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

Monday, 8 August 2016

Stretch goal: bonus chapter

Thank you everybody once again for your help getting us this far. It's amazing to me that we're at 118% funded.

I hope I can call on your support now with our stretch goal. I've thought things over and discussed it with Unbound, and we've decided that if the campaign reaches 150% funded we will add an extra chapter to the book.

I have two possible candidates for this bonus chapter, and if we hit that stretch goal I'll be asking all of you to help me decide (which is to say that I'll give you a vote). The options will be:

Emulation on the Mac — from early days of getting Apple II games and software to work without "porting" the code to the Mac's place in the emulation boom of the late 90s. This would include stories about the controversial commercial PlayStation emulator Connectix Virtual Game Station, which ran PlayStation 1 games at full speed on early iMacs and was discontinued after Sony bought Connectix (having failed to win a lawsuit), and also stories about the Mac-centric emulation community that rose up around websites like, (which lives on today as (disclosure: I'm editor/moderator there)), and And perhaps also a bit of talk about running Windows on a Mac back in the PowerPC days (if you've never tried this, I'll sum it up: slow). As I'm sure many of you know, the rise of emulation was timed perfectly with the decline of Apple. And Mac gamers embraced this murky world of playing console, arcade, and other computer platforms' games in emulators. So this could be a really interesting look into a neglected space.


GameMaker — on Al Staffieri's 1990s adventure game creation kit and amateur Mac game development (I've been told there was a large and thriving community of amateur game-makers on AOL that used this software, and this chapter would also give me more room to delve into other Mac homebrew efforts using programs like FutureBasic and HyperStudio or in competitions like uDevGames — since I don't have much space to cover anything in these realms besides HyperCard and World Builder at the moment). Also something that's not really been looked into much. But I will caution that a big chunk of the archival research may be impossible for me to complete under the time constraints — I might be able to get an interview with Al, but getting onto the amateur creators and finding enough forum posts and documentation to craft a compelling narrative could be tricky.

And one more thing: Unbound will be/is sending out email this week that will allow you to upgrade your pledge. So if you backed at the digital level and now want a hardback (it'll be worth it!) or you're keen on one of the art prints, or if you just want to pledge a bit more money to the cause, this is your best opportunity to do it.

To give you a little extra motivation, let me remind you that we have the brilliant Darren Wall of British videogame history publisher Read-Only Memory pencilled in to design this book. It will be a beautiful object, true to the spirit of the Mac.

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John Tiftickjian
 John Tiftickjian says:

I vote for Emulation on the Mac

posted 8th August 2016

James Weiner
 James Weiner says:

Woah I must have missed that Darren Wall was going to be involved! That's great :)

posted 8th August 2016

Martin Röhner
 Martin Röhner says:

I vote for Emulation on the Mac, too

posted 8th August 2016

Chris Rowland
 Chris Rowland says:

Wow, two great topics. But I have such good memories of Connectix—their Mac utilities were indispensible—that I've got to go with the emulation chapter.

posted 8th August 2016

Andrew Soderberg
 Andrew Soderberg says:

I vote for Emulation on the Mac as well.

posted 8th August 2016

Paul Natsch
 Paul Natsch says:

I would go with another chapter about emulation as well. Keep up the great work!

posted 8th August 2016

Olivier Cahagne
 Olivier Cahagne says:

Emulation on the Mac

posted 8th August 2016

Jeb Adams
 Jeb Adams says:

The Connectix thing was fascinating. It "solved" the Mac gaming issue for $40. Not to mention the impact on Sony's bottom line, hardware wise. I want to hear some real stuff about this too.

posted 8th August 2016

Bart de Groot
 Bart de Groot says:

I vote Emulation on the Mac too. And I already upgraded from digital to hardback :).

posted 8th August 2016

John Gamble
 John Gamble says:

Emulation for sure... I used to run the 'interpreters' section of the Mac Emuscene website and I remember how some in the forums were opposed to the idea of an emulation site having SCI/AGI/SCUMM...etc interpreters. While not emulation, I always felt they were in the same vibe of 'getting your Mac to play games when there's no Mac port available'.

