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MAME Stories

Here are the selected top MAME stories for the light gun competition.

There are more than originally intended due the high standard of entries.

The poll can be found on the right hand side of the main page.

Note: All stories are unedited and uncorrected. Names are not included although
some people will be obvious due to the content of their stories.


1. I found MAME about 2 1/2 years ago. I had had my computer for 6 or 7 months and it didn't take long for me to realize that I liked console and arcade games a lot more than PC ones, even when they had inferior graphics. I was kinda into demos and share/freeware since I could try lots of different stuff out, and I found myself searching more and more for "Raiden", a shooter that hooked me something awful in the arcades. I soon stumbled across a site called "emux.com". They were a general emulation site which carried ROMs for all sorts of different systems, along with emulators, of course.

All in one day I found a way to play games from many different systems that I really loved throughout my life (and in many cases it took emulation of them for me to realize just how much I loved them). It was incredible. Hard to grasp or explain. I was in heaven. Since then, MAME has slowly but surely sucked me in. I built a cabinet for MAME about a year ago. When it was all finished, I decided it was time to start giving back, and I wanted to see MAME keep growing...

So I set some little MAME goals for myself. 1) To buy an undumped PCB for MAME, get it dumped, and somehow see that it gets added, 2) To add a game to MAME myself somehow, and 3) To fix a bug in the source. Since then I've done all 3, some many times over. It's quite a good feeling when you love MAME as much as me and want to see these games preserved. On top of all that, I've taken over as the project coordinator of MAMEtesters (mametesters.com), which gives me yet another way to contribute.

 

2. How I found MAME....  Well, one sunny day I was driving down the road, and there she was hitch-hiking.  Beautiful red hair, gorgeous...  Oops, wrong Mame.  :-)  Anyways...

It all started in 1999.  With the world coming to an end soon, due to Y2K, I went to our last Christmas party at work.  And there she was by the photocopier machine... Ah, no.  Well, due to the lack of beer at the party, we ended up discussing computers and such.  And one of the workers from our other shop started discussing the state of emulation.  I had tried console emulators in the past, but they were always in Japanese, and did not function well.  He then told me about an emulator for original arcade games called MAME. (Dun, da, da, dun!)  He said it worked great.

Well as I said, there was no beer, so I was not going to be gullible and believe just anything someone told me.  But I was intrigued.  I have always been an Arcade-a-holic, due to a mis-spent youth in pool halls and arcades.  Well, it did not really matter, with the end of the world coming in a week.  So I went through the holidays visiting people for the last time.

Fast-forward to Y2K... The world was still here.  I proceeded to download MAME and try it out.  WOW!  I have traveled back in time and life is good.  But playing using handheld joysticks and mice is just not right.   Hello HotRodSE.  Good-bye money.  Now things were getting better.  But the 15" monitor did not cut it.  Hello G-Force 2MX with TV-out.  So now the HotRodSE is on the living room coffee table in front of the TV.  Things are getting really neat now.  Friends are all impressed, but think I am slightly psychotic.

But alas.  Something is still not right.  A TV just does not due Arcade games justice.  Plus I have a sudden urge for a trackball.  Have you seen those arcade cabinets on the internet that people have built?  Did you know I was a cabinet maker once, before I became an electronic technician?  Seems like I could put that knowledge to use somehow.  Hmmm.... Things are adding up (and up).  Why does my wallet seem so light.

Well, that HotRodSE is taking up too much room on the coffee table, and those bookshelves seem to be in the way.  Lo-and-behold... Room for my own cabinet.  Lock myself in the house for a couple of months.  Don't answer the door.  They will go away if you turn the lights out for a few minutes.  Ah, back to making a mess.  There is still some floor space I can flop parts on.  Finally...  from the rubble appears a full sized cabinet with trackball.

So that is my current story.  How has my life changed?  Well my friends look at me like I am crazy. (Same look they had when I was in the alley with a pick axe, putting in the horse shoe pits they now always want to use.) But they seem to come over more often now then they ever did.  I have found out my Dad is a closet gamer.  I had to take my house key from him, in fear that I would come home and find the cabinet missing.  My bank account is non-existent.  But for being newly poor, I am having lots of fun.  As long as I keep paying the electricity bill.

Also I seem to be getting back to computer programming.  Compiling MAME, modifying drivers, making the controls more realistic, etc.  I had stopped programming, thinking you could buy any program you need.  But here is something, worth starting to program again.

But I have that something is missing feeling again.  SHOOT!  What could it be?  ;-)

 

3. I was born in 1970.  My childhood was surrounded by the up and coming video game era (both home consoles and arcade).  In 1979, I received an Atari 2600 for a Christmas present.  That was it.  Christmas of '79 started my video game journey.  My first video games were the ageless Combat, Outlaw and Space Invaders.  For the next few years I was Captain Atari and loving every minute of it!  Then the 80's rolled around and the video game indusrty exploded.  I can remember going to the local mall arcade and spending an entire Saturday afternoon in the old Fun 'N Games arcade.  I can remember the arcade operator George, a burly, jovial kid-friendly guy that would ocasionally give you five quarters for a dollar!  What an experience - to have an extra quarter!  George would stand at the front of the arcade room with his change apron on while kiddies flocked him with their dollar bills, shoving and pushing to get quarters, hoping that this would be the time George was generous with that fifth quarter!  Finally I got change.  Only four quarters.  Darn!  Oh well, I was excited that I had the quarters and I ran into the arcade room.  The arcade was a large room, lined on both sides with arcade cabinets and pinball machines.  In the front of the room were the older games - Missile Command, Centipede, a Fortune Telling machine, Pong, a Test Your Strength machine and a few others.  The walls of the middle portion of the room were lined with pinball machines.  There must have been about 20 or 30 pinball games to play, from the aging 70's machine Jet Ski to the newly released Eight Ball Deluxe.  There was even something new we never seen before!  Two pinball-video game combo machines.  One was named Baby Pac-Man and the other was Granny and the Gators.  What a cool concept!  Following the pinabll machines, the room widened and was again lined with coin-op games.  Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Popeye, Tron, Turbo, Zaxxon, Asteroids, Defender - you name it and it was here.  There must have been about thirty arcade games!.  The center of this portion of the arcade was reserved for the newer games.  Four new "games of the month" were there.  Standing back to back were John Elway's Quarterback and Gauntlet.  Just passed those were two different types of games.  The age of laser disc animation/vide  games  was upon us as Space Ace and Dragon's Lair made their debuts  The very back of the room contained four pool tables.  Well, there I was - Saturday afternoon at the arcade and I was in heaven!  This behavior continued for about three years. 

I can't remember when - but at some point in time, the mall closed and the arcade I have come to know and love closed with it.  I'm guessing it was 1983 or 1984, at the time of the infamous "video game crash".  All of those pinball and video games were now in my memory and would never again be played.

