07 June 2024

Exciting RetroArch Updates - Official Apple AppStore Availability

The RetroArch community remains very busy and provides for another big thing - RetroArch is now downloadable for iOS/iPadOS/tvOS from the official Apple App Store.


According to the libretro.com website, also an official app for MacOS is in the making, but that's not so important anyways.

But this app iOS/iPadOS/tvOS is a big step forward, as you no longer need to care about sideloading or even jailbreaking your mobile device. Installation and updates from the official Apple App Store work like a breeze. Big thanks to the libretro community for such good progress.

If you are really into RetroArch on Apple mobiles, I can highly recommend you this third-party app for all your file transfershttps://imazing.com/ - yes, it costs money, but it's worth every cent. A very smart way of managing your devices and transfering data from and to it.

At this occasion, I also updated my two RetroArch tutorials:

All in all, RetroArch continues to be a cornerstone of Mac emulation.



28 April 2024

Welcome back, QMC2!

Update 6 May 2024 - GitHub Fork with MacOS Binaries

For easier deployment, I created a fork of the QMC2 Github Repository here:

https://github.com/estefan3112/qmc2-mame-fe-MacOS

You'll find here latest pre-compiled and code-signed versions of QMC2 for both Apple Silicon and Intel Macs. You'll also find Shell scripts for compiling the Upstream source code and self-sign the app. Right now only for Apple Silicon, soon for Intel Macs as well.

Question: I downloaded the QMC2 app, but MacOS tells me that the file is corrupted. I already tried right mouse + open at least twice, but with no success.

Answer: Sorry to hear, your QMC2 app might be in the quarantine. To lift the quarantine, please execute this command in the Terminal

xattr -cr /Applications/qmc2-sdlmame.app (please adjust the path to your QMC2.app, if required)

Enjoy.

Update March 2024 - in (far too late) Memory of Rene Reucher

Only these days, far too late, I learnt that Rene Reucher, the creator of the QMC2 frontend, passed away in spring 2023. Back in 2022, when I wrote the first version of this post, Rene has restarted his work on this quite unique MAME frontend, and it was a pleasure for me to help him out on some minor things in relation to Macs, albeit nothing crucial. From two phone calls, I remember him as a very reasonable and pleasant person. This is my very late "Sorry, and all the best, Rene."

At the same time, as fellow developers have now resumed work, it is nice to see that Rene's work will be continued. So I am happy to present new QMC2 v244 builds - and I am quite confident that Rene would accept that I link these two messages together:

AppleSilicon: https://drive.google.com/file/d/15lX5UOpHGFxHPkLojg0vGYSZ8rX-0b5W/view?usp=drive_link

MacIntel: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1tI12260ce9ijJKJ7R5F0nvvJuK_1CyB9/view?usp=drive_link

This time, also the MacIntel build should have proper code signatures and should even run on Apple Silicon - though there is really no need to do this.

So far it's the best version I've ever tested. History.xml is now supported, so you can update to the latest history.xml file to have great machine information. The Silicon Mac version is blazingly fast, and further bugfixing is never a bad thing. On top, the latest libraries are bundled, including the latest QT5 version. That's why I found it worth to provide new builds.

As always, please care for the instructions in the ReadMe and do report any problems back, many thanks.

I started MAME with the help of QMC2, and it is still a classic frontend experience

Original post in the following (no longer relevant and rather outdated, as it builds nicely now with Homebrew):

08 February 2024

RetroArch Tutorial Part III - Usage 101 / Best Practices

After two tutorials on a proper RetroArch setup (Part I and Part II), this might be the most difficult Part III on best practices in RetroArch. Frankly, it's an attempt and I will see where this heads to.

Hello RetroArch!
I do hope it's fine to use your great logo here :-).

RetroArch Menu Styles

While I stick to the pragmatic new menu layout of ozone, you can also check the different layouts which RetroArch offers. Look for: Settings/User Interface/Menu (change requires a save and restart)

06 February 2024

RetroArch 1.17 release & RetroArch Setup Tutorial - Part II

Update June 2024: Besides minor tweaks all over the document, I included a dedicated RetroArch Cloud Sync section for FinalBurn Neo, as this cannot be put into the official documentation.

