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The Purpose of this Guide is to alleviate the pressure of many questions about how to get Mame working in GameEx. There seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding Mame and how to get it setup in GameEx. Unfortunately this confusion has led some to blame GameEx and look elsewhere. So here is a guide to get you up and running with a simplified Mame setup.

First, if you’ve been directed here, don’t feel bad. Everyone needs some help getting started in this hobby and Mame is a different kind of emulator. Don't give up on GameEx. I doubt that there is any problem with GameEx itself, and it certainly can work for you. However, before getting things setup in GameEx you must have a working Emulator (Mame in this case). Remember, GameEx is nothing more than a fronted that launches your emulator. If the emulator doesn't work because you haven't set it up correctly, GameEx does exactly what it’s supposed to do, try to launch it. Of course it fails to load a game because the emulator is not setup correctly.

To eliminate the variables, please make a simplified test installation.

MAME Setup:

  1. Create a folder called Mame on your C:\ drive (C:\Mame). You can technically put this anywhere you want, however for the sake of simplicity place it on the C:\ drive for now. Once you have a working Mame setup in GameEx, you can move it wherever you want as long as you tell GameEx where to find it. We'll get to that later...
  2. Find the version of mame your ROMs were created for, not the ROM version (which has to do with the game version, not mame). This is very important because MAME ROMs are specific to a given version of MAME. The MAME Devs not only make changes to the emulator, but also to the ROMs. While most ROMs don't change from version to version, some do. The greater the difference between the version of MAME your ROMs were created for and the version of MAME you try to run them in, the greater the likelihood that they wont work. So if you get a 0.161 ROMset, get MAME v0.161 to ensure all your ROMs are made for that version of MAME. Also, some ROMs require a system BIOS (neogeo roms) and/or a CHD (Area51, NFL Blitz, and etc.) to run. Some games simply are not supported in MAME yet or as of the version you’re running. Problems related to non-working ROMs or missing BIOS/CHDs are situations that have nothing to do with GameEx. When it comes to finding Roms, BIOSs, and CHDs you are on your own! So don’t even ask! There are abundant topics, guides, and videos on the interweb to educate you. We will assume you have at least the basic knowledge necessary to run MAME and have working ROMs with all needed BIOSs and/or CHDs and any other dependencies (Like Parent ROMs). Otherwise you may be asked to renew your knowledge before coming back to the forum. Note: GameEx can filter out non-working ROMs and prevent them from showing in the list. It also has options to show these. If you set the option to show non working roms and then try to play it, any problem related to that game is not GameEx's fault. Check the Mame Database before posting on the forums that gameex is broken, you may be trying to play a non-working ROM.
  3. Once you know which version of MAME to get, download an official Mame build. Choose the windows binary (for example, mame0177b.exe). This is a self extracting archive which will ask you where to extract it to. Tell it to extract in the Mame Folder you created in step 1. There are other MAME builds available, such as MameUI, MameUIFX, and you can even compile your own version of mame. To remove the confusion, stick with an official build for now.
  4. Place an older ROM like pacman.zip or 1941.zip into the "Roms" folder within the folder you just extracted. The reason I ask you to choose one of these is because they haven't been updated that much and are likely to work with any version of MAME. Also, they don't require any CHDs or special BIOS to run. DO NOT UNZIP MAME ROMS! Mame ROMs are supposed to be kept zipped.
  5. Double click on Mame.exe in the C:\Mame folder. MAME should open and display a GUI. On the default start page be aware that it's displaying all the games listed in the MAME database, not the ones available in your ROMs folder. It you try to play any ROM besides 1941 or Pac-Man it will fail to load. Newer versions at least have a window on the left with filter options. Click on the Available Option. That will display the games you placed in the Roms folder. This option may not be in all versions, however you can navigate the list and find 1941 or Pac-Man manually. Double click the game to start it. If it loads and plays fine then you have a working MAME Emulator.


