[GUIDE] mame(current) hiscores, history & commands

How to: Make hiscores, history and commands work

This guide describes how to setup MAME (0.212 at the moment of writing) in RetroArch to save hiscores and make it possible to view game history and commands through the mame-menu.

With older MAME cores (e.g. mame2003) or FBNeo it is sufficient to place the respective hiscore.dat file in your /system/mame20xx or /system/fbneo folder, but current mame switched to a lua-based plugin system which requires a bit of manual-labour to make it work in RetroArch.

[INFO] In Linux , the path separator is / . In Windows , it is either \ or / .

Working on:

  • Windows 7
  • Linux Mint 19.2 cinnamon

(If this guide works on other systems as well, please let me know. I will eventually update this post)

1. Preparation

1.1. Download the mame plugins

You can either download the precompiled mame binary from https://mamedev.org
or you can download the source from https://github.com/mamedev/ or https://github.com/libretro/mame

[NOTE] The mame version has to match your current mame core in RetroArch.
other versions should work as well, but i haven’t tested this yet

1.2. Download history.dat and command.dat

The history.dat is found at https://www.arcade-history.com/index.php?page=download
and the command.dat can be downloaded from http://www.progettosnaps.net/command/

2. Setup

2.1. Creating of folders

In retroarch/system/mame/ create the following folders:

  • ini
  • plugins

2.2. Creating the right *.ini files

In your ini/ folder you should create the following files:

  • mame.ini
  • plugins.ini
  • ui.ini

[NOTE] plugins.ini is the only necessary file, but with mame.ini and ui.ini you can specify the location of your plugin/ folder and where your history/ and hi/ folders are generated.

[INFO] The history/ and hi/ folders are usually generated in the mame root path. On Windows this is your RetroArch main folder, but on Linux Mint it is your $home folder (/home/user/).
The plugins folder on Windows has to be in system/mame/plugins and on Linux also in your $home folder if no other path is specified.

3. Fill in the blanks

3.1. plugins.ini

Your file should look like this:

data                      1
hiscore                   1

3.2. ui.ini

Here you can define where the history.dat and command.dat should be placed. (full path)

historypath               I:\want\some\history

I usually put them in /system/mame/history

3.2.1. Another Folder

Now you have to create the folder you defined in the ui.ini. I will explain later, why you have to create this by yourself.

3.3. mame.ini

Here you have to specify the save location of your plugin folder (full path)

pluginspath               I:\am\using\plugins

Same as above, i am using /system/mame/plugins as my path

4. Move things around

4.1. plugins

Now it’s time to move the content of the plugins folder from your previously downloaded mame release to your newly created plugin folder.

For hiscore history and commands you need only the following files/folders:


4.2. history.dat & command.dat

Move your downloaded history.dat and command.dat in your history/ folder

5. Edit the hiscore plugin

To specify the save location of your hiscore files you have to edit the init.lua in the plugin/hiscore/ folder.

[NOTE] You have to redo this every time you update the plugins
There should be a possibility to override this with a hiscore.ini file, but i haven’t figured out how to make this work at the moment.

Change this line

25|	local hiscore_path = "hi";


25|	local hiscore_path = "I:\\am\\so\\hi";

As you see, you have to use the lua syntax and therefore you have to escape the backslashes on a Windows machine.
On Linux escaping is not needed.

[INFO] The escape character in lua scripts is \

On my setup it is /saves/mame/hi/

6. Configuring RetroArch

If you followed this guide so far, everything should run with default core settings (on Windows)
On Linux you have to enable Read configuration in the Quick Menu (don’t ask me why)

Now your high-scores will be saved correctly and you can view the history and commands ingame by opening the mame-menu (TAB on keyboard) and going to External DAT View

[INFO] In the mame-menu under Input (general) you can assign a hotkey on your controller for the mame-menu (Config Menu)

Input (general)
  └ User Interface
      └ Config Menu

7. Conclusion

Ofttimes people mentioned to enable Read configuration and Write configuration in

  └ Options

or your retroarch-core-options.cfg

mame_read_config = "enabled"
mame_write_config = "enabled"

or even in the mame.ini

readconfig                1
writeconfig               1

but this is NOT needed. Read configuration is only needed on Linux (i don’t know why it works on Windows without, but not on Linux), Write configuration is in my opinion not needed at all in RetroArch.

read config will indeed generate the history/ folder, but if you create it by yourself, you don’t need to enable this (on Windows). I have no idea if this has other effects than this.

write config will produce for every game played a *gamename*.ini which is a complete mame.ini with every setting possible that overrides every future change you make in your settings.

This is highly unwanted and should therefore not be turned on

8. Closing words

This guide is not meant to be complete or to be 100% correct, but i think it is the right direction.

Also i am not a native English speaker :wink: