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Project Arcade

samzenpus posted more than 7 years ago | from the if-you-build-it-they-will-play dept.

Book Reviews 158

Craig Maloney writes "Growing up, I found myself more than once in an arcade, be it in the mall, Meijer, or a free-standing building. The atmosphere was unmistakable: loud, with lots of activity, and people getting fully immersed and "in the zone" between them and their pixellated avatar. While playing an arcade game at home has been possible for many years now, the true arcade experience has been a little more elusive. There's something about having an upright video game cabinet, and playing on arcade hardware that gives the game that extra sense of being right in the arcades of my youth. There are many sites out there that have different plans for building a MAME arcade cabinet from scratch, but most read like a post-mortem for how the author pieced together their particular setup. What if you just want to convert an old (non-working, I hope) cabinet into a MAME arcade cabinet? Lots of information is out there, but where do you start? Project Arcade is an excellent introduction for building your own MAME arcade cabinet from scratch, and compiles lots of material into one comprehensive book." Read below for the rest of Craig's review.

Project Arcade is split up in to five parts. The first part describes the planning process, and comprises complete plans for building an arcade cabinet from scratch. The second, third, and fourth parts are a list of parts and design decisions for the hardware for your MAME arcade cabinet, from the control panel and computer, to the speakers and monitor. The fifth part is a summary of various "off-the-shelf" solutions for purchasing a complete MAME-ready arcade cabinet, as well as links to other "inspirational" projects. Obviously, if you're building the MAME arcade cabinet from the wood up, and outfitting it with your own hardware, then most of the book will be applicable to you. I found all sections to be very valuable, and regardless of which direction I take (build or buy) I'll be more informed when I finally devise my plans and make my purchases.

One thing that stood out in Project Arcade was the thoroughness of the book. Unlike some "build your own arcade books", Project Arcade contains complete plans for an arcade cabinet, from start to finish, including lists of all of the materials. I unfortunately didn't build the cabinet, and am not an expert on woodworking, but the plans looked complete and well thought out. At the very least, it left me with the impression that this was something that I could likely handle with some help. The part I am a little more familiar with (the electronics) was quite fascinating. The book catalogs a great deal of hardware available to the arcade-cabinet builder, and there were parts that I didn't know were available, such as screw-terminal keyboard adapters (no more taking apart cheap keyboards for me). The author details many different joysticks, trackballs, and button choices available, with thoughtful discussion on the pros and cons of each choice. I felt through most of the book like I was being guided by someone who was passionate about building excellent MAME arcade cabinets, and had a lot of knowledge to share. Even the section on pre-made cabinets was carefully put together, with the benefits of each cabinet design explained thoroughly. There are also copious amounts of photos, so you'll know exactly what it is you're looking at. Also, where applicable, there are diagrams and charts to aid and assist.

Unfortunately, the strengths of Project Arcade are also part of its weaknesses. There are a LOT of parts described in the book. After a few pages of the same type of part, my mind started to wander. While the descriptions are comprehensive and insightful, I found myself after a while thinking "I get it already". Detailed descriptions of taking apart keyboards and soldering to them to me seemed obvious, but I can see why the author decided to take the time to explain the process more thoroughly for those who may not be as comfortable taking apart something electronic. Also, the book focused mostly on the hardware for building a MAME arcade cabinet. I would have appreciated the same depth of discussion on the software available to complete the project, mostly because I think the author could have brought some very insightful recommendations on what software to use with the MAME arcade cabinet.

When I build my MAME cabinet, be it a conversion of an old (non-working) cabinet, or from scratch, Project Arcade will definitely be the book I use on that project. While the descriptions can be a bit verbose, the book delivers a very thorough and insightful perspective on what I should be looking for when envisioning what my completed MAME cabinet should be. Much like a do-it-yourself book for remodeling your bathroom, the book can only provide you guidance; the finished project is up to your creativity and imagination. Project Arcade is that guide to building yourself the perfect MAME arcade cabinet.


You can purchase Project Arcade from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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I'm curious... (3, Interesting)

Have Blue (616) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986751)

Does the book out anywhere that abandonware is a myth and that unless you already own an arcades' worth of authentic machines this project will involve copyright infringement? I'm not saying this is right or wrong, just that it would be irresponsible not to make readers aware of that issue.

Re:I'm curious... (3, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986915)

"Does the book out anywhere that abandonware is a myth and that unless you already own an arcades' worth of authentic machines this project will involve copyright infringement?"

Well, I don't think it is that large a concern. Many places out there will sell you a blank machine....but, it is easy to get a free 'wink' 'wink' CD on the side of the ROMs to run it.

It has only really been recently that some companies have started putting these old games out there for anyone to play with them again....until the MAME movement, they were largely lost, and many game still aren't commercially available.

I don't personally see anything wrong with it...the idea behind MAME was to save and preserve some early computing. I like to see it when my friends' kids play these old games...hoping it might show them that game PLAY is more important often than graphics or sound. To this day, I think Robotron is one of the most fun and intensive games made. I usually finish a session worn out, sweaty, and have either nearly ripped out the dual joysticks, or have severe tennis elbow.

Wild Gunman (4, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987007)

I like to see it when my friends' kids play these old games...hoping it might show them that game PLAY is more important often than graphics or sound.
"You mean you have to use your hands?"
"That's like a baby's toy!"

Re:I'm curious... (1, Troll)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987301)

You may not personally see anything wrong with it. Some people don't personally see anything wrong with murdering someone. That doesn't mean it isn't against the law. That's the point the GP was trying to make. They should really outline that downloading ROMs may be or probably is illegal, and that you should consider this before embarking on this project.

