One big change with Mac OS X’s release in March of 2001 has been a source of extraordinary frustration for the average Mac gamer — the lack of support for game controllers. Now Z Sculpt is taking charge with a new library intended for Mac game developers to bridge the gap between old and new technology. It’s called
HID Wizard 0.9b1, and it’s free.
It’s important to understand that HID Wizard isn’t something that gamers need to use — it’s specifically for game developers. It’s a compatibility library used in conjunction with the popular programming environment Metrowerks Codewarrior. Game developers use HID Wizard in place of InputSprocketLib.
Here’s a bit of background: In Mac OS 9 and previous releases to the Mac operating system, Apple provided a system-level library called InputSprocket. InputSprocket provided a way for game developers to call out to the operating system to help support gamepads, joysticks and other game controllers using a standard interface and controls. The technology wasn’t perfect, but it served the job well enough to be ubiquitously supported by the vast majority of commercial and shareware games released for OS 9. To this day, new games with OS 9 compatibility often ship with InputSprocket support.
Mac OS X presents a different problem, however. InputSprocket is gone — no longer actively developed by Apple, and not in Mac OS X at all. Instead, the operating system utilizes a tool called HID Manager to help provide developers with more low-level (and therefore more difficult to implement) support for any HID-compliant input device.
Z Sculpt explained that under Classic, HID Wizard tests for the presence of InputSprocket and calls it internally. Under OS X, the library is implemented as a layer above the HID Utilities. A sample project is included with the code to show game developers how to use it.
Z Sculpt is careful to point out to potential developers who want to use HID Wizard that it’s still beta software. “Only states and events for directional pads and buttons are available, we haven’t finished analog states. Also, since there are no event callbacks in HID yet, we can’t put a timestamp on events. We have a few workarounds in mind though. We have included a readme of which routines are still incomplete,” said Morris.
Mac game developer Z Sculpt Entertainment has several titles to their credit, including Delta Tao’s forthcoming release of Return to Dark Castle, a revisitation to an old Mac arcade game classic. In fact, Z Sculpt’s Zack Morris indicated that HID Wizard 0.9b1 has already been used with one of their creations — a shareware game called Meteor Storm.