|One on One With Glenda Adams|
December 6, 2007 | Tuncer Deniz
One on One with Glenda Adams, a somewhat monthly feature at Inside Mac Games, is essentially a conversation between two old friends talking about various Mac game related topics. The impromptu conversation deals with topics such as the strength of the overall Mac market, OS X, Apple, and more.
Tuncer: It's been a while. Can you give us a status update on some of your projects? Guitar Hero III, Quake Wars: Enemy Territory, etc?
Glenda: Guitar Hero has gone gold and should be in stores next week. We worked really hard to get it out before Christmas, and are glad it's finally about to be in Mac gamer's hands. We had really hoped to have the hybrid PC/Mac box be the initial version out, but timing on the Mac side of things just didn't allow us to make that happen. It was an unfortunate perfect storm of several technical factors- timing of the final release of Leopard, still maturing video card drivers for Apple's spring & summer hardware updates like the iMac, technical challenges getting the game to run well on the Mac, all came together to force us to spend a few more weeks on the Mac release after the PC was done. But going forward, we're planning to ship new North American boxes as hybrid, so you'll be able to get your Mac version in many more places than most Mac games.
Quake Wars and Neverwinter Nights 2 are in optimization phases. We really believed we would have shipped both of those games already, but we've had to really use every technical trick and try to pull in all our partners at Apple, ATI, and nVidia to get both of these games in shape for the level of quality we want. And we've still got some work to do.
I have to say this summer & fall has been one of the most difficult times as a Mac game developer I've ever seen. Apple had a very singular focus on Leopard for the last 6 months or so, and it meant getting OpenGL features and fixes were hard to come by. I know that impacted almost every Mac game developer, not just Aspyr. On top of that, 2007 seems to have been the most shifting year I've seen in terms of Mac hardware, particularly on video cards. It seemed like every update to Apple hardware introduced completely new video card lines (ATI 2400/2600 HD, Nvidia 8600, etc), which always take a while for GL drivers to settle into the right mix of stability and high performance.
Tuncer: Will Neverwinter Nights 2 include the toolset? There seems to be some confusion over that.
Glenda: Right now unfortunately it is looking like not. Porting the toolset to OS X was never an option, due to the size and complexity of the editor. We had been trying to work out the legal agreements with Atari to bundle the PC toolset so you could use it under Boot Camp, but that has hit a snag. So currently we're going forward with making the game work with as much of the user created content from the PC toolset as we can.
Tuncer: Looking back at 2007, how do you think it fared compared to 2006? What can we look forward to in 2008?
Glenda: 2007 was a hard year for Mac games. Shrinking shelf space at Apple's retail stores, fewer big AAA games coming out on PC or Mac, and the technical challenges of a major OS transition. But I think there were bright spots- a game like Guitar Hero 3 coming out, within weeks of the major console releases, and the first Mac game I know of to come with a completely new controller bundled in the box. Obviously the EA games added some more titles to the mix, which was good for Intel Mac gamers, although to be honest, some of those would have come through the more traditional Mac publishing channels anyway.
2008 should start with a bang, with Quake Wars and Neverwinter Nights 2 coming from us, along with another big game we haven't announced yet.
As to where 2008 goes, that is really hard for me to call right now. Does the shift of really big games continue to go towards consoles? Will Apple continue to sell a large portion of their Macs with video cards that aren't suitable for gaming, like the MacBooks? What happens to shelf space at retail? We're actually right now working to lay out our plans for the Mac in 2008 at Aspyr, and I'm hoping we'll be able to identify some really good content, come up with some innovative marketing to reach new Mac users, and even revisit some of our digital distribution plans next year.