Jun 02 2008

Arcade Machine Reloaded Diary – Page 8

Jeremy @ 8:23 pm

8/2/04

I made a bit of a discovery, so I thought I’d write it up. As mentioned on the previous page, although the @roms setting in the app file for the console emulators does not work, the other, supporting files do.

In particular the reference to artwork for the various games. This now means, that just like MAME you can have multiple artwork for the same game, all controlled from ArcadeOS. I’ve begun work on the emulators, using a windows version of the emulator to capture screenshots and then running them through the usual conversion process, to get them down to size and in the appropriate number of colours (ArcadeOS still only supports 256 colour images).

I will be uploading my snaps, titles and boxes here as soon as I have finished them. So far only the Megadrive section is complete. But if you want to get cracking the Screenshot Archive has a great collection of them and they’re all available for download.

Roughly translated all this new info means is that you should create separate directories for your artwork within the emu directory. My suggestion is thusly:

  • c:\emu\md\boxes – cover scans, flyers, etc
  • c:\emu\md\titles – title screens
  • c:\emu\md\pics – in game shots

Then edit the relevant .app file in the c:\ArcadeOS directory and add or edit the following lines:

#Screenshots

pngdir =@pics
flyerdir =@boxes
cabdir =@titles

Put your picture files in those directories, switch to the emulator in AOS and go to the ArcadeOS Config and in the screenshots section, change the settings to match your preferences.

  • S.S. dir: move: Flyers
  • S.S. dir: run: Cabinet
  • S.S. dir: info: Snaps

I like to have it this way so that the box is displayed when the game is highlighted and the title-screen is displayed when the game is run. The only time you see the in-game shots (snaps) is during screen saver mode. And speaking of which…

Select ArcadeOS Config / Screen Saver and change the Saver Type to Screens and the Shot Type to Cycle. That way the screen-saver will rotate through all your pictures!

12/5/04

Another discovery! I’ve had this niggling problem since the beginning and no matter what I tried I just couldn’t solve it. Some of the games I play most have this annoying flicker when you start them up, sort of a rolling line up the screen – Joust, Robotron and Juno First for example. It’s easily fixed, you just go to the video menu and change the ‘color’ setting from palette8 to something else (usually bgr8). But no matter what I try I could not get advmame to remember this setting when I saved the video mode.

The answer is to edit your advmame.rc file and add the following line to the specific section for the games that have the flicker:

game_name/display_color bgr8

save the file and voila, problem fixed.

If you don’t have a section in advmame.rc for your game then you probably haven’t saved a specific video config. Load the game and go to the video menu, select Save Changes for this game and then open your advmame.rc file. A quick search and you should find the required section.


I also forgot to mention that I ordered some new buttons and switches from OzStick and when they arrived the buttons were perfect, but the micro-switches had the tiny terminals on them. Well, I contacted OzStick and they just asked me to return the switches and they would send out the correct size. Within a few days they all arrived. Reasonable price, excellent service. I’ll be using those guys again.

I had got around to replacing Player 1’s buttons some time ago, but tonight I replaced all the rest and most of the micro-switches. They feel a little ‘new’ but I’m doing my best to fix that with repeated goes at Juno First :)

4/10/04

Added a couple of extra games to the Megadrive emulator – KGen98. EA Hockey and Streets of Rage are the games and I got the artwork organised as well – looking good.

I noticed that Viewpoint still crashes about halfway through the first level, which is a crime. I tried it with a newer version of advmame – 0.86 ? and it seemed to be fine, though I then noticed that just using the new version of advmame for Viewpoint overwrote the advmame.rc file within ArcadeOS with some extra config settings, which broke the old version of Advmame. This meant that all games using the older version would also break. I also noticed that the startup music for NEO-GEO and the Sammy logo music seemed a little screwy. I switched back to a slightly older version – 0.82 and my problems were solved. I don’t really want to upgrade to the new version of advmame for all games as they all perform fine on the older one and a golden rule of IT is “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

I now have four versions of MAME on my machine:
dmame – dosMAME 0.66
mame – dosMAME 0.37b16
alt – AdvMAME 0.67
vsmame – dosMAME 0.82

I also downloaded ArcadeOS 2.52 and installed that (after carefully making a copy of my original dir). It allows ArcadeOS to read in the new format MAME game lists. I’m having a bit of a problem with some of the new AdvanceMAME ‘features’ but I’ll keep working on them. I also have to go through all my existing games and test them with the new version of MAME. I’m pretty sure some roms will have been updated.

