/ vertical launching software for Game Launcher
In order to start Game Launcher automatically when the computer powers up, and then to automatically shut down the computer at the end of a session, I had been using Ken Rager's handy utility 'GLauncher'. Having this functionality simply means the cabinet on/off can be controlled by one external button. However, my cabinet, like many others, has a rotating monitor to make the most of both horizontal and vertical games (see e.g. Bob's Space Invader, whose design I based my own cab on - thanks again Bob!). Physically rotating the monitor only takes a few seconds, but closing down one version of the emulator front-end (i.e. one configured to play games horizontally) and opening another (i.e. one configured to play games vertically), was a bit of a pain, as it meant exiting to the OS and then selecting the appropriate icons on the Windows desktop. Tricky when you keep forgetting the joystick/button equivalent key combinations for 'tab' and 'enter', and time consuming when you have to dig the mouse out the back of the cab.
That's where HVLauncher comes in.
HVLauncher has the same basic functionality as Glauncher, but with a GUI menu to allow joystick-selection of one of two versions of the emulator front-end - horizontal or vertical (if you are a bit puzzled by all this, have a look at Bob's Space Invader site for a description on how to configure your setup to run games both horizontally and vertically using dual configurations of Game Launcher). If your cab does not have a rotating monitor, HVLauncher can be configured to hide the menu, and to invisibly start up the front-end on boot, and shut down the computer when the front-end is terminated (see 'Usage modes' below) . I have written this document assuming Game Launcher is the emulator front-end, and all the illustrations show Game launcher, but it should work with any emulator front-end that supports both horizontal and vertical display (see 'Configuration settings').
This is the main menu, that appears once you have finished playing games and have exited the front-end.
The game images ('snaps' in MAME lingo; Galaga in the shot above) are read from sub-directories within the HVLauncher program folder. Any number of snaps (in PNG format) can be added to these directories, but to display properly they are separated into to sub-sub-directories (labelled 'H' and 'V') on the basis of each game's orientation.
A selection of snaps is provided. These game snaps are continuously updated in the menu in a random order (with a user-controlled time-interval between transitions).
Pushing the joystick to the left ('Play games vertical') runs the configuration of the front-end to run games in vertical mode, e.g.:
and pushing to the right ('Play games horizontal') runs the horizontal configuration
My Game Launcher configuration is set up so that all MAME games can be played in either orientation - its just that vertical games will only fill the central portion of the screen in horizontal mode (as with Mr Do! above), and vice versa. You can also set up one configuration of the front-end to run just horizontal games, and the other just vertical. Its a matter of taste.
Pushing the joystick forward toggles the menu from vertical to horizontal, to match the current (physical) monitor orientation (selecting either 'Play games vertical' or 'Play games horizontal' sets the menu to the correct orientation too).
Pulling the joystick back shuts down the computer (with a timer to allow the shut-down procedure to be aborted):
You can also configure HVLauncher to display the shutdown screen straight after the front-end (Game launcher) exits, so you don't have to double-handle the shutdown process if you don't want to. 'ESC' is the escape key, or the equivalent joystick/button combination. The default MAME setting is the Player 1 + Player 2 button combination.
When HVLauncher is configured to hide the main menu, e.g. for a cab that runs in only one orientation, the sequence is
HVLauncher interface (YES, NO)
# Path to the
Vertical configuration of the emulator
The settings above show I have duplicate Game Launcher directories (GLaunchV & GLaunchH), with a copy of GLaunch.exe in each. Alternatively, you can specify locations of two Windows shortcut files that point to the same executable, but with different specified startup directories (see Bob's site for an explanation of how to do this). When specifying a windows shortcut file, be sure to type in the actual name of the shortcut file (which has a *.lnk extension), and not the application it points to (which is what is displayed in Explorer). To find out the shortcut's underlying .lnk name, open a command window in the directory where your shortcut(s) reside, and type 'dir *.lnk'. My desktop has the following shortcuts:
The second last shortcut on the list has the desktop label 'Shortcut to glaunch.exe', but the actual filename is listed as ''Shortcut to glaunch.exe.lnk', and this is the name to type in the config file. The Windows shortcut naming convention is slightly different in Win98SE, but the principle is the same. Actually, in Win98SE you can view the .lnk filename by right-clicking on the desktop icon and selecting properties. This feature is not supported in XP. How useful.
# Alternate game snap animation (YES or NO)
# Length of long axis
of animated game snap (pixels)
# Border size
surrounding game snap
# Distance of each game
snap from screen centre (pixels)
# Time, in
milliseconds, of image turnover (1s = 1000ms)
# Time, in
milliseconds, to allow user to interrupt shutdown procedure (1s = 1000ms)
# Shut down computer
after exiting emulator front-end (YES, NO)
# Internal wait
time for background check of emulator front-end ExitCode status (ms)
The menu components (arrows, joystick, labels etc.) re-scale automatically according to the current system screen settings, but the best resolution to run is 1280x1024, as this does not requires internal 'stretching' the bitmaps to fit the screen.
'HVLauncher.Ini' file. HVLauncher generates its own .ini file, which just records the last user setting (horizontal or vertical). It can be safely ignored.
Installation. None to speak of. Just unzip to a directory, edit the HVLauncher.cfg configuration file to point to the locations of your files that run games horizontally and vertically (i.e. Glaunch.exe, or shortcuts), and any other of the above settings you want to fiddle with. Finally, add a shortcut to HVLauncher.exe to the windows startup folder (on the toolbar), and you are away. I would, however, suggest running it first from the desktop to make sure its all OK, before committing it to the startup folder!
Licence: Freeware. No guarantees. No responsibility.
Disclaimer!: I have been using this program on my own XP and 98SE computers without a problem, but it has not been tested on any other systems, nor with other sorts of graphics cards or power supplies etc. Use at your own risk!
Downloads NEW! Updated version with 'Alternate game snap' option in the config file (see above), and with the interface images now made available in a sub-directory to allow customisation added May 2015 (thanks to Dave Morgan for those suggestions).
Download the program -
Download my customised
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