The bright side of things:
- The official MAME build shines on Macs, and there is really nothing to complain for the dedicated retrogamer.
- The BGFX Metal shaders now perform as expected, performance is comparable to OpenGL (with Direct 3D/Windows still being the performance king). For setting up BGFX: https://mameonmacs.blogspot.com/2017/05/mame-0185-from-scratch-via-mewui-update.html and https://mameonmacs.blogspot.com/2016/05/bgfx-in-mame-tweaking-and-in-depth-look.html (needs an update after the October 2018 release)
- The BGFX shaders are now performing well with artwork/bezels. One of the nicest improvement of this year. Read here: https://mameonmacs.blogspot.com/2018/09/mame-0201-major-achievements-with-bgfx.html
- All my joypads work nicely, but you may need to tweak your MAME settings. I did an update here: https://mameonmacs.blogspot.com/2016/04/using-joysticks-with-mame.html
- You have at least two very decent frontends available: Attract Mode and QMC2. Attract Mode is my current favorite, it builds nicely from source, and the available themes are eye candy. Read this for an introduction: https://mameonmacs.blogspot.com/2017/01/attract-mode-for-mame-under-osx.html While I had good experience with QMC2, I am not in favor of this interface tweaking MAME besides mame.ini - it often causes confusion.
The mixed picture:
- With newer versions of MAME (still have to figure out since when), the CRT-GEOM OpenGL shaders tested here no longer work. So you need to rely on BGFX with similar performance in the CRT-GEOM shader, which is basically no problem.
- Retroarch/MAME would be great, but only old versions work on Macs. The MAME/current core is outdated. MAME 2010 is decent for old school games, but from time to time buggy in my own testing. I am unsure about the stability of the Metal driver of Retroarch, it seems to crash from time to time. Retroarch/MAME under Ubuntu is a by far more stable experience (though it also has its limitations). I am particularly missing the brilliant Runahead feature in MAME/current cores (for Linux as well). So while I am constantly looking into this, current limitations are too many for a good MAME experience.
- What about OpenEmu? While I really appreciate their Mac approach on emulation, it simply comes with too many limitations in MAME - for a reason the MAME emulation is only experimental in OpenEmu. OpenEmu seems to use version 0.169 of MAME, and if I am not mistaken, this is also where Retroarch/MAME currently stands. Despite the higher learning curve, I would prefer Retroarch over OpenEmu.
What is still true for MAME in overall:
- For best MAME experience, you should not shy away from text editors and config files. You will have a better system if you do your configuration in these files manually. Don't rely on frontends for configuring MAME - but go this way: https://mameonmacs.blogspot.com/2017/05/mame-0185-from-scratch-via-mewui-update.html
- Shaders and in-game artwork (bezels and backtrops) make a huge difference. Just have a look at the title picture of this Blog, and you'll understand.
- Also have a look at the special realistic artwork bezels that I am building up in this repository. I am still blown away by their quality (mainly created by John Merrit and Orionsangel): https://github.com/estefan3112/MAME-Realistic-Bezel-Artwork
Since MAME lives from the community, may I repeat that any feedback form your side is much appreciated! Apologies for missing out on them from time to time, but I surely read them all.