In the winter of 1997 I bought a new computer.  I loaded it up with video games.  All kinds of stupid card and board games.  This was a brand new $1500 game machine and I loved it!  It wasn't long before I discovered the Internet.  I had these two floppy disks that contained arcade game clones.  One was Champ Kong (a Donkey Kong clone) and the other was Frogg-o (a Frogger clone).  I bought this arcade game package called Microsoft Arcade.  On it were a few video game classics.  I installed it and played for a while.  I was immediately brought back to me childhood!  On it were Galaxian, Dig Dug and a few others.  I played non-stop!  Then I found Return of Arcade, which had Ms Pac-Man, Pole Position and a few others.  Now I was missing just one thing - a Donkey Kong game.  I had Champ Kong but it wasn't the real thing.  So off to the Internet I went.  I searched for "Donkey Kong arcade game for the PC"  The first website listed in the search results was a now defunct site called Atmospherical Heights.  I clicked on it and read something about a program called MAME.  "MAME? What a silly name!"  I thought as I ventured to download it.  I downloaded MAME 0.29 (which was DOS command line driven).  Reading the instructions, you needed these things called ROMs.  Atmospherical Heights had a few of the ROMs there to download (remember - this was 1997 and back then websites carried ROMs)  I found this zip file called dkong.zip.  It was Donkey Kong!  "Donkey Kong!!!  Finally!!!"  I downloaded dkong.zip.  I went to a MS-DOS prompt and started MAME.  It did nothing and closed right away.  "What a waste of time this thing is" I thought to myself as I couldn't get MAME to work.  (damn newbie!)  :)   Then I broke down and actually read the documentation and set up MAME properly.  I went to an MS-DOS prompt again and this time typed "MAME dkong"    I was amazed at what I found.  Here I am in my home playing the actual arcade game Donkey Kong!  I downloaded a few other games (Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-man, etc.) and was immediately found myself thinking about the days of old - The old Fun 'N Games, George and the famous "five quarters for a dollar".  To this day I still play MAME quite frequently as it definitely helps me relive my childhood. At times, I even place five quarters on my keyboard while I play in memory of George.  I'm even toying with the idea of burning the very edges of my keyboard to make them brownish color to give it that authentic arcade look (remember the cigarette burns, especially on the pinball games?)

LONG LIVE MAME!!!!

 

4When I was a child growing up I played Galaga everyday up at the local gas station.  The smell of the week old hotdog and big gulps still fresh in my mind.  I would play for hours sipping my Coke and chomping on my slim jims.  Clearing stage after stage, battling the bees and butterflies that streaked.  No one could touch my score.  Clearing the challenging stages with perfect scores.  The sound effect for an extra guy was the sound of my life.  In Nebraska there was nothing much else out there to escape the grind of a kid in Nebraska.  Eventurally the gas station got rid of their games and I was alone again.  I vowed that one day I would own this game.  Occasionally over the next 10 years or so I would see one of the games in some run down arcade shoved way back in the corner.  I'd plug a quarter in and get my fix for a bit.  Everytime I'd play it would bring back all the memories of my childhood.   I decided that it was time to do something about it.  It was time to locate my machine and bring her home.  I read the want ads for a year or 2 with no avail.  No one was selling this one.  I needed it.  I started to talk to different arcades and see if they would sell me theirs or if they could locate one for me.  These guys got me no where.  I decided it was time to start looking else where so I started searching the internet.  I found some emulators for NES and the like but it just was not cutting it. Don't get me wrong, I loved playing Super Mario Bros. but its just not the same. Somehow I stumbled across MAME and found the ROM for Galaga.  My eyes lit up when I first heard the sounds.  It all came back.  I was rocking and rolling even though it was on a game pad.  I tried a few different joysticks to see if that would make it more like the real thing.  Nope.  Then one day I found another web site.  A Cabinet!  What a wonderful idea.  I started reading and couldn't believe my dream was going to come true.  I started ordering parts and building a new computer.  My wife could not understand what the big deal was.  Is it not good enough to just play it on the computer?  Well, it was good enough but I needed my dream.  After months of planning and piecing together I finally had my standup arcade.  That first night I spent 8 hours playing Galaga.  Then wouldn't you know it, my wife found out that Miss Pac Man is also on there.  So.... I'm back to playing with a game pad as my wife is there playing Pac Man and Q Bert.  I guess its time to build another one.  One thats bigger, better, faster, stronger.  Maybe I'll make it pink so I can give it to her so I can have my baby back. :)

 

5. Umm... I found MAME online somewhere, I'm not entirely sure where I heard about it or what game I was looking for when I stumbled upon it. Probably Galaga. Although it might have been Q*bert, who knows? It's all fuzzy now. That whole weekend is fuzzy now when I look back on it.

I was a fairly normal gal up until that point, I mainly used my computer for a little gaming, instant messaging and emailing friends. I had a Pentium
2-400 and it was good enough for Quake 2, so it was good enough for me. Then I found this thing called MAME. It was supposed to recreate all of my favorite old arcade games. Ooookay. It did this by plugging game 'roms' into an 'emulator'. Sounded fun and geeky at the same time so I was instantly intrigued. I knew a bit about ROMS and PROMS and EPROMS and all that fun stuff from being a little nerdlette when I was younger, but this emulator thing confused me. A program with a smaller file size than most of the photos I had on my hd was supposed to emulate ALL of the hardware for all of these games? Sure. I downloaded it for a laugh.

I think I finally fell asleep about three days later, and I had downloaded fewer than twenty roms at that point. I felt guilty about calling out sick
for the entire trip back from the phone in the living room to my computer chair in the bedroom. A few seconds later the real world disappeared again and I was busy shooting all of the aliens that had been too fast for me in the arcades as a kid. I think I had a nasty sneer frozen on my face the entire time, I'd almost forgotten all about the games of my youth but with just a little downloading and tinkering the little bastages where on the screen in front of me again. Victory was sweet sweet revenge for all the days I had gone hungry so I could spend my lunch money at the arcade, all the times they'd got me in trouble with my father when he found out about said money, and for all of the 'big mean kids' I'd had to tolerate to get in a quick game after school. I was older, wiser and meaner now and it was time for those frikkin' aliens to PAY...

(I still don't know if _they_ were the Galaxians, or if I was though. ;)

Many many months and a few keyboards later (stupid weak keys) I'm more of a MAMEaholic than ever. In the beginning I only played the games that I remembered, but after a while I started checking out the other games. Games that I had never seen in person and probably will never get to see. Wonderful games with brilliant gameplay that pushed their hardware to the max rot in landfills and forgotten warehouses, but their spirit survives them in MAME. I probably play at least ten or twenty minutes a day, some days I get someone to challenge and can play for hours. I've got some of the most cutting edge games out there on my hd, but I keep finding myself going back to those little pixelized guys. I'm not sure if I'm just biased because I'm a child of the eighties, or if the games are really THAT good, but I have a hard time even imagining myself growing bored with these little games. The current video card torturing 'game of the month' will come and go, but they'll never touch my MAME. :)

Besides, I get such an ENORMOUS kick out of the idea of teaching my grandchildren how to play Q*bert one day... They may not like the game but I'll have a blast telling them how back in my day we had 200something by 200something graphics, with just a crayon box worth of colors and sounds that could be put to shame by a kazoo but by Jove, we were GLAD to have it... ;)

 

6. Well it all started about 2 years ago, shortly after I restarted my university career, took a 7 year break. I went away for the summer to work, as many students do. When I returned a couple of months later, my friend told me I had to see some games he downloaded. I was intrigued, we headed to his place where on the computer I saw what looked like R-Type. I was told that it was R-type, "No really, it is R-type" He then went on to explain that he had done a search for R-Type on the net. Why? He was longing for some old fashioned Arcade action and figured there must be a clone of some sort. He had a number of hits but the only way it seemed he was going to be able to play it was with this program called MAME so he figured fine, and downloaded it. Then he followed some links and found MAME.DK and was shocked, stunned, bewildered even at this huge repository of Arcade games. He had never seen anything like it. He found R-type downloaded it, and then downloaded a few others, venture, and gauntlet I think. He said it took about a day to get everything figured out and how the thing worked. This saved me a lot of time later. I gave it a couple of quarters, so to speak, to R-type. It was just how I remembered, well best as I could remember, it was just so cool to play it. We ended up playing it for a while, and venture, but I was always partial to Zaxxon. Well next thing I new I was seeing a web site called MAME.DK, I think I was a probably as stunned as he was when he saw it. I was told there were lots of games, but I never thought there was that many, or so well organized. I typed in zaxxon, and there she was Zaxxon. Pretty cool. Yes, yes, Download. I need to get Space Invaders, It was there to. We cruised around the site and I'm sure we grabbed a few others, but there are so many now. Once done downloading execute MAME. The games looked good, but I just wasn't playing as well as I did in the arcade, I use to be pro, no really.

