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UDK on a Mac Pro

I am currently developing a game that I hope to launch on Kickstarter shortly, it’s almost in place and as my last semester running the Game Art department at RMCAD wraps up next week, I hope to launch my kickstarter campaign soon after.

I thought though I’d write a little about developing on my system, a 2009 Mac Pro. Since my HP system died I have felt very reluctant to get another PC. They just seem to die on me quickly. So when I decided to switch from developing games in Unity to UDK, I decided to bootcamp Windows on my Mac Pro. I like having everything in one place, because developing an indie game by yourself is a lot already. Having to hustle assets from one system to another every day just extends development pipelines. I lose precious time, and have junk mounting up in multiple places.

Additionally, all those good things on my main mac system; my Wacom Cintiq, my speakers, my 30 inch monitor go to waste. I end up crouched over a tiny monitor when developing in UDK, my main system and monitors waiting for me to do other tasks, which is about half my time.

So I bootcamped my computer, giving a full 1 TB hard drive to Windows. I also split the memory, 8GB for my Mac, 8GB for Windows, 4CPUs each.

A couple months ago I installed a new graphics card, the ATI Radeon HD 5770 1024MB, and finally the last piece, VMWare Fusion. Unfortunately when I ran UDK on the windows side it ran terribly, with terrible compression in the graphics and very slowly even with the default scene and nothing else.

I called people, I researched on the web and I couldn’t figure out a solution to VMWare running it’s own “virtual” graphics card.

Which is code for crap.

Tonight I installed Parallels as a test and re-installed my game on here. I was encouraged by the fact that the game was now working, the last iteration I put on here two months ago had a little lag, but if I don’t run in what Parlallels calls “Coherence mode” then it runs with very little lag.

So I re-installed my most recent game which is far more heavy than the one from two months ago, but it has also been optimized considerably. In fact it now runs better than on the laptop, my FPS (Frames Per Second) going from an average of 11 FPS, to between 18-20 FPS. I don’t detect any lag with the mouse and keyboard, but to me the real test will be with the xbox controller which I feel makes me more sensitive to any lag time.

It feels refreshing to play my game finally on my main system, 30 inch monitor, sounds projecting on three speakers around me (so important) instead of the crummy laptop internal speakers I’ve used.

So far I am happy with Parallels, and take back every bad thing I said about them when I had used them about five years back.

Parallels seems to have grown up, and it all somehow makes sense to me, to be developing a game about a virtual game world, using virtual computers. Indie game developing is starting to feel virtually real to me.