Apple’s Metal and how it can impact Mac gaming

“When Apple announced Metal for macOS at the 2015 WWDC keynote, I was super excited,” Ric Molina reports for Mac Gamer HQ. “Metal was a set of 3D tools that should optimize GPU usage and maximize the graphics potential of your Mac. It sounded like a dream come true for gamers and developers alike. The thing that could take Mac gaming to the next level.”

“But then the year went by and nothing happened. Metal for Mac was never mentioned during 2016’s WWDC keynote and over a year in (a Mac Metal version was first introduced with El Capitan), not a single game supported it,” Molina reports. “It all started to sound like a marketing gimmick that wouldn’t change a thing.”

“Until Blizzard updated World of Warcraft to support Metal and performance took off (61% faster to be exact). Soon after, Feral Interactive confirmed Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will support it too. It seems Apple just needed a little more time and Brianna Wu from iMore was right all along: Metal for OS X is huge,” Molina reports. “But to better understand how important Metal can truly be for gaming, I decided to sit down with Andy Wood, Head of Commercial at Feral Interactive, and ask a few questions.”

Full interview – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully, after a long gestation period, Metal support can really begin to proliferate.

14 Comments

  1. The state of gaming on the Mac is largely a joke. When iOS took off, long time Mac developers like Pangea walked away from the Mac. Others like Freeverse were swallowed by Zynga and shut down. Others have effectively abandoned it. Asphalt 8 is on iOS and tvOS while the Mac is on Asphalt 6.

    “It just works” does not apply to gaming controllers on the Mac. I have a whole collection of USB controllers that work on a few games. I have a Bluetooth Nimbus that works on the Apple TV and iOS, but desite a Mac logo on the box I know of no games that support it

    Then there is the issue of lame Intel integrated “vampire video” GPUs that do not support some games sold in Apple’s own app store. Imagine the joy of a new Mac customer when there new MacBook Pro cannot play a game thry just bought on the app store because of cheap-ass Intel Iris graphics.

    Sling TV, which runs fine on Apple TV and iOS, has a crappy frame rate on MacBook Pro. The quality on a Windows 10 Atom powered convertible I paid $150 for is better than on my $1600 MacBook Pro that is the current model. Same for a cheap Roku TV I bought for the call room at my hospital. That simply dhows how far behind Apple is in HW and SW development on the Mac.

    Apple charges premium prices and is delivering outdated hardware and not-up-to-spec software on the Mac. I couln’t give a shit about Facebook integration but would like to get decent performance. When a $150 no name Atom Windows 10 tablet runs HD streaming video better than a $1,600 laptop something is very wrong.

  2. I don’t care much about gaming but when I see the landscapes and scenery of GTA5 it just blows me away. I’d love to see a mapping program that shows that level of detail at street level. I couldn’t even imagine how a game could look so good until I started looking at some youtube gaming videos.

    Yes, it’s really a shame Apple doesn’t bother to take advantage of the latest and greatest GPUs even on the MacPro. I think it’s just so stupid to cripple the most expensive computers around. This is really the only point I don’t understand what Apple is doing. Surely, they’re not trying to make a green professional computer when no other company is.

  3. Perhaps in the future things like Metal which require 3rd party companies to make use of it in their products under development (possibly taking months) could be announced strictly to developers, not the general public. This would give a much larger impact to the consumer when the products that actually make use of it is announced to the public. This time the attitude is “finally! What a long wait”.

    1. If the general public wants to tune into Apple’s WWDC, then it’s not Apple’s problem if they do not understand the developer technologies being discussed.

      Apple “broadcasts” the WWDC hoping to inspire new developers to join the platform.

      Most developers understand the time of technology release is months sometimes years before a product that uses it makes it to users hands.

      1. The general public I think tunes into the WWDC because it has a history of announcing devices (interesting to consumers) in addition to instead of being exclusive to developer interests (not so interesting). This increases the coverage of new development technologies by consumer aimed publications and creates an expectation in the public for new tech before it is actually used in the hardware they are purchasing and in some cases may not be completely realized later in the HW currently for sale. This leads to sub optimal performance and disappointment. Can you imagine if Sony or Microsoft development technologies for the consoles were announced at the same time developers do? For Apple that has a history of not announcing things till they are ‘ready’, releasing Metal information as early as it did may have hurt their efforts at ‘wowing’ the customers.

