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Steam Prompts OS X Graphics Update

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the like-opening-a-valve dept.

Graphics 313

Stoobalou writes "Mac gamers got a massive boost when online gaming hub Steam started supporting the platform a few months ago. The arrival of the online service, which allowed Mac-toting gamers to play some of the same games as their PC brethren, in some cases cross-platform, created a great deal of debate between the two camps, with the PC crowd pillorying Mac fans for the relatively poor performance of their expensive hardware. Now it seems that Apple has gotten the message, as they have provided a graphics update for OS X Snow Leopard which will make progress toward closing the gap between the two platforms."

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313 comments

Slow graphics on Macs? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316664)

Even with this update, Macs still lag behind PCs, not because the OS is bad, but because the hardware that ships with even the latest refreshes is just plain outdated. 2008 called, wants its graphics card back from the i7 iMac for example. Wake me up when new Macs can run the latest Crysis sequel as a game, not a pretty slide-show.

Re:Slow graphics on Macs? (4, Funny)

timster (32400) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316774)

Yeah, 2008 sure does want that 5750 bad, but does she want it badly enough to wait until late 2009?

Re:Slow graphics on Macs? (3, Informative)

dbet (1607261) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316880)

Regardless of the non-state of the art of their vid cards, the same cards are (or were) running better when booting Windows on the same computer than under OSX. Hopefully they've fixed this.

Re:Slow graphics on Macs? (1)

fyrewulff (702920) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317174)

I thought the whole point of the iMac is that you're buying a small form factor, which will inherently always be behind a tower in terms of power:cost.

It's essentially a unportable laptop.

Re:Slow graphics on Macs? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317442)

It would be perfectly acceptable if the trend were just confined to the if-this-thing-goes-more-than-an-inch-thick-steve-will-kill-my-children Apple laptop segment....

Trouble is, though, that Apple's habit of shipping seriously tepid graphics hardware extends even to their iMacs(which may be thin; but are pretty big. The thermal engineers can suck it up.) and Mac Pros(workstation class towers bristling with fans in a blow-through configuration, this should be cake).

Unlike the Wintel guys, Apple does have the advantage of(at present) refusing to ship any intel integrated something "GPU"s; but they top out alarmingly low, for machines of their price. And, since EFI and traditional BIOS still have lingering togetherness issues, even the $3k+ Mac Pro crowd can't just go out and drop a screaming gamer's(or workstation) card in there until either Apple or Nvidia/ATI get around to blessing one, which generally takes about a generation. Everyone below them can't really make any changes at all.

By comparison, the state of "casual" Wintel graphics is truly dire, consisting of whatever Intel is willing to puke out or(if you are lucky) a bottom of the barrel ATI chipset from a generation or two ago shoved into an AMD chipset; but it is downright trivial to buy your way into serious graphics performance, if you care.

Re:Slow graphics on Macs? (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317186)

Since the vast majority of PCs can not run Crysis out of the box, I am not sure this is a useful metric. On-board video has never been all that good, which if you buy any 'all in one' computer is what you usually get.

True. (0, Troll)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317358)

If mac users want blistering performance, just like a pc user, they have to pay to upgrade their card. The only differance is I can get a cheaper Dell, and slap in a 5870 or whatever, and be on the A game when it comes to frame rates.

In a Mac, you have to first kneel down, give old jobs a kiss, Pull out your now maxed credit card and buy a the same 5870, plug it in, viola.

Or, you can build your PC like almost all gamers do (even custom ordered counts here).
get the best $/Perf ratio possible and smoke a mac like a joint in a college dorm room for about 2/3rds the cost. Think getting Muai wowie, or Blueberry yum yum for the price of mexican dirtweed.

Granted, Macs have their place. Many people are technophobic. Don't want to plug in a motherboard, don't want viruses & malware. Want a true plug & play experience. I'm not too prideful to admit it, they get that w/ MAC, and that kind of experience is worth the price.

Now, Microsoft is finally closing the gap, Windows 7 is a GREAT product from my experience. No bluescreens yet, and I'm on cutting edge hardware & 64bit. Shit just works, keeps working, and is 2x faster than any Mac I've ever heard about. (My machine isn't a fair comparison since I got a lot of parts / software for free)

I am waiting for the iMac II (2, Funny)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317310)

It comes with slots and will be available in platinum!

Vendors (1, Interesting)

WilyCoder (736280) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316666)

This would be a non issue if apple would let the vendors (AMD, nVidia) write their own mac drivers.

I believe the current situation dictates that Apple writes their own drivers.

Re:Vendors (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316744)

No this is not true... AMD and Nvidia write the hardware facing aspects of their respective graphics drivers and work with Apple on various other aspects. Apple writes the common OpenGL core, etc. AMD+Apple teams and Nvidia+Apple teams are really what exist... this is a good thing and close to what MS has with these vendors

Apple does however qualify and release these drivers via their update channels (not that Nvidia and others haven't release updates of their own at various points).

