has a long history with Mac gamers. Once a part of Interplay, the company was the premiere brand in Mac gaming until the dark days before the iMac. Interplay diverted its attention elsewhere, and the proud marque withered and died on the vine. Those days are over, thanks to the resuscitative efforts of Ron Dimant, who bought the brand from Interplay and started a new company.
Dimant still maintains an executive role at the company, but he’s put two capable ex-Apple employees at the helm of MacPlay: president Diane Zammit and executive producer Michael Donges. Both Zammit and Donges recently sat down with MacCentral to talk about their vision of MacPlay as the once-and-future king of Mac game publishing.
Despite a recent downturn in the profits seen by some PC game publishers, Zammit and Donges both feel that the time is right to bring a new Mac game publisher to the fore.
“It’s an indication of the strength of the [Mac games] market to show what we’re doing right now,” said Zammit.
Zammit spoke of Apple’s strong support for game developers in Mac OS X. Despite lip service for the past couple of years that it “gets games,” Apple finally seems to be putting its money where its mouth is, adding Nvidia graphics technology to many Power Mac G4s and making other important engineering changes.
“This is the first time I’ve seen Apple reach out to its developer community to such great lengths in order to make the operating system a great gaming OS,” said Zammit.
Donges adds that the company is wholly committed to Apple’s forthcoming Mac OS X, as well.
“With everything that we do right now, we have our eye on Mac OS X,” said Donges. “We’re laying the foundation right now, and as soon as Apple provides a complete foundation we’ll start implementing Mac OS X support,” said Donges.
“Apple’s new hardware looks great,” adds Donges. “4x AGP and write combining are both great moves. Apple obviously understands where the general market direction is right now and where the value is. They’re trying to move the bar for the consumer market.”
Despite only being in existence since mid-October, MacPlay is already publishing games. So far, the company has brought to market Mac versions of Sin Gold, a first-person shooter, and Majesty, a realtime strategy game. Donges and Zammit say the titles have been selling briskly since their release.
MacPlay used last week’s Macworld Expo to show off its latest title in development: the Macintosh conversion of Fighter Squadron: Screamin’ Demons Over Europe. The World War II-era flight simulator enables players to pilot a variety of different combat aircraft over the skies of Europe. It uses OpenGL for 3D graphics rendering. Donges says the game should be out in the next couple of months.
“We’re looking at publishing Fighter Squadron within the next six weeks,” said Donges.
The company’s following release will be the Interplay-licensed title Incoming, a modest 3D shooter that puts players in control of land, sea and air vehicles. The game contains six unique worlds and 65 separate missions, with support for one or two players. Later this year MacPlay will release several other Interplay-licensed games, including Baldur’s Gate II, Giants: Citizen Kabuto, Sacrifice, and Starfleet Command II.
Since MacPlay’s return to life was announced last October, a page holder has gone up on their Web site with a press release but little else, causing some online gamers to scratch their heads and wonder about the company’s direction. Donges and Zammit both admit that everyone at MacPlay has been so involved with getting the business off the ground, there’s been little time for the site.
“You know, we could have thrown something on the site just for the moment, then replaced it after a couple of months with a new site, but we didn’t feel that we were doing the users a service that way,” said Zammit.
“We are totally committed to Mac users,” continued Zammit. “We’re committed to bringing Mac users the best content we possibly can, taking advantage of the unique nuances of the Mac platform. We’re here to provide Mac users with the kind of support they deserve, so we can once again have a loyal community of MacPlay gamers.”
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