Re:I'm curious... (2, Insightful)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987603)

You may not personally see anything wrong with it. Some people don't personally see anything wrong with murdering someone. That doesn't mean it isn't against the law.
I stand back a bit and notice there's more to this comparison. You're trying to compare moral issues on legal grounds. I wouldn't compare murder to "illegal" ROMs. If you murder someone, you can never make that person whole again and restore their life. As for copying a forgotten about ROM, and legal bullying aside, the original copyright owner of the ROM can be made "whole" by an effort as minimal as the offender paying a license fee or other compensation.

Life is an inalienable right. Actually, indefeasible might be a better word. Copyright is written on paper and can be modified, argued, or revoked.

Re:I'm curious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19987655)

You may not personally see anything wrong with it. Some people don't personally see anything wrong with murdering someone. That doesn't mean it isn't against the law. That's the point the GP was trying to make. They should really outline that downloading ROMs may be or probably is illegal, and that you should consider this before embarking on this project
If you had actually read the book, you would know that it is pointed out that downloading ROMs is illegal. There are also many other legal ways to obtain roms, and who says you need to run Mame at all? Consoles are very easy to connect, and since there are many arcade ports, you can have authentic controls with the legal console game. Next time, research a bit, mkay?

You know what used to piss me off.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19989707)

is when some fucktard used to get pissed when he lost at the arcade and just had to smash his fist into the controls. Then the controls would be broken. I would lose a good dollar or two to machines that were fucked up by people who could'nt control themselfs because you could'nt tell if somthing was fucked up on the control scheme before you played. BASTARDS

Re:I'm curious... (2, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#19991005)

Well then, call me a murderer but I think there's a certain charm to seeing my old game ROMS being traded through the intertubes. I'd rather see people enjoying my creations "illegally" than to watch them rot away in a New Mexico landfill like so many other Atari titles.

I guess that's the difference between creating for love of the art vs working for money. Eons ago, game programmers were "ninjas"; today, most of them are just wage-slaves in a big faceless machine. Warren Spector, John Carmack, Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideo Kojima... good lord, Sid Meier! Brilliant people who lust for the challenge and push the genres that everyone else merely copies.

The people who are pissed off about abandonware and casual piracy are people who don't like what they do for a living. All the money in the world won't make them happy.

Re:I'm curious... (4, Informative)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987425)

You don't have to do any winking at all... You can find boards for most classic games on ebay for $2-$40 depending on the game (more modern or rare games can go up to $200) and you can get an EPROM reader for about $50 and rip your own ROMs from the boards that YOU OWN. I know because I've done it.

I worked for 3 years as an arcade tech while I was in college, we'd have bins and bins of scrapped gameboards, most of them had good ROMs and were just tossed in a bin once the cabinet was converted to a more lucrative game. We then scavenged spare parts off these boards for when active machines had problems. It was a great resource for the arcade because when a obsolete proprietary Sega chip failed on still popular classic game X we could dig up the board from the old Sega game Y from the same year that we binned years ago and find the same chip on the similar board.

The arcade I worked at had a lot of classic machines and the head tech actually started reverse engineering and building hardware emulators from scratch for a lot of classics that would die frequently from design flaws. (he was a really bright guy, and IIRC he was the head of the EE department at RI tech, the arcade was just his part time summer job).

There are however quite a few games that were encrypted or had some other form of copy protection to keep arcade operators from cloning machines by dumping the roms to similar hardware from a cheaper game. Even still many of the popular classics have legal roms available for sale. I seem to recall at least one of those "classic games in a joystick" packages coming with a CD that included legal, MAME usable roms; or maybe I'm imagining things.

In any case there are legal ways to obtain roms... though personally I prefer to just use the original hardware too.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987647)

I seem to recall there is one MAME ROM that was specifically released for free, non-commercial distribution. I think it was FHMC Q*Bert [wikipedia.org] .

Re:I'm curious... (2, Informative)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988509)

"In any case there are legal ways to obtain roms... though personally I prefer to just use the original hardware too."

Some of the old games, you can ONLY play them with the original hardware. You can't get a ROM of Deathrace [wikipedia.org] ...that old B&W one that you drove over people/zombies, and they turned into a grave with a cross tombstone. Man...that one raised an uproar by the powers that be...back in the days before they started targeting music. Yup...parent groups have been bitching about kids stuff for quite a while.

But, as I understand it with Deathrace it wasn't a rom, but, used hard wired logic circuits?

Re:I'm curious... (1)

Peale (9155) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987145)

The book concentrates on the building of arcade controls and/or cabinets. It does touch briefly on ROM use, but the focus is construction.

Re:I'm curious... (2, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987685)

I disagree that it would be irresponsible. Anyone that is into this enough to want to spend the money to make a cabinet already KNOWS the legal situation of what they are doing. The ones that believe the 'abandonware myth' won't listen to you when you try to tell them it's illegal, and if you ever DO get them to listen, they'll just justify it to themselves and carry on.

On the other hand, there ARE legal alternatives other than owning a cabinet and playing MAME.

GameTap, for instance, has quite a few arcade games like Joust that work very well with a good stick, like the X-Arcade Tankstick.

Another interesting idea is to buy a broken cabinet, or even just the board, of the game you particularly want, and then playing it in MAME. You -have- the hardware legally and it probably won't cost near as much as a real cabinet, and definitely won't cost you as much shipping.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

Xanlexian (122112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987803)

Excellent point.

What about someone like me? I've got somewhere between 475 and 500 original games on their ROM chips. But not the rest of the hardware. I know the chips all work (I've tested them all). With just the software code in the ROMs be enough to stay within copyright?