This February 2024, RetroArch reached another milestone with the release of the stable version 1.17. The significance of this frontend for the emulation community cannot be overestimated - it's the foundation/inspiration for many other projects and of course the home of an ever growing list of cores that run under this frontend. But it's also a steady inspiration for new concepts and ideas - with some of these ideas remaining in an experimental mode, while others becoming very successful and influential.

This is a follow-up to this post about configuring RetroArch from scratch - Part I.

So let's start Part II of the RetroArch tutorial with a focus on Arcade games - but most of this applies to other cores as well. As you may expect, this post is work in progress and will grow over time. If you are interested in some special RetroArch topics, just leave a comment below.

Even with 1.17 being out, let me suggest to use nightly builds.

1. Use nightly MacOS builds: 

The nightly MacOS builds of RetroArch have now been stable for several years. I can recommend using them instead of the stable builds. For example, new version 1.2.7 of MoltenVK (the Vulkan layer for MacOS) just landed two days after the stable 1.17 - apparently, this plugin is essential for RetroArch in MacOS, so you would not want to miss this update. But I do not mean that you should update RetroArch every day, but if you do, download a nightly build to benefit from the latest updates.

If things turn out strange for you, you can easily downgrade by installing the stable version over the nightly build. As shown in Part I, updating the app is simple, and you will not loose any of your settings.

14 January 2024

Featured Post: Retrogaming Emulation on Apple Silicon

This featured post is in steady update. 

Last update 2 May 2024 - small update of Ares for N64.

Update 23 March 2024 - added TyrQuake in the Quake for PC section for the sake of completeness.

Update 2 March 2024 - added GBA section and applied links to the Table of Content as well as a lot of shoe polish to the entry. 

Table of Content

(links in this TOC only work in the actual blog post, but not on the homepage)

About this Blog

Statistics tell me that my info about MAME on Apple Silicon is having highest popularity and became a kind of landing page for the entire blog. Here I give a broader overview. As emulators still improve, this blog post will be revisited from time to time. Sorted in accordance with my own experience (in particular only own dumps of my console games). 

But first - what is so peculiar about emulating old games?

In a nutshell, dedicated enthusiasts preserve gaming history for no money. As the old arcade machines increasingly wear off, emulators build virtual machines around its games. This alone is fascinating, but the community does much more: It also preserves the artwork, photos of the controllers and the PCBs, even the old manuals. And the only thing they expect from you is respect and gratitude 😊. Of course you can also contribute in other ways (like I do with this blog).
Work is mostly done under open source licenses, so that this work remains free. I am a bit hesitant to (always) buy into the commercial variants, as they basically perpetuate the income from old arcade games. But there are definitely nice commercial offers: I bought the Capcom Classics (1942, 1943, etc) for Nintendo Switch, and it‘s quite comparable to the open source variants (plus an acceptable way to play it on the Switch, however e.g. both 1942 and 1943 stutter on my Switch from time to time). Other commercial offerings, such as Metal Slug on the Switch, are a bit disappointing, as they provide you a bare bones emulation without upscaling and just scanlines - they should do better.

Why this focus on MacOS emulation?


Motivation has changed through time. When I started this blog in 2016, its main purpose was to fill a huge gap by explaining how to run MAME on Macs. Documentation was scarce or non-existent back then. 

Nowadays documentation got much better, and I see Silicon Macs as a quite unique emulation platform - and for me, emulation on the Mac mini shines like never before. You are getting decent performance paired with highest energy efficiency, thus no noise or heat at all. Compared to a quite noisy and hot Nintendo Switch, a Silicon Mac is a much quieter and cooler gaming device. Gaming PCs, while more powerful, are clumsy, can be noisy and always emit a lot of warm air. With most emulation, Apple Silicon performance will just be stellar or at least very fine.

That’s why I also started to cover other than arcade emulation, simply because you can get very convincing results on Silicon Macs. I would not want to trade thus package in for something different.


What about those RetroAchievements?


I consider them as a game changer for all retrogaming. While cheevos shines on other systems, they are increasingly fun on arcades as well (with just recently brilliant achievements for 1942 and Bubble Bobble). I also discovered new things via RetroAchievements that I had not been aware of. That‘s why I will always prefer emulators supporting RetroAchievements over others.


So many words to read here - why don‘t you do videos?


