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Anyone runs sim games on a Mac ?

Just asking, because with all the Win10 issues I've gone thru, I've just about had it with reloading and update issues. If I could find an Imac that ran Assetto Corsa, grand prix legends, and a few other sims along with Photo editing, I think I would dump my PC in a second.
I don't mind the occasional update, but lately its been a nightmare.
For almost a year I had issues with an update that would force my PC into a loop that just would go on and on turning off and turning on my PC. I finally did a cleanup and that went away, only to come back with the next update. Right now I'm running version 1909 and it runs great 90% of the time with an occasional freeze, but other than that its OK.
Now every few days I get a message that my PC will upgrade in the next hour. No thanks, all it does is cause more issues. Even toyed with the idea of a linux machine.
 
So only just found this, but thought I'd put my two cents in.

Longtime Intel Mac user but found myself wanting to sim race on PC again a few years ago. My solution – I boot a Windows virtual machine (VM) using VMware Fusion, sim race in there, and store the Steam folder on an external drive! Only issue I've had is with RBR (for god knows what reason). Otherwise, the older sims I love like AMS, GTR2, NR2003, GP4, and RaceRoom run without glitches and quite well. And I only have a Radeon Pro 580X in my iMac! With a GPU that was actually capable (lol) performance would be way better again. Have long been curious about how AC would fare, but haven't tried yet. I should mention – you can connect whatever USB device (like a wheel and pedals!) to the Mac and VMware asks if you'd like to "pass it through" to the VM, and if you say yes and have your wheel drivers installed on Windows, everything just works in my experience.

The VM approach means I don't have to shut down macOS, but comes at a performance cost. I'm okay with that tradeoff, personally. But of course, with an Intel Mac, you could also just create a Bootcamp partition for Windows, and you literally just reboot and have a PC haha – as I understand, basically no performance penalty versus an identical-spec PC, especially if you install the unofficial BootCamp Drivers.

You can also use Crossover/Wineskin/PlayOnMac/Porting Kit solutions to run Windows games on macOS. A viable option some people use! Crossover is a commercially-supported product, and the others are more like a get-your-hands-dirty version of Steam's Proton compatibility layer. Have not tried these myself, but I've seen that Steam games have sometimes caused trouble for these solutions in the past – although I think Steam games are working fine with Wine for now.

Biggest challenge with Wine/Proton (on GNU/Linux or macOS) is FFB support. Mac only supports Logitech wheels, and GNU/Linux supports... well, it's complicated. There's official Logitech support in the kernel, but people have to augment it with community software, and there's community Thrustmaster and Fanatec support... sort of. See this Reddit thread about sim racing on Linux and this comment.

Note: with a M1 Mac, you'd need a VM or to use Crossover/Wine solutions. And the VMs only run Windows ARM edition. HOWEVER, contrary to what some initial reports said, it seems most games work in VMs on Apple Silicon – and quite well! See for instance this Beam NG forum link.
 
AMS, GTR2, NR2003, GP4, and RaceRoom

Most of these can actually simply run in Wine—except maybe for RaceRoom, not sure about its requirements. I myself run GTR2, Race 07 and rFactor.

Basically, if the game uses DirectX 9 or earlier, it might run in Wine—it's pretty much a question of luck with a specific engine. Wine's AppDB lists the compatibility and tips for many games, though mostly for Linux and discrete GPUs.

However, DirectX 10 and later are out—Wine just doesn't support it currently, specifically on MacOS. Nor does VirtualBox (the open-source VM). This means that Assetto Corsa and rFactor 2 are out with my approach. Dunno if VMware supports DX≥10.

On top of this, MacOS beginning with 10.15 (Catalina) doesn't support 32-bit apps, which many of these older games are. This means that Wine and VMs also can't run 32-bit code and thus won't help. I'm not sure if hardware support for 32 bit was disabled completely starting with some generation of Macs—if not, then dual-booting into another OS is possible but that's kind of a non-solution.

Afaik MacOS doesn't have any special support for any controllers at all: instead, it expects the game to talk to the controller and figure it out itself. (Though I might be mistaken, I can imagine Logitech shipping some utils to this end.) Under Wine, however, Windows drivers might be necessary or beneficial.

Since bsmooth has a separate machine, they could actually use Linux to run games and evade Windows' pains—Wine does support DX10 in Linux (since Linux has Vulkan). This may require some knowledge and effort, however.

Many Codemasters' games were released for Mac natively, with the help of Feral Interactive—which is how I got into racing gaming on my computers again. E.g. F1 2017, Grid Autosport, the first Dirt Rally are simply available for Mac in Steam. Of course, that's not quite the same as AC/rFactor.

