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#41 PeopleLikeFrank

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 04:59 PM

Hippieman, on November 28th 2005, 10:48 AM, said:

Just to play Devils Advocate, wouldn't the problem with OpenGL be Direct X?

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It's been explained many times by developers who hang around the forums that they've got libraries to translate Direct3D to OpenGL. It's not a major hurdle in porting. Neither is Apple's OpenGL implementation that has everyone freaking out so badly - most people don't know if their computer plays Doom3 at 50fps or 80, and pretty much everything else runs fine on a Mac.

teflon, on November 28th 2005, 03:15 PM, said:

how much is havok worth anyway? and im guessing that that might slightly alienate the other physics devs? I think it would be best to let it blow over. at least for another year. Then we can see what the mac game market looks like, and then make rash decisions in the name of apple to save it ;)

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It's worth more than Apple will pay, which is somewhere around zero, given that they're not interested in creating any proprietary games division. I really don't think Apple is interested in a move as major as aquiring another company (even if it were possible), just because there are some shooters out there that Mac gamers wish they could play. As much as it may seem like a major hole in gaming to some people, the big moneymakers like the Sims have no problems.

Once there's more competition for physics middleware from Aegia (any others out there?), then Havok may become more sensible. I'm guessing that they're enjoying their moment as the top (and practically only) physics middleware provider while they can, and they will be forced to modify their licensing fees when there are more options available.
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#42 Brad Oliver

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 06:07 PM

teflon, on November 28th 2005, 03:07 PM, said:

because on the majority of games from PC are written and optimised for DirectX. So theres optimisations lost from that, as well from the switch from x86 to PPC that add up to performance loss.

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I don't believe this is true. There's no magic to x86 code that makes it suddenly run slower on the PowerPC. As a case in point, Alpha Centauri had a ton of hand-tuned x86 assembly to draw the 3D voxel units. When I brought this over to the PPC, I ended up rewriting it to run at roughly the same speed on comparable PPC hardware. These issues are part and parcel of a game port.

Also, DirectX doesn't have "optimized paths" (in general) for which no OpenGL equivalent exists. To be honest, if your app is optimized for DirectX, odds are it's going to be more or less optimized for OpenGL, at least with how we've set up our porting libraries. There is the odd disconnect here and there, and we typically hand-craft code on a game-by-game basis to work around them. In general though, these don't result in performance loss as much as they do feature loss.

Now you could claim there's some overhead to translating DX to OpenGL at runtime. This is true, but it's so low as to not be measurable (try it with Shark and see).
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#43 Auron

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 06:14 PM

Is there such a thing as a Mac gamer content with the current selection of Mac games? god....

#44 Frost

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 06:31 PM

Well, that kind of Mac gamer may whine less, but also isn't as likely to gobble up every single new and exciting game that comes along. :)
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#45 Batcat

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 09:30 PM

edddeduck, on November 28th 2005, 11:46 AM, said:

I think I remember this interview, I believe Glenda was talking about how in OS 9 (like in Windows) you can get direct access and take over the hardware of the machine. This was shown in OS 9 when you had one application in the front in OS 9 you could starve all the other processes and use 100% of the hardware for the front-most app. In OS X you the kernel will not allow this, for good reasons and hence you have a 'layer' between hardware and the application.

Brad Oliver, on November 28th 2005, 04:36 PM, said:

While true under Windows 98 and ME, this is no longer true with Win2k and XP - Windows now has a similar "can't monopolize all the CPU time" limitation as OSX. It's also worth stating that this has absolutely nothing to do with OpenGL.
I'm pretty sure the main interview in question is the Macologist interview from April, one of several given when the flap over Mac Doom 3 performance came up (others at Barefeats and Ars Technica). Some relevant excerpts are

Quote

c) at Barefeats you mentioned, "On the Mac, Apple handles the top layers of OpenGL and then hands data off to the video card drivers." Is this a design error or intentional, if the latter then why? We imagine your programmers must have hit a brick wall at times: do they have a nice library of workarounds to circumvent these issues or do they stick to the book?