Call me old-fashioned, but reading is remembering. Sure, there is great YouTube content out there, but when it comes to learning things, I prefer the written word, as you engage more actively with it. And with the more complicated configuration instructions, videos get overly complicated to make (and to use as well). I also revisit my blog entries and update them, and that seems hardly feasible with videos.


With this in mind, let's have a look into the emulation scene with a focus on Silicon Macs.


Arcade Games

2 March 2024
This is the main focus of this Blog, and my own preferences shifted significantly through the years.

No.1 - FinalBurn Neo/RetroArch Core (excellent): My current golden standard in arcade emulation in MacOS/iOS. As soon as you have tamed RetroArch, you get best-in-class performance (also due to the 60Hz core option, which can be a live saver), HDR in Vulkan, shaders (see my koko-aio repository) and RetroAchievements. Highscore support steadily increases. Emulation of some very old games and newer games is missing. This RetroArch core is updated nearly on a daily basis. Discord (if you like it) has a lively user community.

No.2 - MAME (current)/RetroArch Core (very good): These days MAME (current) is in sync with official MAME. In RetroArch, you get HDR and the shaders, and my koko-aio repository works with identical presets now. However, RetroAchievements are missing/not officially supported. Compared to offical MAME, highscore support has problems and is hard to install. This is my choice for all games that FinalBurn Neo does not support.

No.3 - official MAME (very good): You may call it heresy, but I hardly use official MAME these days, as FinalBurn Neo outperforms it and is currently in sync with official MAME. Shaders are ok, but can no longer compete with a powerful RetroArch shader as koko-aio is. Download the official MacOS builds here - but as of MAME 262, no MacIntel builds are available (you need to compile them by yourself). Otherwise not much more to say here. But as most of the new emulation development seems to happen here, MAME official is the main reference for any technical issues. So is a game does weird things for you, always also check behavior in official MAME.

No.4 - OpenEmu (very good): With a surprise release 2.4.1 in December 2023 after two years of silence, OpenEmu is back. If you hate all this configuration effort, this emulator is definitely worth a try. While it is Intel binaries only, it runs sufficiently well on my M2 Mac mini. The MAME 250 core is in the Experimental Build of OpenEmu. Installation is like any other MacOS app, joypad configuration is very good, and shaders are loaded from within the game with the mouse. If you are fine with the MAME 250 core (probably yes for classic arcade games), you might be better of with OpenEmu compared to official MAME for an acceptable gameplay. OpenEmu also provides tons of other console emulators. But it cannot match RetroArch performance (and doesn't want to, because it wants to provide you with an out-of-the-box solution with no tweaking possibilities).

Bottom line: With so much choice, you cannot complain. All four alternatives are rock stable and provide ready binaries.

13 January 2024

Arcade Emulation on Macs - Status Report December 2023

Update 13 January 2024: Further great news for all Aracade fans.

1942 has RetroAchievements! One of my all-time arcade favorites finally received nice Achievements. Needless to tell that I won't master this set at any point in time, but for all you hardcore gamers, this is definitely something to head for.

OpenEmu 2.41! After some two years, the emulator with a MacOS feeling, OpenEmu, has been finally updated again. If you download the "Experimental" version, you also receive a MAME 250 core. One word of caution: It is still Intel only. However, some initial testing on my M2 Mac mini showed nice performance. In MacOS Sonoma, OpenEmu also activates the Gaming Mode in fullscreen. I certainly will always prefer RetroArch/FinalBurn Neo, but if you want to engage into all this configuration hassles, OpenEmu is worth a try.

Update 22 December 2023: Have a good festive season with a lot of good arcade gaming! These great news will help you so spend some quality gaming time. I also tweaked the main text a bit. Cheers!

Bubble Bobble has RetroAchievements! The wait is over, and these Achievements are pure joy. RetroArch and FinalBurn Neo (don‘t forget to turn the koko-aio shaders on, and my repository of course contains dedicated artwork). It’s a great experience and raises this brilliant game to a new level.

AttractMode Plus updated to 3.0.7, the signed app for Silicon Macs is online: https://github.com/oomek/attractplus/releases/tag/3.0.7

Arcadeflow layout for AttractMode Plus updated to 16.7, grab it here: https://github.com/zpaolo11x/Arcadeflow/releases/tag/16.7

Happy holidays! And again: All here strictly non-commercial, i.e. no ads, and any comments trying to benefit will be removed.

