So, we’re a third of the way through December now, which means the close of another year is drawing near and I was wondering what positive memories people have of MAME progress in 2011.
For me the year started out with a bang, there was a flurry of activity surrounding the Seibu COP emulation, and of course the emulation of the sound on many Toaplan 2 games (Fix Eight, Dogyuun, V-Five etc.) but after that the early promise really faded away. SSV, STV and Megatech improvements were all piled high with the January stuff, as was the initial adding of the Pinball sets setting the ball rolling for later mechanical additions.
In terms of overall MAME core changes it’s hard to see any real overall benefits, there were lots of driver code cleanups, but in the end many of them simply lead to more broken titles, and as a result we’ll likely be leaving the year with a number of significant regressions on drivers which worked fine when we entered it. On the flip side some long standing regressions have been fixed, but when an equal amount seems to be getting broken it’s hard to really feel progress. The majority of real core improvements have come in areas more heavily used by MESS, such as greatly improved usability of the softlists.
Kale has shown a few glimpses of brilliance in fixing long standing problems like the Riding Fight sound he recently demonstrated, improvements to the Nichibutsu text layer protection simulation, and support for missing effects which had gone unnoticed there, but by and large the majority of his noteworthy progress has also been in MESS (Saturn + various Japanese computers)
In terms of added games we’ve seen a bunch of Korean titles such as Candy Puzzle, Penfan Girls, Mr. Kicker and Baryon, the last of those being the Korean shooter from Semicom which I added, the first two being Eolith games which are sadly still silent due to the unemulated QDSP sound system they use.
I guess the thing that really got everybody talking and showing an interest in MAME again was the Cave SH3 board emulation, but unfortunately that ended up being removed again. I’d still put it down as a positive memory tho because it came at a point where MAME was really starting to fade into obscurity, and the only comments about it were rather aggressive ones from people who didn’t like the idea of the emulation of Mechanical machines and recent additions related to them (despite the first step of this process being added in January with the Pinball sets)
A handful of rare things have shown up, Taito’s Galactica, Mama Top’s Birdiy, and some really interesting prototype revisions of already supported NeoGeo games, but again compared to other years nothing that knocks your socks off. I was meant to have one such thing to display here, a unique, groundbreaking title from the 80s, but due to circumstances beyond my control that’s going to have to wait until next year at the earliest now. I guess Galaxy Game *could* be considered one such title, the first arcade game with a ROM / ‘CPU’ based program and all which from a purely historical and technical point of view is very significant but it’s cultural value is almost nothing.
Namco System 22 got some attention, bringing a number of titles closer to a state that could *really* be considered working, but the main issue people still call the driver up on is still present, the pesky Time Crisis helicopter.
There was a lot of work on the HLSL rendering, which for me is no more than a novelty, some people like it however, so it’s worthy of a mention.
From a coding point of view, the main codebase has been more stable in 2011, which makes it easier to pick up and code for without having to relearn everything. For newcomers it gives a better chance of learning how things work. That’s a positive, but the lack of newcomers even with a more stable codebase is still a negative.
I think the negatives probably still outweigh the positives for this year, and I’m starting to get the impression that even within the team it’s more than just me who thinks current policies are bizarre. I see a recent CPS1 submission enabled the CPS changer sets, which for each set is just a single line addition, no real cost and a nice benefit for users / developers alike, they were promptly disabled again because they’re not true arcades.
Maybe 2011 has one or two final surprises left yet, and maybe 2012 will start all guns blazing just like this year did, there’s certainly no shortage of things left to do, or things that could be done easily I can’t really say I’m optimistic at this point tho, there just seems to be a complete lack of talking points, and a lack of progress of the magnitude needed to inspire people. I definitely have one last little surprise myself, *if* things work out, but I can’t promise that will be done for the end of this year..
Does anybody feel there is significant progress in 2011 that I’ve missed? Any personal highlights from this year that you’d like to talk about? Maybe you’re overjoyed by progress in something I haven’t mentioned? (Return of Lady Frog sound?, Support for various Gambling / Medal video based games etc.) I’d be interested in hearing thoughts on this year from other people. We’re talking about everything after the MAME 0.141 release, so maybe Xidy making available several more of the early Exidy ROMs (again in January) is something you consider a highlight (even if it isn’t related to MAME progress directly), I certainly wish more companies would come forward and do that!