Attract-Mode Support > General

How to set up attract mode on a PC step by step

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How to set up Attract Mode:

   History of computer interfaces in a nut shell (you may skip this if you wish):

     Attract mode is called a "front-end" in technical terms. It can be thought of as a Graphical User Interface or (GUI, gui) for emulators. Think of it this way: The windows desktop is a gui to DOS (well it started that way, but that topic is not what this writing is about). DOS was text based. You had to type and memorize computer commands, or code words sort of speak. You would type them in to make the computer do stuff. A GUI does the same thing it just interfaces differently using clicks of a mouse or trackball. It looks pretty and makes it easier to run your computer. That is all it does.

   All modern operating systems have a command line interface (CLI, cli). You can run your entire computer from just the CLI. However it is not natural, it is not easy, and sure doesn't look as good! Your emulator uses the cli whether or not it has a gui interface or not. This is how Attract Mode gains is usefulness.

    Attract mode works much the same way as a computer desktop does to the command line. Instead of clicking with your mouse and needing a keyboard attached to your arcade cabinet or game machine (e.g. your home entertainment computer) you can use just a joystick. That is the idea behind a front-end like attract mode. It becomes a gui for your games.

Things to know:

Note: you MUST set up and configure your emulator separately from attract mode. Attract mode does not configure any emulators. All it does is make a list of games or systems that you have nothing more!

First you need to download your version that you need. I am going to assume that you have done that or you would not be reading this.

Default keys are as follows:
   TAB key enters the configuration menu from list mode (the main screen). Arrow keys move selector in that direction. The left ctrl key or enter key selects your choice. Esc key backs out to previous menu.
Getting started:
      When you first start attract mode it will ask you to pick a language. Do so. Then it takes you to the configuration screen. Here is where you will set up Attract Mode with your emulator. For this write up we will use MAME. If you have not configured mame you can read this thread to get it working.

At the top of the list you will see the word emulators. Choose that and then you will be taken to a list of pre-configured emulators. Find mame and select it. There you will see a list of items to fill in. We will go step by step through this process:

1. Emulator Name
You can not change this. It is there so you can find this configuration from the previous list.

2. Executable
This is where you will put your path to mame so that you can start the program. Examples:
Windows C:\mame\mame64.exe
Linux /usr/games/mame
MAC OS ex. $HOME/mame/mame

3. Command arguments:
This is where you put any extra switches you want it run you game with. For now use [name]

4.  Rom paths:
This is where you put the path of your roms/games. Examples:
Windows C:\mame\roms
Linux $HOME/.mame/roms (notice the dot there before mame)
MAC OS ex. $HOME/mame/roms

5. Rom extensions:
This will very by emulator. For this write up you may leave it as it is. More then one extension can be used if separated by a semi-colon. (ex. .zip;.nes;.7z) If you do not add an extension that type of file will not be included in your list.

6. System identifier:
This is used in conjunction with the system/source scraper below when using the games.db selection.You would enter your system name here. (ex. arcade)

7. Info source scraper:
This is used to grab information for your list. Press up or down to choose from mame, mess, or gamesdatabase.db. Mame is used for the mame emulator, mess is used for the mess emulator, gamesdatabse.db grabs info from the Internet.  (here we choose listxml)

8. Additional import files
Type the path name of the files. Here you can use any files you want to add extra information to your list. This can be skipped but you will not be able to filter games if you skip this step. Valid files are nplayers.ini (number of players), catver.ini (category), controls.ini (controller types)

9. Minimum run time
This is used for steam games to set a delay. We can skip this.

10. exit hotkey
This can be used to set up a hot key to quit your emulator if you emulator does not close the way you need it to. For mame this can be skipped.

11. Flyer, marquee, snap, wheel and add artwork
We can skip this for now

12. Generate Collection/Rom List (See "My list is blank or I don't have a list: 4. You are using a Retroarch core and do not get a list" for more info if you are using retroarch)
   Press enter here and Attract Mode will start to build your list. The time will vary depending on your info source, how big your collection is, and how much extra information you wish to add. Just grab a cold drink from the fridge and come back it should be done.

13. Scrape Artwork
   If you have chosen gamesdatabase this option will attempt to match your game games with artwork and pull it down so that you can use it in attract mode. (the odds of it being perfect or working very. There are other ways to get artwork.) You may skip this if you wish.