———————

Inspired some interesting reads out there (Dolphin Emu progress reports, PCSX2 progress reports, and last but not least https://www.readonlymemo.com/) I do this status report in December 2023 on Mac Arcade emulation (including iOS emulation).  Don't get me wrong: Those emu progress reports are much more into technical stuff than this blog - still the format inspires. And it's also a very good moment to do this, as there is a lot of good things to report. And before you ask: No tvOS experience here, sorry ;-).

In short: Arcade emulation on Macs/iOS was never better than now. Let's discuss why.

(1) MacOS Sonoma: Upgrading to the latest MacOS from Ventura was hassle-free. The new OS just works, and so do all emulators so fae (and Homebrew, most importantly). For sure, you will ask about this Game Mode that landed in MacOS for the first time. Happy to report that RetroArch properly launches in Game Mode when in fullscreen (MacOS tells you this with a notification each launch). 

Apologies for Shots in German ;-).


However, MAME official does not seem to launch in Game Mode (at least no notification pops up). Don't ask me about any performance differences, which are anyways hard to measure in RetroArch. But according to the official documentation (link above), it should definitely be no disadvantage for the gaming experience. 

In short: Sonoma is good to head for.

(2) FinalBurn Neo (RetroArch Core for MacOS/iOS): This core continues to impress and remains a clear number one in Mac Arcade emulation. The RetroArch documentation provides a nice summary of the main differences between MAME and FinalBurn Neo: https://docs.libretro.com/library/fbneo/ - in short, FinalBurn Neo takes compromises on accuracy in favor of playability by accepting 'quality of life hacks' that MAME doesn't. Since my latest post on this core (actually a full setup guide on RetroArch for Arcade games), the developers took huge efforts to stay in sync with MAME official (as of this post, this is version 261). Highscore support further increased for my favorite games. And most importantly, it is the only reliable RetroArch arcade core for RetroAchievements. Remember: For playing in HC Mode (the real thing without save states and rewind), you need to disable the rom hack core option when running FBNeo and restart.

In short: FinalBurn Neo remains the best Arcade emulator on MacOS/iOS systems.

27 December 2023

Christmas Retrogaming with koko-aio shaders

A brief note: This forum thread contains two Christmas add-ons for the koko-aio shader of RetroArch. As a regular reader, you will know that this is my absolute favorite shader, for which I complile an arcade artwork collection on GitHub.

Forum thread: https://forums.libretro.com/t/merry-christmas/43569
My arcade artwork compilation for koko-aio in RetroArch: https://github.com/estefan3112/koko-aio-slang

This Christmas artwork also makes heavy use of the ambilight effects, and the results are incredible. Just see how the background colors change with the color of the game.

Theme 1 by koko-aio:

Theme 2 by alexb3d:















Enjoy a festive gaming season!

03 October 2023

Special Feature: Guitar Hero in PCSX2 (WIP)

This entry is about one of my all-time favs, Guitar Hero. It was the single reason for me to buy a PS2. So when I found out that recent versions of PCSX2 support the original Guitar Hero controller, all my focus was on this wonderful achievement of emulation. As of this writing, I have sufficiently confident emulation running on Apple Silicon, so let's summarize the experience. Work in progress.

For a long time, those were my only PS2 games - believe it or not.
 
On the software side, all you need is a nightly build of PCSX2https://pcsx2.net/ - it is still Intel only, but works very nicely on Apple Silicon machines as well. The app comes with a nice updater, which in the case of nighly builds provides you with daily updates, and those are mostly smooth.

On the hardware side, the Guitar Hero Controller is a must. Of course there are nerds playing the games with regular joypads, but that's really not the point of these games.

17 September 2023

Update: AttractMode Plus 3.0.6 for Apple Silicon and ArcadeFlow Theme

Update December 2023: Please be sure to head for version 3.0.7 on the official GitHub site (see my December 2023 post), as these here have codesigning issues. Thanks!

Update 17 September 2023: AttractMode Plus 3.0.6 for Apple Silicon is here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YbPK_sQodnHLzIN6eY0WyXxkqNfp8ORa/view?usp=drive_link

Please report on any problems, many thanks.

