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Apple Businesses Entertainment Games

Spore, Call of Duty 4 Confirmed for OSX 125

Posted by Zonk
from the we'll-make-gamers-out-of-you-yet dept.
1up is reporting that, along with the big announcements from yesterday's MacWorld event, the welcome news trickles down that OSX will be getting some more games. The much-delayed Spore has been confirmed for the platform, as has the hit FPS title Call of Duty 4. "In Spore's case, the magic of cross-platform portability is achieved through the use of a special software layer supplied by Toronto-based TransGaming Technologies. This software is capable of interpreting hardware calls to Windows DirectX into Mac-capable instructions. Through use of this technology, Electronic Arts (and others) seem hopeful about bringing even more games to mac in the coming months."
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Spore, Call of Duty 4 Confirmed for OSX

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  • So, if transgaming is making this possible, will linux ports be far away?
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by doti (966971)
      Yes, they will.

      Apple only allowed Transgaming to create the Mac port on the condition that there will be no Linux port.
    • by calebt3 (1098475)
      With OS X's Unix status, Linux ports are certainly feasible.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jandrese (485)
        Possibly, but I doubt the Mac port is using X11 for the display, so a port to Linux probably wouldn't be as easy as you think.
        • by eMartin (210973)
          Eve Online was ported this way and allowed for both Mac and Linux clients.

          See: http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/14269 [tentonhammer.com]
        • by LDoggg_ (659725)
          Wouldn't the OSX port be using openGL?

          I think changing renderers, input, sound, and network play away from directX would be the big chunk of work.
          I'd bet doing an OSX port would a huge step towards making a Linux port.
          • by LDoggg_ (659725)
            Nevermind, its just another hackjob contract by transgaming.

            Spore and COD4 would have done much better by paying icculus instead for real ports.
        • X11 has almost nothing to do with managing the display for video games in Linux, just like Windows API has almost nothing to do with managing the display for video games in Windows. Aside from an extremely limited amount of basic window setup code (we're talking an amount of code on the order of hundreds of lines--almost nothing in projects of this scale), all video functions are handled by DirectX or OpenGL. Not to mention the fact that there are plenty of open libraries (SDL for example) that remove the
          • by jandrese (485)
            That may be true, but what are the chances they're going to use SDL instead of a Quartz Extreme based solution. AFAIK there is no Quartz Extreme renderer for Linux yet.
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Apparently CoD4 [blogspot.com] works pretty well already. I tried searching for spore and wine, but I just got a bunch of hits about yeast.
  • Hm (Score:4, Funny)

    by legoman666 (1098377) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:43PM (#22070454)
    Maybe they'll port Spore and Duke Nukem Forever to the Phantom while they're at it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheSeer2 (949925)
      Why do people keep thinking Spore is 'vaporware'? That has absolutely no basis in reality! Oh noes! Spore has never had a release date! IT MUST BE VAPORWARE!
      • by mgblst (80109)
        It is because there has been so much hype, and even a demo that looked quite complete, and then silence for quite a while. Add to that the lofty ambition of the creator of the game, and you get something that looks a little like vaporware. (I am not saying that it is.)
  • by brkello (642429) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:43PM (#22070466)
    I was wondering why Spore was so delayed. I can now blame it on Mac porting. Now all they need is a smug commercial with the Mac guy showing off his abilities to delay games on Windows! (I am just joking, don't hurt me)
    • by PrescriptionWarning (932687) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:50PM (#22070558)
      Mac users don't play games, they play Photoshop [youtube.com].
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by truthsearch (249536)
      I was wondering why Spore was so delayed. I can now blame it on Mac porting.

      I can understand not reading the article. But how about reading the summary? "In Spore's case, the magic of cross-platform portability is achieved through the use of a special software layer supplied by Toronto-based TransGaming Technologies." Spore wasn't coded at all for the Mac, so porting can hardly be blamed for the delay. They could have released it on Windows first and Mac later, like most games.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by C0rinthian (770164)
      The Mac 'version' (and I use the term loosely) of Spore is going to be like the Mac 'version' of Eve online. Crap.

