Game Loop

Bri­anna wu ex­plains why you might want to hold off up­grad­ing to mac OS High Sierra for a while if you play games

Mac|Life - - CONTENTS -

Bri­anna Wu on fal­ter­ing games in High Sierra.

Ded­i­cated gamers and game de­vel­op­ers might want to hold off on up­grad­ing to High Sierra for the time be­ing. As mac OS moves to the new Ap­ple File Sys­tem (APFS) and other new un­der­ly­ing tech, some soft­ware is re­port­edly break­ing.

The an­nounce­ment of APFS was very wel­come news at WWDC 2016. Af­ter the San Bernardino ter­ror­ist at­tack, the FBI wanted Ap­ple to en­gi­neer a back­door into iOS for the gov­ern­ment – a move that was widely cri­tiqued across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum. It was sus­pected that Ap­ple would re­spond by mak­ing its de­vices and the data stored on them even more se­cure.

Pro­tect­ing data is a big fea­ture of APFS. The new file sys­tem pro­vides a level of en­cryp­tion so strong that Ap­ple couldn’t ac­cess your data even if or­dered to by a court. It stores the data with built-in en­cryp­tion, mak­ing the in­for­ma­tion mean­ing­less to some­one with­out a key to un­lock it. At the high­est level of se­cu­rity, it sup­ports multi-key en­cryp­tion - mak­ing both the files and the me­ta­data for the them im­pos­si­ble to read. APFS also in­tro­duces other op­ti­miza­tions for flash stor­age.

While the move to this new file sys­tem will be highly ben­e­fi­cial in the long run, it may be break­ing games in the short term. Unity is one of the most pop­u­lar game en­gines in the world, used in count­less iOS and mac OS games in­clud­ing Hearth­stone, Lara Croft Go, and Fire­watch. Re­ports are com­ing in that af­ter up­grad­ing to High Sierra, many Unity games are

be­com­ing un­playable – in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar Ci­ties: Sky­lines.

The prob­lems go be­yond Unity. While en­gi­neers are still study­ing bug re­ports, early signs seem to sug­gest that Valve’s Source en­gine is also neg­a­tively af­fected by High Sierra. Some of the best Mac games use it, in­clud­ing Por­tal, Team Fortress 2, and Counter-Strike.

Ad­di­tion­ally, some of the tools used by game de­vel­op­ers also seem to be af­fected. Il­lus­tra­tor is heav­ily used by many app de­vel­op­ers to make iconog­ra­phy and in­ter­face ele­ments. But, the most cur­rent ver­sion of it has is­sues when run­ning on High Sierra. An­other Adobe pro app, In De­sign, was re­cently patched – but the sta­bil­ity of the Cre­ative Cloud suite is such that you may want to stick with your old sys­tem for now.

These kinds of er­rors are un­sur­pris­ing, given the am­bi­tious na­ture of changes in High Sierra, not least APFS. Adobe soft­ware is known for its use of anti-piracy mea­sures. With Ap­ple mak­ing changes to so much un­der­ly­ing tech, these kinds of prob­lem may well have been in­evitable.

There’s good news for some Mac own­ers, though – that is, if you’re run­ning a desk­top Mac in which the startup disk is a plain hard drive or a Fu­sion Drive; with ei­ther of those kinds of stor­age, you’ll be un­af­fected by is­sues that re­sult from APFS. That’s be­cause High Sierra doesn’t force those types of stor­age to switch to us­ing the new file sys­tem. (Ap­ple has said that an up­date to en­able APFS on Fu­sion Drives will be in­tro­duced at a later date, though.)

How­ever, if your Mac has a pure SSD as its in­ter­nal startup disk, the mac OS vol­ume is au­to­mat­i­cally con­verted; you should steer clear of High Sierra un­til you know your es­sen­tial apps will run. Al­most all mod­els of MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and MacBook from the past five years have an SSD.

It’s worth not­ing that the scope of these is­sues is un­usual for a mac OS re­lease. In gen­eral, you should ag­gres­sively up­date your Mac and iOS de­vices. Ap­ple is good about patch­ing se­cu­rity holes in its prod­ucts, but such safe­guards can’t work if you don’t in­stall them. My guess is we’ll see is­sues with APFS and graph­i­cal glitches ad­dressed within a few months.

There’s good news if your Mac’s startup disk is a plain hard drive or a Fu­sion Drive

Ci­ties: Sky­lines suf­fers glitches in High Sierra.

Mac Gamer HQ re­ports dis­abling the Brave New World and Gods & Kings add-ons fixes Civ V.

Per­for­mance is said to de­grade in games which use Valve’s Source en­gine, such as Half-Life 2.

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