Gaming With Mac OS X: Day Two
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Today we continue with our analysis of Apple's recently-released operating system Mac OS X and its effect on gaming, Our newly-created Mac OS X forum is jumping with activity, and we've received a flood of information, tips and tricks as well as many compatibility reports.
We want to clarify a few statements made in yesterday's report -- overall, our experience with Mac OS X and games has actually been better than we expected, and many of you that are disappointed may instead be suffering from inflated expectations. We knew from the beginning, through our talks with various developers and our experiences with Mac OS X Public Beta, that gaming would be a "rough spot" on the new OS -- video games are always the most challenging and least stable application for any computing platform, as they often employ nonstandard interfaces, put an unusual amount of strain on the processor and employ various "tricks" that may be illegal or outside the norm to do such things as set screen resolution, change screen gamma or take over control devices. Not only are games a stress test of any OS, but Apple's OS X in particular has a large cloud of mystery in the place where game APIs which were once handled through DrawSprocket, SoundSprocket and InputSprocket, leaving many games without these services and developers uncertain as to how to replace them. So, although we experienced far more failures than success in the last few days, that was to be expected -- and OS X may not become a primary gaming OS for quite some time into the future. Those of you that are running or considering buying this new OS must understand that you are on the bleeding edge, and will suffer all of the problems early adopters face with any computing revolution.
Now, on to the tips and tricks. First we have a work around for a problem many reported when trying to run Classic games under Mac OS X that use a "CD check" as an anti-piracy measure. Many were finding that the game could not detect the CD, even though it was in the drive and showed up on the desktop. The trick to this is to have the CD inserted and mounted before launching the Classic environment; then it is detected properly by the Classic environment. Some had problems with installers as well, and this work around also applies in that situation.
The second bit of advice we have is to those considering installing the OS: do not install over Public Beta, do a reformat of your partition and clean-install OS X. Not only does this cut the install time in half, it greatly increases stability in our experience. If you installed Public Beta over 9.0 on the only partition of your hard drive, then you have your own hole to dig yourself out of...
We also want to clear up one FAQ -- No, the Omni Development port of Quake 3 Arena 117 to Cocoa does not work under Mac OS X final. 4x4 Evolution can be made to function with some tweaking, but has serious stability issues and some visual glitches. Many of the games and apps that were tweaked to run under OS X Public Beta are now "broken," but this is due to the fact that Apple did make some major low-level changes between that release and the current version. We're sure Omni or id will come up with their long-promised Cocoa version of 127g, and we've contacted Terminal Reality about updating 4x4 Evolution to run on Apple's latest release.
As for our experiences with Carbon games that do work, such as the excellent Brushfire released by Strange Flavour, we have a lot to look forward to. Not only does this game hide the dock properly, it runs extremely smoothly and behaves properly with the OS (it can be put in the background). When the Cocoa versions of Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force, Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 and Oni are released, as well as Alice, we expect those of you with sour opinions about Mac OS X gaming to turn that frown upside down, so to speak.
Gaming With Mac OS X: Initial Reports
Please continue to post your reports and experiences to our Mac OS X forum, we expect this to become a major resource for Mac gamers in the months to come. For those of you sitting on the fence about purchasing Mac OS X, we have two pieces of advice: Get lots of RAM (256 MB should be considered a minimum) if you want to game in Classic, and make sure to install on a partition or second hard drive so you can boot back to OS 9.1 with minimum fuss. There are many, many games that will run better on that OS for the foreseeable future.
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