    After about 4 or 5 hours of surfing, downloading and playing Zaxxon, R-Type, Space Invaders and who knows, I had to go home. Luckily I came home with a disk full of goodies, bad me. I guess I was addicted. Soon I was on the web looking for MAME anything, ROM, and checking out them pesky newsgroups. I discovered a whole new world of emulation beyond arcade games. There were consoles, I remember my Atari 2600, and I still play it too. Computers, handhelds. WOW! I started to download everything, anything, the computer was on the net constantly. Thanks to my landlord for the adsl, I couldn't have done it without it. I played played, collected and was addicted to the whole thing. MAME by far my favorite, as a lot of my Arcade favs you don't find in arcades anymore, and the price, well I can't afford it, not regularly anyway. One day I discovered I had done it, my collection was basically complete. I have been able to keep up on it ever since. People have to archive these things. It has been a great resource for me at University, being a Multi-media student What better than games to see interfaces, and changes in graphics etc, I have used it more than once for papers. Anyway back to it. The games played pretty good with my gravis gamepad. Well, ya some just don't work with four buttons. I needed a better controller. I started looking at custom arcade controllers and build your own sites. I couldn't really afford one of these "real" arcade controllers, so I bought a better gamepad with 8 buttons. I can play most stuff. I was hooked though, I knew I had to get a real arcade controller, I had seen the web sites with them, but you need a spinner right, None of them had spinners, a trackball, could survive without. So I looked, waited and nobody was making one fast enough, couldn't really afford it anyway.

    Eventually I came to the conclusion I would have to build my own, other people did. Well, if I'm building it myself, I might as well have everything right. So I went to it. I designed my perfect controller. for two players. Spinners, trackballs, pinball buttons, joysticks. The price tag is pretty high, but what the hey? Students are meant to be broke and what else are you suppose to do with those loans? I have only just started to order the parts. Its funny right when I thought I could unMAME for a while, I hear about this light gun. If you check MameWorld every day, you never miss a notice its true. What else do you really need for a proper arcade emulator than a light gun, it was perfect to perfect. I was sucked right back in. Had to find out if there were enough games to warrant one of these babies. Well that's what I told myself anyway, we all know I will buy one eventually, I can't help myself. I have even started to think about Steering wheels and pedals, any suggestions?

    So how has my life changed, I can't think of anything. Except that I have a list of cool sites I check daily for any MAME and emulation news. I have tried just about every version of MAME around. I have a dedicated a 60 Gig drive in the computer for MAME and other Emus. I have designed a controller, and except for Eating, and University, some sleep here and there, often in class (ha ha) I sit around and MAME, either checking for new info, etc. downloading dats, and new versions, browsing those newsgroups, that can be time consuming, or just checking the scene I have to check it every day, I can miss one, or two days, but that's about it. I think I smoke less now, as I get absorbed into the computer and MAME for a good hour or two and just don't think about it. I think MAME really helps me relax and unwind, after school, or while studying. You can blow things up, or eat dots, you have to set a limit on the number of quarters you play, continues can be a curse. Pause is great, wish I could have done that in the arcade. MAME hasn't changed my life it has taken over part of it. I would have to average a good couple of hours a day, of some MAME spawned activity for the past two years, could be more, possibly less. I don't think its going to stop ether. I am hoping to slow down the surfing, and get to more playing as soon as the controller is built, I think that will be the greatest change to my MAME lifestyle, I hope I don't play to much.

    The odd thing is, my friend never really expanded his collection only has about 15 or twenty ROMS, his favorites. He enjoys more traditional computer games all 3d and eyecandy. Mind you, he does come over and MAME around here and helped in the collecting. Another strange thing is I never looked for MAME, I didn't ask for cool emulations from my youth, I didn't really find MAME. MAME found me. It was wonderful and we have lived happily ever since. I may not need quarters to play the games anymore but I have spent thousands and thousands of quarters in controllers, hard drives and new monitors to support my habit. Sure they are useful for other things, I haven't even bought a computer game in the past two years, no wait I bought Alice, great fun. So I guess that's it, MAME made me into the arcade game junky I am today, pushing it on anyone that will listen.

 

7. It was December of 1997, at the time I was completing my Master's Thesis in Mathematics. During those days, Altavista was the most popular search engine. As a hardcore Amiga fan iI was always interested in arcade style games and had just bought a new (old) Amiga 500. This was the reason for reminding me about the other games, the REAL arcade games, for whom I used to steal (** Peter's face becomes red **) coins from my mother's purse... So I used Altavista to find some information about Crazy Kong, a game where I had plenty of fun with many friends of mine. My best game of all time was Tehkan World Cup, but Crazy Kong and Phoenix were my first loved ones!

Then my browser showed some results, and one of them was MAME. I clicked on it and it was claiming I could play some old games on ,my PC? The original ones??? Hmmm... On a second thought, there was even an Amiga "PC emulator". Why shouldn't there be a PC "arcade emualtor"? Fortunately Nicola had understood that this task was not impossible at all!

I probably spent about seven hours to figure out what to do (folders, roms etc). I started at 7.00pm and the time had gone 2.00am!!! But then when I managed to load the screen of Crazy Kong it was one of the most magical moments of my entire life! I had to tell ALL my friends about it. This was something incredible!!! To tell my friends though, I had to get unstuck from the monitor playing Crazy Kong... impossible!

I ended up sleeping at about 7.00pm the next day being exhausted and letting my brother continue what I had started! But this wonderful moment was soon to become a nightmare.... I woke with terrible stomach aches and vomiting...! The night before I was too busy watching the screen and I was food poisoned! This was caused after eating some so called "healthy" vegetables. I woke up with severe stomach aches, before vomiting and visiting the toilet for many other reasons which I would not like to give details. My comment sums up everything: "I never thought that my stomach had such capacity!!!". My sickness was bringing me nausea, a unique feeling for me as I had never been seasick during my endless boat trips in Greece.

I was rushed into the emergency department at the hospital, almost dehydrated! My family was there, my girlfriend Lilie was there, and even some friends of mine were there!!! My bad luck did not end here though. The doctor was too busy, so he sent his STUDENT to take over. The student - probably enjoying experiments with needles - concluded that I needed to have injected some fluids into my veins to replace the lost water. I was agonisingly objecting to this decision, but was too weak to speak loud. The student then pulled out a huge and very very (trust me... very) thick needle. My agony became panic. The merciless student repeatedly pierced me on the wrist without success. "I can't find the vein!" he said. I was suddenly in too much pain and started to become nervous. The student continued to pierce as if he was a Panathinaikos fan and knew that I was an Olympiakos supporter.