      I really don't like what Transgaming has done to hurt non-Windows gaming. Why would a developer make platform independant games when they can keep coding for Windows and use Transgaming to churn out buggy, half-assed ports? Thats all we have to look forward to now, with the rare exception of a Blizzard title.
      • by idontgno (624372)

        ...buggy, half-assed ports? Thats all we have to look forward to now, with the rare exception of a Blizzard title.

        Which, as any WoW player can attest, are buggy and half-assed without benefit of being ports. Regardless of platform.

        I kid, I kid... just another crackhead complaining about the poor quality control of our addictive psychoactive of choice.

  • Or... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Or they could, you know, use some cross-platform APIs like OpenGL and SDL and stop mucking around with half-assed solutions like Transgaming's.

    Is that so hard?
    • by FunkyELF (609131)
      I completely agree.
      However, OSX users will only be a small portion of their audience, so if they can get something working with minimal effort I see their reasoning.
      But, with that reasoning that is all OSX users will ever be (a small portion of their audience).
      • by p0tat03 (985078)
        I don't see anything wrong with Transgaming's approach for existing codebases - why rewrite everything just to get it onto a new platform? IMHO though, it is a bad idea to rely on it as a crutch for future development. Developers need to start looking at cross-platform engines that support OSX natively for new projects, instead of charging ahead with Windows-only engines, relying on Transgaming, Cedega, etc, as a silver bullet.
        • by LDoggg_ (659725)
          Spore's codebase is still in progress.
          Spending money to use wine instead of doing a real port is stupid

  • by FunkyELF (609131)
    This software is capable of interpreting hardware calls to Windows DirectX into Mac-capable instructions.

    So is this like using Wine to run Windows Games on Linux?

    Wake me up when a game company actually compiles something for a non windows platform besides a dedicated server.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by slcdb (317433)

      So is this like using Wine to run Windows Games on Linux?
      Yes, that's exactly what it is. The emulation layer is called Cider which is literally a fork from Wine (apparently from the days before Wine was GPL'd).

      TransGaming has another emulation layer called Cedega which is for emulating Windows Games on Linux.
    • by Kalriath (849904)
      Game companies compile things other than dedicated servers all the time (or at the very least, farm out the modifications to another company) like iD does all the time, with their quintessential Linux ports, which because they use GL, are probably just recompiles.
  • by slcdb (317433) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:48PM (#22070538) Homepage
    This "technology" provided by TransGaming is called "Cider". It's already been used to "port" some games to OS X. One such EA Game that I've already purchased was Battlefield 2142. And let me tell you, Cider leaves much to be desired. The poor performance imparted by this emulation layer causes it to play like it's on an old Pentium III machine, despite the fact that it's running on a quad-core Mac Pro. To top it off, the graphics quality, even when turned up all the way, is far lower than it should be. It seems as if the Cider emulation layer can't translate all of the DirectX APIs, so it only does some of the more basic ones, leaving advanced graphics effects out.

    This is not what I would like to see as the future of gaming on OS X. I want to see *real* ports of games, not some bullshit emulation layer that makes the game think it is running on Windblows.
    • by Pope (17780)
      What's funny is that there is some free downloadable Mac gaming program that uses Cider, and by opening up the .app package and adjusting a .plist or two, you can install other Windows games into the package and run them. I got an old Windows install of Deus Ex running fairly well, save games and all. Only problem is that it tends to hang when quitting, but that may have been an errant line in the .plist somewhere :) Oh, well, not like I have time to play with it these days anyway.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kimos (859729)

      Cider leaves much to be desired. The poor performance imparted by this emulation layer causes it to play like it's on an old Pentium III machine, despite the fact that it's running on a quad-core Mac Pro. To top it off, the graphics quality, even when turned up all the way, is far lower than it should be. It seems as if the Cider emulation layer can't translate all of the DirectX APIs, so it only does some of the more basic ones, leaving advanced graphics effects out.