Re:I'm curious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19987871)

It's still a grey area. Some would say you're within your rights FOR PERSONAL USE, or as backups for the purpose of burning new EPROMS to repair those boards you have.

Yes, it does (1)

jpetts (208163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987851)

Yes it does: no less than five pages (342-346) are devoted to legal issues surrounding obtaining the necessary ROMs, which is what I believe you are referring to.

Re:I'm curious... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19988179)

Abandonware IS A FACT - a patent/copyright CANNOT EXIST in reality when all parties involved died and the holding corporation dissolved. When private people die without a will and no heirs, they die intestate and their assets are free to distribute. The same concept applies to corporations, regardless what any goddamn bastard lawyer tells us, we listen to morality and common sense.

And yet, here you are in the first comment bashing us over the head with the Public Service Announcement that it is a crime worse than rape to even think about humming the Mr. Do tune without a license in your sleep. Thank you, Intellectual Property Fascist corporation asstroturfer. You may climb back into your slimy hole now.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

mabhatter654 (561290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988585)

but corporation "IP" assets are almost ALWAYS sold to another corporation... so somebody "owns" these if you looked really closely but the "owners" don't usually know it... until somebody like EA buys them up at fire sale to sue every body over. So yes, the myth of abandonware is EXACTLY what that witty tag says.. These works have "died" before they expire and there's nothing legally you can do about it. I do believe the copyright office is making some attempt to poke a hole in the situation, but not much... especially now that everybody has downloadable content (using Open source emulators for the "illegal" Roms no less!!!) But the irony of collectors being the only people that "own" a version of the work is lost on the copyright office.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988183)

Does the book out anywhere that abandonware is a myth...

A myth you say? Really? Software that the copyright holders won't sell you, and refuse to support to the point that getting them to even acknowledge that it exists and they own it is an accomplishment -- all just a myth like unicorns and pixies?

Seems odd that I have drawers full of the stuff.

Or perhaps you mean a myth that abandonware is legal? That might be a myth if people actually thought that. But they don't really.

We know its illegal; we've just elected not to care because the argument that the copyright holder is being harmed by our infringement is pretty much beyond absurd. And so their is no moral reason not to.

Legally, yes, its against the law. But then so is jaywalking, playing dominoes in alabama on sunday, picking seaweed off the beach in New Hampshire, or leaving your car door open 'longer than necessary' in Oregon.

Re:I'm curious... (1)

Samedi1971 (194079) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988567)

Yes, the book does spend some time on copyright issues. It recommends the public domain roms that work with the emulator and points out that whether or not the reader uses roms they have no legal right to is for the reader to decide.

I use roms I don't own, but I also collect real system boards of my favorite games when I can find them.

Re:I'm curious... (2, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#19989719)

unless you already own an arcades' worth of authentic machines this project will involve copyright infringement?

So sue me.

I bought this a while back.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19986755)

I purchased an earlier version of this book, and I really enjoyed the presentation.
I would recommend it to anyone serious about building their own cabinet.

For more information.... (2, Informative)

nomad_dude (877436) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986789)

The author of this book runs Arcadecontrols.com [arcadecontrols.com] , which provides a lot more information on building an arcade machine.

it would be nice ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19986809)

... to see a definition of 'MAME' in the review. Too many acronyms people!

Re:it would be nice ... (1)

Laebshade (643478) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986831)

Obvious? MAME = Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator

Re:it would be nice ... (2, Informative)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986855)

it would be nice to see a definition of 'MAME' in the review. Too many acronyms people!


Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator [mame.net]

Re:it would be nice ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19989489)

It means "to do a blow job" in spanish

calling cmdrtaco (1)

awing0 (545366) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986815)

Rob built his own too: http://cmdrtaco.net/jubei/ [cmdrtaco.net]

Many options (1)

perlhacker14 (1056902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986845)

The way I see it, if you really are after duplicating a full arcade experience, go for this work. You will get some hands on experience (rather than just sitting in front of your computer all day), and will enjoy the result and the conjured memories fully. Assuming you can get hold of an old MAME arcade cabinet. Or, you could just build your own, make it look like the old ones, and live happily ever after. Even better, if you just want to play the old games, and have dismissed the memories of the actual arcade, you could write a clone of all those games in {_some programming language here_}. It has been done (a clone of 17 great acrade games in C++ by a friend of mine), and still provides that same remnicience opportunity by allowing you to make the games over. Of course, most of us will stick with the renovation and just use an old cabinet.

Re:Many options (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988551)

"Of course, most of us will stick with the renovation and just use an old cabinet."

Yup...got mine in an old original Tempest cabinet. I'm gonna redo the sound...put in better stereo speakers and a big subwoofer...

missing (1, Insightful)

crossmr (957846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986873)

What's missing from the home experience isn't the cabinet, its the people and the loud environment. North Americans are more interested in being frugal than social.

Re:missing (5, Funny)

smurphmeister (1132881) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987117)

North Americans are more interested in being frugal than social.
This is such a lie! Why, if I could afford a plane ticket to wherever you are and wasn't afraid of leaving my house, I'd come over and kick your ass right now!

Re:missing (3, Interesting)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987137)

> What's missing from the home experience isn't the cabinet, its the people and the loud environment. North Americans are more interested in being frugal than social.

It won't replace the ego boost from the throngs of humans crowding over your shoulder in awe of your godlike playing skills, but the Arcade Ambience [hofle.com] project is a pretty good replacement for the background sounds of dozens of arcade machines.

Re:missing (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987503)

It won't replace the ego boost from the throngs of humans crowding over your shoulder in awe of your godlike playing skills,

Yeah, because a lot of people have that level of skills.

