Starcraft 2 Mac Problems, Crashes, and Fixes
Starcraft 2 has been out for about a week now and since launch date my life has basically revolved around the game (I’m a nerd, I know). The game is an absolute blast and you should buy it if you like real time strategy games. Now all that said, it’s not without problems. Despite a lengthy beta testing period, there are still some pretty annoying bugs and crashes in SC2, particularly for Mac users who have NVidia hardware.
Here is the known problem list for the Starcraft 2 Mac client, and more importantly some potential fixes for the problems:
* No user interface or menus – if you are missing user interface elements, try quitting and restarting the game, or do a full system restart
* Random crashes with Mac OS X 10.6.4 and NVidia graphics hardware – no current workarounds, Blizzard is aware of the problem and working on it – Update: some of the random crashes have been fixed with the Snow Leopard Graphics Update, it is highly recommended you install this update!
* NVidia hardware dramatically underperforms in Mac OS X – potential driver issue, reduce graphics settings to lower settings until a fix is released
* Mac OS X underperforms compared to Windows on the same hardware – similar to the above problem, there is speculation this is a Mac OS X video driver problem. The extent of the performance hit varies from system to system, further suggesting it’s related to video drivers. Lower graphics settings for the time being, or run the game in bootcamp.
* MacBook Pro overheats and game stutters in gameplay and cutscenes – possibly related to above graphics driver problems, some users report adding the following two lines to their variable file helpful (variables is located at ~/Documents/Blizzard/Starcraft II/variables.txt):
This forces your frame rates to cap at a consistent level, some hardware is overworking when it doesn’t need to be thus sending your MacBook Pro into a ridiculously hot CPU eating festival with itself and crash city. This actually works on other hardware too if it’s overheating during cutscenes and videos.
* Black screen on startup but sound plays anyway – switch from fullscreen to windowed mode (Command+M), or do a system reboot
* Huge performance hit when using USB Headset with some NVidia hardware (GeForce 9400M in particular) – unplug the USB headset for now, Blizzard is working on a fix
* Mouse gets stuck off screen in dual monitor setups – if this happens, switch to windowed mode (Command+M) and back into full screen mode, usually your mouse will be released
* Starcraft 2 crashes, fails, or freezes when trying to download/install patch update – known problem, the cause is thought to be users having a case-sensitive file system. There is no current fix but a workaround is to install Starcraft 2 onto a newly created disk image. You can create a disk image with the Disk Utility tool, located in /Applications/Utilities. Create a New Image onto the Desktop that is about 16GB and install Starcraft 2 directly into this disk image – some users have reported success just copying their current Starcraft 2 install into that folder and deleting the original installation. Be sure to launch Starcraft 2 client from the disk image.
* Incompatibilities with LittleSnitch, AppCleaner, FileVault, and PeerGuardian – these apps are known to cause problems with the Mac Starcraft 2 client, ranging from inability to connect to Battle Net to a patch installation loop. Current workaround is to disable these applications if they are running on your Mac.
* Patches won’t download, Starcraft 2 won’t connect to BattleNet – check for aforementioned problems and applications running, if the patches still do not download or you can’t connect to battlenet it’s possible the proper ports are not open on your network/router. The following ports need to be open: 3724, 1119, and 1120
This is part of the official known Mac problem list from Blizzard, hopefully we’ll get an update soon to patch up the serious bugs and performance issues.
You can test your own game performance by showing frames per second within Starcraft 2, just hit Option+Control+F while anywhere in the game and a framerate counter will appear in the upper left corner.
Even though the Mac system requirements for Starcraft 2 are relatively low, they should not be counted on at this point due to the above problems. Even some of the best hardware is underperforming in Mac OS X. If you want the game to perform it’s absolute best, carefully watch the frame rate in response to graphics changes, and have things like “Shaders”, “Shadows”, and “Lighting” set to Low and “Reflections” set to Off, although you can generally have the resolution native and game textures medium to high and still retain decent performance.
Update: Apple has released the Snow Leopard Graphics Update – this is HIGHLY recommended to install as it should help some of the crashes and problems.
Update: Apple has seeded a ‘Snow Leopard Graphics Update’ to developers:
The Snow Leopard Graphics UPdate contains general fixes that enhance the stability and reliability of graphics applications and games.
MacRumors reports that “While the exact focus of the update in testing is unclear, it appears from the areas in which developers are being asked to focus their testing that it addresses several aspects of graphics performance including VRAM utilization and hot-plugging and wake-from-sleep issues.”
Hopefully this will solve some of the Starcraft 2 graphics problems with the Mac client!