      Does anyone have some links/literature to substantiate this? I was scared this would be the case. I know that Wine Is Not supposed to be a Windows Emulator, but in my experience the performance is still awful. Even something like Picasa [google.com] running under Wine on Linux brings my system crawling to a halt.

      All these OS X "ports" are really just bundling the cost of a streamlined Windows emulation layer in with your Windows version of the game. It, in fact, discourages developers from learning the OS X toolkits

      • Sadly, it sounds reasonable on every level.

        Cider: Because handwaving away complaints of crappy performance through emulation is easier than forcing your developers to learn Objective-C and Core Framework API calls.

        • Cider: because you're already way over budget and schedule on this game, and don't have time to rewrite half the damn thing in another language for a totally different API.
      • by aliquis (678370)
        They don't bother with it anyway because:
        1) Apple doesn't listed to what they want.
        2) Apple spec their machines like.. uhm.. shit, with lots of integrated graphics, mid-end graphics and with low VRAM (I have the latest gen MBP with only 128MB vram due to this, which is so fucking retarded I don't even know where to start, especially considering how much use core image could use of it.)
        3) Mac fanatics only complain how omg you should play on consoles, noone buy mac for games, yada yada.
        4) You can dual-boot w
    • I was hoping this wouldn't be the case. I wonder if I could just pirate a copy of the Windows version and use the CD key form the mac port of Call of Duty 4. I was about to buy COD4 for my MacBook Pro but if theres a Mac port around the corner I might wait. I don't want to be stuck with horrible performance though when I can always boot into Windows using bootcamp.
      • by aliquis (678370)
        Since the game probably ARE the Windows version with Cider added I would guess the same keys work. Or you could in theory "port" it yourself from a Windows version with Cider, thought you wanted to do it the other way around.
    • by MBCook (132727)

      Ditto. I saw this the other day and thought I saw a note that said this was not using Cider. If that was the case I'm ready to buy the game instantly. It looks fun, and I like quite a few of the games that Wright has done.

      Cider just about kills it for me. I'm not surprised. This is why they licensed that technology. But I don't expect it to work. For as long as all this has taken they could have easily made a OpenGL renderer. I expect performance to be terrible.

      I guess I'll just play it through BootCamp.

    • by jdgreen7 (524066) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @06:38PM (#22072622) Homepage

      As an employee of TransGaming, I take offense to that generalization. I've spent the better part of a year reporting and working around platform limitations for the various drivers that we have to work with. Many of the stability issues that we've had reported to us are present on the PC version of the games as well, and others are due to crashes inside the drivers over which we have no control. The biggest issue, however, is the speed at which OpenGL evolves as compared to DirectX.

      With DirectX, Microsoft can go to ATI and NVIDIA and say, "Hey, what do you guys want to do, and we'll make a spec for it." With OpenGL, it's designed by committee which usually leads to a much more well thought out specification, but it takes quite a bit longer to get equivalent hardware features exposed to developers. Plus, individual vendors can pick and choose what they want to support. Since OpenGL is less used by developers, its driver teams are smaller, and there are typically more driver bugs to work out than on Windows.

      So, game X comes along and decides that it's going to use this newish method to render shadows. It picks a texture format that is well supported by most hardware on DirectX, then bases much of the engine on that assumption. As an example, many games use 32-bit floating point single channel render targets (D3DFMT_R32F). This is not new anymore for DirectX, and most hardware can handle it just fine. However, that same hardware under OpenGL cannot do so (with the exception of drivers that support the GL_FLOAT_R32_NV format, which is only certain NVIDIA cards, and not at all on Mac OS). So, in order to port the game, if we want to use the same concept of rendering to 32-bit float buffers, we end up having to use GL_RGB32F_ARB and ignoring the 2 extra channels. This now triples the amount of video card RAM that we need to use in order to pull off the exact same technique. If OpenGL simply exposed this functionality from the get-go, we wouldn't be forced to take over so much more RAM. This extra VRAM usage starts adding up, and eventually, we've blown past what the card can handle, and we have to start trimming graphics features from the game in order to get it to run at all.

