06 December 2017

Attract Mode for Mac Unofficial Binary!

Thanks to the work of Andrew Mickelson, the developer of Attract Mode, and feedback from other Mac users (keilmillerjr), I was able to create an unofficial dmg of Attract Mode Download it here:


So far I did not run into any issues in my setup. Only the now working Search Plugin is worth the upgrade.

Current known limitations:

  1. Unlinked libraries: You will probably need these additional dependencies installed via Homebrew

pkg-config ffmpeg sfml libarchive

Reason is that the binary looks for these libraries under /usr/local/opt/..., although these libaries are bundled with the app. The bundling script does not seem to work properly in that respect.
  1. This binary has no SWF support, since that part of the Attrace Mode code still does not compile in MacOS. Thise means that some layouts could be affected and flash content would not work. So far I did not experience real issues with the layouts I use, such as Nevato, Robospin 4, but will check.

Just as a reminder - my posts on setting up Attract Mode on your Mac:

There is still some work required for an official build, but for the time being, you can try this unofficial binary on your Mac. Attract Mode rocks!

30 November 2017

MAME 0.192 and QMC2 0.192 Mac Binaries are here!

A good release for MAME on Macs. QMC2 also compiles on Macs after some time. QMC2 looks very good so far, and I will review my QMC2 to-do's all over this Blog to be on par. Happy gambling!

11 November 2017

Performance Test Galore: MAME Performance on Three Operating Systems on one Mac Machine Compared!

My new task was to test performance of current MAME binaries on one machine (my iMac 2013) with these three operating systems:
  - MacOS Sierra
  - Ubuntu 16.04
  - Windows 10

Focus of this test: How do BGFX shaders compare to other solutions if you add Artwork? My suspicion has always been that BGFX never can handle Artwork properly.

Result: As soon as you add Artwork, BGFX performance completely goes down - on all three systems! 

This means that if you want to run your games with decent shaders AND decent artwork, you need to head for different shaders, which are
  - MacOS and Linux: OpenGL
  - Windows 10: Direct3D
The extreme results were very surprising for me, so in the end, it was worth the hassle.

Further insights will follow here. For now, these are the detailed performance results (forgive me that I limited each run to 30 seconds ;-).

09 November 2017

Setup MAME 0.191 from scratch on Macs (Update of Previous Posts)

Another update on how to configure MAME from scratch via its internal interface MEWUI (default MAME UI since 0.171) and a text editor.  
If you are willing to work with your Terminal and a Text Editor, it is just the best way to set up and maintain MAME, irrespective of which frontend you wanna use later on.
So let's go step by step from scratch. 
MEWUI - click to enlarge
Step 1 - Basic Homework 

Download and install SDL 2 and QMC2 as explained here (only Steps 1 and 2). Download a good text editor - I prefer TextWrangler from the Mac App Store. Change Finder Settings in order to Display Hidden Folders and Files, e.g. with Deeper (you need access to your User Library folder, which is by default a hidden folder).

Recommendation: I currently keep my running MAME version in the folder 'mame' and keep only older versions in a version-related directory. This definitely helps you further on to stay consistent and carry on your work.

Step 2 - Start MEWUI (the right way)

Open Terminal and switch to your MAME working directory (easiest way: type 'cd' and then drag the mame directory from the Finder into the Terminal -> press Return in the Terminal window)

Warning: starting mame64 with double-click works, but you are not in the MAME working directory, so a lot just does not work -> start via Terminal as explained here. So you must be in the MAME working directory!

