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IgnatusZul

OpenGL Universal OpenGL Version

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Developing a game with OpenGL, which OpenGL version would have no problem running on most computers? For both Hardware and Platform (PC/MAC/LINUX).

Some say 2.x because it's older and everyone is capable of running older versions with what ever hardware they might have.
Now wouldn't 3.x be much better in terms of performance, better tools and cool effects with programmable pipeline?
 
I'm a bit lost on this subject, heard that Mac can't even go beyond 3.2, and what about Linux?
Any feedback would be helpful, thanks smile.png

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There is a tradeoff between features and audience size. Increasing the minimum system requirements gives you greater abilities but may potentially decreases your audience size. What is more important to you, graphics fidelity or broadest possible audience? If it's the former, go with OpenGL 1.1, if it's the latter, go with OpenGL 4.3, if it's somewhere in between... Nobody can tell you whats best for your game. Are you making a FarmVille or are you making a Crysis? What features do you feel you need to reach your artistic goals? Picking the minimum spec that gives you what you need is probably the best option.

Edited by Chris_F

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I've seen quite a few projects start like this. "Which is the best OGL for compatibility?" And they land on OpenGL 2.1.

 

It is true, pretty much anything you grab will support OGL 2.1 (grab a can on the street, it supports 2.1). The thing is that I've seen projects like this going on for years, while OGL 2.1 was a good idea 3 or 4 years ago, compatibility wise, today? When their game hits the street? Not so much.

 

So I'd pick up something from OpenGL 3.0 and upwards.

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I've worked on a commercial OpenGL game for several years and most of my work was in the graphics part of the code.  Speaking from experience, most of the problems we ran into was due to people not having up-to-date OpenGL drivers installed.

 

Most people (not most hard-core games, but most casual and non-gamers) have integrated graphics solutions (integrated Intel or mobile AMD/NVidia in a laptop) and rarely or never update their drivers from when they first get their machine.  It works well enough for them to surf the web, e-mail, do their work (editing Word/Excel/PowerPoint docs) that they never have an urgent need to update their video drivers.  Also, many of them feel that updating drivers is a difficult thing to do (too technical for them) and are afraid that they will mess up their system.

 

In addition, the OpenGL support of integrated video chipsets is not necessarily the best to begin with.  And Intel/AMD/NVidia do not provide updates for their older integrated video chipsets which are still in use by many people.  So, some of these people were stuck with older drivers with known bugs in the OpenGL drivers.

 

In reality, there are a lot more games that use DirectX than use OpenGL (easily 10 to 1 ratio).  So, Intel/AMD/NVidia have not had too much incentive to keep the quality of their OpenGL drivers on par with the quality of their DirectX driver.  But, the quality of the OpenGL drivers in the past few years has greatly improved.

 

So, the good news is that the quality of OpenGL drivers is improving.  The bad news is that a lot of people are still using (or stuck with) older, buggy OpenGL drivers.

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Also, many of them feel that updating drivers is a difficult thing to do (too technical for them) and are afraid that they will mess up their system.

Honestly, this has mainly to do with one of the most common recommendations to install drivers, which is to go to safe mode, uninstall the old driver and install the new one. You don't have to, but it isn't hard to see where the issue lies. Besides, people think that if it already works as-is it's probably fine, not realizing that old drivers may be leaving features unused (e.g. the drivers bundled with the GeForce 7 use OpenGL 2.0, but the newest drivers provide OpenGL 2.1).

 

 

In reality, there are a lot more games that use DirectX than use OpenGL (easily 10 to 1 ratio).  So, Intel/AMD/NVidia have not had too much incentive to keep the quality of their OpenGL drivers on par with the quality of their DirectX driver.  But, the quality of the OpenGL drivers in the past few years has greatly improved.

It's a chicken-and-egg situation, if nobody uses OpenGL, there's no incentive to improve its support, which in turn means nobody wants to use it, and... well, it's a self-feedback loop. I think id is pretty much the only reason it didn't die completely. At least OpenGL 3 seemed to have gotten all vendors back into OpenGL, just because apparently it had enough of a reputation to make lack of support look stupid (maybe the backslash when Vista was implied to lack OpenGL support was a hint, even if it turned out to be false later).

 

 

The bad news is that a lot of people are still using (or stuck with) older, buggy OpenGL drivers.

I wouldn't expect those to care about gaming anyway ^^; (or to have something that supports anything newer than 1.1 for that very reason...)

 

EDIT: basically, if you care about people with old systems (especially people in e.g. developing countries, where hardware can be considered quite expensive), OpenGL 2 may be a good compromise. If you expect some decent hardware, OpenGL 3 would be better. I'd say that OpenGL 4 would be better if considered optional for now unless you really need the most powerful hardware (i.e. support it if you want but don't assume it'll be very common).

 

If somebody is stuck with OpenGL 1 that's most likely the kind of people you wouldn't want to bother targetting anyway... Either their hardware is pretty weak and will slow down without much effort or they're the kind of people who'd rather stick to browser games (if they play games at all).

Edited by Sik_the_hedgehog

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The bad news is that a lot of people are still using (or stuck with) older, buggy OpenGL drivers.

I wouldn't expect those to care about gaming anyway ^^; (or to have something that supports anything newer than 1.1 for that very reason...)

 

You would be surprised.  Check out the Steam or Bethesda forums for Rage - there was an awful lot of so-called "hardcore gamers" who had issues because they never bothered updating their drivers, not to mention an awful lot more who had issues because they were randomly copying individual DLL files all over their systems without any clear knowledge of what they were doing.  (It's also a good example of how poor driver support can mess up a game.)

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Many thanks for the feedback everyone.

Turns out this is the ugly part of game dev, hopefully pumping up the system requirements and some proper error handling, will make people aware of what they need.

I'm targeting people with decent computers, something that can render 3D graphics with post processing at a playable fps, I really REALLY want to avoid the old pipeline, it's just seems dirty, do some newer AAA games even use old pipeline these day?

 

For example I am interested to know what versions of OGL do Valve use for their games on MAC?

 

And I'll probably just end up going with 3.2. seems to be a better choice.

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Theoretically you could also program in a relatively modern style with VBO and Shaders even with 2.1, if you accept a few quirks and dont need all the new features.

If you can accept people with weak onboard chips not getting to play then 3.x should be fine.

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