MAME 101

by InsaneDavid

NOTE: There are over one hundred individual builds of MAME with even more alternate releases and dozens of different distributions. The directions below are for MAME32 v0.95, the version available for download from the official Digital Press 2006 Mame Leage site. While you may use any version of MAME for the competition that supports the provided ROM files, things may vary slightly between builds of MAME. Individual ROM libraries also vary from build to build so ROMs you download outside of the competition may not work with this or another given build of MAME. For more information on the "bleeding edge" of MAME development, check out Again, remember that you MUST use the provided ROM file for each round of each tournament.


Installing / Setting Up MAME32 v0.95

First, download MAME32 v0.95 from the "DOWNLOAD MAME32" link on the left.

After you download the install package, run it. You will be prompted to choose a location where MAME32 will be installed - pick a directory where you have at least a couple hundred megabytes of space free (shouldn't be an issue) so you'll have plenty of space for ROMs and .inp files (more on those later).

In the MAME32 directory there will be a number of folders, only a few of them you need concern yourself with...

/inp (if you save a video record of your games they will appear here by default)
/roms (this is where the individual game files, or ROMs, are to be put)
/snap (when taking screenshots they appear here in sequence)

Each round of each tournament will feature a different game, or ROM as they are called in emulation terms. Each MAME ROM will come as a .zip file. DO NOT unzip the files, leave them as they are. Download the current ROM, and put it in the /roms directory.

Run MAME32.exe.

MAME32 should load up and you should see three columns. The left column sorts ROMs by classification. The center column displays ROMs by game title. The right column can be tweaked to display game screens, arcade cabinet pictures and more - but none of these features have anything to do with the competition.

On the left column select "Available" - this will set MAME up so only games that you have the ROMs for will appear in the games list in the center column. If this is your first time running MAME and you already have some ROMs in the /roms directory, MAME should do a check of all the games for you.

As you add new games you will need to perform what is called an audit. An audit basically tells MAME to check everything it finds in the /roms folder against its internal game list. To audit your ROMs, load MAME32 and select "File" then "Audit all games." A prompt will come up and any files you have in the /roms directory will be checked against the MAME32 v0.95 database. After the audit is complete click "Close." Now any new games that were added to the /roms directory will show up in the center column as ready to play.


Running Games In MAME32 v0.95

To simply play a game, double click its title in the center column and it will start up. Onscreen prompts will come up saying to type "OK" to continue (wiggling the joystick, control pad, or arrow keys left then right will do the same). As these are exact copies of the information on the chips in arcade cabinets, many games may display odd graphic patterns or gibberish for a moment upon start up - this is normal. If you were to power up a physical arcade cabinet of a game this is what would happen, they are performing start up tests.

Once a game is loaded you may want to configure the controls to your liking. Press the TAB button on your keyboard and a utilities menu will come up. Select "Input (general)" to set up controls for every game. This is where you can reconfigure the controls to work with a joypad, or change them around on your keyboard. Simply highlight the function you'd like to change, press ENTER, then the button you'd like to assign it to. "P1 Credit" is equal to putting a quarter into a machine, "P1 Start" is the Player 1 start button, don't forget these - defaults are F5 and F1 respectively. Press ESC to back up one level in the configuration menus and press TAB again to exit it.

Press the button to deposit a credit (F5 default) and play!


Taking A Screenshot Of Your High Score / Recording Your Gameplay

In the competition you must submit a screenshot of your high scores. To do this simply press F12 when what you want to take a snap of is on screen. Screenshots are placed in the /snap directory as .png files. They are usually named as the first few letters of the game name and then the number the snap is, GAM0001 for example.

Some people enjoy making recordings of their entire game to display and share, there is a special "GALLERY" section of the 2006 Digital Press MAME League site that showcases these. The recordings are known as .inp files. To make a .inp file, highlight the game you want to play in the center column. Select "File" then "Play and Record Input..." - you will be prompted to name the .inp file. Use caution here so that you don't overwrite .inp's you may have already created. Type in a name for the .inp and the game will start as normal. To play back a saved .inp file select "File" then "Playback Input" and select the filename of the .inp you wish to view. When submitting .inp files make sure to zip/compress them with a program such as 7-Zip as they are quite large otherwise. To keep .inp time length down you may want to create a new .inp or overwrite the default one during each playthrough, retaining your high score .inp under a different file name.