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Jul 02, 2008



"Is it a mistake on Funcom's part not to design a Mac client, and if so, how big of a mistake is it?"

Considering the laundry list of other Funcom AoC Fubars that affect EVERY client, the lack of a Mac client rather gets lost in the noise.


Considering that at least 75% of all of Apple's hardware offerings aren't even able to run the game, and only high-end iMacs and custom-specced Mac Pros meet the recommended configuration, I'd have to blame this fact partly on Apple. Why release a client on a different platform if it will result in a poor experience for 90% of the already quite minimal audience?

Of course, it doesn't help matters that the client is written in DirectX only. WoW had dual graphics engines from the get-go as I recall, which is why it plays nicely on both Mac and Linux (through Wine).


I'm not a particularly strong tech guy but why not use something like Transgaming's Cider platform to enable Mac compatibility? I met with them a couple weeks ago and was impressed to see Spore, Command & Conquer 3, etc running flawlessly on a Mac via Cider.



(Erm, that question wasn't directed at Thomas...it's directed at other developers who might be aware of some downsides of Cider that I'm not.)


Lachek, I'm sure that part of WoW's success is that it doesn't require (and never really did require) high-end machines to run.

That makes it easier for Blizzard to support Macs, of course.

But it also means that any weaker PC is better supported - AoC only runs properly on fairly high-end machines. I'd consider that a blunder if you want to be a widely successful MMO in general, independently of any questions of operating systems.


Macs also do not make up a significant portion of the computer OS's out there (Windows is still dominant). That combined with what was already pointed out (that Macs are poorly equipped for gaming) means that the developers can afford to ignore Macs.


Macs also do not make up a significant portion of the computer OS's out there (Windows is still dominant). That combined with what was already pointed out (that Macs are poorly equipped for gaming) means that the developers can afford to ignore Macs.


I agree with the poster: my experience with both WoW and Second Life have me accustomed to expecting a Mac client. That said, I would run AoC in Windows XP using Boot Camp if I had a burning desire to play AoC.


Not to cut on the mac, but as others have mentioned, most of basic hardware lacks the minimum system requirements. Mac sales are growing largely around the laptops, which aren't very strong in the video card arena.

As for development... well, Age of Conan was developed with DirectX 10 in mind (a windows-only port that also facilitates the XBOX360 port) and for all those religious believers in OpenGL, there's a reason why people lock themselves into the DirectX-Microsoft path. It works. It saves development time. In fact, the savings in development effort is far more than the potential sales to the mac userbase. (again, no diss intended).

Finally, there's the comment about the growing user base. The mac may be increasing in the desirable young adult market, but it has quite a bit of ground to make up. Despite the "young, hip" portrayal, the average mac user is older than the average PC user. (Something like 46% of Mac users were 55 years old or older in 2006, according to one source).

If Jobs put his attention toward the gaming market, he'd probably make a good run at it. He hasn't... yet. I wager he'll focus on mobile phone gaming first, anyway.


I consider it a massive blunder. While GotGame.com is correct in saying that Macs make up only 14% of the computers out there, they make up closer to 60% of computers costing $1000 or more. These, not the $300 budget PCs, are the actual numbers you want to look at for potential users of a modern game title.

While it could certainly be argued that more of the $1000+ PC machines will be used for games (the number of said machines that get marketed as "gaming pcs" on sites like Dell certainly make a case for such), you're still effectively cutting your potential market by half. I would definitely say this qualifies as a "class A blunder."

Not convinced? Let's look a little further: the best selling PC titles of all time are Myst (dual platform release), Starcraft (dual platform release), Warcraft 1-3 (dual platform release), Diablo 1-2 (dual platform release), World of Warcraft (dual platform release), The Sims (6 month delay between Mac and PC). For titles that have either not been ported or weren't ported for an extended period of time, there is Half-Life, and Lineage 2.

Honestly, and this is purely anecdotal from talking to various developers, the primary reason the Mac isn't targeted for dual deployment more often is because the people authorized to make that decision either a) don't like Macs in general; b) think developing for the Mac is still as painful as it was in the days of OS 7-9; c) are completely wedded to DirectX, and haven't bothered looking at what's being doing with OpenGL and OpenAL. (And with the advent of things like Cider, which if I recall correctly is what was used to port Eve Online's DirectX-based client to the Mac, [c] is harder and harder to justify as an excuse.)


