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Please explain me the point of Mac VR development

Discussion in 'VR on macOS Preview' started by Ippokratis, Sep 3, 2017.

  1. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Hi,

    Right now, very few Mac models are able to support VR. As far as I understand, without using the eGPU option, only the 2017 top model iMac can. Using the eGPU - any Mac with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, alas 2016+ macbook pro and 2017 imac models. Some people are willing to invest in VR but I believe that since there are not VR apps for mac right now, they are mostly - or only - developers.

    My guess is that until December, after High Sierra gets more mature, the development hiccups (low FPS, APFS issues, other) will be over.

    Then what ?

    The absolute number of mac users that own a VR system and wish to purchase VR apps is and will remain extremely low because I think eGPUs are too cumbersome for most consumers. Why someone chooses to take the cost of developing for this small number of people ?

    I am not trolling here, I sincerely cannot see the reasoning for this investment and I would be very interested to have someone explain me what I miss from this picture.

    Thanks for taking the time to view this thread.
    [Edited the title, it could be interpreted in a wrong way, it was "Please explain me the point of Mac VR development right now]
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2017
  2. sfjohansson

    sfjohansson

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    Previously developers had to switch to PC if they had an interest in VR. So this is very welcome move from Apple to support us developers/content creators who develop VR applications. So for time being that feels like the biggest point.

    So VR development with a mac makes sense but targeting Mac with VR applications might make less sense if you look at the size of the user base with the right gear..unless it is a bespoke app for some installation that uses a mac.

    But who knows..Apple might have some grand plan that will change that at some point in the future...
     
  3. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Indeed, if someone owns a capable mac and wishes to develop VR apps for SteamVR with it the whole thing makes sense. Especially if that person does not own a VR ready PC (which has the advantage of being a wider spread testing platform at the same time).

    Chances are that Apple has a plan but I would be surprised if this plan involves current gen Apple computers - devices.
     
  4. thylaxene

    thylaxene

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    Yes current gen hardware won't be Apple's concern. 2018/19 iMacs will be.

    Having access to SteamVR is great and I'm thankful that Apple finally gave us developers some love and Unity and Epic are supporting that.

    So yes Mac VR is for developers right now and those diehard hardcore Mac Gamers. LOL.

    I've been developing in Unity a long time and have managed to be 100% Mac based. Last missing link was developing VR on Mac and then switching to PC for final testing. Saves me a ton of time as all my clients require cross-platform solutions.

    Cheers.
     
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  5. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Apple makes great computers, used to suck at 3d graphics but they are getting better (Polaris is ok, external GPU might allow Vega-Navi-NVIDIA).
    I wish that Metal will be adopted from DCC publishers but it seems unlikely.
    While VR now is kinda niche, I hope that interesting things are coming by 2020.
    While the current iMac models are very tempting, I believe that 2018-2019 27'' models with 8th gen i7 will offer substantially more value for about the same price.
    So waiting for another year or two.
     
  6. csofranz

    csofranz

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    > The absolute number of mac users that own a VR system and wish to purchase VR apps is
    > and will remain extremely low because I think eGPUs are too cumbersome for most
    > consumers. Why someone chooses to take the cost of developing for this small number of people ?

    In my mind (I am a Dev who has invested into VR) there are good reasons to go there now. As Steve Jobs once famously quoted Wayne Gretzky: "skate to where the puck is going to be". I develop on Windows right now, but one of the Macs I have now (a 5K iMac) is able to do VR (I have a Vive connected to it, and it works fine on Win 10 via Bootcamp). Using Unity, I hope that the cost of porting to Mac is going to be low, allowing me to expand the potential Market. Being among the first on the Mac may also increase revenue share.

    Also, keep in mind that VR is expesive. Mac users are much less cost sensitive than PC users, making the likelihood that VR early adopters on the Mac side are also more inclined to pay for a good experience, so even a Mac exclusive title may make sense

    In any event I think your question poses a chicken-egg problem. At some point in time you have to start, and at that point there will be high cost and few users. Users will only buy VR if there is content. If you only create content when there are users, there will be no content, hence no users.

    That being said, I'm somewhat disappointed by Apple's newest (soon to be released) VR iMac Pro. Its new Video Card can't compete with existing 1080ti cards, making the iMac Pro a second rate VR machine.

