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Why Apple Should Port Games 848

Posted by Hemos
from the the-battle-continues-on-and-on-and-on-and-on dept.
DanTheMan writes "For every great game there is for Mac OS X, there are at least two for Windows. It's sad, but it's a fact. This article proposes a solution, and it's for Apple to port games. By the way, since the XBox 2 will use the PowerPC G5, it shouldn't be that difficult to port future XBox games to the Power Mac G5 and the iMac, both of which are 64-bit now. Would you buy a Mac if you could play Counterstrike Source and Half-Life 2? What other games are missing from Mac OS X?"
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Why Apple Should Port Games

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  • No because... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ninwa (583633) <jbleau@gmail.com> on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:06AM (#10684941) Homepage Journal
    Would you buy a Mac if you could play Counterstrike Source and Half-Life 2? What other games are missing from Mac OS X?"
    I can already play it on Windows, but for less money. Why would I switch?
    • Re:No because... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Karzz1 (306015) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:12AM (#10685001) Homepage
      I can already play it on Windows, but for less money. Why would I switch?

      I tend to agree and in that same line of thought, what about Linux? Supposedly Linux now outnumbers Macs on the Desktop and the cost of Linux is even lower than Windows. With the things that x.org and friends are doing, is there some technical hurdle that opengl et al cannot compete on? It seems to me that Linux would be a better target financially as it is exhibiting growth in the market place unlike the number of Macs being used which has somewhat stagnated. Just a thought.

      • Re:No because... (Score:5, Informative)

        by mp3phish (747341) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:39AM (#10685273)
        "With the things that x.org and friends are doing, is there some technical hurdle that opengl et al cannot compete on?"

        Yes, very much so. Nvidia and ATI refuse to release full featured OpenGL drivers on the linux platform. DoomIII runs about 20% slower on linux because of nvididia drivers, ATI cards won't even PLAY doom3. UT2k4 is on linux, but it rusn slower because yet again, nvidia's poor quality drivers.

        Ati BTW doesn't even have released versions of opengl drivers for linux, so they are even farther behind.

        So far today, the only games coming out for linux are the ones who have authors who write cross platform games anyway. You won't start seeing ANY type of reasonable effort put into porting to linux from other game manufacturers until there is a reliable and fast driver for both ATI and nVidia cards.
        • Re:No because... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Greyfox (87712)
          I'm led to believe that Nvidia's Linux drivers share the same source as their Windows drivers. They just plop a magic binary into an interface layer or something magical like that and monkeys and fairies fly out of my butt and make 3D work. Or something like that. I may have a couple of the technical details wrong. In any event, their Linux drivers are supposed to be pretty good.

          The last round of drivers from ATI finally included PCIE support, so I'm able to do 3D on the X600 that came bundled with my sys

    • Re:No because... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by aussie_a (778472) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:16AM (#10685042) Journal
      You wouldn't switch to play games on a Mac, you'd switch because a Mac is superior. A lot of people don't switch because they like to play games on their PCs. If this excuse was taken away, it's possible they'd move over to Mac.
      • Re:No because... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mikail (817047)
        You wouldn't switch at all if you want to play games . That's kind of the point. Using a PC because you like to play games isn't an "excuse" not to switch, it's just a question of priorities. If you want to play games, you get a PC. That doesn't mean the person is a mindless zombie to Microsoft, it just means they want to play games.
        • Re:No because... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Zixia (534893) <biteme@nosPAm.clu.org.uk> on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:49AM (#10685386) Homepage
          Uh, yes. But you are missing the point slightly; when asked if people would switch to the Mac platform, for whatever reason, a lot of the time the reason for not switching is that the person wants to play games, which just aren't available in the same quantity on the Mac as they are on the PC. If there were just as many games on the Mac as there were on the PC, this reason would no longer exist.

          The question therefore is that if this were the case, and the games available on both platforms were the same, would you switch from using Windows to getting a Mac?
          • by goatan (673464)
            The question therefore is that if this were the case, and the games available on both platforms were the same, would you switch from using Windows to getting a Mac?

            I would swap OS from say windows to Linux but I don't see the point I swapping hardware it costs too much. Macs (sadly) are for the rich and the fashionable

        • Sure you would (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SuperKendall (25149) * on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:14PM (#10686400)
          I like to play games. But I switched anyway because the experience was so compelling.

          I used to have a desktop PC, on which I played a lot of games. Then I got a Powerbook. After that, it was Game Over, so to speak - how could you go back to using Windows after using OS X for a while? I was tired of the video card upgrade treadmill anyway, and decided that for the majority of my gaming needs I'd just buy a console.

          That has worked out very well. If you think about it, how many great titles have been released for the PC that are not also around on the console? Most game development energy focuses on the console world now, so if you are any kind of gamer you have a console anyway. And more than ever truly great games come to the console first and the PC second.

          It's true that Doom 3 and Half Life 2 are the major exceptions to this point. But although I'll not be able to play HL2 come launch day, I probably will within a year when the console version is released. And in the meantime there are a slew of equally compelling games for the consoles - like Halo 2 of course which I feel has a storyline (or at least a backstory) to equal that of HL, or GTA (whcih will come to the PC eventually), or a number of other AAA titles coming out this Christmas season. Both Doom 3 and HL 2 are holdouts from an earlier time, how many more spectacular games will we really see come out for the PC first?

