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The Secret History of Mac Gaming

The untold story of a creative, innovative, fiercely-independent gaming scene that was serially ignored by the outside world by Richard Moss

This book is fully funded, but you can still support it!


The Synopsis

The Macintosh changed videogames. It seldom gets credit for this, but it did. It — and its tight-­knit community — challenged games to be more than child's play and quick reflexes. It showed how to make human ­computer interaction friendly, inviting, and intuitive.

Mac gaming led to much that is now taken for granted by PC gamers, including mouse-driven input, multi-window interfaces, and even online play. The Mac birthed two of the biggest franchises in videogame history, Myst and Halo, and it hosted numerous "firsts" for the medium. It allowed anyone to create games and playful software with ease using programs like World Builder, HyperCard, and SuperCard. It also gave small developers a home for their wares in the increasingly hostile games market of the 90s and early 2000s, before the iPhone and the rise of digital distribution services such as Steam enabled "indie" development to return to the broader industry.

Mac gaming welcomed strange ideas and encouraged experimentation. It fostered passionate and creative communities who inspired and challenged developers to do better and to follow the Mac mantra "think different".

The Secret History of Mac Gaming is the story of those communities and the game developers who survived and thrived in an ecosystem that was serially ignored by the outside world. It's a book about people who made games and people who played them — people who, on both counts, followed their hearts first and market trends second. How in spite of everything they had going against them, the people who carried the torch for Mac gaming in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s showed how clever, quirky, and downright wonderful videogames could be.

The work draws on archive materials as well as 60+ new interviews with key figures from Mac gaming's past, including:

Craig Fryar, who is co-authoring several chapters (former Mac game evangelist, Spectre co-creator)
Robyn and Rand Miller (Cyan Worlds)
Patrick Buckland (Crystal Quest)
John Calhoun (Glider)
Andrew Welch (Ambrosia)
Ben Spees (Harry the Handsome Executive, Ferazel's Wand)
Matt Burch (Escape Velocity)
Ian and Colin Lynch Smith (Freeverse)
Steven Tze (Freeverse)
Mark Stephen Pierce (Dark Castle)
Jonathan Gay (Dark Castle, Airborne, went on to design what later became Adobe Flash)
Bill Appleton (World Builder, Creepy Castle, others)
Steve Capps (Alice/Through the Looking Glass, Amazing, co-created The Finder)
Charlie Jackson (Silicon Beach Software)
Peter Cohen (Tikkabik/, editor at Macworld 1999-2009)
Trey Smith (GraphSim)
Dave Marsh (Shadowgate, Uninvited)
Joe Williams (Delta Tao)
Brian Greenstone (Pangea)
Craig Erickson (Déjà Vu/MacVenture system)
Rick Holzgrafe (Scarab of Ra, Solitaire Till Dawn)
Chris De Salvo (MacPlay, Apple GameSprockets)
Ray Dunakin (Ray's Maze, Another Fine Mess, A Mess O' Trouble)
Cliff Johnson (Fool's Errand, 3 In Three, At the Carnival)
Glenda Adams (Westlake Interactive, Aspyr)
Rebecca Heineman (Interplay/MacPlay, Logicware)
Eric Klein (former Mac game evangelist, Bungie)
Marc Vose (MacSports/gamedb)
Yoot Saito (SimTower)
Alex Seropian (Bungie)
and many more

The book will be a 304 page hardback, printed on 120 gsm fine art paper, with a bookmark, head and tail bands, and a four colour jacket printed on clear plastic stock. It will include lots of colour photographs, screenshots from games, packaging, advertising and other ephemera.

The Excerpt

Computer games were big with Apple employees, too. "The early Apple staff, starting with Woz [Steve Wozniak], loved playing and creating games," Hertzfeld recalls. "Many of the Apple engineers spent a fair percentage of their time playing the latest hot game [on the Apple II computer]."

Games were also a fun and effective way to test the Mac's work-in-progress graphical user interface, with its mouse input and desktop metaphors that stood in stark opposition to the text-only command-line interfaces on the IBM PC, Apple II, Commodore 64, and other personal computers at the time.

"One of the earliest Mac demo programs I wrote was a version of Breakout, the classic Atari/Apple II game," says Hertzfeld. He wrote his homage in April 1981 on an early Mac prototype. "We hardly had any software running on the Mac and [I] thought that it would be nice to have a mouse-based game," he explains. It seemed a fitting gesture, given the game's history, to have it help in some small way to shape the future of computing (again).

"It only took a day or two to write initially," Hertzfeld recalls. "After I had it going, [Apple Mac team colleague] Bud Tribble suggested that I spice it up by having the bricks fall when they were hit by the ball instead of disappearing, and you'd have to dodge them as they fell since you'd lose your ball if they hit your paddle.

"I also made a nice explosion when a falling brick hit the paddle. It was fun to play, but was written in a low-level, stand-alone fashion and not maintained as the system software evolved.”

Other Mac team members also made games to test hardware and software features. In 1984, after the first Mac came out, programmer Gene Tyacke developed a version of Greg Thompson and Dave Colley's (among many others') primitive first-person shooter Maze War to test the in-development AppleTalk networking feature that allowed multiple Macs to share files and send messages to each other across a cable connected to the printer port. Bus'd Out was later leaked out unfinished, but not before Burt Sloane, a programmer in a different Mac department, independently created a version of his own that eventually became Maze Wars+, one of the first commercially-available network games. (See Chapter 15 for more on Maze Wars+ and the Mac’s role in the growth of network games.)

