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How is apple trying to improve the Mac game? (1)

via:威锋网     time:2017/7/17 17:30:18     readed:654

While Mac is better suited for professional users than playing games, Apple's recent moves to boost Mac performance have also attracted much attention. Foreign well-known technology blog media Arstechnica recently analyzed the status quo of Mac gaming experience, about Mac platform game experience friends can read this article, but also publish your experience on the Mac platform game view. The full text follows:

Playing games on Mac isn't a good experience, is it? This is the voice of many players over the past 10 years, in 2007 we also announced that the Mac game is dead. In fact the situation is getting better and better, and the 2017 WWDC conference, apple focus on Mac games from this Mac game after the hitherto unknown, more and more rewarding.

When Apple released the new Mac this year and announced a major upgrade to the Mac graphics API, Mac players and developers were filled with hope. Apple's new Metal graphics API and a larger installation base make Mac games look more attractive. On top of that, the independent Mac graphics processor has been the biggest boost in recent years, and VR support is coming too, and external GPU support is making the possibility of upgrading bigger.

Mac games are constantly improving, so is it better or worse? Is it going to be even with Windows? After talking to several developers who specialized in developing Mac games, we found that many people are becoming more optimistic about the platform. But there are many things that Mac needs to pay attention to.

Ten years unknown

In the Reddit and forum gaming community, Mac games is a joke, and is being spit out and criticized every day. Of course, these Tucao, bad comment is not without reason. Mac has not had any good games for years, and only a few companies have been investing in this niche market. The most typical ones are Aspyr, Media and Feral Interactive.

Aspyr was founded in 1996 and was originally a retail dealer. It was only later that the game was transplanted. They began transplanting the first game in 1998, the II Tomb Raider Eidos. Feral also began in 1996. They are porting games not only to Mac, but also to Linux and iOS (recently scheduled for porting to Android).

Feral Product Manager Edwin Smith (Edwin Smith) said: "over the past 20 years, we have experienced all the major changes occur. This platform includes independent graphics processing unit of the major changes in what he said, switching to the operating system based on UNIX PowerPC processor architecture, from the transition to Intel processors.

The processing architecture used by PowerPC Mac in the early 90 and early 00 was different from that of Windows PC, and most of the Games were aimed at the Windows PC platform. This has nothing to do with Mac games, when Microsoft's Direct3D was the industry standard graphics API. Cross platform OpenGL API, used in Apple's Mac, can only work hard at this time. At that time, Mac popularity was not high, the number of users is very small, and fewer players. PowerPC times, players know that Mac is not a competitive platform.

Smith said: "in the years before the Mac transition, using Intel CPU, the entire porting process was about converting the game so it could run on PowerPC hardware.". The difficulty is very high, because the existing code is written according to the X86 architecture, and the X86 schema and the PowerPC schema do not correspond to each other, so we encountered some interesting problems during the porting process."

Into the public eye

Today, Mac gamers are already in a different frame of mind. Over the past 10 years, the Mac game has been getting better and better for reasons including:

First of all, the Mac platform Intel has chosen to use the same. And most of the Windows PC architecture, Mac finally escaped from the software engineering "wasteland". In second, Mac sales growth of.Statista statistics data show that in 2004 global sales of the Mac 3 million 290 thousand, to in 2015 this figure had increased to more than 20 million.

Aspyr game vice president Elizabeth Howard (Elizabeth Howard) said: "apple is now a quarter of sales, equivalent to the previous year's sales, market opportunities have increased with this."."

Hardware also gets better. Howard thinks Mac is enjoying the halo effect of previous generations of console players". For 10 years, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have been game hardware standards, longer than any generation of consoles. It is for so long, Mac desktop graphics hardware can slowly keep up with industry standards.

Most video games are developed as consoles or PC as the main platform, and the system requirements naturally come from the support ability of these platforms." "Mac is the downstream port of these versions, and the specs are the same as those of the previous generation of consoles, so we can easily move the game from PC and game consoles to Mac," Howard said."