I assume it is intentional - for the same reasons Microsoft doesn't write video card drivers for ATI or nVidia for DirectX. OpenGL on the PC is a unique case, where the video card manufacturers provide the implementation of the API from the top level all the way down to the hardware. There aren't really any workarounds on the Mac (once you hand data off to GL, you can't do much else), but the key on the Mac is making sure you are giving the data in the right formats and with the right hints so it stays on the 'fast path' through OpenGL down to the video card. You can very easily give vertex data to OpenGL in a format that seems optimal for the video card, but for whatever reason (other GL state settings, etc) the GL framework shuffles it around and ends up sending it to the card in pieces, on a slower path.

This is the hardest thing about optimizing GL apps on the Mac- there is no way to look inside the GL framework to see exactly how it wants things, and even a seemingly minor call in the wrong place can throw everything off the rails. So we've learned over the years what to do and not to do, and when we run into performance problems we turn to Apple/ATI/nvidia to find out what our games are doing that is non-optimal. In some cases we can fix the GL code, in other cases we can't. Some games are very fixed in how they want their render pipeline set up and how they want to handle graphics data- it's often not easy to just tweak a few hints and get things back on the fast path.

Quote

What could ATI & NVIDIA do to help the situation on Mac gaming? Also you mentioned at Barefeats that PC Doom 3 has "application specific OpenGL optimizations just for the game. They can detect Doom3 is the application using GL, and even which shaders it is downloading- then they can shift to a mode that is highly optimized just for those cases." Will this ever be possible for Mac?

I know ATI and nvidia continue to work with Apple on OpenGL optimizations, and that (plus continuing to release newer, faster cards for the Mac) is what they can do best. From discussions with ATI, I know they are investigating adding more of the application specific GL optimizations to the Mac. Hopefully nVidia will also bring some of those over.

Quote

How far has Doom 3 optimization come at Aspyr?
a) Comparing the very first builds to the retail build, about what is the approximate % difference you have achieved from 'square one'?
The version of Doom 3 Mac that shipped was about twice as fast as the initial build we started on after id had it up and running on OS X.

b) As a brief summary, could you list perhaps a dozen (or more) things that were indeed optimized?

I don't really want to go through an exhaustive laundry list, but some of the high points where changes the the OpenGL rendering pipeline to try to keep it on the fast path through the OS X GL Framework, writing Altivec versions of Doom 3's SIMD library, replacing low level timing and thread management routines with faster OS X functions, and moving functions around to allow gcc to inline more. There were countless other small tweaks here and there, and there were also several avenues we spent time investigating only to find they didn't work or didn't help, like compiling with xlc instead of gcc.

c) Were certain kinds of configurations (high end vs low end mac rigs) emphasized during optimizations?
We concentrated most of our benchmarking on low and mid-range machines. Since the majority of our end users would be playing on iMac G5's and lower end G5 desktops, we felt it was more important to gain spend on the low end than concentrate on getting a 45fps machine to run 60fps. It looks great in the benchmark shoot outs, but that doesn't help the end user trying to play on a 64mb FX5200. And the optimizations at the high end often don't translate to much performance gain on the low end.

You mentioned at Barefeats: "A HUGE amount of that (optimization) came from Apple's work in the OpenGL framework. Doom 3 just happen to exercise GL in the exact opposite of the fast path for OS X."

a) Could you explain what this means in more detail for the lay reader?

