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The State of Mac Gaming in 2017 (Ars Article)


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#1 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 09:25 AM

https://arstechnica....-of-mac-gaming/

Interesting article with a lot of good information.
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#2 jeannot

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Posted 14 July 2017 - 02:48 PM

I'm kind of disappointed that Windows is still far ahead of macOS in WoW despite of Metal. But other games paint a different picture. In F1 2016, the Mac is faster.

The article doesn't mention the integration of Metal into the Apple development toolchain, which really helps developers. In particular, Metal debugging and performance tools in Xcode are very powerful, and I wonder if Apple could have achieved that with openGL or Vulkan even if they had wanted to.

#3 Cougar

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 12:33 PM

Heh, Brad Oliver just called it "comically bad." https://twitter.com/...279354996596736

#4 the Battle Cat

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 01:53 PM

I wonder why Brad Oliver has been gone from this forum for so long.  It has cats, a robot devil, and monkey folk just like him only dumber.  Doesn't add up.
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#5 Janichsan

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 02:16 PM

View PostCougar, on 15 July 2017 - 12:33 PM, said:

Heh, Brad Oliver just called it "comically bad." https://twitter.com/...279354996596736
I wonder why. Did he elaborate? (His tweets are currently protected, so non-followers can't read them.)

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#6 UmarOMC1

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 02:17 PM

View PostCougar, on 15 July 2017 - 12:33 PM, said:

Heh, Brad Oliver just called it "comically bad." https://twitter.com/...279354996596736
His tweets can't be seen unless you ask to follow? I don't use Twitter.
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#7 Cougar

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 02:32 PM

View PostJanichsan, on 15 July 2017 - 02:16 PM, said:

]
I wonder why. Did he elaborate? (His tweets are currently protected, so non-followers can't read them.)

Yes, it was a little tweetstorm. I don't think it was nearly as negative as he makes it out to be; I think the comments just rubbed him the wrong way.

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#8 DirtyHarry50

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 02:52 PM

I can't say I blame him when they work so hard and deliver such good results.
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#9 nick68k

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 03:51 PM

Thanks for reposting Brad's twitter thread - I'm relieved that 'comically bad' refers to the Ars article and not the current state of Mac gaming...
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#10 Spike

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Posted 15 July 2017 - 05:42 PM

I thought the Ars Technica article was pretty bad myself. They declared Mac Gaming to be dead in 2007?? I have been gaming on Mac 95% of the time this whole time. Mac gaming has been fine. Although now it is at its worse then ever, I still game on my Mac fine. The two main issues I see are the unupgradable hardware and dropping the open standard API. However, now with future support of external GPUs, I believe that will reverse this trend.

#11 jeannot

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:58 AM

View PostSpike, on 15 July 2017 - 05:42 PM, said:

Mac gaming has been fine. Although now it is at its worse then ever,
I disagree. Mac gaming was worse before, when all we had was slow GPUs (the new iMacs are quite good) and outdated APIs

#12 Spike

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 09:51 AM

View Postjeannot, on 16 July 2017 - 01:58 AM, said:

I disagree. Mac gaming was worse before, when all we had was slow GPUs (the new iMacs are quite good) and outdated APIs

So what time frame are your referring to? Although I care more about developers making Mac versions, using slow GPUs is also now worse then ever that I can think of. Now there is only one Mac model that has a desktop class GPU and its 3.5 years old and unupgradable (and gaming not its strongpoint).

#13 jeannot

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 10:06 AM

In 2015 for instance, all Macs except Mac Pros had anaemic laptop GPUs and Metal wasn't mature. That's when Blizzard said that overwatch wasn't possible on macOS.
Now we have iMacs with decent GPUs, Metal 2 has been announced with eGPU and VR support.

#14 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 11:06 AM

I wish Apple would support Vulkan, but it's not like Metal is bad. Games with Metal are performing extremely well. DirectX is also a closed API.

