The Secret History of Mac Gaming

By Richard Moss

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

Friday, 23 February 2018

Rocket Jump and other games history books on Unbound

(For any people just now discovering this book, the special backer-only hardback edition is sold out BUT the trade hardback edition is not. You can pre-order that on Amazon UK and elsewhere ahead of its official March 22 release. The differences between the two are few: the trade edition drops the blue page edges, uses lower-quality paper stock and binding, and has a subtly-different finish on the cover.)

I'm delighted to see that UK people are starting to get their copies; with luck, it won't take much longer for everyone in the US, Australia, Europe, and everywhere else to get theirs too. It's been a long journey, and a big wait, but we're right at the end of it now. And I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks — to borrow a quote from Cliff Johnson, "this is what I've been waiting for; to experience other people's experiencing of what I've done."

While you all either dig in and start reading or wait this last little bit before you can do the same, I thought it'd be nice to point out the other wonderful games history books Unbound has in funding right now.

Rocket Jump: Quake and the Golden Age of First-Person Shooters by David L Craddock

From the author of Stay Awhile and Listen, which is a fantastic deep-dive history of Blizzard's hit dungeon-crawling hack-and-slash RPG Diablo, Rocket Jump is a humungous 130,000-word/500-page tome detailing not only the history of id Software's seminal FPS Quake but also its immense influence on the games that followed and the history of a few key games that predated it (like Duke Nukem 3D). Like my book, it also has a lovely design to accentuate all these lovely words.

I highly recommend this one. The excerpt is excellent, and David always does great research, so you can count on it being a cracking account of the era. He was in touch with me before his campaign launched about some tips and tricks for crowdfunding, which he seems to have taken to heart. He even came up with this nifty FAQ idea. His funding target looks to be even higher than mine was, so he could certainly use your help in keeping the early momentum rolling.

Hardcore Gaming 101 Presents: Japanese Video Game Obscurities by Kurt Katala

I'm sure many of you will be familiar with the Hardcore Gaming 101 website, which jam-packed with in-depth articles on hundreds of 80s/90s games and game series from around the world — many of which are largely forgotten today (and some of which were forgotten even then). Here we have a whole book on 101 rare, weird, and important Japanese games from the guy who runs that website.

I'm sure it'll be an interesting read for games history buffs, although the style and tone of the excerpt suggests that it'll be a tough one to understand for those of you with more limited existing knowledge. This is a different kind of games history to what David and I do; it's not a development narrative rooted in interviews and research, but rather more of a collection of game descriptions that go into culture, impact, core game mechanics, etc. And it has lots and lots of images from the games. It's been funding for quite a while now and is still at only 44%. I'd love to see you lot bump it over 50% and give it some serious upward momentum.

Fact Hunt: Fascinating, Fun & Downright Bizarre Facts About Video Games by Larry Bundy Jr

I'll let Larry's description speak for itself: "A bumper collection of facts about video games from YouTuber extraordinaire, Larry Bundy Jr (yes, "That Guru Larry" from TV)! This book will debunk myths and urban legends, delve into developer's biggest successes and failures, explore the odd characters behind the games and unearth the obscure, the forgotten, the cancelled and the abandoned aspects of the video game world."

I'm not familiar with Larry, but apparently he's rather popular. And the excerpt is good fun (the UEFA misspelling notwithstanding). Looks to me like an accessible and lighthearted book of games history trivia, which sounds like a winning concept.


Also available, though it funded last year and is now published, is Stuart Ashen's Attack of the Flickering Skeletons. I haven't really checked this one out properly yet, but I have his previous book Terrible Old Games You've Probably Never Heard Of and found that to be a very entertaining romp through some of the worst home computer games of the 1980s and 90s. Each entry was a short essay explaining things like how the game works (and doesn't work!), why it's terrible, how it might have been less terrible, and what horrors he went through trying to master it. This is meant to be more of the same, but longer, and with some guest contributions. Stuart has a great knack for turning painfully-bad games into entertainment without belittling or insulting their developers, so I'm sure it'll be a fun read.

And in case you were wondering, I'll be launching my second Unbound book campaign in a couple of months. I'm digging into another fascinating, important, and neglected area of games history, and doing it in much the same style as The Secret History of Mac Gaming. More on that to come when we've got it ready.

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Hannah Jane Shepard
 Hannah Jane Shepard says:

Having read some of the book I can say that you have a knack for this sort of thing, Richard. I am happy to learn that you intend doing more of it. There is hardly a more important profession these days than historian.

And I wish I had said this myself: “Avie, if you think games aren’t important, then you’re a fucking idiot.”

I plan to get rid of my complete MacAddict magazine run, including discs. Do you have an interest, or know of another who does and would pay only the shipping charge? Look for me in your email if you care to respond.

posted 27th February 2018

Hannah Jane Shepard
 Hannah Jane Shepard says:

Not sure who was first, but Marathon had grenade jumping as the only way to solve some of its secret levels.

posted 27th February 2018

Paul McClintock
 Paul McClintock says:

The cover looks great! Can't wait for it to show up on my doorstep.

posted 28th February 2018

Richard Moss
 Richard Moss says:

Thanks Hannah! I'll pass on the MacAddict collection. Nice as it is to have physical magazines to refer to, they'd take up too much space. My first thought was that Jason Scott might like them for the Internet Archive, but it looks like they already have (nearly?) every issue and coverdisc archived (

posted 1st March 2018

Hansen Hsu
 Hansen Hsu says:

Hi Richard! I just got the book, it's great! Bringing back so many memories.
One thing I noticed, the "Where are they now?" section on Dark Castle is a bit out of date. It states that Mark Pierce "hopes to one day make a new Dark Castle game." While the third game in the series, Return to Dark Castle, was in vaporware limbo for about a decade in the early 2000s, it did finally ship about 10 years ago, and is available both directly from Super Happy Fun Fun and from the Mac App Store. But if there's a 4th Dark Castle game in the works, I'd love to play it!

posted 7th March 2018

Richard Moss
 Richard Moss says:

Mark didn't make Return to Dark Castle; he only published it (and he has mixed feelings about the end result). We talked for a while at the end of our interview about how he'd love to do a new one himself, perhaps even with black and white graphics like the original two games.

posted 8th March 2018

Kurt Rauffer
 Kurt Rauffer says:

Oh man, it sucks I'm just hearing about this book now! Anyway for someone who didn't get a change to back it, can still buy the hardcover version?

posted 8th March 2018

Richard Moss
 Richard Moss says:

You can! The trade edition (pictured on my Twitter here: is set for release on March 22 on Amazon UK and elsewhere.

posted 9th March 2018

Jim Moy
 Jim Moy says:

Anyone in the US been receiving their backer copies?

posted 30th March 2018

Richard Moss
 Richard Moss says:

Yes, many US backers have received their copies. If yours still hasn't arrived, I'd suggest checking the status on your account page (how to do that: Then if you're concerned it might not be where it should be, be sure to get in touch with Unbound via their support email.

posted 5th April 2018

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