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Once I had a working DOS system I simply used another PC to burn a CD containing DOS M.A.M.E. and any other M.A.M.E. files I needed such as the samples files and artwork etc and copied them over to the hard drive to a folder called mame, then the first thing to test is that M.A.M.E. actually runs, and to do that you need to change to the mame directory with the command

cd mame

then run the game 1943 with the command

dmame 1943

M.A.M.E. will ask what sound card you have but as I hadn’t set it up yet I had to select 0 for no sound but the game should run just fine without it.

Another file I discovered I needed (as with most other things through trial and error when it didn't work) was one called CWSDPMI.EXE. This helps the primitive DOS system to manage its RAM usage better and M.A.M.E. will come up with an error without it. I copied it to the mame folder, though when I did that, M.A.M.E. still ran with an error so I copied it to the root of the C Drive as well and it was fine.

There was another problem though because when I ran a game, the disk would begin to thrash and the game would take a bit too long to run. After a bit of Googling (yes, it's a verb, deal with it, move on) I came to the conclusion that it was because I had formatted the hard drive with a 4Kb cluster size. What this means is that each cluster can only hold a tiny bit of data so to run a game the hard disk has to patch together the data from lots of clusters and it degrades performance. I decided to run my Partition Magic boot disk again and change the cluster size. I changed it to 64Kb and rebooted.

Oops, no dice. It failed to boot after not finding the operating system.

Once again I was regaled with the splendour of installing DOS again. DOS installation and I would become good bedfellows. I came to the conclusion that DOS didn't like 64Kb clusters so changed it to 32Kb and things went swimmingly, after copying M.A.M.E. and its supplementary files over to the hard drive I tested M.A.M.E. again.

This time it was better but still wouldn't set any speed records bearing in mind the hardware, however, once M.A.M.E. is tested and working properly it is time to test the Frontend you will be using.

Once you have your PC inside your cab the last thing you want to be doing is typing in DOS commands to get your games to run, so what you need is a Frontend. Essentially it is just a nice graphical interface that sends the commands you give it to M.A.M.E. and tells M.A.M.E. which game you want to play. Basically your basic Frontend will give you a list of games that you can scroll through using your directional joysticks and action buttons, and when you press a button to select the Pacman game you want to play, the Frontend will translate that into

dmame pacman

for you. High spec Frontends will have nice animated menus and will even play video clips of the currently highlighted game in the list, but on our old DOS system there won't be so many flashy finishing touches but it will be very stable and will run very well on our P3 800.

The Frontend I have chosen to use is a very simple, basic and low resource one called ArcadeOS and it will suit our needs very well.

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