[MUD-Dev] Apple WWDC?

John A. Bertoglio jb at dsl-only.com
Fri May 17 21:41:42 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

From: <amanda at alfar.com>
> Sasha.Hart at directory.reed.edu (Sasha Hart) wrote:
>> [Amanda Walker]

>>> If I'm running a game, why would I care what hardware my players
>>> want to use?

>> Perhaps because maintaining heavily cross-platformed code can
>> multiply the amount of labor it takes to do anything?

<technical stuff cut>

>> But in the meantime there are pretty decent plain-old-economic
>> reasons to pick fewer platforms rather than more, and more
>> lucrative platforms (Windows) over less lucrative ones
>> (Solaris). (Prove me wrong, please.)

You are right. Despite all the hassles of Windows world, it is the
only platform that really

> For one, Windows is not a single platform.  It is, in fact, the
> most diverse set of platforms around.  If you make a game for
> Windows, you're going to have all sorts of support headaches,
> especially when it comes to graphics and sound card support.

Yet each major combination of PC hardware setups is larger than the
rest of the PC entire market (with the possible exception of the

> One of the great appeals of platforms like XBox, PS2, Mac, etc. is
> that the hardware environment is a lot more predictable, and you
> have a lot fewer implementations of things like OpenGL or DirectX
> to test and debug.

Correct again. But there are other huge (marketing) problems that
make the technical issues minor.

>> them to drop the money it takes to find out. Let's say that I am
>> thinking of dropping the very large sums required to develop one
>> of these MUDs. What assurances would I have about dropping more
>> to target a bunch of platforms?

> Any game development is highly speculative.  Targetting more
> platforms expands your possible market: like anything else, you
> look at the costs and benefits and make a SWAG.  Speaking
> personally, as someone with a lot of multiplatform experience and
> a fondness for niche markets, I think that the Mac & advanced
> console markets have a lot of untapped potential for MMO games and
> environments.

Advance console: Absence of a keyboard and mouse is a major
technical constraint. Not a killer. You could easily play Everquest
on an XBox/PS2 with (I suspect) fairly minor modifications to the
user interface.  I would be suprised if Sony does not do this given
their involvement with EQ. For the same reason I would never expect
to see it for the XBox. A little hard to see the development of a
telnet mud client, though.

The Mac/Solaris/SGI: When I was in the software retail business, the
conventional wisdom was that the average Mac user purchased their
computer with their LAST available "computer dollar". That is,
because the machines were so expensive that people were forced to
spend a bunch to get a decent box. There was, therefore, very little
money left to purchase software. The other notion was that many Mac
owners were people who were not computer-oriented (they actually
needed a computer to do their work!) and were less likely to use the
machine for recreation. I suspect this is less true today as Macs
with reasonable performance are available for under $2000, but I
think it is still in place to a large degree. I suspect that if it
were not for the fact that a number of major game developers use
Macs as their primary development platforms (Maxis and Bullfrog come
to mind) there would be even fewer Mac games then there are
now. Finally, there is the Mac user. As a group, they are probably
more sophisticated than the average PC user. I don't see a game like
"Deer Hunter" being a big hit in the Mac world. Watch WalMart. They
are the most sophisticated retailers in the world. When they start
carrying Mac games, everything I have said will be wrong. They go
where the bucks are.

Linux: This is a wild card. There is a lot brewing under the surface
in the Linux world. Linux is moving from a holy crusade to becoming
a boring, stable and attractive platform for standard computing. The
recent commiment of Sun to continue development on an Office
alternative (Star Office) is just one of many things that could
bring this platform very quietly into the mainstream. Of course,
with Linux you buy some of the same problems as in the Windows world
due to the large number of platforms. The killer app for Linux will
be the $200-$400 complete computer system. A machine like this
CANNOT have a $100 OS (read Microsoft). Every so often, I notice a
Linux OS in a low end box in Fry's ads (my other retail benchmark).
The activation code in Win XP will serve to further accelerate this

It will be interesting.

John Bertoglio
(503) 781-3563
jb at co-laboratory.com
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