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protomelvin

Question about Macbook Pro and game development

21 posts in this topic

So, I've only been studying for a few weeks now on programming C#, and am starting to think that C++ might be a better option going forward, although that's a different point, but school's started and I'm looking to get a portable computer for use in classes. I'm attending an art school so in reality, I only have one course that will need a computer for, Media Arts and Digital Technology, but I can use it for notetaking for some other courses. I plan on majoring in Media Arts and Digital Technology, so in the future having a good portable device I can work on at home and school would be worth the investment. I'm curious, though, whether or not buying a MacBook Pro would be necessary or not, and if I would be able to use it for doing game development in the future. Just to note, I do have a fairly decent PC I bought this past winter, so this won't end up being my main all-around computer.

If anyone has any advice they can offer, that would be wonderful. Thank-you.
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While the specs on a Macbook Pro are all right, and they are pretty much regarded as media editing laptops (Photoshop and so on) I think the price is totally out of proportion. I just asked a similar kind of question to games dev in the lounge forums because i wanted a decent laptop for going abroad to study.

Take a look at it and see what you think, some of the comments may still be relevant.

http://www.gamedev.net/topic/629085-laptop-advice/page__p__4966105#entry4966105

If you need any more information, just ask. That's what the community are here for.
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Windows and Linux also run better on normal laptops. If needed, you could still install OSX86 aside (kind of pain in the ass). Like me, I triple boot very fine with grub.
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It mostly comes down to how much would you want to use OS X, and if you prefer the software on it. It would mostly be a major boon for people that are seriously interested in iOS development. Otherwise it's harder to make a compelling choice for this laptop (I have a MacBook mainly for work and this is my opinion). On the other hand, as derda4, mentioned, it's harder to get OS X running on a PC than it is to Bootcamp Windows on a Mac.
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The biggest problem with owning a MacBook is they only work at Starbucks, and in that case, they are only capable of surfing Facebook and writing awful screenplays...


I gest of course.


With MacBook Pro's, you are paying a massive premium for so-so hardware and incredible build quality. The OS used to be a huge upside, if you want a user friendly *nix platform, Mac was the way to go, except a) Mac OS/X has aged poorly b) Apple has been more restrictive c) Ubuntu has gotten better.


So, unless you are looking to write for iOS, or are looking for a +3 CHA modifier at Starbucks, there is very little to recommend a MacBook Pro. Unless of course money is no object. I personally get buy working primarily on Windows and Linux with my portables ( an Acer TimeLine 11" and Asus G53 if you care ) and my 4 year old iMac at home when I need to build for iOS/Mac.

There is also [url="http://www.macincloud.com/"]MacInCloud[/url] but as you can see [url="http://www.gamefromscratch.com/post/2012/05/09/Pay-as-you-go-Macintosh-development-A-MacInCloudcom-review.aspx"]from my review[/url], it kinda sucks. Maybe it's gotten better since.
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Macs are very polarising. If you have used a Mac all your life (as I have), then you really can't do without one, and the productivity gain is well worth the price premium. If you come from a Unix/Window background, odds are good that you'll either hate the UI, or hate the restrictions Apple places on you.

Bottom line, go to the Apple store, give one a spin. If you fall in love in the first 20 minutes, then your choice will have been made for you.

***
I'm also bouncing this topic to the lounge. For Beginners is for technical questions. Edited by swiftcoder
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I switched from a PC to a mac 5 years ago. I'm definitely loving it. I use it daily for work and my own hobby products. I do keep a PC lying around for cross platform work and testing.

As swiftcoder said. GIve it a spin, you may like it but if not there are good laptops available in Windows and *nix.
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Really most of the software you'll be using on your course will be available on windows and for the same money you can get an extremely powerful windows laptop compared to a low end macbook. On the other hand you will have another platform for cross platform game development at home for testing.
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[quote name='6677' timestamp='1347038616' post='4977736']
Really most of the software you'll be using on your course will be available on windows and for the same money you can get an extremely powerful windows laptop compared to a low end macbook. On the other hand you will have another platform for cross platform game development at home for testing.
[/quote]

The pragmatist in me simply can't justify paying double the money for half the machine. There is a bit of hyperbole in that statement, but not actually all that much. The MacBook pro's are exceedingly expensive, at least in Canada they are. While the MacBooks are far too weak as a primary machine for a game developer.

This price gap is even more jarring when you look at the Mac Mini, or ( to a lesser degree ) iMac, which are quite affordable. The simple fact you can get a Mac Mini, and a better Wintel laptop for less than the price of a gaming/gamedev worthy MacBook is a hard pill to swallow.

That said, as integrated chipsets improve ( the HD4000 series is *MUCH* more viable than the old 3000 series ), then the Air's suddenly start looking like a better option. But at the end of the day, if you are a developer or a gamer, or a game developer, you have to pay through your ass to get a GPU equipped Macbook. Edited by Serapth
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TL;DR: Not worth it, especially for students. Buy a PC, and then blow the money you saved on accessories like an extra monitor or nice peripherals.
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If you can hold out till november, I'd wait for some of the new windows tablets. There are some really great convertible tablets coming out with the windows 8 launch.
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A few years ago, I bought a Macbook pro off of craigslist for around $800. I wanted to write an iPhone app and that requires Objective-C which can only run on a Mac (according to my research anyways).

