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Jun 96 Newsbits
Volume Number:12
Issue Number:6
Column Tag:Newsbits

Newsbits

By John Kawakami

Apple Game Sprockets for Cutting-Edge Multimedia and Internet Games on the Macintosh

Apple Game Sprockets is a new software development kit (SDK) to create advanced multimedia and Internet-enabled games for Mac OS-based computers. Using this SDK, all Mac OS-compatible games can feature real-time 3D graphics, 3D sound, Internet support, speech recognition, and input device/monitor control.

Available royalty-free to all developers, Game Sprockets profoundly simplifies the creation of Apple Macintosh entertainment software. Game Sprockets includes the final release of QuickDraw 3D RAVE (Rendering Acceleration Virtual Engine), a multi-platform technology that enables game developers to incorporate plug-and-play 3D acceleration hardware.

Game Sprockets encapsulates many current Mac OS technologies into a uniform interface. So a developer who wishes to add support for a feature can use a simplified game-oriented interface instead of the more daunting original API.

The current Apple Game Sprockets SDK includes:

• NetSprocket - Internet and multi-player gaming API

• SoundSprocket - 3D sound and Sound Manager API

• SpeechSprocket - speech recognition API

• InputSprocket - digital joystick control and input device API

• DrawSprocket - multiple buffering/display control API

• QuickDraw 3D RAVE - fast, multi-platform 3D graphics API

Apple Game Sprockets Technical Details

NetSprocket

NetSprocket provides standard, customizable user interface dialogs for configuration, log-in, and hosting a game across the network. A simple set of calls allows messages to be singlecast, multicast or broadcast to other machines within the game. A theoretical maximum of two billion users can simultaneously use NetSprocket across a broadband connection.

NetSprocket also provides transparent access to Internet-oriented gameplay and multi-player gaming. This API uses Open Transport for TCP/IP, AppleTalk (with support for LocalTalk, EtherTalk or TokenTalk) and modem communication access. By utilizing a client/server topology, it is possible for gamers to use multiple protocols in a single session and with minimal overhead (a total of 28 bytes are used per player for the message header). NetSprocket also supports the creation of groups for broadcast of data to specific users across the network.

SoundSprocket

SoundSprocket incorporates a standardized API for accessing both traditional sound functions as well as new 3D sound technologies developed by Apple. For 3D sound, the listener and each sound channel are given specific positions and velocity vectors in a virtual audio space. These positions are changed during game play, along with the sounds themselves, to give the impression of spatiality and movement.

The signal processing, taking advantage of the capabilities of the PowerPC microprocessor, simulates Doppler Effect, distance attenuation, environmental reverberation and spatial positioning. The 3D effect may be effectively presented over speakers or headphones; it is also fully integrated with the camera position used in QuickDraw 3D, which enables sound to “follow” the player in 3D space.

InputSprocket

InputSprocket provides a compact API through which games can communicate with drivers for analog or digital joysticks and other game-oriented input devices. It also provides user interface elements that allow player override of the default control options through specified dialog boxes. Mouse and keyboard support are also enabled, as are multiple input device support.

DrawSprocket

DrawSprocket allows developers to easily utilize multiple (double or triple) buffering on the Macintosh for smooth display of graphic images. Multiple buffering is achieved by DrawSprocket using the best option available on the user’s system - true double buffering in hardware, page-flipping, efficient memory copies, or through the traditional CopyBits function call. The game does not need to be aware of the hardware specifics.

DrawSprocket also enables configuration of display resolution or color depth without leaving the game environment (no need to access the sound and displays control panel) and screen sizing/blanking. A sprite engine, available through QuickTime, may also be used in tandem with DrawSprocket.

SpeechSprocket

Based on Apple’s PlainTalk technology, this API allows developers to easily include high-quality speech recognition in their game titles.

QuickDraw 3D RAVE

Recently announced as the first component of Apple Game Sprockets, RAVE enables developers to transparently access 3D graphics accelerators for maximum speed and throughput while also providing exceptional 3D rendering speed in software. RAVE lets game developers leverage their existing rendering technologies - a key issue for vendors seeking to differentiate their content. RAVE is shipping now for Power Macintosh and Microsoft Windows 95, with a Windows NT version due in April 1996.

Contact Information

Game developers interested in learning more about Apple Game Sprockets should email Mark Gavini, Macintosh Games Evangelist, at gavini@apple.com. Product marketing information may be obtained from Ben Calica, Senior Product Manager, at calica@apple.com. For more information about home entertainment solutions, contact Yves Martin, Manager for Home Entertainment Solutions, at martin.y@applelink.
apple.com.

Sprocket is a trademark of MacTech Magazine.

http://dev.info.apple.com/games/

MoreFiles 1.4.2

MoreFiles is a collection of high-level routines written in response to File Manager questions developers have posed to Apple Developer Technical Support and have asked on various online services and the Usenet. The routines have been tested (but not stress-tested), documented, code-reviewed, and have been used in many commercial products. The latest version, 1.4.2, was released on March 25, 1996.

<Info-Mac site>/dev/src/more-files-142.hqx

Free BBEdit T-Shirts to Web Authors

Bare Bones Software is running a promotion to give free T-shirts to HTML authors, webmasters, and professional Web developers who include the trademarked “Built With BBEdit” graphic in their Web pages or sites, including sites developed for clients under contract. See their Web site for the graphics and more information.

