Intel Compatibility

Posted Mar 23 2006, 12:00 AM

May 7th 2006: Darwinia and Apeiron X have now been updated and are fully compatible with the Intel Processors.  
June 1st 2006: With the release WireTap Pro 1.2.0 it is now fully compatible with Intel Processors.
August 25th 2006: With the release Snapz Pro X 2.0.3 it is now fully compatible with Intel Processors.

This week I was able to sit down and do some compatibility testing with all of our OS X native products on the shiny new MacBook Pro we just received.  
The MacBook Pro uses the new Intel processor. Applications that were not designed to run natively with the Intel chips must use Rosetta. In the same way Classic allowed applications designed for OS 7, 8 and 9 to run on OS X, Rosetta allows applications designed to run on the PowerPC Macs to run on the Intel Macs. Unfortunately some functions and features just can't be emulated under Rosetta.
We're going to use badges in the System Requirements of the product page to indicate the level of compatibility with the Intel Processors.
Indicates the product is a universal binary, meaning designed to run on either the PowerPC or Intel Processors.
Indicates the product is fully emulated under Rosetta.
Indicates the product loses some or all functionality under Rosetta.
Here are the results of testing on the MacBook Pro:
EasyEnvelopes Widget - currently our only Intel Native product
The following products had no problems on the MacBook Pro:
Aki Mahjong Solitaire
Apeiron X
Bubble Trouble X
Deimos Rising
The Adventures of El Ballo

The following games ran with a few cosmetic glitches, but were very much playable:
EV Nova - the interface button animations ran a bit slowly, but other than that the game ran perfectly.
Darwinia - the introductory music seemed to play a bit staticy, but game play was smooth.
The following products lost some functionality under Rosetta:
Uplink - the interface buttons did not respond reliably or consistently, making the game very difficult to play.
pop-pop - the controls were a bit mushy and slow to respond. Clearly this makes it difficult to play.
GooBall - unfortunately GooBall is not playable on the Intel based Macs. It will load and get to the main menu, but will then go to a blank screen or window, necessitating a force quit.
WireTap Pro - unfortunately WireTap Pro's mac audio recording feature is not compatible with the new Intel Macs. However recording with the source set to Mic/line in works fine under Rosetta. To record Mac audio you can connect a line from your Mac's audio output (speaker or headphone jack) to your Mac's audio input. Then set the source in WireTap Pro to Mic/Line in and WIreTap Pro will record the Mac audio from the line in.
Snapz Pro X 2 - like WireTap Pro, the kernel extension SP X relies on to record Mac audio is not compatible with the Intel processors, so Snapz Pro X 2 cannot record Mac audio with movies. It should have no problems recording from a microphone or line in.
The workaround described above for recording Mac audio with WireTap Pro should work with Snapz Pro X 2 also.
If the movie guides option is checked in the Movie Settings palette, the vertical lines of the guide will appear as a series of lines in the movie. The workaround is to uncheck that option.
Cursors in movies are hollow. We do not have a workaround for this problem.
We are hard at work on Universal Binaries of Snapz Pro X 2 and WireTap Pro. In the meantime we are investigating releasing interim updates to both that would not be Intel Native, but would be fully emulated and functional under Rosetta.


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Getting Started

Posted Mar 1 2006, 12:00 AM

To kick things off for this section of the blog, I thought it would be best to share some of the resources I use to create and acquire inspiration from for each of my projects. Below you’ll find a list of these various resources . What’s important to keep in mind is that you should never use what is not yours to make money (in other words - don’t steal). Sure grab a texture, but make sure you manipulate that texture into something that becomes yours and looks nothing like the original when you present your final piece. I’ll be covering how to do such a thing in an upcoming post.

These are the best places to learn, exchange ideas, problems, etc... 
CG Forums:  
These two applications offer almost as many tools and power as most commercial applications do, they are a great way to get the ball rolling if you’re on a budget:  
These are some of the top commercial 3D applications (students and schools can get educational pricing on these): 
Modo (HOT newcomer)
Alias Maya
Cinema 4D

A bunch of texture resources (be sure you check for copyright and or any restrictions on use!):  
Just some web sites that should give you some inspiration:  
Game School:  
Some other computer graphics schools:  
A big list of related schools:  
Please feel free to contribute any related links or resources by commenting below. 

My portfolio

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Upclose & Personal with Mike Blaguszewski.

