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Next project: The Cruis'n World 500!


Andyman

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Some of you might've noticed I mentioned my sit-down racing cabinet project in my Pure (4:3) universal theme announcement back in October. Well, the project has evolved a bit since then, so I thought I probably ought to start a dedicated thread chronicling the project...

Rewind a bit to a couple of months ago, and I was fortunate enough to acquire a Cruis'n World cabinet from the wonderful folks at Pinball PA in great condition (although absolutely filthy, as it had been in their warehouse's basement for a bit). Side note: You really must visit Pinball PA if you're in the area - it is incredible.

A 2-hour trip to Pittsburgh with the utility trailer in tow and 2 hours back, and the cabinet was mine. I even managed to dodged that day's rain showers, so the cabinet arrived home nice and dry. Then began the cleanup process, to rid the thing of "that old arcade game smell" - you know the funk I'm referring to: a combination of smoke tar, mold, dust and other crud. I bet I changed my wash bucket a dozen times and went through at least that many rags. It's still not quite as sparkly clean as I'd like, but it's about 1000% better than it was!

The next stop was to my local e-cycling center, to see if I could find a good-quality and working 25" CRT to use for the visuals. To my amazement, I found not one, but three - for free, even! Score! Even better, while I was rummaging through the piles of old TVs, I discovered a stack of discarded office computers. Curiosity got the best of me, and buried in the stack I found what had to be a company mistake - a Dell Optiplex 3020 small form-factor desktop in absolutely pristine condition. i5 CPU and 8GB RAM, but no hard drive (e-cycling centers are obligated to destroy them due to privacy concerns). I had a spare 2TB hard drive, so that worked out fine, and the PC is perfectly sized for the cramped confines of the Cruis'n World cabinet, and plenty fast enough to run the games I planned to include.

Then I did a little research online, to see if I could squeeze more performance out of the little monster on the cheap, because I'm greedy like that. To my delight, I was able to max out the RAM at 16GB and add a respectable low-profile video card (Radeon R7 250), and I now have a whole $70 wrapped up in the machine. It runs Forza Horizon 5 very well, so I'm stoked, and confident that it'll run everything else I want to include.

Next up, CRT testing time! They're identical 2006-vintage Samsung models with a full host of inputs, including S-video and component. Since all 3 CRTs were laying in a very wet section of the yard, I let them air-dry for about a week (see the first photo), then began the process of opening each one for inspection and powering up after making sure all looked fine. Their cabinets were pretty beaten up, so I hoped their guts weren't as abused. To my surprise, the first one I tried was perfect. I ran the S-video feed over from my Gauntlet Legends cabinet for testing purposes and was amazed at how clear and crisp the picture was. I think it's even better than the awesome Toshiba 27" I have in the Gauntlet cab.

I immediately decased the CRT and mounted it in the Cruis'n World cabinet. You can see how it looks in the second photo. Fantastic, but a long way to go! I tested the other two CRTs - one's in equally great working order, and one's DOA. Hey, two out of three ain't bad! I stashed the other working CRT in a cool, dry place for possible future use.

Control-wise, I'm mounting the Logitech G920 wheel, pedals and shifter I was using with my Xbox Series X to the cabinet. I don't have photos of that process, but I'll add pics once the controls are all in place. Here's the very slick Xbox 360 controller emulation app I'm using to make non-wheel games work as if they had wheel support. So cool.

Now for the real meat-and-potatoes of the project: the games. I've spent the last couple of months methodically curating, installing and testing all the games I want in this beast. I decided the total will be 500 - no more, no less. What better number for a racing cabinet? Some games had to be discarded due to not working offline (Forza Motorsport 7), not being emulated well enough yet, or not playing nice with the 4:3 aspect. Surprisingly, a lot of very recent PC racing games work very well in 4:3 aspect. Who'd have guessed?

In that time, I've also created a custom universal theme to tie the arcade, console, and PC games together visually in HyperSpin (see the link at the top of this post), and I've gathered logo wheels for each game and gathered/created video previews for each as well. That's been a job, and I'm glad it's done.

I've attached the 500-game database as it stands right now. I don't anticipate major changes to it, but I'm still discovering racing games I want to include, so it'll probably continue to evolve as time goes on. I love me some racing games, as you can probably tell.

If you have questions, ask away! Thanks for reading. More to come!

cw_monitor_candidates.jpg

cw_cabinet_wip.jpg

CruisnWorld.xml

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Great read and great story ! I can't wait to read the future updates.

I have a few questions if you don't mind:

  • I assume you have bought the whole cabinet, with the chair and the wheel. So will it be quite dificult to adapt the 920 wheel and pedals to the cabinet in terms of space availableĀ ?
  • Ā You will use a crt monitor to play modern racing games.Ā  I really hope you will share videos once you are finished. Forza in 4:3 with scanlines must be something really intriguing to watch !
  • Have you already setup the controls of all your games ? In particular does x360ce works well with the emus that requires it (the ones where you can't setup a wheel) ?. I have only used this nice little programĀ for pc racing games that doesn't work with a wheel.