Update 15 September 2023: HOTFIX of AttractMode Plus 3.0.5 for Apple Silicon is here:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qrJL4TlR-qJwq7hg8isoYVGnx1jiIP2Q/view?usp=drive_link

Recent changes in Homebrew again caused Attract Mode 3.0.5 to no longer work. Just to be clear: The image should be self-sufficient, i.e. it should not depend on Homebrew and any changes in there.

Thanks to the unknown user for the feedback in the comments, and happy to receive feedback.

Update 14 August 2023: AttractMode Plus 3.0.5 for Apple Silicon is updated, as the July version had a problem with Homebrew dependencies, this one should work now flawlessly.

Release notes: https://github.com/oomek/attractplus/releases/tag/3.0.5


And I forgot - if you want to compile this on your Mac, it's easy, provided that you can work in the Terminal: 

- download this file as a raw file: https://github.com/oomek/attractplus/blob/master/util/osx/self_build_macos.sh

- make the sh executable: chmod 755/Users/xxxxxxxxxxxxx/Downloads/self_build_macos.sh

- launch self_build_macos.sh (by dragging into the Terminal; the script should then build and also self-sign the app, which can the run on your Mac, but on no other Mac; by this you can avoid the above app signed with my dev certificate)

Enjoy!

14 August 2023

MAME (current) for RetroArch shows improvements

Update 14 August 2023 - MAME (current) was also updated to version 0.257 and is on par with official MAME as of this blog update

Recently the iOS core also was slimmed down to 77 MB - still a lot compared to the 9.2 MB that FBNeo brings, but nevertheless some improvement.


Update 26 July 2023 - MAME (current) did a jump to 0.256 (both MacOS and iOS), while latest RetroArch Nighties imply that version 1.16.0 should be imminent  🎉🎉




With the latest tweaks, the MAME (current) Core is functional on Mac RetroArch, but still has some issues. As of this writing, the „current“ RetroArch core is version 0.251, whereas official MAME is already at version 0.255. In practice, this probably won’t matter that much to you.

21 April 2023

Mac RetroArch Setup Tutorial for Arcade Games - Part I

Update June 2024: Some small, but great RetroArch news considered here. First, HDR screenshots work now! And the new function "Add To Playlist" is such an important usability improvement of RetroArch Playlists. Last section "Other Arcade Cores" also updated.

February 2024: so finally the RetroArch Tutorial Part II is out, but please be sure to have gone through this Part I first 😊

21 April 2023: Added a short section as regards the Steam version of RetroArch.

20 March 2023: RetroArch 1.5.0 a.k.a. ‚The MacOS Release‘ (just kidding) was released - it is a huge improvement for Macs - https://www.libretro.com/index.php/retroarch-1-15-0-release/ and everything in this article also applies to the new stable build. I have not tested the Steam version, though because updating the newest Nightly manually is very convenient on MacOS, as also described below.

About this posting: As the new Vulkan driver for MacOS is a game changer for Retroarch in MacOS, it became necessary to update this entry. Don't be too afraid of this lengthy article, it's a checklist of what RetroArch is capable of, and the result of this work is an unmatched gaming experience, even in old-school arcade games.

06 April 2023

Presenting: RetroArch Arcade Presets for the koko-aio shader

Update 6 April 2023: I released v 0.3 of my Arcade koko-aio shader

https://github.com/estefan3112/koko-aio-slang/releases/tag/0.3

Important change besides new presets: The backdrop presets (see the example here - Space Imvaders Deluxe) work in the same directory.

No need to repeat all of the Release Notes here. The shader gets better and better, and so do my presets, now 52. Tested under MacOS, iPadOS and Windows 11.

v 0.2 sees old-school games with Backdrops landing












13 January 2023

Sneak Peek: Massive RetroArch/FinalBurn Neo Update (WIP)

Update 13 January 2023, several amendments and Preemptive Frames as third big thing

2023 starts with some big news for Mac Retrogaming: RetroArch received a Vulkan driver for MacOS via the MoltenVK layer and further big things. I try to explain why this will probably become a major game changer and even less reason for me to use MAME.

First: Vulkan and HDR

The MacOS Vulkan shader comes with HDR, nicely configurable in the UI. I had to heavily scale down the default settings to achieve decent colors on my HDR monitor, however. Contrast must go up tremendously here.