Games were more than a fun testing ground for software development on the Mac. An early business plan called for a minimum of two “Macintosh quality” games that would be “unlike the world has ever seen” because “it further endears the office user to his Mac, titillates the college user, and provides a reason for office types to carry their Macs home to their family.”

One of those "Macintosh quality" games was being developed by Bill Budge, who had just found huge success on the Apple II with Pinball Construction Kit — a game in which players could craft their own virtual pinball tables and then play them. Budge was given an early Macintosh, well before its official release. He recalls that the original Mac "had a pretty fast CPU combined with a relatively small screen. That made it possible to paint the screen fast enough to do good 3D animation." To that end, Budge was making a flight simulator. "I actually got a demo working that approached a runway for landing and had an impressive frame rate for the time."

It never came to anything. "I abandoned the project because the display was only black and white, so grey scales had to be simulated by dithering or patterning, which didn't look that great," he says. "And because it would have been a lot of work to import the geographical database and I lost interest."

The creator of the other launch-ready Macintosh-quality game followed through, however, and that game came from within the company. Everybody at Apple played Steve Capps' computer game. Alice combined the careful strategy of the ancient game of kings with the speed and immediacy of quarter-guzzling modern arcades. It was an Alice in Wonderland-themed reimagining of chess wherein Alice herself stood in for the white pieces. She faced down the red queen's army on the other side of the board, and the player could click on the board to tell her where to go. If the square clicked on was a legal chess move for the type of piece Alice was acting as, she'd hop there. If an enemy piece occupied that space, it would disappear. The end goal was to clear the board of all enemy pieces.

Unlike chess, Alice moved at break-neck speed. Enemy pieces hopped about without waiting even a second for the player to complete his move. The pieces themselves combined the basic appearance of traditional chess pieces with the illustrative style of Sir John Tenniel, who had illustrated the original Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass books. They were drawn in black and white, as was the faux-3D chessboard that floated on a black background.

Capps' Alice had the Macintosh and Lisa software teams captivated. One person in particular took to Alice like glue. Joanna Hoffman, the Mac's first marketing person, was indisputably the best player. But she found the game too easy and pressured Capps to make it tougher. He tweaked parameters and added features, including a special mode where the board became invisible. He did whatever was necessary to keep his friends from getting bored of his game, and those changes all stuck for the final release.

"The problem was that I was designing it for people who were expert Alice users," he explains, "so for the person that first picked it up it was actually frustratingly, shittily hard. To the point that I blew it." More than anything, Alice was brutally difficult because it assumed its player had already mastered the art of pointing and clicking.

Most people who bought a Macintosh had never used a mouse before, nor had many even tried to operate a computer. They had to learn from scratch even things that are as fundamental as moving a mouse cursor and clicking to select a file or reposition a text prompt, or double clicking to open something, or any manner of other actions computer users take for granted today.

Apple had conducted user tests prior to the release of the Macintosh to see how people fared in setting it up and learning to operate the system without any guidance. Capps recalls one tester who got his running without a hitch but held the mouse such that the cord ran out the bottom instead of the top and his palm rested over the button.

"The guy had never touched a mouse before," Capps says. "He's sitting there and he moves it to the right and the cursor moves to the left. And he moves the mouse up and the cursor moves down. So it's essentially backwards. Thinking of Alice in Wonderland, he's fallen through the looking glass, and he teaches himself to use it in the half an hour there."

Asked afterwards what he thought of the Mac, the man said, "You know, I didn't understand why it was backwards like that. But I got used to it, so I think you guys got a great product there."


The Author

Richard Moss has written extensively about the history and culture of videogames for over a dozen leading games and technology publications, including Ars Technica, Edge, Eurogamer, Mac|Life, Polygon, Rock Paper Shotgun, USgamer, and several others. In his spare time, Richard edits the classic gaming websites and

Richard also contributes to new and emerging technology news site Gizmag and to Intel’s iQ blog, where he covers the latest developments in science and technology for a general audience. And he produces the podcast Ludiphilia, which shares stories related to how and why people play.

He lives in Melbourne, Australia, in a house ruled by a bengal cat named Max.

Questions & Answers

Xavier Ho Xavier Ho asked:

Will the ebook edition be Kindle compatible?

Unbound Unbound replied:

Hi Xavier,

Yes, the ebooks come in 3 formats: mobi (Kindle), epub (Apple & other ereaders) and PDF.

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community Manager

Randy Reddig Randy Reddig asked:

Hello, friend and member of the early Mac game community. A good friend pointed me to your project and I felt compelled to immediately back it.

I’m curious—have you spoken with the early Bungie team or Hamish Sinclair?

Second, I’m glad you were able to get time with the Millers. I recall fortuitously sitting next to to Robyn Miller at the Macworld SF keynote in 1994. Myst was seminal and a massive influence.


Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:


I've just today got through to Alex Seropian, and will be chatting with him over email. Hoping to talk to Jason Jones, although it may be tough as he doesn't do press interviews anymore. Will be reaching out to Hamish Sinclair soon. His Marathon Story site absolutely floored me when I first discovered it several years ago.

