Is Metal a game changer? An interview with Feral Interactive
When Apple announced MacOS Metal at the 2015 WWDC keynote, I was excited.
Metal was introduced as a set of 3D tools that would optimize GPU usage and maximize the graphics potential of your Mac. It sounded like a dream come true for gamers and developers alike, the thing that could take Mac gaming to the next level.
But then the year went by and nothing happened. It wasn't even mentioned during 2016's WWDC keynote, and a year later, not a single game supported it.
It all started to sound like a marketing gimmick that wouldn't change a thing.
And then Blizzard updated World of Warcraft to support it and performance took off (becoming 61% faster to be exact).
Soon after, Feral Interactive confirmed Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, DiRT Rally, and more would support it too. Now an impressive number of MacOS Metal games are available and the list continues to grow.
It seems Apple just needed a little more time and Brianna Wu from iMore was right all along: Metal for OS X is huge.
But to better understand how important it can truly be for gaming, I decided to sit down with Andy Wood, Head of Commercial at Feral Interactive, and ask a few questions.
After all, who knows Mac gaming better than Feral?
Our interview with Andy
Q: With Sierra, do you think Metal will finally have the features to replace Apple’s aging OpenGL engine?
A: Metal has developed quite a bit in the last few months. Sierra includes many of the key features that new games need, but currently it still requires a fair bit of engineering from us in order to get the games over the release line.
Q: By the way, would you say Apple's aging OpenGL is starting to be a real problem for developers?
A: It has been a challenge to work with OpenGL for some years now, especially with the advent of new graphics technologies. For example, we weren't able to release F1 2015 on Mac because OpenGL didn't have the necessary features. But don't worry, we have some racing projects planned to make up for that!
Q: Do you have active plans to move your games (new and/or old) to Metal?
Q: If so, could you tell us more about your current projects (which game, ETA)?
A: We are excited to share that Deus Ex: Mankind Divided will come to Mac using Metal, and will be available this year!
Q: Would you say these new features will make Metal much easier to use for development?
A: It's not about making development easier exactly, but the new features in Metal certainly make more games feasible on Mac. Without these features, many modern games just wouldn't be viable. With Metal, we have much more possibilities to bring them to the Mac with good performance.
Q: Are you in contact with Apple regarding Metal (feedback on the current state, new features, etc)?
A: If we told you that we'd have to kill you.
Classic Feral 😉 Thanks, Andy.
Will Metal eventually deliver more and better games?
Feral's answers are reassuring. It's great to hear it will open more possibilities and that Apple is indeed working on it behind the scenes. But will it help bring more and better games to Mac?
Metal is supposed to be better than OpenGL, but OpenGL is open source and developers can use it to work on Mac, Windows, and Linux ports. Metal is exclusive to Apple and many fear this will work against what we all want: more cross-platform games.
I understand why many Linux gamers worry. In a perfect world, developers would use a set of tools that work on all platforms. That would greatly reduce the barriers to support multiple platforms and we should translate into more games for everybody.
Vulkan was supposed to be that tool, but that dream is over.
What do you think? Can Metal truly take Mac gaming to the next level or will it hurt it by complicating cross-platform development?