Some game developers hint at abandoning the Mac if Apple phases out OpenGL

Posted:
in macOS edited June 5
Apple's move to cut OpenGL after macOS 10.14 Mojave and pushing for the use of its own Metal graphics technology has come under fire from developers, expressing concerns it will impact cross-platform game development, and even causing some to declare they won't produce games for the Mac in the future.


"Dirt Rally" for macOS, a game that uses the Metal API


Discovered within Apple's developer documentation for macOS 10.14 yesterday, it was revealed that OpenGL and OpenCL, APIs used in graphics-intensive apps and games as well as computational tasks, would be depreciated in the operating system. While macOS 10.14 would still support software using OpenGL and OpenCL, Apple is advising developers using OpenGL to move their applications over to Metal, promoting a move from OpenCL to Metal and Metal Performance Shaders.

While the support for OpenGL is still available, it is unknown when Apple will remove it from macOS completely, but it is not entirely unexpected. OpenGL on macOS High Sierra uses version 3.3 that was released in 2010, rather than using the more up-to-date version 4.6 released in 2017.

Indeed, Apple's lack of interest in the technology has led to OpenGL standard maintainer Kronos Group to release open source tools to allow Vulkan, a cross-platform 3D graphics API, to work on iOS and macOS. Vulkan has been usable on a number of major platforms, including Windows and Android, with the tools release in February enabling developers to continue producing games across multiple platforms, using a newer technology.

Some major game developers have already embraced Metal for their Mac products, with notable releases including "World of Warcraft," "The Witness," "Deus Ex: Mankind Divided," and "Dirt Rally."

Developers have been quick to comment about Apple's move away from OpenGL, largely centering around having to change their work from using a cross-platform API to cope with a platform-specific technology.

Vlambeer designer Rami Ismail told PC Gamer the ultimate time of abandonment can vary between "soon" and "never."

"All we know is Apple seems to have shown intent to rid itself of OpenGL in favor of its own graphics API," Ismail said. "The problem with Metal is very similar to the problem with DirectX: it's not cross-platform."

Ismail went on to say "the worst that's going to happen is old stuff will break, and our engines and libraries will grow a bit to support both Direct3D and Metal. Not having a clear guideline for future actions Apple might take in this regard isn't very good for developer confidence, I'd guess, and not having a single cross-platform graphics API is just a pain."


"The Witness," another game that uses the Metal API


Bridge Builder and Ponifex developer Alex Austin suggested the change will cause more work when attempting to port games to the Mac. He has historically developed primarily for Windows and then spent "a couple hours" to port the same game to Mac and Linux. But he notes already facing issues with macOS's OpenGL support given he has to employ older versions on the Mac, forcing rewrites of how the games render graphics.

"I'm not going to spend any time on Metal because Macs are a pretty small percentage of the market, and really probably not worth it even now," suggests Austin. "I just do it because I try to support fans if I can."

Thomas Altenburger of Flying Oak Games was more direct on Twitter, advising "I'm sorry Mac users, but this means we will stop publishing games on Mac if it ever stop(s) shipping with the OS." In the following thread, Altenburger notes his love for OpenGL due to its cross-compatibility, but notes that Apple's push for developers to use platform-specific technologies "implies breaking any cross-platform pipeline" in development.

"The cost of maintaining a dedicated pipeline is clearly higher than the Mac users potential," Altenburger adds. "Breaking OpenGL on one single OS means that I would have to do a custom pipeline and build for that specific OS. If that OS represents 1 percent of players... well..."

Former BioShock 2 developer and half of Minor Key Games David Lindsey Pittman highlighted that the combination of depreciated OpenGL and 32-bit apps could lead to older apps failing to run. "That's awful for older games, and no-one is going to rebuild games from a decade ago for 64-bit/Metal," he suggests.

Pittman also warns he would have to delist the Mac versions of his games. "Converting to 64-bit wouldn't be too much trouble, though I haven't had time yet, but porting to Metal isn't feasible for 3 games that aren't making money on Mac anymore anyway."

