Bugdom was released in June 1999 to rave reviews. Published independently by Pangea Software, it was picked up by Apple in short order and installed on iMac and iBook configurations to give many Mac consumers their first taste of 3D gaming on the Macintosh. Bugdom immerses you in a 3D world where you assume the role of Rollie McFly, a big-eyed pill bug on a quest to save his friends from the clutches of the evil King Thorax and his Fire-Ant minions.
Familiar Territory, but new terrain
Bugdom 2 returns you to that world of anthropomorphic insects and towering vegetation, but Pangea founder Brian Greenstone is careful not to call Bugdom 2 a sequel. “It’s not actually a sequel, nor is it really a spin-off,” Greenstone told MacCentral. “It’s another game based on the Bugdom world, but it has all new characters and gameplay.”
This time, you are Skip, a grasshopper. “No more Rolly McFly or King Thorax,” said Greenstone. Skip travels from a garden in front of a house, through the house, then to a park during his travels.
Deeper gameplay, bolder graphics
If you’re a Bugdom veteran looking for new challenges, take heed. Greenstone said that Bugdom 2 features more involved gameplay, featuring new talking characters who play a vital role in the game. Sam the Snail and an as-yet unnamed chipmunk make up the entourage.
Greenstone explained that Pangea has received constant requests for a sequel to Bugdom ever since its debut three years ago. “I’ve always been against doing sequels since there are so many other cool game concepts to do,” Greenstone said.
When Bugdom was released, many marveled at its terrific graphics. Some folks even drew comparisons to a creation from Steve Jobs’ other company, Pixar Animation Studios — A Bug’s Life. In the three years since Bugdom made its debut, Macs themselves have evolved a long way.
Pangea plans to put to use the more high-horsepower features in today’s new Apple consumer hardware. Greenstone is putting some talented help to the test, as well.
“This is the first game we’ve done where we’ve hired a dedicated, professional, 3D animator, so the character animation is phenomenal in Bugdom 2,” said Greenstone. “This guy has worked on Batman, Dragonheart and a bunch of other movies.”
Taking advantage of new technology
“I guess OS X is the main reason we ended up doing Bugdom 2,” Greenstone said. He explained that the original Bugdom wasn’t fit for “Carbon” treatment that would have let the game run natively under Mac OS X.
Pangea is making Bugdom 2 for Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X. The game will have slightly steeper system requirements than the company’s past efforts, but they’re still very modest compared to some A-list Mac game releases. The preliminary minimum configuration calls for a 266MHz G3-equipped Mac and at least a RAGE 128 graphics system equipped with 8MB RAM. Mac OS 9 users will need at least 128MB RAM, and Mac OS X users will need 196MB.
“Oddly enough, the CPU horsepower of Bugdom 2 isn’t that much higher than for Bugdom,” said Greenstone. He added that the difference is that it needs a lot more memory and more 3D graphics processing capabilities, as well. This is the result of a design decision to use higher-resolution 32-bit textures in the game, as well as special effects like multitexturing and fog.
Greenstone is also investigating more graphics chip-specific features of various Mac configurations, such as ATI’s Truform — a smoothing technology supported on some Radeon graphics cards. Pangea released a Truform patch for its 2001 release Otto Matic, as well.
Coming soon to a digital hub near you
The original Bugdom game is still available for sale, now as a shareware title direct from Pangea. Schools have taken advantage of Pangea’s liberal educational site-license deals in the past, which has in turn made the game a continuous attraction to students moving through schools years later. Many families who own iMacs and iBooks have kept Bugdom installed since they bought their systems, too.
With the attention of large Mac audience at stake — one that’s already familiar with Pangea’s attractions — Greenstone has yet to make a final decision about publishing the game under the Pangea banner or working with a publishing partner. One way or another, the game’s coming this November, so keep an eye out.
So with Bugdom 2 in the works, will Pangea revisit other old favorites as well? Greenstone doesn’t rule out the possibility. “We may do more sequels of other games too, but my primary goal is still to continue doing original ideas since that’s what makes this business fun,” he said.