Re:missing (2, Insightful)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988337)

If you don't possess the skills, you can be part of the crowd of people who admire. Don't you see that there is a role for everyone?

Re:missing (2, Informative)

rkanodia (211354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19989369)

+4, Interesting? I could see either -1, Troll or +532, Brilliant Satire, but Interesting?

Re:missing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19989981)

It's not the skills comment that's interesting, it's that he found someone who actually went through the trouble of making CDs of arcade background sounds to solve half of the grandparent poster's original problem: that a MAME cabinet can't reproduce "the people and the loud environment" of an 80s arcade.

The CD doesn't address the social environment of a crowded arcade, but it can make your living room sound like one from 1981, 1983, or 1986, which is (IMHO) pretty neat.

Re:missing (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987453)

What's missing from the home experience isn't the cabinet, its the people and the loud environment. North Americans are more interested in being frugal than social.

I'm not sure about that, it seems that a lot of people buy a lot of games, buy lots of hardware, accessories, TVs and such.

Maybe it's just antisocial, possibly having nothing to do with frugality.

Personally, I hated the loud environment.

Most of the places that had the machines didn't maintain them very well. Many machines had noticeable screen burn. Some of them had projection screens where the color guns were severely misaligned.

Re:missing (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987669)

Screen burn? Not as bad as the cigarette burn. Seriously, did you ever walk up to your favorite game to find out someone had been resting their lit cigarette on the control plane? I'm a smoker, but I still found it highly annoying. Sometimes you'd see a Japanese import that actually had a built in ashtray.

what north america are you talking about? (2, Insightful)

puto (533470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987543)

North Americans are anything but frugal! Here in the USA and in Canada people spend money like water, let food spoil, spend money on car detailing, botox, and sleepaway camp.

And all though I spend an large amount of time in the arcade in the 1980s there were better places to be social.

Skating Rink, corner store, the shopping center.

Of course in my day you could smoke in the arcade, buy dope, and check out rat tails and members only jackets and listen to Pat Benatar. Maybe that is why we do not go to them.

Re:what north america are you talking about? (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987725)

What's funny is that the hoodlums that hung out in arcades (me among them) were considered anti-social types. And you're right, it was a place to buy pot or whatever, but usually not the best place. More of a last resort.

Great book and great site... (1)

stewbidasso (768984) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986917)

Like others have said, the author of this book runs the site arcadecontrols.com, which has a very active community with tons of great info. I stumbled on the site a while back (before hearing about the book) and it has become a fun hobby (making arcades and such). We are just finishing our 5th arcade now (a custom cocktail cabinet). It just never gets old. I would suggest checking out the site to get a feel for the hobby and then buying the book once you're ready to build. Most of the content from the book is available in the forums on his site, but it is worth having a nice book with all of the info in a centralized easy to find location when you're ready to build.

does the book cover (3, Funny)

atarione (601740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19986979)

how to convince your wife to let you have an arcade machine in the house???

oh right this is slashdot sort of a moot point by in large really.

Re:does the book cover (1)

chimpo13 (471212) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987013)

Honey, do you remember how I spent $800 to remove used tampons from the dog's insides? Just think about that when I'm playing Robotron on our new MAME.

Re:does the book cover (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19987371)

My dog just pukes them up (damn those things can expand). I suggest a metal can with a lid that closes automatically for your bathroom.

Re:does the book cover (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988517)

Yup! Oh, the joys of living with a real, live, woman.

Re:does the book cover (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987079)

Convince the wife? Hell, my wife wants to have a game room with pool table, MAME cabinet (already built, sweet fun while drinking), and a bar. Sure she doesn't want it in the living room or kitchen, but even if you aren't looking to have a game room exactly, there must be a spot where all the computers are located (i.e. office/man room/server room) that she won't object to.

Re:does the book cover (1)

XueLang (1070368) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987309)

Hey, some chicks dig video games. :P

Re:does the book cover (1)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988249)

I'd tell her "Hey honey, I'll replace the enormous Gauntlet II machine occupying the living room with this smaller one" and she'll go for it in a second.

Or you could just get rid of the exercise machine she forced you to buy that's been used only twice.

Pay for nice wood (2, Informative)

GrayCalx (597428) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987019)

I made a MAME cabinet a few years ago and I enjoyed it while I had it. The one recommendation I'd pass along to others is go ahead and splurge and get the nicest wood you can. I went cheap cheap cheap; bought the roughest, cheapest pieces of crap wood I could get. I never got over that disappointment. That and instead of dropping another $30 on paint, I used the glossy black paint we had lying around. Another big mistake, but cez la vie.

Re:Pay for nice wood (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987221)

Or you could just pick up one of these [slikstik.com]

Re:Pay for nice wood (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987641)

You may turn in your geek credentials at the door on your way out if you please.

You do realize that's like commenting on a build your own PC book by pointing out a link to Dell right?

Kinda missing the point? Just maybe?

Re:Pay for nice wood (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987693)

Actually, my geek creds are safe. I've done everything from building computers and networks to building buildings and blacksmithing.

This book is about making a MAME setup from an old arcade cabinet. Offering another place to start with similar materials is by no means cheating.

If you want to demand that I turn in my card, demad the same of the book's author.

Re:Pay for nice wood (1)

GeckoX (259575) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987799)

?

You provided a link to a finished product, completely bypassing the whole process of making the thing, to any extent, yourself.

Not saying it's not a viable option, just kinda odd considering...

Re:Pay for nice wood (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987837)

Actually, while it is a functional cabinet, it is rather bare and can be modded to your heart's content, much like starting out with the old arcade cabinet.