Thanks again for sharing your experience. I have my own setup ready to be taken care of but I always postpone the moment I will start to make a nice hyperspin wheel. Probably because I have the ambition to cover as much racing games as possible as long as they can work with a wheel. Your choice of limiting the amount to 500 is probably the right one.

Seeing your progress and the solutions you have chosen is a great motivation though !

Thanks in advance for your answers.

Ā 
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28 minutes ago, brudibru said:

I have a few questions if you don't mind:

  • I assume you have bought the whole cabinet, with the chair and the wheel. So will it be quite dificult to adapt the 920 wheel and pedals to the cabinet in terms of space availableĀ ?
  • Ā You will use a crt monitor to play modern racing games.Ā  I really hope you will share videos once you are finished. Forza in 4:3 with scanlines must be something really intriguing to watch !
  • Have you already setup the controls of all your games ? In particular does x360ce works well with the emus that requires it (the ones where you can't setup a wheel) ?. I have only used this nice little programĀ for pc racing games that doesn't work with a wheel.

1) I have had to do some minor modifications to the cabinet, such as cutting a larger opening for the G920's floor-mounted pedal unit (Cruis'n USA uses a face-mounted unit). I really like how it's working out, though.

2) I absolutely love how the 4:3 CRT makes modern games feel retro, and the new blends well with the old because of it. It amuses me to watch HyperSpin in demo mode go from the advanced visuals of Forza, to the pixels of Pole Position, to the rough polygons of Gran Turismo 2, to the cel-shaded cartoon look of Wacky Racers... it's great.

3) I've roughly setup all the games, and will be fine-tuning everything once the Logitech G920 is in the cabinet completely and I have the control panel buttons wired up fully. That part of the project will probably take quite awhile - partly because I'm a bit of perfectionist, and partly because there will be extended breaks to play each game once it's setup to my liking. šŸ˜

Thanks for the feedback and praise! And yeah, I could easily put over 1000 racing games in this project, but I wanted to keep the overall quality of the experience high. 500 is more than enough to induce paralysis of choice as it is! Haha.

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Oh, and taking a 3-inch hole saw to the pristine Cruis'n USA control panel to enlarge the opening for the G920's steering hub was enough to make the arcade connoisseur in me cry a little. Knowing the cabinet would never have been restored and knowing there's a lot of them in circulation eased my emotional stress, though.

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Thanks a lot for your answers ! The setting up of the controllers will be quite a fascinating challenge. Sorry to repeat myself but I sure hope you will share your advancements. I will follow them with passion and I am willing to help if required and tests different solutions onĀ my side if needed. I have gathered and setup a great number of racing games already and just need to find the strength and motivation to continue on. I have a G27 so I will encounter the same challenges as you will.

I understand why cutting through an original cabinet makes you feel bad, it's not like creating an homemade replica, but It will definitely be worth it in the end. As you said, being able to to scroll through the ages will be a fantastic experience. The racing games are a very good examples on how the video games have progressed.Ā 

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  • 6 months later...

It's been quite awhile since I posted an update on my racing cabinet project, so I thought I'd post a pile of frontend media screenshots for your viewing pleasure. I've been working on it all this time, and the cabinet itself is getting close to being presentable. I've completed the software end of the build, other than configuring each game fully with the controls.

I'd like to add some original Xbox and Xbox 360 exclusives as well, but emulation of those systems just isn't quite smooth enough yet for my liking.

Here's a fairly representative sample of what's available to play, among the 500 titles to choose from. Picture each of these full-screen on a CRT and you more or less have the idea.

I should have the cabinet ready to show within a month or so, free time permitting. In the meantime, feel free to ask any questions you might have!

(1996) Wipeout XL.jpg

(1996) Cruis'n World.jpg

(1994) Quarantine.jpg

(1994) Checkered Flag.jpg

(1993) Lotus Turbo Challenge II.jpg

(1993) Jaguar XJ220.jpg

(1995) BC Racers.jpg

(1987) Victory Run.jpg

(1987) Rad Racer.jpg

(1980) Night Driver.jpg

(1997) Diddy Kong Racing.jpg

(1999) Re-Volt.jpg

(2001) Wave Race - Blue Storm.jpg

(2002) Road Trip.jpg

(2004) F-Zero Climax.jpg

(2005) Mario Kart Arcade GP.jpg

(2006) Cartoon Network Racing.jpg

(2010) Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing.jpg

(2018) Forza Horizon 4.jpg

(2020) SnowRunner.jpg

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That's awesone Andyman !

So you have chosen the 500 games ?