Rand and Robyn were both lovely. Keep an eye (or should I say ear?) out for an audio story I'm preparing about how they got into game dev and made The Manhole. That'll hopefully be ready late next week.

I'd actually quite like to have a chat with you about your time in the Mac gaming biz, too. Shoot me an email at rich.c.moss at gmail and we can work something out.

Alex Metcalf Alex Metcalf asked:

Assume you've got all the contributions you need, but what a fantastic idea, I'm really excited by this book! If you need any more perspectives/contributions: I wrote Maniac in the early 90s, followed by Bubble Trouble for Ambrosia Software (with David Wareing), and also wrote cheat software like Prince of Persia Cheater. Sounds like you have lots of wonderful names far more glamorous than mine :) Best wishes with the project. - Alex

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Hi Alex,

Thanks for getting in touch. I'd definitely be interested in chatting to you about your games (especially the HyperCard stuff, as I really want more examples and quotes and anecdotes for that chapter, and the cheat extensions, which I hadn't even thought about noting until just now).

If you email me on rich.c.moss at gmail we can continue the discussion there/arrange a time for a call.

Alex Metcalf Alex Metcalf asked:

(Not sure if my previous message made it through in this question box... no confirmation from website! Retrying just in case.)

Wonderful book idea, so excited to read it when out! If you need any more perspectives/contributions: I wrote Maniac in the early 90s, followed by Bubble Trouble with David Wareing for Ambrosia in 96, and some game cheat extensions (e.g. Prince of Persia Cheater) and some lesser HyperCard games. You have many more luminary names than mine on that list! But there's an offer anyway. Best of wishes with the book and the project. - Alex

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

(Yes, both versions came through. See my other answer for my response.)

Are you going to write about game called Asterax?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Hi Michal, I'm not certain but Asterax will probably get a brief (one or two paragraph) mention at some point — perhaps in discussing Mac arcade games or when I share the story behind Ambrosia's Maelstrom.

Phil Salvador Phil Salvador asked:

Do you have any plans later down the line to give a copy of your interview transcripts to a game history archive or library? Those seem really valuable for future researchers.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yes! If anyone pledges for one of the researcher tiers, I'll be giving them the chance to donate the transcripts to their archive or library of choice. If they don't want to do that, or (probably more likely) if nobody pledges at either level, then at some point further down the line — say, when the book goes out of print or in maybe five years time — I'll send copies of them all to a few places.

On a related note, if anybody would like to have full transcripts of some of the interviews but not all we can arrange to have another reward level for that.

Vanessa White Vanessa White asked:

Will you be contacting Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software? Exile was definitely one of the defining RPGs for Mac gamers. Also, I've got a very interesting Mac shareware game collection from Japan — I'd be more than happy to send along photos/documentation of it.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yes, I've reached out to Jeff Vogel. Haven't heard anything back yet, but will keep trying and will include something about him and his early games regardless.

Please do send along photos and info on your Japanese shareware collection. You can reach me at rich.c.moss at gmail.

Because of the language barrier, I've had a hard time finding out much about Mac game dev in Japan (aside from what I could glean from some online reading and a few questions I asked Yoot Saito). So would love any help I can get on happenings there.

Rob Hafernik Rob Hafernik asked:

I ported three games to the Mac over the years: Super Hang On, Karnov and MDK. MDK was, I believe, the last Mac game ever to use a software renderer, rather than 3D graphics chip. Super Hang On was an arcade game that, IMHO, wasn't that great on either a PC or the Mac. Karnov was a side-scrolling (also from an arcade game) 2D, tile-based game that was a heck of a lot of fun. MDK was cool, but, IMHO, not as much fund as Karnov. Have you heard of any of these?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

I've heard of the arcade versions of all three. I wasn't aware they were ever ported to Mac. Will look them up. I'd be interested in hearing the stories behind those ports, if you're up for sharing them. Shoot me an email at rich.c.moss at gmail and we can chat.

Doug Sharp Doug Sharp asked:

I wrote 2 hits Mac games in the 80's: ChipWits with Mike Johnston in '84; Cinemaware's The King of Chicago in '86. I'm still immensely proud of those games. If you are considering including either in your book, please email me at

Here are some reviews:

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Hi Doug, I would love to hear more about the behind-the-scenes stuff with ChipWits. It was a fantastic early example of the creativity and innovation I'm trying to highlight. Have just sent you an email.

Andrew Jones Andrew Jones asked:

Is Mac Jesus Pro Gold part of this part? Regardless amazing to see my adolescene in book form.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yes! What a weird and wonderful game/chatbot/toy-like thing. I have Bob Carr on my list of people still to contact for interview. (I also want to talk to him about his other bizarre games, like Mac Spudd! and Mormonoids from the Deep.)

This is a great project. I saw many of my favourite classic games in the intro video above. But two of them were missing. Are you going to write about, and have you interviewed the authors of, Scarab of Ra and Fool's Errand? So many hours spent on these two amazing games (I still play Scrab of Ra occasionally!)

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yep, I've talked to Rick Holzgrafe — who made Scarab of Ra and Solitaire Till Dawn. And I did a big interview with Cliff Johnson of Fool's Errand fame for an article a few years back about his career and his then-just-released-after-10-years-development game A Fool and his Money. I may interview Cliff again as I write the chapter (yes, he gets a whole chapter) about him.