FWIW, I like my experience with boot camp. Apple was right, the novelty of using XP on the mac wears off quickly and the usability differences crop up almost immediately.

I see Apple gaming share as being largely their fault. Blizzard is committed to producing titles on multiple platforms, but not all developers are. Apple gaming support for DEVELOPERS and corporate is notoriously shitty. This goes beyond the standard "No we can't tell you our roadmap" to ignoring requests to collaborate on hardware dev kits. The usual rotation starts with a developer calling apple for some support to put a title on the mac. Apple sounds interested and tells the developer how great this would be. They even write up some ads at the VERY early phase (notice how early Halo was pushed as a mac product?). Later, after a period of silence, the developer calls apple and basically gets the run-around on critical information. This kind of behavior is cool for Microsoft. Everyone HAS to develop for their crappy platform (seriously, finding out how to get to an auto-restored document in Office 2007 was an exercise in frustration. That help system was DESIGNED with the intent of being as obtuse as possible). But for apple, who needs to be hungry for this stuff, it is unacceptable.

The Conan people may have missed the boat or they may have rejected it in early meetings or they may have been rebuffed at the last minute. Who knows? I haven't played it and know little to nothing about it.


What's the point really? Windows dominates 95% of the market. I'm guessing that making a port would cost them valuable human resources they'd rather use on fixing bugs and other issues. 4% of the market just isn't enough for that.

Personally, I'd love AoC for Linux, but I doubt that I'll be getting it anytime soon.


Yes, it's a blunder, but it's really a symptom of a larger disease. That disease being, the game was created with much-too-high hardware requirements at all. I have a dual-core AMD chip system at home that runs every game just fine, lots of RAM and it had a relatively up-to-date ATI video card with 512mb of RAM in it. I could barely run AoC. I ended up upgrading my video card to an overclocked Nvidia and now the game looks pretty good (though I still have sound issues).

So basically Funcom assumed (correctly, in my case, I am forced to admit) that people would upgrade their hardware in order to be able to play their game. Maybe there is a Mac out there somewhere with the graphics horsepower to run AoC, but I've never owned one like that. Hell I can hardly even play the Mac port of Sims 2 on my MacBook Pro, and it's less than a year old with a decent enough video card and plenty of RAM!

I think it's wonderful that Blizzard created a game client that looks gorgeous (though in a much different style than AoC) and runs fine on older PCs, Linux machines, and Macs. I certainly wish Funcom had done the same and I think it was a blunder what they did instead, but I also think they don't care.


"[T]he best selling PC titles of all time are Myst (dual platform release), Starcraft (dual platform release), Warcraft 1-3 (dual platform release), Diablo 1-2 (dual platform release), World of Warcraft (dual platform release), The Sims (6 month delay between Mac and PC)."

I don't think that any of those titles succeeded because they were "dual platform" - several of them (Myst, WC1 and 2, etc) were actually DOS releases and ported to Mac much later and during a low point in Macintosh market share. In fact, the only game up there that was released on the PC and Mac simultaneously was World of Warcraft (though I could be wrong).

To answer the original question, I don't think it's going to make any difference whatsoever. AAA PC titles (that is to say, Personal Computer, not exclusively Windows) have gotten to a point where their technical abilities aren't significantly better than the new crop of consoles. The old advantages of PC games like online play and graphical superiority aren't factors anymore. The only bonuses are to people who are used to a mouse interface for strategy and FPS games, but for the newer crop that cut their teeth on Halo even that feels foreign.

Meanwhile, you can get a Wii for $250, or an entry-level PS3 or Xbox 360 for $400. If you want an upper midrange video card, it'll set you back at least $250, up to $600 or so for the top-of-the line, to say nothing of the new bells and whistles like solid state hard drives and quad-core CPUs. And while Apple makes decent machines, they're underpowered in the graphics department - most Mac users spend a lot of time with Aqua, so that's a prime consideration.

It's clear that Funcom wanted the "higher-end" market, otherwise they would have done the WoW thing and made their game lighter on the graphical needs to appeal to the widest audience. Or, really, if they wanted mass market appeal, they would have made it an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 game.


