MAME Layout Scripting

Introduction

MAME layout files can embed Lua script to provide enhanced functionality. Although there’s a lot you can do with conditionally drawn components and parameter animation, some things can only be done with scripting. MAME uses an event-based model. Scripts can supply functions that will be called after certain events, or when certain data is required.

Layout scripting requires the layout plugin to be enabled. For example, to run BWB Double Take with the Lua script in the layout enabled, you might use this command:

mame -plugins -plugin layout v4dbltak

If you may want to add the settings to enable the layout plugin to an INI file to save having to enable it every time you start a system.

Practical examples

Before diving into the technical details of how it works, we’ll start with some example layout files using Lua script for enhancement. It’s assumed that you’re familiar with MAME’s artwork system and have a basic understanding of Lua scripting. For details on MAME’s layout file, see MAME Layout Files; for an introduction to Lua scripting in MAME, see Scripting MAME via Lua; for detailed descriptions of MAME’s Lua classes, see MAME Lua Class Reference.

Espial: joystick split across ports

Take a look at the player input definitions for Espial:

PORT_START("IN1")
PORT_BIT( 0x01, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_START1 )
PORT_BIT( 0x02, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_START2 )
PORT_BIT( 0x04, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_JOYSTICK_LEFT )  PORT_8WAY PORT_COCKTAIL
PORT_BIT( 0x08, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_JOYSTICK_RIGHT ) PORT_8WAY PORT_COCKTAIL
PORT_BIT( 0x10, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_JOYSTICK_UP )    PORT_8WAY PORT_COCKTAIL
PORT_BIT( 0x20, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_JOYSTICK_DOWN )  PORT_8WAY
PORT_BIT( 0x40, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_JOYSTICK_DOWN )  PORT_8WAY PORT_COCKTAIL
PORT_BIT( 0x80, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_BUTTON2 ) PORT_COCKTAIL

PORT_START("IN2")
PORT_BIT( 0x01, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_UNKNOWN )
PORT_BIT( 0x02, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_COIN1 )
PORT_BIT( 0x04, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_UNKNOWN )
PORT_BIT( 0x08, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_JOYSTICK_RIGHT ) PORT_8WAY
PORT_BIT( 0x10, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_JOYSTICK_UP )    PORT_8WAY
PORT_BIT( 0x20, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_BUTTON1 ) PORT_COCKTAIL
PORT_BIT( 0x40, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_BUTTON1 )
PORT_BIT( 0x80, IP_ACTIVE_HIGH, IPT_JOYSTICK_LEFT )  PORT_8WAY

There are two joysticks, one used for both players on an upright cabinet or the first player on a cocktail cabinet, and one used for the second player on a cocktail cabinet. Notice that the switches for the first joystick are split across the two I/O ports.

There’s no layout file syntax to build the element state using bits from multiple I/O ports. It’s also inconvenient if each joystick needs to be defined as a separate element because the bits for the switches aren’t arranged the same way.

We can overcome these limitations using a script to read the player inputs and set the items’ element state:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<mamelayout version="2">

    <!-- element for drawing a joystick -->
    <!-- up = 1 (bit 0), down = 2 (bit 1), left = 4 (bit 2), right = 8 (bit 3) -->
    <element name="stick" defstate="0">
        <image state="0x0" file="stick_c.svg" />
        <image state="0x1" file="stick_u.svg" />
        <image state="0x9" file="stick_ur.svg" />
        <image state="0x8" file="stick_r.svg" />
        <image state="0xa" file="stick_dr.svg" />
        <image state="0x2" file="stick_d.svg" />
        <image state="0x6" file="stick_dl.svg" />
        <image state="0x4" file="stick_l.svg" />
        <image state="0x5" file="stick_ul.svg" />
    </element>

    <!-- we'll warn the user if the layout plugin isn't enabled -->
    <!-- draw only when state is 1, and set the default state to 1 so warning is visible initially -->
    <element name="warning" defstate="1">
        <text state="1" string="This view requires the layout plugin." />
    </element>

    <!-- view showing the screen and joysticks on a cocktail cabinet -->
    <view name="Joystick Display">
        <!-- draw the screen with correct aspect ratio -->
        <screen index="0">
            <bounds x="0" y="0" width="4" height="3" />
        </screen>

        <!-- first joystick, id attribute allows script to find item -->
        <!-- no bindings, state will be set by the script -->
        <element id="joy_p1" ref="stick">
            <!-- position below the screen -->
            <bounds xc="2" yc="3.35" width="0.5" height="0.5" />
        </element>