You know that Xenia and Xemu have made great progress, the Forza and PGR games are playing better but maybe still not to the level you are looking for.

Now the challenge will be to configurate the controls to work with a wheel for all these games. It should be quite easy for most but tricky for some. I can't wait to see the solutions you will find !

Ā 

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The 500 games are settled on... for now. I've made myself stop looking for games to add, at least until I get what I have all configured and working.

And yeah, those 2 emulators definitely are progressing nicely, but they're not to my standard yet. It's all good though - I don't think I'll be lacking entertainment, with 500 racing games to choose from. hahaha

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  • 3 weeks later...

Looks good !!

Good luck with the configuration of the controlsĀ (the joy of x360ce and other such utilities that can be used to make a wheel working forĀ games or emulatorsĀ that wereĀ not supposed to support one).Ā 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Now that my Gauntlet Legends cabinet is all squared away, I can focus on configuring the games in this project. I was able to dive into that time-consuming task tonight, and was fully expecting it to take many months, if not longer. Fortunately, right away, I realized it won't be anywhere near as tedious as I expected. Whew!

Here's some of the cool things I learned and tackled tonight:

1) Immediately, my jaw dropped at how stunning even the newest PC games look on the 25" CRT. I was not expecting HD masterpieces like Forza Horizon 5 to look perfectly at home on a tube. The CRT also does a wonderful job of blending the old with the new. I couldn't be happier with that.

2) You just gotta love modern PC games that auto-detect the controller and assign everything in the most logical layout. It's saving me an absolute ton of work. I'll still refine some of their settings as I play them, but it's so great that they work well out of the box.

3) The Xbox 360 Controller Emulator app is magical. It's portable and very easy to configure. Within about 10 minutes, I had the wheel completely setup in the app. X360CE even has an option to start with Windows on its own, and can also start minimized to the tray.

4) X360CE's easy setup also means that PCSX2 and Dolphin automatically work with the wheel, and RetroArch just needs the virtual 360 controller selected to work with it. And that means probably 75% of the games on the cabinet are already setup and working.

5) RetroArch's per-game configuration options are just fantastic. It's so nice to hit F1 while in a game, make adjustments, and test them out right then.

6) MAME and the older PC games definitely will eat up some time, since each game is unique and fairly fussy to configure. I'm OK with that, though, since the vast majority of the games on the cabinet work fine as-is.

Oh, and playing Atari 2600's Enduro with the wheel and pedals is hilariously fun. šŸ˜

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That's great news ! It's true that X360ce can achieve magic but I thought it would still requires a lot of work.

I never tried it with emulators just with individual PC games like the need for speed games that doesn't support steering wheels, and it was quite some work to make the driving feels correctly.Ā 

So it's very good to see that you have been able to configure it that quickly with emulators. Maybe you can explain a little bit more the kind of settings you are configuring within retroarch. I had planned to start working on my own setup much later on but I now have the temptation to start configuring some emulators right away !

Configuring MAME games could effectively be a bit tricky because it will be a gameĀ by game workĀ and not per emulator.

The same for old PC games as you know the difficulty will sometimes be to make them work on a modern rig (you can find help on dedicated sites likeĀ https://classicgamefixes.wixsite.com/homeĀ ,Ā https://www.play-old-pc-games.com/Ā  andĀ https://www.pcgamingwiki.com/wiki/HomeĀ but you probably know them already ).

Thanks again for sharing your experience, it's groundbreaking and will sure be very useful for many people !

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5 hours ago, brudibru said:

Maybe you can explain a little bit more the kind of settings you are configuring within retroarch.

There are two main things in RetroArch I usually need to adjust:

1) While in a game: Hit F1 > Controls > Port 1 Controls > Analog to Digital Type > Left Analog. This makes the left thumbstick (which X360CE has the wheel mapped to) mimic the D-pad. It's all-or-nothing input, of course, but with some sensitivity refinement, it works at least as well as the D-pad did originally, and usually quite a bit better.

2) While still in Port 1 Controls, scroll down to L2 Button (Trigger) and R2 Button (Trigger) and map them to the Brake and Gas (Accelerator) buttons that game uses. These act digitally as well, but it doesn't matter in probably 95+% of games, because you either have your foot to the floor, or you're stomping on the brake.

Another nice tip I picked up from a YouTube video is turning the wheel to the right when mapping it to the left thumbstick in X360CE. If you turn it to the left when mapping it, the left/right directions will be reversed in every game. That one had me pulling my hair out until I went looking online for a solution. Haha.

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I am absolutely loving this cabinet so far! I was able to fully configure about a dozen games last night, while I played another 20 or so and found they need some refinement to be playable to my liking. The process is going faster as I encounter the same issues and can resolve them more quickly each time. I would've been able to set up quite a few more, but I'm having so much fun playing each game once it's configured that I lose track of time. I guess that's not a bad thing?

