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I was talking a bit on Discord about how to handle analogue DRM, like codewheels and manual lookups and such. These are basically too large to document entirely in the usage field in a softlist, but without them the software will be unusable.

So I asked the question if these should be included in the softlists, and it seems the consensus is no. I can understand that, as they're not software, but I don't think they should be left to some manual webpages on the internet to document. These pages will rot as we all know they do.

I was linked this discussion and as far as I can tell, the thing to do is to create some thing like a softlist but for auxillary files. But no one seems to want to work on it.

Well, I don't mind working on it. So I think we need some discussion about what exactly this system needs to do and how it should work, hence this thread.

One thing I would like to avoid for a start is relying on external sources like archive.org or something. We need to have a hash-based system where we can store these files locally.
That's optimistic of you, my takeaway from the linked "discussion" is that we don't want anything to do with metadata that isn't directly applicable to making the software run.
Okay then. So it's dead before even talking about it.
I still feel ignoring it is entirely irresponsible.

Sometimes it's important to step up.
One somewhat ambitious idea I just had about protection manuals/code sheets is to process them as external artwork through custom layouts, with Lua scripts that automatically display whichever page is requested at the moment the game requests it.
AJR: that's cool, but it's also exactly the endless hole of work that Vas warned about.

A lot of this seems more like stuff MobyGames should be doing, but they aren't AFAIK.
Vas Crabb already pointed it out in the original discussion but this is not emulation related. You want to preserve what is ancillary work to proper video games. And actually there are already such projects like the various MAME EXTRAs, the more stable one being what is provided by Antopisa at progetto-SNAPS.

Within MAME itself, you already got to see some arcade cabinet graphical layouts associated with arcade games. This is already quite out of line with proper machine emulation.
Moreover, what you describe isn't only what's missing. I mean MAME is missing information about how to launch games on old computers. If you never used a particular old computer at the time, it's impossible to launch a game on it without going to fetch third-party information about what were the common commands of the internal command line interpreter.

MAME do have an internal UI that can display those MAME EXTRAs since at least 2016-2017, maybe some people could lead and curate a standard set of MAME EXTRAs the same way it's already done for software lists?
Originally Posted by xinyingho
Vas Crabb already pointed it out in the original discussion but this is not emulation related. You want to preserve what is ancillary work to proper video games. And actually there are already such projects like the various MAME EXTRAs, the more stable one being what is provided by Antopisa at progetto-SNAPS.


Yes, I was going to also suggest that Fake Shemp consider working with AntoPISA at ProgettoSNAPs. While non-arcade hasn't always been his focus, he's done a really good job of embracing it. He already has a arcade manual collection and I am pretty sure he is building a non-arcade manual collection including manual collections for software, which he has already made available in their work-in-progress state.

He even usually has a "hash file" already - he's used to using ClrMamePro-style DAT files to help users validate their collections.

He's not normally on Github, Bannister.org, IRC, Discord or Reddit but he is often available at MAMEWorld Forums and by email.

Originally Posted by xinyingho
MAME do have an internal UI that can display those MAME EXTRAs since at least 2016-2017, maybe some people could lead and curate a standard set of MAME EXTRAs the same way it's already done for software lists?


Well, I am pretty sure we haven't incorporated a PDF viewer, uh, yet... JPG or PNG should be fine though. Not sure if the internal UI can yet handle displaying it mid-emulation execution?. And you'd really need to add yet another UI item category with according path options, etc. and I am not sure how much that would be approved of...

I'd generally approve of a proper team for what's known as MAME EXTRAS (it's typically a lot of lone wolves such as AntoPISA though he has a few helpers he communicates with) but it's typically not formally considered to be a part of the MAME project proper. (Not that that couldn't change but it would require more discussion.)
Originally Posted by Stiletto
Well, I am pretty sure we haven't incorporated a PDF viewer, uh, yet... JPG or PNG should be fine though. Not sure if the internal UI can yet handle displaying it mid-emulation execution?. And you'd really need to add yet another UI item category with according path options, etc. and I am not sure how much that would be approved of...

Well, the internal UI is just an evolution of the initial simple game browser available since around 2007. So, yeah, it does support some stuff but not everything from those MAME EXTRAs.

I personally find this internal UI to have become a bad mix between media F/E and desktop F/E. That's why I started my own F/E that fits my own tastes. But well, this internal UI still gets better with each MAME iterations.

Originally Posted by Stiletto
I'd generally approve of a proper team for what's known as MAME EXTRAS (it's typically a lot of lone wolves such as AntoPISA though he has a few helpers he communicates with) but it's typically not formally considered to be a part of the MAME project proper.

Yes, it's not a good thing to have lone wolves handling this kind of projects. I mean AntoPISA never disappointed: month after month, for several years, he has updated his set and still is. But this means that, the day he won't be able to go on, it'll become a dead project...