Running Windows in VM or especially Bootcamp sounds kinda like another way to run into the same annoyances again—I presume that Windows wants to update in a VM just as it does on a bare metal.

MJQT, I'm curious: do you run Win10/11 in the VM? Does VMware support DX10/11 for you? Do you use MacOS Catalina/Big Sur/Monterey—which shouldn't actually be able to run 32-bit apps?
 
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Hey there - thanks for the reply, and nice to hear your knowledge about Wine and other thoughts. :) A few things:

On top of this, MacOS beginning with 10.15 (Catalina) doesn't support 32-bit apps, which many of these older games are. This means that Wine and VMs also can't run 32-bit code and thus won't help.
I knew about the 32bit support drop on Mac (it's why I've conserved one pre-Catalina system at home) but it's too bad it applies to Wine too. Interesting to know macOS Wine only supports DX9 and below too.

I'm not sure if hardware support for 32 bit was disabled completely starting with some generation of Macs—if not, then dual-booting into another OS is possible but that's kind of a non-solution.
This possibility honestly never even occurred to me.. That would be terrible! I don't think this is the case, though -- I've never heard about anyone having serious breakage on Win10 through Bootcamp (other than standard Windows issues), and I would assume stuff would break if no hardware support for 32 bit.

Many Codemasters' games were released for Mac natively, with the help of Feral Interactive—which is how I got into racing gaming on my computers again. E.g. F1 2017, Grid Autosport, the first Dirt Rally are simply available for Mac in Steam
This is great. Not personally super interested in those older titles, but I'm glad Feral did this. If only it was DR2.0 they ported - I'd buy that for Mac. (Don't want to be turning in mid-air like the original Dirt Rally haha)

Afaik MacOS doesn't have any special support for any controllers at all: instead, it expects the game to talk to the controller and figure it out itself
I haven't tried a Logitech wheel, but macOS should have built-in support for PS controllers (I can vouch for pre-Catalina PS3 controller support, anyway). Logitech support should be AFAIK baked into macOS, but according to Reddit this is broken in Big Sur. Well dammit... there goes the main reason (Mac support) I would have considered a G series wheel over a Thrustmaster.

Most of these can actually simply run in Wine—except maybe for RaceRoom, not sure about its requirements. I myself run GTR2, Race 07 and rFactor.
This is good to know. RaceRoom is also DX9, so should work well too.

MJQT, I'm curious: do you run Win10/11 in the VM? Does VMware support DX10/11 for you? Do you use MacOS Catalina/Big Sur/Monterey—which shouldn't actually be able to run 32-bit apps?
Running Win10 on a Catalina system. But a Win11 VM is possible -- I know someone running one for their work right now, actually. And for now I have only tried DX9 sims in my VM, now that I think about it. Those are just the games I gravitate to haha! But you've just convinced me to experiment and finally install AC in the VM in the coming days and see what happens. :confused: VMware claims DX11 support, as does Parallels, but it may be imperfect, who knows. About 32 bit support: I can't say for sure. But I play numerous old sims (e.g. GP4, NR2003, GTR2, rF1, LFS) and I would assume one or more of those has some 32 bit code, yet everything runs fine.

Only two bugs I've experienced (and they're both serious, sadly):
  1. I bought rFactor 2 on sale a few days ago (which runs DX11) and it won't launch because it thinks my system has less than 512 MB video memory. This is of course untrue, and I know my VM can access my full Radeon 580X GPU. If I could force rF2 to launch, everything would be fine. BUT it does make me wonder about DX11 support in the VM. It also may just be rF2 being annoying, though!
  2. When I play Richard Burns Rally, trackside objects disappear after a few minutes of gameplay. This bug is also present when played under Wine in macOS (I tried it using Wineskin) and is reported for 10+ years under Linux, too. Frustrating. So only option for RBR would appear to be Bootcamp (or a PC).
I presume that Windows wants to update in a VM just as it does on a bare metal.
Yes, and I've let it do so. But I have never had any issues because of the updates. I use the VM like a gaming console - I boot it when I feel like sim racing or modding, and otherwise keep it shut it down and don't do anything with it. Perhaps I've had a good experience because of the restricted way in which I use it?
 
Running Win10 on a Catalina system. I play numerous old sims (e.g. GP4, NR2003, GTR2, rF1, LFS) and I would assume one or more of those has some 32 bit code, yet everything runs fine.

That's interesting to hear, because from what I know most popular VMs mostly translate access to hardware and other system stuff, while chucking plain code straight onto the CPU—as opposed to VMs like QEMU that emulate the whole system including the processor, and can thus run ARM on x86, or 32 bit on 64 bit without invoking 32-bit code themselves. Now I gotta figure out if VMware can do that, and how.