      That was just a single example, but there are many cases like this in the world of OpenGL. Things are starting to converge, but until it becomes the leading graphics interface, there will always be discrepancies like this. Game developers want to use the latest and greatest technologies to write new and pretty games. In order to do this currently, they are forced to use DirectX to get the most benefits from the hardware they want to target.

      So, the alternative, as you mentioned, is for game developers to write their own rendering engine based on OpenGL. This is all fine and dandy, but you are quite often left writing multiple different paths for accomplishing the exact same thing. While this is true of DirectX to some extent, the disparity is much greater on OpenGL. One vendor will implement support for a whole range of features, while another will only implement the basics. But that same vendor will have the whole featureset working just fine in their DirectX drivers. Not to mention the great libraries that Microsoft throws in with DirectX to handle everything a game might want (think, texture loading from just about any format, all the math functions you could ever think of, scriptable Effects architecture, Mesh routines, audio, video playing, input, etc.). DirectX (and XNA by extension) has a very large array of features that game developers make wide use of.

      So, while in a perfect world, all games could be written using a standard library of features that are cross-platform from the beginning, we are still pretty far from that dream. SDL, ClanLib, and other libraries have all tried and succeeded to some degree, but none of them have the breadth of documentation, sample code, and support that DirectX has. Until that day comes, Cider and Cedega a pretty good fit for filling the void of Mac and Linux gaming. Each game released provides a better engine that the one previously, so as a technology, it will only get better with time. Is it perfect? Absolutely not, but then again, what is?

      • by slcdb (317433) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @10:08PM (#22075428) Homepage

        As an employee of TransGaming, I take offense to that generalization
        Okay, so calling it things like a "bullshit emulation layer" may come off as a bit harsh. But please understand that this harshness is born out of customer frustration with the lack of quality and performance we experience in OS X, versus the exact same game in Windows. Instead of taking offense, take it for what it is: a sign that people might stop buying games using your product unless you can significantly improve its quality in the near term.

        As for everything else you wrote, you pretty much just validated what I said. These games aren't true ports to the OS X platform. True ports would dispense entirely with the Windows APIs and work entirely with the native interfaces provided by OS X. I believe that EA's (and other companies') customers would be happier with the product if it was a true port. I understand that this makes the job much more difficult, which sucks for you, and may even mean that many games would simply never see a MacOS version, which sucks for everyone.

        But what really sucks even worse is when you are a customer, and you have the expectation that Battlefield 2142 for the Mac is going to be just as nice as Battlefield 2142 for Windows, but after you pay your money (and forfeit your right to a refund by installing and using the software) you find out that it's not at all the experience you had been expecting.
        • by HuguesT (84078) on Thursday January 17, 2008 @04:18AM (#22077962)
          A "true port" would not help at all.

          The parent wrote that, essentially, if you want to take best advantage of the video card in your Mac, crappy or high-level though that card may be, you need to run DirectX. Apple does not provide drivers, code example and extra software needed for new, serious game developement compared to Windows/DX. Apple's OpenGL drivers are not even up to spec with what Nvidia provides in their driver for Linux.

          Hence a port of any game to OS/X is going to be painful and run slowly anyway. It doesn't just suck for games authors, but for users as well. Apple is not seriously interested in games and have shown it over and over again [macobserver.com].

          In general Apple is very annoying in the way they control their hardware. They don't even let Nvidia or ATI provide an independent driver for OS/X. It's very obvious that Apple's drivers implement only a subset of the cards capabilities. This also explain why Apple never rushes to the latest and greatest graphic cards even for their PowerMac workstations : their driver is incapable of taking full advantage of them.
          • iD software has announced that their next game "Rage" will be available for OSX. I'm waiting to see how that runs before I'm willing to buy the Transgaming story/excuse. If it really just can't be done, then Carmack and Co will be in the same boat.

            Additionally, there have been rumors that UT3 and Gears of War are going Mac native as well.