Matt Spada Matt Spada asked:

To what extent will screenshots be included, or is this entirely text based (trying to decide at what level to contribute). Believe I saw Escape Velocity in the video, any mention of Bolo? Looking forward to this.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

The story behind the EV games is getting plenty of attention. Bolo will be covered in a network games chapter, hopefully with quotes from its creator Stuart Cheshire.

We're planning to have screenshots, photos, and other scanned documents (like maps, design docs, letters, etc). We're anticipating the equivalent of roughly 50 pages worth of images and 250 worth of text (amounting to ~100,000 words). We have a very talented designer pencilled in to work on the layout/design stuff.

My advice to everyone would be that if you can afford it, get the hardback. It'll be worth it.

Charlie Hoyt Charlie Hoyt asked:

Here's a vote for a full chapter on World Builder. Sounds like you're talking to Ray Dunakin? Also look up Robert Carr from "Lamprey Systems" and Louise Hope.

I recently played some of my old World Builder favorites and I can't believe how well the ones made by the authors I mentioned above still hold up. The level of design, creativity, and wit in Dunakin's games especially puts current adventure games to shame. Damn near magic how some of those games popped up out of sheer passion. No Kickstarter. No publishers. Just a love for the medium.

I made HyperCard games when I was in junior. high school the early 1990's and it taught me far more about scripting and programming than any class I ever took. In a way I have HyperCard to thank for my career today. Seems like this project is in good hands! Really looking forward to the final product!

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yeah, Ray and Louise made good games by any standard and their later World Builder work (Ray's Twisted and A Mess O' Trouble; Louise's Sultan's Palace) in particular holds up really well. They're the main characters alongside World Builder creator Bill Appleton in a chapter on World Builder that I've already drafted in full.

You may have heard about it, but if you haven't you'll be happy to know that Ray Dunakin's A Mess O' Trouble was remade/ported to OS X last year. You can get it on the Mac App Store and read about how it got brought back in this article of mine:

Thank you for the vote of confidence!

Hi from Spain!

I discover Spaceship Warlock at 23 years old and for me was fascinating. I travel to Paris to get the CD-ROM reader Apple CD300. And just encounter the 150 version. No multisession support.
But when I got the driver, I ask for CD Games to a company called Silver Disc in Barcelona. A fabulous set of demos was included un the Apple kit.
Journeymen Project, Iron Helix and so on. But Spaceship Warlock has so magical atmosphere that caught me!
I played it in a monitor of 12 inches that comes with the Macintosh LC. Required a 13” monitor! Some parts of the game do not can be seen.

I follow the tracks of Joe: Total Distortion. I have it, Radiskull and Devildoll, etcetera.

So to put this to an end here is my real question about your book:

If I opt for the 30 GBP, the “hardware” version of the book will be sent to Spain? I mean if I have to make some other steps to get the book when the date of release will be reached.

Thank a lot from Spain, Richard.
Sorry about my level of english... ;)

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

¡Hola José! Gracias por tu nota. Estoy impresionado que fuiste a tales extremos para obtener el videojuego. (I hope that makes sense — I am better at reading Spanish than writing it.)

To answer your question, yes, I believe the hardback — or any of the rewards — can be shipped to Spain. When you make your pledge you should get a postage quote for sending the book to your address.

Will you speak with Chris Crawford? I worked with him on Balance of Power back in the day.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yes. I spoke to him last year for a freelance piece about his latest games thing. He said at the time he'd be happy to talk again for my book, so I just need to schedule a call. I'll be including him in discussions of the significant early Mac game makers and of the prominent simulations.

Hi! I was pointed here by one of my old fans, who thought you might want a word with me. I wrote most of the book "Tricks Of The Mac Game Programming Gurus", plus a whole bunch of Mac games and middleware used by a considerable amount of "indie games" in the 90's.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Hey, thanks for reaching out! It'd be great to have a chat. Send me an email at and we can set something up.

Hi! I don't suppose you'll be doing an interview with Bill Atkinson (creator of HyperCard)?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

He's on my list of people still to contact — now that you've reminded me I've bumped him right to the top of the list. I'll send him an email right after I finish writing this answer. He's important to the book for his work on MacPaint, QuickDraw, and the original Mac user interface as well.

This book sounds very promising!

Maybe a more recent - but significant - example of how "the Macintosh changed videogames" is the Unity game engine (which has had a huge impact on the games industry for the past few years). Unity was initially a Mac-only engine, and support for running the Editor on windows was only added four years later in Unity 2.5. I believe that the Unity editor workflows were heavily inspired by the developers' Mac backgrounds, and by Apple's Human Interface Guidelines. Focusing on usability when making game *development tools* was not something a lot of people did in those days.

Disclaimer: I work at Unity. Before that, I used to make Mac games (Reckless Drivin', Ambrosia's Redline). Let me know if you have any questions about any of this.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Thanks Jonas. I'd already had the Mac-only origins of Unity pointed out to me on the Inside Mac Games forum, but I appreciate your note. It'd be nice to have a chat to you about it and your old Mac games — I'll try to give both brief coverage in the book (the focus is more on the 80s and 90s, but I don't want to completely ignore notable happenings from the mid-2000s onwards). Shoot me an email on rich.c.moss at gmail and we can take it from there.

