Beenox Studio has emerged as a rising star in the world of Mac game conversions in 2003. The company is working closely with
Aspyr Media to bring hot titles to the Macintosh. What’s more, the company has plans to produce its own original game titles as well. To find out more, MacCentral recently sat down with Beenox president Dee Brown.
A studio of eight programmers from backgrounds in game development for major consoles, Beenox was founded three years ago. Beenox first emerged as a Mac game development force with its creation of the Coldstone Game Engine, a 2D Role Playing Game (RPG) creation tool used to develop Ambrosia Software’s Pillars of Garendall.
Earlier this year, Beenox saw the release of its first Mac game conversion — Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3. Now the company is putting the finishing touches on Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, which it’s developed for both PC and Macintosh. Both versions will be published by Aspyr. Soon it will also bring to market the PC and Mac conversions of Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer — like the Tony Hawk franchise, another title originally published for game consoles as part of Activision’s lineup.
“Other projects are coming too,” teased Brown, though he won’t say what, specifically. “Our porting division is doing really great.”
Beenox’s Mac ports take a different approach than some others in the Mac game conversion business. It’s all about creating the maximum potential performance on the widest range of Macs possible. Brown tacitly admits that many Macs work at a performance deficit compared with their PC counterparts, due to limitations in the current Macs’ CPU and graphics processors.
Such drawbacks makes it important to retool game engines to take maximum advantage of how the Mac works. “Using generalized libraries as a wrapper around DirectX will slow down performance, so we rework the engine in OpenGL,” Brown explained. His programmers are also leveraging the computational benefits of the Altivec registers in PowerPC G4 processors to eke every last bit of performance possible.
Brown is also very enthusiastic about the forthcoming conversion of Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer. The game uses vertex and pixel shading unique to newer graphics processors — the same sort of technology used in the Mac conversion of MacSoft’s forthcoming Halo, which is currently in development at the studios of Westlake Interactive. “It looks beautiful,” Brown told MacCentral.
From Brown’s perspective, Beenox’s Mac game conversion business is an important cornerstone in its continued evolution as a game developer. “We are hiring very highly talented programmers,” he said.
The company has tooled its own game engine called Goliath, which it used to develop a technology demonstration called The Vatz. Goliath is independent of the porting code Beenox uses to create its Mac games, though Brown explained that such porting work does have a benefit.
“Porting gives us an opportunity to take a look at how other successful game developers’ technology works and keep their own knowledge up to date,” he said.
Now the company has focused its efforts on a 3D platformer called Fist Firehead which Brown says will get published by hook or by crook. Beenox’s first option is to see the game come to market as a console title, and the company is actively shopping Fist Firehead around to potential publishers.
Regardless, the Goliath engine is “extremely portable,” according to Brown, and if there’s interest, a Mac and PC version can be created in fairly short order, should a publisher wish it so.
Fist Firehead and other new games aside, Brown said that Beenox is here to stay as a Mac game conversion company. “No matter what we’re going to stay with a porting division — it’s really important to us,” he said.