Multiple Configuration Files

MAME has a very powerful configuration file system that can allow you to tweak settings on a per-game, per-system, or even per-monitor type basis, but requires careful thought about how you arrange your configs.

Order of Config Loading

  1. The command line is parsed first, and any settings passed that way will take precedence over anything in an INI file.

  2. mame.ini (or other platform INI; e.g. mess.ini) is parsed twice. The first pass may change various path settings, so the second pass is done to see if there is a valid configuration file at that new location (and if so, change settings using that file).

  3. debug.ini if the debugger is enabled. This is an advanced config file, most people won’t need to use it or be concerned by it.

  4. Screen orientation INI file (either horizont.ini or vertical.ini). For example Pac-Man has a vertical screen, so it loads vertical.ini, while Street Fighter Alpha uses a horizontal screen, so it loads horizont.ini.

    Systems with no monitors, multiple monitors with different orientations, or monitors connected to slot devices will usually load horizont.ini.

  5. System type INI file (arcade.ini, console.ini, computer.ini, or othersys.ini). Both Pac-Man and Street Fighter Alpha are arcade games, so arcade.ini will be loaded here, while Atari 2600 will load console.ini as it is a home game console.

  6. Monitor type INI file (vector.ini for vector monitors, raster.ini for CRT raster monitors, or lcd.ini for LCD/EL/plasma matrix monitors). Pac-Man and Street Fighter Alpha use raster CRTs, so raster.ini is loaded here, while Tempest uses a vector monitor, so vector.ini is loaded here.

    For systems that have multiple monitor types, such as House Mannequin with its CRT raster monitor and dual LCD matrix monitors, the INI file relevant to the first monitor is used (raster.ini in this case). Systems without monitors or with other kinds of monitors will not load an INI file for this step.

  7. Driver source file INI file. MAME will attempt to load source/<sourcefile>.ini where <sourcefile> is the base name of the source code file where the system driver is defined. A system’s source file can be found using mame -listsource <pattern> at the command line.

    For instance, Banpresto’s Sailor Moon, Atlus’s Dodonpachi, and Nihon System’s Dangun Feveron all run on similar hardware and are defined in the cave.cpp source file, so they will all load source/cave.ini at this step.

  8. BIOS set INI file (if applicable). For example The Last Soldier uses the Neo-Geo MVS BIOS, so it will load neogeo.ini. Systems that don’t use a BIOS set won’t load an INI file for this step.

  9. Parent system INI file. For example The Last Soldier is a clone of The Last Blade / Bakumatsu Roman - Gekka no Kenshi, so it will load lastblad.ini. Parent systems will not load an INI file for this step.

  10. System INI file. Using the previous example, The Last Soldier will load lastsold.ini.

Examples of Config Loading Order

  • Brix, which is a clone of Zzyzzyxx. (mame brix)
    1. Command line
    2. mame.ini (global)
    3. (debugger not enabled, no extra INI file loaded)
    4. vertical.ini (screen orientation)
    5. arcade.ini (system type)
    6. raster.ini (monitor type)
    7. source/jack.ini (driver source file)
    8. (no BIOS set)
    9. zzyzzyxx.ini (parent system)
    10. brix.ini (system)
  • Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (mame ssf2t)
    1. Command line
    2. mame.ini (global)
    3. (debugger not enabled, no extra INI file loaded)
    4. horizont.ini (screen orientation)
    5. arcade.ini (system type)
    6. raster.ini (monitor type)
    7. source/cps2.ini (driver source file)
    8. (no BIOS set)
    9. (no parent system)
    10. ssf2t.ini (system)
  • Final Arch (mame finlarch)
    1. Command line
    2. mame.ini (global)
    3. (debugger not enabled, no extra INI file loaded)
    4. horizont.ini (screen orientation)
    5. arcade.ini (system type)
    6. raster.ini (monitor type)
    7. source/stv.ini (driver source file)
    8. stvbios.ini (BIOS set)
    9. smleague.ini (parent system)
    10. finlarch.ini (system)

Remember command line parameters take precedence over all else!

Tricks to Make Life Easier

Some users may have a wall-mounted or otherwise rotatable monitor, and may wish to actually play vertical games with the rotated display. The easiest way to accomplish this is to put your rotation modifiers into vertical.ini, where they will only affect vertical games.

[todo: more practical examples]