Cold sweat was showering my body and I was about to faint. My blood pressure was suddenly lowering fast and the student did not know what to do. Lilie could not believe that my face was so white (How can a Greek guy be soooo white???) and she was about to scream. At these moments where everything seemed so dramatic, I suddenly had a completely unrelated thought: "Will I ever play MAME again???". I immediately started to feel better as my experience with MAME a dozen hours ago, had left an un erasable mark in my brain, so deep, that I could think about it at such moments.

The improvement of my condition my also reinforced by another doctor who arrived and supplied me with some oxygen mask. Now I was slowly getting back to my normal color. I had even felt instant side effects and because of my "oxygen mask - pilot" look, I started to joke that I will shoot everybody that violates Earth's airspace with my Phoenix spaceship. In the end, the doctor decided that I should not get any more injection treatment because my body was not cooperating. This meant that I had to leave the hospital in a worse condition than I was when I entered it. But it did not matter any more. After returning home, I had some boiled tea, sat beside my PC playing MAME and amazingly(?) my stomach was getting better and better. Was it MAME or was it the tea? Even though my wrist had some (infected?) reaction from the student's attempts to pierce me and there was an arthritis-like severe muscle pain, I still managed to get above 350,000 pts in Crazy Kong that day.

Lilie asked me how I was feeling and I replied "I feel much better now. I want to live, but if I die, I would rather die playing MAME than lying in a bed or at a hospital!". Despite exhausted, I continued to play MAME for many hours and was eventually so extremely tired, that I slept despite the pains. I woke up the next day full of health and maybe with a mild brain-damage proved by my desire to play MAME again and again! The takeover of my brain by the new MAME virus (accutus-mamelatus) was too strong for any type of sickness...

And oh yes, I forgot that I had an appointment with my supervisor that day about my Thesis draft, but who cared? Phoenix had beaten the big mothership, Ladybug had won that "SPECIAL" bonus and Pac Man had met Mrs Pac Man again! And that was the only thing that counted for me!!!!

That was how I met MAME, quite an unorthodox way, but very effective!

And God, I would be a millionaire if I had MAME 20 years ago... NOT because of what MAME is really worth, but because I wouldn't have spent so much money on those money eating machines!!! LOL



8. When I was 5 years old my brother took me to my first arcade. With the likes of PacMan, Ms. Pacman, Donkey Kong, Galaxian, Galaga, Moon Patrol, Zaxxon, 10 yard fight, etc. etc. etc., I was in gaming heaven. When I step back and think of all of the quarters I dropped throughout the years, I could have fed a small country. As years went by games got better and better: Gauntlet, Track and Field, Dragons Lair, Double Dragon, Techmo Bowl, Cyberbowl, Street Fighter, NBA JAM, Ikari Wariors, Frontline, Contra, Mappy, Kangaroo, Smash TV, NFL Blitz, amoung many others became synonymous with the word "fun". Now in my late twenties, arcades are a dying breed. I now have to go to Dave and Busters (entertainment center) and drop $1 per play to try and get my gaming fill. About six months ago I was turned onto MAME by my older brother who had only stratched the surface of the emulator (i.e.- he had heard about it however had not had the time to conduct research). Researching MAME became my favorite pastime. The thought of playing all of my favorites in my own home was quite unbelievable. Being in the information technology industry, as a profession, emulation and source files are right up my alley. Since I first got into MAME six months ago, I have jumped full force into creating my own MAME cabinet and station. Due to the lack of free time, I purchased the great X-Arcade joystick instead of making my own controls. I just acquired exact Pacman cab dimensions and will be finished making my own cabinet by the end of the month. MAME has given me a hobby like no other. A hobby that allows me to relive my childhood years. MAME has also turned my wife and family to the enjoyment I had as a child. Arcade games/MAME is a great outlet from the hustle and bustle of every day life. Although this may sound cheezy, MAME saved me from a stint of depression. Through my entire life I have been an athelete. Around 8 months ago I tour a ligment in my knee while weight lifting, not allowing me to work out for around three months. This placed a major dent in my every day routine, consequently sending me into a depression. It was at this time my brother turned me onto MAME, instantly providing another outlet to take the place of atheletics and allowing me to due what I have always loved (playing arcade games). I would love to be able to play Duck Hunt, Terminator, Operation Wolf, Hogan's Alley, etc. at home with a light gun to relive more arcade memories.

 

9. The best thing about having your dad work in the company that distributes coin-op games and jukeboxes is that you get to play free and you get to play free a lot. And that's exactly what I did. I think one of the first games I ever played must have been Bomb Jack at the company summer cottages. I loved that game... There was that little caped guy collecting bombs and avoiding weird looking enemies in funny locations. The cheerful sounds and musics were great too. I used to laugh like crazy when one of those small UFOs would appear on the screen and dash around hunting for the blue caped hero.
 
I was... what? Five years old back then? Could have even been a bit younger, since Bomb Jack is from 1984, just a year after I was born. I couldn't play at all, really. It was sheer luck if I ever made it to level two. Dad was so much better and often I'd just look at him play and laugh at the funny enemies and the jumping Jack.
 
Dad used to get these job assignments on ships that travel between Finland (where I live) and Sweden. There were a lot of games there and it was dad's job to collect the money from them. Many times he'd take me with him, to have fun on board. I really liked it; A lot of cola to drink, lots of candy to eat, the play room where you could play and watch cartoons... And, of course, the arcade games. Dad used to open that little service hatch they have and push the little button inside till the screen showed 9 credits for a good while. I asked him once how he did that and he explained that there's a button that lets you "test the machine". Heh, that made me feel a bit more important. I wasn't just playing, I was testing the game. Making sure it was running ok.
 
 I remember when I first saw Tumblepop there. Two guys with vacuum cleaners strapped to their backs sucking all sorts of monsters in and then shooting them out at other monsters. Colorful graphics, neat power-ups, great sounds... I could have played it for hours (even though I wasn't very good at it) and when I finally ran out of credits I'd walk along the corridors of the boat repeating the speech samples of the game. "Youudidit" "Tumblepop!" "Let'smumblemumble" "Youudidit"... I was probably eight or so at the time.
 
Another one I used to play back then was Space Gun. It was a reeeally cool game. I mean... An actual gun attatched to it... With pump-action power-up loading. You really get to shoot those big nasty looking three-eyed aliens to bits and there was this cool radar thingy. I think I was just a little bit scared of the game back then. I mean, I used to pull my head back when one of those three-eyed beasts would jump up from the bottom of the screen with its mouth wide open and leave bloody bite marks on the screen. And I used to just stare at the game over screen "You received a fatal wound" and the attraction mode with my mouth open and back away a little when the huge head of an alien would fill the screen, more so if this happened to every third pass or so, when it had sounds too. A short music would play as the alien's three eyes move around searching for something, then the monster's mouth would slowly open, drool dripping from it's jaws and... "Growwlll...".
 
At this point I usually wasn't standing near the game anymore. It was a bit scary, but in a sort of an exciting way (ok so I was a bit shy, so sue me ;-) ). I couldn't really play much, either. I usually got to the part where "Starbase thisandthat isn't responding, get a shuttle and go investigate" and then got shot down.
 