Posted Feb 21 2006, 12:00 AM


The Ambrosia HQ continues to expand as the number of games and utilities in our catalog rises. With this increase, so does the number of crew members here at Ambrosia Software. One of the most recent additions to the Ambrosia Crew is Mike Blaguszewski, a talented programmer who had taken on the role of making sure that Easy Envelopes works properly and has been busily working away on some new (yet unannounced) utilities. Pledging to continue helping us create some of the handiest utilities and most addictive games out there for the Mac! 
Ambrosia Software: Joining me in the Ambrosia lounge today is Mike, the resident Ambrosia Cocoa Hacker. I would like to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to join me here on the comfy leather couches of Ambrosia. 
Ambrosia Software: So, you have been at Ambrosia since September, how do you like it so far? 
Mike B: It's a cool place to work. The people here are funny, genuine, have good taste in beer… And I'm working on the kind of software that I would want to use myself. The standards are higher for consumer software than other areas in the industry, but I'd rather have the challenge. 
AS: You seem rather gifted in your understanding of computers and their programs, can you tell us a little bit about you background? 
MB: Well, I've been using Apple hardware literally for as long as I can remember. Started off with a souped-up Apple ][e, that had a 1200 baud modem, and two floppy drives. And I've had a bunch of Macs, including a Plus and a Mac clone. I did go to school for computer science (Penn State '04), but a lot of what I know comes from messing around on my own. Before Ambrosia, I worked on speech synthesis, including doing a Mac port. 
AS: So what was your first impressions of the office when you came in here? ...Aside from the squawking parrot, and a 120 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback trying to sniff your groin... 
MB: Yeah it goes without saying that none of us will ever be able to forget Hector. It's also the only office that I've had to take off my shoes in. But the slippers sure are swanky. 
AS: You seem to be settling in rather well here at Ambrosia HQ, especially considering you had gotten the PR guy John's old office, not that he's bitter or anything, but you know how he really loved that desk, and the shelves... but, I'm getting off-track. Has there been any difficulties for you to overcome so far? 
MB: Well, there was the 45-minute commute on the bus until recently. That kinda sucked. And I hadn't really intended to become an expert on Chinese and Japanese envelope layout, but now that I am I'm sure I'll find some use for it. 
AS: You have a most unusual last name. It is a little secret amongst the other Ambrosia employees, that almost everyone here still has difficulties pronouncing your last name. Are there any tips or tricks you would like to share with us, and the readers, on how to pronounce it? 
MB: My family says it BLAG-uh-ZEUS-key. If you know Polish you'd pronounce it differently, and every once in a while someone gives me that one, but I'll take either. I'm lucky if I can even spell it to someone without them getting it wrong. 
AS: Are you intimidated by the fame and prestige that comes with working for Ambrosia Software? 
MB: Well, having been a fan myself back in the '90s, I thought I knew what to expect. But I actually met a guy on a train recently who was blown away that I was an actual Ambrosia employee. So maybe I should be intimidated.  
AS: You are the Cocoa Hacker? By this title is it safe to assume that you are a professional warm chocolate milk drinker with a chronic lung infection? 
MB: Cocoa is how all the cool kids write software for OS X. And that's supposed to be hacker-in-the-good-sense, so it's just a cutesy way of saying I'm a Mac programmer. I write code, fix bugs, create bugs, pretty much what you'd expect. 
AS: You recently got back from California did you not? Rumor has it you went there to kill a man just to watch him die... Is this true, or is it possibly a plot to defame you put into motion by your enemies? 
MB: Actually, it turned out the guy just owed Hibbs money. Go figure.  
AS: You "Lost" me with that answer.. heh 
MB: Eh... whatever. If people don't get it, it just makes me that much more l33t, right? 
AS: Exactly!!  
[editors note: "Lost" humor! This is because most of the Ambrosia Crew is addicted to ABC's castaway program. Now back to the questions.] 
AS: Aside from wowing everyone with your mad programming skills, what other things do you enjoy doing? Do you have any hobbies, skills, talents that you would like to share with our readers? 
MB: The two that come to mind are cooking Italian food (I make a mean risotto) and playing charades. So apparently my true calling is to host classy dinner parties, or something. 
AS: You come from a literary family, I have been told. Does you mother consider your writing of computer code similar to her writing books? 
MB: I don't know if she would. But I think there's some similarity in just being an author of something, and taking in pride in having created it. Also, I did once write software to help her manage her writing projects, which was a kind of cross-over. 
AS: If you could have one Super Mutant Power, what would it be and Why? 
MB: Retractable Wolverine claws would be cool. But I think I'm more the Batman type. Those mutants have it too easy. 
AS: What is your favorite Ambrosia title and why? You can cheat and say Easy Envelopes Widget to help boost your own ego if you really want to. But, the judges might consider that cheating. 
MB: Definitely the original Escape Velocity. I can't count the amount of time I spent playing that in high school. It just felt there was such an expansive universe to explore there. Harry the Handsome Executive was also pretty fun. I loved the concept. Oh, and our utilities are great too. Go utilities! 
AS: So, what sort of products do we have you working on now? 
MB: Well, I'm unsure if it's been declassified from top-secret or not. So, it might not be safe to disclose everything. All I can say is: File Transfer! 
AS: It seems as though our time here is up, and I would hate to take too much away from your busy day. I would like to thank you for joining me in the Ambrosia Lounge and letting the world know more about the Man, the Myth, the Legend, Mike Blaguszewski.


