Q: What's a fully-merged set?
A: Let's start at the beginning. Most arcade games use ROM chips to store the data that makes up the game. ROM (Read-Only Memory) chips permanently store the information written on them, unlike RAM (Random-Access Memory) used in personal computers that can be overwritten or lose their data when the power is interrupted. In order for an emulator like MAME to be able able to play those original games, data must be read from the original ROM chips and stored as a software file (also called a ROM image) that can be accessed by the emulator. Each ROM image is stored in a separate file and a group of these files that make up a complete game is called a ROMset. Most efficiently, these ROMsets are stored in a .ZIP compressed-archive (a file that contains filesize-compressed versions of one or more other files) that MAME can open and read when you select a particular game for play.
Greater storage efficiency can be realized when one accounts for the fact that many games are clones are of each other, use the same hardware or share ROM chips. An emulator like MAME is designed to take advantage of this. Often, a 'Parent' game is selected and relationships established between that parent and any clone games or games that share chips with it. Let's take 'Pac-Man' as an example. A complete, fully-merged set of MAME ROMS will contain no 'pacman.zip' file. Why? 'Pac-Man', as most outside Japan know the game, is a clone of a Japanese original called 'Puckman'. Both games use many of the same ROMS, as do many other 'Pac-Man'-related games since the only difference might be some colors or language. In MAME, 'Puckman', the original game, is considered the parent of these games (the reason 'Puckman' was chosen as the parent might not be because it's the original version...I don't know the real reason). Say, for instance, you're using MAME and select 'Pac-Man' for play. MAME will look for a 'pacman.zip' file or the parent, 'puckman.zip'. If it finds a complete set of ROMS in either file, you can play the game.
One might wonder about taking maximum advantage of these parenting relationships; could one open both the 'pacman' and 'puckman' ZIPfiles, copy to the 'puckman' ZIPfile only those ROM images from 'pacman' that aren't already present in 'puckman' then delete the original 'pacman' file and still have both complete games (since all the necessary ROM images are now present in 'puckman.zip', the parent game's storage file)? The answer is "yes" and this a called merging a set. If you could do this for all games that have a parenting relationships, you could save a lot of storage space...but it would be an enormous job to accomplish by hand and this is where a ROM Manager linke 'ClrMAME Pro' comes in.
Q: What's ClrMAME Pro?
A: ClrMAME Pro is a ROM Manager, software that automates the process outlined in the answer to the previous question.
ROM Managers can scan a MAME executable file or a .DATfile matched to your version (a .DATfile contains various information about the ROMs supported by a version of MAME, including parenting relationships) and report what ROMs/samples/etc. you need to have a complete set matched to that version. They can also merge or unmerge ROMsets and perform a variety of other useful functions.
Since parenting relationships can change with each version of MAME (and, indeed, changes may have occurred to individual game ROMsets between MAME versions), one must use the executable (or .DATfile) from the version of MAME you're currently using to get accurate info about how your ROMset matches up to that version. In other words, if you're using MAME version .59 and have a complete set matched to that version...and then upgrade to MAME version .60...you'll need to let your ROM Manager scan this new version before it analyzes your ROMS. The manager will then report what you need to get your ROMs matched up to the newer MAME.
Q: What are the Good and TOSEC database tools?
A: Regarding non-MAME console and computer system ROMs, the collecting scene is still a bit loose but major efforts have been made to ease things for collectors. TOSEC and the Good series of tools exist to try and organize these ROMs by applying a naming convention to them. In other words, say you have a mess of N64 games you just downloaded but have no real idea what you've got. You would then run the appropriate 'Good' tool on them (in this case, GoodN64 ver.09997) and it will scan the games and try to match them to ones covered in its database. It will then rename them and notify you of duplicates, bad files, etc. This makes it very easy to find out what you have and what you need. Many collectors use these tools which makes swapping ROMs that much more of a viable prospect. Now, be warned that Good and TOSEC don't cover all systems or even all ROMs for a given system for the simple fact that are tens of thousands of them...and all this work done to organize them is done by volunteers. But a huge effort has been made so far and they do cover a lot. These tools are easy to find using search engines and though the basic scanners run in DOS mode, there are Windows front-ends (the Windows front end for TOSEC is called TUGID). Basically, the 'Good' tools cover console ROMs and TOSEC handles computer systems, though these "rules" aren't exclusive.
Q: Do you verify your ROMs? If so, how?
A: All the ROMs in all the sets I offer have been verified.
For the MAME ROMs, I use the latest version of ClrMAME Pro not only to verify the ROMs themselves but also the .zip archives that contain them.
Regarding the Good and TOSEC sets, I use GoodWindows with the appropriate database for each set and TUGID for the TOSECs. All of the files for these sets have been extracted from their zipfiles, renamed/verified then zipped back up. This was the most accurate way I could think of to be sure of what I have.
As far as the DAPHNE games goes, (shrugs) I just played them all.
Q: Can I use a credit card or PayPal?
A: You can use credit or debit cards, but not PayPal, sorry. I also accept checks and money orders. At this time, I can only accept requests from U.S. residents.
Q: What brand of discs do you use?
