<< Newer Article #160 Older >>


What you may have deduced from the whatsnew in MAME 0.106u1 (assuming you read it) is that some work on the video system was under way. I've been claiming "video system rewrite!" for so long that I can barely remember when I first started discussing it. It was at least a year ago, if not longer.

Ever since I first mentioned it, it has been a monkey on my back -- a giant "everything's gonna break" rewrite that I've been both itching to do and dreading at the same time. It's been clear for years that MAME has needed far more fleixibility in handling things like multiple screens. It's also been clear that my original attempt at a system to incorporate artwork was only partly successful. And there has been way too much interference with game-drawn graphics by external entities like the user interface, which has created a lot of grossness about the way video is handled.

All this was to be fixed with the video rewrite. And if you know me, you know that fixing all those problems is something that I really, really wanted to do. But at the same time, I was dreading it. Why? Well, the biggest reason is probably the fact that it would mean delving back into DirectX programming once again, which is always fraught with pain. Ever since the original port to Windows a number of years back, I haven't had to deal with the DirectX side of things much.

Plus, it's a hard problem, and not the sort of problem that I can easily solve in one-hour sessions over the course of a number of weeks. It's really the sort of problem that requires me to sit down with several days' worth of completely dedicated time ahead of me so I can get "over the hump" of the initial programming work and then spend the more normal one-hour sessions debugging/fixing the remaining problems.

Well, this past weekend, I'm happy to say, it finally happened. Bye bye, monkey. :)

A number of factors came together to get most of the work done, but the most important one (and the one that I have been planning around) is that the missus was out of town from Thursday noon to Sunday evening. Couple that with some vacation time, a bunch of junk food, some musical inspiration, limited sleep, and you end up with a solid 78 hours of geekdom. I think I ended up programming for 55-60 of those. It's all a blur now anyway.

The practical upshot of this is that the core work for the new video system is now written. I had the software-only version up and running by the wee hours of Friday morning, and the Direct3D-based version running about the same time Saturday morning. Artwork of all forms -- bezels, overlays, backdrops -- is working, including more flexible state-based control over the pieces. Vector games use the hardware to render the vectors. Multiple screen support works in the core, and most of the code is written to allow it to actually render to multiple screens/windows on the Windows-specific side, though I'm still at a loss for how to expose the new gamut of options in the limited form of the command line.

In subsequent days, I hope to provide more information about the rewrite, including details on the new layout file format and some of the internals of the new system. For now, I'm just going to list out a few interesting tidbits/side effects that you should be aware of. Keep in mind that although the basic system works, there are still a lot of things left to do.

That's it for now. I'll post some screenshots later, and discuss more details over the next week or two. Again, remember this is all still very much a WIP, but the remaining issues can all be tackled one at a time. The big deal was getting the core work done, and thankfully, that's finished!