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More from Oliver on Boot Camp


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#1 IMG News

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 09:02 AM

Apple's recent release of Boot Camp, beta software which allows owners of Intel based Macs to easily install Windows XP and for the first time run games at native speeds, has sent shockwaves through the computing world. Companies focusing on porting PC titles to the Mac platform are now faced with an uncertain future. Aspyr Media's Brad Oliver, commenting on his blog, has offered a few more comments on the topic.

From The Brad Hole:

In all honesty, I don't know what the real-world impact will be. It's not going to make us release ports any faster (the implication in some parts is that, for whatever reason, we're not already doing this). We're also not likely to start doing smaller Mac-only games; Aspyr is geared up now for revenue on many platforms including the PC and consoles. Astute observers will note there are no Mac ports planned for our current PC and console titles aside from Stubbs. Perhaps it won't affect our sales at all, but that seems unlikely. Perhaps it'll mean a huge swarm of PC users converting to the Mac. That is more likely, but it could be a while before those numbers offset Mac gamers who are dual booting right now. I would not be surprised if current PC game developers and publishers start doing Mac ports in-house again as they did in the 90's, once the Mac marketshare increases.
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#2 Morrigan

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 09:18 AM

View PostIMG News, on April 7th 2006, 10:02 AM, said:

... Perhaps it'll mean a huge swarm of PC users converting to the Mac. That is more likely, but it could be a while before those numbers offset Mac gamers who are dual booting right now.
That confuses me. How many mac gamers have Intel Macs now? It really can't be very many I'd think, so the comment about the (implied) large number of Mac gamers currently dual booting seems odd.

#3 Mr.PreacherMan

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 09:30 AM

View PostMorrigan, on April 7th 2006, 11:18 AM, said:

That confuses me. How many mac gamers have Intel Macs now? It really can't be very many I'd think, so the comment about the (implied) large number of Mac gamers currently dual booting seems odd.
I believe he's talking about a little ways down the road. By the time the move has (hypothetically) drawn enough people to make for a significant increase in market share, the number of people dual-booting for big budget games will still be higher than the number of converts.

I think that ultimately those converts (and the faithful, after a period of revelling in the possibilities) will start clamoring for native versions (look back at the OS 9 - X transition and what we've seen starting with the Universal Binaries. People will want to game in their preferred OS without Classic, Rosetta or some upcoming XP virtualization). Unfortunately, I think this will take a while and I greatly fear that Brad will be long since out of the porting business by the time things reach a critical mass and the porting picks up again.

... And that is just a damn shame.

Just my theory. Discuss, discard or disagree as you see fit.

#4 Mookiteo

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 09:56 AM

For some reason I can't connect to his site.  Am I the only one?

#5 ehuelga

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 10:38 AM

View PostMookiteo, on April 7th 2006, 11:56 AM, said:

For some reason I can't connect to his site.  Am I the only one?
Nope, I can never see it from work (can see just about everything else on the planet, what's so special about brad-oliver.com?), only from home. Go figure. I added him to my bloglines rss feed, so even though I can't get to the site, I can still read his posts.
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#6 paulc

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 10:52 AM

It seems very few folks are really looking at the numbers. What we "know" is an installed base of 25 million Macs... but my guess is about 15 million running X (well I think it was about a year ago I kept reading it was 10 million). The remaining ones would be machines running 9, of which perhaps 2/3 not able to, with the other third being folks who are perfectly comfortable running 9 and the stuff they need to use a computer for (granted, some of those are "in the closet" machines).

So how long might one say before Intellitoshes have any significant marketshare? My guess is that 3 years from now, we may have 3-4 million. That will leave upwards of 10 million PPC machines. 5 years from now, perhaps 1/3 of the "not running 9, don't want to upgrade" machines may be Intel based.

While I'm obviously speculating here, I doubt I'm that far off. The point being that 2-3 years from now, my guess is there will still be a reasonable vibrant PPC market.

Now the scary part if Brad's "astute observers..." comment. He seems to be saying that ports to X/ppc are essentially dead in the water right now. Which kinda says "get yer Intellitosh and Boot Camp and buy windroid games."

