The following is the testimony of an oft-intoxicated retro-gamer, the author makes no claims to the validity of certain aspects contained within this thread by others beyond his control, he is just documenting the story as he experienced it. Also, this bit of golden age retro-goodness is best enjoyed on an iPad, tablet or smartphone while in the process of taking a healthy shit in your toilet (or your neighbors… if that’s how you roll).
Chapter 1: Genesis
And Nicola looked upon his creation and said: I shall call you MAME! And you shall be FREE and given to all so that they may preserve treasures that would otherwise be lost in time.
Fast forward a few years… The Extras torrent is born!
I first inherited the Extras torrent at PD (2007ish I think) taking over for Petr1fied and Rupert as they were the primary uploaders at the time. I do not know who the first person was who created the initial torrent, but I would guess it was Petr1fied based on the fact that he started and maintained the MAME Titles before turning that project over to Mucci. The Extras torrent always took a back seat to the ROMs and CHDs torrents and there was usually a week or 2 that passed after each new MAME release before the torrent was eventually uploaded.
The contents of the Extras at that time were relatively small and consisted of a mixture of both the CORE and ALTERNATES torrents. It primarily contained John IV’s work on snaps, icons, etc… MrDo’s work on cabinets, artwork, etc… Twisty’s work on samples, TAFA on Flyers, Mucci on Titles and Roman wrapped up the .dats nicely for all of us. HitF12 was also a regular while CrashTests’ and later Circo’s vids were separate. As stated above, the Extras torrent was uploaded usually a week or so after the new ROMs and CHDs… mainly because of all the people involved were in the process of updating their respective parts.
Bandwidth back then was a HUGE issue to all of us. It was a requirement as a member that you invested time to learn clrmamepro and join the ROMs torrent at a high percentage to conserve bandwidth. The problems we saw with the ROMs torrent alone was evident… after repeated comments about using clrmame in each new release thread, the percentage of user’s joining the torrent could easily be spotted by us as one of three people: (1) The users that joined at 93.7% and above were the users that scanned/rebuilt/torrentzipped their sets (2) the users that joined at 52.8% were the users that did not scan their set but had a previous version (3) the people joining at 0% were absolute lazy cunts or new users, the latter of which were easily discernable by site rankings.
After a few months had passed, warnings were posted on the front page of the tracker about joining the ROMs torrent at a low or 0%. Many accounts were shitlisted and although a few people told us to fuck off, most were willing to learn. A tutorial was written on using clrmame to scan/fix your ROMs and people were starting to catch on. Like I said above, a few users told us to fuck off, in their eyes this was a casual hobby to them and they shouldn’t be forced to learn something if they didn’t want to… our take was: it’s our site and our rules if you don’t like it leave, if you won’t leave on your own then we will ban you. (Ironically… one of us that was actually the most vocal about conserving bandwidth… never bothered learning clrmamepro and had no desire to… weird fact, but true).
This thread is about the Extras right? So why am I talking about ROMs? Well… as you see the headaches involved in just the ROMs alone… magnify that by 10,000 with the Extras!
Clrmamepro and .dat file creation at the time was not as friendly as it is currently. The Extras torrent consisted of folders/directories that were both .zipped and unzipped and to the die hard collector and frequent user of clrmamepro it was a headache to do the Extras… to the users who recently took their time to learn and scan their ROMs and felt a sense of new found pride in accomplishing learning clrmamepro and wanted to try working on the Extras… well… it just fucked their entire world up!
I remember having private talks with a few Admins at the time (Rupert, MisterWhite and Pooh-Bear) about perhaps holding a class in an IRC channel but that never really surfaced. Like I said… IRC was very active and I was getting PMs from people asking me if I could help them build their own set and some people just “got it” and some people just “gave up”. I don’t blame some of them, especially if conversations went something along this line… OK… point to the directory that you want to rebuild into, now add in the files from the current directory, now add in the files from the new directory… good… now scan.. are you at 100%... good… now move that .zip file into the final directory and delete all the .png files already in there. Now unzip the file and then delete the zip file. NO! Not that one… that zip file stays! That .zip file gets unzipped, that one stays, those get unzipped and deleted, no, those .png files are the ones we want! … NO…NOT THAT ONE! LOL. Doing this multiple times throughout the years for all the new people joining the site takes its toll... believe me!
As the months/years passed the ROMs and CHDs grew to crazy sizes in overall space being consumed on your drive… of course the Extras grew along with them. At the time the site had its regular torrent updaters: Terra_Cresta did the ROMs and CHDs and I did the Extras, both of us also uploaded random arcade sets as they were released. As the extras grew in size, other people started their own MAME snaps, titles and graphical related files as a means to express their hobby and share with the community. Users started sending me PM’s with locations of collections that they thought would be excellent additions to the Extras torrent, and thinking likewise I added them as they came along.
Then an issue arose that no one was expecting: 20,000 files! The tracker would not accept the torrent! The solution was to split the Extras torrents into 2 separate torrents… and the CORE and ALTERNATES were born!
The CORE torrent would include all “official” files needed to fully enjoy the MAMEUI version, while the ALTERNATES torrent included the community based files or files that had not been updated on a regular basis. This solved the number of files issue… but now instead of the clrmamepro nightmare the Extras were by themselves… you now had to do it twice each month if you collected both sets.