          The author of the first post makes a great point. I have seen countless posts saying the only thing holding them back from getting a Mac is games. But to those people I would say, buy a few consoles, get keyboards and mice for them to make FPS's tolerable, and drop the monkey that is your PC.
          • I'm in the same boat as the parent poster. I like playing computer games, but I purchased a PowerMac (and soon afterwards a Powerbook laptop too) because the overall experience was just better. OS X is teriffic, and so are some of the bundled apps. There are some incredibly good shareware and freeware packages out there too, and of course, most of the "general business/small office/home" applications you might need (MS Office, Print Shop, Quicken, etc.). Most of the "cream of the crop" games make it to
      • Re:No because... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mr. No Skills (591753) <lskywalker@hotmail. c o m> on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:26AM (#10685143) Journal
        It's also not just about switching to play certain games. People who have had a Mac for a while (and for other reasons) might want to play a game too. Why buy a second machine (as a Mac user) just to play a game? Why buy a copy of Windows (if I have Linux installed) just to play a game?

        Part of this has been that the people writing the games probably knew one platform well, and there were tremendous technical hurdles to get the games going on the other machines. While there are still technical hurdles, I would think that there are less of them since the same graphics chips can be bought for multiple platforms now (not that I actually know anything about this). So, it might be interesting to see more of the business case for how many sales it takes to recover the R&D of game porting.
      • Re:No because... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by telbij (465356)
        I'm with you, a Mac is a superior tool for all kinds of work, but I don't think anybody will hold back on buying a Mac just because there aren't enough games for it. It's not like there aren't good games for the Mac, it's just a lack of comprehensive coverage. The same people who demand that quantity of games also will want the latest video cards and fastest hardware, all of which is only available on one platform.
    • by artemis67 (93453) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:44AM (#10685331)
      are great games that are Mac-first or Mac-only. I know, good luck trying to convince developers to do that, when the Mac only has >5% marketshare.

      Halo was originally going to be a Mac-first game. Bungie was originally a Mac-only developer, and they cranked out some great stuff. Marathon was the best FPS for the longest time, and it was Mac-only. So it was with much weeping and gnashing of teeth as Mac gamers watched Bungie get assimilated by the MS Borg Cube, and then watched as Halo came out for the Mac platform, dead last. Sigh...

      Having Apple get involved with porting games is not a bad idea. Apple definitely needs to start throwing some money at game development. The only problem is that they would be taking money away from other Mac development houses that specialize in porting Windows games. It would be better if Apple would emulate MS and snatch up a few up-and-coming game developers, and start cranking out their own line of games.

      At this point, that's the only way that Apple is going to get Mac-first and Mac-only A-list titles.
      • by ThousandStars (556222) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:29AM (#10685859) Homepage
        Apple's not eager to get in the game market because Apple is already gobbling up more and more of the Mac ecosphere, which means they're leaving less room for third party developers -- and third parties in general. (For example, their retail stores are cutting out the independent Mac shops that once kept the company alive.) The OS feature list often assimilates good third-party ideas, while pro stuff like FCP and Logic are now produced by Apple. As a result, the platform gets fewer of the independent, mid-sized companies that might otherwise write revolutionary software.

        Likewise, if they get in the game market, the ISVs who currently port and make games might just say "fuck it" and throw in the towel. MS can get away with having an independent game unit because of the vast market for Windows games, but I don't think Apple has that luxury.

        Finally, the fact is that developing great games takes a huge amount of time and money, and without the potential to sell copies to 90% of the market, I think game development would just be a money pit for Apple.

        The chief problem I think Apple faces is getting more developers working on their platform, and if Apple itself keeps sucking up more of the same dollars, then developers aren't going to write for the platform.

        • by Dav3K (618318) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:09PM (#10686332)
          Then maybe what Apple needs to do is bankroll some indie game makers, helping to reduce that 'incredible amount of money' part of what is needed to produce a quality game. That way they can boost that sector without cannibalizing the ISVs.
        • by artemis67 (93453) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:11PM (#10686350)
          But I disagree... games are not like productivity apps. The market can only support a few word processing apps, or spreadsheets, or image-editing apps. There is a a single application concept that is continually refined and expanded upon, and the company that does that the best generally ends up owning the market. How many word processing programs does any one person need? Just one. Why buy WordPerfect when you already have MS Word?

          Games are a wholly different beast. If there are two different FPS games that hit the market in the same quarter, they are not necessarily competing. If both are A-list games, then the serious game consumer is likely to buy BOTH games.

