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Macbook performance issues.


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So, instead of playing on my toaster of a PC, I decided to try my luck with my mid 2014 MacBook Pro, running BigSur.  As much as I hate Apple, this thing does have much better stats than my ancient PC.  Problem is, I'm experiencing several issues.  I am using an HDMI cable to connect to an external monitor, which I believe is most likely besides the point, but there is that detail as well.  Okay, here's the list of issues.

  1. Cell Shader does not appear to work.  The options appear, but none of the sliders do anything, except for the outlines slider, which has a binary effect.  If it is on at all, all vfx will disappear (auras, portals, etc) but otherwise does nothing.
  2. Occasionally the audio starts to gargle rather bad.
  3. Certain building textures appear transparent.
  4. Colors look really flat, even at higher gfx settings they look in some ways inferior to my ancient PC on lower settings.  I'm guesing this one is a hardware/chipset issue with pos Mac.

I have a feeling there is nothing to be done about any of those, but if anyone has any insights they would be appreciated.

Edited by tekmansam
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  • 4 weeks later

Pretty sure that all of these graphics hiccups are related to the difference in graphics frameworks between Windows and MacOS. (The audio issue seems weird and I have no insight on how you might fix that.)


Windows uses DirectX as its graphics framework, and City of Heroes, as a Windows application, makes use of that framework. There is an alternate open-source graphics framework, OpenGL, and I've seen differing discussions on whether City of Heroes actually uses OpenGL for its graphics or not. Regardless, since you're likely running CoH inside a WINE wrapper to get it going on Mac, WINE contains functions to translate DirectX calls into OpenGL calls so that graphics, for the most part, run seamlessly.


The real issue for you is that Apple deprecated OpenGL in MacOS in favor of its own Metal graphics framework -- OpenGL libraries still exist, but they haven't been updated since 2010 and won't be. This means that for some functions, WINE is likely expecting a more recent version of OpenGL than exists on your Mac, and as a result you see weirdness where others see normal stuff.


You've got two main options that I can see to 'fix' this:


1. Since you're on an older MBPro that still uses an Intel processor, you could use Boot Camp (plus a licensed copy of Windows) to create a Windows environment that you could boot into. Since you'll be using DirectX while running Windows, you can just install the Windows version of CoH into that environment and you're good to go.

2. Pick up some form of emulation software such as Parallels or Crossover -- the plus side is that these commercial products have gone much farther toward converting DirectX calls into Metal calls so that the graphics stay seamless. (I'm using Crossover myself, and can swap into Cell Shader mode and back without any problems.) The down side is that, since your Mac is pretty old, the added overhead of running emulation software is going to give you a performance hit; not necessarily a huge one, but probably a noticeable one compared to the setup you're currently running.


If for some reason you did decide to upgrade your MBP to one with an Apple Silicon processor, option 1 goes away, and option 2 becomes your only option.

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