Another similar game was Terminator 2. It wasn't half as scary as Space Gun, although that might be partially because of the fact that it appeared on the boat at least a year later, when Space Gun itself wasn't quite as scary anymore, either. Terminator was cool. I used to push the start buttons and triggers even when there weren't any credits in the machine, since the machine would say cool things like "No way, Jose". The animations where it shows the head of a terminator and how the eyes start glowing red with the text "System activated!" blinking underneath were always as cool to watch too. It's not like I'd ever seen the movie back then, but I had a general idea of what it was about.
 
Needless to say at this point, but when it came to actually playing the game... You guessed it, I sucked. Judgement day really is difficult too, there's no way that anyone could play it through with just one credit. Back then even twenty weren't enough, what with the really tricky "Protect the car"-missions. Quite often I'd just look at other people playing and look in amazement when the game showed three short video clips from the movie when the Terminator jumps to the future.
 
Those four were absolutely my favorite games back then. Of course there were a lot of other games I used to play too, like for example Off Road, Super Mario, Outrun and Chase HQ, but those four are the ones I remember best and the ones I have the best memories of. It should be clear to everyone by now that I wasn't good at playing them at all, but that didn't matter to me. What mattered were the colorful graphics, the beautiful sounds. Those sometimes crazy but still great new ideas and that solid gameplay... -sigh- They don't make 'em like they used to anymore...
 
Time passed. Those wonderful games disappeared from the arcades and the boats, one after another. As I grew up I sometimes thought about those games... All the fun they had provided. There were some things I couldn't remember anymore, but I was sure I had had a lot of fun playing those games. It was then that I also really understood how badly I used to play. It didn't disturb me, though. I'd just smile at all the memories, even though I did occasionally think how fun it would be to once again play some of those old legends, this time even knowing how to play. Unfortunately it was not possible. The games had been gone for years and they weren't coming back. There was no place where they could be found so all I could do was play with a busted Terminator 2 gun dad once brought me and think of the good old times.
 
More time passed... The legends were never completely forgotten... Every now and then I'd still find myself thinking of Tumblebop while cleaning my room.
 
The first emulator I stumbled upon was NESticle, a Nintendo emulator which I played some old games on. It sure was fun seeing games like SMB and RCR again... And then it hit me. If there's an emulator for Nintendo, then why couldn't there be one for old arcade games too?
 
And that's how I found MAME. With my hands shaking I loaded Bomb Jack with MAME. Would it work? Could it work? Could it be that after all these years I could once again play Bomb Jack?
 
It worked! I danced and jumped around happily. It really worked! Inserting imaginary coins into the emulated arcade machine... It was a beautiful feeling. A moment later Jack was bouncing around the screen, collecting all the fire bombs, avoiding all the enemies. The memories came flooding back to me. I realized I could immediately start humming to the background music and recognized all the various enemy types. This time I even understood that they were all enemies and that I was supposed to avoid them. It was like meeting an old friend after a long time. Dad smiled at my findings too. It reminded him of the fun moments spent together in front of that old Bomb Jack machine too.
 
The next game I found was Space Gun. When the game loaded a smile slowly appeared on my face and didn't go away no matter how hard I fought it. I felt hair in the back of my neck stand up when that giant monster, it's eyes glowing and drool dripping appeared on the screen... "Growwll". Man, it was great... I really showed those aliens, too and finally got to see the legendary "huge final boss in front of a cockpit that you have to avoid shooting in case you don't want the whole ship to blow up" and finally found out what exactly happens when the time runs out. It was fun... I just sat there and shook my head with a happy smile on my face.
 
And then, just recently, after many months of searching I found Tumblepop. Once again I did a happy dance. It was even better than I remembered! I was glued in front of the computer and just couldn't stop playing... Back then in '91 or so the credits would eventually run out and I'd have to stop playing, but now that I could just cram in more and more virtual coins... Once again I'd mumble "Youudidit" and "Let's (pick up or something strange)" after many many passed levels and defeated bosses.
 
And of course I found Terminator 2 as well. It still feels insanely difficult, yet fun to play. And I still enjoy watching the spinning head of model 101 and those little movie clips.
 
Oh the nostalgy.... Is it just me or are many of those old games actually a lot more fun than most of today's arcade games? Maybe they all just feel better because of all those fun memories attached to them.
 
And that, my friends is how Mame changed my life and helped me find my inner child again. (Ok so my inner child has never really gone anywhere, but that just sounded so good).
 
Now, if I only could get my hands on one of them new light guns for PC... It would make Space Gun and Judgement day so much more interesting...

 

10. Well, how mame changed my life... Back in my junior year in high school I was at the local dump because where I live there is no trash collection and we take our plastics and recylables to the dump...well my dad and I pulled up to the dumpster and in it was a ton of arcade parts...and there sat a full virtua fighter arcade game...well I had to have it and we tossed it into the bed of the truck..now it didnt work when I got it home, so it sat in the garage..elswhere..I had heard about emulators from a friend and started messin with them...well like everyone else I came up with this "original idea" to put a pc in my cab and play mame and other emu's on it....think again...not the first nor the last...blah..so I took a 25"tv and stuck it in the cab..hooked up my laptop to it and started playing neogeo games on it after I hooked my keyboard hack up to it...I since started collecting more cabs and buying old arcade parts to use with mame and sell to help fund my hooby along and pay for school on top of that..college...I have gone on to making 2 more mame cab..one vert cab and a mspacman mame cab that I gave to my girlfriend who loves mspacman..and I have also added a sega saturn,dreamcast,sega cd,and a nes 8bit system to my cab so I can play games like duckhunt,virtua cop, time crisis, and lethal enforcers.with the light guns from those counsle because there is no light gun that will work with a tv hooked to a pc..that I know of...I have gone onto changing my major from mechanical engineering to electroncs/electrical engineering due to my new hobby of arcade games and building mame cabs for myself and my friends to enjoy...

 

11.  Just over a year ago, Friday April 13 2001, I was leaving for a juggling festival, when my brother called me into his room (At 28, I still live with him).

"Hey, Robin, check this out. Just downloaded it," he said. 'This' was Street Fighter II running on his PC computer.

"Ya, cool. I'm off to see some awesome juggling. See you Monday."

Little did I know that on that Monday, my life would be changed when I learned HOW he was playing SF2 on his PC: MAME.

It was Mame32 (v.37b14) my brother showed me, and I was really amazed by the 20 or so games he had.

"Will this run on my pentium 200mhx computer?" I asked eagerly.

"The older games should, but the newer ones probably will have problems."

Damn. My solution? I bought a new computer.

"Hey, can I use anything better than my keyboard, mouse and 10 year old joystick?" was my next question.

"Welllll . . . there's the HotRod control panel, but it's $$$"

I got one.

Trackball? I bought one.

Time passed as I tried more games of my past:

Spy Hunter? Bought a PC steering wheel with pedals. But when I hooked it up, the pedal didn't work right. I checked Super Sprint and it's the
same thing, the pedal acted like it either all the way down or all the way up, with no way to stay in the middle. WTF? I wanted to play the games exactly like they were in the arcades.

"Hey, Bro! What's up with this?"

"Why should I know?!? It's open source; you check it out yourself."

"Fine"

And into C programming I dove, the first time in years. Downloaded MinGW and DJGPP, and compiled mame. I learned of mame.net and
mameworld.net message boards, only to find others have the same problem with SpyHunter.

So I worked out and sent in a patch that fixed the pedal problem. It hasn't been added to mame yet, but I can hope it will be at some point. I decided to host a binary with the fix for others to use too. MamePedal was born. But this meant I needed web pages and a web service provider. I opened free accounts on three different providers since they all had limited throughput.