I don't know for sure if Apple disabled 32-bit support in hardware/firmware/UEFI, but I think that they at least can do that—judging from the experience where Macbooks get throttled if the battery is taken out, and booting Linux doesn't help because the throttling is turned on at a lower level. (The reason for throttling is apparently that a Macbook can draw more current than the power supply delivers.)


I bought rFactor 2 on sale a few days ago (which runs DX11) and it won't launch because it thinks my system has less than 512 MB video memory.

I would try looking into the VM settings, because the VMs usually can limit access to the hardware, and frequently do that by default. However, you probably already tried that. There's also the possibility that VMware just doesn't use the full video mem because it has to leave something for the host OS and apps—not sure how that works exactly, but I vaguely remember hearing something to this effect.


When I play Richard Burns Rally, trackside objects disappear after a few minutes of gameplay.

That's rather concerning, actually, because I hoped to evade this exact bug with a VM. BTW, I found that RBR's Xbox version runs pretty smoothly in the Xemu emulator, but with a gamepad the handling is jerky as hell—the sensitivity is too high, just like in some other games and in the Dolphin emulator too. However, while Dolphin has the option to adjust the sensitivity, Xemu is still rather young and doesn't have that. But, with a wheel it might be a different story. (RBR actually handles alright with a gamepad under Win, but then the bug comes in.)
 
I don't know for sure if Apple disabled 32-bit support in hardware/firmware/UEFI, but I think that they at least can do that
Damn. Well, I sure hope they don't lolol

I would try looking into the VM settings, because the VMs usually can limit access to the hardware, and frequently do that by default.
Will do! I have done it within the bounds of VMware's graphical settings interface, and the GPU is set to use all 8 GB of VRAM if needed. However, there are text config files for VMware as well, so perhaps I can force the VM to work harder somehow in there. Still unconvinced that'll solve the issue, because I couldn't possibly get the performance I do with Automobilista and RaceRoom without the VM using more than 512 MB of VRAM. So I think it's with rF2 not knowing what to do with VMware's SVGA graphics driver, if I had to guess.

That's rather concerning, actually, because I hoped to evade this exact bug with a VM.
I bet you did hope that. I would have thought having a fully emulated system virtually would avoid that bug too. Perhaps the problem stems from similar code for graphics stuff between Wine and VMware's fancy drivers? Or maybe it's a macOS and Linux-side issue? I'd love to figure this bug out, anyway, but I'm not very hopeful.

Also...

I just installed AC (including Content Manager and CSP) and it runs impressively well! Especially given that I'd read that VMware graphics drivers fared wayyy better with DX9 and below versus DX11. Some weird visual glitches with black spots at first, but fixed it by fully disabling reflections, driving in the game a little, and then re-enabling them. Also, it can't handle in-game anti-aliasing (performance instantly crawls with any AA enabled) but can have medium-high settings otherwise. Would need to be a bit lower if lots of AI or higher res (I run at 2048x1152). Screenshots attached (first without CSP, second with).
 

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I just installed AC (including Content Manager and CSP) and it runs impressively well!

Now that's really exciting, because aside from a bunch of games that have trouble with Wine, I hoped to run PCSX2 the PS2 emulator in some way—but it also requires DX10 or Vulkan. With this news, it seems that I'm gonna have my schedule cleared for the next couple days.

There's RBR on PS2, by the way, and it shouldn't have that glitch, since the whole system is emulated (and is different). Plus PCSX2 is rather mature and should support various options regarding controllers. Dunno yet about performance in such an emulation sandwich, though.
 
It is exciting! Further testing today shows it's best for hotlapping with my setup, though. I only configured the VM with 8 GB of RAM, and AC crawls once you use a certain number of AI (and it takes less AI to cause issues for more modern, heavy mods) presumably for that reason. It also dies (less than 1 FPS lol) with the extra new Mosport and Road Atlanta mod tracks, no matter the settings, it seems -- who knows why. But other mod cars and circuits (incl. LilSki tracks) run well, and default Kunos content is smoother again. Your experience may well be even better than mine -- after all, this all be due to my limited personal setup and how much is running on the macOS side.

EDIT: so this also confirms rF2 is being dumb. Maybe I'll have to turn settings way down, but it can run! I had worried it was that DX11 support was utter crap, but it's clearly not.

There's RBR on PS2, by the way, and it shouldn't have that glitch, since the whole system is emulated (and is different)
This is true, but my goal would be to ultimately run NGP physics and modern track mods, which I would expect requires the PC version.
 
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