Posted by TLOPO Crew on June 21, 2018, 9 p.m.
To the TLOPO Mac Community and Apple, Inc:
We are writing this letter-style blog post in regard to the recent announcements made by Apple, Inc at the Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, CA.
This letter is going to be very long, so we would like to give you all a summary of what this all means: If Apple doesn’t change their plans, The Legend of Pirates Online will no longer officially support macOS - directly affecting over 20% of our community. If you are a macOS player and want to continue playing, we strongly discourage upgrading to any new major versions of macOS. Over the past few years, Apple has made it increasingly difficult to support their operating system. After serious consideration, we feel this is the only option we have. We will be explaining why this is our only option in much more detail below.
From the beginning, we have strived to make The Legend of Pirates Online easily accessible by everyone in our community. With this goal in mind, we have continued to maintain several versions of our game across both Windows and macOS, as well as other functioning internal test builds of both Linux and Android.
This is no easy task, especially with the continued polarization of operating system architecture and design. We frequently make changes to our code ensuring that we provide a compatible and high-quality experience for our players. We’ve actually spent the past few months developing a whole new runtime for the game which converts our code from Python to C. This change provides a significant boost in performance as well as improved security.
However, over the course of the past few years, we have made significant changes to our entire codebase because of deliberate and arguably unnecessary changes made specifically by Apple. These changes have included the deprecation of an entire graphics pipe, architecture, as well as the deprecation of several other heavily incorporated APIs and libraries in our software.
Many of our macOS players noticed the effects of this ongoing struggle with the release of macOS High Sierra and the subsequent 3-month delay for supporting it. Apple had made large changes to their OS which broke our runtime. This forced us to rewrite a significant portion of our game engine, as well as our runtime environment, in order to support macOS High Sierra. And now, we are back in this situation again with the recent announcement of macOS Mojave.
Apple has announced their intentions of removing OpenGL in the next upcoming macOS releases. This is a devastating and entirely unnecessary decision which is going to affect more than just us. OpenGL is a massive graphics library which is used heavily across the entire gaming industry. With OpenGL being removed, we and many other game creators are left with very few options to keep Mac support alive - and none of them are simple to implement.
Apple’s goal in this deprecation is to have all OpenGL software on their computers replaced with Apple’s own proprietary graphics library, Metal. We have seen deprecations like this before with the deprecation of OpenSSL in favor of their own proprietary crypto library. These kinds of changes restrict consumers and developers with little regard to the amount of effort it takes to replace software, which has taken decades to create and is reliant on other, but still actively and properly maintained, software.
TLOPO does not use a popular or mainstream game engine, such as Unreal and Unity. We use a custom in-house game engine based on a stable version of Panda3D. That means that our version of the game engine is not publicly maintained by the principle of Free and Open Source Software (“FOSS”). Whenever Apple has deprecated and/or randomly removed core functionality from their operating system, consistently with little to no notice, we have had to rewrite significant portions of our game engine in order to keep Mac support alive. Today, we have made the decision to discontinue our efforts on this matter.
As of now, The Legend of Pirates Online will no longer officially support macOS. This does not mean that we will not provide further updates to our Mac version, this just means that we are no longer going to be fixing the game when Apple breaks it. In other words, we will not make any guarantees that TLOPO will play on macOS in a stable form. It is very possible that in the near future the game may begin experiencing frequent crashes, strange unexplainable bugs, or even not run at all. These are all very common bugs caused by Apple’s adverse relationship with third-party game developers and their sheer attitude with randomly blocking or removing necessary components to keep our software functioning normally.
It has already been a lengthy and uphill battle to keep Mac support alive as it is today. We do not have the time, money, or resources to rewrite a significant portion of our game engine solely to comply with changes Apple has made unnecessarily. Apple has suggested that OpenGL applications will still function normally in macOS Mojave, but we will not make any guarantee that TLOPO will work. It is not uncommon for Apple to randomly break our game in other ways.
Should Apple begin to change their tone and begin working with their developers in a more friendly way, we are not against providing official support for a macOS version of TLOPO. However, if they do not, we are going to discontinue official support for macOS.
We have put an unreasonable amount of energy into keeping Mac support alive, and we sincerely apologize to our Mac community members. That said, we are going to continue providing updates to macOS in their current form. But when the day comes that Apple inevitably breaks our game, we will not be fixing it.
Apple knowingly makes these kinds of decisions with little regard to the developers or consumers in their own community. We heavily discourage our Mac players from upgrading to any newer version of macOS if they wish to continue playing our game. If you do update, it is at your own risk. We will not be providing any support materials to macOS players, including workarounds for bugs introduced by Apple’s unnecessary changes.
In the coming weeks, we personally expect to see other games dropping support for macOS. It is not worth their time or effort to attempt to support it. The market for gaming on macOS has been in decline for many years largely due to Apple's obstructive changes. Their decisions have placed an enormous strain on game developers, even those backed by a massive corporation, to support macOS. It’s unfair for us, other developers, and most importantly: it is unfair for the consumers. They’re the ones really taking the hit for it, not us.
The only way that Apple will ever stop treating their developers and consumers like this is if it begins to impact their profits. If you want Apple to continue supporting OpenGL, you need to write them letters, send them emails, and call their support line. Let them know that you demand that they continue to support us. They aren’t going to care unless you make your voice heard.
You don’t need to be a Mac user to let them know how you feel. We are one community, and if our history together says anything: we are very determined. Everyone on our game will know someone who is affected by Apple’s decision. Whether it’s yourself, a friend, a guildmate, or some friendly face on the Tortuga beaches. We’re all in this together, and we need to make our voices heard as one.
Again, we sincerely apologize to our Mac community. We never wanted this to happen and we have worked so incredibly hard to make sure that it didn’t. But at some point, we must admit defeat. We have tried our best, but due to Apple’s unaccommodating decisions towards third party developers, it is simply no longer feasible to continue supporting their operating system.
The Crew @ The Legend of Pirates Online
If you are a member of the press and wish to contact us or receive a Press Kit, please visit our Press Center or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.