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A Small Gesture

Posted Feb 1 2006, 12:00 AM

Back in the summer of ‘98, the Ambrosia crew was supplemented by the occasional intern. One of those interns was Ben Heffron, introduced to the masses in this interview, conducted by Jason Whong.
Ben was here for the Fax machine tech support call that was so famously and shamelessly ripped off in the film “Office Space”.
We kept in touch with Ben over the years, even asking him in when we needed a hand entering orders for the release of EV Override. Here he is with John Champlin, the current media liaison for Ambrosia - both obviously working hard.
After working at Ambrosia, Ben joined the US Army. In early 2005 Ben was shipped to the mideast, and then to Iraq in support of Operation: Iraqi Freedom. Of course when all of us at Ambrosia heard that Ben was heading to a war zone we were all worried, but mostly we were proud of and impressed by the young man that Ben had become.  
We'd had encounters with soldiers stationed in Iraq previously, but this was the first time for all of us that it had hit so close to home.
Sitting in our schwank offices playing games was hard to reconcile with the sacrifices of our former coworker. We felt we should do something to acknowledge his sacrifice and service. It was just a small gesture, but we decided to send his unit a care package. Some goodies we'd all love to get under any circumstance, but in the hardship of a combat zone we hoped it would make his stay even just a tiny bit more comfortable.
When Ben heard we were going to send a care package, he replied with this:
"Wow! Sounds awesome! I am really honored and flattered that you would go and do all of this to support us. It means a lot to the guys here. I hope that you can start a trend so that other units can feel the love too! I have to get around to sending you the names of the guys in my section, something for a more personal touch on your end.
as for feedback- you got it! i again want to tell you that we appreciate. i hope all is well with you and yours!"
Ben's lovely wife AmberLynn sent her gratitude in a letter to John:
"Dear John,
Hmm. never thought I would be writing a "Dear John" letter. Anyway...I am Ben's wife Amber. He told me about you/Ambrosia wanting to help out deployed soldiers. That is really cool, even if it is not set in stone or anything yet. I just wanted to thank you for keeping in touch with Ben I know that he appreciates it greatly. Even that alone helps out morale as much as anything tangible."
All of the Ambrosia employees chipped in, and I went shopping for both necessities and goodies. WalMart took care of the necessities, and I went to the Book Rack, a used book store in Henrietta New York to get some reading material. As I loaded a pile of books onto the counter, the owner remarked on all of the books I was buying. I told him they were going to be sent to a unit in Iraq. He acknowledged that with interest, and seemingly went on with his business. When I went to check out, he asked if the soldiers would appreciate comic books. Being a hard core comics geek myself I assured him someone there would appreciate them. At that, with no encouragement on my part, he gave me over $50 worth of brand new comics to send on to Ben and his unit. Kudoes to the Book Rack at 3047 West Henrietta Rd.  
Later that week Charlene and I got together to package up the goodies.
If you look closely and can read upside down, you can see one of the books scored at the Book Rack.
Yep, that little yellow book is titled....Escape Velocity! Kizmet!  
More items for the package-
Right below the Diamond labeled box is a box of rare Carlos Fuente cigars contributed by Andrew. Soldiers and stogeys - perfect.
When we put out the call for goodies, my son Zach offered up his XBox and the few games he had. Yes I'm proud of him.
We sent games for the XBox, DVDs, CDs, hand sanitizer, chap stick, bug spray, sun screen, handy wipes, magazines, books, packs of batteries, mouthwash, and we tossed in a few sets of Ambrosia playing cards and some Ambrosia T Shirts. With large concentrations of young men living in tents, clean shirts would have to be appreciated.  
Ben had sent us the names of each of the men in his unit, and everyone here at Ambrosia wrote a letter (or two) to an individual soldier. We wanted all of them to know how much we appreciated what they were doing.
We loaded up the package and sent it on to Iraq.  
To be frank, I was a bit concerned that what we were doing might be perceived as a cheesy gesture. Sending a few bottles of hand sanitizer and some books can hardly convey the depth of what we were all feeling. Then Ben sent this reply:
"Nothing else conveys the feelings expressed when recieving such a package.  