A few years ago the Mac Pro was literally the only Mac with a discrete option. Now we have the iMac returning to decent discrete GPU's, and the Macbook Pros are using ok'ish Iris Graphics.
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#15 Spike

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 11:18 AM

View Postjeannot, on 16 July 2017 - 10:06 AM, said:

In 2015 for instance, all Macs except Mac Pros had anaemic laptop GPUs and Metal wasn't mature. That's when Blizzard said that overwatch wasn't possible on macOS.
Now we have iMacs with decent GPUs, Metal 2 has been announced with eGPU and VR support.

Thanks for giving me an idea of the timeframe that you believe Macs had slow GPUs. I dont see 2015 Macs as having slow GPUs comparatively. All iMacs dont have the thermals to use high end GPUs and I should have characterized high end GPUs instead of saying desktop class above (oops). I haven't seen the 2015 R9 290 as fairing worse against competing 2015 GPUs then the current Radeon Pro 500 series in the iMac does against its competing GPUs, but I leave that as a matter of opinion. I think the Radeon Pros are awesome chips, but I think the r9 290 was awesome for 2015 as well. Current iMacs are still unupgradable and benefit a lot less from future eGPUs.

Metal 2 has been announced but not here yet and I was talking about now. The open standard Vulkan would have been better then Metal. Of course DirectX is also closed, but Microsoft has over 90% of the market. Apple having single digit marketshare means it needs to support open standards in my view.

#16 jeannot

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 01:50 PM

At least Metal is mature enough to power some games, and it yields good results. Before macOS 10.12 (and 10.12.4 in fact), Metal simply wasn't up to the task.

I'm not sure Vulkan would have been better. It wouldn't have brought more games to the Mac, it would just have made porting more difficult, since the vast majority of games are D3D and Vulkan is very hard to use.

#17 the Battle Cat

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 02:30 PM

View PostJanichsan, on 15 July 2017 - 02:16 PM, said:

I wonder why. Did he elaborate?

Nope, he just faded away like a sunset.  I blame my punching bag Dirty Harry.
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#18 Sneaky Snake

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 03:22 PM

View PostSpike, on 16 July 2017 - 11:18 AM, said:

Thanks for giving me an idea of the timeframe that you believe Macs had slow GPUs. I dont see 2015 Macs as having slow GPUs comparatively. All iMacs dont have the thermals to use high end GPUs and I should have characterized high end GPUs instead of saying desktop class above (oops). I haven't seen the 2015 R9 290 as fairing worse against competing 2015 GPUs then the current Radeon Pro 500 series in the iMac does against its competing GPUs, but I leave that as a matter of opinion. I think the Radeon Pros are awesome chips, but I think the r9 290 was awesome for 2015 as well. Current iMacs are still unupgradable and benefit a lot less from future eGPUs.

Probably the primary difference between now and 2015 is Metal. One can make the argument that Mac's were just as strong graphically back then (relatively speaking), but you have to keep in mind that every Mac port coming was dragging the dead weight that was Apple's terrible OpenGL support. Ports back then were automatically going to have 25-50% less performance than the windows version due to OpenGL; whereas nowadays ports are coming out with Metal and are meeting or exceeding bootcamp performance.
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#19 Spike

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 03:43 PM

View Postjeannot, on 16 July 2017 - 01:50 PM, said:

At least Metal is mature enough to power some games, and it yields good results. Before macOS 10.12 (and 10.12.4 in fact), Metal simply wasn't up to the task.

I'm not sure Vulkan would have been better. It wouldn't have brought more games to the Mac, it would just have made porting more difficult, since the vast majority of games are D3D and Vulkan is very hard to use.

Yes metal is mature enough and yields good results, but metal is the problem. Vulkan would have brought more games and porting would be less costly and problematic then metal.

It is because of metal that the Mac does not have Overwatch as you mentioned before (as well as ED and others) and still do not have. If Apple had not developed metal, then OpenGL would have been updated instead of abandoned so many years ago. It would then have supported later OpenGL versions that includes tessellation, compute shaders, etc that developers need. If no metal, then Apple would support Vulkan as they are in the Khronos group and Vulkan is the next generation OpenGL.

