Expo coverage, we got a chance to sit down with Aspyr Media’s Glenda Adams and chat about the fresh Apple announcements, and how things are going for the revered publishers.

MacIntels were the first topic of conversation, with Glenda’s prediction being that the new machines will have a positive influence on Mac games. For the first time, Apple’s boxes will finally have matching hardware specs with PCs, eliminating any reason for the current game performance discrepancy between the Windows and Mac platforms. The move to Intel sets the bar higher for Apple technicians and for developers to really push the boxes to get the same frame rates as PC users. The new Macs are also garnering a lot of attention from PC users, and if speculation of Apple’s market share growing past the 10% prove correct, Glenda expects to see many more gaming titles coming to the platform.

Further, Glenda is very excited about the new, Intel-powered iMacs and MacBook Pros that were announced on Tuesday, noting that she ordered a new machine for herself only a few hours after the keynote. Impressed with the speed and price of the new machines, she noted that the powerful new ATI Radeon X1600 graphics cards installed in all the new machines, combined with the huge performance jump of the Intel chips will make really powerful rigs for gamers.

Aspyr has been preparing for the move to Intel since it was first announced by moving their development to Xcode, and creating universal binaries for most of Aspyr’s upcoming games. Aspyr will soon be releasing universal binary patches for their most popular games – Doom 3, Sims 2, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic, to name a few – when the new machines hit the streets. While Glenda expects that most of Aspyr’s less demanding games will play great under the Rosetta emulation system, her staff plans on testing all their current games for performance, and release updates as necessary.

We also touched briefly on the dual boot issue, which has been of great concern for game developers. Although it will remain a hazy unknown until the boxes get in user’s hands, Glenda doesn’t expect many users will resort to dual boot if it becomes possible. Her prediction is that it’ll take a lot of work to partition, install, and maintain two separate operating systems, only to have to deal with the large number of worms and viruses floating around the PC world.

Over the past two years, Aspyr has expanded into multiple game markets, a move that has proven successful, according to Glenda. Apart from the Xbox, PC, and Game Boy Advance markets, the company is making inroads into the PocketPC platform with projects like the highly regarded port of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2. In order to accommodate the new markets, the Aspyr staff has expanded from 30 to over 70 in the last two and a half years, with Glenda’s department ballooning with a total of 14 programmers.

Releasing Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without A Pulse, Aspyr’s first original triple-A game, was a great experience for the veteran game publishers. Aspyr is on the lookout for more original titles to help develop and release for both the Mac and PC, and are also looking at picking up PC and Mac projects currently in development in Europe and bringing them to the US. As an aside, readers who haven’t yet tried Stubbs should download the recently-released demo to see if the highly original and inventive game – not the kind of game you’d expect to see from the big PC game publishers - suits their liking.

As for their current projects, Glenda noted that the ports of Call of Duty 2 and Civilization 4 are progressing well, while the release of Quake 4, currently listed as being at Alpha, may hinge on openGL optimizations expected in an upcoming operating system update. Glenda expects that Sid Meier's Civilization® III: Complete and The Sims 2 University will sell well at the Expo, and was excited to have gotten the Stubbs demo out the door in time for the show.

We ended our conversation by asking Glenda if there were any other new markets on the horizon for the publishers. Given the number of iPod vendors on the Expo show floor, the iPod accessories market is one market Aspyr will definitely NOT be getting into in the new future. We’d like to thank Glenda for her time at the show.

MWSF 2006
Aspyr Media
Stubbs the Zombie
Download Stubbs The Zombie Demo
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