Pros:
-The OS is pretty sleek, but its hard to get used to if you've only used windows.
-The laptop is light weight and fast
-The power cord is very efficiently designed for portability
-You can run unix/linux commands from the console

Cons:
-The laptop will get very hot if the CPU is running hard for a while
-My battery is dead, so I have to buy a new one. I didn't use the laptop for a long time.
-I don't like how the file system is hidden from me in the GUI
-I don't like the mac equivalent of "Ctrl" on the keyboard. It's a minor gripe, but its positioning is weird and takes some getting used to.

One thing to note though: in 2012, Macs are not a "must have" for artists. If I was an artist, I'd go with a PC since there are many more tools available (3D modelers) and there isn't a distinction between photoshop on the platforms.

In your case, you probably don't need a mac. Just buy a spiral notebook for note taking in class. When it comes to taking notes, keyboards are actually a subtle limitation because you can't draw diagrams or place text in margins. All your game dev needs can be done on your PC.
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Macs are PCs, though the question is which OS you want to run - which then influences hardware choice. But I'm a bit confused where this question comes from - I mean you ask "whether or not buying a MacBook Pro would be necessary or not", well, the simple answer is that clearly it isn't necessary.

Did you mean that you had already decided you wanted one (for whatever reasons) and were asking if it was still okay for game development? Or you were interested in trying a different OS, and were asking which is better? Or you've been mislead to believe that only Apple make portable laptops (certainly not true!)? Or something else?

My personal view is, whilst I'm sure that OS X is perfectly okay, I also see nothing overall better about it either. I like Windows, which also has the advantaging of being the most popular platform. I also run Ubuntu which is fine (overall I prefer Windows, but they each have their positives and negatives). Several times when I've used an Apple product/UI, it's tended to annoy me, so I prefer to stick with things that just work. I also have the advantage of buying whatever hardware I want, rather than locking myself into only what choices Apple offer, which tends to miss entire product categories (e.g., I currently have a high end Clevo, and a 10" Samsung netbook for portability, and Apple has absolutely nothing in either of those categories - there's nothing wrong with that as a PC maker, but it is a problem if you're reliant on them as the only way to run the OS that you chose). Even if I was buying something in the categories that they have products, I'd still want as much choice as possible, rather than only having a choice of one company - e.g., if I wanted an 11" high end portable, I'd rather pick one that has page up/down keys, and doesn't have a tacky light up corporate logo. These may be little things, but why restrict yourself to one make of PC, when I can just move onto the next one on offer?

(Plus even if I was tempted, I'd not want to give money now to a patent troll, and I also worry about the whole locked-down future of computing they want to push with their i-things...)
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[quote name='way2lazy2care' timestamp='1347162322' post='4978164']
If you can hold out till november, I'd wait for some of the new windows tablets. There are some really great convertible tablets coming out with the windows 8 launch.
[/quote] I agree, for portable computing it looks like there'll be a lot more choice in the coming months. Just to add, these will also all have the ability to work with graphics pens as well as finger touch (and keyboard), so useful to draw diagrams/etc (as slayemin points out).
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[quote name='mdwh' timestamp='1347285411' post='4978573']
[quote name='way2lazy2care' timestamp='1347162322' post='4978164']
If you can hold out till november, I'd wait for some of the new windows tablets. There are some really great convertible tablets coming out with the windows 8 launch.
[/quote] I agree, for portable computing it looks like there'll be a lot more choice in the coming months. Just to add, these will also all have the ability to work with graphics pens as well as finger touch (and keyboard), so useful to draw diagrams/etc (as slayemin points out).
[/quote]

WinRT versions are cheap and come with OneNote too.

I WILL SAY THIS THOUGH. When you get your laptop for school you think, "Man this is going to be great for taking notes, and they'll all be there to review, and I can work on stuff wherever!" but the reality is very often more, "Oh no, what did the teacher just say? I was on reddit/facebook/failblog/whatever and wasn't paying any attention."

If you really want to be productive in class, it's probably best to keep a computer as far away from you as possible.
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[quote name='way2lazy2care' timestamp='1347290365' post='4978601']
If you really want to be productive in class, it's probably best to keep a computer as far away from you as possible.[/quote]
QFT.
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[quote name='mdwh' timestamp='1347285117' post='4978570']
(Plus even if I was tempted, I'd not want to give money now to a patent troll
[/quote]

You know, I so rarely apply morality to corporate purchases, although I understand why people do. I mean, I have sneakers made in an Indonesian sweat shop, a smartphone made in a Chinese sweatshop, and I like my coffee cheap ( so none of this fair trade BS! explotation ftw! ).