Re:Vendors (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316746)

I am going to be a devil's advocate here, but that might be a good thing:

One of the strongest selling points about Apple is that there there are only two points of contact for most things, perhaps even a single point for everything, as opposed to the endless transfers between hardware, software, OS, application, and driver vendors that one gets on other platforms. Apple being the one that writes the drivers means that the customer doesn't have to figure out whose fault it is (Apple's or nVidia's) if there is a crash, it is just one number to call.

Re:Vendors (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316860)

That's fine, but then no bitching if performance sucks. A high performance graphics layer is required if you want high performance games. The CPU has to be able to get data to the GPU quickly and efficiently with minimal overhead to make good use of said GPU. If the implementation remains poor, then the performance will likewise.

Also realize two additional things:

1) With proper OS architecture, the graphics driver isn't a big problem. Windows 7 runs it all in user mode (you don't have to reboot when you install a driver) so a crash isn't a big deal. The system just restarts the driver. The GPU still can halt the system of course, and piece of hardware can because they have DMA and if they go nuts can corrupt things, but the driver can't protect against that.

2) nVidia in particular but ATi as well are real good at writing drivers. They don't crash much, if ever. They are not going to be our source of instability.

Re:Vendors (3, Informative)

EvanED (569694) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316928)

2) nVidia in particular but ATi as well are real good at writing drivers. They don't crash much, if ever. They are not going to be our source of instability.

Wait, what changed in the last couple years? Last I heard, graphics drivers were a very substantial cause of Windows crashes. This article [engadget.com] says nVidia + ATI together was over 1/3 of reported crashes, and nVidia was responsible for 1.5 times the number of crashes that MS was.

Was that just a temporary situation caused by Vista's release? Or maybe things were different in the XP era when it was easier for a driver to crash a system?

Re:Vendors (1)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316950)

The debacle with Vista was a unique situation. It's not representative of the general trend.

Re:Vendors (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317054)

The debacle with Vista was a unique situation. It's not representative of the general trend.

Uh, no.
The "debacle" with Vista was thus:

Vendors didn't write drivers.
When vendors DID write drivers, they sucked.

Video card drivers are shitttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttty. This is a fucking trend you can count on.

Re:Vendors (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317208)

Eh, I ran into the same problem with XP. The vast majority of my crashes were ATI related.

Re:Vendors (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317052)

Vista had an all-new driver architecture, and (so I'm told) the vendors didn't have enough time between getting driver SDKs and Vista's release to write good stable drivers.

It's been almost four years since then, so drivers have had plenty of time to mature.

Re:Vendors (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317282)

Vista had an all-new driver architecture, and (so I'm told) the vendors didn't have enough time between getting driver SDKs and Vista's release to write good stable drivers.

They had plenty of time, they just didn't make use of it.

Re:Vendors (4, Informative)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317258)

2) nVidia in particular but ATi as well are real good at writing drivers. They don't crash much, if ever. They are not going to be our source of instability.

I seem to recall a report from Microsoft not too long ago - drawn from the automated error reporting in Windows - showing that video card drivers are, by far, the single biggest cause of system instability.

Re:Vendors (1)

coldmist (154493) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317452)

Ya, and that was based on early results from Win7, where *all* video card drivers were beta, and nasty to play with.

Any more, when you update ATI drivers, it just blinks the screen as it restarts the driver, and you go on. No reboot needed. No lockups or issues either.

Re:Vendors (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317434)

Stepping around the mess of who writes drivers, there is another item here, and that is best interests:

Video card makers want to just get drivers good enough to sell the card, hope that not too many people have crashes. Otherwise, drivers have absolutely no ROI and are a cost center to the PHBs. So, it is in the video card maker's best interest to do just enough to get the card working, and then move software development to the next card about to go on the store shelves. Any cash spent writing fixes for already sold products is cash wasted (thus speaketh the MBAs who have passed ITIL/ITSM, but forgot that class in real life.)

Apple wants their machines to work, and work perfectly each time, ever time. Because there are far fewer models of Macs than there are of PCs to be tested, Apple has far less money that needs to be spent on making sure the drivers work right with their OS, and the model of card is chosen from the ground up to be Mac-friendly with support for EFI BIOS.

So, there is a bit of a conflict of interest here. This does explain why Apple chooses to write its own drivers.

Re:Vendors (5, Informative)

Thinine (869482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316750)

Nope, nVidia and AMD both write their own drivers. Apple supplies the OpenGL implementation. This fix was a combination of updated drivers and refinements to Apple's OpenGL to increase performance.

Re:Vendors (2, Funny)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316794)

Apple knows best

Re:Vendors (1)

neophytepwner (992971) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317230)

Well at least by choosing not to drop OpenGL and go to DX10/11.

Re:Vendors (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316796)

I believe the current situation dictates that Apple writes their own drivers.

That's correct. Couple that with the fact that the end-user can't really upgrade their video hardware without throwing away the whole computer (excluding the prohibitively expensive Mac Pro) and I'd say Mac gamers still have a long way to go.