For all the video previews, he's not alone and works with motoschifo. There may be other people with who he works on those Italian forums. It would be a good thing to get his point of view on the question.
Originally Posted by xinyingho
There may be other people with who he works on those Italian forums. It would be a good thing to get his point of view on the question.


Yes, for all I know, he's built up a little team of his own.

Oh, before I forget - AntoPISA has a DAT file (somewhat structured text) for mainly arcade games that need extra steps in game initialization. It's at http://www.progettosnaps.net/gameinit/ and MAME's internal frontend supports it, plus a few external frontends. To reorient this idea towards software lists would require some frontend work too, and probably a fork of his project, though maybe he'd be willing to help.

His software manual collections are at http://www.progettosnaps.net/softwareresources/
DAT files (hash files) are available from there and also http://www.progettosnaps.net/dats/

[EDIT] For what it's worth, I'm not sure how his collections differ from "MAME EXTRAS", I'm not certain that they do.
Originally Posted by xinyingho
I mean MAME is missing information about how to launch games on old computers. If you never used a particular old computer at the time, it's impossible to launch a game on it without going to fetch third-party information about what were the common commands of the internal command line interpreter.
I think that already goes in the softlists, as an initial comment (not sure if it's in all of them).
I don’t want to see this stuff permanently lost, but I’m making an executive decision and saying that curating it is out of scope for MAME. We’re already thin on the ground, and we need to focus on stuff we actually have the skills and resources to do. That’s mostly emulation. Someone else needs to step up, create a project, and organise the people to do it.

Software lists do have usage information in them, but it isn’t displayed anywhere useful in MAME’s internal UI. I think we’re hoping external UIs can display it. I know that’s less than ideal.
Oh, I didn't know that there was also this kind of information in the softlists. I'll dig a bit deeper into them to see what else they may hide smile
Originally Posted by Vas Crabb
Software lists do have usage information in them, but it isn’t displayed anywhere useful in MAME’s internal UI. I think we’re hoping external UIs can display it. I know that’s less than ideal.


Messui / Mameui has had Usage information in the "SW Items" for a few years. I had assumed that other frontends may also have the info, but perhaps not.

From 0.221, you can also view Usage info in the Newui. The advantage of this is you can call it up as you need, step by step, while the emulation is running. It might be possible (and preferable) for a skilled person to add the same thing to Mame's tab menu. At least with that you would have space for a whole screen of information, where NewUI/ Messui/ Mameui only have a single line.
Originally Posted by Stiletto

Well, I am pretty sure we haven't incorporated a PDF viewer, uh, yet... JPG or PNG should be fine though. Not sure if the internal UI can yet handle displaying it mid-emulation execution?. And you'd really need to add yet another UI item category with according path options, etc. and I am not sure how much that would be approved of...


Messui / Mameui / Arcade can open PDF files at the machine level, by right-clicking on the machine name and choosing "Read the PDF Manual". This opens the PDF in a new window with your preferred reader, so that you can refer to it while you play the game.

The downside of all this (and it's a big downside), is that there's no similar facility for software items. Maybe something for the future.
There's currently some ongoing efforts to scan assets/manuals and upload them to archive.org in great resolutions... which are a bit scattered all over the place since there's no official hub that encloses all of them. Examples including:

https://archive.org/details/videogamescanningcollective
https://archive.org/search.php?query=vgpc%20scans
https://archive.org/details/@hubz
https://archive.org/details/@almagno
https://archive.org/details/@mikerochip?and%5B%5D=scans
https://archive.org/details/computermanuals
https://archive.org/details/@iceknight?&and[]=subject%3A%22VGSC%22 :P

Now this is some wishful thinking but, since the Internet Archive is already using MAME for embedded emulation, perhaps they'd be willing to help with sorting out these things a bit for some kind of possible official integration, maybe?
There is a similar project for Musicbrainz, so it's not impossible. https://coverartarchive.org/
Just noticed that somebody else at the Gaming Alexandria Discord was asking for help with something similar, a few days ago:
Quote
billybob123
Thank you . Is there a list somewhere on the site that shows all the games done (manuals and covers) and what ones still need to be scanned on a per platform basis? @Larsenv
Or what website does everyone use here to catalogue the game manuals of each game

Larsenv
@billybob123 We don't have manuals, but if you make an account you can search for missing artwork
As for manuals, some should be on Nintendo's site and you can use the instruction manual embedded

billybob123
ah sorry , thats why I joined this channel. I wanted to find a project that tried to preserve video game manuals since no database I've found has fully tackled that project, only covers

Hubz
@billybob123 Yeah i don't know of any either sadly. Screenscraper does take them up to 25MB i think, or at least that used to be their limit.
Launchbox doesn't either :frowning:
(reminds me someday i need to clean up and upload the covers to launchbox)

billybob123
Hahha yeah I actually came from Launchbox. I've been helping them a lot with their database
but no one cares about manuals preservation. Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense
because for game collecting, people want the manuals right up after the original box/cover art


I've sent him a link to this topic.
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