          And let's face it, the Mac games market isn't anywhere NEAR saturated. A-list Mac games hit the market so infrequently that there is plenty of room for Apple to serve up a lot of quality titles without squeezing out third-party developers. I would even go so far as to say that they would be doing Mac game developers a great service, because they would be advancing the Mac as a games platform, and thus more gamers would buy Macs, and thus more games in general would get sold.
  • not about is it easy or hard or cheap.

    such reasoning always exists with gaming systems though.. "why can't they do blablabalba".
  • by markbark (174009) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:07AM (#10684949) Homepage
    When Jobs didn't want games on the Mac to counter the argument that the Macintosh was "just a toy?"
  • by fribhey (731586) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:07AM (#10684950) Homepage
    if you want a gaming machine get a ps2 or xbox. the mac is not a gaming machine and hopefully will never be. i've never played games on my mac and don't plan to.
  • by sqlrob (173498) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:07AM (#10684951)
    since the XBox 2 will use the PowerPC G5, it shouldn't be that difficult to port future XBox games to the Power Mac G5 and the iMac

    Just like it's a piece of cake porting Windows games to Linux on the x86?
    • by PhrostyMcByte (589271) <phrosty@gmail.com> on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:11AM (#10684992) Homepage
      Forget Windows->Linux, porting from the x86 XBox->Windows is enough of a PITA as is.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:59AM (#10685492)
      I unfortunately have to wonder what type of crack this guy was smoking. First of all, the XBox 2, is a Windows based PPC970 system. The developers kit is actually a version of Windows XP running on Power PC. This is not a miracle or surprising. If you remember, Windows NT ran just fine on PPC, MIPS, Alpha, x86 and originally on i860. XP is portable and should be no problem for Microsoft to port to anything they want to. It was designed for that in the first place.

      The key issue for porting Windows XP to another platform is the availability of PPC970 compilers. This is still a bit of an issue, but Microsoft does in fact employ one of the best non-multiprocessing compiler development teams on the market and has managed to make excellent compilers for x86, StrongARM/XScale, MIPS, Hitachi, and others. 64-bit Power PC should be quite simple compared to some others. Also, since Apple has released source to their 64-bit GCC, the basic PPC970 optimizations should be readily available to borrow and Microsoft can focus on further optimizations. .NET more than likely needed to be modified to support JIT PPC970 support, no big deal.

      So, let's think for a moment what it would take to port a Windows based XBox game to the Mac OS X PowerMac G5.

      First, the game would have to use a Windows emulation layer, or reimplement all the DirectX code to OpenGL.

      Second, .NET code will need to be ported to something local on the OS X platform or they'll have to use an open source .NET implementation such as Mono and port all the other .NET features to Mono that are missing.

      Third, all Windows API code will need to be ported to Carbon or Cocoa. Maybe they can use Qt or something else to make the job a little easier.

      Audio code will have to be ported from DirectX to CoreSound or another tool kit.

      Or... wait....

      If they port from XBox 2 to Windows XP, they keep Direct X, Direct Sound, Direct Show, Windows API, .NET, etc...

      There's no difference between porting from XBox 1 to Mac OS X and XBox 2. In fact, it's probably the same.

      Porting from XBox to Windows makes sense, but really, who would bother porting from XBox to OS X when the Mac market just doesn't pay for games anyway. (It costs a lot more to port to X unless you used OpenGL than you can possibly profit)
      • by TheNetAvenger (624455) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:56AM (#10686153)
        Refreshing to see a post from someone that isn't a moron or zealot and actually remembers NT wasn't x86 technology.

        I was going to post along the lines of what you said. Thank you...

        Interesting to see that your post is already modded down. Either people don't get it, don't want to get it, or maybe just because you forgot the mandatory MS bashing requirement and didn't put a 'M$ Sux' at the bottom of your post. lol

        Anyway, whether people like it or not, your post is on track, this guy must be on crack to think that games would any easier to port to a Mac just because the new XBox hardware is similar.

        And the scary sub context of all this, the original post is nothing but a plea for Games for the Mac, without realizing that Apple doesn't have a great graphical performance architecture for gaming. Apple, the mother of consumer level graphical computing, and they still have nothing for providing high end gaming performance.

        People used to make fun of Microsoft when they wanted OpenGL to be more hardware optimized, and ended up going their own road with DirectX because of the OpenGL group's reluctance to implement many of the DirectX abilities.

        Now you have Windows that has a way for games to access not only video, but all multimedia aspects of the hardware in a way that is hardware independent, but yet has a very small performance hit if any, anymore. And so people are still using Windows to play games on because of its great gaming performance, to the level that a console even came out of the great performance DirectX and Windows coupled with hardware allows, the XBOX.

        And now you see other OS developers and companies still trying to emulate or recreate a set of technologies comparable to DirectX.

        And Apple hasn't even as been so bold to create a DirectX technology for OSX, instead they are leaving it to OpenGL, which is only a video solution, that still lacks many of the hardware optimization concepts that are in DirectX.

        I wish I had mod points this week...
  • by tulmad (25666) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:08AM (#10684960)
    By the way, since the XBox 2 will use the PowerPC G5, it shouldn't be that difficult to port future XBox games to the Power Mac G5 and the iMac, both of which are 64-bit now.

    Why do people think that just because two platforms run on the same processor that porting things between them is "easy". I can guarantee that the OSs used to run the two platforms are nowhere near the same, not to mention the graphics/sound/networking/etc subsystems.
  • Stupid. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:08AM (#10684961)
    Just because a platform uses the same CPU doesn't mean it'll be easy to port between them. The CPU is often the least complex part of a computer as far as interfacing with it. I mean, compare the complexity of maintaining the page tables and memory segments of an intel CPU with the complexity of dealing with something like a PCI bus controller or a GPU or a DSP. Even the software layer will be completely different on the XBox2 than what Apple uses in OSX. Moroon.
  • had to be said... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by selderrr (523988) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:08AM (#10684963) Journal
    apple hardware is just not fit for gaming. They ship the imac with an underpowered 3D card (GeFX 5200, only 64MB Vram, which barely plays UT2004, let alone Doom3) and insufficient RAM.