Re:Vendors (3, Insightful)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316878)

Couple that with the fact that the end-user can't really upgrade their video hardware without throwing away the whole computer (excluding the prohibitively expensive Mac Pro)

That's generally true of all laptops. Very few of them allow you to update the video. Most of the time the video chip is soldered on the MB.

Re:Vendors (2, Informative)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316916)

Apple is the only major desktop manufacturer that doesn't have a user-accessible PCIe x16 slot in at least one of their entry and/or mid-range models.

Re:Vendors (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317028)

None of the desktop models are user upgradeable in that aspect. This has been true since the introduction of the models.

Re:Vendors (2, Informative)

Khyber (864651) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317074)

"That's generally true of all laptops."

Not even close. MXM has been in multiple laptop models. It's what's labeled/advertised as 'discrete' graphics.

Re:Vendors (3, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317164)

MXM is a rarity.

I don't know if they write the drivers (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316810)

That would be rather complex, but their certainly control the drivers. They dictate what they do, what can be released, and so on. Net effect is the same.

However it is a larger problem than that, OS-X also doesn't have a very fast 3D layer. Despite what you might think, DirectX is fast and able when it comes to getting things to graphics cards. Also Windows provides a good way to plug in an OpenGL (or any other) API that can get at the hardware fast and low overhead. OS-X is not so good in that regard. Apple has never really had a gaming focus.

Perhaps this is going to change, we'll see. Apple has in the past talked up the games thing and hasn't delivered anything, but maybe they are more serious this time around.

Re:I don't know if they write the drivers (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316832)

What are you talking about? Apple has the best 3D layer of any OS! Or maybe you are holding it wrong?

Re:I don't know if they write the drivers (1)

yeshuawatso (1774190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317380)

"Despite what you might think, DirectX is fast and able when it comes to getting things to graphics cards."

This is a point I sort of agree with if it weren't for some Linux implementations of OpenGL. Regardless, Direct3D still remains the best 3D implementation out there, not because it's inherently "better," but because MS has had over a decade of being the largest benefactor of 3D games for computers. Dominating so much of the market for so long gives you the deep pockets necessary to invest in improving your 3D APIs. OpenGL has gotten a back seat and "throw me a bone" type of treatment. It's not that it's not capable, its just incomplete. Furthermore, DirectX is an entire stack while OpenGL is just one component.

For instance, DirectX has video overlay, 3d, sound, network, and input in one pretty, albeit expensive, package. OpenGL has...well Graphics. You have to plug in modules for everything else. While an OpenGL route allows greater flexibility and portability, DirectX offers conciseness, streamlined api, at the cost of a single, albeit largest, computer platform. I'm not sure why Apple nor the Linux crowd have adopted a streamlined multimedia layer that combines everything into a nice package. Apple has done a lot of this (especially for iOS) but not enough for the PC game making elite to take it seriously, yet. If Apple were to partner with Sony and port their OpenGL ES implementations from the PS3 to OS X, plop in a consistent library for sound and input, then maybe they'll be taken seriously as a gaming platform. Until then, Valve is still alone on this one.

Re:Vendors (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316912)

Last I checked, which admittedly was 3 or 4 years ago, apple had restrictions on what could go into the firmware on NVIDIA and ATI cards's in their machines. it's why you couldn't pull one of those graphics cards out and have it work on a windows box, or, somewhat more seriously, you couldn't replace your mac graphics card with a regular one and have it work properly under OSX (but it would work under windows).

I haven't tried lately however, not being a mac guy. I only knew of any of that (in somewhat more detail) from a former ATI employee I met at a conference who had worked on some of it.

Re:Vendors (4, Informative)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317070)

Um, no. That was due to the difference between Open Firmware on PPC Macs and BIOS on Windows boxes. There has never been any kind of "restriction" as there was even a dual firmware 9600 made by ATI that worked in both G5s and Windows boxes. Then it was due to the difference between EFI and BIOS. Even though Apple implemented BIOS compatibility in EFI not long after the Intel Macs came out, OS X still talked directly to EFI, so a standard PC card still wouldn't work without either flashing the ROM or, as we have now, software hacks to get OS X to recognize it.

Re:Vendors (2, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317194)

Just for reference, the EFI thing is only true of the primary card now. You can happily stick a PC graphics card in the second PCI-e slot, and OS X will detect and use it fine.

Hopefully as intel pushes to move all PCs over to EFI, the problem will disappear as more cards become EFI based or dual firmware, but that'll take a while.

Re:Vendors (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317402)

Eh, not 100%. Some cards work as a secondary and some don't. You can use a PC card as a primary with a software hack, but again, it depends on the card.

And Netkas is God.

Re:Vendors (4, Interesting)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317034)

Donno if its true, but it would seem like it ... and its a great trade off. Apple's nVidia drivers are about 3 billion times more reliable than anything nVidia itself has ever produced.

I'm happy with my 'slow' graphic drivers as I've never noticed them being slow. Until Steam learns how to deal with case sensitive file systems I doubt Steam will ever be a problem for me.