03 October 2017

MAME 190, 21.000 views on my site and the state of MAME on Macs

With MAME 190 having been released, just a brief note on where MAME currently stands as it comes to the Mac environument.
  1. First and foremost, I see 21000 views on this site. Considering the narrow topic covered here, this is encouraging. So there are Mac users out there who are interested in MAME emulation. Thank you! And please do not hesitate to post if there is something to mention.
  2. As you probably read in this blog, MAME works quite nice on modern Macs. As regards the Mac build, the METAL backend does not build properly in recent macOS systems. However, the official build from http://sdlmame.lngn.net/ is built on an older MacOSX system and has a working METAL backend. The build from http://choccyhobnob.com/mame/mame/ does not a working METAL backend, and same goes with my own build attempts.
  3. I would really like to write a bit about the Retroarch MAME core with its entirely different approach to game emulation. However, the MAME (current) core for macOS is also outdated since nearly a year and does not build. On modern Macs, I would not mess around with the (running) cores for MAME 2003 or 2014, unless you have a really old Mac machine. I sincerely hope that this will change because Retroarch would be another great option for Mac users.
  4. When it comes to frontends, QMC2 and Attract Mode are out there and in decent shape. This blog contains a lot of information on how to set them up on Macs. As for Attract Mode, I am a bit worried about the lack of updates for quite some time. But addmitedly it works nicely.
The next big thing to come would probably be the High Sierra update, on which I will still be waiting a bit. With an 8bitdo Arcade Stick at home, playing could excel to new levels. And yes, still waiting for the Retroarch MAME core to come back to life. Cheers and happy gaming!

10 August 2017

MAME 0.188 and new insights into the METAL bug

Last week, MAME 0.188 arrived, as always, with a lot of improvements. As regards game improvements, it is very nice to see that the first Game & Watch titles are released with SVG backgrounds built inside, so there is some very nice progress going on.

One of the first G&W titles with SVG backgrounds
On the Mac side of things, I figured out by coincidence that the MAME builds released by r0ni (considered to be official MAME builds for the Mac) have a working METAL backend! r0ni explained to me that he builds under 10.9 (updated LLVM using MacPorts) with the following command:

make PTR=1 TARGETOS=macosx TOOLS=1 NOWERROR=1 -j5

This set of instructions does not work on my system and ends with an error:

ld: warning: ignoring file /Library/Frameworks//SDL2.framework/SDL2, file was built for x86_64 which is not the architecture being linked (i386): /Library/Frameworks//SDL2.framework/SDL2

Undefined symbols for architecture i386:

This means that it is a good idea to work with this build of SDL MAME for the Mac:
So it might be that compiling under 10.12 does not work out nicely as far as the METAL backend is concerned ?!?

03 July 2017

Mid-Year MAME 0.187 with no big news on the Mac side of things

Game & Watch titles look promising, but are apparently missing the overlays for proper gaming experience - as presented by Definitely Russian here:

BGFX/Metal bug still seems to be in place

Otherwise another solid release

20 June 2017

Erockus Arcade 4.0 and MacScene Emulation Forum

As suggested by some of you, I gave Erockus Arcade a try. I was testing the new version 4. Unfortunately my testing did not turn out nicely. Here is a short summary.

1. Erockus is a bare bones frontend without any screenshot or even video preview options. This can fit you if you want to just head for the games and nothing else. But for many of us, MAME is not just playing, but it is about preserving the original feel.

2. The Erockus configuration writes directly into your mame.ini and does not accept manual configuration (at least not of the options it directly handels). An existing mame.ini is backed up. This can be ok, if you are aware of it. 

3. However, after three starts, Erockus stopped working on my system with the latest MacOS Sierra installed. After a startup time of more than two minutes (full romset), it ends up with an error. In my last attempt for this post, Erockus just froze after 3 minutes without any message, so I had to Force Quit.

This is why I could not do any further testing, and I also cannot provide screenshots here. All in all, the software might be ok for your if you are looking for fast gameplay - if it works on your system. In my case, unfortunately.

I also want to mention the MacScene Emulation Forum this time, although I did not succeed registering for some reason ;-). If anybody of you has an idea how to register (is it still alive?), I would consider again. Thanks. One thing is clear: When it comes to emulation, Macs are still a rather difficult environment (to say the least)...

31 May 2017

MAME 0.186 is out

The Change Log for that version is more than impressive, and I very much look forward to hearing Cheeky Mouse sounds again after so long :-). Space Cyclone and first working Game & Watch gems are other things that caught my immediate attention. 

Mac Binaries are available, including a new Homebrew Formula. More to follow.

26 May 2017

CLRMame Pro 4.032 with Wine: Scanning ROMs on your Mac

As of this post, I am doing my first scan tests with the newest CLRMame Pro 4.032 under MacOS. This is possible thanks to the Wine layer that itself can be installed rather flawlessly via Homebrew.

