Arcade Overlays


MAME hasn’t really changed in the last 6 months, when it comes to artwork. As long as it’s structure resolves around a zip with a lay + overlay artwork then it should be fine.

I think the next big step-up in terms of overlays AND shaders is 4k. When you see how good the shadow mask and scanlines look at 4k, it’s difficult going back to 1080p. I have a couple of true 4k overlays that I spent a whole weekend on, combined with running shaders at 4k and the end result was pretty mindblowing to say the least. Shame I can’t work on 4k all the time because I only have a fairly small 4k PC monitor (24"), and my main gaming PC is connected to my 1080p TV which is 55".


Just to quickly show nothing.


I prefer the first one. It’s nice to see a little bit of the row in the background without the blur DOF effect. These are so fricking nice. I really need to throw one in rocketlauncher and see if I can get it lined up and working. This is the best take on an authentic bezel i’ve ever seen.


These look great and attempting to get the right look and get it as authentic as possible is important. It’s not just the entertainment value but we are doing these bezels to preserve our memories and just like MAMEs main purpose, to actually preserve the iconic arcade era. It’s easy to create a bezel in GIMP, add a 2nd layer to John’s glass and cut and paste the art work in and whilst it’s fun to create your own bezels the original artwork bezels with glass are what I replicate for a true arcade experience. The real skill is creating the mood and feel of standing in front of the cabinet as if you were back in the 80s . I don’t think anything captures that like a glass effect screen with all its flaws. I’m spending more time working on the bezels than playing the actual games!


Hi John, one question that may sound stupid: The natural resolution of most games is actually not 4:3, but very often e.g. 256x224 (Bombjack, 1942 and the like ) - which is 8:7. If I am deviating from 4:3 and heading for the natural resolution of 8:7, does this mean that the game, although designed for this resolution, never looked like this on arcade machines, simply because all games ran on 4:3 monitors? At least this is what I derived from the scarce information available on this topic.

This would mean that despite of the natural resolution, 4:3 would be right to get the old arcade feel, i.e. stretched pixels.

Many thanks for your view on that. Stefan


Yeah I don’t get trying to replicate the intended resolution because it seems like a vast majority of cabs had a 4:3 monitor, so that’s effectively how their resolution was.


Nearly all Arcade Cabinets came with 4:3 aspect ratio monitors, so the final output image had to be stretched to fit the 4:3 aspect, irrespective of native resolution. I’m guessing a lot of pixel artists from that time maybe took this into account and the final 4:3 stretched image is what they imagined. Some probably didn’t think/see this because there are a lot of games that do look too stretched.

Bomb Jack, as you bring this up, perhaps was purposely designed with a squished aspect (224x256 v), so that when it’s displayed on a 4:3 vertical monitor it looks the intended way.

I think instead of the “right” way, it is more the “Intended” way. Or perhaps it’s simply the ONLY way due to the technical limitations of CRT hardware from that era. I grew up with the 4:3 aspect, so to me it always looks the right way.

I 100% agree. Mood is what makes it look and feel like the real thing. The flawed glass effects are really hard to pull off 100% convincingly without looking a bit fake. Reflection is also hard because you need to define what exactly you are reflecting, and getting that right is difficult. I tend to just reflect ceiling lights, or bright light sources that would exist in this environment.

When you see what can be done in 4k, then you will see what the next-gen overlay will truly look like. If you imagine the current 1080p overlay, pull slightly back from that fixed 1920x1080 area and you now have the same play area but also the full control panel and top cabinet Marquees all lit up and it looks amazing. The next BIG leap could be animated overlays. So the background can have looped animated cabs running.


Thanks John, understood.


Last post before ever.


Thanks for the options! Looks amazing. Will you have a pack available for download somewhere? have you thought of putting them on an ftp like emumovies? I’m sure the entire community would really dig this style.


Here is a brief video showing a few machines in action using the latest MAME.


These look gorgeous! The overlay artwork “cabs” makes me feel like the old days, right in here; in front of a long line of machines. And the pole position one with the eaten wood… Cannot stop looking at it.


Kondorito, thanks. 40-50 should be online tomorrow. But Mame only for most of them. Will try a few straight-to-Retroarch conversions and see how it goes.


Any plans to release the Vetrex Overlays you were working on?


This all looks fantastic. The contrast between the screen and surroundings is really striking and interesting. Great work.

I eagerly await the release of these.


These are taking longer than I anticipated due to the new MAME release, and the shader differences make my shader settings look weird - they have a green and red tint to them, so something has changed with 0.187 release.

I am also adding screen reflection, but not in the overlay, only in the shaders. This way, those that don’t like the screen reflection can easily disable it - per game. The reflection will be in the upper left side of the screen, tailing off the overlay light reflection on the side, making it look like the light is hitting the left portion of the screen. It looks a cool effect, but won’t be for everyone.

Every “Cabinets” overlay, like the ones above, have had a tweak to the ambient occlusion shadow effects.

Hope to have around 55 - 60 ready soon.


is there a pack to download ready to play?

I mean for mame 187 only, I dont use retroarch.


png is the same, the difference is that retroarch uses .cfg and mame .lay, you can edit the default one


Hi John I was wondering how are the bezels coming along there will be a big mame update with 0.188 will you do a few new ones and upload what you have so far?



None of the links in the first post worked for me. Is there a place that you have the mame lay files?