UK technology firm Coderus has announced its innovative games-development solution, MacDX.

MacDX could usher-in a new wave of Mac software-development – it brings DirectX support to the Mac. Ninety per cent of PC and Xbox games titles use the technology.

DirectX is a suite of multimedia APIs (Application Program Interfaces) built-into Windows operating systems. It has become a standard development tool for Windows-based software – PCs and Xbox, for example. The technology offers developers access to specialized hardware features without the need to write hardware-specific code. It drives graphics and sound for software and hardware solutions such as joysticks. Effectively, DirectX is the equivalent of Apple’s OpenGL and Sprocket technology.

The solution means that games and other applications built using DirectX can be ported to the Mac OS significantly faster than before.

Maximum performance Mark Thomas, CEO and technical director of Coderus, told Macworld: “Approximately 70 per cent of the developmental time it takes to bring a game to the Mac OS relates to DirectX.” Thomas believes that the porting process, which usually takes six months or more, can now be turned around in days.

A developer-level solution, MacDX furnishes an application with DirectX- interfaces and functionality, so the product runs as it would on a Windows PC. Thomas explains: “The MacDX interface provides a development path to the Mac OS platform, which gets the most out of your existing development investment with minimum development-time required.”

This means that games developers will need to invest less time and money porting games to the Mac, and could increase the likelihood of Mac and PC games enjoying simultaneous release.

“I wanted to bring games over to the Macintosh”, said Thomas, who has been a developer on multiple platforms since 1985. “I do a lot of development, and see a great deal of re-invention of the wheel – which I consider wasted resources.”

New developers welcomed Because Coderus has done the work already, developers can port products (using MacDX) without considering the different end-user Mac configurations available. It integrates “all available” OS technologies, and offers a solution for a wide range of Macs running Mac OS 9.x and OS X.

The source-code of a particular game is the only porting-work developers need to do; once done, they need only link in MacDX, and the port is complete.

Coderus is offering developers a full package of documentation and sample code alongside full technical-support. Thomas said: “We want to help developers who lack experience in Mac OS development to accomplish this work.”

The solution has already been tried and tested. UK publishing house Virtual Programming worked with Coderus to bring WipeOut 2097 to the Mac – and the game now works in Mac OS 9 and OS X.

Hundreds of titles The release of MacDX means that popular PC gaming titles such as Warrior Kings could reach the Mac at significantly less cost to games developers than before. Thomas enthused: “Conceivably, hundreds of PC-titles could be affordably ported to Macintosh as a result of this solution.”

The full text of this article appears in Macworld’s May issue, which goes on-sale tomorrow (Thursday, April 18).