I play all sorts of stuff on my Mac and can't tell the difference between it and the Windows versions. I can say that the graphics update did seem to make my Mac run cooler while playing EVE Online but it doesn't seem to be any 'faster'.

I can play EVE in Win7 with the latest WHLQ drivers and get random crashes. I can play EVE under OSX and it works flawlessly ... considering its using Cedaga to run under OSX I'm fairly confident that I'm happier in OSX than I am in Windows thanks to Apple.

I don't know who, nor do I really care who makes my video card drivers, I do know that in MY experience, games in OSX are more reliable than they are in Windows.

Finally time to get a Mac? (1)

PmanAce (1679902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316682)

Last game I played on a Mac was a long time ago lol, the original Castlevania.

Re:Finally time to get a Mac? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317184)

Castlevania was never on any Apple platform. You may be thinking of Castlevania on the Amiga. Or you may be thinking of Dark Castle on the Macintosh.

Call me crazy. (5, Funny)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316688)

But I think this is clearly AT&T's fault.

Re:Call me crazy. (1)

yoZan (1880862) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317450)

Well, the situation isn't THAT bad.

I own a Macbook Pro, but I'm not a "Mac Person"... (1)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316712)

I own a Macbook Pro, but I'm not a "Mac person"; I have to say that I was quite happy when they released Steam for it, and am even happier that Apple's found a way to improve the video performance... not that it was bad, but better is well, better.

How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316722)

How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower?

apple is trying to push games but the hardware is not there.

a $800 mini system with no board video is not a gameing system.

A $2500 system with a ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB GDDR5 is way to much cost can get systems with dual high end cards at that price and with 4-6gb of ram as well.

a $1200 system with a ATI Radeon HD 4670 with 256MB is weak and a 21" screen does not help.

$1,500.00 with ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB

at lest that better then $1700 for a 27" screen with the same video card.

$2000 for a system with ATI Radeon HD 5750 with 1GB and 27" screen? the 5750 not a top end card and having to drive a 27" screen is not good for gameing.

Re:How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower (1)

cream wobbly (1102689) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316906)

Good analysis.

Apple should respond to Steam's involvement by releasing more appropriate hardware specifically for gaming.

Re:How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317284)

*nods* yeah, I suspect Apple could benefit from better mid-range offerings. Though given how many manufacturers already crowd into that space, it could be argued that they simply do not fit in well there. Apple will never be Dell, and if they tried they would probably loose their shirts.

Re:How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower (1)

richdun (672214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316990)

You're not going to see a mid-range tower out of Apple any time soon (or ever). Their focus is in the mobile / "lifestyle" space now, with a fleeting lip-service to HPC. That's why the new Mini has an HDMI port (might as well call it what it is - Apple TV Pro), why the displays are going to laptop-companion status, and why the Mac Pro is getting ridiculous numbers of cores at each update.

Re:How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317058)

the screens Apple uses are IPS LED backlit panels that are better and more expensive than what dell uses. they aren't the same monitors. Dell had a 27" IPS monitor that was supposed to be made by the same company that supplies Apple and it was something like $800 which after you add up all the other components in a 27" iMac a Dell computer would cost more.

with apple you pay for crappy graphics and a nice monitor
with Wintel you can buy nice graphics but the monitor won't be as good

and OS X sucks for gaming compared to Windows 7

Re:How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317212)

with Wintel you can buy nice graphics but the monitor won't be as good

Or... you can get a good monitor. And not have to throw it away when you upgrade.

Re:How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower (2, Informative)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317248)

The screens Apple uses are IPS LED backlit panels that are better and more expensive than what dell uses.

No they're not, the U2711 is the exact same monitor as is in the iMac... However, that makes the 27" iMac not too badly priced, given that Dell sells that monitor for $1099, and the iMac is $1699... Hell, you can even get a refurb for $1269... so that's $170 for a damn fast Core2Duo system.

Re:How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower (3, Insightful)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317130)

$700 Mini, and Apple is hardly pitching it as a gaming system beyond casuals.

In case you didn't notice, the Mac Pro is NOT a friggin' commodity box. It's a Xeon-based workstation. It's not supposed to be a gaming machine. It's supposed to be a production machine.

And honestly, I don't think Apple will ever seriously care about gamers. They're happy to pick up fence-sitters who would come over with more gaming possibilities, but the hardcore gamers are a small market and one with which there is almost no crossover with Apple's current market. Casual gamers won't care a great deal if they can't max out all of the details. Apple will make some improvements to help pick up that crowd, but serious gamers wouldn't consider a Mac in the first place and Apple knows it.

I would love to see an Apple midtower, but I don't see it happening.

Re:How about more hardware choice? and a mid tower (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317322)

Not only are they a small market, they are market with a vicious hostility towards macs... getting converts from that group is unlikely to be economically viable.

That being said, they do service the 'less then hardcore but more then casual' market pretty well. I have been playing StarCraft2 on my 6 year old MacBook Pro pretty comfortably.

This won't be overcome (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316728)

Until there is the following:

More high-end hardware choices (specifically video cards) for Macs

and

Mac Drivers written in a way that enable better gaming performance.