Mark Lilback Mark Lilback asked:

Planning to talk to Stuart Cheshire about Bolo? I know a number of players have gone on to active roles in the Mac developer community. In college we'd fill up the computer lab of IIsi's every weekend.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yes, I am. Bolo was before my time, but I know well how big a deal it was in the Mac community in the late 80s and early-mid 90s.

Willie Abrams Willie Abrams asked:

Please, when you talk to John Calhoun about Glider, ask him about Pararena as well. (I loved Pararena and I think it was as distinctive as Glider was.)

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Already did. :)

And Glypha and Stella Obscura and Mac Tuberling (that one's real obscure) — although nothing went remotely close to the popularity of his Glider games. I'm giving him a whole chapter.

Willie Abrams Willie Abrams asked:

Also, SimCity was developed for the Mac first (I first played it on a Macintosh SE) and ported elsewhere. Any chance you might talk to Will Wright?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

I'm looking to speak to a few of the people around him at the time first (i.e., his collaborators and colleagues on the early Maxis games). He's massively over-exposed in the media, and I've been told that as a result the only way to reach him is via his wife, so I'll see if I can get the insights I want from him through one of these other guys before I bother him.

(From what I've read I gather that the early Mac — and MacPaint in particular — influenced the design of all the early Maxis games. So I'm very keen to learn more of the story — it gets right to the heart of my thesis that the Mac changed videogames.)

Rafi Jacoby Rafi Jacoby asked:

I see you're talking to Freeverse - oddly, I think "Jared: the Butcher of Songs" is arguably the most culturally impactful thing they did. Any plans to cover that?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yes. I asked Ian and Colin Lynch Smith about it and will be going into that whole story in the Freeverse chapter. They're still bemused by its surprising impact. Same deal with SimStapler's weird cult legacy with the Mac faithful. And iVase will get a paragraph, too.

Hi there,

Any chance you include something about "the colony" (1987, in your book?
IMHO one of the most underrated macos games.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yep! I had a long and very interesting interview with The Colony creator David Alan Smith a few weeks ago. Found out that late author Tom Clancy was a fan of the game.

I haven't decided exactly how or where in the book I'll cover the game and its development, but it'll definitely be in there and will be given the space it deserves. Very innovative game.

What an awesome project. I'm one of the former Freeverse guys. If you need to find any of the old Freeverse stuff, I kept archives of everything, photos, dev sketches, builds of software that never made it out (Burning Monkey Russian Roulette). I also ported (with Mark Levin) Pathways into Darkness to OS X, so you know keeping Mac Gaming is near and dear to me. If you need anything let me know.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Hey Bruce! I talked to you a few years back about that Pathways into Darkness OS X port and the old Freeverse days. (Link:

I would love to see those archives, and to put some of the photos and sketches and other documents into the book. Can you shoot me an email on rich.c.moss at gmail?

Chris Laursen Chris Laursen asked:

Super Ships and Super Ships II were amazing Mac games where you designed your own spaceships and battled against up to 3 other players (all on the same keyboard!) in a space arena. It used polygon graphics and looked really cool. Can't find anything on the first one but here's a description and maybe download of the second: would love to read about that in your book. Thanks!

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Hadn't heard of those before, but I'll see what I can find out about them.

Jesse Levin Jesse Levin asked:

Terminal Velocity and Spaceward Ho defined my childhood Mac gaming days along with so many of the other games you list. Any hope of a mention of their creation

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Spaceward Ho will be covered for sure, likely in a chapter about Delta Tao. Terminal Velocity probably not, since it was a PC game that got ported to Mac. (And there's a LOT to talk about in the porting houses chapter.)

A fantastic project! Will the book be available outside of Unbound?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yes, I believe so. Unbound has a partnership with Penguin Random House for trade publication, which means it should be available (likely in a less extravagant format) in bookstores in the UK (and maybe elsewhere). And I think it'll end up online stores like Amazon, too.

Chris Rowland Chris Rowland asked:

I lost track of how much time I spent playing Lunatic Fringe, a spaceship game built as an After Dark screensaver module. Curious whether you're planning to talk to Ben Haller about that.

Also, the two Enigmo games had gorgeous soundtracks by Michael Dan Beckett; I hope Brian Greenstone had something to say about the music.

And I maintain that the original Mac version of Myst is still the best—I've seen all the ports, even "Masterpiece" and "realMyst," and they miss the point in many ways—so I'm eager to read what Rand and Robyn had to tell you. I'm in.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yep, will be talking to Ben Haller soon if we can get our schedules to align (we've both been busy lately).

Eric Bowden Eric Bowden asked:

This book is going to be amazing.

+1 for "Spaceship Warlock".
+1 for "The Journeyman Project"
+a bunch for Spiderweb Software's "Exile"


- Myst was Cyan's big hit, but I think both "Cosmic Osmo and the Worlds Beyond the Mackerel" and "Spelunx and the Caves of Mr. Seudo" deserve mentions.

- Fantasoft's "Realmz"

- "The Incredible Machine" - not exclusively a Mac game, though

- "Shufflepuck Café"

- "Tristan" and other realistic pinball games by LittleWing (a Japanese developer, if you're looking for more of those)

- "Lunatic Fringe" - an Asteroids-style game, but somewhat unique because it was a game built as a screen saver rather than standalone.

