Monday, May 24, 2010

Steam on Mac

I have waited a couple of weeks before writing this one up.  I wanted the hype to die down a bit and give an objective view of this topic.  Overall all Steam coming to the Mac platform is a good move for everyone since gone (again) are the days of shopping the latest PC titles at your local tech store.  Steam is my one stop shop for a large selection of gaming titles.  The system as a distribution center for gaming purchases is successful on both platforms since they provide an easy web experience to review, select, purchase, and install game titles in one app.  Their selection at least on the windows platform is quite varied and have a large selection of not only popular titles but titles which got looked over in the shadow of big companies and big franchise releases.  Steam also carries quite a few titles under the independent category and provides a venue where for a very reasonable percentage of sales provide a storefront for the independent software providers.

As for the distribution on Mac the titles are not up to the hype they've lead me to believe which I should not be really surprised since Mac is definitely a productivity machine.  What I am hoping though is that game developers will push more Mac releases with now a cheaper means to distribute Mac compiled software where as before having to publish Mac titles (box and all) would have meant sure losses.  I am also hoping that at least more adventure titles become available and the full catalog of Valve games (the makers of Steam) becomes properly ported to the Mac platform as they promised.  The Valve titles alone on Mac would make my Mac gaming experience worth while.

Prism - My Own Custom Browser App (Well, Almost)

I have been researching some ideas to create a simple no-frills (actually no controls) browser window with out reinventing the wheel.  I want to basically open a URL in a window and have what ever appears at the URL to be rendered in a window with none of your typical browser controls and simply rely on the site's navigation to get around.  It so happens to also coincide with some issues I have encountered at work since I work on Flex applications that have no use for the native browser navigation buttons.

I seem to have found a solution in a Firefox development called Prism which can be installed either as a plugin to Firefox or as a standalone application.  Prism allows you to convert a URL into a standalone application on your desktop.  Essentially what it does is that it takes the URL and wraps it in a package that allows you to view the URL in a "no-distractions" browser upon a click of a shortcut.  This is becoming more recently desired since more and more web applications are now having a more "self-contained" look about them and no longer require back/forward buttons or a URL field to navigate around them.  In fact, the use of the native browser navigation often causes problems for web developers since this can lead to security issues regarding form scripting.

I was hoping there would be a command line creation script to create the packages Prism needs to run the URL but I suppose its nothing a scripter like me can not figure out.  In the meanwhile I have setup some webmail sites my mail browser can not connect to at work and left them as stand alone apps on my desktop.  I have also setup my work test server as well as a Prism app.