        <!-- second joystick, id attribute allows script to find item -->
        <!-- no bindings, state will be set by the script -->
        <element id="joy_p2" ref="stick">
            <!-- screen is flipped for second player, so rotate by 180 degrees -->
            <orientation rotate="180" />
            <!-- position above the screen -->
            <bounds xc="2" yc="-0.35" width="0.5" height="0.5" />
        </element>

        <!-- warning text item also has id attribute so the script can find it -->
        <element id="warning" ref="warning">
            <!-- position over the screen near the bottom -->
            <bounds x="0.2" y="2.6" width="3.6" height="0.2" />
        </element>
    </view>

    <!-- the content of the script element will be called as a function by the layout plugin -->
    <!-- use CDATA block to avoid the need to escape angle brackets and ampersands -->
    <script><![CDATA[
        -- file is the layout file object
        -- set a function to call after resolving tags
        file:set_resolve_tags_callback(
                function ()
                    -- file.device is the device that caused the layout to be loaded
                    -- in this case, it's the root machine driver for espial
                    -- look up the two I/O ports we need to be able to read
                    local in1 = file.device:ioport("IN1")
                    local in2 = file.device:ioport("IN2")

                    -- look up the view items for showing the joystick state
                    local p1_stick = file.views["Joystick Display"].items["joy_p1"]
                    local p2_stick = file.views["Joystick Display"].items["joy_p2"]

                    -- set a function to call before adding the view items to the render target
                    file.views["Joystick Display"]:set_prepare_items_callback(
                            function ()
                                -- read the two player input I/O ports
                                local in1_val = in1:read()
                                local in2_val = in2:read()

                                -- set element state for first joystick
                                p1_stick:set_state(
                                        ((in2_val & 0x10) >> 4) |   -- shift up from IN2 bit 4 to bit 0
                                        ((in1_val & 0x20) >> 4) |   -- shift down from IN1 bit 5 to bit 1
                                        ((in2_val & 0x80) >> 5) |   -- shift left from IN2 bit 7 to bit 2
                                        (in2_val & 0x08))           -- right is in IN2 bit 3

                                -- set element state for second joystick
                                p2_stick:set_state(
                                        ((in1_val & 0x10) >> 4) |   -- shift up from IN1 bit 4 to bit 0
                                        ((in1_val & 0x40) >> 5) |   -- shift down from IN1 bit 6 to bit 1
                                        (in1_val & 0x04) |          -- left is in IN1 bit 2
                                        (in1_val & 0x08))           -- right is in IN1 bit 3
                            end)

                    -- hide the warning, since if we got here the script is running
                    file.views["Joystick Display"].items["warning"]:set_state(0)
                end)
    ]]></script>

</mamelayout>

The layout has a script element containing the Lua script. This is called as a function by the layout plugin when the layout file is loaded. The layout views have been built at this point, but the emulated system has not finished starting. In particular, it’s not safe to access inputs and outputs at this time. The key variable in the script environment is file, which gives the script access to its layout file.

We supply a function to be called after tags in the layout file have been resolved. At this point, the emulated system will have completed starting. This function does the following tasks:

  • Looks up the two I/O ports used for player input. I/O ports can be looked up by tag relative to the device that caused the layout file to be loaded.

  • Looks up the two view items used to display joystick state. Views can be looked up by name (i.e. value of the name attribute), and items within a view can be looked up by ID (i.e. the value of the id attribute).

  • Supplies a function to be called before view items are added to the render target.

  • Hides the warning that reminds the user to enable the layout plugin by setting the element state for the item to 0 (the text component is only drawn when the element state is 1).

The function called before view items are added to the render target reads the player inputs, and shuffles the bits into the order needed by the joystick element.

Star Wars: animation on two axes

We’ll make a layout that shows the position of the flight yoke for Atari Star Wars. The input ports are straightforward – each analog axis produces a value in the range from 0x00 (0) to 0xff (255), inclusive:

PORT_START("STICKY")
PORT_BIT( 0xff, 0x80, IPT_AD_STICK_Y ) PORT_SENSITIVITY(70) PORT_KEYDELTA(30)

PORT_START("STICKX")
PORT_BIT( 0xff, 0x80, IPT_AD_STICK_X ) PORT_SENSITIVITY(50) PORT_KEYDELTA(30)

Here’s our layout file:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<mamelayout version="2">