I've talked a little about it before, but basically the fast path through OpenGL just means you are drawing things in a way that OpenGL is expecting them to draw. If you do things in a slightly different order or different format, you won't be going through the most optimized code path in OpenGL. Like any other software, OpenGL on the Mac is tuned to do the most common operations the fastest. In the case of Doom 3 we found the initial graphics pipeline was not running in a way Mac OpenGL assumed was a 'common' usage. So it fell off the fast path, into a set of code in GL that hadn't been fully optimized yet. There was nothing wrong with the way Doom 3 was architected, when it shipped for the PC it was on the most optimized OpenGL path under Windows.

b) Was Apple tweaking OpenGL in active cooperation with your efforts?
Yes, Apple devoted a lot of time and resources to doing optimizations within OpenGL so it better handled the parts of Doom 3's rendering path that we couldn't easily change. The most significant speed increases we gained from the start were due to these kinds of Apple efforts.
That's probably enough. :)

http://www.macologis...opic.php?t=1224

http://www.macologis...opic.php?t=1569

http://www.macologis...opic.php?t=1570

#46 Tomatocow

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 09:36 PM

Auron, on November 29th 2005, 09:14 AM, said:

Is there such a thing as a Mac gamer content with the current selection of Mac games? god....

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Why, what's wrong with it?

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#47 gbafan

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Posted 28 November 2005 - 11:46 PM

Honestly, I don't see a "black hole" but what I do see is a lack of support for current games.  Granted, sometimes something crazy like a BF1942 patch that supports MODS comes out of the blue, but overall, games are generally shipped, patched once or twice and left to rot.  That is what really ticks me off.

And I'm not only talking about patches but expansions as well.  Will we ever get a Doom 3 XP?  How about Zoo Tycoon 2 that was announced to be shipping Nov. 25th but hasn't shown up yet because it was delayed?  Age of Mythology XP?  The Sims 2?  Uni is "coming"... what about Nightlife or the newly announced "Open for Business" XP?  We just got Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 yet there are two XPs available for PC already.  We never got the Dungeon Siege XP.  And now years later we're finally getting the complete edition of Civ III...

Anyway, I'm thankful we get as many games as we do, but I'm not thankful that generally games appear to rot away after a year or so.  Sometimes, without any noticeable improvements from the shipping game.
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#48 Brad Oliver

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 02:01 AM

gbafan, on November 28th 2005, 10:46 PM, said:

Honestly, I don't see a "black hole" but what I do see is a lack of support for current games.  Granted, sometimes something crazy like a BF1942 patch that supports MODS comes out of the blue, but overall, games are generally shipped, patched once or twice and left to rot.  That is what really ticks me off.

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If you have a specific "rotting Aspyr game" that you feel needs addressing, then please mention it. In general, I think we do a pretty good job of maintenance on them as needed. I can't speak for other companies, however, and I hope this is where the bulk of your complaints lie. :)

As for expansions, can you name a title that Aspyr has published for which we never did the expansion pack? I can think of only one - the BHD expansion, which we announced first and then killed. I should add that Aspyr didn't do the original Civ3, but you can see that once we got the rights, we took care of the "missing" expansions.
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#49 edddeduck

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 05:37 AM

gbafan, on November 28th 2005, 10:46 PM, said:

Anyway, I'm thankful we get as many games as we do, but I'm not thankful that generally games appear to rot away after a year or so.

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What Brad said... but use the word Feral instead of Asypr :D If you have a Feral game that is rotting just email the support address, I have the games we shipped on a shelf in front of me and I cannot smell any major rotting ;). For example we patched Sim Theme Park for OS X after it's initial release, Aspyr did the same with the Sims I believe.

Brad Oliver, on November 28th 2005, 02:36 PM, said:

While true under Windows 98 and ME, this is no longer true with Win2k and XP - Windows now has a similar "can't monopolize all the CPU time" limitation as OSX. It's also worth stating that this has absolutely nothing to do with OpenGL.

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Ah, thanks for the correction.  :blush: I knew I might have missed something :)

#50 Huntn

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 08:27 AM

Auron, on November 28th 2005, 06:14 PM, said:

Is there such a thing as a Mac gamer content with the current selection of Mac games? god....

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There is a level of underlying tension in the Mac gaming community that will be there until Mac gaming is perceived to be as "perfect" as PC gaming. A realistic view or not, this feeling adds to posts like this.