Thoughts so far:

1) 6th gen console games are magical in this setup. GameCube and Dreamcast games play especially well. I almost ended last night's configuration fun with 18 Wheeler: American Pro Trucker, because I was having way too much fun with it.

2) I have the wheel set to a 270-degree movement range right now, and it works pretty well, but I'm thinking 180 degrees will work and feel even better. I plan to test that this weekend.

3) Games that have no controller configuration dialogs at all are very irritating. Fortunately, I can work around this most of the time with per-game settings in the emulators.

Things left to do:

1) Wire the control panel buttons to the USB interface and setup Joy2Key so they control the HyperSpin wheel and also Coin / Start / Exit.

2) Setup the D-pad on the wheel in Joy2Key as a secondary HyperSpin navigation method.

3) I realized last night that I can run a second monitor to use as a top-mounted display, so people in the game room can watch the action without crowding around the player. I'm going to see if I can acquire a decent-sized 4:3 computer monitor on the cheap to use for this, and it'll double as a game setup aid, since I'll be able to see the text more clearly while I'm working on things.

4) Replace the stock levelers with a set of small but heavy-duty screw-in locking casters, so I can easily move this beast of a cabinet around as needed. Mapp Caster looks like they'll have exactly what I need, and fairly cheap too. Score!

On the negative side, I have encountered a few problems that will be dealbreakers for some games if I can't find a fix:

1) Some of the very technical racing games (like Automobilista) have on-screen interfaces that are too small to read on the CRT, even at the lowly 1024x768 resolution my PC is running. On the plus side, if I have to remove games like this, it will free up considerable hard drive space for other games! šŸ˜

2) Some PC games display their gameplay fine in 4:3, but their menus are partially off-screen (like Arizona Derby). Some of these are still usable, some aren't.

3) A few games I've tried so far use only the left thumbstick for their menu navigation, meaning I can't move Up and Down, because the wheel is mapped to the left thumbstick and only moves Left and Right. If I can't map the D-pad to the left thumbstick for these games, they'll have to be removed.

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Great stuff !! Thanks for sharing.

I have a question: For the 6th generation consoles, do you use Retroarch or standalone emus ?Do you recommand retroarch whenever possible ?

I assume you are configuring the movement range with the logitech app and the problem is you can configure it only once for retroarch or you have to have multiple instances of RA with different range settings. The problem is the same for Mame where sometimes the best setting can even be 90Ā°.

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RetroArch certainly makes life easier overall, since you can configure every game individually with ease.

For the 6th generation, I'm using RetroArch for Dreamcast, and Dolphin and PCSX2 standalone for GameCube and PS2. The original Xbox emulators don't run well enough on the PC I'm using to include that console as of now.

Yeah, I'm using the Logitech app to set the movement range. 180 degrees seems perfect to me. If I run across something in MAME where that's too much, I'll fiddle with the settings until it feels right.

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I had some time on Wednesday and Thursday evening and made considerable progress on this project! Along the way, I learned some stuff and decided on a few things:

1) I tested the RetroArch cores for Dolphin and PCSX2 and found that I like them much more than the standalone emulators, because it is far easier to configure each game individually. I did have to add both cores to the RetroArch RocketLauncher module, but that's a simple thing to do - just add the system names in the list near the top of the module, then scroll down to the list of core names and options and add the appropriate info there. The hotkey for Quick Menu also needs remapped, as F1 won't work. I chose the backslash key "\" since nothing I'm aware of uses that key.

2) 500 games is just too much. It's overwhelming - the same issue I encountered with the Gauntlet Legends cabinet. As I was playtesting games, it occurred to me that close to half of the games I'd likely never play and/or just weren't all that fun. So, I cut the database down to 300 great games. This also freed up about 500GB on the SSD, which enabled me to (re)add many newer PC games that didn't make the cut originally due to space limitations. The selection now is high quality and still comprehensive across the various racing subgenres.

3) I decided to use my spare 32" HDTV for the second monitor. Instead of being mounted on the cabinet itself, I'm mounting it on the wall near the cabinet. It will double as game room entertainment since it can play music, movies, TV etc. fed from my media PC via Emby (which is an absolutely awesome free app, if you haven't tried it.)

4) I played around with RocketLauncher's Fade settings and decided that I really like the Loading bar animation with a custom checkered flag background on fade-in. No text on the screen otherwise - nice and clean. This also does a great job of concealing various emulators' startup dialog windows. I'm not using fade-out, because going from game back to HyperSpin is virtually instant.

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Mostly inferior entries in a series, bland or boring games, and ones that didn't add anything to the variety. They were from all platforms, though N64 and PS1 had the largest amount removed. Once I playtest everything and the database is closer to finished, I'll post it here.

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