AppleInsider has reached out to Aspyr and Feral Interactive for comment on the matter.
Alex1N
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 80
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,544member
    Cry me a river...

    Why is that some developers are fine with doing this and it comes out pretty damn well and others are just ugh now we have to actually make a Mac game instead of a shitty port that runs half-ass? And then wonder why the Mac isn't a large market for games. 
    edited June 5 Cesar Battistini Mazierotmaymac_dogbrian greenrob53Rayz2016georgie01racerhomie3moreckclaire1
  • Reply 2 of 80
    Well, OpenGL has been known to be behind times, so I totally get it why Microsoft and Apple are creating their own frameworks. More control, more optimization.

    It is a significant issue to developers though. Engines like Unity basically deliver an abstraction layer where only the top layer is touched by devs (unless they specifically don't choose to). The bottom layer is then handled by by Unity, handling the actual instructions to Metal (or DirectX). If you developed your own engine instead, you basically have to develop your rendering layer twice, which is not a trivial matter.

    Apple could easily keep OpenGL in the operating system, but it's 'cleaner' not to. They are not a dominant platform for gaming so I guess many developers will in fact drop macOS support. 
    edited June 5 Alex1N
  • Reply 3 of 80
    looplessloopless Posts: 78member
    I am not sure people realize that Microsoft does not support OpenGL either. Out of the box windows only supports only an ancient version of OpenGL -v1.2. Every graphics card manufacturer for windows has to ship their own up to date OpenGL drivers. The problem on macOS is that Apple controls the hardware and has to supply the drivers. 
    Alex1Ndysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 80
    Cesar Battistini MazieroCesar Battistini Maziero Posts: 133unconfirmed, member
    Metal is just superior. 

    The sims 4 sucks a lot on Mac, and it's a game I love and have played since Sims 1.

    I would never buy another computer, just for playing a game, I abandoned Windows because I was tired of it, and I don't want anything to do with it.

    If they made the game with metal maybe it wouldn't suck as much, and I would be buying the expansions and trowing money at them!
    racerhomie3anton zuykovclaire1Alex1Ndysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 80
    nhtnht Posts: 4,214member
    Meh.  I would guess that Steam could provide a common OpenGL/Vulkan install for any Steam deployed games.  The loss of 32 bit support might be a little more annoying to work around since the usual solution is to run in a VM which likely isn't optimal for games.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 80
    CobraGuyCobraGuy Posts: 70member
    Apple has the leverage to bully developers in iOS but not quite so much in regards to MacOS.

    Not saying Metal is bad. It’s not and likely better in most aspects.
    Alex1Nmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 7 of 80
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,872member
    loopless said:
    I am not sure people realize that Microsoft does not support OpenGL either. Out of the box windows only supports only an ancient version of OpenGL -v1.2. Every graphics card manufacturer for windows has to ship their own up to date OpenGL drivers. The problem on macOS is that Apple controls the hardware and has to supply the drivers. 
    Nobody does OpenGL development for Windows.  Even with up-to-date video card drivers, it's buggy and slow compared to DirectX.  But yet game developers don't complain about having to write games for Microsoft's proprietary API.

    And oh look... a quick Google search shows that there's a technology called MoltenVK to allow developers to use Vulkan (the cross-platform Metal alternative) on top of Metal.  So the whining game developers who are happy to use proprietary APIs from Microsoft, but not Apple, are free to keep using cross-platform technologies.
    capasicumStrangeDaysracerhomie3claire1Alex1Nravnorodomjony0dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 80
    CobraGuyCobraGuy Posts: 70member
    auxio said:
    loopless said:
    I am not sure people realize that Microsoft does not support OpenGL either. Out of the box windows only supports only an ancient version of OpenGL -v1.2. Every graphics card manufacturer for windows has to ship their own up to date OpenGL drivers. The problem on macOS is that Apple controls the hardware and has to supply the drivers. 
    Nobody does OpenGL development for Windows.  Even with up-to-date video card drivers, it's buggy and slow compared to DirectX.  But yet game developers don't complain about having to write games for Microsoft's proprietary API.