On the PC side there will be a level of underlying tension until they perceive they are not loosing out on titles going to consols. That feeling may never go away.

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#51 gbafan

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 10:44 AM

Brad Oliver, on November 29th 2005, 12:01 AM, said:

If you have a specific "rotting Aspyr game" that you feel needs addressing, then please mention it. In general, I think we do a pretty good job of maintenance on them as needed. I can't speak for other companies, however, and I hope this is where the bulk of your complaints lie. :)
Firstly, Sim City 4 has some serious issues with 10.4.3; just like Sims 2 had.  Sims 2 was patched, SC4 has yet to be dealt with.  There isn't even any information about the problem on the Aspyr web site yet I know you guys know about the issue.

Secondly, I do believe the Sims 2 is rotting and here's why.  The game was released for Mac in June 2005.  The first PC expansion, University was released in March 2005, with the original game shipping in Sept. 2004.  The problem here is that even before the original Mac version shipped, a good portion of the Sims 2 community was already creating custom content for a version us Mac users don't even have today.  Flash forward to today and we still don't have the first expansion, let alone a clue when Nightlife will be coming.  As you can already see, Nightlife has been out for the PC for a couple months now and again, custom content is being created that will require Nightlife and University to be installed.

EA is shipping Nightlife for PC with a flier that states a new expansion is coming in "early 2006" titled "Open for Business", thus continuing this cycle.  I understand that there needs to be a lag for Mac porting.  I've been a Mac gamer since the days that the original Command & Conquer was playable by Mac users on Westwood Online until they canned support for us.  I'd really like to see expansions, for all Mac games, to be ported in a much quicker fashion than they are today.  Or, do what MacSoft did with Rise of Nations and delay the whole game to ship the expansion in the box.  Throw us a bone once in awhile? ;)

Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is another prime example of the expansion delay problem.  The PC version has two shipping XPs now while Mac just got the original game last week, thank god for that miracle at least :)

Brad Oliver, on November 29th 2005, 12:01 AM, said:

As for expansions, can you name a title that Aspyr has published for which we never did the expansion pack? I can think of only one - the BHD expansion, which we announced first and then killed. I should add that Aspyr didn't do the original Civ3, but you can see that once we got the rights, we took care of the "missing" expansions.

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Ghost Recon: Island Thunder was never developed.  Now, you could probably point the finger at the GhR community and say "Hey, you guys figured out how to port it yourselves... sort of."  Yeah, we did... sort of.  At first it didn't work so well until someone "remastered" some of the textures to have shorter names, etc.  So, we kind of got GhR:IT but not from Aspyr.

Doom 3.  Still no announcement and the PC version is now selling for peanuts on store shelves.  I'm sure at some point we'll hear about the Mac version... maybe ;)

Overall though, Aspyr does a fairly good job of "completing" a game series.  Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, The Sims, Sim City 4, Raven Shield, etc.

I understand you guys didn't do the original Civ 3... I actually purchased it from MacSoft's booth the first day of the Jan. 03 MacWorld.  I'm still holding a grudge there.
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#52 gbafan

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 10:51 AM

edddeduck, on November 29th 2005, 03:37 AM, said:

What Brad said... but use the word Feral instead of Asypr :D If you have a Feral game that is rotting just email the support address, I have the games we shipped on a shelf in front of me and I cannot smell any major rotting ;). For example we patched Sim Theme Park for OS X after it's initial release, Aspyr did the same with the Sims I believe.

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The patch for Sim Theme Park was awesome to say the least.  At one point I purchased a shareware application to force the screen resolution to stay at a certain size because STP would crash otherwise.  Then the whole Quicktime issue happened with STP and I almost tossed the CD into my "lost forever game tote".