Bare Bones Software, Inc., P.O. Box 1048, Bedford, MA 01730-1048. Tel: (508) 651-3561; Fax: (508) 651-7584; Email: bbsw@barebones.com

http://www.barebones.com/

TestTrack

TestTrack, a software quality productivity tool for Macintosh developers, eliminates the need to build custom database solutions for tracking bugs and enhancement requests, while adding valuable communication and work-flow features.

TestTrack is ideal for any software developer who needs to track bugs, change requests and enhancement requests. Software development teams benefit additionally from TestTrack’s notification and routing features, which guarantee communication between team members and ensure efficient work flow. TestTrack also helps software consultants stand out in the crowded development market - providing solid QA practices is appealing to any prospective client.

In addition to tracking bugs and enhancement requests, TestTrack tracks test configurations and team members. By tracking test configurations, you can match problem patterns related to specific computer software and hardware setups. By tracking team members, you can monitor work loads at a glance, and determine which team members are overloaded and re-assign some of their work to other members.

TestTrack is now shipping and is priced at US$149, but for a limited time, TestTrack carries an introductory price of only US$99. A one-year subscription, with at least three mailings per year, is US$249. Volume pricing and site licenses are available. TestTrack is available direct from Seapine Software by calling (513) 683-6456.

http://www.seapine.com/

SuperCDEFs

SuperCDEFs is a collection of professionally designed and crafted controls that give an application the finishing touch needed for a polished “3D look.”

These attractive controls can be used in conjunction with Apple’s standard controls, or to replace them in an application. Four types of control are included: buttons, tabs, sliders and thermometer.

All SuperCDEFs are shipped in 680x0 format, Power Macintosh native format, and Fat/Safe Binary format combining both 680x0 and Power Macintosh native code in one resource. They run on all Macintosh models (512KE or later) and all system versions (System 5 or later). A one-time US$89 license covers unlimited royalty-free distribution of applications created using SuperCDEFs.

The SuperCDEFs package is also included as part of the Tools Plus (non-Academic) Application Development Kit. [Don’t buy it twice - jk ]

Water’s Edge Software, 2441 Lakeshore Road West, Box 70022, Oakville, Ontario, Canada, L6L 6M9. Tel: (416) 219-5628; Fax: (905) 847-1638; Email: WaterEdgSW@aol.com

http://www.interlog.com/~wateredg/

VRML Conclusion: Moving Worlds

The Moving Worlds proposal has been picked to be the next VRML standard, and the binary file format will be based on the Apple 3DMF format. The first VRML was largely an academic project promoted by individuals and visionaries. The competition to develop VRML 2.0, in contrast, was dominated by computer industry giants like Silicon Graphics, Netscape, Apple, and Microsoft.

http://www.vrml.org/

Motorola Ports Their Optimizing Compilers
to All Platforms

Version 3.0 of the Motorola C/C++ Software Development Kit (SDK) for Mac OS offers a complete set of development tools for Apple’s Macintosh Programmers’ Workshop (MPW) environment, including the Kuck & Associates Preprocessor (KAP). This new version of the Motorola SDK includes “plug-in” versions of the C/C++ compilers that can be directly used by licensees of the Metrowerks CodeWarrior and Symantec Project Manager development environments. The Motorola SDK also includes versions of the highly optimized “libmoto” libraries that are compatible with the Apple, Metrowerks and Symantec environments.

The Motorola SDK 3.0 will bring the highest performance available to Mac OS developers, enhancing applications such as interactive entertainment and computer games. Tests have shown that code generated by the Motorola compiler is up to 18% to 29% faster than code generated by other industry-standard compilers for a broad series of industry-standard benchmarks, including Nullstone, Dhrystone, Whetstone, Linpack and the BYTE benchmarks.

As the first SDK to provide support for Apple’s MPW, Metrowerks’ CodeWarrior and Symantec’s Project Manager development environments, the C and C++ compilers enable developers to optimize code simultaneously for members of the PowerPC family of microprocessors, including PowerPC 601, PowerPC 603, PowerPC 604 and PowerPC 620, while still maintaining code compatibility across all PowerPC family members.

The Motorola C/C++ SDKs are available for an initial list price of US$299 by calling (800) 347-8384 in the U.S. or (512) 891-2999 internationally. This package includes MPW and a complete set of documentation.

A “plug-in” kit consisting of only the Motorola C/C++ compilers, assemblers and “libmoto” libraries for the CodeWarrior and Symantec Project Manager environments is also available for an initial list price of US$99. Both packages include one year of maintenance and product upgrades.

Natural Intelligence Releases Roaster

Roaster Release 1 has a revamped integrated development environment (IDE) and comprehensive feature set. Roaster DR1, released on January 5, 1996, included a hierarchical project window, powerful source code editor, interpreter, Java compiler, debugger, and speedy runtime engine. Roaster Release 1 includes the following new additions:

• Full support of Sun Microsystems’ JDK 1.0, including networking classes

• Fully integrated class tree and class browser windows

• Support for 68K machines

• Comprehensive AppleScript support

• HTML editing functionality

• Context-sensitive online help

This release of Roaster also includes prerelease versions of the following:

• Visual tools for quick and easy interface development

• Source-level visual debugger

Roaster is the first of a series of Java development tools that Natural Intelligence is planning for the coming year. At WWDC, Natural Intelligence will be making further announcements regarding the Roaster Product Line.

Upgrades to Roaster will be sent to registered owners.

Roaster is priced at $299. Those who do not own Roaster can purchase the commercial release through Natural Intelligence at (800) 739-1616, or through DevDepot, Apple’s Macintosh Developer’s catalog, MacMall, or Mac Connection Catalogs.

http://www.natural.com/

 
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