Going Native

Bah. Not only was I wrong about Trinity being released yesterday (told you I’m distracted by school!), but the Mac client I had downloaded for Multiplicity was not patchable from Tranquility. I had to re-download the entire client, which stalled three times around 500 MB into an 884 MB download. I changed locations, hoping it had something to do with my wireless connection at the university, but when I tried the download again, there was a message saying they were having a problem with the Mac client, and it would be unavailable for a little while.

It was about 20 minutes before I could start the download again, and to CCP’s credit, whatever was causing trouble with the download seemed to be resolved pretty quickly. My last attempt at downloading worked and I was able to install and launch Eve with no problems.

I’ve got a couple of tiny issues with the Mac client, but overall, it’s almost indistinguishable from playing Eve off my XP/Boot Camp partition. I’ll have to give it a little more time, but the graphics seem shinier and sharper on the Mac client. I’m playing the Windows and Mac version on the exact same machine, so it’s a pretty good base for comparison.

My major complaint: I spend a lot of time playing Eve without a mouse attached to the laptop. It’s really a laptop for me. At night, I’m often sitting on my bed, or my daughter’s bed, with the laptop on a pillow on my legs. There’s nowhere to put a mouse to the right of me, so I just use the touchpad.

On the MacbookPro, if you put two fingers on the touchpad and click the button, it acts like a right-click from a mouse. It works really well on the XP side of things. Since Eve is one hell of a lot of right-clicking, I’ve gotten pretty good at the two-finger touchpad right-click. Most of that right-clicking also works fine in the Mac client, but there’s one important place that’s sketchy.

To zoom in and out on your ship without a mouse and scroll wheel, you can put two fingers on the touchpad and push forward or pull back. Works great on the XP side, it’s pretty terrible on the Mac side. It either jumps from zoomed all the way in to zoomed all the way out, or it kind of threatens to zoom by getting jittery, but it jumps right back to where you started when you lift your fingers off the touchpad.

This may have to do with my touchpad settings in the Mac OS itself. I didn’t get too involved with it last night, because I wanted to run my first level 4 mission, and I was too impatient to set up my Overview on the Mac side. I was doing a little ratting with a Rifter while testing out the Mac, and the sketchy scrolling and lack of Overview settings made me grumpy and I booted into XP to run the level 4 mission.

Today, I’m hoping to have time to set up the Overview and then dig into trying to fix the touchpad tracking issue. If I can get that sorted, I’ll be able to play exclusively on the Mac side for a while and see if it’s as solid as it appears to be.

I’m guessing that if I hooked up a mouse, my problem would disappear, so I’m somewhat of a minority case. Overall, it appears that CCP did a kickass job on the Mac side, and I’m really happy they did. I wish more companies would pay attention to Linux and Mac. I’m absolutely not a Windows hater, but I like the Linux and Mac operating systems too. I’d love to spend more time in them, but I don’t, mainly because of the lack of game support (and lack of time to monkey with things on the Linux side). What can I say? I spend a lot of time gaming :)

Eve Online on a Mac

There’s a reason I haven’t posted in a week. I was playing Eve on my PC at home, and I pulled a level 2 mission called The Blockade. I’ve run this before (at work) where I’ve got a thoroughbred PC. My home system is o-l-d old, and I’ve gotten used to running missions in Eve despite the lag.

Well, The Blockade ate my machine alive. I locked up for a solid minute while it figured out where to put all the shiny enemy ships and how to draw all the explosions impacting my ship. When my PC finally inhaled and decided it could start working again, I was halfway through armor. Getting aligned and warping out took me into structure.

I have a 17″ MacBook Pro, and I’ve been hoping for a native Eve client for OS X. Since it’s pretty clear I’ve run out of time to wait, I decided to give Boot Camp a try. I didn’t have much on the MacBook that I couldn’t lose, so I backed up some files and started the install.

First thing that’s cool about Boot Camp: You don’t have to reformat your entire hard drive. I had about 40 gigs of space used on a 100 gig hard drive, and Boot Camp let me use 20 gigs of unused space for the Windows partition. Painless, except it wouldn’t let me format the partition. I got a verification error and Boot Camp suggested I do a Verify and Repair with the Apple Disk Utility. No luck. The next suggestion was to boot from the OS X install disk and run Verify and Repair on the Startup disk. That found a couple “illegal names” which were repaired, and then I could format the Windows partition.

I formatted it as a FAT partition so I could read the Windows files from the Mac side (can’t read Mac from the Windows side, though) and installed XP. You’re prompted to make a driver disk during the Boot Camp install, so I installed those drivers after XP installed. After running Windows Update,  installing antivirus and configuring my wireless connection, I installed Eve.

Gotta say, Eve on the MacBook is a beautiful sight. I like the silvery Apple design anyway, with the thin widescreen display, and Eve looks awesome onscreen. I’d rather be running Eve natively, and I’ll try it as soon as they have a client available, but this will definitely do until then. I think the MacBook Pro is my new gaming machine.

I’ve budgeted for a PC upgrade a couple times in the past year, but the combination of real-life events plus WoW’s forgiving system requirements let me put off the purchase. I think I can put it off for even longer now. My wife has discovered the computer in the last couple years (she’s a total late adopter, we’re polar opposites about technology), so I’ll give her the PC seat and I’ll keep playing on the Mac.

I’m excited, not only because The Blockade runs without a hitch, but because I don’t have to worry about lagging out in fleet operations. Well, not because of MY computer, anyway :)

The only thing that’s different about Windows XP on the MacBook Pro seems to be heat. When XP is booted up, it runs way hotter than it does in OS X. That seems to be a known issue, though, so as long as the fan is running and apps aren’t suffering because of the heat, I’ll just make sure I don’t play with the laptop on my lap. That would leave a mark.

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