One or the other will improve things...but the problem won't truly be fixed until both happen.

apple needs a midtower and better hardware choine (-1, Redundant)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316788)

apple needs a midtower and better hardware choice

mini at $700 with on board video and only a laptop core 2?

ATI Radeon HD 5750 with 1GB in a $2000 system driving a 27" screen?

the mac pro is over priced $2500 for ATI Radeon HD 5770 with 1GB? you can get a system with dual high end video cards and 4gb-6gb system ram.

The other imacs are not much better $1200 for a ATI Radeon HD 4670 with 256MB on a system with a 21" screen?

for $1500 you can get one with a ATI Radeon HD 5670 with 512MB.

Don't pay $1700 for the same card with a bigger screen 27".

Re:apple needs a midtower and better hardware choi (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316996)

to be fair the Mac Pro has Xeons and not consumer level CPU's. It's priced in line with other workstations from Dell/HP.

it's the imac's. Apple wants you to pay for an expensive LCD screen and gimped the graphics. my theory is that it's psychology. when i did help desk all the lusers thought the computer was their monitor. so apple did just that except they sell you a very expensive monitor that looks nice so you feel good about spending $1500 on a computer when most people think $500 is too much

Re:apple needs a midtower and better hardware choi (0)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317116)

Apple wants you to pay for an expensive LCD screen and gimped the graphics.

I have never, ever, ever heard the word "gimped" until quite recently it apparently become fashionable to use the word in connection with Apple products. Why has nobody ever complained that Microsoft gimped the computing experience for whole generations of customers, producing one gimped operating system after the other, the laughable gimped brown Zune that nobody wanted, the XBox with its gimped power cables, shall I continue?

Re:apple needs a midtower and better hardware choi (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317238)

Because, at this point, it just goes without saying

Re:apple needs a midtower and better hardware choi (1)

DarkXale (1771414) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317378)

Wait, you've never heard the word gimped?

Re:apple needs a midtower and better hardware choi (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317448)

Why has nobody ever complained that Microsoft gimped the computing experience for whole generations of customers

In addition to various iterations of Linux, I've been using Microsoft operating systems for years...no complaints here (besides the obvious Windows ME, etc)

producing one gimped operating system after the other

Gimped operating systems that 1. Are the most widely used in the world, 2. Dominate the corporate environment, and 3. have the most software available.

the laughable gimped brown Zune that nobody wanted

The Zune is actually a decent MP3 player. I'm a Creative Zen guy myself, but a Zune would still get the job done quite well. Much like iPhone haters, the majority of Zune haters are people that have likely never used one.

the XBox with its gimped power cables

???? Wait...so, RRoD, no standard hard drive, original version having a loud as hell disc drive...yet you complain about "gimped power cables"? Seriously?

Valve... (5, Insightful)

epiphani (254981) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316734)

Valve, if you're listening...

Please, please, please do steam and your games on linux. You've already made them POSIX and OpenGL, you're 85% of the way there.

I will buy every damn game you release on linux. I never want to run windows again, and if I can get portal and TF2 on linux, I won't.

Re:Valve... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33316822)

But making games is hard...

Re:Valve... (1)

lrdplatypus (1204720) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316926)

If steam ran on linux I'd lose my main justification for running windows. I do like Windows 7, but if I hadn't been able to pick it up at a highly discounted student price it wouldn't have been worth the money. Come to think of it, I've never paid full price for any version of windows.

Re:Valve... (5, Insightful)

not already in use (972294) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316940)

You've already made them POSIX and OpenGL, you're 85% of the way there.

More like 10%.

This is the problem with Linux: What company in their right mind would port to the platform that is both hardest to develop for and has the smallest user base? xorg, driver issues, distro inconsistencies all make porting games to linux an absolute nightmare. A lot of fundamental changes need to be made to desktop linux before it will really be taken seriously by anyone but Id. John Carmack even came out and said that Rage wouldn't be commercially supported on Linux, and that they'd provide an executable and let people fend for themselves as far as actually getting it to run.

Re:Valve... (1)

epiphani (254981) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317142)

That's solved fairly easily: supported distros. Even roll your own distro - the valve gaming distro. Every other piece of software on linux has supported distros, or at least dependency requirements that have to be met. That's why the package management tools exist.

Hell Valve - hire me. I'll do it for you.

Re:Valve... (5, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317268)

Yes, adding another distro is a great idea ... if you want to run games from Value you have to use their distro. If you want to run EA games you have to use their distro.

Contrary to the common but ignorant belief that more Linux distro's is a good thing, they aren't. Linux's main problem to commercial adaptation is the number of distros and the problems dealing with inconsistancies between them (did you even read the post you're responding too?) ... adding more distros doesn't help the problem when the problem is already 'too many distros'.

And for what? A few thousand sales at the very most? When instead they can dedicate that same person to Windows and get 100,000 sales from their work?

Don't expect Value to start asking for your resume, you've already show you have absolutely no idea why they haven't done it already.