#7 Brad Oliver

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 11:06 AM

View Postpaulc, on April 7th 2006, 09:52 AM, said:

So how long might one say before Intellitoshes have any significant marketshare? My guess is that 3 years from now, we may have 3-4 million.

More than 1.25 million Macs are sold each quarter, and close to 5 million a year. 3 of Apple's 5 main lines are now Intel-only. I don't know what the breakdown of current PPC vs. Intel sales is, but my gut feeling is that the majority are now Intel.

Quote

Now the scary part if Brad's "astute observers..." comment. He seems to be saying that ports to X/ppc are essentially dead in the water right now. Which kinda says "get yer Intellitosh and Boot Camp and buy windroid games."

That's definitely not what I was trying to get across. Sometimes I say things that appear to me to be common sense but I realize later that they're not all that obvious. My point is that in the big picture, this likely won't affect Aspyr as our other businesses have really grown. We're not doing Mac ports of some of our other titles mainly due to Mac marketshare relative to the expected PC sales of some of these titles. If the Mac market grows, then it's nothing but gravy for us.
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#8 stutz

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 02:47 PM

I think the tipping point for all of this is:

PPC based Macs that can run newly published titles  

VS.  

Intel based Macs that can run newly published titles

The Intel Mac minis really don't factor into this very much. Intel based Macs that CAN run newer titles like Call of Duty 2, Quake 4, and Spore (please) will either be iMacs, MacBook Pros, possibly the MacBook (iBooks) or the upcoming towers later this year (rumored to use the Intel Conroe processor). This tipping point is going to take quite a while I think. In a way, this dilemma re-enforces the need for Universal Binaries that can run on PPC based Macs. Since the G4's and G5's can't use Boot Camp, they are still dependent on a Mac port of a game to play it, resulting in profits for the Mac game publishers. The Intel based Macs can now forego the waiting game and go ahead and get the PC version of Half-Life 2, F.E.A.R. Age of Empires III, etc. without waiting (albeit with uncertain results)...see here:

http://reviews.cnet....-2.html?tag=nav

Stutz

#9 WiseWeasel

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Posted 07 April 2006 - 08:43 PM

Game developers worried about Mac users booting into Windows should just team up with Crossover Office to deliver timely and cost-effective ports using their libraries, as WINE-based releases would target the same market as dual-booters (Intel Mac gamers), and offer much greater convenience. True Mac ports could be released later for PPC users if there's a market for it (maybe for more popular titles). I think the market for PPC gaming is going to evaporate within the next six months to a year for all but the most casual gaming titles, so it would make sense to steer your porting business around a more broad-based and high-throughput approach.

#10 Smoke_Tetsu

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 12:06 AM

View PostWiseWeasel, on April 7th 2006, 08:43 PM, said:

Game developers worried about Mac users booting into Windows should just team up with Crossover Office to deliver timely and cost-effective ports using their libraries, as WINE-based releases would target the same market as dual-booters (Intel Mac gamers), and offer much greater convenience. True Mac ports could be released later for PPC users if there's a market for it (maybe for more popular titles). I think the market for PPC gaming is going to evaporate within the next six months to a year for all but the most casual gaming titles, so it would make sense to steer your porting business around a more broad-based and high-throughput approach.

Take a look here: http://www.transgami...roducts_mac.php

Doesn't seem to help make things more timely though.

View Poststutz, on April 7th 2006, 02:47 PM, said:

I think the tipping point for all of this is:

PPC based Macs that can run newly published titles  

VS.  

Intel based Macs that can run newly published titles

The Intel Mac minis really don't factor into this very much. Intel based Macs that CAN run newer titles like Call of Duty 2, Quake 4, and Spore (please) will either be iMacs, MacBook Pros, possibly the MacBook (iBooks) or the upcoming towers later this year (rumored to use the Intel Conroe processor). This tipping point is going to take quite a while I think. In a way, this dilemma re-enforces the need for Universal Binaries that can run on PPC based Macs. Since the G4's and G5's can't use Boot Camp, they are still dependent on a Mac port of a game to play it, resulting in profits for the Mac game publishers. The Intel based Macs can now forego the waiting game and go ahead and get the PC version of Half-Life 2, F.E.A.R. Age of Empires III, etc. without waiting (albeit with uncertain results)...see here:

http://reviews.cnet....-2.html?tag=nav

Stutz

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#11 Brad Oliver

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 12:09 AM

View PostWiseWeasel, on April 7th 2006, 07:43 PM, said:

Game developers worried about Mac users booting into Windows should just team up with Crossover Office to deliver timely and cost-effective ports using their libraries, as WINE-based releases would target the same market as dual-booters (Intel Mac gamers), and offer much greater convenience.