14. Delete this emulator
    use this if you want to remove this emulator from your list

15. Back
    Takes you back to the emulator list (choose this)

Select back from the emulator list (or press esc) to go back to the main configuration menu and again to leave the configuration menu. Now you should be looking at your new list. From here you can press up or down to select a game and enter to start it. Hope this helped you and happy gaming! :)


My list says funny things like dkong or mrdofix or sf2ua:
    You need to make sure that your path to your mame.exe is correct. For windows and mac you must have the full path and program name listed! The examples above are just that examples. You put your own information to your path..where ever it is you have put your mame program! Sometimes in your gui file program you can go to the folder and there is a "address bar" or "location bar" that information there is what you need to put in the executable line of attract mode. Linux users can just put mame no need for a full path. You need to make sure the you have chosen the right info source. Use listxml in this case.

I don't like the parentheses in my list:
    Goto the general option in the configuration menu and then make "hide brackets in game title" change it to yes

Ok the display is great but I am bored of it now:
    Go to the displays option in the configuration menu and choose your emulator from the list. from there choose the layout option. Now you can cycle the list of layouts you have and choose the one you want. Questions about individual layouts should be addressed by the author.

Attract mode does not cover my entire desktop:
   This is set up by default as a safety measure and convenience. Once everything is set up the way you want you can change to full screen. Once in full screen everything is covered and you can not get to any other programs or computer settings! You want it this way so that other people can not get to your computer and mess up your hard work. Go to the general option in the configuration menu. Then go to window mode.

Window - make Attract mode a windowed program.You can minimize it and move and resize it like you would any other windowed program. (Great for trouble shooting and such)
Fill screen - will fill the screen but leave the task bar (or side bar in the case of ubuntu) visible but hide the desktop.
Full screen -will hide everything and make attract mode the center of attention. (If you are building a dedicated game machine/cabinet that is the one you want.)

My list is blank or I don't have a list:
 1. Did you generate a list? (configuration menu. Then emulators. Choose your emulator. Then at almost the bottom you will see generate collection/rom list press enter and wait. Once done it will put you back where you were.
2. Do you have your rom path set up right? Your rom path must be entered correctly or Attract Mode  can't find anything to make a list from.
3. Do you have the right extension(s) in the extension line?  the format is . (dot) extension (ex .zip) to add more than one  extension you use a semi-colon ( ; ) (ex .zip;.nes)
4. You are using a Retroarch core and do not get a list
You will need a REAL mame binary to make the list PERIOD. Attract Mode looks for the mame.exe file to make the .exe file cough up the xmllist file then Attract mode uses that information to build a list. Retroarch cores are not real mame binaries...thus you will not get a proper list from Attract mode. After you do that then you can change the executable back to the retroarch mame core settings if that is how you want to run mame.

I saw a video on (insert website name here) and it had movies and pictures and stuff. I want that too!
     Ok we'll set that up in the next write up. This was basic so that people could understand what they are doing and how attract mode works.

 Links (these are external links!)

controls.ini if anyone knows of an updated one please let me know!


Great work fox. It's obvious you put a lot of sweat equity into this. Great job man...


I have uninstalled and purged the wallyweek MAME version.
I have installed the Ubuntu MAME package
I have tested the Ubuntu MAME package as working

When I run AttractMode I get a black screen. When I click the left arrow I get the seg fault.


controls.ini if anyone knows of an updated one please let me know!

Did you mentioned the above statement due to an error importing controls.ini? Does your import work for controls.ini?

--- Code: ---[Import ..\Emulators\GroovyMAME_1.66\ini\catver.ini] - found info for 30164 entries.
[Import ..\Emulators\GroovyMAME_1.66\ini\nplayers.ini] - found info for 32192 entries.
Unsupported import_extras file: ..\Emulators\GroovyMAME_1.66\ini\controls.ini
 - Removing any duplicate entries...
 + Writing 32197 entries to: D:\Arcade\AttractMode\romlists/mame.txt

--- End code ---

Yes controls.ini should work catver.ini and nplayers.ini as well..they can be used together. Point AM to your path C:\mame or $HOME/.mame then separate them with a semicolon ( ; )

example  C:\mame\catver.ini;C:\mame\controls.ini;C:\mame\nplayers.ini


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