(wip: insert default settings vs my settings here)

Vulkan let's you use more of the latest and greatest shaders. One shader that can be easily overlooked is the koko-aio shader (bundled with RetroArch, but only github provides for the latest version 3.5 currently):

 https://github.com/kokoko3k/koko-aio-slang

This shader provides for screen bezel reflection and other goodies and is easily configurable and editable (after some initial work). Here is an example of my first work results (videos will follow, the main point are the reflections on the screen bezel, which incredibly add value) - the bezels are included in the shader configuration!

HDR and bezel reflections as you play are a significant upgrade. The background image needs further adjustment.

Second: Stable 60 fps on 60 Hz monitors

FinalBurn Neo is the best choice for everybody that has a 60Hz fixed rate LCD: In the Core Options of FinalBurn Neo, be sure that "Force 60 Hz" is activated (you need to close the Core and restart, if changed!). It truly makes a difference with difficult candidates, such as Moon Patrol:

Moon Patrol scrolling at 60 Hz is perfect (again, see the screen bezel reflections!), the vertical lines come from the screenshot.


The system's default refresh was at 56,97 Hz, and this must cause severe hickups with 60 Hz fixed rate monitors.

In essence, perfect scrolling in FinalBurn Neo can be achieved easily, while the workaround explained for MAME in an earlier post seems more of a hack. That‘s a huge thing.

Third: Preemptive Frames instead of Runahead

Very recent RetroArch Nighties deliver another new function called Preemptive Frames (under Latency Options). The RetroArch team claims that it is consuming less resources, so you should use it instead of Runahead, unless you experience audio issues - then again Runahead. 

Happy to report that during my initial testing, I encountered no issues whatsoever in FinalBurn Neo, for me it just works like Runahead. Another very nice thing is that the new function takes over the core-specific and game-specific settings. So I am running FinalBurn Neo default with one preemptive frame and 2 frames only in selected games (e.g. gyruss). 

Even better, many games now have functioning highscores even if you activate Runahead/Preemptive Frames! In the past, you had to decide between the two. While it is not universal like in MAME, it keeps getting better (for me, however, RetroAchievements have become much more important than personal highscores).


These three things alone, combined with RetroAchievements and a steady development of FinalBurn Neo, provide this emulator a clear edge over MAME on Mac systems. I know, that's heresy, but on the other hand, MAME development for Macs has not seen any improvement through the last two or so years.

More to come here soon.

28 December 2022

Google Search Milestone 🥁🎉😎 - staying strictly non-commercial

So I learned these days that Google Search sees this Blog, and here‘s a milestone for clicks. It is very nice to see that this bears some relevance. And repeating my pledge: No monetization whatsoever happens here! Keep on retrogaming!



26 December 2022

Off-Topic: Mupen64plus on Mac Silicon - finally here

Update Christmas 2022: I created a script for a fully fledged compile of mupen64plus. 

Please download the zip file under this link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EG6fMN-NmQl5cPZ20SNFGdych-wGmxNa/view?usp=sharing

After extraction, please check whether it is executable; if not:

chmod 755 mupen64plusSilicon.sh

With this script, you get all built automatically as described below. Be sure to have all the dependencies installed as explained below.

Only one warning: Although the Rice plugin builds successfully, it fails in my testing with several errors. For the time being, it does not work.

And if you want a frontend: That one works well, even if only an Intel binary (take the latest development build):

https://github.com/dh4/mupen64plus-qt#development-builds

Original post from 3 October 2022:

This is major (at least for me), thus I post these non-MAME news as a change: It runs on Apple Silicon, and quite well!

 


As we all know, Nintendo 64 emulation is a challenge, and modern Macs have long time been virtually excluded from proper emulation. Though OpenEmu has a N64 core based on mupen64plus, the current limitations are too big (for me), and on Apple Silicon, there is no OpenEmu binary available. But finally, you can at least compile your own mupen64plus binary, and thanks to a user, even the crucial GlideN64 plugin can be compiled now!