Again, I restate the point that this book is *starting* with an arcade cabinet, not making one from sheets of plywood.

Re:Pay for nice wood (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19989051)

Some people don't want to invest their time and money into new tools etc required to build such a cabinet.

That's why we've got this thing called money. I can pay someone else to do stuff that I'd either rather not do or don't want to spend the time on.

It's kind of like my Operating System. Even though Linux is free, I'd still rather pay for it than create it....

Re:Pay for nice wood (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987761)

"You do realize that's like commenting on a build your own PC book by pointing out a link to Dell right?"

I'm confused by your analogy, now if it related to a car...

Bah... (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987031)

Nothing more than a slahvertisement for plywood ;)

My own parts recommendations... (2, Informative)

glindsey (73730) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987055)

The I-Pac [ultimarc.com] from Ultimarc is a really nice screw-terminal-to-keyboard interface board, and the one I've used in my own arcade console. Its biggest benefit over a hacked-up keyboard is that it uses discrete I/O for all of its inputs, rather than matrix scanning like a keyboard does, so there's absolutely no limit to the number of simultaneous keypresses it can process.

I'd also like to recommend the Opti-Pac [ultimarc.com] to connect trackballs, spinners, or optical joysticks that don't have built-in USB or PS/2 mouse interfaces.

And while I'm on the subject of spinners, the SlikStik Tornado Spinner [happcontrols.com] is really nice.

Re:My own parts recommendations... (1)

RandoX (828285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987135)

You just described my exact setup.

Recommend APAC over IPAC (1)

pigeontheory (969456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988153)

I'd recommend the A-PAC [ultimarc.com] as this uses the USB gamepads as the discrete controllers to program. This is much simpler to set up and you don't have to worry about ghosting [arcadecontrols.com] keys. Its also good if you don't want the arcade machine and you make a desktop arcade box, you can use it for other PC games that use gamepads.

The trick is the Controls and game settings (1)

anth72 (1127735) | more than 7 years ago | (#19989697)

I found building my mame machines to be a lot of fun. I converted a Tekken 3 into a full fledged mame machine. I did spend much time getting the controls just right. Using 8 way joysticks in 4 way games will really frustrate a person. I found the Ultimarc 360s to be the easy solution. The key is to have the game switch joystic modes automatically. Another key to the arcade experience is to throw at least one Pinball machine in the room. Respect!

Hopefully it covers front-ends (1)

CarlJagt (877688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987085)

Disclaimer: Haven't read the book, but I did put together a MAME cabinet now living in someone else's basement bar ... *cough*

I do hope there are useful pointers to graphical front-ends. No offense to the creators of various emulators out there, but the usability mileage of my MAME cab suffered greatly until I found a sexy, useful and simple front-end Game Launcher [dribin.org] . You could also try Lemon Launcher [sourceforge.net] , although I had only partial success.

While a little time consuming to setup all the ROMs, the PC now auto-runs Game Launcher, plays various "attract" mp3s and successfully launches MAME32 upon a button press. Now friends, family and even the smallset can easily choose and play games just by walking through the menu using those fun arcade sticks.

Re:Hopefully it covers front-ends (1)

Samedi1971 (194079) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988617)

I think the book was published before gamelauncher existed and I'm not aware of any updates. It mentions a few that were available at the time but they may be a bit dated now. I'm also using gamelauncher, but that's because after reading the book I kept up to date on arcadecontrols.com, the author's forum.

Re:Hopefully it covers front-ends (2, Insightful)

dslbrian (318993) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988991)

I do hope there are useful pointers to graphical front-ends.

I had trouble finding a frontend I liked, and actually started writing my own in wxWidgets, until I ran across 3D-Arcade [mameworld.net] . Took a while to figure out how to set it up (and I'm still figuring it out since the config is quite complex), but its nice to walk around in the virtual arcade, pretty cool stuff.

And as a side note, a working 3dArcade set can fit on a 1GB flash drive, and makes an inexpensive gift at christmas. Launches a bit slow off the flash (assuming cheap flash), but plays great once its going.

Am I missing something here? (2, Interesting)

UserChrisCanter4 (464072) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987215)

The author of this review asks, "What if you just want to convert an old (non-working, I hope) cabinet into a MAME arcade cabinet? Lots of information is out there, but where do you start?" Based on the review, the book seems to focus a lot on making your own replica cabinet from scratch.

If you want to build a cabinet from scratch, it sounds like this would be a fine book. If you want to convert an old cabinet, there are much easier solutions. Ultimarc, [ultimarc.com] for example, produces several products that convert standard JAMMA interfaces to PC keyboard and video connections. JAMMA is the standard that arose to allow for easily changing games out in arcade cabinets.

I ultimately ended up with a HotRodSE [hanaho.com] connected to a home theater computer because I didn't have the space for a dedicated cabinet. Ultimarc's products, though, appear to allow for the joystick and buttons on a JAMMA cabinet to connect to a PS/2 interface and for the video connector to hook to VGA (refresh and resolutions on arcade machines are different from standard computer modes). They even sell an AGP or PCIe video card that appears to have a special RAMDAC so that you don't have to screw around with getting the weird video modes working.

I've never used Ultimarc's stuff, so I have no idea how well it would work. Assuming it's decent, the formula would be pretty simple: find an older Street Fighter cabinet in decent shape (functioning buttons and non-burned screen). They have six-button configs, which seems to be the most buttons used for the majority of games, thus saving you from having to cut holes for new buttons. Street Fighter was also ridiculously common but is old enough that you should be able to get the cabinet for a few hundred dollars if you're in/near a big city. Pull the board, plop in a computer, wire a couple of adapters, spend some time on a nice front end, and it shouldn't be too much work to have a functional MAME cabinet.