  4. Bring out Bootcamp or better VM for Appletv4 for OS X.
    New 6th gen CPU and GPU should fix most issues rumored to release in November. Include Metal and I will be a lot happier.

  5. Humph.

    Q: By the way, would you say Apple’s aging OpenGL is starting to be a real problem for developers?

    A: It has been a challenge to work with OpenGL for some years now, especially with the advent of new graphics technologies. For example, we weren’t able to release F1 2015 on Mac because OpenGL didn’t have the necessary features. But don’t worry, we have some racing projects planned to make up for that!

    Metal is supposed to be better than OpenGL, but OpenGL is open source and developers can use it to work on Mac, Windows and Linux ports. Metal is exclusive to Apple and many fear this will work against what we all want: more cross-platform games.

    Ideal:
    Write code once, have the compiler translate it into whatever 3D system is native to the platform. Pray real hard!

    Meanwhile, we have OpenGL as the only cross platform 3D coding system and it’s long in the tooth, essentially stalled and inadequate. Microsoft shoves DirectX at developers. Apple shoves Metal at developers. Proprietary wins, we lose.

    ∑ = SOS, Same Old Sh*t.

    1. Metal is Apple’s implementation of Vulkan, which is open-source. The only difference between those two APIs is the shaders. There’s something called MoltenVK which converts Vulkan shaders to Metal so Vulkan code can be compiled for Macs. It’s an extra step, but it sure beats rewriting a game in another language.

      1. I’m pleased to see that Apple is a ‘Promoter’ (member of the ‘board’) of the Khronos Group that runs the Vulkan project. Which leads me to note that Apple’s ‘Open Source’ page is several years out-of-date.

        Also good is that Microsoft is a ‘Contributor’ member. That at least offers the chance of cross platform coding. Apparently, MS is incorporating Vulkan to DirectX 12.

        https://www.khronos.org/vulkan/

      2. And then I found this:

        Apple brings its Metal API to OS X 10.11, kicks Vulkan to the curb

        The article is over a year old. But I haven’t found more recent articles indicting any change. 🙁

        No Apple / Vulkan support?
        For now, Vulkan appears to be a no-show on Mac OS X. That’s a bit surprising, given Apple’s membership in the Khronos Group, and it implies the Cupertino company would rather double down on its own custom API rather than supporting the low-level APIs of a different organization. This, in turn, could damage any push to create a truly universal graphics API.

        No, OpenGL isn’t going anywhere. But the entire point of Vulkan was to create a gaming-friendly iteration of OpenGL that would match DirectX 12’s features and offer them across more platforms than just Windows. If Apple backs Metal to the exclusion of OGL, we could be facing a future where Windows-only developers target DirectX 12, iOS and OS X developers use Metal, and Linux / Windows devs rely on Vulkan. . . .

        That’s a bit more fragmented than we’d otherwise like to see, and it could hurt the growth of Linux as an alternate gaming platform if developers can’t target it and OS X easily. Then again, there were already significant differences between the two operating systems, so this may not matter much.

        Either way, Apple has a long and illustrious history of mostly ignoring OpenGL variants and shipping systems with relatively weak GPU hardware. The dual graphics solutions on the Mac Pro are impressive, but actually taking advantage of that compute horsepower is a different question. The company has always treated graphics performance and capabilities as a bit of a red-headed stepchild (despite the fact that Macs are beloved in graphics design). And it’s not clear that leaping for its own custom API is going to meaningfully change that

        Bleh. 😛

  6. There’s also the issue of GPU brands. For the last few years, Apple has been using AMD GPUs exclusively, with the exception of the 2012 Retina MacBook Pro. Games use OpenGL, so you need an Nvidia GPU. AMD is better for video editing and 3D modeling.

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