by Chris Barylick
October 21st, 2005
Joining the Pack: TeamSpeex
For years we watched from afar, not quite sure what to make of them. There they were, our PC counterparts, decked out in BattleCom headsets and USB microphones, shouting orders across the Internet to teammates while occasionally stopping to laugh at the fact that the Mac lacked this feature.
And despite how incredibly dorky it looked, we wanted to be on TeamSpeak too.
Let's face it; it's a cool concept to say the least. In some corner of every Mac gamer's heart, we all want to be the one in charge, the trusted squad leader delivering half-crazed Duvall/Kilgore-esque commands to have an area bombed in Battlefield 1942 or to flank an area with snipers in Halo.
This is the means of control that we wanted, but was never directly offered for the Mac save for Voice over Internet Protocol such as Skype, Gizmo Project, iChat's voice chat feature and the GameRanger client (provided you signed up for a premium membership). While these were functional substitutes that allowed players to hold voice chats with friends and teammates while playing, they never tied into the actual TeamSpeak networks themselves, so the two sides remaining divided.
Having just been released as a public open beta is TeamSpeex, a freeware application developed by Yun Zheng Hu that will finally allow Mac users to communicate with other players on the TeamSpeak network (thanks to MacUpdate.com and Macgamefiles.com for hosting it).
A small 416 K download, this program allows users to enter the TeamSpeak server of their choice, sign on and communicate with other players during gameplay. Simply attach a USB microphone or headset to your Mac, remember to hold down a mappable "talk" key to speak and you're ready to go.
TeamSpeex's public beta finally brings TeamSpeak network compatibility to the Mac.
True, this is a beta and nothing goes off without a hitch, especially in the world of software; but, this is an important program and worth commenting on, even if things don't go as planned in the current version. Give it a try and see what you make of it.
TeamSpeex requires Mac OS X 10.4 or later to run and is freely available to download and use.
Resurrecting the Past: ScummVM
Someone once posited the theory that where technology is concerned, there really are no funerals; if something's good, it'll come back in one form or another given enough time.
In the case of games for the Mac, this logic seems applicable. ScummVM, a free emulator program by James Brown, has managed to bring several classic early and mid-90's games back to life.
Based on the SCUMM/SPU game engine, the program allows the user to load the main game files cleanly into the emulator without having to resort to Mac OS X's Classic mode (which may or may not load certain game elements cleanly) and then handles the ins and outs of the game engine.
With this, titles such as Day of the Tentacle, The Dig, Full Throttle, Sam and Max, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Simon the Sorcerer and the Monkey Island titles live again on Mac OS X without even a shareware fee to be considered.
Day of the Tentacle and other SCUMM/SPU-based games live again on the Mac through ScummVM.
ScummVM requires Mac OS X 10.1 or later to run, and is a 1.6 megabyte download through SourceForge.net. The project, which is still in development through the open source community, has put out a call for additional testers to provide feedback. If anyone's interested in participating, please visit their wiki page, sign up and put your two cents in.
Finally, when it comes to buying the games, you may be somewhat hard pressed to find older titles using the SCUMM/SPU game engine. Take a look through eBay to see what comes up. A search for LucasArts' classic Day of the Tentacle yielded 34 returns with several Mac copies available for sale for under $10 with a link to a homemade purple tentacle t-shirt.
That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new or cool in the Mac universe, let me know.
Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.
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