    I always tell friends : buy a mac, and with the money saved by not paying the MS tax, buy yourself a 199$ PS2 for gaming
    • by buro9 (633210)
      This is spot on, it's not like we gamers could rip out the graphics card and slot in the SLI nVidia cards.

      Their default hardware is overpriced and underspec'd for gaming.

      Sure I can see that there may be some of you for whom gaming is a distraction and you would like to use your Macs for gaming... but for gamers who take things pretty seriously we just want as much bang for the buck as is possible... Mac hardware hardly provides bang for buck.

      That's not Mac bashing, it's just how it is.

      With PC peripheral
      • by fr0dicus (641320) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:37AM (#10685246) Journal
        But on the other hand, the hardware is a fixed target, and in general faster than the quickest console around, the Xbox, so perhaps there is much more scope for optimisation?

        Also with respect, Macs are not overpriced, this has been argued many times here in the past. It's only overpriced if you don't pay for your software on x86.

    • I know, my dual proc G5 PowerMac is just *so* underpowered. Frankly I'm surprised that I can even boot my machine up before it's time to go to bed.

    • Re:had to be said... (Score:3, Informative)

      by morning (58560)
      I guess "barely plays UT2004" is the new slang for "plays it at full graphics settings without a slowdown in framerate," because that is what mine has been doing since I bought it last month. I agree with the insufficient stock RAM statement, though.
  • Wrong! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:08AM (#10684964) Journal
    By the way, since the XBox 2 will use the PowerPC G5, it shouldn't be that difficult to port future XBox games to the Power Mac G5 and the iMac, both of which are 64-bit now.

    What does this have to do with anything? How much game code does this person think is CPU specific? Most of the problem with porting games to the Mac is that APIs used (e.g. DirectX) don't exist on the Mac. The only assembly code a modern game is likely to contain is targeting the GPU, not the GPU (and even this is more likely to be written in a higher level language now). Everything else will be written in a language that can target any CPU, as long as the required libraries exit on the target platform.

    • Re:Wrong! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by magic (19621)
      Precisely. The major issue in porting graphics applications from Xbox/Win32 to the Mac is DirectX. System calls are almost identical on the two platforms and there is little CPU-specific code. However, applications written to DirectX cannot be trivially ported to OpenGL even though the APIs have the same functionality. They use different paradigms, (slightly) incompatible shading languages, and wind everything from input to networking into the DirectX layer. This isn't to say that DirectX is a bad API-
    • by Svartalf (2997) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:22AM (#10685763) Homepage
      Stop and think for a long moment...

      DirectX compatibility is only needed if you're simply recompiling for a new target. Most games abstract out the DirectX layer for their engine so they're not dealing with it directly (You'd be stupid to do anything else, really...) therefore it's only a small effort to provide a comparable OpenGL specific layer. Once you've done that, that's one less thing. Typically, most games are using FMOD, Miles, or SDL/OpenAL for their sound. That means the sound is taken care of. It's a minimal effort to make a version of user input code for SDL (your Linux and MacOS X choice...) to replace your DirectInput code. There's several cross-platform choices for network support and while it's an effort to make something work as a replacement for DirectPlay code, it's been done (I know, I've done it myself and helped produce a minimal wrapper layer to allow several pieces of code simply recompile for Linux.) What you speak of simply isn't really much of an impediment for anything except the smallest development studios producing valueware as they're coding strictly to DirectX because it costs them nothing at all.

      The biggest impediment for most studios, typically, for going to PPC is that most games make assumptions about the order of bytes, etc. that are far, far removed from best practices. Assumptions that make for difficult migration of code. The same goes for going from 32 to 64 bits- many developers do things like assume pointers are the same size as ints and proceed to interchange them liberally.

      If you're making a game for PPC64, those impediments go bye-bye for making a MacOSX game- and since MS is going to probably be suggesting that the games be made available for XP on x86, the code's probably going to be endian neutral as well.

  • by baryon351 (626717) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:12AM (#10685002)
    Would you buy a Mac if you could play Counterstrike Source and Half-Life 2?

    No, I already bought a mac for its existing great games. I've nearly completed Photoshop CS. The end guy is hard.
  • by minus9 (106327) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:13AM (#10685006) Homepage
    "By the way, since the XBox 2 will use the PowerPC G5, it shouldn't be that difficult to port future XBox games to the Power Mac G5 and the iMac, both of which are 64-bit now."

    My Cisco PIX firewall runs an Intel Pentium, I think porting PC games to it would be still be fairly tricky. Anyone want to lend a hand showing me how to overclock a serial port?
  • by ShinSugoi (783392) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:13AM (#10685010)
    Considering how closely the Source engine is tied to DirectX, it's unlikely that it would be easy to port it to another OS.

    While the HL2 leak had support for OpenGL rendering, the current version of CS: Source does not even allow you to choose that. You're probably looking at a near-total rewrite if you want to run HL2 on another OS that doesn't support MS' APIs.
    • The game core runs on OpenGL as well so actually it's one of the simpler games to port.

