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Stop it. Just stop it. - Blather, Rinse, Repeat
January 10th, 2007
01:33 pm


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Stop it. Just stop it.
It's probably not as bad as it feels, but I just read a post:


which describes what Windows Vista means to folks who like making small games in their spare time.

Microsoft has created a brand new part of the Operating System (well, really the Window Manager, but since they've been able to bundle everything along with the OS, it hardly seems worth it to make a distinction) called the "Game Explorer".

If I were to make a game and put it up on my website (which I've done before, and intend to do again), you might try downloading it and installing it. But then there'd be all sorts of alarmist dialog boxes discouraging you from the insane prospect of installing software on your own machine.

And, let's say I don't go through any special effort to integrate with Vista. (Because, really, it's just Windows, right?) My game's not going to show up in the Game Explorer, so you might get confused about where to find it. Not terrible, but all of a sudden, my game's a second class citizen on your machine. Ok, shame on me for not keeping up with the Microsoft upgrade treadmill. I really ought to have learned how to write games for Microsoft Windows Vista.

So, let's say that I do go through the obstacle course of installing my game into the Game Explorer. We're talking about a game I wrote myself, in my spare time, with money I'm spending out of my pocket. I'm not talking about a professional commercial game with EA funding. So, perhaps I wouldn't be interested in paying the Entertainment Software Review Board (ESRB) to evaluate my game and grant me a rating. You can bet that a game without an ESRB rating is going to fall into a ghetto in the shadier back corners of the Game Explorer.

What am I going to do about it?

Well, a few things. I'm going to gripe about it in public, for whatever good that does. I'm going to avoid upgrading to Vista for as long as I can - and I haven't yet heard of any actual features in Vista that I want, much less need. I'm also going to spend some time today making sure that my current after-hours project feels comfortable in a MacOS X environment.

(8 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2007 10:04 pm (UTC)
I'm also going to spend some time today making sure that my current after-hours project feels comfortable in a MacOS X environment.


It's interesting -- a lot of people worried that if Apple moved to Intel, it would discourage OS X and OS X-specific apps, the idea being that people would just use the Windows apps and developers would know that.

What I'm seeing instead: Vista's draconian design is increasing OS X-specific app development.
[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
You certainly shouldn't read too much into the single data point that's me, but I agree.

I've got a few friends that do Mac first development, and I was saddened when the Intel news came out, because the unlevel playing field seemed to be working for them.

I'm not promising to get my next game done before Microsoft or Apple unveils the next big shift in the landscape, but I can try to support the less authoritarian environments in my small way.

In vaguely related news - Sony, for all their faults, is making it easy to install Linux on your PS3.

[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2007 10:59 pm (UTC)
You certainly shouldn't read too much into the single data point that's me, but I agree.

Oh, it's a familiar story. Example:


Or this from a Mac developer:


"For instance, before Apple announced their Intel hardware transition, the Marketcircle site would get about 8% to 11% of traffic from PC users (unique visitors, various flavors of Windows). Since the announcement and the concrete availability of Intel Macs and of BootCamp and Parallels, we have seen a rise in the number of PC users visiting our site and subsequently buying our one or more of our products. We are regularly seeing 20% to 22% unique Windows visitors these days."

Why are the PC users looking? My guess is Vista vs. OS X is a definite factor.
[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2007 11:37 pm (UTC)
What exactly does Microsoft think it has to gain by f****** with other games? Do they hope to decrease competition for the XBOX? This is insane.
[User Picture]
Date:January 10th, 2007 11:45 pm (UTC)

But they've been pushing this "Games for Windows" initiative, which looks to me like a way to line up the remaining PC development houses into marching behind Microsoft.

If it was just a way to say "hey, we know there are some cool games out there for the consoles, but don't forget that there are great games for the PC, too", I'd be OK with it. But I suspect that Microsoft would like to find a way to extract a cut for themselves every time somebody buys a PC game.

Date:January 11th, 2007 02:43 pm (UTC)

freedom vs. convenience

I love indie games and homebrew software, so I can definitely sympathize with your frustration, and I wouldn't touch Vista with a ten-foot pole. However, I do find it a little ironic that someone would complain about being locked in and controlled by Microsoft while at the same time patronizing Apple. Apple is just as interested in taking away your freedom as MSFT. They just lack the odious force of a quasi-monopoly, and are a little slicker in how they market it. If your reply is "So what, the returns I get from using my Mac make up for it and anyway I *like* the formats they lock me in to", then you should be prepared to accept the same response from Windows fans. At the end of the day, they are both proprietary closed-source platforms whose most important goal is to increase next quarter's profit margins. Real freedom is found in Linux, BSD, and (to a lesser extent) OpenSolaris.

Hopefully I haven't ignited a flamewar of "my platform is better than yours", as this is not my intent. But just as the original poster felt like one of the few things he could do is voice his dissatisfaction in a public blog, I feel it is worthwhile to point out the advantages of Linux over Macs (which isn't to say that there aren't disadvantages as well, as there are piles).

Just my .02,

David Cherryholmes
[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2007 04:30 pm (UTC)

Market Share vs. freedom vs. convenience

Yes, there is freedom (as in free beer, as in free Tibet, as in a third option) in Linux, and I agree that it's a fine platform for many projects, but to suggest it as an alternative to MacOS doesn't make sense to me.

In the context of this post, I'm interested in developing games in my spare time that I can retail on the cheap. A while ago, I asked a developer of Mac and Windows games what the distribution of his sales were between the two platforms, and he said that he got 60% Windows, 40% Mac. And then the Intel Macs came out - I suspect the Mac native builds of his games shrank at that point, as Mac gamers suddenly had a whole library of games to catch up on. If that same guy were to support Linux as well, I'd be amazed if it garnered as much as 5% of his total sales.

Also, my initial post wasn't so much complaining about the changes to my desktop, it's the changes to the customers' desktop that worry me. Microsoft is choosing to direct their customers towards large-budget games. I can go on playing obscure games created in people's garages, but those less hardcore about indie games will be channeled towards the Game Explorer. And those same people are about the last people on Earth that would play a Linux game, right?
Date:January 11th, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)

Re: Market Share vs. freedom vs. convenience

I didn't realize you were trying to make money from your games. Of course if you want to get paid for the software you write and control its distribution, a community that expects GPL-level freedom isn't going to look very attractive.
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