    And oh look... a quick Google search shows that there's a technology called MoltenVK to allow developers to use Vulkan (the cross-platform Metal alternative) on top of Metal.  So the whining game developers who are happy to use proprietary APIs from Microsoft, but not Apple, are free to keep using cross-platform technologies.
    Well, DirectX has been out for years.

    i recall back in the day that ID Software (Doom and Quake) and Epic (Unreal) were once staunch supporters of OpenGL.

    Apple was once too.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 80
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,295member
    "I'm not going to spend any time on Metal because Macs are a pretty small percentage of the market, and really probably not worth it even now," suggests Austin. “  just do it because I try to support fans if I can." 

    He’s probably right. Apple is not into gaming, never has been, probably never will be. Those claiming this action will kill Apple gaming and the Mac along with it are just pissing into the wind. If that were true the Mac would have been dead a decade ago. The PC gaming market is not as big as the enthusiasts would have you believe.
    macxpressfotoformattmayracerhomie3claire1Alex1Nravnorodomjony0dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 80
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,615member
    No need to "hint" here. If you are a developer and refuse to break your dependency on OpenGL - say it loud and with conviction. You'll be throwing yourself overboard without a life jacket. Hope you can swim because the Metal ship is sailing away with or without you on board.
    macxpressStrangeDaysmcdaveracerhomie3fastasleepAlex1Njony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 80
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,872member
    CobraGuy said:
    auxio said:
    loopless said:
    I am not sure people realize that Microsoft does not support OpenGL either. Out of the box windows only supports only an ancient version of OpenGL -v1.2. Every graphics card manufacturer for windows has to ship their own up to date OpenGL drivers. The problem on macOS is that Apple controls the hardware and has to supply the drivers. 
    Nobody does OpenGL development for Windows.  Even with up-to-date video card drivers, it's buggy and slow compared to DirectX.  But yet game developers don't complain about having to write games for Microsoft's proprietary API.

    And oh look... a quick Google search shows that there's a technology called MoltenVK to allow developers to use Vulkan (the cross-platform Metal alternative) on top of Metal.  So the whining game developers who are happy to use proprietary APIs from Microsoft, but not Apple, are free to keep using cross-platform technologies.
    Well, DirectX has been out for years.
    True, but DirectX hasn't stayed the same for years.  Going from DX9 to DX10 required moving from a procedural pipeline to shaders (much like going from OpenGL 1 to 2).  Then DX11 to DX12 is like going from OpenGL to Vulkan.  Both transitions required a significant amount of work (not unlike going from OpenGL to Metal).

    i recall back in the day that ID Software (Doom and Quake) and Epic (Unreal) were once staunch supporters of OpenGL.

    Apple was once too.
    Yes, those developers were.  But those 3D game engines could never compete with modern 3D game engines.  And while it is certainly possible to build modern 3D game engines in OpenGL, as any game developer will tell you, it's much easier to use the latest version of DirectX than OpenGL to do so.

    So that's where Metal fits in on macOS/iOS/tvOS.  Giving developers that same ease of development and performance on Apple's platforms.  Forcing Apple to stay with OpenGL is shackling them to the past and preventing them from taking full advantage of modern GPU advancements and getting new, more powerful games and apps on their platforms.
    edited June 5 StrangeDaystmayracerhomie3hlee1169Alex1Nwatto_cobraavon b7
  • Reply 12 of 80
    macxpress said:
    Cry me a river...

    Why is that some developers are fine with doing this and it comes out pretty damn well and others are just ugh now we have to actually make a Mac game instead of a shitty port that runs half-ass? And then wonder why the Mac isn't a large market for games. 
    You just answered your own question. For some developers, it doesn't make sense to put time and money into a game that isn't going to sell enough to make what they believe is a reaonsable profit. That is why you see ports. 

