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30/03/2018: And now...The Secret History of Mac Gaming

I backed a Kickstarter project last year – a book entitled 'The Secret History of Mac Gaming'. I received the book about a month ago and completed reading it in the last week. It's a truly great book.

The Secret History of Mac Gaming

Although I grew up with an Apple IIGS, moving with the times, our family got a PowerMac 7100/AV in January 1995 and I've got to be honest and say I enjoyed gaming all over again on a fruity coloured logo stamped machine. It was a good time for Mac gaming – Lucas Arts were in full swing for their enhanced Mac game conversions (which featured better graphics than the MS-DOS originals) Mac shareware giants Ambrosia's catalogue was only widening, and Marathon 1 and 2 from Bungie software were simply a delight to play, taking advantage of the Mac in the first-person shooter realm.

The good times didn't last however, as Apple found itself in some financial turmoil in 1996. All too soon it felt like I had to become a user and evangelist just as I had with the IIGS, but it's a period of my ongoing formative years with computers and The Secret History of Mac Gaming certainly evoked a lot of good memories of those days. Possibly the darkest looking days for Apple were the most fun in hindsight, as we rallied behind the cause of computing...differently.

The book itself is almost entirely text based, which surprised me given the visual history approach I've always planned for the IIGS coffee table book (yes, I still hope to complete it, although my current thinking is it will be broken up into separate volumes now, as there's just too much content to include in a single tome). But author Richard Moss's interviews and concise prose deliver such a wonderful human side to every tale told on developing games on the Mac – stories quite like what we know on the Apple II and IIGS as well. The youthful energy, hopes and dreams of the early adopters of the Mac is palpable and I really felt great for their successes and sorrow for what would be almost inevitable failures as the Mac's fortunes as a gaming platform twisted and turned like a roller coaster.

Relevant to the Apple II and IIGS, there are interviews with very notable people who developed for both platforms. Brian Greenstone, founder of Pangea Software is given a whole chapter and his past as a games developer on the IIGS is duely acknowledged. If you ever wondered what happened to him, his tale of struggling Mac game developer paid off when his Nanosaur game became bundled with the then new iMac in 1998 and then stratospherically rose again to undreamt of heights as a sole developer when Pangea's games were amongst the initial offerings on the App Store when it first launched in 2008 with the introduction of the iPhone 3G.

The story of Crystal Quest, the first colour Mac game is fully traced, as are the origins of Shufflepuck Cafe. Rebecca Heineman's porting work on a slew of Mac games conversions is well covered (including games Wolfenstein 3D and Out of This World, which helped in getting IIGS versions made) and the stories of how the ICOM series of point and click adventure games (Deja Vu I and II, UninvitedShadowgate) and seminal Mac favourite Dark Castle were made, all games that got IIGS colour conversions, are great reads as well. Even Glenda Adams, who was the champion of Mac gamers everywhere for her ports of blockbluster PC games, is worth mentioning because it was only recently discovered that she was an Apple II geek as well, although in her earlier high school days, cracking games rather than writing them. And I was delighted to find out that Jason Jones, still the creative director at Bungie after Marathon, Myth, Halo and Destiny series, initially started his first game, Minotaur, on the Apple II (although it was completed on the Mac).

I tip my hat to fellow Melbournite Richard Moss for delivering a wonderful historical account using almost only the readable word to convey so much. The design is minimal and doesn't take away from the engrossing text. Details of where to buy the book online and everything else can be found here. Also, be sure to give his podcasts Ludophilia and The Life and Times of Video Games a listen.

30/01/2018: Clip Copy Plus Finder Extra Released

Clip Copy Plus is a new Finder Extra that could just make your day!

 

Finder Extra Dialogue

 

Ever wished the System 6 Finder would let you use copy, cut and paste for file management in the same way that Windows has allowed for years, and that Apple finally caught onto with Mac OS X around 15 years ago? Well now you can! Chris Vavruksa has dusted off his archives of in progress development from 20 years ago and has completed this Finder Extra. You can download either a SHK or 2image archive, graciously hosted by Ewen Wannop over on his site or you grab it from the 'Finder.Extras' folder of What is the Apple IIGS' collection of  System Add-ons.

22/01/2018: Christmas Gifts #2 8-bit 3.5" Disk Based Educational Software Additions

We've got some new additions for 8-bit educational software on 3.5" disk!

Antoine has found several more titles - Little Shopper's Kit and Time Liner, both by Tom Snyder Productions, The Balance in Nature by Focus Media (complete with documentation) and DLM Maths Fluency – Division Facts by DLM.

I was lucky enough to buy a boxed copy of The Playroom locally in Melbourne, so I've added a box scan for that. I also found the front of the manual for Reading & Writing with Boars was the box, so added a scan for that title as well.

21/01/2018: Patentedly Tardy Christmas Presents Not Only Late, But Fewer As Well! Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!...for last year. Where does the time go? My family, so time well spent, but it just goes so fast.

The first of my annual late Christmas gifts (now more tuncated than previous years) started with my love of arcade games which recently lead me to www.vgmrips.net, but much to my surprise, there are also Apple IIGS game music rips as well! I've created a dedicated playlist using my account on the site that anyone can listen from within a modern web browser.

At time of writing, these game soundtracks have been ripped from the IIGS:

King's Quest I, II & III
The Black Cauldron
Space Quest II
Arkanoid I & II
Tetris

From what I've been able to gather, the music is ripped while being emulated within MAME and whatever support it has for ‘recording' audio.

The resulting files are not straight audio recordings like mp3s, but rather the sequencing and instrument data has been collected and is emulated on the fly for playback. Alternatively, you can export tracks from vgmrips.net as mp3s for more ‘traditional' music players.

You can play the resulting vmg tracks from the site of course, but there are also desktop and smart phone players as well.

I hope other IIGS audiophiles will use this emulation technology to record IIGS game soundtracks and other notable music and submit to vgmrips.net. It's inspiring to see so much great music recorded in this way for so many gaming and computer platforms out there.

On relatively the same subject, Dagen Brock recently discovered a SoundSmith player written in Javascript that can also allow IIGS music to be heard via a modern web browser (Chrome and Firefox Quantum are up for the task, but Safari sadly doesn't want to play ball).

The demo includes rips of music from the FTA demos Modulae, The Xmas Demo and a couple of other tracks. As a bonus, there's also an ‘FTA Tracker'. Before the FTA moved onto SoundSmith as their tracker of choice, they were developing one themselves that they used for the Nucleus demo and the Photonix I & II copy utilities.

There's lots of documentation about the project and the source is all available on github.

As part of my annual late patented Christmas gifts, it's time again to provide easy access to old news. These links will take you back, year by year, into past announcements and inclusions of content on What is the Apple IIGS? Happy exploring!

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010