    <!-- a square with a white outline 1% of its width -->
    <element name="outline">
        <rect><bounds x="0.00" y="0.00" width="1.00" height="0.01" /></rect>
        <rect><bounds x="0.00" y="0.99" width="1.00" height="0.01" /></rect>
        <rect><bounds x="0.00" y="0.00" width="0.01" height="1.00" /></rect>
        <rect><bounds x="0.99" y="0.00" width="0.01" height="1.00" /></rect>
    </element>

    <!-- a rectangle with a vertical line 10% of its width down the middle -->
    <element name="line">
        <!-- use a transparent rectangle to force element dimensions -->
        <rect>
            <bounds x="0" y="0" width="0.1" height="1" />
            <color alpha="0" />
        </rect>
        <!-- this is the visible white line -->
        <rect><bounds x="0.045" y="0" width="0.01" height="1" /></rect>
    </element>

    <!-- an outlined square inset by 20% with lines 10% of the element width/height -->
    <element name="box">
        <!-- use a transparent rectangle to force element dimensions -->
        <rect>
            <bounds x="0" y="0" width="0.1" height="0.1" />
            <color alpha="0" />
        </rect>
        <!-- draw the outlined of a square -->
        <rect><bounds x="0.02" y="0.02" width="0.06" height="0.01" /></rect>
        <rect><bounds x="0.02" y="0.07" width="0.06" height="0.01" /></rect>
        <rect><bounds x="0.02" y="0.02" width="0.01" height="0.06" /></rect>
        <rect><bounds x="0.07" y="0.02" width="0.01" height="0.06" /></rect>
    </element>

    <!-- we'll warn the user if the layout plugin isn't enabled -->
    <!-- draw only when state is 1, and set the default state to 1 so warning is visible initially -->
    <element name="warning" defstate="1">
        <text state="1" string="This view requires the layout plugin." />
    </element>

    <!-- view showing the screen and flight yoke position -->
    <view name="Analog Control Display">
        <!-- draw the screen with correct aspect ratio -->
        <screen index="0">
            <bounds x="0" y="0" width="4" height="3" />
        </screen>

        <!-- draw the white outlined square to the right of the screen near the bottom -->
        <!-- the script uses the size of this item to determine movement ranges -->
        <element id="outline" ref="outline">
            <bounds x="4.1" y="1.9" width="1.0" height="1.0" />
        </element>

        <!-- vertical line for displaying X axis input -->
        <element id="vertical" ref="line">
            <!-- element draws a vertical line, no need to rotate it -->
            <orientation rotate="0" />
            <!-- centre it in the square horizotnally, using the full height -->
            <bounds x="4.55" y="1.9" width="0.1" height="1" />
        </element>

        <!-- horizontal line for displaying Y axis input -->
        <element id="horizontal" ref="line">
            <!-- rotate the element by 90 degrees to get a horizontal line -->
            <orientation rotate="90" />
            <!-- centre it in the square vertically, using the full width -->
            <bounds x="4.1" y="2.35" width="1" height="0.1" />
        </element>

        <!-- draw a small box at the intersection of the vertical and horiztonal lines -->
        <element id="box" ref="box">
            <bounds x="4.55" y="2.35" width="0.1" height="0.1" />
        </element>

        <!-- draw the warning text over the screen near the bottom -->
        <element id="warning" ref="warning">
            <bounds x="0.2" y="2.6" width="3.6" height="0.2" />
        </element>
    </view>

    <!-- the content of the script element will be called as a function by the layout plugin -->
    <!-- use CDATA block to avoid the need to escape angle brackets and ampersands -->
    <script><![CDATA[
        -- file is the layout file object
        -- set a function to call after resolving tags
        file:set_resolve_tags_callback(
                function ()
                    -- file.device is the device that caused the layout to be loaded
                    -- in this case, it's the root machine driver for starwars
                    -- find the analog axis inputs
                    local x_input = file.device:ioport("STICKX")
                    local y_input = file.device:ioport("STICKY")

                    -- find the outline item
                    local outline_item = file.views["Analog Control Display"].items["outline"]

                    -- variables for keeping state across callbacks
                    local outline_bounds    -- bounds of the outlined square
                    local width, height     -- width and height for animated items
                    local x_scale, y_scale  -- ratios of axis units to render coordinates
                    local x_pos, y_pos      -- display positions for the animated items

