Man, it's really been 20 years. Some memories from that time (and please feel free to correct anything that might be wrong; it's been a *long* time in many cases):
- 'Borgification' as MAME gradually emulated games from other standalone emulation projects, and as authors and developers of those projects in many cases gravitated to MAME as their emulation platform of choice. This is not to knock the accomplishments of those standalone emulators by any means, but it does certainly show the momentum that MAME gained early on and maintained through today.
- Neill Corlett's Starscream 68000 engine making it in from his Multi-Gauntlet Emulator. It opened up emulation of many, many 16-bit arcade games.
- CPS2 kiddiez and the 'where my free romzZzZz at d00d!@#!1!' when that platform was emulated.
- Atmospherical Heights, FreePlay, Dave's Video Game Classics, and the others that provided MAME with its first homes on the web.
- 'Galaga will likely never be emulated because the hardware is too complex; getting it all synced up properly will probably never be doable in emulation...'
- That moment of realisation where I had the epiphany: MAME will always be more reliable than the arcade games that I've owned, but will never harm the enjoyment of owning them *because* of that.
- #retrogamers (and others) on EFNet.
- Seeing that there are preservationists out there who share my belief that all games are worth saving regardless of subjective opinions surrounding their worth, value, or popularity. Thank you for all of the bootlegs, clones, obscurities, and crappy games that I otherwise would have never revisited or even known existed in the first place.
- 'We'll be going straight from version 0.31 to 0.33 to avoid confusion with MAME32...'
- 'Pong is in! Wait, it's not really emulated; Pong is out. Well, maybe it's OK to put it back in...'
- Being directly responsible for a 'no gaming at work' policy in about 1999. I had a job in phone support for a then-major ISP, and would drag my laptop in so that I could fire up MAME and play Frogger and Missile Command on calls while reciting the DNS server addresses to customers for the umpteenth time that day. Unfortunately, one of the Executive Managers saw me doing this, didn't like it, and enacted said policy. In hindsight, it's surprising that I wasn't fired for that.
And tons more that I just can't remember right now.
On a personal note, MAME is now the one piece of software that I have used the most consistently over the last 20 years, and on just about every computing platform I've had in that period. That means DOS, Windows, Linux (multiple architectures), BeOS, OS X, FreeBSD, and Solaris. Supporting files for it have been moved from platform to platform, and I've had three different cabinets dedicated to playing games on it.
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to it - and a special thank-you to Nicola Salmoria, who likely had no idea what he was unleashing when he made his initial release public. He's made a lot of people *very* happy.