DLL Hell on Linux is actually far worse than DLL hell on Windows, package management tools or not, its not a problem they can solve, again, contrary to popular belief. If you think package management tools can solve the problem then you clearly don't understand the problem.

Re:Valve... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317150)

Then Valve should jump in with a major distro and only guarantee support for that one. Any distro would be insane to turn them away. I imagine Ubuntu would be a good fit.

Re:Valve... (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317220)

This is the problem with Linux: What company in their right mind would port to the platform that is both hardest to develop for and has the smallest user base?

I'm not sure, but Sony has managed to convince companies to do it in the console market.

Then again, Sony was first during the previous generation...

Re:Valve... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317270)

You've already made them POSIX and OpenGL, you're 85% of the way there.

More like 10%.

This is the problem with Linux: What company in their right mind would port to the platform that is both hardest to develop for and has the smallest user base? xorg, driver issues, distro inconsistencies all make porting games to linux an absolute nightmare. A lot of fundamental changes need to be made to desktop linux before it will really be taken seriously by anyone but Id. John Carmack even came out and said that Rage wouldn't be commercially supported on Linux, and that they'd provide an executable and let people fend for themselves as far as actually getting it to run.

Explain to me how micro-companies and nerds in their basements can write shit like Nexuiz, Penumbra, Tremulous, Urban Terror, Warsow, Flightgear, TORCS, Sauerbraten, etc. while the big guys can't seem to pull it off? Your argument and theirs is pure bunk. The only thing the big names do better is textures and single player campaigns neither of which have a damn thing to do with xorg, driver issues or distro inconsistencies.

Re:Valve... (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317360)

This is where they should just say "we officially support Ubuntu at this time, and you're free to try it out on other distros."

Well a couple of things (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316960)

1) Are they POSIX? I think it is more likely they are Cocoa since that is how Apple prefers apps to be.

2) Can enough copies of Linux handle the GL calls needed? iD has talked about this that more or less only the nVidia closed drivers provide a full, complete, "just like on Windows" OpenGL implementation that modern games need, and it seems OSS types hate those. So if they ported their games, would they work properly, or would they require a bunch of modification to work?

3) Would Linux people buy them? The Linux crowd is notoriously of the opinion that software should be free both as in open code but also as in not having to pay. Are there enough paying customers to justify the man hours needed to port and support it?

Re:Well a couple of things (1)

xMilkmanDanx (866344) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317228)

1) Are they POSIX? I think it is more likely they are Cocoa since that is how Apple prefers apps to be.

just getting away from direct x and compiling on a different platform is a big step.

2) Can enough copies of Linux handle the GL calls needed? iD has talked about this that more or less only the nVidia closed drivers provide a full, complete, "just like on Windows" OpenGL implementation that modern games need, and it seems OSS types hate those. So if they ported their games, would they work properly, or would they require a bunch of modification to work?

most people who game are by needs pragmatists and not OSS purists. all (almost all?) games on steam are closed source.

3) Would Linux people buy them? The Linux crowd is notoriously of the opinion that software should be free both as in open code but also as in not having to pay. Are there enough paying customers to justify the man hours needed to port and support it?

as to whether there's a market, that's harder to say. would be that there's a fair number of windows installs (several million) that would not be booted into if linux handled gamers needs.

Re:Well a couple of things (1)

losinggeneration (797436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317408)

1) The games themselves will more or less not care about Cocoa because they'll use the least that they can to get an OpenGL window open and usable.

2) Non-issue, if it's closed source and the person who buys it complains about the driver being closed but the game not, there are bigger issues that person needs to work on. The 100% FOSS users obviously aren't going to want either. So again, they're not going to complain that a closed source game needs a closed source driver to work. As for the closed drivers themselves, AMD/ATI are descent (if you have hardware that they support) & nVIdia's Linux drivers are quite good. The OpenGL renderer for the games will likely need little to no changes to run on these drivers.

3) Short answer: yes http://www.wolfire.com/humble [wolfire.com] http://2dboy.com/2009/10/26/pay-what-you-want-birthday-sale-wrap-up/ [2dboy.com] Long answer: more than likely. The most common complaint I've heard over the years from Linux users is the lack of commercial/popular games that are only available on Windows (or Windows and OS X)

TF2 runs under WINE (1)

b00m3rang (682108) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317030)

I can get about 30 FPS, too.

Re:TF2 runs under WINE (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317388)

That is pretty bad. A native client would run full speed. Sometimes Wine just doesn't cut it.

Re:Valve... (1)

funtapaz (1406785) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317048)

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2010-08-12-valve-on-steam-part-two-interview [gamesindustry.biz] In the second half of that article (sorry, couldn't find it anywhere login isn't required) Doug Lombardi denies a Linux client is being developed.

"Q: Final question, and one I'm sure you're not super-keen to answer, but I promised one of our tech guys I'd ask it. What truth is there to rumours that you're also working on a Linux version of Steam?
Doug Lombardi: There's no Linux version that we're working on right now. ... "

Just thought it might be relevant.