We already use a very similar approach in our ports, and I'll even boldly claim that our DX implementation is more full-featured and robust than the various WINEs'. ;-) That does nothing to solve endian issues or other quirky edge cases though.
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#12 WiseWeasel

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 04:09 PM

View PostBrad Oliver, on April 7th 2006, 11:09 PM, said:

We already use a very similar approach in our ports, and I'll even boldly claim that our DX implementation is more full-featured and robust than the various WINEs'. ;-) That does nothing to solve endian issues or other quirky edge cases though.
Then release for Intel Macs only... if that's the only cost-effective solution for most titles... Mainly, I'm saying if it's not economically viable for you to do the extra work solving PPC issues, since it pushes the releases back too far, losing sales to the Windows version that's on store shelves now, then release for PPC later or not at all...

#13 Dark_Archon

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 05:04 PM

View PostWiseWeasel, on April 8th 2006, 06:09 PM, said:

Then release for Intel Macs only... if that's the only cost-effective solution for most titles... Mainly, I'm saying if it's not economically viable for you to do the extra work solving PPC issues, since it pushes the releases back too far, losing sales to the Windows version that's on store shelves now, then release for PPC later or not at all...

And alienate 3/4 of their customers?

I would much rather not dual boot, and I have a feeling most Mac users feel the same way. I have a G5 iMac right now, and when I do upgrade this fall I hope Mac ports of games are still available, and I will continue to buy  Mac ports of games.
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#14 WiseWeasel

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 06:14 PM

View PostDark_Archon, on April 8th 2006, 04:04 PM, said:

And alienate 3/4 of their customers?

I would much rather not dual boot, and I have a feeling most Mac users feel the same way. I have a G5 iMac right now, and when I do upgrade this fall I hope Mac ports of games are still available, and I will continue to buy  Mac ports of games.
It's better than losing money by not having the title on the store shelf at all for two months. If the PPC version comes out two months later than the Intel Mac version on popular titles, then there is nothing lost by PPC owners, and the porting companies see more profits in the meantime.

#15 teflon

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 06:39 PM

but then theres a disparity between releases, and you end up dividing the market even further. And then theres more disgruntled people with PPC, who when they get intel will just boot camp it all... So overall, bad idea.

no, they need to try keep doing what theyre doing. And when theyve got a few games under their belt, theyll be able to streamline things further and well see the port time drop by maybe a month at most (im not sure what the port time was for just PPC, and i dont know what it is now, but mi guessing its gone up slightly)..

not to mention that they do everything simultaneously at the moment, and seeing as XCode does all the UB compiling, thered barely be any advantage to working on intel only until PPC cant keep up anymore.
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#16 WiseWeasel

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 07:09 PM

View Postteflon, on April 8th 2006, 05:39 PM, said:

but then theres a disparity between releases, and you end up dividing the market even further. And then theres more disgruntled people with PPC, who when they get intel will just boot camp it all... So overall, bad idea.

no, they need to try keep doing what theyre doing. And when theyve got a few games under their belt, theyll be able to streamline things further and well see the port time drop by maybe a month at most (im not sure what the port time was for just PPC, and i dont know what it is now, but mi guessing its gone up slightly)..

not to mention that they do everything simultaneously at the moment, and seeing as XCode does all the UB compiling, thered barely be any advantage to working on intel only until PPC cant keep up anymore.
Well, as Brad said, there are always endian issues to resolve, and random optimization issues to solve on the PPC side. I would expect an efficient workflow for getting those Intel-native builds pushed out the door could be possible, staving off the defectors buying Windows versions and rebooting to play. That's a significant loss in revenue for the Mac porting business, that could be minimized by rushing out an Intel version, then worrying about endian and optimization issues for the PPC version, using the proceeds of the Intel version sales to fund PPC version development. I bet there would end up being more PPC ports with this strategy (since the barrier from making a Mac Intel version into an acceptable PPC one is lower than Windows to PPC), so PPC users would win out in the end.