    The Mac platform was never a large one for gaming. 
    sandorAlex1Njeffharris
  • Reply 13 of 80
    techprtechpr Posts: 15member
    So developers prefer to abandons instead of updating to a better technology?

    racerhomie3claire1jeffharriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 80
    croffordcrofford Posts: 36member
    Just part of the plan to prepare for Mac OS on ARM.  
  • Reply 15 of 80
    supadav03supadav03 Posts: 389member
    Wouldn’t be surprised. Apple doesn’t seem to care about games or gamers outside the ultra-casual crowd. 
  • Reply 16 of 80
    It's kinda fun to think these threats will have some kind of impact, but... great gaming has moved away from computers.  Go check out the metacritic.com scores for most PC titles and you'll find something quite disturbing - not very many titles score into the 90's.  The PC suffers from an abundance of "meh".  And PC games have lots of bugs - it's the nature of the platform .. to much disparate hardware and lots of sketchy drivers.  Game companies can't make good titles...  For some reason this has spilled over into the XBox One too..
     
    For gaming I strongly recommend two consoles ... the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 4.

    On the Switch, The Legend of Zelda - Breath of the Wild is probably the best game ever made.  It has many finely tuned game systems: Physics, Time, Weather, Floral & Fauna, Meticulous sound, and the most immersive open world gaming I have ever experienced.  I'll hop in to kill 10 minutes and spend two hours.  It's not perfect ... nothing is ... but it's the closest thing to a Masterpiece the gaming world has seen thus far.

    On the PlayStation 4 you have many great titles.. "Grand Theft Auto V", "The Last of Us Remastered", "Uncharted 4", and the new "GOD of War" title.  Plus all the best games ported from the PC.  It's probably the best console to get for PG-13 gaming on up..


    edited June 5 georgie01racerhomie3boltsfan17
  • Reply 17 of 80
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,040member
    techpr said:
    So developers prefer to abandons instead of updating to a better technology?

    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    jeffharriswatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 80
    geirnoklebyegeirnoklebye Posts: 37unconfirmed, member
    What these developers don't factor in is that a rewrite to Metal makes the road to iOS devices very short for their games. Of course many of the same developers are under the impression that iOS devices are not to even be considered for game titles in that their graphics performance is very low.

    The real situation is by the time they have done their port, yet another iteration of iOS devices are in the market with ever increasing performance both on the device itself, but also on the big screen. So the upside is only increasing - primarily in the iOS device market, but you sort of get the Mac for free as part of the package.

     Now, Apple has not exactly been very helpful in promoting graphics performance on their Macs with only up till recently underperforming mobile GPUs even in the desktop configurations, where the lack of will to make space for sufficient cooling and inability to upgrade GPUs have added little encouragement.

     As one of the developers stated, the rather short 1 year future horizon WWDC presents to developers is often a deterrent for developers to start complicated rewrites.
    edited June 5 StrangeDaysracerhomie3jeffharrisAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 80
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,872member
    supadav03 said:
    Wouldn’t be surprised. Apple doesn’t seem to care about games or gamers outside the ultra-casual crowd. 
    Apple cares more about it's platform than a few games.  GPU acceleration is used throughout macOS/iOS/tvOS.  So moving to a more advanced rendering (and parallel computing) technology enables all sorts of benefits beyond just gaming.
    edited June 5 StrangeDaysracerhomie3Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 80
    mcdavemcdave Posts: 947member
    Good riddance!  OpenGL is ancient on macOS SO clearly these lowest-common-denominator developers aren’t committed to the platform if they’re putting their own convenience ahead of the customer experience.

    I think Schiller should declare war on lazy ports and obscure Apps developed with 3rd-party frameworks. I don’t buy an iOS product to run apps that look like Android apps.  Embrace iOS/macOS or get out - fit in or f*** off.
    racerhomie3Alex1Nwatto_cobra
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