    But still...
     
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  7. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I understand your point of view, but to me it is seems like Apple is not ready for VR.
    I own some Apple products and I am very satisfied with them. They solve elegantly so many things - except for hardcore gaming. Maybe they decide to do something about it at some point but not now.

    Take for example Apple TV 4K. It has enough muscle to push polygons around but there is not a single decent MFi controller available. No, Apple is all about casual gaming now and it is ok.
     
  8. csofranz

    csofranz

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    > Take for example Apple TV 4K. It has enough muscle to push polygons around but there is
    > not a single decent MFi controller available.

    What does Apple TV have to do with Macs? That's a phone-chip based TV streaming device that you can also use for casual gaming, running on a stripped-down OSX derivative, yes. But no-one has talked about including VR into ATV. Let's please keep the scope of this discussion to Mac VR, as by your title.

    > No, Apple is all about casual gaming now and it is ok.

    Historically, Apple has *always* been about casual gaming; there has even been a time at the very beginning when Apple was afraid the (original) Mac was thought of as a toy and discouraged gaming. Currently, Macs are designed as Jack-of-all-trades computers, which obviously also includes the 'Master of none' corollary.

    No current Mac is able to compete head to head with a dedicated PC gaming rig, and if it does, it does at a price that makes your eyes water. But that is not the point I was trying to make when quoting Gretzky: I believe (without being able to back this up) that VR is going to become mainstream soon, not the exclusive domain of high-end gaming rigs (case in point: the 2 years old iMac that runs VR). *That* is where the puck is heading. Macs are definitely used for gaming today, with a clientele that is more affluent on average than the average PC (casual) gamer. There is a Mac VR market, and it (hopefully) will be a good idea to be there at the forefront. To meet the early adopters, and to pave the way to casual VR gaming.

    And that, in my opinion, is "the point of Mac VR development" right now: to be there, product in hand, when the market opens up; to meet the puck where it is heading now.
     
  9. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Heh,

    You perceive Apple TV as something different to Mac and you are right, but the context of the argument was about Apple gaming strategy, both Apple TV and Mac are Apple products that can be used in gaming. Hence the use of Apple TV in that argument. Ultimately, we came at the same conclusion, that Apple strategy is around casual gaming, using different arguments - I agree with your arguments regarding the historical perspective and jack of all trades btw.

    I agree that the pluck is heading towards VR. Investors money is usually where the pluck is heading and billions are spent in VR.

    Where our opinions diverge is if now is the right time to get involved in Mac VR. My reasoning is that spending now ~4000 euro specifically to develop VR in Mac is not a good idea because in a year it is very likely that a system with much better specs will appear, i7 8700k seems to represent more than just a tiny incremental upgrade, plus the new generation(s) of VR goggles that will likely appear.

    I am a little sceptical regarding VR, AR, MR, as they are implemented now. The requested premium price does not reflect a premium experience, market fragmenting makes costly to support different vendors and a new generation of goggles - but not the “mainstream” one - is around the corner.

    If someone works for a company that invests in VR, it makes sense, to produce a VR app as a solo developer - not much, now. But I understand that different people in different situations can come to other conclusions - risc might pay.

    Again, thanks for sharing your thoughts.
     
  10. csofranz

    csofranz

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    I believe you have very good points. From what I read into your sentences (and I'm probably wrong about that :), the central question is if VR as a whole is worth investing into, not VR for Mac specifically - and that is indeed a good question. I say "yes", you say "maybe".

    I feel required to point out that "in a year it is very likely that a system with much better specs will appear" has been an argument since the first computers appeared; and it will always be true. At some point, though, you'll have to make a decision and you'll still find out that what feels like a day after your purchase, the price drops by 50% and performance increases. Probably has been like that since the invention of the wheel :)

    I think the major difference between our viewpoints is how we look at development and the associated cost. Spending 4000 EUR on a VR capable Mac might seem high, but it pales in comparison to the amount of cost you sink into actually developing a VR title. A capable developer costs at least 20 EUR an hour (where I live, it's much more). Developing any worthwhile game takes at least 6 month of effort (4800 hours), setting you back by roughly 100k. That makes the price for the Mac run up only 4%, near negligible. Note that this holds true if you are self-employed or program in your free time; you could have earned that money doing other things for profit (the cost of opportunity). So the actual price of a VR Mac doesn't factor that much, and if you already have a Win VR title, porting it to the mac at only 10%-20% of total cost is very attractive. You are a developer yourself, so you know about this arithmetic - when you decided to develop for Unity, and sell your products on the asset store, you probably made similar calculations and decided that it was worth your while. As you state, this is a question of risk; I believe with regards to VR the risk is worth the cost.
     