Also, while not quite games in and of themselves, some content on emulators might be interesting. Connectix's "Virtual Game Station" on the Mac was one of the first commercial Playstation emulators. There were many other good emulators for Mac; the web site at was dedicated to collecting & curating them at one point (gone now, but preserved in the Wayback Machine).

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

It's likely that I'll be spending as much time talking about Cyan's early games - The Manhole, Cosmic Osmo, and Spelunx - as about Myst. Spelunx is one of my favourite games.

I'm interviewing Christopher Gross over email at the moment about Shufflepuck Cafe. Very significant release.

Realmz will get some space for sure. As will Lunatic Fringe. Tristan I hadn't heard of, but I'll look into it. Definitely need more representation of Japanese Mac games.

And I've been grappling with the question of emulators for a while. I think Virtual Game Station will merit a few paragraphs. Not sure about the rest of the scene. I just don't have space to go into it properly. I was a regular of until it shut down, then switched over to MacScene — where I ended up taking charge of news and editorial content in 2010. So I know that world well.

Matthew Dale Matthew Dale asked:

Super stoked to read about this project on Daring Fireball. It is really cool to see so many of the games my brother and I played growing up. Some of our favorites were Escape Velocity, Harry the Handsome Executive, Bolo, Specter Challenger, Crystal Quest, Scarab of Ra, Stunt Copter, and many more.

The only games I didn't see explicitly listed that I really loved were The Manhole (by Cyan Worlds) and Leprechaun. I'm not sure what the purpose of The Manhole was, but my brother and I played it for hours and hours, pretty much any time my folks would let us. Leprechaun was super difficult; I still remember the sound that the leprechaun made when he died painfully.

Good luck with the project!

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

I'm giving lots of attention to The Manhole. Released an audio documentary a little while ago detailing some of the behind the scenes happenings there:

The book will tell more of that story, and of course carry it on to cover Cyan's other games.

Leprechaun may get a brief mention.

Paul Santora Paul Santora asked:

Does the $80 "Double Up" option come with the eBook as well?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Yes. All reward levels include the ebook.

Super cool! When will the book be released?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Next year. We don't have a firm date yet, but likely around the middle of the year. Hopefully a bit sooner — but we don't want to rush the production.

Hi Richard, thanks for writing this awesome book! Can't wait to read it :)

A few games I haven't seen mentioned are:
• Brickles / HangMan by Ken Winograd (
• Bomber III by Rene Vidmer (
• Bub & Bob / Pac the Man by Sebastian Wegner (
• Crab Attack II by Andrew & Scott Lindsey
• Cythera by Glenn Andreas (
• Darwin’s Dilemma by André Ouimet (
• Diamonds by Varcon Systems (
• Dungeon of Doom by John Raymonds (
• Klondike by Michael Casteel (
• Lode Runner by Doug Smith (RIP) & Glenn Axworthy
• Missile Command by Robert Munafo (
• Pyramid of Peril by William Volk (
• Sargo Noidz by Lynda Fowler (see
• StuntCopter / Cairo ShootOut / Zero Gravity by Duane Blehm (RIP)
• Tesserae by Nicholas Schlott (

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

That's more than a few games!

I've interviewed Ken Winograd. And Duane Blehm's games will get discussed in one of the early chapters. Many of the other titles you mentioned may get a nod (Pyramid of Peril, Cythera, and Bomber III will definitely each get at least a sentence), and if I have time I'll try to talk to a few of those people (Rene Vidmer's definitely going on my list because Bomber, U-Boat et al are fascinating ways of using HyperCard).

Only a fellow Aussie would think of giving access to a bloke's shed. I look forward to visiting it next time I'm down your way! Great project - so glad it got funded.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

I've actually joked a bunch of times about that when people have asked what access to the author's shed means. Almost posted a photo of my back shed go a forum once.

Sam Ryan Sam Ryan asked:

I remember playing and beta testing games from Ambrosia SW, many long hours playing Clan Lord by Delta Tao, Bolo, and much time playing Warlords II. I've not seen Warlords II mentioned anywhere for years. Have you heard of it - though it wasn't Mac specific?

Good luck with the project, thanks for putting in the effort!

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

I love Warlords II. Great game. You may enjoy an article I did a few years ago about its creator, Steve Fawkner, and his career:

Minbok Wi Minbok Wi asked:

Just curious. Does this book include KOEI games like the Romance of the three kingdoms(until 8, they released a mac version) or Nobunaga's Ambition?

And millions of thanks you lead this precious project, congratulations!

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

It's my understanding that the Mac versions of Koei's games were all ports, so if they get mentioned at all it will be only briefly. (I really don't have space to discuss every interesting game that had a Mac version - I'm focusing more on Mac-only and Mac-first games, and the companies and developers that were dedicated specifically to Mac.)

Chad Mealey Chad Mealey asked:

Shout out for Mouse Stampede, MacBugs! and Cap'n Magneto. Also an interesting aside: before World Builder, a friend and I were using FileVision to build our own adventure games (graphic hyperlinks!). Looking forward to the book!

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

That's very cool! I would love to hear more about your FileVision game making exploits — I never knew anyone did that. Please email me at rich.c.moss at gmail so we can talk about it.