#17 Batcat

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 04:17 AM

That's it, Brad- rush buggy x86 versions out, then cannibalize those profits making PPC or dual binary versions for the ever-diminishing PPC market. Double-triple dev man-hours per game instead of work on profitable new projects... it'll make some PPC users sorta happy for awhile. There's your new business model. :blink:




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#18 WiseWeasel

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 10:56 AM

View PostBatcat, on April 9th 2006, 03:17 AM, said:

That's it, Brad- rush buggy x86 versions out, then cannibalize those profits making PPC or dual binary versions for the ever-diminishing PPC market. Double-triple dev man-hours per game instead of work on profitable new projects... it'll make some PPC users sorta happy for awhile. There's your new business model. :blink:
:wacko:
If the PPC ports aren't profitable, they can be stopped. Business reality is a cruel mistress... I bet that for a lot of titles, especially more casual or wide-appeal ones, porting from Intel MacOS to PPC MacOS would be economically viable.

#19 teflon

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 02:12 PM

I doubt that anyone really wants the Aspyr release schedule to fall apart in a mess of PPC and x86 mixed up releases, with separate boxes for each (remember that the apple store will only sell universal or x86 programs after July, so thats probably more than 20% of PPC sales lost there). It doesnt make sense.

Remember Quake 2? now i cant remember who did they port for that, but their previous port was a buggy mess. People bought it, didnt like the bugs, and totally avoided their next release, quake 2, which was a solid bug free game. Then they went under.

If aspyr split down the middle then their fan base will rapidly become disillusioned, not to mention that theyll soon be consumed by boot camp during this disillusionment.

And you realise that currently the process goes like this:
get PC code
make central Xcode code base
create binaries for both
test both
iron out bugs of all kinds
create UB

so where would the advantage really be in just doing one at a time? perhaps it takes a slight chunk out of testing for first version to ship as theres more testers, but you might as well get all the bugs you can out for both sets of customers in one go, and release in one box, or in one patch.
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#20 WiseWeasel

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 02:44 PM

View Postteflon, on April 9th 2006, 01:12 PM, said:

I doubt that anyone really wants the Aspyr release schedule to fall apart in a mess of PPC and x86 mixed up releases, with separate boxes for each (remember that the apple store will only sell universal or x86 programs after July, so thats probably more than 20% of PPC sales lost there). It doesnt make sense.

Remember Quake 2? now i cant remember who did they port for that, but their previous port was a buggy mess. People bought it, didnt like the bugs, and totally avoided their next release, quake 2, which was a solid bug free game. Then they went under.

If aspyr split down the middle then their fan base will rapidly become disillusioned, not to mention that theyll soon be consumed by boot camp during this disillusionment.

And you realise that currently the process goes like this:
get PC code
make central Xcode code base
create binaries for both
test both
iron out bugs of all kinds
create UB

so where would the advantage really be in just doing one at a time? perhaps it takes a slight chunk out of testing for first version to ship as theres more testers, but you might as well get all the bugs you can out for both sets of customers in one go, and release in one box, or in one patch.
Well, maybe Aspyr could create a new brand for Intel-only releases, and then license it to their main brand for regular Mac releases they feel are worth the effort of getting to perform well on PPC Macs. Otherwise, they could stick to the general appeal titles, offer the boxed titles with Intel-only binaries ahead of time, and then have a second pressing with UB binaries that could be sold in Apple stores and other distributors later, and offer the UB binaries to users electronically if they own the Intel release (would probably be a small download).

I think you might be underestimating the effort required to get Wintel binaries working, and performing acceptably on PPC Macs, but maybe Brad might weigh in on how staggering PPC support might affect their ability to increase the amount of titles in the pipeline and fund porting efforts as Intel Mac sales stave off the lost sales to Windows booters...