Mac Half-Life: After-Thoughts

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Date: Monday, February 1st, 1999, 00:00
Category: Archive

by Dr. Will

IMG: Mac Half-Life Cancelled.” At first, I thought this was an April Fools’ Joke… just a bit too early. And then, the reality set in when I read the email. “That’s just not right,” followed by several expletives and confusion. We just picked up a copy of the Half-Life “Game of the Year Edition” for Windows so Labs could do a preview too… among other things on the network… This is indeed a sad day for Macintosh gamers everywhere, not only because we’re going to miss out on a GREAT piece of software but also because it says something about developing and porting games over to the Macintosh platform.

First, the game. The game is by far one of, if not, the best game that ever shipped in a CD-ROM jewel case. You can’t ignore the hype (40+ “Game of the Year” awards) because the hype is real. The combination of graphics, sound, design, and artifical intelligence in this game lowers the “limbo stick ‘o’ quality” so far down that only the sequel (rumored to be based on the Quake III engine) can dare go that far low. The gaming experience is absolutely incredible. Not enough superlatives to describe it.

I have to respect Valve’s decision to drop the Macintosh port. Really. Would you want to be treated as a second-class citizen?

However, as we got closer to shipping the product and reality set in, it was increasingly obvious that in order for us to break even on the Mac version, much less be profitable, we were going to have to cut some corners. OK – I guess we won’t have Team Fortress Classic available at shipment. Maybe people will accept it if we update them with TFC later. OK – I guess I understand why we don’t have an automatic update facility. Maybe people will accept that they have to manually update. OK – I guess I understand why we might carve out a separate multiplayer space for Mac users from PC users because of the on-going interoperability issues. Maybe that won’t be the disaster I think it will be.

I’m sure many Mac gamers will grudgefully respect their decision. The product they would’ve shipped would’ve completely alienated the Macintosh gamers from the Windows gamers, and that’s not a good thing at all.

Even though Mac gamers will miss out on one great game, there will be major repercussions in the long-term. Look at it this way: this is a big neon sign pointing to the Mac OS in the global gaming industry that says “Hey, Valve couldn’t bring Half-Life to the Mac because there were too many technical complications and problems in the Mac port.” Game companies that are looking to port their games to the Mac are going to think twice from now on.

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