Congrats on getting funded and then some! +1 for "The Journeyman Project" series (Not that I'm biased or anything... ;) ) Also another shoutout for and specifically Richard Bannister's work on the Mac side of the scene.

How long do you think the writing process will take? Around September I'm receiving my collection of floppies with some pretty early (rare?) stuff, including a really nice version of Monopoly written by somebody at UMich-- will have to send it your way.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Looks like I'll be wrapping up the manuscript in September, so I might be able to squeeze in talk of whatever's in that collection that I don't know about.

John Gordon John Gordon asked:

You should consider some coverage of Prince of Destruction by Tonio Loewald. It was an interesting early mac shareware multiplayer role playing game (

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Hadn't heard of that before. Will check it out. I had no idea there were so many shareware RPGs on the Mac until we started this campaign. (I always thought it was just Spiderweb's stuff plus a few others, but turns out there were a few dozen or more.)

I would love the chapter about Emulation. Would that also cover emulating old Macs on modern systems? QEmu made some big progress in that regard this summer. Also Basilisk II and SheepShaver would be worth a page, maybe with an Interview with Christian Bauer.

Also I often read about Shufflepuck Café, but I never liked the Mac version as I played the AtariST version before. That one had colors and looked really great. Is the colored version so unknown or why is the Mac version so popular? Can't wait to read more about it in the book.

And then there are other great games like BeamWars, Quagmire, NS Shaft, NS Tower, Giza are all great games I loved to play as a kid but didn't see mentioned here.

I'm sure you know it already but just in case, is a great resource.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

The emulation chapter would possibly include a few paragraphs about emulating old Macs on modern systems, but that would be mostly beyond its scope — which is the Mac's part in the 90s and early 2000s emulation scene.

Regarding Shufflepuck Café, I think it's a case where everyone's first experience colours (pun not intended) their perspective. I much prefer the Mac version to the excellent Amiga and Atari ST ports (and the not-so-great ports to other systems), and I think colour graphics detract from the atmosphere of the Mac original. But I played the Mac version about 15 years before I saw any of the others. As for why the colour version is less famous, well...first, I'm not sure it is — lots of Amiga and Atari fans know only the colour version — but if your assertion is correct then I'd guess it comes down to the Mac having had a larger audience than all of the colour platforms it came out on (except for DOS and NES, where it made less of a splash).

The games you mentioned loving as a kid might get a shout-out in the book — I'm yet to draft the relevant chapters — but I can't promise anything. They aren't notable enough to guarantee coverage, and I've realised as I've researched this book that there are actually A LOT of great Mac-only games from the 1980s and 90s. Far more than I could fit into this type of book.

And yes, I regularly visit Mac Garden. It has its problems with organisation and non-standardised documentation, but it's been a tremendous resource for me in discovering notable or simply cool old Mac games and in obtaining basic information (and playable copies!) of them. It's especially handy for a lot of the more obscure things.

Wow, what a great find! I'm glad I stumbled on this as I grew up only using macs (starting with a macintosh plus). I'm curious if you will cover any of the strange tiny games that were traded around back then like Daleks or Mac Bugs? Also, did you look into the pinball games by Littlewing? Again thank you for putting this book together!

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

I will talk about a bunch of those tiny games from the early days (including Daleks and MacBugs), but sadly I wasn't able to gather the backstory to many of them — Al Evans (Cap'n Magneto) never responded to any of my emails, Duane Blehm (StuntCopter, Zero Gravity, Cairo Shootout) died, I never managed to get through to the Daleks author, some other folks are just too hard to find, etc; I do have stories behind some of the freeware and shareware games of the really early Mac days, though.

(Bit of trivia about MacBugs: it was a remake/port of a 1982 DOS game (itself a homage to the arcade game Centipede) called Bugs by the same author. The DOS version had ASCII graphics rather than the black sprites on a white background that we saw in the Mac version.)

I did look into Littlewing. Never got around to getting in touch with Fujita (the designer/co-founder) for an interview, but I understand the significance and popularity of their games in the pinball space and so will definitely find a place to talk about them (and to share whatever interesting details turn up in my research) in the book. They'll get a few paragraphs for sure. Possibly more.

You have no idea how jealous I am as I'm reading about all of these people you've talked to! I'd spring for the transcripts out of sheer curiosity if I had that kind of money. Calhoun, the Millers, Johnson, aaaaa~ (Coincidentally just finished The Fool's Errand fairly recently.) This is pretty much my childhood...and for better or worse, a fair bit of my adult life, really. Not sure I have a whole lot to add without going into some really obscure shareware stuff like Dubbelmoral, a game made around Lundakarnevalen...or the few pieces of adult software, mostly from Mike Saenz, floating about at one point in time. Though, I will say Crystal Crazy was rather criminally overlooked. Dunno why that never got any of the million ports that Crystal Quest did.

Though, I suppose, if I'm going to list off a few things I haven't seen yet, MacSki is something I haven't seen any mention of here yet. Or, if you're looking for more shareware RPGs, there's TaskMaker and Tomb of the TaskMaker. There's also some mail-order turned commercial games, like Quarterstaff and Frankie's Dungeon/Creepy Castle. There's also Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Transinium Challenge, from the same people who brought us Hidden Agenda (spoilers: that one's not very good). Also haven't seen anything on Oxyd or Oids...though, I think those are originally Atari ST games. They had very nice ports, at least, and I remember playing a lot of those two. ...okay, maybe I lied about having nothing to add. If nothing else, I like to think I have some expertise in this field, at least.

