OS/2 eZine - http://www.os2ezine.com
October 16, 2003
Isaac Leung (P.Eng.) got a degree in Engineering Physics followed by a Master's in Electrical Engineering after which he promptly got a job as a product engineer at a company which makes high speed datacom chips. Following the dot-com meltdown, he's back at school studying biophysics and optical properties of semiconductors. He is old enough to have cut his computer teeth on Commodore 64's and first played with OS/2 1.3 EE while at a summer job with IBM. The first PC he ever owned came with Windows 95, but he soon slapped on OS/2 Warp 3 and has been Warping ever since. In between looking for a new job, he plots to take over the world.
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From The Editor

I apologize for the lack of content and tardiness this month. It's been a bit hectic around here in the other parts of my life. Plus, my hard drive went belly up so I spent a good bit of time recovering my system. (Which will be a feature for another issue).

Fun time on OS/2

Not everything about OS/2 is strictly business. Like all other computer users, OS/2'ers like to unwind and play some games sometimes. However, as I'm sure your all aware, there aren't as many games for OS/2 as we would like. The reasons cited are many. One that I hear most often (aside from the small home user base), is that the OS/2 graphics API is quite lacking. Well, the number of OS/2 users might be debatable. But it sure seems that companies like SSI or SciTech feel like they draw in enough customers to make it worthwhile to service the community. There are even not one, but two companies who provide Java 1.4 for OS/2. At any rate, this is a debate for another day.

It need not be complicated

What I'd like to focus on is the games, for which OS/2 is more than up to the task. So right now, I'm sure you think I'm bonkers. That I don't know what I'm talking about.

Warcraft/Starcraft, Unreal, Quake/Doom ... those series of games certainly grab the headlines, and I for one would be happier if they were available for OS/2. But it isn't going to happen, and it doesn't need to.

Those are the "big name" games, but the little secret that most people don't mention is that those aren't the big number games. What's the number 1 game in all of the computer world? I'll bet it's a toss-up between Minesweeper or Solitaire. (Which, by the way, OS/2 has various versions of). Most users are not the hard-core gamer types, although the serious gamers certainly aren't insignificant.

I watch my other half and her family (all non-techie types), and all of them enjoy playing very simple games. In fact, they don't even want to play the other games. They just don't enjoy it.

You still don't believe me. Did you know companies make a living from selling Solitaire games with Burning Monkeys? Yes, good old solitaire with only a slight twist. (They are quite popular, and they service just the Mac market). The features in the game are entirely within OS/2's graphics capabilities.

Potential game writers should focus on game play. The game should be simple to learn, yet addictive. Graphics don't need to be stellar (remember Tetris?). Small games that sell for $10 or less would be a good target. They probably don't need a lot of effort to program, and it's cheap enough to be an impulse purchase that most don't have to think about.

Do we have anything on OS/2? Anyone remember B.U.G.S.? That was a fine little game that was on the right track. Also, Daniel Valot Games have the right idea I think. (He gives them away for free).

For more inspiration, you can try Popcap Games, who also make a decent living selling inexpensive small games (their "Bejeweled" was very popular for a while). Play it and see if you don't agree. It works on OS/2, Java required, but it starts from a browser so nothing gets installed. Or those of you with Flash, can try the games from Orisinal. These are small, cute and easy to learn.

As you play them, note that all the graphics and the game ideas are very simple. No need for OpenGL (though we have that), or fancy rendering or what not. Just good games with good game play and easy to learn.

Aaah, what I wouldn't give to play M.U.L.E. again. Now that was a great game that didn't need great graphics to support it.

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