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Old 01-22-2010, 02:51 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 1
Default I'm developing a ROM set Frontend + Launcher

I'm in the process of designing and coding a ROM verification tool + Emulator launcher. I'm coming to the community for ideas of what you'd like to see in a program such as this and what ROM sets to include. My initial ideas include:
  • Check online for any updates in ROM sets and download any available DAT files.
  • Scan and verify files in a local directory against a given DAT.
  • Build a list of available ROMs with as much information as possible.
  • Make this list searchable and sortable based on any available criteria (name, platform, region, flags etc.)
  • Allow user to provide third-party emulators and configure command line launch options
  • Launch valid ROMs from the interface using provided emulators
  • Create a "favorites" list so users can quickly launch their favorite games

Those are just the basics that I'd like to get in the first release. Some more advanced features for later releases:
  • Collect data from popular game websites to include in search (developer, publisher, year, genre, rating)
  • Launch ROMs from within rar, zip, 7z archives
  • Whatever you can think of...

What features do you like in the frontends you currently use and what do you wish they had? I already have a working proof of concept using the No-Intro sets. Some others I'm planning to include are Cowering's GoodSets and MAME. What others sets do you want to see? Furthermore, I'm planning on making the design modular so that I can easily add more ROM sets and DAT formats in the future. I'm thinking of using a sort of plug-in style, so that users can pick and choose what sets to include and download any new ROM set plug-ins without downloading an entirely new release.
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Old 01-26-2010, 09:59 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 106

The only frontend I use is GameEx. The reason I use it is so I can have a 10-foot interface for my games and have it launch directly from Windows Media Center. I like GameEx because it can be made to work with just about any emulator and I can use it with the Media Center remote control. Anything can be launched or exited without the need for a keyboard.

For the most part, this setup does everything I need it to. The are however two shortcomings I'd like to see addressed. First, it would be nice if it had more predefined emulators. Several of the emulators I use aren't defined and as such, I have to determine the appropriate settings to get everything working properly. As I'm sure many others are using these same exact emulators, there's really no reason this needs to be done on every install. The second issue is a cosmetic one. I love GameEx, but it's absolutely fugly and just about every theme that goes with it is as well. I spent many hours building a theme I could tolerate, it would be nice if any future frontends would keep aesthetics in mind.

That said, a word of advice I would give regarding your frontend is to be extremely careful how dependent it is on web services - online databases, site parsers, etc. Nothing lasts forever, especially anything on the internet. Ideally, online resources would only be a supplement to what is already included. This ensures your frontend can continue to be useful long after all of these resources are gone. Otherwise, all it takes is for a couple of sites to go down and your last release could be rendered next to unusable.

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Old 02-05-2010, 01:01 AM   #3
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: West Virginia
Posts: 69

I use Quickplay on my desktops and GameEX for my media PC in the living room. I would suggest checking both of these out to see what kind of features a really good frontend has.

The second issue is a cosmetic one. I love GameEx, but it's absolutely fugly and just about every theme that goes with it is as well.
Yeah, I ended up creating a theme myself. And like 30 batch files to add functionality I wanted (Dual Shock driven control schema, disc ripping/burning, etc).
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