A: Taiyo Yuden is the name of the Japanese company that invented CD-Rs and I mainly use their discs for both CD and DVD recording; it's generally regarded as amongst the best.
Q: I've received the discs you sent and they're unbranded...how do I know they're really Taiyo Yudens?
A: You callin' me a liar, boy!!?? Heh, if you want to be sure, just download CDR Identifier and check'em out; it can read the info right off the CD-R...that's what I did when I bought them.
Q: Referring to discs, what do you mean by "generic"?
A: It may seem strange but, in my mind, "generic" is what you get when buying "branded" media. When purchasing Memorex, Imation, etc. or some superstore "house" brand you're most often getting something that the label company buys from a base manufacturer and puts their name on. The best way to ensure you're getting high quality media is to either ask the label company who manufactures their media (with this info, you can do an internet search on that company's reputation)...or buy a base manufacturer's brand (this is what I do when I buy Taiyo Yuden). IMHO, the best of these are Mitsui Chemical and Taiyo Yuden, both of Japan. Many label companies buy their media from Taiwanese companies whose quality simply isn't up to the level of the Japanese makers. This isn't always the case, however, as certain brands offer premium lines of media that are, in fact, made in Japan...and that's part of the point; with branded media, one really doesn't know who makes it without doing some research. One thing you can bet on is that those 100-pack spindles on sale for $9.99 after rebate at CompUSA aren't the tops in quality.
Q: Can you burn the ROMS to a DVD?
A: Yes, I can. Please see my ROMs page.
Q: Can you send me individual ROMs via e-mail?
A: A good bet to acquire individual ROMs is to post a request in the newsgroup alt.binaries.emulators.MAME
That way, if others need the same ROM they can aquire it at the same time as you.
Q: Do you have anything else...like console ROMS, for instance?
A: Everything I currently have available is listed on my "ROMs" page; I have nothing else that's ready to burn. The remainder of my collection needs to be verified/organized before I'll burn it; when any new set is ready, it'll be on my "ROMs" page.
Q: Why do you accept donations? Isn't that profiting from MAME?
A: I don't see it that way...and I have no intrinsic objection to someone giving me money. As long as it's understood that a donation isn't related to any request I fulfill in the case of burning these discs, I don't see the harm. Opinions vary, however...
Q: Do you put labels on the discs or print directly on them?
A: Sorry, no. I use a numbered volume-label (this identifier shows up in your File Manager after the disc spins up in the reader) when burning the disc and print (by hand) the name on the Tyvek sleeve. If you'd like to have a nice label or deluxe printing I respectfully suggest you check with one of the other burners.
Q: What burning equipment do you use...good quality?
A: CD-Rs are burned on a TEAC writer, DVD-Rs are done a Pioneer DVR-110. For both, data is written using either Nero or RecordNow MAX software; I think most would agree these are good quality components. My computer system is one I assembled myself: dual AMD MP2600+ processors on a Tyan S2460 motherboard with 4GB of PC2100 DDR RAM. 6 Seagate UDMA IDE hard drives, a GeForce 6800 Ultra video card with 256 megabytes of DDR RAM and TV-out along with a 550-watt Antec power supply make up the remainder of the major subsystems. Windows XP Professional is my operating system.
Q: Are DVD-R discs compatible with my reader?
A: DVD-R is the most widely compatible of the various DVD-recording formats. Most standard DVD-ROM drives (over 90%, along with all combo -/+R burners) should be able to read it but there are too many different models out there for me to verify. Really, it shouldn't be that much of a worry but, if you're concerned, I suggest you enter the brand and model of your drive into the Google search box below, along with terms such as "DVD-R format compatible". Or you could visit the website of your drive's manufacturer as they usually have a format compatibilty chart available.
Q: What settings do you use to burn media?
A: For CD-Rs, I use ISO 9660/Level 1/Mode 1/Joliet. For DVD-Rs, I use the hybrid UDF/ISO format with the same ISO settings as used on my CD-Rs along with UDF file system 1.02.
Q: Can you send me (insert MAME executable here) along with the ROMS?
A: Sorry, no. MAME on its own, without the ROMS, can't really do much and the ROMS without an emulator can't do anything but take up space. Put them together and you have a complete package. Distribute that package and you're asking for legal difficulties. The MAME development team wisely insists that the two not be distributed together and that's enough for me.
Q: How do you arrive at your postage costs?
Admittedly not a perfect solution and the amounts my script comes up with are not exact, but it's the best I can do without putting in a ton of work.
Q: Which operating systems can read these discs?
A: The discs were burned under Windows XP, so no problem there. A user has reported that the discs can be read under Mac OSX and Linux but some work is required for certain sets. The MAME discs are the most compatible simply because all file and folder names adhere to the old 8+3 character naming rule ("commando.zip", for example). Other sets, however, use longer file and folder names (MUCH longer in the case of some filenames) and these can cause difficulties. Also, atypical characters are sometimes used and this can also be troublesome; for example, my folder 'GoodNES [0.999]' appears in Linux as 'goo_0001.010'. These things aside, however, the data should ultimately be readable from my discs under those operating systems...but it will require specific working knowledge of the OSes that I, unfortunately, do not possess.