  • Now that you have a working MAME Setup. You can technically fill the rest of the Roms folder with ROMs verified with that version of MAME. Remember that some games require BIOS and/or CHDs to run. Make sure you have these in the Roms folder too. Tip: If you find a game that doesn’t run, check to see if the rom will load in MAME outside of GameEx as you did in step 5 above. If it doesn’t run, check that ROMs dependencies and status before posting on the GameEx forums about it not working.
  • In step 4 of the MAME setup I told you to place the roms into the C:\Mame\Roms folder. Inside MAMEs ROMs directory would be the best place to keep them from now on since MAME requires them to be there (MAME\ROMs, it shouldn't matter where the mame folder itself is located) for its standalone GUI to function. That way if you ever come across a game that doesn’t work or a problem you think may be GameEx related, you can check it by running Mame outside of GameEx. If it runs fine, then you know it’s related to your GameEx settings instead of your MAME setup. However, GameEx doesn’t require the Roms folder to be in any specific location. So you can place them anywhere you want. Just be aware that if you do this, it can be hard to check a ROM is working outside of GameEx unless you copy them into MAMEs ROMs directory first.


GameEx Setup

  1. Open the GameEx Setup Wizard, select Custom on the first screen, and press the -> to advance to the Custom Select Screen.
  2. Check the boxes next to Display Settings, MAME Settings, AdvanceMAME, and Enable / Disable Features. Then press the -> to advance to the Display Settings Screen.
  3. On the Display Settings Screen set the Hide Desktop option to No and Window/Fullscreen to Windowed. Sometimes these can hide error messages that pop up during the launch process. For now we want to see these in case something goes wrong. Once we have a working GameEx setup you can change these to your preference. Press the -> to advance to the MAME Settings screen.
  4. On the MAME Settings screen set Mame Path to C:\Mame, Mame EXE to Mame.exe, and Rom Path/s to C:\Mame\Roms. Each field has a […] box at the far right that will open a navigation window so you can navigate to and select each manually. I recommend you do this to prevent any typos.
  5. You can go ahead and setup all your artwork paths while you’re here
  6. Scroll down the page to Advanced MAME Settings. In the MAME Options field place -nowindow -joy -skip_gameinfo. These are the default settings. However, if you have a faster video card and newer a version of MAME that supports Direct3D use -video d3d -noswitchres –triplebuffer. You can add additional options here too. The -skip_gameinfo for example skips the game info screen that appears before the game loads and the –Joy option initializes joystick function before loading so that your controller will be recognized in MAME. I use -joy -skip_gameinfo -video d3d -noswitchres -triplebuffer for example. For now though, stick with the defaults.
  7. Still under Advanced MAME Settings set Only working Games to Yes. This is the option that will filter non-working ROMs from displaying in GameEx. If you set this to No and try to play a game that's not supported in MAME, it will fail to load. That's not GameEx's fault, Also set Allow Imperfect Games to Yes, Verify Roms to No, and Only Existing Roms to Yes. While you’re here, you may as well read through the other filter options and their descriptions by pressing the ? in the far right. Choose your settings according to your preference. Note: If you have ROMs that refuse to display in GameEx, but you know work, you can add them to the Don't Filter these ROMS filed separated with a semicolon (;). Make sure you test those ROMs first though, GameEx usually excludes them for a reason, but is sometimes mistaken. Then press the -> to advance to the AdvanceMAME Screen.
  8. On the AdvanceMAME screen set the Do you want to use AdvanceMAME? option to No. This can interfere with integrated MAME and we don’t want that. Press the -> to advance to the Enable / Disable Features screen.
  9. On the Enable / Disable Features screen set the Hide Update List option to No and the Disable Mame option to No. Then press the -> to advance to the Verify Setup Screen.
  10. Press the verify button to begin the verify process. GameEx will check your setup and see if everything checks out, if not it will highlight it in Red and tell you what is wrong. Look over the list and go back as necessary to make sure all your paths check out. Then press the X in the bottom right hand corner to Exit the Setup wizard. Your settings will be saved automatically.
  11. Start up GameEx and go to the Mame menu. Choose Update List and wait for the process to finish. If you have a full ROMset complete with CHD and BIOS this can take a long time. Go do something for half an hour or so and come back when it’s finished.
  12. Try to load the same game as you did in step 5 of the Mame Setup (pacman or 1941). If it loads, you’re all set. You can change the above settings to your preference (fullscreen/windowed, try moving the Mame folder to wherever you want as long as you tell GameEx where you move it to, try different MAME Options, turn verify roms on and etc). It's a good idea to make changes one at a time and test so you know what causes a problem and undo the last change.

That it. If you still get an error message or MAME doesn’t load, please feel free to post in the GameEx General Forums for help. Remember to read the How to ask for help guide first though. We’ll need a copy of your GameEx.ini config and Log.txt to better assist you. It will show you how to find those files.

Good luck!


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