LibRetro hard forks: branding brainstorming

The LibRetro organization often forks emulation core code bases for the purpose of porting to the libretro API and optimizing them for multiple platforms. Some developers of these emulator cores may not wish their emulator brand names to be used for these heavily modified hard forks. Twinaphex came up with the idea to brand such forks with a unified LibRetro-organization-specific name.

For example, “Beetle” (as in “Beetle PS1”, “Beetle N64”, etc.) was presented as an idea by Twinaphex as some cores already use that name, but I countered that currently users expect that forks branded “Beetle” are derived from Mednafen cores, so it may confuse users.

I’m having trouble coming up with hard fork brand name ideas, so I thought this brainstorming thread might help. Please feel free to present your ideas.

You don’t want to keep any reference to the original name? no name like “forked-mednafen_pce_fast”?

You could do Retro / Core / Seed / Split / Drift / Stream / Replica / Mimic / Enhanced / Extend / Expand…

The point is to avoid using the original branding, yeah. We currently have the original branding with “-libretro” attached for most of these forks, but some emu devs have expressed dissatisfaction with this. So, what we want is a unified name. It can be anything, really.

“LRO” might be good, meaning “LibRetro Organization”.


An acronym isn’t necessarily very catchy though. Hmm. What about “Umbrella”? All these cores fit under one umbrella.

“Umbrella N64” “Umbrella PS1”

Just throwing some ideas out there. Feel free to add more.

Well, just go for Libretro N64 or RetroCore N64. And the same for every of them.

Indeed, bizhawk, openemu and mednafen all completely delete the original branding and no one seems to complain. We always kept original branding out of respect for the original authors but if it’s a hard fork and/or there’s no chance of upstreaming, it doesn’t really matter anyway. And yes, re-branding will do absolutely nothing to silence complaints about forks.

I would say simpler is better but we can’t very well have a dozen libretro-SNES cores. We have a lot of redundancy for different platforms and we need some way of codifying that. The original branding worked pretty well for keeping everything straight.

I’m of the opinion that we should continue doing what we’re doing unless/until a team specifically and officially asks us to use other branding, as was the case with mednafen/beetle. If that becomes the case with Dolphin, I vote for Porpoise… or Sea Cow.

I agree with you, but maybe we should use one consistent LibRetro organization brand for cores which the emu devs don’t wish to see their brand on our forks. That way, when it happens, we can just name it that easily and users will be able to associate the brand with the LibRetro organization and come to us with issue reports etc.

List of ideas so far, alphabetically, including some new ones from me:

Arch Baseline CoreEmu LibRetro LRO RetroChoice RetroCore RetroEmu RetroFork RetroStandard Umbrella

By the way, isn’t a manatee more like a sea cow? A porpoise is just like a dolphin with a snub nose.

Yeah, porpoise is a specific play on ‘dolphin’. Sea cow / manatee / dugong is just another sea creature that happens to be awesome.

RAD - for RetroArch D… Developped…? or whatever you can think of.

I like this - it’s an abbreviation (libretro core), it echoes the RetroArch brand, it sounds good. Works well in combination with various naming schemes for the other half of the name.

Thematic/Pun Core Branding

  • Porpoise RetroCore - Streamlined Wii/Gamecube emulator
  • Sea Cow RetroCore - Full featured Wii/Gamecube emulator
  • Beetle PC-Engine RetroCore

System/Platform Based Branding

  • MAME 2003 RetroCore
  • Lutro RetroCore
  • Dinothawr RetroCore

Append “Cuttlefish” to it.

They change how they look but are still the same underneath.(I also love them,they are so cute!)

Markwkidd, I like that one too. However, I don’t think you’re fully understanding. This branding would be for consistency, so something like “Porpoise RetroCore” doesn’t make sense. The point is to eliminate the need for something like “Porpoise” so the organization’s forks can be identified in a consistent manner, like “RetroCore GC”, “RetroCore N64”, “RetroCore PS1”, etc.

There are two different approaches I was trying to characterize with my two headings, but you’ve put it more clearly with your examples.

There is one word that conveys the idea that “this core is maintained by libretro as a hard, independent fork.” That word could be anything, but I do like RetroCore.

Then you have a second term. The branding scheme may be to use this second term to either give an indirect tip of the hat to the original emulator (e.g. Porpoise RetroCore) or to make it clear to users what systems the emulator core supports (e.g. Dinothawr RetroCore).

I don’t necessarily think that the branding should support both naming approaches although maybe it could. RetroCore Wii and GameCube, Wii and GameCube RetroCore, and Porpoise RetroCore all sound pretty good to me!

Just to clarify. Is this only for cores that are not blessed by original devs?

Would there be that many cores that require it.

As imo changing every core does seem pointless and a little obscure. I like Retrocore but LDC (Libretro Developed Core) or LEC (Libretro Expanded Core) is a self explanatory name. Not sure how you would cover the description if there’s multiples of same system like SNES.

I disagree that Beetle is well known for mednafen cores as refrences to the name mednafen is still used in places and people still refer to them as mednafen-foo still.

I like the idea of Libretro-bar. So mednafen-psx Would be Libretro-PSX. Simple, clearly explains what the core is and looks nice too.

I know the resistance to name changing is out of respect of not trying to misappropriate the source however If upstream wants the name changed because of large differences then it is good to honour that request for them.

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I disagree with the naming change for the branding’s sake. If the goal out of it is to distinguish it away from the main application, that can be accomplished in means other then naming. We should add documentation informing people of the benefits and consequences of running a libretro core. Changing all the names and branding will just change the names and branding. We won’t actually accomplish anything.

I like the idea of Libretro-bar. So mednafen-psx Would be Libretro-PSX. Simple, clearly explains what the core is and looks nice too.

The problem with this is that there are multiple cores for the same system (Fceumm, Nestopia, etc).

This really comes down to documentation, setting expectations with the users, telling them where to submit issues, and how to properly debug problems.


It’s not just for the branding’s sake. Another problem this is trying to solve is when the fork no longer accurately represents the original project.

To me that’s a non-issue. Libretro-XYZ cores would be ones where the Libretro origination is essentially the new upstream due to large changes. Having more then one hard fork per system is spreading resources too thin and barring MAME-20XX cores there is only at most one hard fork per system currently anyway. If a new superior emulator comes out that needs to be hard forked then it can take over the Libretro-XYZ name and the old code can be dropped or re named.

To me a core named Libretro-PSX for example would be the current PSX emulator provided and developed by the Libretro originasion, which beetle/mednafen-psx currently is.

If the libretro core is upstream or shallow enough that Libretro API support is all that is changed then it should keep it’s original name.

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+1 for RetroCore - its blatantly obvious then that it is a specific RA core, which would be nice to see considering how confusing the current core list is.

I think that maybe a solution would be short descriptions in the core downloader/selector. Then it won’t matter as much what they are called and we can know what they are derived from. It can also be a place to specify what sets are compatible with mame cores and such.

If you don’t like that idea, then I’ll just suggest Mahi Mahi as the Dolphin core name.

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Dolphin core= flipper