Sunday, 28 October 2007

The Last Classic Mac OS - A Tribute

Officially deceased but won't lie down yet!

The release of OS X 10.5 Leopard on 26 October 2007 marks the end of Apple's support of the classic Mac OS. Leopard no longer supports PPC Mac Classic mode, so anyone who still relies on a classic Mac app is out of luck with Leopard. So here's my modest tribute to a legend.

Although Classic has been less and less useful as time goes on, there are sure to be some PPC Mac users out there like myself who still need to run classic apps, either because an update or replacement doesn't exist, or because they can't find a suitable replacement for a much loved classic app. I'm likely to upgrade to Leopard sometime, but it will be on a separate internal hard drive alongside Panther, for dual-booting. I can't bear to be parted from Panther, just yet, for reasons such as these classic apps:

- all the Mac Tomb Raiders up to The Last Revelation (TR 4). None of these (7) games have been confirmed yet for Carbonising by Aspyr, but although I'm not hopeful I've not yet ruled it out. These alone lock me into Panther for some time yet!

- Claris Home Page, which was discontinued in 2001 with v3. There may be better WYSIWYG website design packages these days, but I'm happy with the utility and ease of use of Home Page. It may be very basic by today's standards but what it does it does well and has been running this site since day one. Anyway, who needs templates or rollovers :)

- SoundApp PPC, which was a very useful freeware audio converter, capable of handling one of the widest range of formats at the time. The developer, Norman Franke, moved on to other things and the last release was v2.7.3 in late 2000. Although there are other audio utilities for OS X, none to this day have the simplicity or practicality of SoundApp PPC.

- The older F/A-18 Hornet flightsims, of which only F/A-18 Korea can be run in Classic with the help of MacGLide. The later F/A-18 OIF may be OS X native but for sheer flightsim fun on a Mac nothing can beat Hornet Korea. Well, except for Hornet 3 which won't run in Classic...

- I also have occasional use for a few odd things like my old GME97 Encyclopaedia (and some other references) and my faithful old Agfa scanner. Unfortunately the Agfa scanner will only work by booting into OS 9 as the SCSI connection doesn't work properly in Panther.

So the end of Classic support by Apple is, for myself and many other long term Mac users, an event to rank up there with the last PPC Mac. Hence my modest tribute to an operating system family that may not have always been cutting edge, but will always be fondly remembered.

RIP Classic Mac OS
24 January 1984 - 26 October 2007

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Valve's Gabe Newell on Apple & Gaming

Updated 5 October 2007
Updated 6 October 2007

In a recent interview between Kikizo and Gabe Newell, the MD of Valve (developers of Half Life), there are some interesting comments about Apple's attitude to gaming and why Half Life isn't on the Mac.

Valve have approached Apple on a number of occasions in recent years, and although the Apple people they've spoken to have expressed interest in helping make the Mac better for gaming, nothing has ever happened. As Gabe Newell says "I just don't think they've ever taken gaming seriously." He goes on to say "If I were a Macintosh product manager, it [gaming support] would be pretty high on my list, and a problem to get taken care of, as probably the number one thing holding them back with consumers."

Read the interview - the Apple comments are on the first page and paint a bleak picture of Mac gaming any time soon.

This reinforces my long held belief that by ignoring gaming Apple have missed the bus when it comes to getting hardware into homes and giving Microsoft some serious competition (as I've said more than once in this blog, right from the start). Mac gaming may not technically be dead yet, but outside of casual games it's looking more ordinary every day. And comments like those from Gabe Newell certainly don't do anything to make me think that things will change...

Update 5 October

Inside Mac Games' Tuncer Deniz, in his blog, has commented on Gabe Newell's remarks about why Half Life 2 isn't on the Mac. While accepting that some of his comments are valid, Tuncer points out that part of the reason at least is "because of Valve's insistence that anyone who wanted to port Half-Life 2 to the Mac had to advance $1 million to Valve." Now to those who have some idea what the market is for Mac games, that amount of money up front is quite unrealistic!

That aside though, Tuncer, a long term Mac gaming advocate, does accept that "the Mac is NOT a great gaming platform", that competition from consoles in particular isn't helping, and nor is Apple's attitude. But he remains optimistic about the future of gaming on the Mac given that the Mac's market share is rising and there is still strong support from developers and gamers. I hope he's right...

Read Tuncer's blog post for more.

Update 6 October

Macworld have commented on Gabe Newell's remarks in the above interview. They also note that much of what Gabe Newell says has merit, but they agree with Inside Mac Games that money is the main reason Half Life hasn't made it to Mac. In the article comparisons are drawn between Valve, and other publishers who have been successful and profitable with cross platform releases.

But one point was mentioned that has a wider significance. Whatever Valve's reasons for avoiding the Mac, they have game technology that they license out to other developers, and if Valve isn't developing for the Mac then neither are any of the developers using their technology. So Valve's attitude does have other ramifications for Mac gaming!

On the intensive use of DirectX with many new games on the PC, and whether it's another factor impacting on Mac conversions, they comment "
It’s a technical problem, sure, but it’s not insurmountable", pointing out that this hasn't stopped other developers porting PC games to the Mac.

Read the Macworld article for more details.

But I still have reservations about the future of Mac gaming after Valve's comments. If developers like Valve, for whatever reason, aren't pursuing Mac gaming, then something will have to change before we see Macs taken seriously by the wider game development community. Eidos is a good example, with Tomb Raider Legend being released by them on almost every conceivable platform, even a version for mobile phones, but not for Mac or Linux. If they're not prepared to put that extra effort into at least one more version of the game (given all those that have been released), then what hope is there..?