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  11. lokieliot

    lokieliot

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    i just wonna make vr experiences from the comfort of my mac.
     
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  12. chilton

    chilton

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    There are two points.

    First, a lot of cross platform developers, like myself, prefer doing as much as possible in OSX just because we prefer it. Simple as that. I've been an Oculus programmer since day 1, but I do 90% of my work on my MacBook just because I find it to be an easier system to work with.

    Second, you've probably heard that Mac users tend to spend more on their hardware than PC users. Of course you've heard that, because it's generally true. They also tend to be early adopters and are more willing to drop an extra $500-1k on extra stuff just for fun. So while it may be a smaller target audience, it's a target audience that could be worth it financially to support.

    -Chilton
     
  13. Ippokratis

    Ippokratis

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    Reliability is a very important factor in choosing a platform, my experiences with Macs persuade me about this point and is the main reason I have interest in this platform. Paying a premium for reliability is a given, no way to go around that. A hackintosh or a branded workstation can easily have equal or higher cost to a Mac and yet they only offer inferior results in certain workflows.

    I do not think that VR development is one of the workflows where Mac shines right now though. Someone uses a capable Mac (that already owns) for VR - this makes sense and it is good that this option exists. To buy a Mac now for VR - not so much.

    I believe that "spending more in hardware" is 100% true and it is a good thing - be it for reliability, aesthetics, speed, options - but there must be a reason, a hook. E.g. the hook in thunderbolt is speed, the hook in external GPUs is mostly the capability to edit video faster, usb-c docks are beautiful and give options etc.

    VR's in Mac hook right now is mostly for developers that own a Mac I think, not so much for consumers.
    Exclusive access to a capable VR Apple device would be a very interesting hook for consumers, but it will take time.

    @csofranz I like your risk - cost analysis (as you point out is is slightly optimistic, since developer's cost is usually higher), it shows nicely that the cost of the tools is just a small percentage of the total cost. I just do not think that a new Mac is the best tool for developing VR right now.

    Thanks for the feedback - btw I would be very interested to hear if you have discovered some workflows enhancements for VR that are Mac specific.
     
  14. DeepShader

    DeepShader

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    Hello,
    this is an interesting thread.

    I'm on a MacPro 2009 with a CPU-Upgrade to a Mac Pro 2012 with 12x 3.46GHz (2x 6-Core-Xeon X5690) with 80GB RAM and a GeForce 980Ti on macOS HighSierra.

    So my question is.. I can just buy a HTC Vive and start to develop VR on my Mac?
     
  15. DeepShader

    DeepShader

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    No one knows?
     
  16. DeepShader

    DeepShader

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    BUMP x_x
     
  17. Mikkel-Christiansen

    Mikkel-Christiansen

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    How do you make Htc vive work in unity? Cant get any connection
     
  18. scihuman

    scihuman

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    I had an eGPU connected to my 2015 Macbook on HighSierra. The biggest issue that I've encountered was the drivers, even if I was running in BootCamp. Some content would run, most, including Unity, does not.

    The best route that I've found was remote connection, locally, to a PC tower. If you've got other peripherals like an HMD, you connect it to a tower directly, but do the development via remote desktop.

    I made a write up of my findings on my vlog if you're interested in this route:
     
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  19. csofranz

    csofranz

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    Right now getting Unity to run with SteamVR is simple - with some caveats:

    - you need 10.13 running
    - you need a Metal-enabled Mac
    - SteamVR installed
    - Import the SteamVR asset

    And now the one step that had me thrown for over a week:
    TURN ON METAL in player prefs.

    The hideously little thing is that when you import SteamVR, a small script in the background turns Metal off, without telling you. If you see 'GL' in Unity's main window, Metal is off.
     
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  20. chilton

    chilton

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    Awesome! What are the specs on your Mac?

    -Chilton
     
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