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Current Release:  arcadeEIP latest release (v0.4.2.0 beta)

arcadeEIP is a custom front-end and launcher I wrote for my arcade machine over a period of several years due to nothing else like it being available. The main reason for writing it was to reduce the amount of "friction" that conventional front ends can add to playing a game. Thus, rather than make a user *always* have to navigate a menu, choose a game, and wait for it to load, I wanted to make the arcade machine *always* immediately playable--more like the way a real arcade machine works--while still supporting game switching as desired.
The answer to this was two-fold:  First, make the operation "game-first" rather than "menu-first". Thus, in arcadeEIP there is always a live game running in its *native* attract mode while in standby, This game can be made to change periodically, but the key is that whatever game you see on the screen is always immediately playable by just dropping in a token and/or pressing the start button, just like real arcade machines. 

Second, when a user "exits" a game, rather than having to wait for the game to literally exit and then enter another menuing environment, a game selection menu is instead *immediately* shown as an overlay over the current game.  When the user selects a new game from this menu, arcadeEIP then exits the current game and loads the new one in a single step, making the game switching experience more like changing channels than changing a DVD.  In fact, one does not even need to use this menu to switch games since games can also be hot-switched directly by using an Elgato Streamdeck, dedicated control panel buttons, or even a phone.

arcadeEIP can be used stand-alone; however, it also has integrated support for LaunchBox, enabling you to use LB as a scraper/content manager for its game lists, images, and metadata. You can also pair it with a conventional Front End like BigBox so that arcadeEIP's hot game switching, game-first standby, AND access to a conventional graphical front end can be integrated together to get the best of all worlds (that's actually the way I use it).

A short overview of arcadeEIP's fuller list of features includes:

  • Instant gameplay in standby.
  • Hot game switching via an overlay menu or button device;
  • A launcher for all your games in most emulators;
  • Standard front end features including run before/after apps, support for loading custom control panel profiles, etc.
  • Support for custom lists, metadata, favorites, and star-ratings;
  • Support for manual entry of high scores and the taking of high score screenshots.
  • Display of images such as control panel maps and mame history/mameinfo text on pause;
  • Game startup and exit screens;
  • Native support for multiple parallel versions of emulators such as MAME;
  • Dynamic marquee monitor support with optional display of high scores on the marquee;
  • A custom rules engine;
  • Easy command line game launching.
  • All coded in AHK 2.0 and published on GitHub for easy customizability..

Here is a video explaining how it can be integrated with LaunchBox/BigBox and showing a few of its features (note, however, that these videos are getting old and do not reflect the latest functionality. Please see the docs, and hopefully I'll have some time to updating these videos sometime in the near future).


Updated 1/11/2022 ( A small update including some bug fixes  in BigBox  support and an enhancement for high scores.  See update.txt.
Updated 1/13/2022 ( Important update that adds support for images (like control maps) on pause, and a fix for missing icons in game menu.  See update.txt.
Updated 2/9/2022 (  Major update with support for more information on pause, improved Elgato Stream Deck support, and critical bug fixes.
Updated 2/16/2022 (  Important update with full support for the Elgato Stream Deck.  See the following video demonstration.
Updated 5/17/2022 ( Major update. Please do a full/from scratch install for this version since much has changed. See update.txt for details.
Updated 7/4/2022 ( Hotfix. Fixed discrete menu toggle keys ( = and - keys now work again ).
Updated 2/16/2023 ( Hotfix. A couple small bug fixes.
Updated 2/28/2023 ( Small feature update. Added discrete quit_key= setting for improved Stream Deck support.
Updated 5/19/2023 ( Ported AHK code from 1.1 to 2.0. Moved source and binary releases to GitHub. See GitHub link below for more information.
Updated 5/24/2023 ( Hotfix: Added missing icon files to ..\Resources\Icons needed for marking favorites and star ratings.
Updated 7/11/2023 ( Feature and Documentation update. Added volume normalization, game lock, better LEDBlinky support, bug/doc fixes. 
Updated 1/28/2024 ( Major update with many bug and stability fixes, the additon of manual high score entry, better hot switching, many quality of life changes, etc.
Updated 3/19/2024 ( Major release. Stability fixes, XInput, Scorecard improvements, MAME pre-filtering, Favorites/Star-Ratings import



Current Release:  https://github.com/gildahl/arcadeEIP/release
Documentation:  https://github.com/gildahl/arcadeEIP/wiki
Discussion: Here on the LaunchBox fourns, ArcadeControls.com, or GitHub discussions



Edited by Gildahl
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Just released:  arcadeEIP v. beta (see original post at top for link).

