Differences in the way Macs and PCs render 3D graphics required Blizzard Entertainment to deactivate certain graphics effects in the Mac version of its recently massively multiplayer online role playing game World of Warcraft. With the recently released 1.2.1 update that problem has been fixed on certain Mac configurations — it also contains optimizations that Blizzard says improve frame-rates on some Mac systems.
Blizzard has treated Mac and PC gamers with even-handedly since World of Warcraft’s North American release in November. World of Warcraft ships on hybrid media for both Macs and Windows PCs, and both versions of the client software have been in lock-step since the game debuted.
Prior to its general release, however, World of Warcraft’s development team indicated to beta testers that the Mac version would be released with vertex and pixel shaders — special code that provides more detailed lighting and shadowing effects — deactivated for the Macintosh platform. Last week
Apple released Mac OS X v10.3.7, which provided enhancements to the graphics drivers Macs use. This update to World of Warcraft goes hand-in-hand with that release.
World of Warcraft 1.2.1’s major new features include special holiday events, a new dungeon to explore, and the ability to turn off cloak and helm graphics, along with dozens of changes to quests, general game attributes, and specific capabilities of character types and classes within the game. The Mac version also gains two specific changes, according to the release notes:
The vertex and pixel shader based graphic options have been reactivated on certain combinations of drivers and GPU hardware. As Apple releases future improvements to drivers we will continue to re-test and re-activate features on a case by case basis. A more detailed list of which driver/hardware combinations are enabled for shader capabilities, along with any known bugs will be posted on the Tech Support forum. Further optimization work on the client is ongoing, and we welcome your feedback at email@example.com.
Added reverb to sound effects when a player is in enclosed spaces. (Not in the Mac release — please see addendum below.)
posted to the World of Warcraft support forums
details the graphical changes for Mac users in this release, and also provides some details about what effects are enabled on which cards. The update will be downloaded by users the next time they connect.
9:00AM 12/22/04: Blizzard informed MacCentral that the “Added reverb to sound effects” feature is not present in this release of the Mac version, despite the reference in the release notes.