Macs vs. Games?

Recently, a local community college was auctioning off some computers, and I got an iMac G5 out of the deal. I would post a picture, but the pop-up search box won't display the Mac's gallery when I type in "Mac". Instead, it wants to put some idiot named John MacTavish (insert Call of Duty 4 fans flaming me) at the top, despite the fact that there is an article with the exact name "Mac". I guess that just goes to show you how far removed Macs are from games.

Back on topic, I got the new Mac, and after having to send off to Apple for some new OS 10.3 discs, I turned it on. A few days later, I was hooked. I even found myself on the Windows computer I'm writing this blog on right now Control-clicking instead of right-clicking and swinging my mouse up to the top left of the screen to activate my Exposé "Show All Windows" feature. In fact, while I was waiting for said Windows computer to load, I yelled out in frustration how much I hate Windows after it STILL hadn't loaded after going elsewhere and listening to three CD tracks.

Anyway, so, said few days ago, I thought, "It would be cool if I could play Portal on the Mac." So I called up steampowered.com, and checked the "About". It only supported Windows. I was infuriated, then I suddenly realized that I really shouldn't be that surprised. Windows has dominated the market ever since ever. Hang on a second while I compare the platforms on their gaming prowess.

HARDWARE POWER: With Windows, you have a mixed bag of hardware. Some is great, some isn't that great. Macs are designed for graphics, video, and sound - which sounds like the perfect environment for some of the latest games. And although some stats may seem less than their IBM-compatible counterparts, Mac OS X is more tightly integrated so you end up getting better performance for less processor speed. Verdict: Mac.

HARDWARE ISSUES: Windows has a wide variety of hardware, so probably not all of it will work. Macs all use standard hardware, so once a game works on one Mac, it'll probably work on all of them (with the same operating system). Verdict: Mac.

HARDWARE UPGRADABILITY: Mac suffers a bit on this one. On my G5, you can't really get into the system's guts easily. However, as I said earlier, you probably won't really need to upgrade the hardware, as a $2,199 Intel iMac has 3.06GHz processing speed (faster than it sounds, even), 2GB of RAM, 500GB of hard disk, a 512MB graphics card, and a 24" widescreen display. PCs are more easily upgradable, but as I said, you don't need to on a Mac. Verdict: Technically Windows, but Mac doesn't really need upgrades so I'm not really going to count this one for either.

END-USER PRICING: On basic desktops, Windows runs circles around the Mac in terms of price point. But when it gets to gaming rigs, Mac models can match up with similarly priced IBM-compatibles. Verdict: Windows for lower-end models, Mac for gaming.

So as far as technics go, Macs would be an incredibly more suitable platform than PCs for game development. Then why don't people like Valve write software for Mac? The answer is this:

USER BASE: Macs have only 7.5% of the user base, with Windows having about 91% of the world. (We leave 1% for Linux, Solaris, and other operating systems most random people I talk to have never heard of.) How did Windows get so big? I have no idea. Okay, I have one idea, but I'll leave it alone for now. Interestingly, very few people seem to really LOVE Windows - one person in a book on switching from Mac to Windows said that she hated Macs, but really didn't know why.

However, THIS seems to be the key reason why Macs aren't developed for: not enough people use them. How can that be changed? The only way more people will use Macs is if more games/software are developed, but the reason more games/software isn't developed is because not enough people use Macs. It's not really going to be easy, at all, to get Macs to increase - it's all about who's going to make the first move. But in my opinion, it's necessary for the Mac to be realized as real gaming machine.. (Of course, until then, I can buy one of those shiny new Intel iMacs and dual-boot Windows. It would have to be on eBay, though.)

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One-Man (Swiss) Army

I'm kind of surprised no one has thought of this before - license the image of the iconic Swiss Army Knife for a team-based first-person shooter. I imagine a scenario something like this:

You are playing Capture the Flag against the evil forces of communism, or terrorism, or something. Due to an accident with your weapons menu systems, you and your friend have lost all your weapons except your Swiss Army Knives. Your team is engaging the communists/terrorists, and you and said friend are somehow fighting only one. You pull out the Flashlight setting on the knife and shine it directly in his eyes, blinding said communist/terrorist. Your friend takes out his knife with the Large Blade out, sneaks up behind him, and stabs him in the back.

While your friend verifies his deadness by kicking him a couple of times and taking his AK-47, you run off to an enemy SUV. You hop in, and switch to the diamond-bladed Metal Saw/File setting. You cut out the entire ignition system, cut and strip some wires, and put them together to hotwire the SUV. Your friend hops in, and you drive to the enemy base, which has a laser tripwire guarding the door - break it, and an explosive charge goes off. You switch to the Laser Pointer setting, hit your Zoom Scope, and aim directly at the reciever for the tripwire. You hold the primary trigger to provide a laser beam (which is conveniently the same frequency as the tripwire emitter's) for the reciever to pick up while your friend pulls out his Lockpick Blade (you've got to add a few things) and uses it on the door. After the door is unlocked, he pulls out the AK-47 he got from the dead guy (who has probably respawned by now), kicks open the door, and shoots everybody inside. You then return to base with the flag and score a point for your team.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't really think such a versatile tool has been really included in a first-person shooter before. Of course, hopefully, the game's weapons menu systems wouldn't leave you with just a Swiss Army Knife in the first place, but it would still be incredibly helpful. And if Victorinox won't let you use the brand, you could just make something up. Of course, now that I think about it, a game where you just had a Swiss Army Knife would actually be a pretty cool game...

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