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03-15-2017 at 08:40 PM
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Why do I play so much better at the arcade?!? (Or, why do I stink on MAME? )

I haven't blogged on TG in a while, so I thought I should write about something that's been on my mind while gaming...

Is it just me, or do I play like a different person at the arcade for some games? I recently had a new personal best on Scramble (the evil Stern version with fast-draining fuel), and I'm really happy with this score...

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Playing at home on MAME, I still can't get more than my recently accepted score of roughly 180k!

I thought this might be an isolated case, maybe there was something I'm doing at the arcade that's not translating. But then I started getting into 1942 this week at the arcade, and I was making decent progress. Here is my efforts at Galloping Ghost Arcade so far...

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At home, I'm having a tough time getting 300k! Does anyone else have the same thing happen to them when they go between MAME and arcade? Am I crazy? (Don't answer that!) :)

Any thoughts or insight from anyone would be great.

Happy gaming, everyone!

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  1. HugDD's Avatar
    Awesome progress Pete! Your scores in both titles above are higher than I've been able to do. There may be any number of factors, but some came to mind as I thought about it. Playing in a public setting, often with better controls, and being less relaxed, I suppose may boost your performance than playing at home. Also, as it comes to MAME, I wonder if there're differences in the roms you may be using, compared to the arcade version. And as I mentioned, if you're somehow playing in more relaxed mode in a private setting, perhaps that may impact your game play. Just some thoughts, cheers Pete! :) -Duc
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  2. spectre's Avatar
    I noticed this too on ESP Ra.De. a few years back. Playing the real arcade hardware I was WAY better than playing it on MAME. It just seems that MAME is harder?

    My theory is that MAME is obviously not 100% accurate. The clock speed could be slightly off. That sure what it felt like with ESP Ra.De. It was like the arcade version played a tiny bit slower. Then there's the input lag. A few frames of input lag makes a big difference in high level play.

    Just my observations/theories.-
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  3. bensweeneyonbass's Avatar
    I didn't even practice 1942 on MAME before going into the arcade last Saturday. It's not the same and I'm not sure why. Personal best on the arcade machine is the 980k I submitted. Personal best on MAME is still under 300k. My own notes/conclusions:

    1. There's the accuracy of MAME but that is less of a practical factor and more of a mental edge that it has on me. I think.
    2. Performance stress - I have always done much better in real life with people watching than at home by myself recording INPs.
    3. Equipment - I have a very inexpensive control setup at my house for playing MAME. I know it's inferior to most of the worn out junk you get on a machine control panel.
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  4. Rogerpoco's Avatar
    I have a buddy that was a great arcade gamer in the wayback, has console skills to "prove" it to me.
    He insists he isn't comfortable on my X-Arcades because he plays pretty physically and says the X-Arcades aren't stable enough(the Tankstik is pretty heavy).

    Also-Standing up.
    I only sorta know elite level gaming, but I'm as good as I ever wanted to be playing guitar. Although it is a challenge at first, you quickly realize you can play better standing up.
    This is for various reasons, but I think a persons "seriousness" may pick up a bit when they are standing.

    This couldn't help explain Environmental cabs tho...
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  5. YesAffinity's Avatar
    One word: lag. There is input lag on MAME, no matter how you slice it. I run a Win XP machine with various versions of wolfmame for submissions. WinXP + Wolfmame .106 is probably the closest to arcade. As the versions progress, the input lag gets worse up to I think .174 is the most recent that I have, and the least playable.

    Now, by "least playable", we're probably talking a difference of 1 frame of input lag (.106) vs. 4 frames of input lag (.174). Of course, I have nothing concrete to support these numbers, it's strictly a matter of feel. Go to Win10 w/ .174, and it's probably 10 frames of lag.

    And, to also include myself in the category of "good on arcade, less good on MAME", take my placement on the Donkey Kong score boards. Arcade - 970,200, MAME - 391,900
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  6. HAN's Avatar
    Thanks for all the insight, everyone!

    There are a few things that have been mentioned that I think come into play for me personally:

    1) Controls - I hold a standard arcade joystick in my lap when playing, and it occasionally moves during heated gameplay...can't be good for focus to have to slide it back.

    2) Standing - I might try sitting at the arcade on 1942 to see if there is any difference.

    3) Lag - As @YesAffinity pointed out, mame lags; There's no way around it. There are special versions of MAME that have been made by hardcore shmuppers because those types of games tend to need frame perfect input/ dodges. I suspect that when I go back to an older PC or if I can ever get my candy cab working again, I will see improvements.

    4) Screen size - I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner...When playing a game with a vertically oriented monitor (like 1942 or Scramble) at the arcade, you get the full monitor screen for your gameplay. Take a my 21 inch widescreen LCD and turn the picture sideways for vertical games, I've got much less screen showing my gameplay! I could be missing details (characters, movement) that my old eyes would be able to see fine at the arcade.

    To combat this, I will probably get a new computer monitor with low input latency (10ms or less) that also has a rotation mechanism for vertical games so I can fill the entire screen with my mame gameplay. Research time!
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  7. Rogerpoco's Avatar
    Well, something the guys that understand .inp analysis can help with-
    About a year ago, I got a "Supercomputer", well after I was very familiar with MAME, DAPHNE, etc.
    It's amazing the difference-I'm not really technical, and not even sharp enough to notice minor lag, to be honest, but I bet my framerates stay at max the entire time on my .inp's.
    Not insisting, but it may be computer lag, rather than MAME lag, if you think about it.

    But I like hearing that MAME players could probably do better on a real machine...
    I only need 40,000 points or so...
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  8. Rogerpoco's Avatar
    Haha! I used to turn my computer monitor vertical for fullscreen Visual Pinball tables, was awesome! Definitely a good idea for vertically oriented arcade games if you can pull it off. Even a separate dedicated monitor.
    Good idea!
  9. YesAffinity's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Rogerpoco
    Not insisting, but it may be computer lag, rather than MAME lag, if you think about it.
    It's definitely not computer specific. Same "weak sauce" computer running windows xp plays the best, coupled with wolfmame .106. That same computer with progressively newer releases of wolfmame offers progressively laggier game play.

    Got to my Win10 computer, with Intel i7, AMD 285, 8GB DDR3 (PC3-1866 I believe). Not the absolute highest end computer, but a very good comp that offers high frame rates at 1080p with all bells and whistles turned on, on Ultra Street Fighter 4 (130+ FPS), for instance. Wolfmame .174 is laggiest on this computer.

    And, then take a step back to my Win2000 MAME cab - Win2000 on an old non-hyper-threaded P4, with JPAC, ArcadeVGA (AGP version, mind you), and a standard CRT arcade monitor, and that one is best of all. I can also compare this to the newer desktop that I built for our game room at work, which has MAME .164, an X-arcade and large flat screen hung on the wall. We play Track and Field regularly. I hold most of the high scores, including 9.64m on long jump, 8.46s on 100m dash. Not world records, but good scores that are the result of lots of playing on that computer. I go home and play on the above noted Win2000 MAME cab w/ arcade CRT, and when I press the button to jump for the long jump, I am a good 5m+ ahead of the line...because I have gotten used to pressing the button earlier on the setup at work to compensate for the lag. That's about as empirical as I can get with my comparisons.
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  10. Conjured Entertainment's Avatar
    I point my finger at the operating systems.
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