                    -- set a function to call when view dimensions have been recalculated
                    -- this can happen when when the window is resized or scaling options are changed
                    file.views["Analog Control Display"]:set_recomputed_callback(
                            function ()
                                -- get the bounds of the outlined square
                                outline_bounds = outline_item.bounds
                                -- animated items use 10% of the width/height of the square
                                width = outline_bounds.width * 0.1
                                height = outline_bounds.height * 0.1
                                -- calculate ratios of axis units to render coordinates
                                -- animated items leave 90% of the width/height for the movement range
                                -- the end of the range of each axis is at 0xff
                                x_scale = outline_bounds.width * 0.9 / 0xff
                                y_scale = outline_bounds.height * 0.9 / 0xff
                            end)

                    -- set a function to call before adding the view items to the render target
                    file.views["Analog Control Display"]:set_prepare_items_callback(
                            function ()
                                -- read analog axes, reverse Y axis as zero is at the bottom
                                local x = x_input:read() & 0xff
                                local y = 0xff - (y_input:read() & 0xff)
                                -- convert the input values to layout coordinates
                                -- use the top left corner of the outlined square as the origin
                                x_pos = outline_bounds.x0 + (x * x_scale)
                                y_pos = outline_bounds.y0 + (y * y_scale)
                            end)

                    -- set a function to supply the bounds for the vertical line
                    file.views["Analog Control Display"].items["vertical"]:set_bounds_callback(
                            function ()
                                -- create a new render bounds object (starts as a unit square)
                                local result = emu.render_bounds()
                                -- set left, top, width and height
                                result:set_wh(
                                        x_pos,                  -- calculated X position for animated items
                                        outline_bounds.y0,      -- top of outlined square
                                        width,                  -- 10% of width of outlined square
                                        outline_bounds.height)  -- full height of outlined square
                                return result
                            end)

                    -- set a function to supply the bounds for the horizontal line
                    file.views["Analog Control Display"].items["horizontal"]:set_bounds_callback(
                            function ()
                                -- create a new render bounds object (starts as a unit square)
                                local result = emu.render_bounds()
                                -- set left, top, width and height
                                result:set_wh(
                                        outline_bounds.x0,      -- left of outlined square
                                        y_pos,                  -- calculated Y position for animated items
                                        outline_bounds.width,   -- full width of outlined square
                                        height)                 -- 10% of height of outlined square
                                return result
                            end)

                    -- set a function to supply the bounds for the box at the intersection of the lines
                    file.views["Analog Control Display"].items["box"]:set_bounds_callback(
                            function ()
                                -- create a new render bounds object (starts as a unit square)
                                local result = emu.render_bounds()
                                -- set left, top, width and height
                                result:set_wh(
                                        x_pos,                  -- calculated X position for animated items
                                        y_pos,                  -- calculated Y position for animated items
                                        width,                  -- 10% of width of outlined square
                                        height)                 -- 10% of height of outlined square
                                return result
                            end)

                    -- hide the warning, since if we got here the script is running
                    file.views["Analog Control Display"].items["warning"]:set_state(0)
                end)
    ]]></script>

</mamelayout>

The layout has a script element containing the Lua script, to be called as a function by the layout plugin when the layout file is loaded. This happens after the layout views have been build, but before the emulated system has finished starting. The layout file object is supplied to the script in the file variable.

We supply a function to be called after tags in the layout file have been resolved. This function does the following:

  • Looks up the analog axis inputs.

  • Looks up the view item that draws the outline of area where the yoke position is displayed.

  • Declares some variables to hold calculated values across function calls.

  • Supplies a function to be called when the view’s dimensions have been recomputed.

  • Supplies a function to be called before adding view items to the render container.

  • Supplies functions that will supply the bounds for the animated items.

  • Hides the warning that reminds the user to enable the layout plugin by setting the element state for the item to 0 (the text component is only drawn when the element state is 1).

The view is looked up by name (value of its name attribute), and items within the view are looked up by ID (values of their id attributes).

Layout view dimensions are recomputed in response to several events, including the window being resized, entering/leaving full screen mode, toggling visibility of item collections, and changing the zoom to screen area setting. When this happens, we need to update our size and animation scale factors. We get the bounds of the square where the yoke position is displayed, calculate the size for the animated items, and calculate the ratios of axis units to render target coordinates in each direction. It’s more efficient to do these calculations only when the results may change.

Before view items are added to the render target, we read the analog axis inputs and convert the values to coordinates positions for the animated items. The Y axis input uses larger values to aim higher, so we need to reverse the value by subtracting it from 0xff (255). We add in the coordinates of the top left corner of the square where we’re displaying the yoke position. We do this once each time the layout is drawn for efficiency, since we can use the values for all three animated items.

