Friday, August 06, 2010

MAME controller, and next steps

I haven't spent any more time thinking about the video issue I have with my MAME system, and no one posted any ideas, so that's still on my list of issues. But last night, my Classic Controller arrived, so the video question is now secondary.

This controller is positively huge. It's easy to underestimate how big it is. I of course read the measurements; 35" across doesn't sound huge, but when you're hefting the whole 34 pounds of this thing, and when you set it in front of a widescreen monitor that it's suddenly dwarfing, it looks like it's just acres of buttons. One of the (far too many) things I hope to get done this weekend is examining it, making measurements, and using them to finalize my cabinet plans.

It hooks up with three USB cables, and then it's immediately working, because it's just emulating mouse, keyboard, and joystick inputs. However, a default MAMEUI installation's interpretation of various keys, and the mapping of the keys, produce a configuration that's not entirely usable. Most damningly, the default keyboard configuration in MAMEUI for the fire button is left-control, but no button on the board is programmed to send that. I am able to play Tempest with the spinner (which is wonderful, it's steady and spins like a gliding dream), but no button works as superzapper recharge, plus the configuration wants you to use your left hand on the spinner which doesn't bother me, but which Siobhan insists will not be possible to adapt to, so I will probably have to remap keys for that.

There are at least two different ways to address this. First, there's some fairly complicated-looking software that lets me remap the control panel itself so that any button I like sends any key I like. This software is far from user-friendly, though. I would first have to create the board's configuration and then I could alter it. The MAMEroom people provide a configuration file that's supposed to do that, but it seems to perhaps be for a different version of the software... or maybe that's not what it really is, I can't entirely tell.

Second, MAME itself provides a lot of options to map different keys and controller inputs to different game functions, even on a game-by-game basis. But it doesn't even have a GUI for that; it's all editing configuration files, and poorly documented ones at that.

Most likely, the MAMEroom people have already done all this, so once I can get the right files, it's probably drop-in-and-go. However, I can't find them on their less-than-well-organized website. The webpage for the controller mentions that the manual is no longer shipped with the controller but is available for download, but stupidly, that text is not a link to the manual, nor is the manual listed under downloads farther down, nor is it anywhere at all I can find on their site. Even Google hasn't turned it up.

So while I know I can address this problem in several ways, I'm going to wait a bit for the MAMEroom people to answer my email, and hope that the manual gives me a better idea of what happens next, and saves me having to spend a lot of time on fiddling with configuration files. In the meanwhile, I can sorta play Tempest, but without a fire button, not much else. And I can certainly plan my cabinet.

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