[MD1] Status on Game Sprockets
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[MD1] Status on Game Sprockets

From: Chris De Salvo (desalvo@apple.com)
Subject: NEWS: Sprockets: Present and Future

Hi, this is Chris De Salvo. I work at Apple on the Sprockets team and I
wanted to take a few moments to very clearly state where the Sprockets are
at, where they will be going in the future and what all the press releases
really mean.

WHERE WE'RE AT:
---------------

DrawSprocket - version 1.1.2 of DrawSprocket should be released some time
next week (today is Monday, March 17). It provides some performance
increases and several major bug fixes (most notably the DebugStr() call
that was accidentally left in). There are also some UI enhancements to the
user-select-context dialog.

InputSprocket - version 1.2 of InputSprocket should be released some time
in the next week as well. This is a significant update and, among other
things, includes the following list of improvements:

o Lots of bug fixes
o Support for Microsoft SideWinder3D Pro joystick
o Much-improved support for CH Products joysticks
o Support of modifier keys for keyboard and mouse-button input
o Significant user-interface improvements
o Support for the Apple AppleJack controller (Pippin controller)
o Improved support for Kensington multi-button mice and trackballs
o Speech recognition as an input type
o Public method for getting the keyboard scan from inputs
o Mouse deltas
o More flag bits to help tune the UI

SoundSprocket - SoundSprocket has not changed since the initial 1.0 release
last year. There will be no new work on this in the forseeable future.

NetSprocket - NSp will be holding at its current release revision of
v1.0.3. Currently in development is on a new low-level API that support
plug-in modules and is amazingly cool. It should initially support
AppleTalk, serial, TCP/IP and (hopefully) IPX. There is also a Win95
version of this new layer in development. We expect this to be shipping in
the next two months.

QuickDraw3D RAVE - RAVE isn't really part of the Sprockets project but
there have been lots of questions about it. What I know is that RAVE is
staying and that development will continue. QuickDraw3D is a hot
technology around here right now. 3D sucks without cool hardware.
Hardware is supported via RAVE. As such, RAVE isn't going anywhere. I
believe that the currently RAVE version is v1.5.

WHERE WE'RE GOING:
------------------

So, as you've all probably heard by now, the Sprockets team is being
affected by the lay-offs which will take place some time this month. We
are not being killed. I repeat, we are not being killed. In the
post-layoff world I will be the technical lead for the Sprockets. Our main
goal for the immediate future is to maintain the current (and soon to be
released) versions of all the Sprockets. Because of this smaller task our
group will be reduced in size. However, those of us here after the
lay-offs will guarantee that the Sprockets continue to work on current and
future versions of Mac OS. We will continue to fix bugs as they come up.

For products like InputSprocket that rely on plug-in drivers to support
devices we'll continue to address new devices as they come on the market.

We will continue to provide the best level of developer support that we
can. You might not get bug-fixes overnight any more but we will continue
to be very accessible and very public.

As the new tech lead for the Sprockets project one of my personal goals is
to spend as much time as I can trying to get the Sprockets moved into
Rhapsody. We may not be able to get a 1:1 function call crossover but the
hope is that we can persuade the powers that be to make sure that the
_functionality_ is present. Rhapsody has the potential to be a really good
game platform and I'm going to do everything that I can to make sure that
it lives up to that potential.

WHAT THE PRESS RELEASES MEAN:
-----------------------------

First and foremost, games are not dead on the Macintosh. There are
millions of users who play games on their Mac. They will continue to want
new games in the years to come.

There are millions of people who will be moving up to Rhapsody next year
and they are going to want games. Believe it or not, the Mac's market
share is actually growing again.

Mac OS is not dead!!! In fact, it is more alive than it has been in years.
Copland was meant to be a replacement. Rhapsody is meant to serve a whole
different set of markets. As such, the lifeline of Mac OS has been
extended considerably.

Having a project go into maintenance mode right now doesn't mean that it is
dead, and it doesn't mean that Apple doesn't care about it any more. If
Apple didn't care about the technology they would just lay everyone off.
The fact that they have decided to keep even a small team around to
maintain things is a good sign. Apple is in a serious cash crunch right
now. We've cut ourselves down to what we consider to be the absolute
minimum projects and staff necessary to make a serious comeback. Sprockets
are part of the stuff that is staying. Apple feels that we're important
enough to continue to spend money on. If they are willing to spend _some_
money, they can be persuaded to spend _more_ money in the future.

Operating this lean will help us save a ton of cash and get back to
profitability. It will help us build up our reserves. By reducing
ourselves to the minimum we can see what we really _need_ to survive.
Several months from now, when the money is coming in again, and when we
have a clear picture of who needs more funding and how much, the staffing
and project problems that we perceive today will start to get fixed.
Better late than never.

IN CONCLUSION:
--------------

I know that a lot of this sounds like marketing speak. I know it sounds
suspiciously like things that we've all been hearing for years. Believe
me, I know exactly how you all feel. I was a commercial game developer for
four years before coming to Apple to work on the Sprockets. The above
statements are my personal opinions based on my first-hand observations of
what has been happening here during the past several weeks. We're going to
make every effort to move forward with the Sprockets and make it an even
better technology. We've just had our paced slowed. But, we're here now,
we'll be here tomorrow. We'll make sure that the Sprockets keep on working
well into the future. Stick with us if you can.

Thanks,
Chris De Salvo
Tech Lead, Game Sprockets
Apple Computer, Inc.

 
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