Assuming that you have already Homebrew and Homebrew Cask installed, install XQuartz cask and then wine with Homebrew:
brew cask install xquartz
brew install wine
You may also want to head to this excellent summary.

Then download the zip version of CLRMame Pro, then unzip the directory containing the program files to a place of your choice. That's basically it.

Open the Terminal, cd to the CLRMame Pro directory and start the program with

wine cmpro64.exe

This is where I am right now, and now it's time to learn the program with these instructions here. Still being a newbie in correct rom management, I might revert back later until I got comfortable with the process. Enjoy!

29 April 2017

MAME 0.185

Also this update from Wednesday brought no surprises. 

The binary bottle in Homebrew has also been updated. And the BGFX Metal bug is still with us.

I am currently quite occupied with MAME on my Raspberry Pi, which is sometimes a completely different ballpark due to its performance limitations. Still it is incredible fun, and there might be some learnings for low-performing Macs as well. 

29 March 2017

MAME 0.184, Xcode 8.3 and 10.250 pageviews :-)

Today brings version 0.184 of MAME, which I compiled under brand new MacOS 10.12.4 and Xcode 8.3. I am also very happy to report 10.250 pageviews of this blog, which is very encouraging.

Compile was flawless as always. Performance seems in line with previous versions, BGFX Metal bug is still here. So it seems fine for us MAME users to upgrade.

Page statistics show the clear need for shader documentation, in particular BGFX, as well as Artworks. Quite as I anticipated, and I will try to keep focus here. Thanks for your interest.

22 February 2017

MAME 0.183 - Solid 20th Anniversary Release

Today brings us a special MAME release, and changes are many. The Mac binary compiles nicely as always from source and some performance tests indicate that this is rock stable. Also the Homebrew version of MAME made a jump to this version and is now up to date. All in all everything works as expected - and also does not work. Thus no news on the BGFX-METAL bug, but that was not to be expected anyways.

13 February 2017

Porting Retropie/Retroarch Artwork in 16:9 (John Merrit) to official MAME

There is incredibly realistic MAME Artwork for Retropie/Retroarch systems out, and I started re-writing them to run for the official MAME build. Work is mainly based on John Merrit's great work and Mr. Do's Layout Files, and the effect is just amazing. This also shows the power of the yet simple MAME artwork system. Creativity is your only limit.
Update: I modified the layout file in a way that you can now switch on/off the scratches and reflections on the screen
Update 2: I started a Github repository (see below link).

Within the Video Mode options, you can now choose between:
  • Clear Screen - the screen is shown without any reflections and scratches
Clear Screen - Click to Enlarge

  • Scratch Screen - the screen shows all the reflections and scratches. On top, you can manipulate the Screen Alpha Channel separately from the cabinet. - thereby you manipulate the intensity of the scratches on screen only!
Scratch Screen - Click to Enlarge

27 January 2017

Attract Mode for OSX MAME - Setup Part 2

After successful completion of Part 1, there are many further opportunitites to tweak Attract Mode for MAME for your own needs. Here is a collection of useful hints for further fine tuning of the Attract Mode setup:
  • Configure the Attract Mode Intro Video
  • Configure history.dat to display within Attract Mode
  • Assign game-specific configurations for Attract Mode only
  • Other Emulators (WIP)
  • Including RetroArch Cores (WIP - huge!)
Here are the details:

26 January 2017

MAME 0.182, and BGFX-metal Bug registered

I compiled yesterday's MAME 0.182 and today's QMC2 0.71 without issues - and the BGFX_metal bug still persists. 

But I finally made it into mametesters.org and managed to file a bug report here. As it turns out today, it was the MacOS Password Manager and Safari that kicked me out from mametesters.org at previous attempts. A manual login via Firefox after password reset did the trick. So if you want to login to Mametesters as a Mac user, I strongly recommend you to avoid Safari and Mac Password Manager if you run into strange problems like me, being blocked from the site. If you are at Mametesters.org and are able to confirm the bug, please leave a note there - thanks!

Update: While the Mametesters Bug Report has been closed, a Bug has been opened with the BGFX Github repository: https://github.com/bkaradzic/bgfx/issues/1032 - let's see.