In praise of Ultimarc (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988067)

If you want to convert an old cabinet, there are much easier solutions. Ultimarc, for example, produces several products that convert standard JAMMA interfaces to PC keyboard and video connections...Ultimarc's products, though, appear to allow for the joystick and buttons on a JAMMA cabinet to connect to a PS/2 interface and for the video connector to hook to VGA (refresh and resolutions on arcade machines are different from standard computer modes). They even sell an AGP or PCIe video card that appears to have a special RAMDAC so that you don't have to screw around with getting the weird video modes working....I've never used Ultimarc's stuff, so I have no idea how well it would work. Assuming it's decent, the formula would be pretty simple:

It all works very well indeed. I have an IPAC [ultimarc.com] interface, an ArcadeVGA card [ultimarc.com] , a video amplifier and an UltraStick 360 [ultimarc.com] (USB arcade-style joystick mappable to analogue). This went into a two-player six button Electrocoin [geocities.com] cabinet along with a P800, speakers and a wireless adapter for remote admin. The ArcadeVGA allows direct connection to a 15Khz monitor such as the Hanterax 9000 that came with my Electrocoin - no messing around. Resoldering the buttons to connect to the IPAC was easy, and the default IPAC controls map to the default MAME key configurations as well. Top it all off with a MAMEWah front end and my home arcade machine is doing very well for itself.

My only gripe isn't with Ultimarc, it's with the speakers I chose. They have excellent sound quality, no problem there, but they need switching by pressing two buttons simultaneously. I'd like to find some good speakers that can be left in an on position constantly, and will just react to whether power is being supplied or not. All suggestions welcome.

The other thing I'd like is a driver for the ArcadeVGA under Linux. At the moment my home arcade is based on Windows 2000 - the only install of Windows in the house, bar a virtual one I use for running Quicken. I'd like to move over to a Linux solution, but I've read mixed things about the ArcadeVGA under Linux. It works, but there appears to be an amount of faff getting the right resolutions recognised and avoiding that is exactly why I bought an ArcadeVGA in the first place.

All in all though - Ultimarc make excellent products which make refitting a cabinet into a MAME box an entirely straight forward affair. The owner has also been helpful advising me on a few things too. No connection, just a satisfied customer.

Cheers,
Ian

Front-ends were my worst problem (2, Interesting)

Magorak (85788) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987219)

I took an old Street Fighter II box and re-did it as a MAME box a few years ago but for me, I wanted to do more than just the arcade games. I also included NES, and Atari stuff in it as well. I also liked the idea of running some of the well done remakes of classics (Activision's Space Invaders was done very well, as were some of the other remakes).

What I found was that pretty much every one of the launchers/front-ends I found sucked. I found nothing that allowed me to incorporate multiple emulators, and non-emulation apps, into one nice little launcher. Yes, there were some nice apps out there but nothing really worked overly well, and I was very disappointed. All I wanted was a long list of games, each with a screenshot, and a launch button. Nothing fancy.

I ended up writing my own little app which launches when the machine boots, and then kicks off whatever app/emu is required to launch the game.

For me, writing the app was part of my experience, but it would have been nice had I been able to just use something that already existed.

Re:Front-ends were my worst problem (1)

bladesjester (774793) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987989)

If you're doing it in windows, GameEx (http://www.gameex.net/) is pretty popular and a decent front end that has basically exactly what you said you wanted - list of games (which can be split up by console/mame), screenshot, and launch button.

Re:Front-ends were my worst problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19988071)

"What I found was that pretty much every one of the launchers/front-ends I found sucked. I found nothing that allowed me to incorporate multiple emulators, and non-emulation apps, into one nice little launcher. Yes, there were some nice apps out there but nothing really worked overly well, and I was very disappointed. All I wanted was a long list of games, each with a screenshot, and a launch button. Nothing fancy."

Well you didn't look very hard! Most front-ends support multiple emulators, or even launching any other game or exe you want.

Maybe by "few years ago" you mean TEN years ago??

A friend of mine made a MAME arcade. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19987227)

I don't have any links as my friend has not published anything about his experience but making a MAME arcade is cool and completely doable. The only thing is it takes money and time. My friend spent several thousand on the wood, tv, computer, controls, paint, etc. when he made his. He also spent lots of time tinkering and playing with things to get it to work properly. He is working on a second one now with a more complicatedly themed arcade box, better controls, etc. For him, it is a labor of love. He loves spending time in his shop, fabricating things and tinkering. The building of the arcade is its own hobby apart from playing video games.

Anyway, his arcade is really awesome. It looks like a commercial arcade and it can play any arcade game ever made. It can be done.

Ambience (1)

Miykayl (841085) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987233)

I've used M.A.M.E, and it's great. Emulation beats a rewrite/port any day of the week.

The feel is totally authentic, because the emulator executes the original ROM code opcode by venerable opcode.

What I'd hope to see in a book by that title, is some advice on creating the atmosphere of the arcade.

My fond arcade memories are of dark rooms or halls, with black paint or wallpaper. I remember one called "Space Station something-or-other" that had murals on the wall of deep-space.

Back to my point: Suggestions for decorating.

How about a home-theater room that with a few curtain-pulls-or-other becomes an authentic-looking arcade?

How about a 5.1+ audio stream playing through your home-theatre system that generates appropriate background noise? Yes, it's almost like a bad laugh track. But, let's face it, you could have the best single-cabinet ever, and you are not going to capture the arcade atmosphere. Does playing a movie in your living room with an LCD projector make you feel like you are at the drive-in? - Rhetorical, the answer, were it solicited, would be "No. LCD in living room != drive in"

Without regard to the colossal waste of time and resources this would be, it would definitely be pretty cool... DEVO in 5...