            Maybe John Carmack and "Icculus" know something that the Transgaming people don't??? I dunno.

            http://www.joystiq.com/2007/07/17/gears-of-war-ut3-coming-to-macs/ [joystiq.com]
            http://www.in [insidemacgames.com]
            • by HuguesT (84078)
              Carmack has been almost religiously devoted in the past at maintaining various rendering paths in Id's engines. They are one of the very few games companies that continue programming for OpenGL. I don't particularly like Id's games, but their engines have been consistently very good.

              It would make sense for Id to develop a high-quality engine for OS/X, complete with in-house enhancements to Apple's OpenGL implementation, exactly as the GP suggested. They would thereby own the OS/X gaming arena.
      • by balthan (130165)
        B-b-but OpenGL is better than DirectX! I read it on Slashdot!
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rat_herder (527991)
        While I read your comment nodding my head, I disagree there is nothing developers can do about it. Simply giving up and letting M$ own your development tools & make your lives "easier" will ultimately lead to a monoculture graphics development. IE, developers will be left with even less choice when DirectX finally crushes the life out of OpenGL. M$ doesn't need to invest money after this happens. It has guaranteed revenue from the developer tools themselves, then from licences & Windows itself,
    • by Quixadhal (45024)
      Unfortunately for you, most game development companies can't afford to devote an extra few thousand hours of developer time to give less than 5% of their potential customer base the ability to thumb their noses at Bill Gates and say "Haaaaw Haw. I don't need no steenking windows!"

      On the other hand, they usually CAN afford to spend the hundred hours or so it takes to ensure their game can run (albeit not perfectly) under Cider and thus give that small fraction of customers who are, frankly, just too damn st
  • Yawn (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Years ago, Doom was announced for the Mac. Mac faithful write breathless posts on the Net proclaiming that the tide is turning and game developers were obviously finally 'waking up' and about to start supporting their niche platform.

    Years ago, Duke Nukem was announced for the Mac. Mac faithful write breathless posts on the Net proclaiming that the tide is turning and game developers were obviously finally 'waking up' and about to start supporting their niche platform.

    And so on, and so on, and so on...

    So pat
    • Re:Yawn (Score:4, Interesting)

      by p0tat03 (985078) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:10PM (#22071464)

      The difference is that during Duke and Doom's time, the Mac platform was losing market share at a rapid pace to Windows - so while profitable for a short while, it eventually became uneconomic to port. Compare with today with OSX's exploding market share - Macs are already a significant minority in the market, particularly with laptops. I do think the tide is turning, but it will be a slow process, and "light" games like the Sims will get ported long before "hardcore" titles like Crysis.

      The only doubt in my mind is what this means for DirectX. As an indie game dev I can say without a doubt that the DirectX API is simple and easy to work with, and the level of tool support for HLSL is far better than what we have for GLSL. OpenGL is lagging behind DX, but in this new market where porting is of increasing importance, will we see developers abandoning DirectX in favor of OpenGL?

      • OpenGL is lagging behind DX, but in this new market where porting is of increasing importance, will we see developers abandoning DirectX in favor of OpenGL?
        Since they are now taking their DirectX code, wrapping it in Cider, and calling it a 'port', I'd say no. If anything, it will swing the other way, helping MS even more. Thanks Transgaming.
        • by p0tat03 (985078)
          That may not be true. Wrapping API calls is one thing, but in this day and age game graphics are driven by shaders primarily - and there's no way even Transgaming can wrap compiled HLSL code into Cg or GLSL. Losing shaders (or writing TWO sets) is a pain in the ass - many developers may switch to OpenGL to obtain a more universally compatible solution. That being said, another possibility is for someone out there to come out with a THIRD shading language that has compilers for both DX and OpenGL, and this i
      • It looks like Direct3D is used in Windows, the X-Box and the X-Box 360. OpenGL is used in Windows, Linux, OS X, the PS3 (OpenGL ES) and the Wii (some variant apparently).