MacOS X was a game changer for emulators/interpreters IMO. We've seen a lot of the big names mentioned, but I think it's worth noting that with OS X, lay persons such as myself (with no formal training in software development) were able to compile apps originally designed for UNIX/Linux. Not always out of the box, but compiling stuff for OS 9 was tricky. Being able to open up a CL and type ./configure then make made a MASSIVE difference. With no coding knowledge you could go through, read the errors and in many cases nut out why something wasn't compiling. I remember with FreeSCI (now part of ScummVM)... I somehow hacked up the code and compiled a binary. A few years later I went onto IRC and the community were angry that I hadn't shared my code, and had kept it all a secret how I'd compiled it. In reality, I hadn't 'coded' anything... I'd just disabled a few plug-ins, changed some of the flags and (literally) commented out any lines of code that refused to compile (because I had no idea how to fix them). Similarly, I compiled a newer (and inferior but more compatible) version of a Megadrive emulator (using similar methods) while waiting for Richard B to do a proper port.

Maybe off-topic (your call obviously) but I think a paragraph on how OS X allowed idiots like me to compile their own stuff with relative ease could be useful.

posted 9th August 2016

Minbok Wi
 Minbok Wi says:

My vote goes to the emulation. I has been always curious of the Connectix saga.

posted 9th August 2016

Vladimirs Tanciks
 Vladimirs Tanciks says:

I would go for emulation too :)

posted 9th August 2016

Matthew Diamond
 Matthew Diamond says:

I vote GameMaker (and as time allows, associated topics you mentioned above.)

I get that emulation has a lot of fans, and that you already have a strong background with that topic. But I'm not convinced it fits the theme of the book, unless you can make the case that emulation on the Mac was influential or groundbreaking compared to other platforms. (Maybe you can!)

OTOH GameMaker's timeframe and influence hits the sweet spot for this book, and expanding the number of pages devoted to it seems like a good fit.

I've brought up uDevGames with you before, and while I would love to see it covered you made a strong case for it largely falling outside the scope of this book. I don't see that changing, even with a new chapter. Though surely its worth mentioning in passing as yet another example of the kind of die-hard community that the Mac inspired. (If you were to get into it, the founder was Carlos Camacho and I think he'd be easy to make contact with. He's on my Linkedin page for instance. Freeverse sponsored some of the contests, and they hired at least two alumni (Justin Fic, Rocco Bowling) so maybe you could exploit that overlap. Unity sponsored a Mac game contest for that community as well, so again possible overlap with topics you already have material on.)

Okay, sorry about that uDG digression. Back on topic: I vote for GameMaker etc. I admire the dedication of the emulator community, and that topic speaks of a community fighting for their beloved Mac platform, but I personally don't think its as essential to this history as stories of Mac-first/Mac-only games and game developers. Plus I've long been curious about GameMaker, and I have a soft spot for adventure games.

Having said that, I wouldn't skip over a chapter about emulation. :-) Thanks!

posted 9th August 2016

Lorna McKnight
 Lorna McKnight says:

Seems like there's lots of interest in the emulation option... I'd be keen to see something about World Builder and HyperCard, are these covered in the book already? If you have contacts for amateur creators but don't have time to put it all together then this could make a good future book perhaps, I think this would be very interesting.

posted 9th August 2016

Richard Moss
 Richard Moss says:

Lorna, yes, there's a chapter dedicated specifically to World Builder and another specifically covering HyperCard (I plan to include a brief discussion of some of the HyperCard alternatives and legacy here for added context).

Thank you everyone for the input. Taking it all on board and will weigh it up and seek more thoughts from backers if/when we hit the stretch goal.

posted 9th August 2016

Paul McClintock
 Paul McClintock says:

+1 for emulation in BOTH directions. I still emulate my old System 7 stuff on my current PC, having not really owned a working Mac for decades. Not sure if this type of stuff is already planned for the book, but without emulation a lot of this stuff would be even more obscure. As it is now, I can still play Shufflepuck on my TV.

posted 11th August 2016

Jennifer McMurray
 Jennifer McMurray says:

I definitely agree with all of the suggestions for the emulation chapter. I've been a huge fan of emulators for a long time now (like the comment above, I, too used to run the Macintosh section of an emulation site - in my case Zophar's Domain - in the late 1990's and early 2000's), and it's really amazing how far they've come since then.

I also learned programming through emulation, as Mike Green was kind enough to let me hack away at his Space Invaders emulator, adding new games and figuring out how the Allegro library worked for graphic display and sound (and later SDL after the amazing Steven Harris converted it, allowing for much easier between Mac, Linux, and Windows - and even consoles like Dreamcast).

Speaking of that, it's pretty amazing to me that Dreamcast is so well emulated now. And it's even more amazing that companies like Microsoft, Sony, Sega, and even Nintendo now openly refer to their programs as emulation (I remember the time (back in the early 2000's) when Nintendo stated that in their view, ALL emulation was illegal). It's amazing to me that emulation is all so mainstream now. I never would have imagined that would have ever happened back when I first started getting into it.

posted 11th September 2016

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