Finally, we supply bounds for the animated items when required. These functions need to return render_bounds objects giving the position and size of the items in render target coordinates.

(Since the vertical and horizontal line elements each only move on a single axis, it would be possible to animate them using the layout file format’s item animation features. Only the box at the intersection of the line actually requires scripting. It’s done entirely using scripting here for illustrative purposes.)

The layout script environment

The Lua environment is provided by the layout plugin. It’s fairly minimal, only providing what’s needed:

  • file giving the script’s layout file object. Has a device property for obtaining the device that caused the layout file to be loaded, and a views property for obtaining the layout’s views (indexed by name).

  • machine giving MAME’s current running machine.

  • emu.render_bounds and emu.render_color functions for creating bounds and colour objects.

  • emu.print_error, emu.print_info and emu.print_debug functions for diagnostic output.

  • Standard Lua pairs, ipairs, table.insert and table.remove functions for manipulating tables and other containers.

  • Standard Lua print function for text output to the console.

  • Standard Lua string.format function for string formatting.

Layout events

MAME layout scripting uses an event-based model. Scripts can supply functions to be called after events occur, or when data is needed. There are three levels of events: layout file events, layout view events, and layout view item events.

Layout file events

Layout file events apply to the file as a whole, and not to an individual view.

Resolve tags

file:set_resolve_tags_callback(cb)

Called after the emulated system has finished starting, input and output tags in the layout have been resolved, and default item callbacks have been set up. This is a good time to look up inputs and set up view item event handlers.

The callback function has no return value and takes no parameters. Call with nil as the argument to remove the event handler.

Layout view events

Layout view events apply to an individual view.

Prepare items

view:set_prepare_items_callback(cb)

Called before the view’s items are added to the render target in preparation for drawing a video frame.

The callback function has no return value and takes no parameters. Call with nil as the argument to remove the event handler.

Preload

view:set_preload_callback(cb)

Called after pre-loading visible view elements. This can happen when the view is selected for the first time in a session, or when the user toggles visibility of an element collection on. Be aware that this can be called multiple times in a session and avoid repeating expensive tasks.

The callback function has no return value and takes no parameters. Call with nil as the argument to remove the event handler.

Dimensions recomputed

view:set_recomputed_callback(cb)

Called after view dimensions are recomputed. This happens in several situations, including the window being resized, entering or leaving full screen mode, toggling visibility of item collections, and changes to the rotation and zoom to screen area settings. If you’re animating the position of view items, this is a good time to calculate positions and scale factors.

The callback function has no return value and takes no parameters. Call with nil as the argument to remove the event handler.

Layout view item events

Layout view item callbacks apply to individual items within a view. They are used to override items’ default element state, animation state, bounds and colour behaviour.

Get element state

item:set_element_state_callback(cb)

Set callback for getting the item’s element state. This controls how the item’s element is drawn, for components that change appearance depending on state, conditionally-drawn components, and component bounds/colour animation. Do not attempt to access the item’s element_state property from the callback, as it will result in infinite recursion.

The callback function must return an integer, and takes no parameters. Call with nil as the argument to restore the default element state handler (based on the item’s XML attributes).

Get animation state

item:set_animation_state_callback(cb)

Set callback for getting the item’s animation state. This is used for item bounds/colour animation. Do not attempt to access the item’s animation_state property from the callback, as it will result in infinite recursion.

The callback function must return an integer, and takes no parameters. Call with nil as the argument to restore the default animation state handler (based on the item’s XML attributes and animate child element).

Get item bounds

item:set_bounds_callback(cb)

Set callback for getting the item’s bounds (position and size). Do not attempt to access the item’s bounds property from the callback, as it will result in infinite recursion.

The callback function must return a render bounds object representing the item’s bounds in render target coordinates (usually created by calling emu.render_bounds), and takes no parameters. Call with nil as the argument to restore the default bounds handler (based on the item’s animation state and bounds child elements).

Get item colour

item::set_color_callback(cb)

Set callback for getting the item’s colour (the element texture’s colours multiplied by this colour). Do not attempt to access the item’s color property from the callback, as it will result in infinite recursion.

The callback function must return a render colour object representing the ARGB colour (usually created by calling emu.render_color), and takes no parameters. Call with nil as the argument to restore the default colour handler (based on the item’s animation state and color child elements).