[MUD-Dev] Apple WWDC?

Amanda Walker amanda at alfar.com
Thu May 9 02:53:10 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

On 5/7/02 4:09 PM, Nathan F. Yospe <yospe at kanga.nu> wrote:

> Any chance we could get a (post WWDC) perspective on the relevant
> questions about the mac in muds?

Well, it's not quite over yet, but here's my take on your questions:

> 1) As a client platform, do you see the mac player base as a good
> market to extend into for MMPOGs?  Currently, the MMPOG trend has
> been, unlike the rest of the industry, to simply ignore macs as a
> target platform.  Later is generally better than never, and there
> is a good case for long-term playability with MMPOGs, so this has
> struck me as odd.

I think the Mac player base is a fine market for MMORPGs.  I'm a
regular MMORPG player, and I'd be playing DAoC, AC, or EQ right now
on my Titanium PowerBook with its Radeon video display if the
clients were available.  I think that the reasons current MMORPGs
are Windows-centric are more political than technical.  AC is run by
Microsoft, DAoC uses NetImmerse (which no longer has a MacOS port,
and is actively against doing one or helping a licensee do one,
based on comments overheard at the GDC), EQ's engine is already
being pushed to its limits, and so on.

That said, the Mac has all the necessary ingredients for a modern
gaming platform (good IP stack, good OpenGL implementation, good
input device support, good language & scripting language support),
as witnessed by the quality of games like Unreal Tournament, Quake
3, and most of the other popular 3D single-player or FPS games (take
a quick look at Westlake Interactive's resume, for example).

For a new game, there's no reason not to target the Mac, and in fact
a number of reasons to use the Mac as a development platform (CPU &
graphics profiling tools, a full UNIX development environment, an OS
that's a lot less prone to crashing than Windows, fastest Java VM on
a consumer platform, and so on).  Heck, there's no reason not to
target the Mac, the Xbox, the PS2, the GameCube, Linux, ... Limiting
yourself to one platform seems a little silly to me.  If I'm running
a game, why would I care what hardware my players want to use?

> 2) As a client platform, do you think the loss of sprockets has a
> serious negative impact on the mac as a platform?  (Keep in mind,
> the positive impact of a more stable platform with standard event
> and tasking does compensate...)

Not really.  Game Sprockets were great for 2D games on mid-90s
hardware.  These days, OpenGL gives all the tasty graphics goodness
a game could want.  For input and networking, sprockets have been
superceded at this point, I think.

> 3) As a server platform, do you think Objective-C++ is useful, or
> a portability handicap that will drag down any game using it?  (I
> am biased on this, as I happen to love the doors it opens for me,
> and am trying to get it to work in gcc on Linux)

Hard to call.  Objective-C has some nice features, but it really
relies on its runtime libraries.  I wouldn't use any dynamically
bound language for the server side without a lot of careful
performance analysis, and would be more likely to use something like
Python or Java for non-time-critical server side stuff.  But
programming languages are definitely a matter of taste.

> 4) As a server platform, do you think MacOS X would be viable if,
> and this is a big if, Apple were to provide some options for less
> wimpy hardware?  E.G., if we could use it on those boards IBM had
> for demo purposes eight months ago, in rack mounts?

Well, you can already run Darwin/x86 servers as rackmounts.  But
wait a couple weeks ;-).  From
http://www.macnn.com/news.php?id=14084 near the bottom:

    "Jobs promised that he would introduce a new rack mount server
    on May 14, but refused to divulge any more details."

> 5) As a server platform, can you come up with any arguments which
> would make MacOS X more desirable than Linux (with Obj-C++?)

Based on a couple years of trying to build commercial quality
products on Linux, I have to say that I would go with FreeBSD,
NetBSD, or MacOS X as a server OS platform before I'd consider Linux
again.  But I'm a BSD bigot from the early 80s, so this may just be
my age showing ;-).

But back to the general question...

I think MacOS X, particularly the upcoming release code named
"Jaguar" (see http://www.apple.com/hotnews/articles/2002/05/wwdc/
for details) would make a very fine gaming client platform.  I think
MacOS X Server would make a reasonable gaming server platform,
although for now FreeBSD on x86 hardware is probably more cost
effective for large server clusters.  If Apple does indeed come out
with a G4-based rackmount server, that could change the balance
(depending on the price point), since for a given amount of CPU
power, G4s general less heat than P3s or P4s.

Amanda Walker

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