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Cross Platform Game Development for Independent En

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RagingHermit

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As a start up independent entertainment shop, lacking funding and time, among other things, it would be easy to shoot for the most popular platform (win32) and ignore other platforms (Mac) all together. In this business that probably isn't a good decision. Especially when a number of your goals are financial in nature. Sure, we're all in it for the art of making games, but what's the point in starting a business if there aren't any plans to make money with the products you're going to be producing?

There aren't a lot of commercial games for the Mac at the moment. Apple has done a poor job in supporting game development and an even poorer job and gaining the market share in that demographic. This could play into the hands of independent game developers.

Most of the existing market is looking for entertainment of some sort on this platform. This, I believe, has created a demand for casual games for the Mac as the user base looks for anything to keep them entertained. If the commercial market can't see a potential for this demographic, perhaps we, as independent game developers, can feed the demand.

Why do I bring this up? The library we have chosen for our first game is win32 only. The more successful independent games I see, the more I notice they are offered in two flavors, win32 and Mac OS. This could cause me to reassess our approach.

I will be doing research on this topic and posting the results here as I work. Maybe we can all benefit from it. If you have any thoughts on this, feel free to drop me a line.

Doug Linley
CEO/Producer, Cabal Games LLC
doug.linley@cabalgames.com
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Drop Win32.

Seriously.

The Mac is an ideal market for indies for multiple reasons: its users are historically comfortable paying (a lot) for software; they are (stereo)typically quite highly educated and artistic/technical; they are very passionate about their platform and any product that embraces them wholeheartedly; and their erudition allows you to deliver more intellectually challenging fare and find it met with enthusiasm.

Heck, little scripts and fixes that a Windows user would virtually demand for free are routinely paid for on Mac. Windows users are spoilt for choice, and the size of the userbase means the corresponding number of would-be vendors is also large. The Mac is actually underserved in every application domain except art and publishing.

But enough of my rambling. I'll just point you to a classic Mac success story: Bungie. Bungie's Marathon series of games have some of the most complex plots and intriguing narrative dynamics - many of which influenced Halo and its marketing, such as the fact that Cortana sent out an email before Halo was ever announced or the ilovebees.com alternate reality game. Read From '94 to Infinity: Before Halo and then take a look at Marathon's Story to see what Bungie was able to accomplish by cultivating this audience, and how it laid the groundwork for the popular success of Halo.


Starting out, a small, vocal, dedicated group of paying supporters is far more vital to you than a large group of nonchalant consumers peripherally aware of your existence. Why? Because the former will evangelize you constantly. Because it's easier to be a big fish in a smaller pool.

Whichever way you go, though, good luck!

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Oluseyi,

Thanks for your great feedback. I agree with everything you have said about the Mac user base. Mac users are incredibly loyal, and they don't have "entitlement syndrome" as do most PC gamers. But looking at the numbers so far, they don't justify dropping win32 completely. The question is more about adding Mac support instead of ignoring this platform when starting.

But your arguments are great and have me thinking about the possibilities that are there for focusing only on the Mac OS.

Thanks again for your feedback!

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Of course, you're right. You can't entirely ignore Win32. To do so would be suicide, in a sense, because exposure and cachet are far more critical to your business at this point, and getting major penetration via a demo on Windows, even if only a few are converted to sales, is extremely beneficial.

Let's revise it thus: emphasize Mac. That you will have a Windows release is virtually a given, considering that even Bungie release Marathon 2 on Windows 95 (and Myth was always a multi-platform series). As an indie developer/publisher, you need those highly vocal enthusiasts who vote with both their mouths and their wallets.

Good luck with your studio.

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I agree completely. We will provide a release on win32 but emphasize mac, as you said. Thanks again for your input.

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I agree with Oluseyi (something I probably haven't done for awhile and may never do again). The Mac gaming community lacks the entitlement garbage the PC community does (even the "indie gamers") and there is probably a vastly reduced pirate community trying to crack your game and hand it out.

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