Finally, I got the Colecovision emulator – ColEm working under AOS! In the amazingly unlikely circumstances that anyone would want to play this early-80’s videogame gem, I have added some screenshots and a .nms file for the Coleco so the menu displays nicely. There are a couple of switches that are worth using on the command line.

e.g. colem centpede.rom -uperiod 1 -sync -volume 20

the uperiod and sync switches slow the emulator down and allow for a more normal pace and the volume 20 is purely for your sanity. The Colecovision sound is awful, so turn the damn thing right down. The scale is 1-200, so 20 is just about right :)

10/10/04

Made a few more interesting discoveries and just in case anybody is stuck with the same thing, here’s the post I made on the ArcadeOS Forum at MAMEWorld.

1. When running a game, as well as the old “Running Game X” message, the Advmame copyright message is displayed in a nice, chunky DOS text across the top of the screen. This didn’t happen before and looks ugly. How do I get rid of it? Show Command is set to No and Hide Warnings is set to Yes.

Answer: In the .RC…. misc_quiet yes – Correct!

2. I tried running a later version of Advmame – 0.82 – in particular to run a couple of games with problems under 0.67 (Viewpoint crashes in the first level) and though it fixed the crash, it writes new options to advmame.rc file which means I can’t switch back with Game Config – Mame exe as it bugs out with the additional settings.

Answer: Try making advmame.rc read only and see what happens – Correct!

It would be nice if I could get advmame to start with a different .rc file and write to that instead.

3. I also noticed the new advmame interface messages were in a nice, higher resolution but I also noticed that when quitting a game it always asks you Exit / Continue. The older versions would only ask you if you had a credit inserted. It’s a small thing, but it means I have to teach newbies one more thing!

Answer: In the .RC….misc_safequit no – Correct!

4. I finally found an excellent tsr for my Matrox G400 which allows me to access a heap of additional colour modes – 15, 24 & 32 and some higher resolutions. However I can’t get AOS to run in 640×480. I change the option in arcadeos.cfg to 640×480=1 and it loads up in lo-res and writes over my config with 640×480=0. I have even got vbe /l running to try and fix it (a feat of dos video gymnastics in itself) but still no progress.

Answer: Not sure on this, but I think arcadeos will only hold the 640×480 if incabinet is set to 0….eg on a normal pc monitor.

5. I’ve asked this before but got no answer. How do you export ArcadeOS’ / MAME’s game list? I hold an irregular arcade tournament and it would be nice to provide a list of games to choose from. I use a trimmed down set of roms, but there are still 600+ of them. The other emulators – SNES, MD, NES, Coleco, etc are easy as I have .nms files created for them.

Answer: Don’t know….Only way I can think of is a pain in the arse, copy the mame.lst file in the arcadeos dir and rename it then alter it to display better….

26/10/04

Q*Bert is a distinctively classic game whose control system always eluded me. In the original cabinets the joystick was mounted on an angle and the corners could be clearly felt on the old four-way sticks. The precise diagonals required made it difficult to emulate properly and it had always been off my list of games. A recent message board post inspired me to try again. From NoOne on the Build Your Own Arcade Controls Boards.

*******************

To set up your 8-way for Q*bert, go to the Inputs for this game menu, click on each of the following, and then press BOTH directions you want mapped to that function.

Up=Up AND Right
Right=Right AND Down
Down=Down AND Left
Left=Left AND Up

Once you have these set, you have to push UP-RIGHT on the stick to send an Up signal to the game, etc…
That makes the 8-way behave exactly like a rotated 4-way stick.

*******************

I’ve tried it and it works perfectly :)

3/11/04

I’ve been trying to get the backgrounds to show, particularly for Space Invaders which looks a little plain without it. I’d posted my question on a few boards with little success. Finally, I realised that overlays are drawn from the same place as bezels – the artwork directory. So I grabbed a few artwork files from my desktop, dropped them in the artwork directory on the arcade machine and Eureka!Lesson learnt is sometimes you’ve just got to try it.

4/11/04

Vector games! I’d almost given up on them. Though I had them working on the original cabinet, all I got on the new monitor was faint, flickery lines. It was a travesty but I consoled myself by playing more Street Fighter 2 :)

I tried copying over the excellent advmame.rc code from EasyMAME but at some point during development I had auto-generated an advmame.rc and lost the settings. I also didn’t realise that AdvMAME video settings for vector games are hidden away as well. Pressing the ~ (tilde) key normally brings up the sound and brightness menus, but press up again a few more times and you find the vector settings. Though the brightness and gamma settings don’t make a lot of difference, they intensity and flicker really do. Try setting your intensity up to 2.0 – 2.5 if you’re having my flicker problems.

Add the code from EasyMAME to your c:\mame\advmame.rc file.

Tweak the intensity and flicker settings until you are happy with the result.

Remember the values you selected and edit your advmame.rc file. You will have to add the line:

name of game\device_intensity 2.5

or whatever value you preferred from the intensity menu.

On the resolution side I suggest anything bigger than 640×480 that looks good, go with that. I use a tweaked version of 704×512 and it seems just right. Add a little filtery and the flicker is lessened as well.

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