Howard and Smith later talked about the shift in digital distribution. Although digital distribution really affected the industry at first, the industry was worried, but it turned out to be good for core Mac players.

"After 2011, Apple stores no longer sold any physical games." "We thought it was probably the end of the Mac game," Howard said. A few years later, Apple's Mac has no physical media driver. Compared to the PC market, Apple has eliminated the drive at a faster rate. But Apple's approach didn't hurt Mac developers, but it was a great help. Digital markets such as Steam and Mac, App, and Store allow us to distribute games to end users more quickly, and hence our users."

Howard believes that the new digital market is an important upgrade: "digital distribution has a huge impact on our business.". First of all, the most obvious thing is that it's easier for players to buy games, and it's easier to cash flow without the cost of goods. It was a big change."

These make Mac a more dynamic game platform. Mac game audience market is bigger, scale benefit is more favorable, for some time, the hardware makes the user feel very satisfied. In recent years, the Mac platform has also attracted more and more good games, and the players have no reason to be able to spit and comment.

Mac is Metal right now

But in the course of Mac's progress, one factor has dragged on its back: OpenGL. Most Mac games use this API to develop high-end graphics, and it's not very good - at least for Mac's modern games - compared to Windows's Direct3D API.

In recent years, Mac's classic and indie game market has grown, and more and more good games have been on the platform. In fact, compared to the PC or the console, the good games on the Mac didn't do well, and it looked terrible.

Apple is now working on this problem by developing its low-level graphics API Metal. In 2012, Metal debuted on iOS for the first time and launched the Mac version in 2015. This year's WWDC conference has been updated to version 2 of Metal. So how much of a boost can Metal bring in such a short time - why is there so little game to support it so far?.

We'll analyze it from the player's point of view. Last year Blizzard increased support for World of Warcraft in Metal. Although World of Warcraft is not a new game, Blizzard will update it regularly to support the latest graphics features. I found in the test, compared to OpenGL, it has a 40% increase in Metal, but still can not compare with the performance of Windows Direct3D.

Of course, this may be because Blizzard has not invested in the same resources as the Direct3D version to optimize the Metal version. But it also proves that now Metal and OpenGL are still in the air. We also discuss this from the developer's point of view.

According to Aspyr technology guide Jez Sherlock introduction, at present, many games still around the more advanced engine development, they did not update to maximize the advantages of Metal. From an ideal graphical API point of view, some engines are at a loss between OpenGL and Metal. In order to bring the best experience, it needs to be redesigned. When the engine is slowly updated, the situation changes only when you can work on lower API such as Direct3D 12, Vulkan, and Metal."

At the moment, developers are still familiar with Metal, so everything is slowly changing. Aspyr said the recently released civilization VI did not use Metal in order to shorten the release time with the Windows PC version. Howard said: "if Mac players are not able to gain the same experience with Windows players in this important game, that is our job is not in place."."

Feral has the same problem. "Because Metal is a relatively new API, we often have some initial problems when using Metal compared to software that has been used for several years."

In general, the ascension of Mac in the Metal era is obvious, and it will become better and better as time goes on. Metal adds support for features that were not affected by developers before they were affected. For example, Feral indicates that Metal supports computational shaders, which Apple didn't support in OpenGL. "This means that before Metal was born, in order to solve these problems, we would need to rewrite the game code to use OpenGL. Although this approach can work, but the whole process is too complicated."

Some of the engines have changed. For example, the small studio chief used the Unity engine and announced the support after the release of the Metal. Ralph, Hauwert, director of platform development at the company, said they have been improving their support since the Metal went online. Unity Editor has recently received Metal support. However, as he says, Mac software developers are still a small minority of Unity users, regardless of how much Unity wants to fully support the platforms that all developers need.

These instructions at the community support for Metal has just begun, the Mac development community to maintain a very optimistic attitude, Metal still believe someday will become very common. Smith said, we have transplanted two games that support Metal and other companies began to release or launch a similar game. He thinks this when next year, Metal will become the Mac standard graphic API.

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