      Not to say the Mac porting community is just lazy or anything.
  • Open vs. Closed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pertinax18 (569045) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:17AM (#10685060) Homepage

    I think porting games to OS X will do little to convince gamers to move to that platform. I think one of the biggest reasons that gamers prefer the PC platform (other than the vastly superior game library) is the open nature of the hardware platform. Upgrades and additions are easily made, if a gamer wants to go out and buy the newest ATI or NVIDIA card they can just do it, no need to buy a completely new iMac or expensive upgrade through the Apple store.

    More importantly, if a gamer wants to get a new motherboard or processor it is just as easy, this simply is not possible with the Apple platform. And there is choice in the PC market, Intel v. AMD, NVidia v. ATI, and the gamer makes the choice not Apple.

    Despite the superiority of OS X, and I would say that most Windows users would not deny this, Apple simple is not a good platform for gaming. If gamers want a closed system that they have to buy a new one to upgrade (i.e. iMac) they will be way better of with an XBOX or PS2 or other console system, it certainly will be an order of magnitude cheaper. The open hardware of the PC platform just appeals to gamers and their custom-loving, fastest-craving attitude.

    • Re:Open vs. Closed (Score:5, Informative)

      by tuxedobob (582913) * <tuxedobob@HORSEmac.com minus herbivore> on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:36AM (#10685243)
      I have a Mac. I've had it for four years. I've added more RAM several times to 1GB of PC100, added some hard drives, upgraded the video card, and I'm considering upgrading the processors.

      The reason I'm considering is I can't really upgrade the motherboard without needing new RAM, procs, etc. anyway, Unless this isn't the case on the PC-side, that's my definition of "a new computer".

      Unless you're talking about a model that begins with a vowel, Apple's desktops are pretty upgradeable.
    • Re:Open vs. Closed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Talthane (699885)
      NVidia v. ATI

      Er...it kind of undermines your argument to mention this example, since both nVidia and ATI release Mac graphics cards. And swapping one for the other is just a matter of opening up the case and doing the exchange.

      We're talking G4/G5 desktops here, of course, but then you can't upgrade Windows laptops either. And while you're quite right that you can't upgrade an iMac, you can't exactly upgrade many of the Media Center set-top type. So your argument kind of falls over when you realise that b

  • Feh. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Millennium (2451) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:19AM (#10685078) Homepage
    There's no need for Apple to get into this. There are several dedicated porting shops already, including Aspyr and MacSoft (mentioned in the article) and Westlake Interactive.

    Apple may do well to provide assistance to these shops, but frankly its own resources are stretched too thin already. Why do people have this blind and absurd obsession with everything being made by Apple, anyway?
  • by tuxedobob (582913) * <tuxedobob@HORSEmac.com minus herbivore> on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:24AM (#10685123)
    Apple doesn't need to port games. Aside from MacSoft and Aspyr, which the article mentioned, there are several other software houses that could do it. A personal favorite is OmniGroup, who did an excellent job with Giants: Citizen Kabuto. (Talk about taking advantage of the hardware...)

    In addition, not every "great game" released for Windows should come out for the Mac. Many games actually aren't that great. They just suck. Mass porting games won't help. The Windows world is big enough that somebody will buy whatever crappy game you throw out there, but the Mac world isn't.

    That said, if a game is good, and the developer knows it will be good, they have two options: port it themselves or have someone else port it. That this doesn't happen more often, to me, means that the PC developer just doesn't care and isn't interested. Porting houses, depending on how they get paid, would be all too happy for more work. If they get paid by commission from the original developer, take it on. If they get paid through game sales, it's in their own best interest to only port the games they think will sell.

    In order for a game to be most successful on the Mac, however, it should come out the same time the PC version does. This more than anything else is what will make the great games on the Mac work, for both the game and the Mac.
  • macs.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sinner0423 (687266) <sinner0423@gmail . c om> on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:29AM (#10685176)
    Why bother to couple GeForce GPUs with the Macs, if you aren't going to bother to utilize that power for games? It makes no sense. That's like buying a Ferrari just to drive to church every sunday.

    I see a lot of comments already about how the Macs cost a lot..

    Let me pose this question to those people then - with the recent changes [pcisig.com] in the industry, who is really paying more? The Mac users or the Windows users? Any high end card nowadays comes in PCI Express, which almost certainly requires you to buy a new motherboard, and possibly a new processor, on top of that $200-$400 card. Gaming definitely knows how to suck that money out of your wallet quicker than any Mac will.

    Windows users are allowed to play more , but we pay the price for it. I suppose it's a necessary evil in order to enjoy gaming [halflife.net] at its finest..
  • Foxtrot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Paul Lamere (21149) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:30AM (#10685179) Homepage Journal
    Today's FoxTrot [foxtrot.com] seems particularly apropos.
  • The future... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fimbulvetr (598306) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:30AM (#10685185)
    I refuse to buy a mac because, unlike most of my peers, I have a pretty good idea of what would happen if Apple was on 90% of the desktops in the world. Based on their past record (and the records of similiar premonopolies that are now monopolies (MS, Cisco, Intel, et.al):
    #1. they would strong arm their competition into oblivion.
    #2. They would use their own proprietary hardware to ensure they keep their market share.
    #3. Their new product development would mimic Microsofts. Now they are forced to develop, to keep their niche. When they have 90%, they wouldn't be forced to keep their niche.

