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 priority 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 config file at that new location (and if so, change settings using that file)

  3. DEBUG.INI if in debug mode.

    This is an advanced config file, most people won’t need to use it or be concerned by it.

  4. System-specific INI files where appropriate (e.g. NEOGEO_NOSLOT.INI or CPS2.INI)

    As an example, Street Fighter Alpha is a CPS2 game, and so CPS2.INI would be loaded here.

  5. Monitor orientation INI file (either HORIZONT.INI or VERTICAL.INI)

    Pac-Man, for one example, is a vertical monitor setup, so it would load VERTICAL.INI. Street Fighter Alpha is a horizontal game, so it loads HORIZONT.INI.


    Both Pac-Man and Street Fighter Alpha are arcade games, so ARCADE.INI would be loaded here. Atari 2600 would load CONSOLE.INI.

  7. Screen-type INI file (VECTOR.INI for vector games, RASTER.INI for raster games, LCD.INI for LCD games)

    Pac-Man and Street Fighter Alpha are raster, so RASTER.INI gets loaded here. Tempest is a vector monitor game, and VECTOR.INI would be loaded here.

  8. Source INI files.

    This is an advanced config file, most people won’t need to use it and it can be safely ignored. MAME will attempt to load SOURCE/SOURCEFILE.INI and SOURCEFILE.INI, where sourcefile is the actual filename of the source code file. mame -listsource <game> will show the source file for a given game.

    For instance, Banpresto’s Sailor Moon, Atlus’s Dodonpachi, and Nihon System’s Dangun Feveron all share a large amount of hardware and are grouped into the CAVE.C file, meaning they all parse source/cave.ini

  9. Parent INI file.

    For example, if running Pac-Man, which is a clone of Puck-Man, it’d be PUCKMAN.INI

  10. Driver INI file. Using our previous example of Pac-Man, this would be PACMAN.INI.

Examples of Config Loading Order

  1. Alcon, which is the US clone of Slap Fight. (mame alcon)
    Command line, MAME.INI, VERTICAL.INI, ARCADE.INI, RASTER.INI, SLAPFGHT.INI, and lastly ALCON.INI (remember command line parameters take precedence over all else!)
  2. Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo (mame ssf2t)
    Command line, MAME.INI, HORIZONT.INI, ARCADE.INI, RASTER.INI, CPS2.INI, and lastly SSF2T.INI (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]