Assault? HotRod wasn't enough, I needed triggers on the joysticks. I decided to build my own control panel: Ipac, 2 happs competition
joysticks, buttons, wood, tools, and hack a thumb button joystick handle onto the happs joysticks.

Vindicators? One trigger joystick wasn't enough, so I bought and hacked a second trigger joystick onto the other stick on the same control panel.

I want to play Arkanoid? I bought an OSCAR, and added it to my control panel.

Then one day I tried to play two players at Cabal, one of my favorite games as a kid. The trackball (mouse 1) worked great for player 1, but no go for player 2 with my second mouse, and the analog joystick had problems too; all three devices controlled player1 no matter what settings I changed.

I posted questions on mame.net and mameworld.net boards about dual mice, analog joysticks and Mame. Answers showed me optimame & EMU+ for dos, and that both optimame & EMU+ had stopped being developed. I also heard of the problems with windows and dual mice. The dual mice question was bugging me so much my hair started falling out (okay, got pulled out often).

Finally I got a link from a fellow mamer, xiaou2, that said, maybe, directX 8.0 could do what 5.0 could not (two mice/two players). So I
bought a couple books and, for the first time, look into directX and windows programming.

After a couple false starts and months later, I released a Multiple Mouse Mame for windows. My free sites were swamped, so I caved in and bought a web site from a "unlimited" bandwidth service provider (speedhost.com). The multiple mouse mame is now called Mame:Analog+, with more features that add to other mame analog abilities. One feature is the same pedal fix mentioned earlier. Another is the ability to split a mouse's X & Y axes so one controls player 1 & the other controls player 2. I am currently working on adding other features, and hope most of the features, if not all, can be be added to mame at some time.

Mame has turned into the center of my life: wake up, turn on computer, play mame. Eat lunch, browse mame message forums. Eat diner, download files and program mame code. Sleep and dream of mame.

Since I discovered Mame, I started going to sleep @ 4:00 am, reconnected my Sega Genesis and Atari 2600, bought a DreamCast, and lost my job. I have played more arcades at movie theaters, pizza joints, and arcades this past year since college, seven years before Mame entered my life.

Thank you mame, damn you mame, I love you mame.

 

12. My name is Jake. I was born in 1978. Growing up, I remember seeing and playing all the classic arcade games. I 'saw' them, more than 'played' them, simply because my parents thought it would be a waste of money. But no doubt, I was totally hooked. I received a Nintento Entertainment System in 1986. At this point in my life, I fell away from the arcades, simply because I had a video game console at home I could play for free and the newest arcade games just were not interesting me enough. Several years later, a new game was breathing life back into the arcades...Street Fighter II. Wow. I was again totally hooked back into the arcades, spending every last quarter on SF2. Soon after, there was the Mortal Kombat I & II craze, which I was definately into also. There were so many cool games coming out (mostly fighters it seemed), that I was forgetting all the classics, thinking I would never go back to them...

Now parallel to this time period, ever since about 1991, I had become heavily into computers and PC's and their games. In early 1998, while I was in college, I came across something called "Emulation". I downloaded some program called Nesticle. All of the sudden, I was playing all my old NES games on my computer! Unbelievable! After learning some more about the young emulation scene, I saw that there were emulators for lots and lots of different consoles and systems! This was too good to be true. At one point early on, I remember hearing about a emulator called Mame. A single emulator that supports hundreds of arcade games/systems. Now my experience with emulators that supported several different systems all at once was...well...was a little sour for some reason. I can't remember why I had this impression. I just remember thinking, "An emulator that emulates multiple arcade boards/games? There is no way that can be very solid." I moved on and did not give it a second thought. I did not even download the emulator and give it a shot...how stupid of me. I continued to stay in the emulation scene, but exclusively with console emulators. NES, SNES, Genesis, Turbo Grafix 16 among others.

Fast forward to Summer of 2001. I graduated school with a Mechanical Engineering degree and moved to sunny San Diego, California. I got a job working for Sony Computer Entertainment of America. That's right...I develop Sony Playstation 2 games. I'm involved in character animation and motion capture. Growing up, my parents considered video games to be a waste of time. At this point in my life, they are definately thinking otherwise! Anyways, one afternoon I was reading an article on Slashdot. It discussed a familiar emulator called Mame that (to my suprise) was quite popular at this time. It also pointed to a couple websites where people were actually making their own arcade cabinets and putting computers in them to play Mame. "Whoa", I said (in my best Keanu Reeves voice). Digging a little deeper, I saw that Mame supported almost 3000 games! I could not believe it. I downloaded it along with a few choice classic games and some more modern onces. It was an incredible experience. As much as I loved the classic arcade games, for many years I never ever thought that I would ever get a good chance to relive them. Was I ever wrong. I was playing the games with a gamepad or the keyboard or something and within a couple hours, I was thinking "arcade cabinet". But wouldn't that be difficult? Where do I get arcade joysticks and buttons? How do I hook them up to a PC? Soon, I found MameWorld.net and ArcadeControls.com. This was THE turning point. These two websites changed EVERYTHING. Within a week, I had dug through it all, looking at example after example from BYOAC. I figured out everything I needed to really do this thing. So over the next couple months I began buying all the parts and the wood. Fast forward to May 2002. I am about 2 weeks from my cabinet being totally done. I had to put it off for a while because I got really busy with work for a few months, but I can now finally finish it. And I absolutely cannot wait.

Since last summer, Mame has become an obsession. It's absolutely amazing. I requently visit all the different online forums, mostly on BYOAC. And I visit Mameworld.net at least once a day for all the Mame news. The thing is, arcades are NEVER going to be what they once were. Being involved with Sony Computer Entertainment, I have a real sneak peak at the true future of video games. With all the human interaction and interconnectivity with the net, home consoles will eventually drive arcades out of business. As a matter of fact, I think we all agree that it is already happening. Why goto arcades when you can sit in your living room and play online games with thousands of other people who are on the other side of the planet? As much as I love the Playstation 2, This is truely sad, because the classic arcades will become extinct. This is where Mame comes in.

Mame is the very thing that is going to keep the arcade games alive. If Mame was not around...the only place to play Pacman would be a true arcade Pacman machine, which are more difficult to find than one might think. Five or six years ago, I never ever played the classic old school arcade games. Why? Because they were not in the arcades anymore. And I never really thought about them either. The classic arcade time period was gone, and I truely thought that all those games were gone. In the past year, I have come to realize something. Mame is not just a computer program. It is not just an emulator that preserves games. Mame is the very thing that is able to preserve an entire time period where classic arcade games ruled. It preserves a large part of my childhood that hooked me into video games and truely redefined entertainment for me. Modern games are quickly evolving into games with more visually stunning graphics, more intricate storylines, and crazy online gameplay. It is really going to get better and better. But thanks to Mame, I will never stop playing classic arcade games that began it all... I will always have it and I will always be embrassing it.

Mame is not just a computer program. It is truely a way of life.

 

13. I still remember the excitement I felt when I first heard of the possibility of running arcade games on a PC. This was back in 1999 and happened quite by accident. I had been fortunate to grow up in the golden era of the 1980s--Pac Man, Ms Pac Man, Donkey Kong, Defender, Gorf, Robotron, Burgertime--I knew and loved all those games that were now just a memory. Growing up I had few friends and an unhappy life at home; when I found the arcades I found my escape. From then on I lived in the arcades, often skipping school and using my lunch money to play the games that quickly became an obsession--that were, at that time, my whole world.