Feral is wonderful in my mind.  You guys pick up very interesting games to port.  Unique games that normally wouldn't have a chance to make it to Mac.  Keep up the good work :)

PS: Aspyr is wonderful too but you guys get picked on more because, well, you guys port EA games :P
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#53 dj phat 2000

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 11:22 AM

I'm still pissed about EF (Star Trek Elite Force).  That game was never fixed.  SMP never got fixed, Photon bug never got fixed.  Invisible force fields, never got fixed.  I was playing this game for about 2 years.  And while it worked and I could play without seeing those things.  Talk about making it difficult to play very well in 10v10 games.  Or league games for that matter.  I'm still very good on that game regardless.  I just use the force so to say.  But, dying from an unknown shot or thinking your free and clear then get smoked from a shot you never saw.  That sucks.  Running as fast you can away from an enemy and run into a wall that isn't there.  THAT SUCKS!!!!!.  

This problem is constant.  Everyone once in a while I can see photons.  Force Fields work 95% of the time.  If the server is restarted i tend to be able to see photons.  But, after a while you don't.  This problem was from OS X.1 up till now.  On 2 different computers and a few video cards.  ATi Radeon, 8500, Nvidia FX 5200, and the ATi X800 XT.  

I guess I would not be so pissed about that, if I wasn't running a clan.  While also playing this game pretty heavy for about 1 year till it started to die off.  I basically had to use a POS Pentium III 600MHz box just to play this game at times.  Till I got a G5, and the speed of that computer made up for the lose of seeing things.  And did it ever make up for it.  Wow, this computer is great :)

But, that is my beef there.  Its a great MP game.  Nothing else like it.  Only thing close is Quake III and Quake IV.

#54 Ichigo27

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 12:11 PM

gbafan, on November 29th 2005, 10:51 AM, said:

PS: Aspyr is wonderful too but you guys get picked on more because, well, you guys port EA games :P

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I'm suprised EA didn't let Aspyr have NFS or SSX to port onto the macintosh platfrom, but if they did that they would have to port the windows version as well.
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#55 gbafan

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 12:13 PM

Ichigo27, on November 29th 2005, 10:11 AM, said:

I'm suprised EA didn't let Aspyr have NFS or SSX to port onto the macintosh platfrom, but if they did that they would have to port the windows version as well.

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NFS or SSX on Mac would be great.  Don't think there has been an SSX on PC before but NFS2 would be awesome.
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#56 Ichigo27

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 12:19 PM

One of the big problems is it hasn't. >.<
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#57 Atticus

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Posted 29 November 2005 - 05:38 PM

Mac gaming is in a recession, and there ain't much going on except the occasional shareware release. I've been frequenting these forums since 2001, and it's my perception that forum activity has dropped, as has the number of of new posts. Why? 'Cause, well, there ain't much going on.

It's gotten so bad that I bit the bullet and bought SW:BF II for my PS2, even though I hate playing FPSs with a gamepad. And even more sad is the fact that now I've become competent with a gamepad and BF. I didn't want that to happen!

Let's hope that Aspyr announces something *really* good in SF, or it's gonna be a long, cold winter of our discontent.

Thank god for WoW, or I'd be forced to actually read more books.

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#58 Space_Pirate_Killer

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 01:47 AM

Atticus, on November 29th 2005, 04:38 PM, said:

Mac gaming is in a recession, and there ain't much going on except the occasional shareware release. I've been frequenting these forums since 2001, and it's my perception that forum activity has dropped, as has the number of of new posts. Why? 'Cause, well, there ain't much going on.

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Really? Its seems to me that the forums the busiest its ever been.
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#59 Tomatocow

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 02:08 AM

Space_Pirate_Killer, on November 30th 2005, 04:47 PM, said:

Really? Its seems to me that the forums the busiest its ever been.

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Perhaps that is because everyone is bitching about the situation. :shifty:

#60 teflon

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Posted 30 November 2005 - 02:41 AM

true... and off-topic is filled with... well..... off-topic nonsense :) and the shooter forum now revolves entirely around the thread that is set to become the longest thread ever in the history of everness.
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