P.S. Let me get this off my chest: "Finite" "Infinite" "Definitive" "Definitely"...

Re:Ambience (1)

CarlJagt (877688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987323)

I have Game Launcher [dribin.org] play these mp3s as an attract, but it does stop when the emulator fires up: Arcade Ambience Project [hofle.com]

Re:Ambience (1)

Miykayl (841085) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987463)

Sweet!

Thanks for the tip, and the link!

If the attract track was long enough, and played on another system, it would play all-the-time, and would not sound as redundant as, say a 2-minute track.

Better still, would be to have several tracks of different lengths mixed together. In this manner, it would be harder, after hours in your arcade, to find yourself saying, "I just heard that Pac-Man-Death, which means I will hear a Joust respawn in 3...2...1..."

Best home arcade goes to this guy: (2, Interesting)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987651)

Peter Hirschberg. Take a look at his basement arcade! [peterhirschberg.com]

How's that for ambiance?

My MAME Cabinet (1)

nuxx (10153) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987279)

Here is info on my MAME Cabinet [nuxx.net] , if anyone is interested. That link also includes the control panel template I came up with, info about the hardware, software, an image of the whole OS setup which can simply be dropped on a Compact Flash card and booted, and a bunch of other things.

The cabinet was built completely from scratch, patterned off of a early 90s Data East cab.

Of course, I did this all back in the summer of 2000, so some of the electronics I used for it might be a bit dated. However, I think most of the info is still applicable.

Great MAME cabinet project (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19987423)

One thing still missing (2, Interesting)

obarel (670863) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987457)

Having to pay for each game, and taking pride in spending 15 minutes (or 45 minutes) on a single quarter (or any other coin).

I think it was the fact that I had to pay for each attempt that made me memorise most of Slapfight and R-Type. I've played both on MAME (R-Type on the Wii as well), and I don't have the same motivation. If I die, I die. Press 5 a few more times and have another go. It's also the amount invested so far that can make a difference (when you realise that you've already spent around $100 or $500 on this game, you're not going to leave it now, not without your name on the high score list.

This will never be replicated at home, even if you add the coin mechanism, because you know you still have the money there.

I'm not suggesting that money is the only incentive, and that you can't enjoy arcade games without it, but I do believe it's a big part of it.

Re:One thing still missing (1)

Miykayl (841085) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988571)

If you had more than 1 MAME machine, or even with just 1, but not as fun... You could have little tournaments with your friends for fun. Offer a real-world reward, maybe even something legal! (as opposed to a miniature snarfblatt, which is endangered in its native country of whoozeewhatsia and is therefore illegal to trade)

If you had a board that continually displayed all-time-high-scores for each of the popular M.A.M.E. games, your friends might try in earnest to beat each other and stay on the top.

Again, the purpose, by whatever means, is to create incentive to excel while playing the game, instead of just playing it for 5 minutes for nostalgia.

Yes, yes, of course, you could light someone's pants on fire and require that they hit 80,000 points in Joust before you'll use the extinguisher... But come on, folks... That'd only work once... So we need a better solution.

New Edition??? No, I guess not... (1)

MS-06FZ (832329) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987469)

This book is three years old, man - haven't people seen it by now?

Nice (1)

lusid1 (759898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987519)

John ("Saint") did a great job on the book. Really happy with the way it turned out.

Headline confusion (0, Troll)

cheezfreek (517446) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987577)

Am I the only one who saw the headline and thought "A Microsoft Project arcade game would SUCK"? Probably. Time to get the corporate hand out from up in there...

MAME sucks! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19987591)

And so do you!

Does this really need a book? (1)

pla (258480) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987609)

Most of the "post-mortem" reviews of DIY cabinets give far, far more than enough detail to reproduce them.

Why?

Because this involves a relatively easy task! If you have an old cabinet and can build a PC, buy an X-Arcade dual (and perhaps the trackball), and whip out your jigsaw. Half an hour of work (not counting the PC itself and finding romsets for your favorite games) will give you a decent base cabinet ready to roll. Add another hour if you want to go all out on decorations.

Meh (1)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987701)

It's a laudable project to be sure, but I don't think you're capturing the general chaos of an arcade that way. They always turned Centipede's volume all the way up and put it at the front of the arcade so you could hear it clear to the mall entrance and navigate your way to the arcade based on that. Inside the arcade it was a cacophony of a couple of dozen different machines all going at once, but you could still somehow tune all that out and hear just the game you were playing.

Then of course there's the rule that in any given arcade at least a quarter of the machines have to have controls that are broken or unresponsive in some way. Can't forget that...

Plus arcades had their own unique smell, a combination of electronics, carpet cleaner and sweat.

Finally, I imagine it'd be hard to get the controls of various games just right. For most games it's not a huge issue but it's absolutely essential for games like Spy Hunter, Discs of Tron and 720 Degrees.

I think if you want to go on an all-out nostalgia trip you have to buy a bunch of cabinets (Including 3 or 4 with special controls) and set up a full arcade in your basement or somewhere. If it's still feasible, you should probably snag a couple of pinball machines, too...

Besides being a few years late (2004) (2, Informative)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987753)

I got this a few years ago when I was interested in building my own box (then had some financial problems with this). It was great, especially if you coupled it with their website. They go into the legalities of MAME a bit, but mostly focus on how to built the machine.