I apologize if I'm a little rambling, but this is definitely something I'm excited to get my hands on!

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Well, there's good news if you want to one day read the transcripts. Assuming nobody does go for that top reward tier (if somebody does this will likely still happen, but with their input and maybe a longer delay), I'll be donating all of the transcripts to an archive or museum after the book gets published.

As for the games you mentioned, the book will be covering a few of them. Frankie's Dungeon/Creepy Castle I have a bit of backstory to. The TaskMaker RPGs I plan to give a couple of paragraphs to. I've been trying to get onto Michael Cook to talk about those and MacSki, which likewise will get at least a paragraph regardless. Unfortunately he hasn't responded to my emails yet. And my Patrick Buckland interview covered all of his games, so Crystal Crazy will get a bit of space — though definitely not as much as Crystal Quest because it didn't have anywhere near as big an impact.

Love the project! The manuscript may be done already, but I'm curious about a game that I do not see mentioned. Pax Imperia. I'm curious if you interviewed Andrew and Peter Sispoidis. I remember the game being somewhat buggy but it was pretty amazing for it's day with real time strategy that could be sped up or slowed down. It was impressively complex and I spent a huge amount of time playing that one.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

I did not interview either of them. Changeling Software (their company) will get a really brief mention, though (and by extension so will Pax Imperia, their best-known game).

Maybe one day I'll track them down and do an interview as part of some kind of online or ebook postscript. I've realised there's so much more history to delve into than what I can fit into the book, so time permitting that'll be something I look at after publication.

I've already bought a copy for myself , is there any way I can gift someone a copy through this website?

Unbound Unbound replied:

Hi Evie,

Unfortunately not at the moment, but you can send a book to someone's address and have their name in the back. Please see these help articles for how to do this:

Best wishes,

Caitlin - Community Manager

I love this book idea and can't wait to see the finished product.

If you do decide you want to talk about emulation, I'm happy to help. Back in the day I was quite heavily involved, and I am still in correspondence with a few of the other names from the nineties.

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

Thanks Richard! Well and truly aware of you and your work. I followed the emulation scene from about '98 onwards and eventually ended up helping Niemann run MacScene. And I remember I actually sent you questions for a school project about 15-16 years ago where we had to talk to a few adults we admired about their career/job.

Doesn't look like the emulation chapter will happen (barring a large surge in pledges), but I'm considering going ahead with it as a standalone article or part of some other separate thing later on. Will absolutely contact you for help if/when I get to that stage.

Sam Walker Sam Walker asked:

Just pledged for the hardcover and very excited to see this project come to fruition. Seems you have an excellent designer on-board; I see you've already mentioned that the hardcover will be copiously illustrated, but any thoughts on what the size-format will be? I imagine an oversized coffee-table format is unlikely, but I'm sure you agree there were some truly singular artistic visions in this genre, that would be well-served by generous reproductions for posterity. Here's hoping you can do everything possible to showcase the visual achievements as well as the history!

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

We're still to finalise a lot of details, but I can say with certainty that the book dimensions are larger than a standard hard cover and smaller than your typical A4-ish-sized coffee-table book — I don't remember offhand what dimensions we specced at for the crowdfunding target, but something in that range. The idea is to provide room for the images to shine without making the actual reading experience — because it is a text-led book — cumbersome. (And yes, some of the games have stunning artwork that we'll be looking to highlight in half-page and full-page reproductions, space/budget allowing.)

Will post updates to the Shed regarding the design as we go along. Darren and I spoke seriously about the design/layout for the first time on Skype in late November, so it's early days yet. He brought up some exciting ideas as we were chatting about what material's available and what visual qualities Mac game art had during the 80s and 90s, and he's now having a play around with a couple of chapters to try to come up with a general style. Once that's done we should have a pretty good idea of what the book will look and feel like.

Sam Ryan Sam Ryan asked:

This picked up my interest in the old Delta Tao game Clan Lord, which still appears to be running. There's a list of characters which still seem to be I the game at

I don't know if there are other examples of similar games which are still online and available, but are you mentioning any of these?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

I unfortunately won't have the space to talk about what is and isn't still running in the book, but will be going into that in some of the support and promotional material (i.e., blog posts, videos, articles, interviews, podcasts, etc).

Clan Lord is as far as I know not only still running but also still being updated (and that will be stated *very* briefly in the Where Are They Now? section at the end of the Delta Tao chapter).

Some of the other popular 90s network/online games still have an active playerbase as well — Bolo, Marathon, Avara all have a small number of people still playing. I also know of one old Mac game that I'm not mentioning in the book (because its first release came outside my time window) that's still played online. It's called Oberin ( It's an old-school fantasy MMO that I'm sure could do with new players.

Peter Geddeis Peter Geddeis asked:

I'm going to be in Melbourne at the end of March. Any chance I could take advantage of my "Meet the Authors" pledge then?

Richard Moss Richard Moss replied:

More than happy to fulfill that part of the pledge while you're in town. Send me an email (rich.c.moss at gmail) so we can figure out the details.

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