Re:Valve... (0, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317096)

Heh, the first problem is they'll have to make it deal with case insensitive file systems, which it doesn't or I wouldn't have to make 6 different symlinks and use disk images with case insensitive file systems just to trick its stupid ass into working.

What you'll get is a steam for linux ... that tells you that you have to install on a FAT filesystem or something retarded like that because they some how magically fuck up their software so it breaks on case-insensitive filesystems. How they manage to do so is beyond me since I write code that runs on both Windows and OSX for a living and it requires no actual effort to support both. The only way I have issues is if I do something stupid like changing the case of paths as I find them or not using defines so I have MyAppDir in one plays and myappdir in another place.

Basically, Valve writes code so poorly I wouldn't expect a USABLE Linux version anytime this decade.

Re:Valve... (2, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317100)

I used to play Portal under WINE. I don't know if that's a good enough solution for you.

Re:Valve... (1)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317374)

Last I tried TF2 ran great under wine. Only problems were slight graphical glitches in some spots (I think ubercharged players were showing up wrong) and no DX9 support, only DX8. Other than that it ran surprisingly well, only slightly slower than on XP with the same system.

Re:Valve... (1)

Beelzebud (1361137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317334)

If I could play the Valve games, and if WoW supported a hardware cursor in Open GL, I'd ditch Windows 7 in a heartbeat. At this point those are the only things keeping on Windows.

Re:Valve... (1)

jythie (914043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317372)

I imagine they are looking into it, but supporting Linux is a huge headache and I imagine they decided against it due to the complexities of not only supporting so many distributions but making things work with a rapidly changing kernel. Binary only releases for Linux have always been difficult for vendors to support.

Spare a talent for an OSX Leopard? (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316764)

BRIAN: Did you say -- OSX Leopard?
OSX LEOPARD: That's right, sir. (he salutes) ... sixteen years behind the bell, and proud of it, thank you sir.
BRIAN: What happened?
OSX LEOPARD: I was cured, sir.
BRIAN: Cured?
OSX LEOPARD: Yes sir, a bloody miracle, sir. Bless you.
BRIAN: Who cured you?
OSX LEOPARD: Jobs did. I was hopping along, when suddenly he comes and cures me. One minute I'm a Leopard with no games, next moment me productivity's gone. Not so much as a by your leave.

Re:Spare a talent for an OSX Leopard? (1)

Shadis (934448) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317032)

Thank you sir..I wish I had some mod points today as I would have modded you funny for the good laugh I got at this...

Re:Spare a talent for an OSX Leopard? (2, Funny)

tom17 (659054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317328)

Well, why don't you go and tell him you want games?

Re:Spare a talent for an OSX Leopard? (3, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317410)

OSX LEOPARD: Ah yeah, I could do that, sir yes, I suppose I could. What I was going to do was ask him if he could ... you know, just give me minesweeper during the week, you know, something playable, but not Steam, which is a pain in the arse to be quite blunt, sir, excuse my French but ...

Mobile chips (0, Flamebait)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316894)

All Macs except the Mac Pro use laptop components for the CPU, chipset and 3D chip.

I'm guessing those who are comparing performance are running big box PCs with big noisy fans, PCIx 3D cards (maybe two linked together).

Re:Mobile chips (5, Insightful)

Dog-Cow (21281) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316984)

I'm guessing you're a complete and utter moron. And my guess is correct.

Those complaining are complaining about the games performing better ON THE SAME Mac running Windows.

Re:Mobile chips (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317132)

Mod parent up, mod GP down. On the same system, performance in MacOS was generally 40-75% of that found in Windows. Note the excellent anandtech comparison, for instance. Hopefully this update puts a significant dent in that gap.

Re:Mobile chips (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317198)

Your mother likes horsecock.

Re:Mobile chips (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317026)

not true anymore. if you look at Intel's CPU chart all iMacs are running desktop versions of the CPU. they even have desktop hard drives

Re:Mobile chips (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317076)

I'm guessing those who are comparing performance are running the games.

FTFY

Re:Mobile chips (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317176)

Wrong. The current iMacs use desktop CPUs and a desktop chipset. The 3D chip is on an MXM card, though. The 5750 in the iMac is actually a mobility 5850, which itself is largely just a tweaked 5750 in the first place.

Re:Mobile chips (1)

idontusenumbers (1367883) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317254)

PCIx, not to be confused with PCI-X or PCI Express (PCIe or PCI-E).