Little story about when we got it. It being so big it attracted quite a bit of attention hauling it down from the company office to the platoon office. That being said there was a small crowd(four people really) around me as I opened this box o' wonder. So I opened it, we all oooh, and go ahh and I was passing out t-shirts like candy on halloween. We planned on putting them on, and getting a group picture. I put one on, as did three other guys. Then I placed a call to get everyone together in one of our shanty's and BOOM!!!
The whole damn room shook and my NCO(SSG VanHese) started hollaring for us to get our battle rattle on and was grabbing the phone to place calls. The FM was in the background...  
"bulldog xray this is charger xray, incoming fire"
no #*@&, it hit the ground behind my building and over one.
"charger xray this is bulldog xray, what is your status?"
well, they don't talk with us, we just monitor the radio, and we were kicked out of the office to go find a bunker asap, so I don't know what else was said. Turned out no one was hurt, but there was a crater, some damage to various trucks & equipment, a couple more mortars elsewhere, and the insurgents got away.
So needless to say, the group photo was put on hold. I have to scrounge people up again, so I can get a pic, but it will be a hot minute as everyone is scattered to the nine winds.
Thank you all so VERY much, it really meant a lot to the guys here. I am still passing out stuff to the guys, and I plan on puffin a cigar this AM as I don't have any PT after work(its Sunday I think).
Hope you are all well!
PS- everyone says thanks, but I expect half of them are too lazy to express it more than to me, so:
from the V3's! =D"
This came from Ben's staff sgt:
"This is a Thank You from Iraq to the staff of Ambrosia Software. I did not know how else to forward a Thank You letter. Everyone there at Ambrosia has left quite an impression on Young Mister Heffron. I do not know what kind of kid he was but he has turned out to be quite handy with computers, even if most if that is MAC knowledge.  
By the way I am SSG VanHese and I did leave family behind. A pregnant wife and three boys, with the fourth due anytime."
In such a grim place, in the face of real danger, they took the time to acknowledge our little gesture. It reinforced to all of us just how lucky we are to have men and women like these willing to make the sacrifices they do. The soldiers there truly are the best of us.
It just goes to show that even the smallest gesture is appreciated by people in harm's way.
When they had a calm moment, they were able to take and send us these pictures.
Now there is a group of heart breakers and name takers! That's Ben in the middle at bottom.  
I have to include this one.
Armed Alchemists of Amusement! Ben with an M-16 - a combination of fear and pride ensues.  
Of course, this is more like the Ben we all remember.
Ben was able to come back to Rochester on leave last year, and we celebrated his return with an extended lunch at the Dinosaur Bar B Q. Here we are basking in our post pork euphoria.
And now we're glad to report that Ben will be on his way home soon.


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What is The Art of Game?

Posted Jan 25 2006, 12:00 AM

In the coming weeks I will be posting tips and tutorials on creating all things game art oriented. I'll be covering topics such as; icons, 2D graphics, sprites, 2D animation, game logos, interface graphics, 3d modeling and much more relating to the game industry. I will be using 2 main applications to do this, Abobe Photoshop CS 2(version 7 and CS 2 will work for most) and Cinema 4DXL 9.5 with Bodypaint 2.5. Some of the other applications I may use will be; Abode Illustrator CS (maybe CS2, Adobe After Effects (6.5 or 7), Adobe Bridge and IconBuilder Pro.

My goal is not to show you how to paint or create art, but to show you how to use these tools to streamline your work and make your art look it's best. I will assume that you have at least a basic understanding of how to draw and/or paint. As such, I will also provide you with links to web resources and book recommendations related to the topic I am discussing. I will also do my best to provide you with low-cost alternatives for some programs and also freeware alternatives (quite a bit exists for 3D).

From time to time I will more or less go off topic and maybe post something for you to download. Like say, some desktop pictures or icons that are related to an upcoming or released product of ours. Overall, this part of the newsletter will be about having fun and learning some things along the way.

My portfolio


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