Jason's Classic Arcade, old fashioned gaming hardware and software

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Front End - NBA Jam Style

Aside from playing the games, of all the parts of this project, I was most looking forward to making my own front-end. I got ideas from the existing front ends out there, like the Emulaxian, ArcadeFX, ArcadeOS, and even the Windows Mame32 itself. I went with Authorware as a development environment, like ArcadeFX uses, since I have access to it where I work and it has the multimedia stuff built into it. I'm not a bad programmer, and I dabble in graphics, so I figured what the hell? I spent $5 a day on NBA Jam one entire summer, with the other co-ops at IBM. (Long lunches) I thought I'd create an NBA Jam-style front end as an homage to not only my favorite game, but my biggest addiction of all time. I wonder if my "JAY" "MAR-9" ID is still there at the Cobb Galleria Center arcade. First off, I scooped the sounds I'd need from NBA Jam's diagnostic mode. The background music itself was not on the menu of sounds, but it plays while you sit in the service menu, so I was able to grab it cleanly from there. jamcoin.wav (Oh how many times have I heard this chime? 4 players, 8 tokens each) jamcursor.wav jamenter.wav jammusic.wav The "Look" of the NBA Jam team select mode, upon which I based my MAME game select screen:
I wrestled with the layout for a while. Some of the names of the games were too long to keep the same 4-column selection. The layout I went with allows for longer game category names in the place of "East" and "West" and dividing the screen vertically instead of horizontally allows for more games to be visible in the list at one time. Here is what I was thinking with the original horizontal approach:
The two frames at the bottom would hold a screen capture and possibly the game flyer, marquee, or cabinet picture. In the end I went with this vertical layout:
The MAME screen capture appears in the righthand box when a game is highlighted. This "Bolster" font pretty closely matched the NBA Jam font:
Bolster (Bolstr.ttf)
(Better right-click and Save-As if you want it, no telling what a web browser wants to do with a ttf file) The main menu lists the categories I came up with: All Games
KLOV Top 100
Simultaneous Play
I have funny pictures of me corresponding to those categories. For example:
Puzzle Games
Fighting Games
Simultaneous Play

It's an improvement over the Mame32 menu, especially when you need to use the joystick to go down 50 games or so. The cursor stays on "More..." so it can be hit to advance a page at time. I did overlook the ability to go up a page at first, so it is a little odd that you hit "More..." to go down a page, but you just move the joystick up from the top choice to go up a page. Left returns to the previous menu.
Main Menu
All Games category
Sports category
I have no attract mode so far, but after 5 minutes the NBA Jam music does stop until another button/joystick is pressed. If anyone wants this Authorware source code, they're welcome to it. It is admittedly quick-and-dirty, and hard-coded to work on my c:\mame directory structure. I would have to remove the registration code for a third party transition xtra I use (From before distributing this, and of course there is no documentation, but from the source code you can see what it is looking for. Perhaps only the ArcadeFX guy has Authorware though, it's not such a mainstream tool!


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