    There are tens more I can't think of off the bat, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.

    I may look stupid, but I'm not.
    • Re:The future... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Have Blue (616)
      ANY company would do that if they attained a 90% market share- Apple, Microsoft, AMD, Intel, ATI, nVidia, everyone. Who do you buy your hardware from?
    • by Avumede (111087) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:06PM (#10686299) Homepage
      I'm sure this has already occurred to you, but whether you buy an Apple or not will have no appreciable effect on long-term market dynamics.
    • Re:The future... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by WaKall (461142)
      The strong-arming you speak of is the nature of business. MS would do it, IBM would do it, RMS would do it - all of them would, given a chance.

      So what I just heard from you is to choose whatever quality minority solution there is, thereby helping to prevent anyone from having a CLEAR majority. Which is why I'll choose Apple for now, because IMO Linux-desktop isn't quality yet, and MS has the clear majority.

      I do respect your point and your logic. I just don't see the threat as imminent.
  • by Enrique1218 (603187) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:34AM (#10685220) Journal
    Why would porting xbox game to the Mac convince users to eschew their PCs. First, Xbox games are often water down versions of their PC cousins. These games lack features of PC games because the Xbox hardware is static and can't evolve with newer game engines like the PC can. But, Xbox games are going to make the Mac better at gaming. Is a user going to pay 2000+ for xbox quality games. Why not just buy an xbox and pay 300 at the most. Apple has it strengths and gaming is not one of them. Video are not updated on Macs as they are on PCs. Even if we had the latest games, we won't have the latest hardware. Besides, Apple is doing just fine. Look at thier stock price (50+), they are not reeling from the lack of games on the platform
  • by xutopia (469129) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:35AM (#10685232) Homepage
    if I used my computer for computing and my game console for gaming. My computer is used for writing emails, reading slashdot, programming and file sharing. I use Linux and with the money I don't spend on an OS I can actually buy a PS2 that doesn't require I stay up to date as often with my hardware.
  • by sydres (656690) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:37AM (#10685251)
    their is no directx on mac that I know Of unlike the Xbox so everything would have to be ported to opengl etc.
  • by Spencerian (465343) on Monday November 01, 2004 @10:48AM (#10685381) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure someone has mentioned Aspyr, Blizzard, MacPlay, MacSoft, and other companies who port Mac versions of popular games.

    But all this talk presumes that, in order for gaming to be successful on a Mac, that (1) the Mac itself has to be less expensive, and (2) that the game must arrive on the Mac at the same time as the PC version, if there is a PC version.

    First off, people don't buy Apple products because they are cheaper, but because they want a certain quality of machine.

    Second, the Macintosh installed base of computer is around 15-25% (don't confuse this with marketshare, which is the total percentage of Macs sold in comarison to the rest of the computer market). That means it's impractical to make a game that is Mac only or works immediately on a Mac unless you have a great gaming team that knows how to make things port well. Some companies, like the team that put together Neverwinter Nights, made the game data so portable that Mac users had installed the 2 game expansions using the PC/Linux versions before the Mac versions of the expansions arrived 2 or so months ago.

    Third, I'd rather let the PC users be my beta testers. There are hundreds of new games in the PC market, and most of them are crap. The games that rise to the top typically do get ported to the Mac, if they weren't on a later deploy list already. And take heart, the time that a PC game is ported to a Mac is much, much less than, say, 9 years ago. I might have to wait about 3 to 6 months for a popular PC to make its Mac debut, Usually, the wait is worth it as any game-stopping bug is squashed before I see it, and the game plays wonderfully on my computer.

    Some games are slow to port, like Halo, Splinter Cell, and Battlefield 1942, and some great games were never ported, like Half-Life. But overall the Mac gaming world has profit and gives those who do play a world of pleasure. However, don't buy a Mac to play the latest games--the market just won't accommodate.
  • ok cut it out! (Score:3, Informative)

    by minus_273 (174041) <aaaaa@SPAM.ya h o o . com> on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:20AM (#10685750) Journal
    ok for those kids who have no idea what factors are involved in how portable an application is, here is a crash course.
    OS X is based on unix and linux is based on unix. That DOES NOT mean that any application can be ported on way or the other. Please stop making the stupid argument that it is enough that apple could just recompile itunes for linux. That also includes saying that any game can be simply recompiled for OSX. Similarly, just becasue Xbox 2 will be based on a PPC970 that does not measn that a developer can easliy port any game to OSX. There are things that need to be considered like platform specific LIBRARIES.

    Please please stop making such stupid statements.
  • Shorter list... (Score:4, Informative)

    by gumpish (682245) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:31AM (#10685885) Journal

    What other games are missing from Mac OS X?

    Wouldn't the shorter list be "What games aren't missing from Mac OS X?"

    They've got Blizzard, id, and Bungie Studios (kind of) making cross-platform releases a priority... other than that........
  • by FoboldFKY (785255) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:52AM (#10686119)

    <rant>

    ...all you have to do is click the "Magically Change DirectX Applications To Run Under Mac OSX" button in "FairlyLand Dev Tools", and the magical porting pixies will do all the hard work...

