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More Questions Only An Idiot Would Ask
November 17th, 1998 

Randy: The letters roll in, and the most common theme is, "You guys are Idiots!"

Gary: That sounds like a perfect reason to read a little VIEWER MAIL!

Hey guys...it's Mike Dixon of Mac Gamer's Ledge.

...just read your review of Journeyman Project 3 (part of one of my all-time favorite series of games). You mentioned Presto Studio's use of QTVR. However, JP3 does not use QuickTime VR, but rather, Presto's own VR engine. This was a fairly sore spot with some game developers when Apple chose this game in its OS 8.0 advertising rollout. Anyway, the VR in JP3 is quite good, but unfortunately does not utilize QuickTime.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Mike Dixon
MGL
www.macledge.com

Gary: Actually, we mentioned that. JP3 uses Infinity Picture's SmoothMove VR technology. We differentiated between the spherical panoramas it uses and the cylindrical panoramas that QTVR uses.

But we are Idiots, and that does come through in our work occasionally. After we mentioned that, we went on and referred to VR technology in general, as QTVR. QTVR stands for QuickTimeVR, and it is a proprietary technology developed by Apple. We incorrectly used it as a generic term.

Randy: Our bad. Thanks, Mike, for keeping us on our toes. How the hell do you have time to catch our typos and keep up your great web site as well?

Dear Idiots,

May I please get your expert advice on Mac Gaming. What's the best Mac that I can get right now for gaming for under $2500.00. Or, is there anything coming within the next six months? If you help me out, I promise I'll buy one or more of your games when I buy my Mac Gaming Machine (right now I have a lowly Performa 6200). I have a pentium system just for games but the Mac is my favorite system and I'm tired of the never ending system hang-ups and reinstalling Windows countless times.

Thank you. Your help would be greatly appreciated.

Raul

Gary: After thinking about your request, Raul, here is what I would suggest. It sounds like you have a monitor already, so you should consider a desktop G3. I copied the following from www.macwarehouse.com. I don't think they will mind, though.

Power Mac G3/266MHz 64MB
RAM/4.0GB HD/DVD/56K DT

Manufacturer: Apple Computer (www.apple.com)(Hardware)
Manufacturer Part #: K0800LL/A
MicroWarehouse #: CPU1248

Availability: In Stock!

$1749

Power Mac Desktop Features:
266Mhz G3 Processor
64MB SDRAM (exp to 768MB)
4.0GB Hard Drive
56K Modem
DVD - complete with Bordeaux card (allows play of movies, provides video capture, etc.)
6MB Video RAM
512K Backside Level 2 Cache
Ethernet (10Base)
MPEG2 decode hardware (DVD movie format - decodes through hardware)
Video editing
Movie playback

Monitor not included.

Add $300 for a VooDoo2 or VooDoo Banshee (www.villagetronics.com) card, and you are set. You will have a superfast Mac, complete with network gaming (via modem and Ethernet), DVD gaming and movies, and the fastest 3D acceleration you can get.

All for a total cost of $2150.

Randy: Make sure your monitor is Mac capable. Some PC monitors just aren't. Add at least four hundred to the cost if you have to buy a 17-inch monitor. To find out if your monitor will work with a Mac, contact Griffin Technologies. Griffin is a well-respected vendor of, among other things, monitor adapters for Macs. They can tell you right away if your monitor will work with a Macintosh, and provide you with an affordable adapter if it will.

Gary: And we also want to thank you for not capitalizing "pentium" in your letter. Very nice editorial statement. We tried very hard not to bash Windows when responding to your letter. You did it all for us.

Randy: While this next letter isn't a question, it is packed with some interesting info about 3D acceleration and the Mac. We thought we'd share these tasty bits-o-knowledge with our readers.

Dear Idiots,

I'm a software engineer at a large game company, so I do have some detailed technical knowledge although my practical experience is largely on the PC (we don't develop Mac versions anymore, unfortunately).