Yes, Macs sell better above $1000... particularly their laptop. In fact, their lowest-end laptops start at $1,000. Go to the apple store and look for the video card in these machines. They're not even listed. Mac Mini? Not specified. Macbook Air? Ditto.

The video card data finally apears in the iMac data, but there's a whole range of Mac buyers that never consider this low-visibility computer when they pick it or the games they expect to run on it.

The video card is frequently the mac's weakest part from a gaming perspective. They package everything that's needed for strong desktop performance in their notebooks and nothing more (for good reason- video cards are energy hogs. If you're not marketing it for gaming, boost battery life). WoW works well on the mac specifically because WoW makes so few demands on the notebook.

The small part of the PC market that's MAC is dominated by these notebook sales. If you're building a high-performance game, the % of the Mac market that's going to be compatible is much smallter than their already-dwarfed numbers indicate.


Since when is it a bad thing that a game pushes computing hardware requirements to the limit? Gaming has been the only reason I've ever needed to update my computer system, way back to the days of my 233Mhz MMX Aptiva machine that could only just run Diablo II. I bought my desktop to replace a top-notch laptop so I could play Warcraft.

If games didn't push the technology, we'd all still be using Windows 3.1 for our Office-type applications, and the only people with powerful machines would be the CAD types with their Silicon Graphics machines of the 90s.


Well, for a start I'd dispute the "60% of computers over the $1000 level" Mac sales comment, it's quite frankly ridiculous. Mostly because it's ignoring any market other than the US.

Here in the UK $1000 is going to get you £500-600, which is a bottom end pc if you want to play any kind of game and won't even touch buying a Mac that has any kind of graphics. In the UK Macs are more expensive than any PC with a similar spec, and even more expensive if you want anything like the performance for a brand new MMO.

I've tried looking at Mac laptops when I was trying to buy a machine for gaming while away from home, and I decided it wasn't worth the extra £300 ($500-600) it was going to cost me to get one with the graphics to play my current MMO choice, compared to the Dell PC I checked out.

So, considering their market niche, and the sheer fact that the ability to limit cost and maximise revenue is going to drive any MMO, especially those on a limited budget - I'd hardly see it as a priority to make a Mac client. Will they lose some business, sure, but will they make more profit by devoting those same resources to make the game they have as good as they can for the PC - definately.


Lots of helpful comments. It's clear that the high hardware requirements are bound up in whatever judgment we make about how smart Funcom has been with AoC. I continue to wonder, however, whether much of the reasoning here shows the legacy of single player computer games and their development. For those games, shutting out a minority platform has a lower cost to potential revenue than doing so with an MMO, which has such a huge opportunity to leverage social networks for its own growth.

Also, I think it's very likely that, for the userbase we're talking about (which would eliminate business-owned PCs, pretty much), the 4-5% number is very likely too low (and the 60% number is too high). If the number of Macs in the hands of people who might play AoC is somewhere around 15-20%, that seems like a segment that it is not smart to ignore if your game is supposed to appeal to groups of friends (again, the high hardware requirements aside).


Nobody has yet mentioned (I think, lots of long posts on this - so I may have missed it) that AoC is a "Games for Windows" branded game. Which on one side means they need to support a lot of Windows requirements like all the new stuff in Vista (fixed paths, Vista games explorer, ... ), 64-bit Vista/XP platform support and more.
Hearsay has it that MS has been actively recruiting companies into these programs, which probably means incentives, free support for developers etc.
So this probably gives Funcom a monetary incentive, and a technological incentive, as the MS certifications will be much easier to achieve on DX9 and 10. Also it gives direct portability to a major console. And "paranoid" people might suggest that they are actively encouraged by MS to not develop multi-platform engines.
This of course leads to multi platform problems, and leaves you with more or less stable alternatives like boot camp and cider/cedega or wine. For the cedega part I know from EVE Online's porting that ATI cards are not supported due to bad drivers from them, and there are other HW limitations that can crop up creating a support nightmare.
From what I can tell this is a general trend in games in general (keeping consoles out of it - as they are somewhat proprietary anyways), and a greater and greater percentage of games are DX9/10 only, you need to go back a few years to find a high percentage of games with a dual engine strategy (i.e. you could select DX or OpenGL on install or even after install, or they where simply OpenGL and thus multi platform). This development probably spawned the whole emulator (cider et.al.) business.
And from what I understand from the outside, MS and DX has such a foothold and mindshare in some places that it's difficult to find developers experienced and comfortable with OpenGL. Not really an excuse as they aren't that different, but tell that to a project manager, it will definitively be on the major risks list...
So although the extreme HW requirements of AoC probably enters into the equation, I think there are larger issues at play in the games industry as a whole, that we may have been spared of in the MMOG sector, so far. Blizzard being a notable exception amongst the mass market players I guess.