What you get from this adventurous compile:
  • a (nearly) fully functional mupen64plus core with GildeN64 GFX, SDL joypad support and two optional RSPs (HLE and CXD4)
  • very decent performance at 1280x1024 (I did not yet test higher resolutions)
  • fully functional hires texture packs (crucial for me)
  • everything is still considered 'experimental', but very good for me to go so far
  • run it out of a directory, so I do not mess around with an app image
Requirements: Besides XCode, you need a bunch of packages to be installed (via Homebrew or via Macports). These instructions for MacOSX seem outdated. With Homebrew, an installation of the requirements is rather straight-forward:
  • Homebrew (initial install)
  • sdl2 (with all associated dependencies)
  • libpng
  • freetype2
  • zlib
  • cmake
  • nasm
If you have already Homebrew up and running, it's very likely that you already meet these requirements.

I keep it short for the time being, but will expand if necessary. Basic Terminal knowledge and MacPorts/Homebrew will be required.

11 December 2022

Moving to MacOS Ventura

 After some waiting, I moved to MacOS Ventura 13.0.1 from Monterey without any issues so far.

Ventura seems to be a no-brainer for MAME

This is a rather short post because there is not much to report: MAME and all frontends seem to work flawlessly. Benchmarks show approximately identical results (OpenGL became slower through various releases, Metal benchmarks still don't work properly, but at least the purple flash is gone when starting MAME and games).

Further nice things to report:

All emulators mentioned in this post work.

Joypad configuration is massively improved, and Nintendo Joypads and Joycons can be connected. For Joycons and Dolphin, you only need to follow Andrew‘s instructions:

https://youtu.be/Y4FqRpFi5Fo (a brilliant channel, by the way)

I already tested my beloved Super Mario Galaxy 2, and it blows my mind :-).

The new Apple Silicon build of GIMP 2.10.32 runs extremely well.

If there is anything else to report, I will do an update here.



21 November 2022

RetroAchievements is just brilliant and highly addictive! (November Update)

Brief update after s month in RetroAchievements: It continues to amaze me!

- New sets come in very frequently, and the recent Moon Patrol set is brilliant. With sets like these, you learn more about the games and what is achievable (at least by very good gamers). The community is enthusiastic and grateful.

- As an open system, you can switch between emulators/RetroArch cores or systems (Mac/iPad/Windows/Raspberry Pi) and always work on your achievements. This is amazing.

- For Arcades, I went back to the Arcade Stick, these challenges demonstrate that you need them for serious Arcade gaming. My beloved PS4 joypad is just too casual.

- Even if I will probably not master any set fully, I really like looking at my achievements and think of next steps (closing in to top 50%, at least).

- But where are you, fellow gamers? Let‘s connect!!! 😃



First: Whatever I write here, you need to experience it yourself to really appreciate it.

I never had a close look into RetroAchievements, though it has been around for some time. What a mistake, now I have to play all these console games from scratch again ;-), but now without save states, but just the original games!

Though arcade games don‘t play the lead role in here, they are still worth a try. Just to clarify, this is not MAME, but Finalburn Neo in RetroArch. So if you still need a reason to test RetroArch for arcade games - here it is.

Please see https://retroachievements.org/gameList.php?c=27 - there are currently 218 arcade games registered with a set. Arcade games that are worth a try in RetroAchievements are:

Galaga, Gyruss, Phoenix, Metal Slug Series, Shinobi

06 October 2022

Attract Mode on Steroids: At-The-Arcade Flex is a must tryout

Update 6 October 2022: This GitHub repository provides very recent Apple Silicon builds of Attract Mode

https://github.com/djhan/attractplus-for-mac

See https://github.com/djhan/attractplus-for-mac/blob/master/attract-2.6.2-41.dmg

And Attract Mode builds very nicely on Silicon Macs, just use the create-pkg.sh Script from the /util/osx subdirectory. It only works with Homebrew but not MacPorts, though. And if you want to use the created dmg on another Mac (even identical AppleID), you need to codesign the binary, the dylibs and the app container manually, otherwise you get a "permission denied" error and other error messages.

——-

During my testing, I could not identify any flaws, except for the non-functional history.dat plugin. So kudos to DJHan for these builds. For Intel builds, revert to the discussion below and try his Intel builds, or just stick with the official old builds that still work fine.

Minor update 10 July 2022: As explained in the comments below, if you  want to compile your own .app bundle (which works nicely), it seems to me that you must sign it with your own Developer Certificate. Otherwise the compiled app would even not work on your own Mac (at least I think so).

Attract Mode still impresses, as its layout capabilities are further evolving in the community. This release of a layout called "At-The-Arcade-Flex" is so outstanding that I had to produce this small video.