    Give me a break. This guy obviously has no concept of how to port applications.

    See, the one thing (that I can immediately think of and that supports my argument :P) stopping a flood of games appearing on Linux, Mac, et al is DirectX. You get DirectX running on Mac, and Bob's your third uncle twice removed.

    Of course, this would be nigh on impossible... DirectX is pretty damn huge, and you can't simply wrap a DirectX interface around OpenGL, OpenAL, SDL, etc. (for example, OpenGL uses right-hand aligned polygons, DX uses left-handed... or the other way around).

    No, the real trick is to get developers to stop using DirectX in the first place. If they started using OpenGL, OpenAL, and other cross platform libraries, this problem wouldn't exist (at least to a large degree). Then, it would simply be a matter of compiling the game for each platform you wanted to support.

    Pretty much the only developers that still use OpenGL seem to be small independents, and id. Oh well, thank $DIETY for John Carmack for keeping GL alive and kicking...

    </rant>
  • by netfunk (32040) <icculus@iccu[ ].org ['lus' in gap]> on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:02PM (#10686234) Homepage
    Hi, I was the one that ported Unreal Tournament 2004 to the Mac...among other games. I'm probably qualified to speak to this.

    There's an urban legend that Apple has a zero-tolerance policy for games. If you're an Apple employee writing a video game in your spare time, that's grounds for dismissal. Rumor is that this is not enforced, but still in the employee manual (or stone tablets outside 1 Infinite Loop or something).

    This is probably not true, but it says a lot about the culture at Apple. Games are not in the business plan. At all. Since the Apple II was so wickedly ahead of everyone else in terms of game capabilities, a lot of people saw it as a "game system" or...well, a toy. Funny how that sort of thing blows up in your face, huh? So there's a historical bias against it at the upper levels. It's a flinch reaction. Several layers of upper management are going to have to retire or die (or both) before this attitude changes.

    That being said, this article is pitching a silly (and unoriginal) idea. It's hard enough trying to evangelise the Mac to game publishers, but it gets even harder when Big Publisher starts asking the very legitimate question: "How come Apple put time, money, and manpower into porting Half-Life 2 and wants me to shoulder the port for my own title?"

    A fair question, to be sure. Other results would be less concern at the original gamehouse for portability (we'll let Apple fix that) and the choking off of the few companies that are actually doing this today. Oh, and we haven't even gotten to the "could this even be profitable for Apple" question yet.

    That being said, here're a few things Apple CAN be doing:

    1) Get more developer relation people that do nothing but deal with games. These are the people game developers call when they need something done...OS bugs that need someone to fight for developer priority, hardware access, questions about marketing your product and general connecting of the right people. They also go to game developers/publishers to pitch the Mac and encourage them to see a profitable business model in Apple's platform. Apple used to have two of these people working this job. They now have one. I would bet that they'll have zero before 2005 is over. I suspect that the position is the red-haired stepchild of the company. I respect Rich for every day he gets up and continues to choose to go to work.

    2) Backport OpenGL fixes. Apple's GL team is top-rate, but once they are working on a new release, you are out of luck. This is company policy, not the GL team's fault. Let me illustrate this for you. Right now you might be desperately trying to get a game running for Christmas, ported from a DirectX9-based game, and lo and behold, you find that a Pixel Shader you moved over to GL_ARB_vertex_program triggers a kernel panic in OSX. You get the team to look at it promptly, thanks to that one devrel soldier who's still standing, and it gets fixed, but the fix is rolled into Tiger.

    Well, Tiger's not shipping for 6+ months, and you ain't shipping this Christmas. And when you do ship, you'll be telling a bunch of people that you need to buy a 150$ upgrade to the OS to play. This is more acceptable for Big Name Games, since somehow people will swallow this, albeit unhappily, when it's UT2004 or World of Warcraft. Will they swallow it for an indie game that's a 15 dollar, online-only purchase?

    I'll be fair and say that, as far as I can tell, the overwhelming majority of Mac users upgrade to the latest OS anyhow, because generally the MacOS upgrades have been significantly compelling. When I screw up a Linux build in the year 2004 and a game stops running on a Red Hat 6.0 install from 1999, I get angry email. When ut2003 required people to upgrade to Jaguar, I never got a single bug report or complaint. Figure that one out. Still, if there is no upgrade path at all, you're timetable gets screwed. Put that shit in Software Update, Apple!

    3) Give out free hardware, and give it out gratuitously. The Games Department (t
  • by DeVilla (4563) on Monday November 01, 2004 @12:46PM (#10686898)
    Polliana writes "For every great game there is for Linux, there are like what, at least 500 for Windows? It's sad, but it's a fact. This article proposes a solution, and it's for Linus Torvalds to port games. By the way, since the Windows uses the intel archetecure, it shouldn't be that difficult to port future Windows games to intel and amd based machines, both of which are 32-bit now. Would you buy Linux if you could play Counterstrike Source and Half-Life 2? What other games are missing from Linux?"
  • Quality vs quanity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hugg (22953) on Monday November 01, 2004 @01:03PM (#10687189)
    What I've noticed about Macs is that even though there are less games total, there are a greater ratio of GOOD titles to sucky, buggy, amateurish games. Having less of a selection might not sound like an advantage to most people, but it is to casual gamers and impulse buyers.