Re:Mobile chips (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317290)

if the price is equal, the comparishttp://games.slashdot.org/story/10/08/20/177250/Steam-Prompts-OS-X-Graphics-Update#on is valid. how "thin" your desktop computer is doesnt count as a valid metric.

this is why Mac market share is around 10% (-1, Offtopic)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#33316944)

the computers are expensive even though if you compare prices to Dell/HP they are fairly competitive, but it's little things like this that keep me from really buying a Mac

games performance is a lot worse than Windows. for years all the isuckers said how OS X is better and faster than bloated Windows and now they are complaining

the graphics cards are weak and less video memory. it's like Steve Jobs has a fetish against killer graphics. i can get a cheapo PC with 1GB of graphics RAM. for an iMac i have to spend $1899 for the 27" model with yellow tint and a graphics upgrade

and Flash still sucks on Mac's even though it runs just fine with hardware acceleration on a $299 toshiba laptop i bought as a gift

Re:this is why Mac market share is around 10% (2, Insightful)

Moridineas (213502) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317128)

You know, FWIW, the vast majority of computer users don't need to upgrade their video card, and don't upgrade their video card. I play a decent number of games on my media system PC and so far everything I have runs just fine on my Geforce 8800gt that must be about 3 years old by now. The reality--the people that REALLY care about the tiniest framerate differences, the hardcore gamers, etc--would never buy a mac in the first place. Back in highschool it was really fun to whip out the framerates and optimize for tiny differences, but, IMHO, with today's hardware it just doesn't matter to me or most people anymore. So, for most other people, it's fine. Yeah, mac hardware is more expensive, but I don't think I've ever seen anybody deny that. It also tends to have very good support from Apple and lasts well in my experience. I don't begrudge you your choices, why do you care so much what choices other people make?

What does Flash performance have to do with Apple? I also think your assertion is wrong. Flash does suck, but what else is new. It's supremely ironic to me how many geeks have come out as roaring advocates for Flash since the Adobe/Apple battle started, when before that most self-respecting techies (rightfully!) loathed Flash.

Re:this is why Mac market share is around 10% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33317154)

Here's some food for thought: Macs were never originally intended for gaming. I was a PC guy for years (about 12 to be exact) and I can honestly say that switching to Mac was the best choice I've ever made (regardless of how much I still love PCs). Why? Because everything simply works without having to persuade it to do so; speaking in terms of both hardware and software. I blame the thousands of different hardware manufacturers who are making it nearly impossible for Microsoft to avoid the many obvious issues they've had with their operating systems over the years. I see a lot of Mac bashing on Slashdot, and honestly most of it is unsolicited garbage brought about by sheer ignorance. And another thing that's slightly off topic, if I hear one more person bash Mac "security" I'm going to explode. Go make a Mac virus already or shut up. If you're going to bash Mac security, you may as well include almost every Linux distribution in your "bash".

Re:this is why Mac market share is around 10% (1)

DurendalMac (736637) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317224)

for years all the isuckers said how OS X is better and faster than bloated Windows and now they are complaining

Yes, because games are the only way to measure the performance of an operating system.

and Flash still sucks on Mac's even though it runs just fine with hardware acceleration on a $299 toshiba laptop i bought as a gift

Except that 10.1 was a huge improvement and many Macs now support hardware accelerated Flash.

Also, if you think that gamers account for 90% of the market then you're an even bigger fucking idiot than the rest of your post would suggest. Here's a hint, kiddo: Serious gamers are a small percentage of the overall consumer market. Casual gamers are a much larger component, and casuals don't usually put gaming as their first priority, nor do they care if they have the latest and greatest video hardware.

Worked for me! (Now with technical details.) (4, Informative)

aberkvam (109205) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317110)

It's linked to from TFA but Valve's technical article Game Performance Improvements in Latest Mac OS X Update [steampowered.com] gives a lot of insight into the OS X driver situation.

Personally, I have a MacBook Pro with a NVIDIA 9600 chip. I was kind of disappointed when I got StarCraft II. I had to run on one of the lowest resolutions with medium defaults. Increasing any setting made the game close to unplayable when complex graphics were being displayed (such as the lava level). Then I updated the graphics drivers. I was able to bump to the highest supported resolution and bumped the graphic settings to high defaults without noticeable slowdowns. I had to go to the ultra defaults before I started getting slowdowns and warnings.

I haven't had a chance to really sit down with it and play for an extended time (damn real life...) but there certainly is a huge improvement. The urge to upgrade is fading...

Is it really that big of a deal? (1)

scosco62 (864264) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317210)

Is this as tightly coupled as this article states; or is this coincidential? I mean, I guess I get the push to Mac update - but c'mon, firmware patches fundamentally signifying a shift in cultural priorities....seems a bit weak tea, to me, at least. I agree with the Steam update being important; it's the subtext that ain't resonating with me...

Re:Is it really that big of a deal? (0, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#33317352)

Apple did fix some serious flaws in handling hardware lighting occlusion. These were difficult to track down and resolve and will effect a lot more than just Steam and StarCraft II, but Value was the one pushing to get them fixed as it did effect Steam so much.

Unfortunately, Apple didn't push back on Valve and make them fix their retarded fucking software so it can deal with case-insensitive file systems like any normal piece of software can. As a result, I still won't be buying any Steam games since I still can't run it without 6 symlinks, and a drive image mounted and formated with a case insenstive file system.

The upside is, the update did make my machine run noticeable cooler when playing EVE online. So thank you very much Valve and Apple, but Valve, your still welcome to go fuck yourselves until you learn how to write code like professionals.

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