MacDirectory Magazine

Summer-Fall 2008 (#38)

MacDirectory magazine is the premiere creative lifestyle magazine for Apple enthusiasts featuring interviews, in-depth tech reviews, Apple news, insights, latest Apple patents, apps, market analysis, entertainment and more.

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MacDirectory 163 FEATURE was one of the first "Internet celebrities." You can grab a Jared widget from our Toys page, at: MD > Can you describe your title and duties at Freeverse? JD > I'm a producer at Freeverse. While many of us wear different hats depending on the tasks at hand, my major responsi- bilities include keeping projects on sche- dule, making sure that our programmers and artists have everything they need to keep them happy and productive, liaising with our partners on contracts, paperwork and deliverables, and keeping an eye/lend- ing a hand on peripheral projects - where time allows, as a major project can quickly occupy all your mindshare. MD > Which games have you worked on? JD > I've worked on Big Bang Brain Games, Hoyle Casino, Card Games and Puzzle & Board Games 2008, Heroes of Might & Magic V, Burning Monkey Solitaire and Tiki Magic Mini Golf. And like most of us here, I've pitched in with a few other titles. We're lucky to have a talented team that has skills beyond their primary duties, so lots of folks lend their hands to a variety of projects. MD > Roughly how many games are being developed at any one time? JD > Usually there are around three major projects going on at once, a major project being one that we're creating from the ground-up. In addition, there can be anywhere from one to three ancillary projects - porting work, application revisions and the like. MD > How do games get made, from start to finish? Who comes up with the idea? JD> There are no real set criteria. Oftentimes someone will just start talking about an idea, and from bouncing it off of folks in the office, it either snowballs into something that gets approved, or gets placed into the collective "storage closet" for further refinement. When an idea is given the thumbs-up, we'll begin by creating a design document, with concept and interface artwork. Being a publisher as well as developers allows us design latitude that you might not find in a more traditional publisher/developer relationship. Once we have a clear goal laid out, we'll put a team together. Teams vary in size depending on the nature of the project. We have a lot of experience working with folks remotely, in the U.S., England, and other parts of the world. A team for smaller projects can consist of a producer and QA team at Freeverse who work with off-site programmers, while for larger projects we'll have almost the entire team in-house, including QA, artists, and programmers. From there, we're off and running. The majority of our projects are created from the ground up; for a game, we usually lean towards creating our own engine rather than rely on a third-party solution. As a project nears completion, we ramp up distribution and marketing plans, and see where we can add or refine features and content. Burning Monkey Solitaire ran with this -- the amount of content, both immediately available to the player as well as in a huge number of hidden areas, is something that has kept it a very popular title over the years. MD > What draws Freeverse to the Mac community? Are there any particular challenges in developing for the Mac OS? JD > Part of the draw to the Mac community is the opportunity to create something different and unique. The Mac development and publishing world is much smaller than the Windows one. As a result of working within the smaller, tighter-knit Mac community, our products reach a wide variety of people; a game doesn't only reach the gamers, but college professors, school administrators and almost anyone with even a casual interest in what's happening in the Mac software world. In the case of applications, it provides a chance to put a new spin on old standards and to take risks with application design. Our Web cam companion application Periscope makes use of semi-transparent window elements, making the entire application feel lightweight on your screen. These sorts of design cues, I don't think you'd see on many Windows applications -- chalk it up to the difference in design ethos between the two development communities. In the past few years there's been a noticeable shift in making Mac applications that are not only functional, but also as engaging as possible. Even a normally mundane application, such as one to track your daily expenses, benefits from this mindset. If it's "fun" to manage your expenses, it's something you're going to do more often. While you'd expect this design sense to bubble over into the Windows development world, the first folks to really take it to heart have been web developers, creating attractive and engaging interfaces while not letting usability fall by the wayside. Developing for the Mac has its challenges, but in my opinion these challenges are usually beyond the actual development of a product. The Mac community expects that "extra mile" in ancillary areas: marketing must be done tastefully, and direct communication with the commun-ity can be as important as any press release. You have to let people know not only what makes your application great, but also what makes it a great Mac application — fun to use, stable, attractive, and the feeling that you're a part of the same community as your customers. Of course, there are always technical challenges. With the amount of technology that changes between each version of OS X, you need to balance backwards compatibility with your feature set. Making use of CoreAnimation in your interface means that folks on older OS versions won't be able to experience your application. It's up to the developer to take into account their product's audience and how much of this backwards compatibility they need to keep in mind. Now that Apple is using Intel processors, the same choice applies to supporting PowerPC users. MD > Can you talk about any upcoming games or applications? JD > Unfortunately, not at this time. But I can say that we're going to have some very cool things coming out of the doors over the next three months. We'd like to thank Justin and everyone at Freeverse for giving support to the Mac gaming community!

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