Almost no games support the VooDoo2's dual texturing hardware yet... and all of those are on the PC. There isn't even a supported API on the Mac (yet) which allows for explicit dual texturing so that hardware could be used to accelerate it. The Mac is definitely behind in this department. Apple should either get behind OpenGL or put some serious resources into RAVE.

(Also) SLI isn't supported on the Mac, and few PC games currently support it. Also, it's a hack!

…The Banshee is more expensive than the RagePro largely because the board has 16 megs of SGRAM on it. Compare the price of the Banshee to the ATI Nexus GA and you'll see that it compares very favorably in both performance and cost.

…The Banshee will be the ultimate development of 3D in the PCI Macintosh. Until AGP arrives, there isn't much to be done in the way of improvements because PCI has become a serious bottleneck.

Andrew Brownsword

Randy: Thanks, Andrew, for the info from the dark side. He mentioned a very important point in our article. We said that the Banshee 3Dfx (www.3dfx.com) was considerably more expensive than the Rage Pro chipset. Andrew is correct in pointing out that the Banshee boards that are coming to the market for Mac come with a whopping 16 megs of SGRAM. However we in our article we focused on the chipset sets themselves rather than the features that came on the various vendors boards. And currently the chip Banshee chip itself is more expensive than the Rage Pro.

Gary: But, Andrew, thanks for the APG slot info. That's another column for another week.

One more letter about 3D accelerators brought some more interesting information.

Dear Idiots'

I was writing just to mention that the double texture engine of the VooDoo2 doesn't give the card anything better in terms of image quality... it just let's the card apply two textures in one pass (the image map is applied in the same clock cycle as the light or bump map).

Compared to a RAGE pro a VooDoo1 or a Banshee, which has to wait until the next clock cycle to apply the texture. But the final image will look as good on a Banshee as on a VooDoo 2. Even better, very few programs actually use this double speed advantage (as far as I know NO Mac titles use this technique) not that they don't use more than one texture, it's that they don't tell the card to use it's second processor to apply it...

Dava Bergeron

Randy: Well there you have it. Poor pixel can have more than one texture.

Gary: Still, it eases some gamer's minds to know that dual texture support isn't such an issue after all when buying an accelerator. (At least not yet!)

Randy: This next letter came from the good folks at Power Media, Inc. the publishers of the nifty battle strategy game aGORA. In response to our Givin' Developers the Warm Fuzzy column:

Dear Idiots,

Hard to believe you didn't mention any of our games, since we are the ONLY Mac-only publisher that has pushed Mac titles into the retail market where it really matters... no ports here!

Nice column this week though:)

Jim Lattanzio
Power Media

Gary: How right you are, Jim. We do have a nice column!

Randy: But, it was a glaring, horrible, and ghastly omission. Power Media Inc., is one of the few publishers devoted to Mac only products and they deserve a big mention. If you haven't checked out anything from Power Media you are missing some great stuff. My personal favorite is GRIDZ. Man, I can play those little robot wars for hours.

 

Gary: My favorite is the newly released aGORA. If you liked Myth, then aGORA is right up your alley and, yes, it is now 3Dfx enabled!

All Mac gamers should buy a title from these guys. Their software is great and they are part of an elite few who believe in the Mac first and foremost!

Randy: Can I get an amen? Hallelujah!

Gary: Oh, boy. See you next week, folks.

Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare are the co-founders of IWS Interactive, a New York based game developer for Macintosh. The IWS in IWS Interactive stands for Idiots With Sticks. How that came about is a long and boring story, but suffice it to say that at four in the morning, it seemed like a good idea.

The demo for IWS Interactive's upcoming mystery-adventure game, Manhattan Apartment Hunter, has recently been released to rave reviews. The Idiots have been into gaming on Apple computers even before the Mac was around. Does anyone remember Choplifter on the Apple IIe? (Boy, we know we do.) Now, they are committed to help ensure that the Mac remains the premiere gaming platform on the planet.

You can email your comment and suggestions to Randy at , and Gary at .


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