This is a fairly major update that adds support for multiple images types (including custom types) and display of history.xml/mameinfo.dat text on pause. Beyond this there are critical bug fixes (some long standing), some polishing activity on existing features, and the addition of hotstring support for direct-launch making integration with Stream Deck much easier.  If you happen to have tried out this software previously, it is highly recommended to do a complete fresh install at this point, and let me know if you find any issues or have any suggestions.

I've also added a new video for first time users that walks through the installation process documented in "MAME Quick Start.txt", which happens to also demonstrate some of the newest features. 


Edited by Gildahl
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Another fairly substantial update. This one is focused on bringing full practical support for the Elgato Stream Deck to arcadeEIP.  This has been done through the addition of hot strings, discrete menu control hotkeys, better stability to the direct-switch code, and updates to the documentation specific to configuring arcadeEIP to work with the Stream Deck.  This includes both USB hardware versions (recommended) and mobile versions.

tl;dr:  If you want to be able to choose games without ever visiting an on-screen menu, this will do that.  

Here's a video demonstration.  See the docs for more information on how to configure. 



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New version recently released ( -- see original post for link. IMPORTANT: A clean install is required with this new version due to new features and substantial changes to many configuration items. See update.txt for details.  Here's a short list of improvements.

  • Added support for interface sound (see sound.txt).
  • Overhauled list management. Added favorites, star ratings, and additional metadata.
  • Tighter integration with LaunchBox making it simple to use LB as a content manager for arcadeEIP.
  • Some graphical improvements.
Edited by Gildahl
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  • 5 months later...

Really love this and am trying to get this to work with Lauchbox/Bigbox but having problems. I built an arcade with stream deck but not quite finished so i am running this on my pc to get used to it. It doesn't see my seed rom or my emulator, i had it working at one time to see the emulator but it can't find my roms. Im not the smartest person in the world but this has me stumped. Used the same path that my launchbox showed for emulator but still no luck. I installed this on an ssd and am putting everything on that for testing.

EDIT: Finally got things figured out so far, I did not have the roms placed in my mame emulator folder for EIP to work standalone.

The Journey Continues....

EDIT: Im getting everything going but have noticed one thing. When I use the menu and change games I see "exiting (game)" but it does not display "Loading (game)"





Edited by Mobhit
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Sorry about that. I just duplicated your issue and it looks like it was because the last update I posted was not a final build (argh!).  I just posted a revised zip file above and over on the BYOAC forums labeled arcadeEIP v. beta.zip.  Just replace the eip.exe and marquee.exe with the updated ones from the new zip.  Let me know if that fixes the problem.

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39 minutes ago, raptor said:

Like if you click go to mame section directly. like shortcuts to the sections.

Ok, so I think you are wanting a way to jump directly to different sections of the menu.  Currently, there is no support to, say, press a hotkey to jump immediately to a different section -- but it might be a viable thing to add if you could describe your use case more specifically.  With that said, there is a way to customize the default section.  You can do that by setting the default_list value to the sys_key of a system or list_key of a list in the [Picker_Preferences] section.  For example if you set,


...then the starting list will be the MAME list.

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Yes.  I might be able to add a feature so that if you press a physical button (say, a control panel or Stream Deck button) that was programmed with a hot-string, that you could use this to jump directly to a particular list.  If that's something you have a strong interest in, I can put it on a future feature list.

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  • 1 month later...

Just tested, and it does look like commas in the path are currently a problem because the configuration allows one to specify a comma separated list of options following the path.  I will include a fix for this in the next release.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey just tried this last night. Very impressive. My setup worked great on my test PC but I was getting some odd results on my arcade cabinet - but I admit I still need to go over the documentation some more. Notably however, my autoswitching list was sporadically populating with games. Is there a way to add to the autoswitching list manually besides actually running a game? I ran a bunch of games thinking they would show up in the list but exiting and restarting aEIP there was only a couple games in the list. This wasn't the case on my test rig.

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