Q: Can you recommend emulators for the other sets besides MAME and DAPHNE?
A: I usually avoid making recommendations of this nature for the simple fact that, while MAME and DAPHNE are very well developed, many other emulators are not...and with the variety of operating systems out there coupled with the variations in the quality of different computer systems, what works perfectly well on my systems may not be successful on someone else's (and vice versa). The best I can do is to to point anyone to the place where I download the various emulators I use: zophar.net. There are links to many emus at that site and I suggest to anyone that they select the one best suited to their needs/equipment. Perhaps even try more than one.
Q: I noticed the codes in the names of many of the console ROMs. Do you have a legend that tells what they stand for?
A: Yes, right here.
Q: Can you burn sets to CD-R rather than DVD-R?
A: Sorry, but for the foreseeable future, I'll doing DVDs only. The last set I was offering on CD-R was the MAME .76 set which, at around 16 gigabytes, got to be just too much for me to continue doing on CD. As of this writing (Nov. 2003) there are still some burners doing MAME on CD-R and, if you don't have a DVD drive yet or otherwise want a set on CD-R, I respectfully suggest you check the Lazarus list for burners who can help you.
Q: Can I read the DVD-Rs in my CD-RW drive?
A: I've never heard of CD-RW drive that can read DVD discs...which doesn't necessarily mean there isn't one. I would do an internet search of the CD drive model you have to see what it can, in fact, read. I would assume, however, that no CD drive will read DVDs.
Q: I'm having some difficulty with my MAME setup...can you give me some help?
A: I advise you to check out the MAME FAQ:
Pay particular attention to the "Setting Up MAME" section.
Q: Do you accept money orders or checks?
A: Yes, but the check or money order must be able to be drawn from an American bank; my bank charges high fees when they have to draw on a bank outside the United States. If you're a requestor outside the United States and don't want to use a credit card, please send either a Western Union or Traveler's Express international money order. You could also do a postal money order but not all countries have a direct postal money order exchange agreement with the United States. A list of those that do can be found here.
Q: Do you ship to (insert name of country here)?
A: Yes. Except for Antarctica, I've shipped things to every continent (though not every country) in the world. Hopefully, a game fan with an Antarctica address will make a request so I can state factually that I've shipped all over the world. 8^)
Q: I want to send you my own hard drive or discs...is this alright?
A: Sorry, no.
Q: I see you offer MAME set updates for the current and previous version; can I get earlier updates?
A: If, for instance, you wanted the update just prior to the ones offered on my "ROMS" page, this may be possible, depending on how busy I am at the time in question. But I sometimes get requests, for example, that ask for an update from version .61 to .82...this I would not do as it's not worth the time it'd take to compile it; in this case, because of the fact that the format for .chd files was changed for version .78, an update encompassing that much of a span would likely be 5 dvds...and the full set of version .82 is only 1 more disc. There are, however, other burners that may offer long updates or even older full sets. You might check the Lazarus home page to see...
Q: Can you burn me custom or partial sets made up of things that are offered on your "ROMs" page?
A: Sorry, no. In order to keep up with requests and not have this service dominate all of my time, I burn strictly from the disc images I've prepared for every set that I offer. The only custom set I've ever done was one for unemulated laserdisc files for possible future DAPHNE releases.
Q: I understand that you don't burn "Space Ace" or "Dragon's Lair" for DAPHNE but could you make an exception in my case since I own copies of a Digital Leisure version?
A: Sorry, but for the sake of consistency, I don't burn those under any circumstance. But I have good news for you; the Digital Leisure versions of these games can be converted for use in DAPHNE using the dvd2daph tool. Find out more here.
Q: My emulator doesn't come with the necessary BIOS files; where can I get them?
A: A French site called "BIOS House" has quite a few; try here.
Q: I'm looking for older versions of MAME know where I can find them?
A: Try here for original MAME or here for MAME32.
Q: One of the chd files is too large to be copied to my hard drive...what can I do?
A: The full MAME set (and some update sets) include .chd files larger than 2GB in size. Such large files CANNOT be copied to a hard drive that uses FAT32 partitioning since FAT32 partitions cannot store individual files larger than 2gb. These files, however, can be copied to NTFS partitions, common to Windows 2000, XP and Vista systems. As of this writing, the files in question are:
b00jaa02.chd located in the "popn" folder.
gamecstl.chd located in the "gamecstl" folder
If your computer has Windows XP or 2000 but the hard drive(s) use FAT32 partitioning, it is possible to convert them to NTFS so they can accept these files. I will not go into detail how to accomplish this as I'm not advising anyone to do it, merely stating that it can be done.
Q: You burned a MAME set for me some time ago; how do I know which version it's for?
A: Pop the last disc into your DVD player and open Windows Explorer. Next to the DVD's drive letter will be the volume label of the disc...it'll be something like "MAME98D7". The number right after "MAME" is the version number of the set.
Q: Can you offer a family-friendly version of the MAME set that excludes things like adult and gambling games?
A: Sorry, not at this time. But here's a link to a utility that will help you remove such things from your set.
All your base are belong to us