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The Great Randini and His Lapdog Gary:
Predictions For The Mac Gaming World
December 9th, 1998

Randy: Ummmmmmmmmmmm.

Gary: What?

Randy: Do it. Ummmmmmmmmmmmm.

Gary: What are you doing?

Randy: Ummmmmmmmmmm. Just do it! Ummmmmmmmmmmmm.

Gary: Alright. Ummmmmmm. What the hell are we doing?

Randy: Channeling our next predictions for the Macintosh gaming world.

Gary: Are you suffering from head trauma?

Randy: No. Thank you, I'm trying to divine what will be the next big thing for gamers out there.

Gary: Anything yet?

Randy: I'm seeing freedom. Freedom from the desktop Mac. I'm seeing portable gaming for everyone.

Gary: Yeah, it's called Bombs and it looks like Battleship and you play it on the Newton.

Randy: No, baby, I'm talking full-all-out network gaming, in color, with games like Diablo and Quake.

Gary: Did you just call me baby?

Randy: I'm talking wireless connectivity in a handheld computer with throughput that tops T1 speeds.

Gary: Holy crap! That's pretty big doin's. Do you have any real world facts to back up this amazing prediction?

Randy: The tealeaves never lie.

But in addition to that, three major technology breakthroughs helped fuel this prediction.

First, IBM's new micro-drive promises to break handheld mobile computing free from the miniscule four and seven meg hard drives that are common in today's palmtop computers.

Gary: This is a major jump in portable storage. These micro drives have a platter about the size of a quarter and currently have a capacity of 350 megs! While these drives have just been introduced to hardware manufacturers, they will bring desktop-sized storage capabilities to portable devices the size of 3Com's PalmPilot and Apple's forthcoming mystery portable, known only as P1.

Randy: While the first micro-drives will have only 350 meg capacity, it is anticipated they will hit a one gigabyte capacity within the first year after their introduction into consumer devices. I foresee gamers everywhere playing today's games, with their ridiculous install requirements of hundreds of megs of disc space, on palm top devices and having hundreds of megs to spare for boring stuff like a full install of Microshaft Office 2001.

Gary: Oops, sorry for the drool on the keyboard. I just got a little caught up in the promise these micro-drives hold for portable gaming. But are we to believe gamers are going to be playing these big titles on the dinky grayscale LCD screens of today's portables?

Randy: No. The displays currently in use in most consumer portables are going to be a thing of the ancient past.

Gary: Like Windows?

Randy: Not that ancient. But new display technologies like Displaytech's new LightCaster micro display promise to bring full color at 16-bit depth to all handheld devices. They are especially designed to be viewed at very close range, say in VR headsets. With their smallest displays measuring only 8.34mm x 6.24mm (about the size of the fingernail on your pinky finger) you could fit a full 640 x 480 monitor in your watch. These screens promise to be cheap and use extremely low amounts of power.

Gary: Well, we said there are three things that will revolutionize network gaming. We mentioned microdrives, microscreens, and now for the network itself. Way back in 1995, the FCC approved a system, largely influenced by Apple, that would allocate very high frequencies of the radio spectrum to be used as wireless networks. This means that computers can be networked in a wide-area configurations and also have wireless access to the Internet, at data rates much faster than even T1 lines today. And because of the high frequencies, these wireless networks will be very resistant to interference from weather and will have much longer ranges than cell phones.

Look for Apple to enter the wireless connectivity business very soon. They will have a wireless network for you to join (in limited areas at first), and I wouldn't be surprised to see an Apple branded digital phone, either.

Randy: Apple's digital phone will be able to communicate with the current batch of PowerBooks via the onboard infrared port, and full digital communications support should be built onto the motherboards of future Apple portables, including P1.

So that means that in the not-too-distant future, you will be able to beat all of your friends and enemies at Myth, no matter where you are. On a train, at the beach, during Thanksgiving dinner…

Gary: Couple that the minimal power needs of the G3 and future G4 chips coming from Motorola, and IBM's Microdrive, and you have a portable powerhouse that can go around the world without a fill up. We will soon see major breakthroughs in battery life in the immediate future, both due to battery technology and the minimal power requirements of upcoming components.

Randy: Wow, way to go out on a limb, camperino. But I see you are getting the vision, too.

Gary: Okay, smart guy. I predict that the new display technologies that you mentioned earlier will lead to a proliferation of virtual reality input and output devices. Games will truly pull you into a virtual world, instead appearing in front of you in a monitor. Can you imagine sitting on a plane, playing Unreal with a computer as large as a wristwatch, viewing the action on an inexpensive set of stereoscopic, stereophonic, wireless VR glasses, feeling like you are really dodging bullets?

Randy: I don't know what would be more fun: playing the game or watching someone else playing the game.

Gary: And here is another prediction! The Mac will no longer be viewed as an also ran when it comes to computer gaming. Thanks to the vision of Steve Jobs, and his insistence that the Mac embrace industry standard components and connectors, Mac gamers will not feel left out anymore, but they will be leading the way with the coolest innovations.

Randy: Isn't it ironic that USB, an Intel creation, never could gain widespread acceptance, until the li'l Mac that could, the iMac hit the market? Now that the iMac is flying off of the shelves, more and more USB devices hit the market everyday. And all they need is a simple driver to work on a Mac equipped with USB. There will be no more joystick envy amongst the Mac faithful.

Gary: That, combined with Apple leading the way with wireless networking, and Mac marketshare rising, will lead to more and more game developers creating games for the Mac. And that leads to my final prediction.

The future looks very bright for gaming on the Macintosh!

Randy: "The future looks bright", that's your prediction? Okay, I predict Gary will cry like a baby when I whip his butt in Carmageddon..

Gary: How about this, bonehead? I predict you soon will be doubled over in pain!

Randy: Oh, yeah?! I predict I will soon open a can of whoop-ass on you!

Gary: Let's go, Nostrodamus!!!

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 .

You can add your comments below.

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