Some have gone as far as to hire MAME developers to create emulators for their old properties. An example of this is the Taito Legends pack which contains ROMs readable on select versions of MAME.
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A game usually consists of multiple ROM and PAL images; these are collectively stored inside a single ZIP file, constituting a ROM set. For example, Street Fighter II Turbo is considered a variant of Street Fighter II Champion Edition. System boards like the Neo Geo that have ROMs shared between multiple games require the ROMs to be stored in "BIOS" ROM sets and named appropriately.
The original program code, graphics and sound data need to be present so that the game can be emulated. In most arcade machines, the data is stored in read-only memory chips , although other devices such as cassette tapes, floppy disks, hard disks, laserdiscs, and compact discs are also used. The contents of most of these devices can be copied to computer files, in a process called "dumping". The resulting files are often generically called ROM images or ROMs regardless of the kind of storage they came from.
The approach MAME takes with regards to accuracy is an incremental one; systems are emulated as accurately as they reasonably can be. Bootleg copies of games are often the first to be emulated, with proper versions emulated later. Besides encryption, arcade games were usually protected with custom microcontroller units that implemented a part of the game logic or some other important functions. Emulation of these chips is preferred even when they have little or no immediately visible effect on the game itself. For example, the monster behavior in Bubble Bobble was not perfected until the code and data contained with the custom MCU was dumped through the decapping of the chip.
At first, MAME was developed exclusively for MS-DOS, but was soon ported to Unix-like systems (X/MAME), Macintosh and Windows . MAME has also been ported to other computers, game consoles, mobile phones and PDAs, and at one point even to digital cameras. In 2012, Google ported MAME to Native Client, which allows MAME to run inside Chrome.
In May 2015, it was announced that MAME’s developers were planning to re-license the software under a more common free and open-source license, away from the original MAME-license. The transition of MAME’s licensing to the BSD/GPL licenses was completed in March 2016. With the license change, most of MAME’s source code (90%+) is available under a three-clause BSD license and the complete project is under the GNU General Public License version 2 or later. The information contained within MAME is free for re-use, and companies have been known to utilize MAME when recreating their old classics on modern systems.
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