Vulkan would have brought more games to the Mac because it is an open standard. Developing for an open standard is less costly and easier to employ already skilled programmers, etc. I read a couple months ago a game I may like, if it is ever released, Star Citizen dropped DirectX and is going Vulkan, and thus Linux users will get to play it.

Supporting the Open Standard main benefit is developer support.

Metal is also the problem with current gaming trends. Right now all my Mac games are OpenGL 4.1 and earlier and run great on my 2012 Mac, but what is going to happen when future games need more then OpenGL 4.1? Two such games, HOI4 and Combat Mission, run great but what happens when HOI5 comes or Combat Mission updates its engine and it needs more then OpenGL4.1? Then what is the developer going to do? Are they going to say they want to spend the huge costs and time to convert to Metal for their small base of Macs OR just drop the Mac? It is a hard justification for the huge costs on proprietary Apple only Macs and their small gaming marketshare. Combat Mission is a great example because its engine did not support OpenGL as it was in RAVE and did support MacOS X (required MacOS 9 only). However, because OpenGL is a standard, it made sense to support OpenGL in an updated engine and now they have Mac OS X support. Theres the 3rd party implementation MoltenVK, but is unknown how viable it is or if it even works.


View PostSneaky Snake, on 16 July 2017 - 03:22 PM, said:

Probably the primary difference between now and 2015 is Metal. One can make the argument that Mac's were just as strong graphically back then (relatively speaking), but you have to keep in mind that every Mac port coming was dragging the dead weight that was Apple's terrible OpenGL support. Ports back then were automatically going to have 25-50% less performance than the windows version due to OpenGL; whereas nowadays ports are coming out with Metal and are meeting or exceeding bootcamp performance.

Yea Apple dropped OpenGL many years before, although their history has been behind and low performance OpenGL which they could have rewrote. My take on Mac Gaming status is mostly on developer support and not on highest performance.

#20 jeannot

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 04:04 PM

View PostSpike, on 16 July 2017 - 03:43 PM, said:

It is because of metal that the Mac does not have Overwatch as you mentioned before (as well as ED and others) and still do not have. If Apple had not developed metal, then OpenGL would have been updated instead of abandoned so many years ago. It would then have supported later OpenGL versions that includes tessellation, compute shaders, etc that developers need. If no metal, then Apple would support Vulkan as they are in the Khronos group and Vulkan is the next generation OpenGL.

How do you figure it would have allowed Overwatch on the Mac? This game uses D3D. Porting to Vulkan would be harder than porting it to Metal, if anything. OpenGL wouldn't be easier.

Quote

Vulkan would have brought more games to the Mac because it is an open standard.
Developing for an open standard is less costly and easier to employ already skilled programmers, etc. I read a couple months ago a game I may like, if it is ever released, Star Citizen dropped DirectX and is going Vulkan, and thus Linux users will get to play it.

Supporting the Open Standard main benefit is developer support.

Open standards also evolve at very slow pace and are not tailored to any OS, hence why MS develops D3D.
I believe that very few games will use vulkan over D3D, just like with OpenGL. It's not the APIs that explain the state of Mac gaming (at least once Macs have a working one), it's market share. It'll alway be, and always have been.

Quote

Metal is also the problem with current gaming trends. Right now all my Mac games are OpenGL 4.1 and earlier and run great on my 2012 Mac, but what is going to happen when future games need more then OpenGL 4.1? Two such games, HOI4 and Combat Mission, run great but what happens when HOI5 comes or Combat Mission updates its engine and it needs more then OpenGL4.1? Then what is the developer going to do? Are they going to say they want to spend the huge costs and time to convert to Metal for their small base of Macs OR just drop the Mac? It is a hard justification for the huge costs on proprietary Apple only Macs and their small gaming marketshare. Combat Mission is a great example because its engine did not support OpenGL as it was in RAVE and did support MacOS X (required MacOS 9 only). However, because OpenGL is a standard, it made sense to support OpenGL in an updated engine and now they have Mac OS X support. Theres the 3rd party implementation MoltenVK, but is unknown how viable it is or if it even works.

OpenGL is on the way out and is stagnating. So developers will have to shift to new and more modern APIs