How to get there:

  1. Setup, part 1 - is a mandatory read, in particular how to toggle new layouts
  2. Download and install the theme from here: http://forum.attractmode.org/index.php?topic=3979.0 - read instructions carefully, but note: On Macs, the gtc-common folder goes into the .attract root directory of your user.
  3. Download the updated cabs from the same forum post and put them all in a directory of your choice (must match with the directory below!)
  4. And these are the important parts of your Arcade.cfg file - cabinets folder definition in red:

executable           $HOME/Games/mame/mame

args                 [name]

workdir              $HOME/Games/mame/

rompath              $HOME/Games/mame/roms/

romext               .zip;.7z

system               Arcade

info_source          listxml

nb_mode_wait         2

exit_hotkey          Joy0 Button12  

artwork    cabinets        $HOME/Games/mame/cabinets_am 

artwork    flyer           $HOME/Games/mame/flyers

artwork    marquee         $HOME/Games/mame/marquees

artwork    snap            $HOME/Games/mame/videosnaps;$HOME/mame/snap

artwork    video           $HOME/Games/mame/videosnaps

artwork    wheel           $HOME/.attract/scraper/mame/wheel


It's very snappy and extremely noisy - you get the cacaphony of an arcade hall, and your own video sound prevails over it. What a joy! Try out and be amazed.



New Lightweight GLSL Shader around - some testing comparison

If you browse this blog, you'll see how important I deem shaders for MAME. Proper shader configuration was a bit of the start of this blog. So no wonder if I report about a promising new lightweight GLSL shader.

MAME-PSGS in action, good looking and performant

You find the new shader here: https://github.com/TheCodeTherapy/MAME-PSGS. According to the ReadMe, this shader is designed for rather low-key non-Windows devices running MAME. Clearly modern Macs run every BGFX MAME shader with ease, but let's see which performance gains a truly lightweight shader can achieve.

16 July 2022

MAME on Apple M1 - as good as expected!

Update 3 December 2022: moving to Ventura was smoothless - see this short post.

Update 16 July 2022: I did some prelimimary MAME testing on a 14“ MacBookPro M1Pro (it’s not mine). While this is no in-depth review, there are some insights from a MAME gamer‘s perspective I would like to share with you.
  • SUPERB The Liquid Retina XDR-display with 3024x1964 is a real highlight. Above all the ProMotion refresh rate of 120 Hz provides you with butter-smooth scrolling out of the box. Just activate waitvsync on top, and you get perfect scrolling. But don’t use nothrottle as your games would run double speed.
  • GOOD: This laptop produces surprisingly good sound quality. Retrogames sound very nice!
  • GOOD: It did not produce any heat during my testing, and no fan noise. Always such a good thing compared to most Windows and MacIntel laptops.
  • BAD: In some games, e.g. 1942, the display notch is quite a nuisance (see photo below). But it’s not terribly bad, if it makes you crazy, use a bezel and shrink your screen, or just turn to window mode.
  • SURPRISE: Initial benchmarks (as I used to do them) provide for worse results than on my Mac mini M1, even on the same external display. The M1 Pro should provide better results, so something is wrong. In practice, this is totally irrelevant, as the games run just nicely so far.
Conclusion: Of course this machine is too much for Retrogaming, but if you happen to own such machine, it provides an impeccable MAME gaming experience, with this display being the highlight. Would I need a Mac laptop, I would always opt for a ProMotion display.

In many games, you will have to adjust the screen below the Display Notch.



Original post: I finally decided to move to a Mac mini M1 - and MAME just shines on it. No war stories here, but just the benchmarks!


R0ni compiles M1 MAME, so get it here: https://sdlmame.lngn.net/ or on Github: https://github.com/mac-a-r0ni/mame 

This table shows you a performance comparison between:
- Mac mini M1 (native)
- Mac mini M1 (Rosetta2): no real need for this, but just to demonstrate Rosetta2 performance 
- Mac mini Intel (latest version)
- iMac (late 2013): best results under Mojave (Catalina became slower, and no Big Sur here)

./mame -video bgfx -str 60 -noafs -bgfx_screen_chains crt-geom -bgfx_backend opengl -noreadconfig -nosleep -nothrottle -lowlatency