I run mame on my desktop, which is ok, but I always (and still) want a spin, real joysticks, a flight stick, and the great old games. I've learned you can put multiple simulators on a machine and run stuff like old Apple II games up to fairly recent PC games.

This book is not comprehensive is everything you can do, but it gives you a great start if this is a hobby you would like to do. Well worth the price. And definintly check out their website. You could easily spend hours there.

FYI (5, Informative)

Duncan Blackthorne (1095849) | more than 7 years ago | (#19987999)

Granted, some of this has already been said, but I'm going to try to cover it all in one place.

For 15 years I repaired arcade games and pinball machines. In that time I must've installed a couple thousand 'conversion kits' to make over an old game into a new one. I left that industry in 1997, but I doubt things have changed much: converting an old game into a new one is much cheaper than buying a whole new game.

* Old arcade game cabinets (with or without working games in them, or even with non-working games in them) can be purchased; similarly, brand-new cabinets, manufactured with installing a new game kit in them are available. It's much easier and cheaper to renovate an old cabinet than it is to try to build one from scratch, that's for sure.

* Arcade-style buttons, joysticks, trackballs, etc. can also be purchased brand-new and used. Common controls like 4- and 8-way joysticks and standard pushbuttons are much, much cheaper than you'd think and readily availble.

* Older or "classic" arcade game PC boards can be had for a song from reputable companies. Most of the business the last company I worked for was buying and selling used hardware. While using an emulator is kinda cool (used to have an Asteroids emulator back in the day), nothing plays quite like the originals. Wiring up most of the old classic games isn't that difficult, most have one single harness connector and require +5 and +12 volts, monitor (RGB plus sync), speaker, and controls. Some multi-board sets are more difficult, but a decent company will sell it used with some sort of workable wiring harness and documentation showing cabinet wiring (I used to generate my own documentation if there was none available).

* Newer games (hopefully, all still) use a standard 56-pin wiring harness, which allows you to switch games as easily as pulling one PC board and installing another, no (or minimal) rewiring necessary. Where I worked, I started manufacturing adapters from the older games to the newer wiring harness standard, to facilitate selling older games to people and vendors that wanted them.

* Commentary on the legality of ROM images: last time I checked, even something as old and ubiquitous as Pac Man was still of great interest to Namco, and they'd sue your pants off if they discovered you pirating them. Piracy of arcade game hardware and software always was and probably still is a big problem for the arcade game industry; I'd see knock-off arcade games all the time. Copyright holders would sue the living daylights out of anyone trafficking in such things -- although I kept a library (past tense!) of EPROM/ROM/PAL images around for repair purposes, and you can likely still download them from the 'net.

A pixellated avatar? (1)

pongo000 (97357) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988023)

No, my friend, you've missed the boat on this one. The "arcade experience" was standing in front of Gorgar [ipdb.org] , with its immense vocabulary of seven words, and immersing yourself in pure physics joy. Other than Asteroids and Galaga, there really aren't many video games that can even remotely hold a candle to pinball.

Although already covered in Slashdot earlier ... (1)

pigeontheory (969456) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988057)

Ok, so this topic of DIY Arcade Cabinets has already been covered here [slashdot.org] , it's always a nice topic to cover once in awhile since now millions of geeks have made their own cabinets (myself included).

I believe this book has been published for quite some time now. I ran across it on Amazon awhile back. The book does go over the legality matters of ROMS and such, but most people will ignore all the "possible" legal issues and still continue to download ROMS. I mean, how many people do you know who have a DIY arcade machine and and claim they've bought all 6000+ games? When asked how they got them, well, the Internet of course. And then that idea spawns others to build an arcade machine and they download ROMS and it'll be endless cycle ... that is, until it finally some hot-shot lawyer comes around and makes a statement that all home Arcade Machines are up to no good, stealing, copyrights, blah blah ...

Atmosphere, indeed! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19988079)

[...] The atmosphere was unmistakable: loud, with lots of activity, and people getting fully immersed and "in the zone" [....]

And the smell... that was in a whole other zone...

It's not a real standup arcade game (2, Funny)

netglen (253539) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988245)

It's not a real stand up arcade game unless it has cigarette burns on it by the player 1 & 2 buttons.

To be truly authentic.. (2, Funny)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 7 years ago | (#19988399)

You need to invite strangers to your house while you are playing, who will annoyingly hang around the machine hoping for a free go.

I know how to recapture the arcade experience! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19988811)

Go to an arcade. Am I the only person who thought of that? There are still a few out there, and if people would un-lazy, un-stupid, and un-cheap enough to go to them every once in a while, they could be saved.

Re:I know how to recapture the arcade experience! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19989005)

suck my un-hard dick, nigga

Nothing can truly replace a dedicated cabinet... (2, Insightful)

TheDarkener (198348) | more than 7 years ago | (#19989605)

I own a Double Dragon arcade cabinet and am in the process of restoring it... For the ones who truly want to re-live the 'good old days', especially with a favorite game, you can't beat a dedicated cabinet (READ: *not* MAME).

The reason is simple: You get the cabinet's original dimensions, artwork (side-art, bezel art, banner art, control panel art) that was half the reason you loved the game in the first place. There was nothing like scanning an arcade for your favorite game and seeing it, all lit up, ready for you to pump in a few quarters.

TARDIS MAME cabinet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19990067)

This one is cool.

http://www.asciimation.co.nz/tardis [asciimation.co.nz]

In a geeky sort of way.

For the lazy ones... (1)

grumbel (592662) | more than 7 years ago | (#19990747)

While we are at the topic of arcade cabinets, does anybody have a good recommendation for an simple arcade stick for those that just want to play games on their PC without building their own cabinet?
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