Reposting from the Arch Linux forums, since I really don't want to type it out again
Just spent nearly a full day tearing my hair out only to discover the root cause of this problem, so I'm posting this for anyone else who is having trouble smile
If you use the (currently) beta version of the NVIDIA driver, 260.19.06, VMware Workstation may fail to start VMs with a cryptic error about not finding a "peer process". Googling reveals this is an extremely generic error that many people have had before.
I stumbled across an old post on these forums from 2009, where the user changed a variable in the VMX file that fixed the problem. Turns out it's the one that enables 3D in the VM. This also fixed my problem, so at least I had something to go on.
Using the 256.* driver fixed the problem for me (though sadly this re-introduces the bug where text rendering is horrible on X.Org server 1.9.0). IMO the culprit is likely the fact that a lot of headers are no longer in the 260.* package, but opencl-headers at least didn't fix the problem.
Hope someone finds this useful!
Attached is the bug report gzip, but I ran it when using the latest official driver (which works with VMware), since I forgot to when using the beta.