Eventually I grew up and as I did the arcades died away with my childhood. They became harder and harder to find and finally extinct, save for the occasional joyful discovery of a Ms Pac Man machine tucked away in an obscure corner of a shopping mall or convenience store somewhere. The era and the games that marked it died away, but the obsession never did.

That is what brought me to do a search on my favorite game of all time, Donkey Kong, that day in 1999 as my wife and I surfed the Internet at the local library. We didn't own a PC then and I was as computer illiterate as you could get--I barely knew how to use a mouse and all I could do was surf. I don't exactly know what I was expecting to find when I typed "Donkey Kong" into the search form... perhaps a fan's page reminiscing about playing the game back in the day; maybe even pictures of a real DK cabinet to look at, something I hadn't seen in years. I still remember staring at that one paragraph that jumped out at me from the search results, the one that said you could play the real Donkey Kong arcade game on your PC and contained a link to a site called "Classic Gaming.com." Could this be true? Could this be what I was hoping it was? No, surely not. This was surely just another conversion of a classic arcade game just like all the ones for the countless home video game systems that had come and gone. This bit about playing the "real" Donkey Kong arcade game on your PC must be a bunch of hype.

Skeptical though I was, of course I had to investigate, and investigating is what took all my spare time for the next two weeks, and was immensely fun in itself. Having no computer knowledge whatsoever, not even knowing what an executable or a zip file was, and not even owning a PC, getting MAME to work turned out to be quite an education. When my time ran out at the library, I snuck into the computer lab at the local University, trying and retrying to figure this whole MAME thing out. The night the screen went black and gave me a legal warning before asking me to type "OK" I felt a rush of excitement and satisfying sense of accomplishment. Here it was, I was about to find out if this game was indeed the "real Donkey Kong arcade game." And yes it was, the same game I remembered playing countless times all those years ago, running right there on the Pentium II in the University computer lab!

That night was the resurrection of hundreds of childhood arcade memories and the beginning of a now 3 year obession with MAME. It led to more than I could have ever imagined. Learning how to work MAME led to an interest in computers which grew more and more. We bought a PC and I studied how to use it day and night. My wife and I taught ourselves HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Photoshop and now make our living running our own small Web Development business. Whenever I run MAME, my 17-month-old son comes running to sit in my lap and play his turn. Being the Internet junkie that I now am, I have found many other incredible and wonderful things on the Net, but nothing yet that compares to that first amazing discovery that started it all for me--MAME, the Muliple Arcade Machine Emulator.

 

14. When I was a little kid, my grandpa used to take us up to the legion with him and he would drink (that’s what he did a lot of), and would give us quarters to play video games. All I remember as a kid I could date to which game I played during that stage of childhood. There is such irony in all of this… keep reading. My grandpa would drink so much and take us to play video games he started gaining weight, and continued an unhealthy path. My addiction to video games was so bad at one time I remember stealing quarters from my grandparents (and getting caught).

In 1997 I had my first computer; I was playing on the internet, and decided to search for Pac-man. I really wanted to play it, but I was too cheap to buy a rip off. So I just thought maybe I would find a little Pac-man like game. That is when I came across the word emulation. I started reading a lot about it, and then started doing searches for that. Then I found single game emulators. I was starting to get a little excited when I realized what they were used for. Then I stumbled across this thing called… MAME. When I read that it emulated Pac-man, I was psyched!!! I remember downloading it and the roms for ms Pac-man. It took me about 6 hours or more to figure out dos and how the heck to get the thing booted. Well once it started and I had the command line correct... the screen blanked out. I watched the diagnostic startup in excitement and amazement… and then it appeared. The greatest site I’ve ever seen I yelled so loud my roommate came running up the stairs, and I played that sucker until my fingers were raw. My roommate played it too. For months I was the envy of everyone as I showed them, and bragged (like I created it or something) about how this was the ACTUAL game and patterns ACTUALLY worked. Then I stumbled upon Dave’s Videogame Classics Site. This was still in the day of roms being on any and every site. I remember looking at that page of games, as Mame was updated the list grew and grew. Every time a new game came on that I really forgot about or wanted really badly it was the same all over again.

Good old 56k modems. Man I used to think 35k was going to take a while. J It is funny how the internet has developed, if Dave had posted a neo geo 100 meg rom, I probably would have passed out. I only collected games I loved or played. That is when the addiction started. To this day I love to show off mame to any and everyone. Not a person in the world hasn’t said… this is cool as @#)@$*.

Recently it has gone to a new level, last October I got a video game cabinet, and it was a birthday gift as the only thing I could possibly do to make my completely perfect mame collection complete is put it into a cabinet. That was a dream of mine. I bought the parts over the next couple of months and started reading on the internet about building them. In January, my grandfather passed away. (The one who gave me the quarters), I put a quarter in his casket in his hand, just because those were the fondest memories I had when we went to play the games, and everything I had become as an adult, and everything I enjoyed was somehow sculpted by going to the legion with him, the irony of that is everything that led up to his death, was probably from the same thing with alcohol. So I decided when I lost him to involve my other grandpa who is a carpenter in my video game machine. I call it now my mame machine. My grandpa and I built a marvelous control panel, and it is so funny, he still doesn’t know what it is for. He is 76 years old, and brags to everyone he helped me build a computer desk. J I really planned for this thing to be perfect, and I slowly due to money put it together.

Today I am the envy of everyone who sees it, just because it is my personal shrine to vintage arcade games. I have an entire museum on it, with commercials, original Atari letters scanned and anything and everything to remember my life growing up. Somehow this has been my past, present, and future. I can relate my entire life around growing up and playing these games. These games saw me through school, through my grandpa’s death, and even now in my adult life.

I didn’t realize what a passion this would all be for me, and how good it makes me feel to see those classics, and hear the cheesy noises they make. Nothing in the world does that for me, not an ocean breeze, not a beautiful sunset… nothing.

Sometimes I wonder what life would be like today without mame and the creators work. I can’t imagine, it seems to have changed my life so much, and I will always be so proud of the machine I built. I build it so I will never forget that smell, feel, look when I drop a quarter into it and press player one, it is like a time machine that catapults me back to my childhood… It makes me young again, and happy.

I have been through a lot in my life, I fought in Desert Storm, even now I am still in the Army reserves, and this year I am out at my annual training, on guard duty, and I was just fantasizing again about counting down the days till I could go back home and fire up my baby. I told countless people about it, and everyone thought it was so cool just listening to me talk about it, and looking at that little twinkle in my eye about it all.

This isn’t about winning a light gun, because either way that will become part of my machine. This is just my way of saying thanks to all of the people who created this… this part of my life. I go to Aaron Giles home page… and think what does Nicola even look like. To me these people have changed my life and they don’t even know it. During this time of craziness in our world where people are bombing other people, it is funny to think that there is a soldier out there in a foxhole on guard duty trying to keep world peace, and protect America. That soldier has a little twinkle in his eye, and it came from Pac-man, and Dig Dug, and Donkey Kong… and while the rest of the world falls apart, my world stays together just thinking about how happy this has made me.

And I just want to say to every person that has contributed, or helped or done ANYTHING to promote mame… thank you.

