Saturday, March 13, 2010

Steam on Mac Gaming

A lot of gamers have been waiting for this. It has definitely become one of the most talked about things of the Mac since the debut of the iPhone back in ’07 and the only thing talked about the Mac nowadays. A software that has gotten plenty of praise from the press, users of the software and hard-nosed critics. Finally, on May 12th, 2010, Valve Corporation’s venture onto the Mac platform will take another step forward with the Steam for Mac public release.

Valve over the past few months has hinted and teased the masses with some screenshots of development of the software for the Mac. Later, the company officially revealed that they were working on a version of the software for the Mac that would be released within this year’s time. The group even decided to tickle people’s fancy who have been waiting for the software to come on Apple branded machines by giving them several of games that would be ported to the Mac OS X platform on launch. Several reports of the product have already been reported from testers who have been using a beta version of the software, including Brad Nicholson of MacRumors who states that people who have used the software on Windows via a Windows or an Apple logo machine with Boot Camp will “feel at home” with its Mac counterpart. Currently on the beta there are two games: Portal and Team Fortress 2.

The interface of software has been distinguished as recognizable from the Windows version. At the top of the software’s window, Steam for Mac provides menus for some of the applications main functions such as the “Store” for buying digital content, the “Library” selection that categorizes all of the games in your catalog, “News” for information on software updates that include patches to the software and new features being added and the “Community” option of interacting with other users on the app. Invitations from friends on the product still appear snappy with the format of the Growl notification feature. Advertisement for new games and content appear to exhibit that same performance as well. The entire Steam software performance is fluid and fast, presenting no hiccups in the experience, most importantly.

The application even presents cross-platform features. Through the ability of “Steam Play,” users can access content they have already purchased from the Windows version of the software that has been ported to the Mac and re-obtain them for free. As of right now, the only games that present this feature is the two games that is available on the beta, Portal and Team Fortress 2. However, more games are more than likely to incorporate this feature.

Based on the observation for individuals who are testing the software, Valve seems to be taking the cross-platform functionality very serious as users of the Mac version thats currently in testing have been playing Portal and Team Fortress 2 with users who are playing from Windows, indicating that games and users on both platforms can interact with one another on the same server. Steam can also keep information in order amongst the different software versions. Elements such as the Library, Friends and profile of a subject are all shared between both forms of Steam. However, it has been brought to attention that some features will be displayed on the Mac issue of the software specifically, such as a function to help Mac OS users know what content can be played on the platform. This features is not in the beta, though.

OpenGL is what both of the games on the beta are running on right now. They are still experienced like their Windows builds, but they might not look the same as they do on the Windows version. For instance, Brad of MacRumors had to alter the rendering of the game a little to achieve a smoother gameplay, However, he does not forget to mention to his readers that he is running a MacBook that is using a NVIDIA 9400M integrated graphics hardware, with no dedicated graphic chip whatsoever, which most users on the software have and use discrete GPUs where integrated graphics are not built to utilized gaming of the stature. In spite of that, he also doesn’t fail to mention that in the other game, Team Fortress 2, even though he had to turn down the graphics volume to almost it’s lowest value, the integrated graphics of his MacBook still rendered the content surprisingly good.
The games on the beta are older titles and wouldn’t necessarily be the best indicator of what Valve has up their sleeve. The group is speculated to bring some of its bigger titles including Left 4 Dead 2, Half-Life and Counter-Strike, games in which will really show how good the work Valve has done in committing to the platform.

Some things are missing and expecting to be supported soon after the launch. One in particular would be Gamepad support. Valve has mentioned that this is something that’s on their to-do list.

There hasn’t been anything drool-worthy per se with the beta, but from the looks of it, it definitely seems like it is turning out to be a great job done by Valve. We here at MacApper viewed the beta from a acquaintance who has obtained it on their 13-inch MacBook and we must say, even with the detail of graphics turned down to a minimum, the integrated graphics of NVIDIA delivered eyebrow-raising results. This only indicated to use how powerful the Mac’s hardware configuration is and, more importantly, how optimized Mac OS X is. Steam is gearing up to be available for the public on May 12th


Post a Comment