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MAME™ Quick Start Guide: Page 1: How MAME Works.

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Since many of our customers use MAME, I've updated the short tutorial for MAME into a... well... longer tutorial for MAME.  Still, this is by no means a *complete* setup guide as it is intended for people who have purchased our arcade control panels, but the information is valuable for other gamepads and gamepad encoders.


If you are already comfortable with MAME32 and want to jump directly to the end of the page for input configuration, Click here.

Setting up the MAME emulator

Introduction to MAME:

M.A.M.E. is short for "Multiple Arcade Emulator".  The official website is and the source code is available for free download there.  The first public version was released in the beginning of 1997 as an attempt to document the hardware used in arcade games.   It is constantly being updated by the MAME developers (MAMEdevs) and the Terms of Use for the program can be found at the MAMEdevs website.

MAME can be run on almost any platform and some platforms have a multiple options to choose from.  The easiest to setup is "MAME32" on the PC.  This is the windows based graphical interface version.  There is also a "Command Line" and a "DOS" version for windows.  Those don't have a graphical interface and are (a little) more difficult to setup.  There is MacMAME for Macintosh users, XMAME for Linux users, a version for native arcade monitor support, a version for use on your X-Box, your Dreamcast... it's quite a list.  Anyhow, grab the MAME32 binary from the MAME32 official site.  BTW, here's a couple points to remember:

The MAME software program is not *true* open source, it is "source available".
You must adhere to the MAME Terms of Use policy.
New users will want to start with "MAME32", many graduate to "Command Line MAME".
GOPODULAR!™ Does not condone the use of illegal ROM images.

I Got It!  Now Bring On The Games!

Whoa... not so fast.  MAME is just an emulator.  It is not a "game" by itself.   What it does, is it pretends to be the hardware that the arcade games originally ran on.  It uses the original information from the game, known as a "ROM image".  In order to retrieve the ROM image, you have to "rip" the information from the original game board and get this information onto a computer.  Then you can start figuring out how the game is coded, and program MAME, or another emulation program, to work with the game code in the ROM image.

So in a pure sense, a ROM image for a game *should* work with all emulators coded to support that game.  That's not true in the real world though.  The file name of the ROM image may be different between emulators even though the information is the same.  Some emulators also take a few shortcuts to improvise things too.  That means the ROM may or may not need additional information in order to run properly on a given emulator.

So Where Are These "ROM Images"?

You can get games supported by MAME legally.  You can rip your own ROM images from your own stockpile of boards and some ROM images are available for free download on our download page.

It should also be noted that GameTap is a subscription service started by Turner Broadcasting (TBS - the TV channel) and they have licensed several game titles for their own emulation program.  Their ROM images will not work with MAME, but work great with their own emulation software.

What Do I Do With The Game ROM Images?

This is why it's easiest to start with MAME32.  After you install it, you can browse to the install folder and find the folder called "roms".  That's where you should save your ROM images.  KEEP THEM ZIPPED!  MAME will read the zipped files.

C: drive
Keep all your ROM images zipped!Keep ROM images zipped in the roms folder!

Almost There:  Once your zipped ROM image(s) are in your roms folder, you can start MAME32.  The first thing you need to do is click on "File" -> "Audit all games" so MAME will know which games you have and which you do not.  Then scroll through the list to find one of your ROM images.  Double click it and the game will start.

HINT: If MAME freezes up on you, it's 95% of the time due to having MS Office Shortcut Bar running.  MAME is a great program and rarely crashes, MS Office on the otherhand... well you get the idea.

The basic default controls are the cursor arrows, left "ctrl", left "shift", and "1", "2", "5" and "6" keys.  Go blow off a little steam before you come back.

Gamepad Controllers Information:

A person can only play on the keyboard for so long before cramping up.  Then it's time to get serious.  First, a word about how MAME and windows handle USB gamepads.  MAME only looks for new gamepads when it is first started.  If you are in a game and plug in a second (or more) USB controllers, you will need to exit MAME and restart the program before MAME will know they are there.  When your buddy comes over, he plugs in, you restart MAME and he's Player Two.  Easy huh?  Well...

Windows has an "issue" that takes a couple seconds to wrap your brain around.   Basically, as long as your computer is booted, Windows behaves pretty much as above.  The problem arises when you reboot windows.  During boot, Windows scans the USB inputs to find out what is attached.  It may "find" them in a different order than it did last time it booted.   What this means is that if your computer crashes after your buddy has already plugged in, when you reboot, HE might be Player One and you might be Player TWO!  So how do we deal with this?

1) Accept it because you can will from either side of the screen.
2) Swap controllers.
3) Only have one controller plugged in when the PC boots.
4) Plug each controller into a different USB "pairing".
5) Hard code each controller with unique USB "identities".

Option #1 is easy, but isn't always true.  Some people just prefer a certain side of the screen.  Also, it's your house and your gamepad configuration.   Maybe you configured Player One to have bombs on button1 and shoot on button2, but he likes it the other way, so Player Two has a different setup.  Suddenly you'll both have to adapt.

The second option would always work.  Of course then someone else has their grubby hands on your controller.

The third option always works.  If the computer is easily accessible and you rarely crash, it can be a good way to go.

The fourth option is what most people will use.  The majority of motherboards have more than one "pair" of USB inputs available.  You can plug into an open USB port from the back of the computer and he can plug into an open USB port on the front.   95% of the time this works, but some motherboards still have issues with this.

The fifth is the only guaranteed method.  With this option, a gamepad will TELL windows what "identity" it has.  Is can be "type1", "type2", "type3", or "type4".  If you plug in a "type1", it will tell windows it has priority to be Player One.  Even if it is the last gamepad detected.  If two of the same "identities" are found, they may swap on reboot.

This is easy to see but hard to *really* comprehend.  Each gamepad will have both a windows ID and a MAME ID.  The whole point of things is to know how to assign buttons in MAME, so we'll run through a couple examples "backwards", and then tell you what happened.  Assume you want to be Player One, and your friend wants to be Player Two:

EXAMPLE A:  Your panel is MAME gamepad #1, but Windows gamepad #3.

Even though your gamepad was the third unique panel plugged in since the computer was started, MAME only detects one panel.

EXAMPLE B:  Your friends panel is MAME gamepad #2, but Windows gamepad #4.

His gamepad was the fourth unique panel plugged in since the computer was restarted, and MAME sees two panels.

Example A & B would happen if you both plug in your Combat Minions™ Panels, then unplug your Fighting Minions™ Panels.  You can unplug the "old" panels whenever (prior to launching the ROM image), but he needs to plug his "new" panel in AFTER you plug in your "new" panel.   If he is going to keep using his panel, he MUST unplug it so you can plug yours in "first".  Otherwise he will be Player One... UNLESS you have a "type1" "identity" controller.  Then you will force your way into the Player One spot.  Unless requested otherwise, we use all "Type1" "identities" in our controllers.  That way you don't need to unplug your other USB "stuff" for MAME to see your arcade panel as Player One.

If you're confused, don't be.  Most people don't understand it and you *really* don't have to.  If you *need* specific "types" of gamepad encoders, they are available for special order.  Otherwise, just plug-n-play.  You'll know if MAME is seeing your controls right or not immediately.  If it's backwards, exit MAME, unplug the controllers, plug in Player One (yours), plug in Player Two (his), then restart MAME.

On to page two: How To Configure A Gamepad Encoder With MAME



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