Everyone always talks about how the Macintosh increases productivity. Well, sometimes it’s nice to find something that will significantly (and temporarily, your boss hopes) decrease your productivity, namely a good game. Good games are harder to come by for the Macintosh than for other computers, but fortunately, every so often, some enterprising company comes out with a masterpiece. Spaceward Ho! from Delta Tao Software is such a game.
The first thing that struck me about Spaceward Ho! is its excellent manual. I actually read a good part of it because it’s funny. I like manuals that carry on a conversation instead of talking at you. Delta Tao, in my opinion, is a first-class operation. Good, inexpensive products and no fluff. The one time I called them to report a bug, the phone was answered by a real live person on the first ring – a noticeable difference from the standard messages of "Press 1 to talk to someone who knows nothing, press 2 to talk to someone who knows a little, and press 3 to wait on hold for a week to talk to someone who can solve your problem." (This, of course, is always on your dime.)
The second thing that struck me about Spaceward Ho! is how polished it is – the first couple minutes of play show how much time and thought Delta Tao put into the interface. The main window that gives you a view of the galaxy offers three magnification modes (very useful for large games). Smaller windoids (a la MacPaint or HyperCard) offer other functions: The report windoid gives a text report of ships built, planets explored, battles fought, and economic and budget warnings – everything that has happened in the last turn. The budget windoid gives you a bar graph of the spending on each colonized planet. The planet windoid gives you information on the currently selected planet, Income, Population, Temperature, Gravity, Metal (yet to be mined), and its individual budget (see below). Finally, the tech spending window allows you to adjust the relative spending levels of the five aspects of technology (keep looking below). If you have multiple monitors or a large-screen display, Spaceward Ho! will allow you to take full advantage of it – none of these gross IBM/Amiga/Atari ports which look ugly and feel worse!