This tutorial was written in an effort to help Romcenter users understand how version 4 works and how it can make their emulation-life easier. It is not aimed to replace Romcenter's help, it's just an explanation of some basic concepts and a step-by-step map on how to use it. If necessary, it will be updated with any major new concepts added to Romcenter in the future.
A tutorial on youtube can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JtIh5u2Ko4
Un tutoriel en francais est dispo sur le site arcadeHITS (pour rc 2)
Romcenter (RC) is a rom manager, a program with which you can manage collections of games supported by an emulator. Its purpose is to give you the ability to:
In emulation area, a “game” is a compressed file (usually in zip format) which contains the data extracted from the roms (computer chips) of the original game hardware. Each file contained in a compressed game is actually the extracted data from a specific rom-chip, that's why such a file is called a “rom”. For some emulators, games may contain floppy-disk, HDD or CD images and not actual roms.
Companies that have created the games supported by an emulator may use some common roms in all of their games. This type of roms is called a “bios”. Some games were originally created by a company but there may exist very similar games created either by the same company or by another one. Usually these are slightly modified versions of the original game that were customized for specific countries or may contain some minor differences. Those games are called “clones” and the original game is called “main”. There is always one main game but there may be many clones of it. Usually, many of the roms contained in clone games are also contained in the main game and only a few roms are different in the clone.
There are a few important concepts in Romcenter, “datafile”, “database” and “rom path”.
MAME is an example of an emulator that when executed with a specific parameter, it displays all the games it supports and their contained roms. Romcenter can automatically retrieve and import that info into its database.
Currently, in a rom path Romcenter supports either uncompressed game files or zip and 7z. If you find it useful, a rom path may contain a subfolder for each supported game in which its roms will exist unpacked. In that case Romcenter may work somewhat faster, but you'll need a much larger storage space.
The package contains english language and several translation.
The following datafiles are included (coming from these web sites):
You can find up-to-date versions and more in these web sites
8 special plugins are also included.
RomCenter is a 'clean' application, it does not spread files across your windows system folders. Registry and windows system folders are not used.
The first thing to have in mind is to MAKE A BACKUP OF YOUR ROMS BEFORE TRYING TO FIX THEM WITH ROMCENTER, especially if you are a beginner or using a test version. There is always a chance you do something wrong or a Romcenter beta has a bug that may ruin something.
After that, you need to create a new database containing info of the games supported by a specific emulator version. You can either import the contents of a datafile to it or extract all the necessary info from the emulator itself. So, in order to start, you either
In both cases, a database will be created which will contain all games that are supported by the version of the datafile/emulator you selected. You will be able to see all supported games under the “datafile” branch of the tree at the left side of Romcenter's main window.
Multiple databases may be created for different systems and loaded in parallel. RC will load each database in a separate tab of the main window.
After the creation of the database is finished, go to RC menu “File\Add rom path” (or press CTRL+O or drag-drop the path from windows explorer in the tree area at the left panel in RC) and select the path in which all your game files exist. It may take some time to analyze all games in the rom path, the actual time depends on how fast your computer is. It's usually a few minutes.
When the process finishes, the rom path will appear under the “rom files” branch of the tree. You may select it and see the status of the contained games.
Depending on the status of a game or rom, its color may be either red, yellow or green.
Depending on the mode you choose in “File\Preferences\Romsets”, roms bioses and samples are stored differently inside games.
Specifically for samples, you may have them in a separate folder if you wish. In order to manage them, open that folder in Romcenter as a normal rom path, select “split” in “File\Advanced settings\Samples merge mode” and then select the rom path that contains the samples from the list.
Having in mind all the information described above, if yellow files exist in a rom path, just select it from the tree and press the “fix” button. For Romcenter, “fixing” means renaming roms to their correct names, creating dummy roms where needed and in general all options you can see in menu “File\Preferences - Fix”. Romcenter will do everything that can be done with your roms in order for them to be playable. It just can't create missing roms that are not “bad dumps”. You have to provide those yourself.
You have the ability to add more than one rom paths if you wish. If you select one rompath and press “fix”, Romcenter will try to fix all roms in that rompath. It will search all open rompaths for available roms missing from the selected rompath but it will update game files only in the selected rom path. If you wish to fix all rompaths, select the “rom files” tree branch and then press “fix”. In that case, all open rompaths will be updated. Have in mind though that you may end up having the same game file in more than one rom path.
Fixing a rompath may take quite some time (even several hours for paths with very large amount of games that need fixing). The whole pack-unpack process is very CPU-intensive and constant file reading-writing is very HDD-intensive, so having a fast CPU and SSD will reduced the required fixing time.
Hint: If you have a very large amount of files in a rom path, it may help if you move your games to a separate folder. Then gradually add some games to the rom path, fix them and then add some more, fix them again and repeat the process until all games are in the rom path and fixed. That way each fixing step will take much less time and you will have complete control of the games that are fixed. You can also easily span the fixing process between several days if necessary. This carries a small risk that some games may be fixed several times because they may need files from other games that at a given time may have not yet been added to the rom path. This could be avoided by also adding the “separate folder” as a rom path but never “fix” it.