That said, Apple's recent behaviour have really put me off ever buying another Apple product, and this extends beyond their patent trolling. Their recent moves of making decisions for me ( removing Java, trying to kill Flash, the removal of X11 ), their arbitrary removal of apps on vaguely defined moral grounds are anathema to how I view computing.

That they have replaced innovation with litigation, with some of the biggest bullshit patents in a so thoroughly broken patent system, that might just be the straw that broke the camels back.

I am not fanboy, I own plenty of Apple products, and own plenty of Android and Microsoft products. I am a pragmatist and use what works best for me at the time.

However, I think Apple on their current course is bad for the industry and every time they lose, I am happy, so I guess I want to see Apple fail now. A world where the big guys can patent stuff like rounded rectangles, and are awarded multiple billion dollars on patents that shouldn't exist in the first place is creating a horrifically hostile environment for small time developers and people who can't afford millions on patent lawyers.

Simply put, I want Apple to fail and the entire US patent system to fail with them. Luckily, just that might happen. Expect the Samsung ruling to be over turned in a higher court ( as has historically happened... the last similar case, the judge threw it out saying "the patent system is a mess" ). and hopefully this will bring more focus on the lunacy of software and design patents. The other ray of sunshine is HTC just had a big win, with a judge saying their patent case has a ton of merit, and a possible import ban on iOS products, which would be sweet karmic justice.



TL;DR... I don't generally apply morality to corporations, but modern day Apple sucks really bad and are bad for all of us.

Ok, sorry, somewhat off topic.
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I would tend to suggest that you may be better off with a MacBook Air or other Ultrabook of preference, plus a desktop machine (which you already have). It will give you vastly more powerful tools when you need it, and it will give you productive mobility. The Macbook Pro is very much a jack of all trades, master of none machine. It's not really powerful enough for media work. Lightroom/Aperture already sort of drag, let alone the big boys like Premiere/FCP. It's also not light enough to be really very much fun to carry around, though it's not awful with a backpack. The MBA is also much more in line price-wise with its Windows based competitors than the MBP. Edited by Promit
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The MacBook Air is certainly at a much more sane price point than the MBP, and more importantly ( for me anyways ), the price premium is easily justified in the purpose it serves. In being ultraportable, that light alloy case and thin design and added durability justifies the price premium over "cheap" ultra portables.
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It depends on what kind of work you will have to do on your Art School.

A friend of mine studied at an Art School and had to work mainly with Photoshop and Illustrator. He had to learn a bit of 3D modelling but it was not much (he didn't need a dedicated graphics card).
He bought a Macbook Air and was very happy with it.

The OS can be very user friendly and all Adobe products are available for it.
Hardware-wise its lightweight and aluminum body are top notch. Its specs may not be the highest but were enough for him.

@Serapth
You are right about Apple's recent bad moves (I will not get into the ridiculous patent matter).
Just explaining what you have cited: (not defending Apple in anyway here)
[quote name='Serapth' timestamp='1347295162' post='4978622']
Their recent moves of making decisions for me (removing Java, trying to kill Flash, the removal of X11), their arbitrary removal of apps on vaguely defined moral grounds are anathema to how I view computing.
[/quote]
1) Java was removed from the standard distribution because they found many flaws on it. Some malware applications were using java to download themselves to the user's computer. But I think the main problem here was the old Safari configuration that allowed java applications to run automatically.
2) Not installing Flash on their iOS devices was a very clear choice of Apple. They raised a very high standard on how applications should run on iOS and what their performance should be. Flash is still very heavy on the processor and Apple stated that they are waiting a reply from Adobe on changes that make Flash faster.
3) I don't know why they removed X11. This is very weird.

Still, Java and X11 (now XQuartz) can be easily installed on OS X. Edited by kuramayoko10
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[quote name='Promit' timestamp='1347295869' post='4978627']
It's not really powerful enough for media work. Lightroom/Aperture already sort of drag, let alone the big boys like Premiere/FCP. It's also not light enough to be really very much fun to carry around, though it's not awful with a backpack.
[/quote]

I pretty much disagree with this. I got one just recently (and it's the only thing I've been talking about here lately...) but I use After Effects pretty much every day on 1920x1080 videos and I'm extremely happy with the way it works. Obviously something that renders at full resolution with huge numbers of effects in real time would be perfect but the Macbook keeps up with me quite nicely. Speedgrade typically works in real time for what I use it for too (which typically isn't profoundly complicated). The retina screen also makes these things go a lot more smoothly. I don't use Premiere as often but I would be surprised if it were slower than those other two. As for portability I barely notice if it's in my backpack and in fact I find myself checking often to make sure it's still there.

Regarding the OP though, I'm not sure it's what you want. If you want to do lots of high-end 3D game development (/playing) you'll probably be better off with a higher end or at least more specialized laptop or desktop, and on the other hand for use in classes you probably need something lighter. Also probably less expensive, particularly if there's a chance you might lose it or have it stolen. The Macbook Pro seems like a very nice "all-around" kind of computer, and if it has exactly what you want, get it, but if you think the hardware isn't quite what you want/need you probably are better off getting something targeted toward your needs. Edited by cowsarenotevil
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