About that time dany69 was working diligently on his eXtended version of MAME ([You are not allowed to view links]
) and I started uploading a MAMEXT Extras version along with the regular ones. Dany69’s version was actually my favorite as he was the one that started the whole PCBs, manuals, artwork preview and select stuff. He sadly put his project aside to deal with personal issues and AntoPISA stepped up and continued and also expanded upon things.
A few months passed and the file issue returned to rear its ugly head once again. This time however a different approach was taken… the tracker was adjusted to accept a torrent file that exceeded the normal size. While the tracker issue was being discussed and adjusted by the main coders, I was in heated conversations with a non staff member about his Pinball and Fruit Machine files. ARMAX was uploading them, and although I never collected them initially, we started going into detail about my issue.
ARMAX’s files were being updated almost as frequently as MAME was, however, he chose to .zip his files into 1 .zip file for specific folders rather than leaving those files unzipped. We each had our own mindset on the issue, and in the end both of us was right in his own way.
I viewed the issue as such… if you only had 6 small .png files that changed from the last release to this release, and you .zip them up into 1 big .zip file and then torrentzip them afterwards… you are still forcing people to download 150mb of bandwidth as opposed to only the 6 small files they are missing!
He viewed it as such: it’s a waste of time to have to scan, rebuild, .zip then unzip afterwards when the end user only has 1 file to worry about and that file will get updated automatically each release and he doesn’t have to go to all the extra trouble with clrmamepro to begin with. If the person has the newer files and can rebuild the .zip file then he will join at 100% after torrentzipping... if he doesn’t have the newer files then he will join at a significantly lower percentage and end up with the same result.
About that time the word FREE was becoming heavily associated with torrents (too much in some of our eyes) and ISP speeds and cap limits were becoming a non issue to most of the world (unless of course you lived in Australia… they were seriously fucked back then). Saving bandwidth sort of took a back seat and ease of acquiring files RIGHT THIS MINUTE (as opposed to carefully planning out your bandwidth consumption and mapping out your master plan of retro-emulation domination) took precedence and became the norm.
Also about the time the site was going in a different direction. The server was relocated and new ownership evoked their own new rules. The 20+ of us on site staff quickly became the 5 or so that were handing down the new rules… while the other 15 of us in disagreement pretty much said “fuck it” and all walked out together while replacements for us were being hectically scrambled. (some of which was briefly hinted at here --- > [You are not allowed to view links]
Still working with ARMAX on our issue and adding in new wrinkles as went along, we went off in an entirely new direction and TorrentMAX was born. TorrentMAX is ARMAX’s personally coded torrent creator/editor. Basically… It places newer files at the end of the torrent which helps with piece size completion. About the time all of this was going on and all the headaches and issues in the background was going on the PM’s increased. The amount of intelligent PM’s I was receiving was far and few and the number of “why don’t you do it this way” from the new members was increasing. I grew tired of fighting the bandwidth battle and grew increasingly tired of trying to teach people how to use clrmamepro at the same time users were posting their compliments/resentments over the Extras in general.
Attempts at uploading the torrent became troublesome and I eventually succumbed to the masses and began leaving the Extras (Core) torrent in .zipped file form. This of course caused a 95% positive reaction by the newer member masses. For starters… they never once had to use clrmamepro. The 1 file in each directory was always up to date because they downloaded it over again after each new release. If they wanted a perfect clean copy of the Extras… they deleted the entire set off their hard drive and just re-downloaded it. Hey... it was FREE!
Now… I can’t speak for Terra_Cresta on this one… but I personally was SO WORRIED that I fucked something up after each torrent upload I did that I actually lost sleep over it. Sometimes I would start drinking to calm my nerves before I even began creating a torrent… and you know what happens after 15 beers. The site members who preferred the “old way” were irate with what I was doing… the new members who read one tutorial on clrmamepro that was posted in the forum were suddenly the new experts on everything and weren’t shy about expressing it either. Of course most of those replies they wrote were comical to those who actually knew what they were doing.
I started working on the Extras torrents over here on RomShepherd to keep them going for those few that still collected. Of course, I reverted back to the old way I did them and because of file size issues, that is why you see these torrents are broken down into multi-parts on the tracker. A few MAME releases had passed and I was contacted by a new Mod on the old site to put aside personal differences and walk an Admin through the steps I used to create the Extras as they were not being uploaded since I last did them. I did so because to me it was all about sharing MAME for everyone. In talking, it was expressed to me that the (Core) torrent was all that was needed as the (Alternates) torrent would not be continued.
Well… the Extras torrent has gone through a lot of changes over the years, and I feel that a house cleaning of sorts was in order for this latest release. I am now going to split the torrent into 3 separate versions (to torture all of you… LOL).
1) Core --- > which will contain the standard "Extra" files necessary to enjoy the latest official MAMEUI32/64 build (and most derivative builds as well).
… Even though “official” versions of the snaps are still being maintained by John IV, I have moved those to the (Alternates) torrent and replaced them with AntoPISA’s snaps.
… Mucci last updated his Titles back in v0.145… I have also moved his files to the (Alternates) torrent and replaced them with AntoPISA’s titles.
2) Alternates --- > which will contain all the files for those who want MAME with a different flavor or the collector of all things MAME Extras related.
… the progetto-SNAPS files were removed and given their own torrent.
3) progetto-SNAPS --- > contains all the files created by AntoPISA for the current MAME build.
… even though the majority of this collection comprises the (Core) torrent, this is for those of you who only want AntoPISA’s fine work and none of the others mixed in.
OK then… I’m stepping down from my soapbox and popping open a beer… cheers!