19 January 2017

QMC Alternative: Attract Mode for OSX MAME - Setup, Part 1

This is huge, but needs a lot of work during setup. If you are willing to spend the time, it's probably not less than the best MAME frontend around. 

If you are ready for manual text edits, this is what you get:
- best layouts in town with video previews that are compatible with the Retropie Attract Mode layouts
- game settings at ROM level
- very flexible and rather intuitive joypad control
- leave your current MAME/QMC2 installation unchanged and play with identical versions in this frontend
- blazingly fast at startup
- very accessible text configuration files

Since all of the following has been trial & error, I start with setup instructions from scratch.

1. Download and install Attract Mode for OSXhttp://attractmode.org/download.html

2. Start Attract Mode -> Attract Mode directory is created here:
[$HOME -> this is the home directory of your user in Attract Mode terms]/.attract

Note: You will only see this directory if you have enabled 'Show Hidden Files' (with a tool such as Deeper, otherwise you will not see this directory in your Finder!) 
This is the directory where most of your customization happens! Do not touch the directories of your Attract Mode Program (via 'Show Package Contents'), since this will be overwritten with a program update. 
3. Enter Attract Mode Configuration: TAB

29 December 2016

MAME 0.181 and 6100 Views in one year :-)

2016 ends with MAME 0.181, which according to its whatsnew.txt contains a row of nice updates. On the Macintosh side, all remains the same: no Metal plugin and the same issues in BGFX as described in detail before. More to come here.

This year ends with 6100 views, for which I am grateful, considering the rather narrow content published here. The interest in this Blog is quite as expected:
One thing: Please feel free to write any comments you may have, they are more than welcome. 

More to post here.

19 December 2016

BootCamp for Mac Retrogaming - Is it Worth The Hassle?

This post will be about running BootCamp for Retrogaming. As regards MAME, I am interested in a direct comparison between MAME running on macOS Sierra and Windows. 
Eventually the question is whether it's worth the hassle with BootCamp, or whether you can easily stick with your Mac system.

Bottom Line: MAME on Windows is by far faster than on Macs. However, with some tweaking, you get similar results on Macs, but Windows remains the performance king. Probably it makes more sense to tweak your Mac settings, e.g. faster shaders, than installing BootCamp and keeping a Windows system up-to-date all the time.

Here are the details:

18 December 2016

BGFX in MAME - Tweaking and In-Depth Look (plus a video) - Update December 2016

BGFX really rocks and after some MAME Updates, it became my standard shader.

Update December 2016: As explained by Jeeze in a comment to the Performance Test Post, the 'Scale' values in BGFX/HLSL provide for Oversampling. When it comes to modern games, this makes a real difference in quality, while I am unsure about any difference in old games.

CRT-GEOM - click to enlarge
Here are screenshots from Offroad Challenge for comparison. 
CRT-GEOM vs. HLSL vs. HLSL Oversampling

In the enlarged pictures, just look at the shadows to see the huge difference, but overall picture is much smoother. Photos taken by hand.

In the running game, the difference is even more pronounced.

HLSL - click to enlarge
HLSL Oversampling - click to enlarge

CRT-GEOM - click to enlarge
HLSL - click to enlarge

HLSL Oversampling - click to enlarge

So if you play modern games, you will probably want to leave the 'Scale' value to 2, as long as your machine is able to cope with it.

Update October 2016: Due to a much appreciated comment by Jeeze, the main issue for the HLSL performance seems to be a parameter outside of the preferences. As suggested, I went down with the 'Scale' values in lines 177 and 182 from 2 to 1, and this seems to push performance to CRT-GEOM levels. I could not see any difference in quality on first glance.

I also adapted below tables a bit further and need to look further into this in more detail.

Update September 2016: This post is about the settings of the HLSL Chain. But HLSL is very resource hungry, though it runs very nicely under my specs. As explained by visitor Headrush69, his iMac 2011 fails to run BGFX at an acceptable frame rate. Same applies to a MacBookPro 13'' Mid 2012, which fails to run any game properly under full framerate. 

Since MAME 0.176, CRT-GEOM Shader in BGFX is currently my first choice - see this new rewritten post.

This is what you can do to change BGFX very conveniently to your own wishes - but with the example of the HLSL backend.