I am a rabid mac user. Well specced mac pro on my desk, new macbook pro or my iphone for mobile use. Yet despite an 8800 in my mac pro and a boot camp install, I game on an xbox + tv. Its just an easier system to maintain.

I think its a minor blunder, if a blunder at all. The whole desktop machine as a "gaming rig" is going away, and the next gen of consoles will probably be able to support MMOs much more cleanly anyways. The only reason its even a discussion is because blizzard does such a magnificent job with maintaining multiple platforms.

Anyways, from my personal/anecdotal experience mac users do game, but from personal experience they play mainstream titles. Those that are interested in playing more diverse games either have dedicated hardware (console or second PC) or run bootcamp on capable hardware. I don't think its because of necessity, its just that mac users don't view the primary purpose of their machines as gaming.

As other posters have noted, Funcom generally has issues getting their PC versions "right" so a port is probably out of the question. Blizzard succeeds because they have a superb development cycle that treats the mac client and windows client as equals rather than one being a "port" of the other. There are very few project managers that can wrap their heads around developing like that.


I feel your pain - I couldn't even get it to run on my PC. Well, I could get the patcher to run, but never managed to get a completely patched client in order to run that...



I think you will find all iMacs now have updated (read: decent) cards, that NVidia are now working with Apple, and the next year of 3D iPhone3G games (forget twitch, they are now tilt games) will see a phenomenal increase in iPhone game dev, and also apple mac game dev which will also influence mac gaming.
To develop games for the iPhone you use Cocoa, and merely click a button or two to distinguish it from mac, this is surely Apple's clever plan to viralize it's main gaming development platform.



You really might want to replace your Disc 2. :P Sounds like a classical installation problem: Failed to install one or two files, patcher expects a clean installation (which is not present) and keeps reinitialising checksum scans with each file batch. I had a similar problem with Anarchy Online a few years ago. This seems to be a rather classical error with Funcom architecture. (You could also try installing it from a different optical drive or on a different system ;) )


Is it true that the girl toons are weaker? Amazing.


95% are Windows PC? OK, how many of those are office equipment that most real people won't ever be able to play any games on?

Or is it 95% of home computers? Because home computers are the only thing that matters for selling games, I would think. That's not an invitation for smug academics to state that playing WoW all day is what they call work- I'm talking about real people/potential customers.


Everyone has made some really great comments, and I can't top all the stats thrown out.

But, from my own personal experience, I can say that I 100% would have tried AoC if it was on the Mac and will 0% try it since it isn't.

Future MMOs...give us a choice!


There is a theory that one of the reasons for WoW's success is that it supported both Win and Mac. The idea is based on logic like this from a "typical" group of friends into social gaming, talking about two games X and Y, where X supports Windows only and Y supports both: "Well we could play game X, but that would leave out (5% of our group), so lets not bother with that and play Y instead." In this way, the _existence_ of a the Mac client actually sells more Windows units.

First mention I heard of this idea is here: http://samablog.robsama.com/?p=2625


"I don't think that any of those titles succeeded because they were "dual platform" - several of them (Myst, WC1 and 2, etc) were actually DOS releases and ported to Mac much later and during a low point in Macintosh market share. In fact, the only game up there that was released on the PC and Mac simultaneously was World of Warcraft (though I could be wrong)."

Myst was a Macintosh original game. It was written in HyperCard and used QuickTime for all of the video.
Warcraft, Warcraft 2, Starcraft, and Diablo were ported from DOS to Mac OS after about a year from their original release.
Diablo 2 and Warcraft 3 were dual-platform or near-simultaneous releases.

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