Recently, one of Apple’s focuses at the latest WWDC keynote has been gaming. Two important pillars for this are an HLSL to Metal shader compiler, and the Game Porting Toolkit. Both are important, since HLSL is dominant for shaders in the industry, but the GPTK has become popular outside its intended target audience, with many videos with end-users instead of developers using it to try the latest AAA games. This has led to a lot of speculation online about what obstacles exist for game developers looking to port their games to Mac. What challenges actually matter?
(This is a bit of a rougher post, more addressing common points I see from Mac gamers on why they don’t have games. I’m not a game developer or expert in 3D graphics APIs, but I do keep up with the space. There is also some Kremlinology on Apple, but that’s inevitable considering the secrecy.)
This post was inspired by some controversy with Valve and their support for Linux, but the bulk of it comes from long-term observation. One of the biggest impacts with the viability of Linux on the desktop was Valve’s Proton, a Wine fork integrated in Steam allowing almost any Windows game to work out of the box. To Linux users, life was good. However, with the recent announcement of the Steam Deck, a handheld device powered by Linux, Valve’s marketing towards developers explicitly mention no porting required. Valve’s been aggressive with this message enough that they’ve allegedly told developers simply not to bother with Linux ports anymore; enough that it makes commercial porters like Ethan Lee concerned.
However, I suspect this is the long-term result of other factors, and games are only one aspect of it. After all, we all know the Year of the Linux Desktop is around the corner, along with nice applications. Linux won’t rule the world just from games, even if some people really want it to be true. How did it come to this, and why?
After upgrading my system to Fedora 33, I realized voice chat in Overwatch didn’t work. The symptoms included:
- The microphone worked in other applications, and there was no permissions issues involved
- When joining a voice chat (like a group), the message saying that you’re in a voice chat would never appear, and you would never hear anyone else
- The microphone icon in the game was forced to mute
Switching the WINE audio system from Pulse to ALSA didn’t work. What did work was changing the system cryptography policies:
$ sudo update-crypto-policies --set LEGACY
No reboot is required. This is an awfully big hammer though – I’d like to know what exact ciphers or protocols that Overwatch needs that are disabled in the stock crypto policies.