    Also because the Mac hardware platform allows fewer permutations than a PC, when I spend my tiny gaming budget on a product, I'll have a greater assurance it'll work. I gave up PC gaming because I was sick of fiddling with drivers, patches, and so forth.

    I'll give you that Mac gaming is not for the hardcore. But it's good for the three-games-a-year-because-i-have-a-job-or-a-kid-o r-a-girlfriend crowd.

  • Release timing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arcturax (454188) on Monday November 01, 2004 @01:24PM (#10687554)
    A bigger problem I think is release timing. When games come out for the Mac, it is often weeks or months or even years behind the PC and console releases. This makes it hard for Mac gamers to find people to play online with as by the time we get the damn thing, PC gamers have gotten bored with it and have moved on to the next big thing.

    Apple isn't a gaming company and it is a bad idea for them to port games. However they do have resources for gaming developers and they work with the likes of Aspyr and Westlake to port games.

    However gaming isn't the cure for Apple's market share woes. Mac gamers can get a cheap PC or a console to play non Mac games on. That is what I do, though I do buy the Mac game ports so that I support the mac gaming community at the same time.

    Apple's main push is in usability and productivity of the computer user, the area where they shine and that is where their main focus should be. They can continue to make porting games easier for developers, but they should do no more than that. The developers can take Apple's help or they can sell less games. It's their choice.
  • by ddt (14627) <ddt@davetaylor.name> on Monday November 01, 2004 @02:58PM (#10689273) Homepage
    I've long been a supporter of portable games and I'm the guy who wrote or championed Unix-y ports of Doom, Quake, and Abuse back in 1993-1996 (http://davetaylor.name [davetaylor.name]), but Mac is still a pain in the ass.

    As I'm sure most of you suspect, porting to the Mac is not as easy as "make", even assuming a similar arch to the Xbox2.

    The reason developers opt to make their games portable to multiple platforms now is that they want $8M to make their game instead of $6M, and the only way the publisher will approve it is if the developer commits to a multiplatform release, so that they can see more sales.

    The Mac game market is still very small, unfortunately, so it doesn't qualify as a viable platform for the publishers. And although the similar endianness of the Mac does make porting easier, it's not a single platform, but a collection of similar platforms, which means you're signing up for a customer support headache, just like you are with the PC. The additional customer support costs, the differing marketing channels and strategies, the inventory mgmt, and sales effort of maintaining an extra SKU, are usually sufficient distraction to knock down a Mac port proposal.

    But that's not the whole story. It turns out that Mac owners suffer from accute good taste, which has something to do with why they've historically paid a premium for a pretty, inferior computer.

    Only since MacOS X emerged from an awkward puberty has the Mac become a pretty, superior computer to the PC, but it turns out that Mac owners are still the cause of some aesthetic grief. If you do a straight port to the Mac, instead of adding the features and looks that Mac users insist upon so that their Mac apps feel Mac-y, then you get panned in reviews.

    I agree with another poster's comment that Apple should either do the ports or fund developers to do ports. I think this would be good for them not only because it would bring more games to the Mac but because it would viscerally illuminate to them the annoying demographic and business side-effects of porting to the Mac, and going through it enough times might inspire solutions.

    Sadly, I've recently asked after this, and they are not interested.

    On the bright side, they are aggressively going after the top-20 PC games and making sure they get ports. This is smart but not brilliant. Brilliant would be creating incentives for developers to maintain Mac portability from the start.

    For instance, I've often thought that iTunes, had they not signed multiple deals with multiple devils to launch it, could be the solution to the distribution dilemna for unsigned composers. If Apple made a similar online distribution store for Mac games, where the developer/publisher could enjoy massive margins that put the retailers to shame, this could be the cookie developers need to pull the trigger.

    Pulling that particular iTunes-y solution out of my bum probably too early in the morning w/o sufficient coffee, but my point is that Jobs certainly has the scratch, balls, and brains to make it an attractive platform, but it isn't quite there yet.
  • by bedouin (248624) on Monday November 01, 2004 @11:10PM (#10696126)
    To be honest, nothing tremendously interesting has happened in gaming for a long time. Some of the most interesting (and popular) games run adequately on mid-range hardware. Call me crazy, but I find my Gamecube more entertaining than most PC games, especially since I know I won't have to spend time tweaking it to get the highest FPS possible, or any other kind of nonsense. Who cares about technical details when the games aren't even fun? PC gamers are hardware manufactures' number one whores. The pressure shouldn't be on a video card maker to create the latest in greatest, but it should be on software developers to stretch technology to its limit; some of the cheapest, lamest, c64 games were still better than the $40+ crap that's released today -- and all it needed was 1mhz. Why is it that developers manage to push the limits of a PS2, but merely up the specifications without any hacking effort when it coms to PCs? It's a huge money making scheme, and I don't pay it much mind anymore.

    For the money one blows on an insane gaming rig, and constantly upgrading that setup, he/she could just buy a top of the line Mac and possibly a couple consoles along the way. Keep in mind that Mac will probably last a minimum of 5 years without any major upgrades; longer if you upgrade the GPU, CPU, and other things. I don't see my Quicksilver going anywhere any time soon.

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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