 

15. Back to square one...

A handful of years ago, before dot.coms were the big business trend; when the Internet was still more of a novelty to most people than a tool; a time when the local mall arcade was still hopping with gamers looking to compete on the latest fighting game; when a fledgling MAME was still just a hobby project to a scant few nostalgic retrogamers.  Back when we were all a few years more innocent than today.  Sitting there in my cubicle during my lunch consisting of a lopsided Arby's roast beef sandwich and a lukewarm Mountain Dew,  I thought about what game to play to pass the time.  All of the newest game software looked the same:  an endless series of contemporary clones that you could finish and toss aside in a day much less an hour, never to look at them again or ever recall their names.  I wanted something simple, something fun, that I could pick up and play on the computer.  An engaging and addictive game that would give me hours of entertainment then and even months to years down the road.  A game that I could get so lost in that the experience made me that much more of a true gamer.  What was the last game I played that could impact me like that?  There was nothing like that today.  Perhaps I had been too desensitized to the world.  Too many repetitive action film sequels.  Too many one-hit wonder musicians.  Too many fast food burgers and instant microwave meals.  Maybe culture was so far gone that nobody could remember a time when gaming or anything else had any lasting value.  But then you have to stop and think, there had to be a time long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away when they made games that weren't merely drive-bys in the night.  So I had to harken back to the days of my impressionable childhood, when putting a quarter into a machine and looking up at the monitor rather than down was almost as much an experience as the game itself.

Tron.  I loved Tron, specifically Discs of Tron.  A glimpse into the future on one side and the digital life on the other side of the screen.  Maybe it was the neon hue of the lights and stepping into the full environment arcade or the scratchy taunt of the Sark, but I loved that game.

Where to find it?  The local arcade's classic section consisted of little more than a beatup Pac-Man in the far back corner where the left coin slot was jammed.  So began my search.  Surely by now they had found a way to port these games over, I thought.  The webcrawlers returned sites like "Dave's Classics" and keywords like "retrogaming," "ROMs" and "emulator."  Further searching revealed that emulation was better than the old RGB ports of classics I had played on my old 286.  Scanning the list of games that had been emulated I found it.  Discs of Tron had indeed been emulated; just one of many titles that immediately brought up memories of rolling skee balls and begging my parents for some quarters to play the latest game at the pizza parlor.  Tempest.  Burgertime, Donkey Kong, Moon Patrol, Pengo, Q*bert... The best memories of my childhood right there in front of me, and only a few kilobytes each.  I could carry decades of the past all on a 3.5" disk.

This is how I found MAME.  The acronym itself was intriguing enough to download it.  Nothing short of a wonderful little program enabling me to relive the past.  A few simple commands in DOS and away I went, taking on the classics.

Being the competetive gamer that I've always been, I had to inform my friends.  Who can resist the chance to step back to a simpler time when we looked at the world with wider eyes and a few feet closer to the ground?  Sure a LAN game of Unreal Tournament or Quake is entertaining, but it gets old fast and a week later, nobody will remember or care.  But gather a group of guys who grew up in the days of Galaga and Space Invaders and let them compete for the best score.  That's something great.  The bragging rights for a classic span the amount of time since the game was first introduced!

However, as much as we cling to the past, life in the present seems to take precedence and retrogaming fell somewhat to the way side in our conversations and gaming enjoyment.  MAME has a permanent place on our hard drives, but the shortcuts to it get clicked less.  But every now and then, something within us calls us back to remember where we came from.

A little over a year later, my coworker and friend Jarod were sitting in the office one day, plodding about the dreary code we had to program for some nameless application that would end up being lost in office politics, so naturally we had to find something else for our minds to dwell on for sanity's sake. 

"Play any new games lately?"

We began talking about the latest games again. 

"Not really, its all crap.  They all look and play the same."

That sentiment summed up the current game industry.  Today's hardware industry is more concerned with pumping out more polygons and higher framerates while the software industry is controlled by the suits who would rather rush a buggy first person shooter clone out onto the shelves than invest in an interesting original game.

So once again, we had to think back to simpler times.  Jarod and I talked about the games of old, even attracting the attention of some of our fellow coworkers to come into our office and shoot the breeze about their favorite classics and how arcades were dying and the game software industry had degraded.  Naturally, emulation became a focal point of our discussions.  We would speak the praises of MAME and how one could still get a taste of what once was.  We would even start up a brief office competition on a few select classics.  But because it was only an emulation and on a PC, it still felt somewhat contemporary, even though MAME had been continuously increasing in its community and its emulated title list.  The full classic arcade experience had yet to be realized among us.

While I loved being able to jump right into a classic on my PC, it just wasn't enough for me anymore.  I needed to grasp onto that innocent bastion of gaming purity that had faded into technological obscurity.  I needed to stand in front of the machine and manipulate the controls.  I needed to work the pinball flippers and let real world physics dictate where the ball would roll.  Gone were the days of the pizza parlor harboring the newest arcades.  Out of business were the arcades and pinball shops that were once booming.  What remains are ridiculous carnival redemption machines that take your quarters faster and give you two seconds of promise of something great but ends up being only a few paper tickets that you'd have to have ten thousand of to get a three dollar stuffed animal.  Even Vegas slot machines payout better.  Despite this abyss of entertainment, the days of old were far from forgotten.

Being the web savvy wizard that I am, I jumped online and began to look at what was left of the once great arcade and pinball industry.  Article after article of once great industry names had left the arcade business and moved onto consoles and pcs to survive.  They stopped developing and producing new machines and since modern arcades are nothing more than consoles and special CDs wired to arcade joysticks, where did all the machines go?  Where do all the printed circuit boards and dedicated, artful, wooden arcade hulks go to die?  The answer:  to the highest bidder.  Warehouses were clearing their stock.  And now the remnants of the great industry of the 70s and 80s was in the hands of nostalgic collectors and rebuilders.  I had to get a piece of this.  A tangible piece of myself that I could always look to and share with others.

But can one put a price on the past?  Can one say a childhood is worth X amount of dollars?  It almost seems absurd.  But then you stop and realize that some of the best moments and defined memories in a true gamer's life are the ones that only cost a quarter.  And hearing the clink as it falls into the coin receptacle and the machine giving you a credit to continue is an experience that one cannot truly put a price on.  So I took a leap forward into my past.  And now I have it.  I have an original Q*bert, an Asteroids Deluxe, and a Bosconian, complete with the dust of the ages inside.  I even have a 1994 World Cup Soccer pinball, one of my favorites.  I even helped my friend Jarod find and acquire one of his favorites:  a 1987 Atari police driver A.P.B. machine.

Now when the topic of gaming comes up again with those old enough to remember what real gaming was like, I ask what top three machines they would like to have most and help them to realize one of life's seemingly small but daring dreams.  For the rest, MAME is more than adequate in resurrecting smiles that had been lost years ago.  But still nothing compares to seeing the spirit of a true gamer residing in a person when he stands before an original console layout like Asteroids or Battlezone for the first time in years and you watch him maneuver the controls with natural ease and precision, as if he had been doing it all of his life.

Taking two steps forward, three steps back...

In today's era of pump and dump games that last days before they're forgotten, where cheating is so easy and rampant, where there are more players that play games by FAQ than by skill and exploration, is it any wonder why we, the elite true gaming few prefer retrogaming?  We go back to games that we built true skill on, games that will always be remembered, games that were most importantly, FUN.  So maybe we're not stepping back in time so much as we are progressing forwards and carrying the best with us.  We may be a dying breed, but with wonders like MAME and its community of renaissance gamers and nostalgic players, the past will never be forgotten.  MAME is a living piece of history in both technology and culture and lets us be part of something great again.

Now that's true entertainment.