        For a game to have maximum portability, you're going to have to write both OpenGL and Direct3D code, although you get all the desktops and most current-gen consoles with OpenGL code alone.
        • > OpenGL is used in Windows, Linux, OS X, the PS3 (OpenGL ES) and the Wii (some variant apparently).

          No, the Wii does not use some variant of OpenGL. The GX library is OpenGL "inspired", but it is not an OpenGL variant.

          I know -- I've ported & expanded an OpenGL implementation for the Wii (from the Gamecube.)
    • Breathless posts? Ever seen a breathing post? Now THAT would be internet-newsworthy!
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:50PM (#22070556)
    Call Of Duty 4: Spore Wars

    Some sort of biowar sim, I would guess.
  • Now they just need to confirm it for Windows! (And actually, you know, complete and ship the game...)
  • Disappointing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by r_jensen11 (598210) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @04:17PM (#22070892)
    And here I was, thinking that EA had written these games using OpenGL and OpenAL, thus allowing them to easily port the games over to growing platforms. Then I saw mentions of Transgaming, and all hopes were dashed.
    • What's next? Apple's already established a cut-out between programmers and OpenGL with Core Graphics and related technologies. Are they going to dump OpenGL next?

      Don't say it can't happen... they just shipped the first Mac without Firewire.
    • by cxreg (44671)
      Spore is confirmed for the Wii, which as far as I'm aware, cannot use DirectX. So there's got to be some porting going on over there.
      • The difference is economics. There are so many Wii users that it's worth doing an actual port. Mac gamers get Cider when the developer can't afford to do the job right.
  • Wasn't Spore only delayed once?
    • by EvilIdler (21087)
      I think they've cleverly avoided announcing a release date.
      All dates I've seen have been wishful thinking in previews :)
  • I wonder what the performance and graphical quality losses will be, as well as what kinds of quirks may result.
    • The game "Need For Speed: Carbon" was recently released as a Mac/Cider-ised title and looks pretty nice. I've read a few reviews and they don't mention any graphical issues or glitches.

      It's hard to say how that'll carry over to Spore though (different uses of Direct3D and all that) but there's reason to hope it'll be fine.
  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:54PM (#22072050)
    We need a good mac desktop for gameing to be a big thing on mac osx.

    a $2300 system with a 2600xt is not cutting it.

    you can add a 8800 gt for $200 more but $2500 for a 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Xeon system with 2gb of 800MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM and only a 8800 gt and only a 320GB hd.

    looks real bad to next to other gameing system at that price that have a desktop cpu 4gb of ram, raid, XFI sound card, and SLI and there good gameing systems that you can get for $1500 - $2000 with better video cards, faster cpus, more ram, more hdd space, good sounds cards and more.

    The mini has a carp video for gameing.

    the imacs have a video card is slower at gameing then the older one where.

    The rest of the imac hardware is ok it just needs a better video card.

    also a $7000 - $1500 desktop with good video card is needed.
  • Spore (Score:2, Funny)

    by Wiseman1024 (993899)
    I suppose they'll add a "metrosexual gene" for the Mac version. iSpore: breed with style.
  • On the one hand, I am really looking forward to Spore on OS X.

    But transgaming? I am not feeling good about that. This isn't a proper port, it will very likely not take advantage of any OS X features, for example. I loved the Loki Linux ports because they did - Civ:CTP on Linux had different profiles and savegames for each user, by storing them in the user's home directory. The windos version didn't.
    On OS X, one of the things that's great is how integrated everything is - calender and TODO apps all use the s
    • by Ours (596171)
      Dude, it's a game. What do you expect? Spore adding calendar entries in order to balance your social and gaming life?
      "Hum, I'm scheduling you for two hours of playtime Friday, right between jogging and dinner" - Spore
      • by Tom (822)
        Since Spore isn't out yet I don't know about all of its features. But there are a number of things for integration, both behind-the-scenes and visible. Going from networking to drag-and-drop of textures for your creatures, for example.

        Or take the example about every user having their own preferences and save-games. You have no idea how valuable that is to a family.

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