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Amiga game emulation with WinUAE

Official Homepage:
Also for downloading the latest version

This guide for WinUAE has many similarities to the UAE version described here. But WinUAE has more options and variables, more things can (and quite possibly will) go wrong. Keep in mind that to get a perfectly smooth operating Amiga Emulation you'll have to do a lot of tweaking and just simple trying. And then it may just run perfectly, for a couple of games.

This guide is written for those people who only just start using this emulation program, if you already have more experience you won't learn much new here.

To be able to understand and use this guide you need to have some basic knowledge about computers, i.e. if you know what files and directories/folders are you'll get some way. You also need to know what operating system you're running, this so you download the right version of the emulator (this guide is for the Windows version). We also assume you already have a game on your harddisk, check out the TUOL list for Amiga sites and find yourself a nice game. You probably need an un-archiver program like Winzip or Winace to be able to extract the file, in the end the files should have the '.adf' (Amiga Disk File) extension.

The version described here is the latest version of WinUAE as far as we know, there might have been small changes, but nothing too major because then we'd update this guide. The pictures you see here might look slightly different than the ones you see, depending on your operating system and display settings. I use Windows XP Home edition. Even though your version might not look exactly the same it should have the same menus and options.

We recommend you download a pre-compiled, self-extracting version, there is also a source code or just a zip-file, but the self-extracting and self-installing version is easier. If you download the zip-file (more control over what happens) use one of the un-archivers mentioned above to extract the files to their respective folders. The program comes with several readme files, you might want to have a quick look at those, although if you need this guide to run WinUAE they are probably to complex for you to start with.

Amiga ROM files
Now I can start explaining all the different settings and options you have, and there are many of them. But it is all of no use if you don't have a real Amiga Kickstart ROM file. So, where can you get one of those? The Amiga ROM files are still copyrighted, supported and sold by the company that bought the rights some time ago, Amiga Forever.
Here you can buy these ROM files for approximately 30 Euro (just get the most used versions: 1.3 and 3.1), however if you have a real Amiga you can copy the ROM from this Amiga into a ROM file, WinUAE should come with the needed program (Transrom) and a short explanation on how to do it, we shall also explain how to do this in the still to be written guide to transferring real Amiga Disks to ADF-files. If you got a ROM file in some other way, please don't use it and go through the proper channels.

Start installing and running
Once you've got all this sorted, install the program by double clicking on the self-extracting and self installing file you just downloaded. Go for the standard and basic options, i.e. don't change anything and just click "next" and "OK" all the time. When the installation finishes you're ready to run the program, click on the Shortcut that was created, on your desktop or in the start - programs - WinUAE menu. The program then starts with a graphical user interface, GUI, with a number of tabs. Below we shall describe each tab in turn to try and show you how to deal with them and what they can do for you.

  • Configurations:
    The program always starts with the config load/save screen, as shown in the picture above. Here you will find configurations you previously saved or downloaded, load one of those for a quick start if you have any. The program does not come with a set of configs, so you will have to either make them yourself or download them (e.g. here). Some game sites provide more than just games they also recommend a certain config for the games, they let you download them as well. Keep in mind however that the config might have to be tuned depending on your hardware. Put your config files in to the 'C:\WinUAE\Configurations\'- folder on your hard disk they will then automatically show up in this display. Otherwise use the the 'Load From' button, to specify the location.

    You'll probably find that some things are not running as smoothly as wanted, they need tweaking. So from here on we'll show you where to find certain options, their effects and how to use them.

  • CPU:
    Let's start with the menu that more or less defines the basis for the type of Amiga you will be trying to emulate, the CPU (Central Processing Unit) menu. There are many different Amigas, not all have a different CPU but the CPU does specify the family of Amiga. So this is where to start the CPU type. The Amiga you're most likely to emulate is the A500 (~7 MHz) or the A1200 (~14MHz), they have the 68000 and the 68020 respectively. FPU is a sort of co-processor which could be installed in your Amiga to improve its number crunching capabilities. The CPU emulation speed is best set for Match A500 speed if your emulating an A500, for anything else the bottom setting adjustable between CPU and Chipset is best, with this last setting you can tweak the speed of your emulated Amiga to get optimum performance. The Fastest Possible option might be a little too fast on modern day PCs. If things are not running very well and you've got the adjustable setting selected, try adjusting it (if you've got a very fast PC, try sliding the left slide from CPU to Chipset).
    The JIT Settings are the Just In Time compiler settings. Let's just say that it might help speed up the emulation, but if you don't really know what your doing it is best left alone, since you are reading this you probably don't really know what your doing so... leave it alone.

  • ROM:
    We already talked about Amiga Kickstart ROM files here, these have to be loaded by using the ROM menu. The ROM (Read Only Memory) of the Amiga contains a so-called Kickstart, this is comparable to a PC's BIOS, it also contains part of the Amiga Operating System (e.g. mouse drivers). On the first line of the menu, shown above, you can indicate where the program can find you Amiga ROM file, by clicking on the little box (with the three dots in it) behind the line you can browse your hard disk and make it point to the right file. For an A500 you'll need Kickstart version 1.3 and for an A1200 you'll need version 3.1. The Key File line is only needed if you bought your Kickstart ROM from Amiga Forever, since these ROM files are encrypted.
    Leave the other settings alone you won't need them, yet.

  • Chipset:
    The chipset type; use the AGA setting only for A1200 games, usually this is mentioned in either the name of the game or the description. The other options are for A500 games, for most games Full ECS will do the trick. WinUAE produces PAL output as a standard, if your monitor does NTSC instead you can select that here. The Misc chipset options are best left alone, Fast Copper should do for most games. The Collision Level should be set to and left at Sprites and Sprites vs. Playfield. I run my A500 emulation with the setting shown in the picture above and it works fine. A recent addition to this menu is the sound emulation section, this section is also available in the sound menu described a little further down, here.

  • RAM:
    RAM (Random Access Memory), for most Amigas 2MB of chip memory should be just fine. The Original A500 only had 512 KB of chip memory, so some old games may only run on that setting, later games handle the memory better and should work just fine on 2 MB. For games the other memory options can, in general, be left at "none".

  • Display:
    This really is quite straightforward, it determines the way your Amiga will be displayed on you PC screen. You're not changing Amiga settings here, just PC display options. here you will have to know what kind of PC you have, what your graphics card can do and how much your monitor can handle. 800x600, 16-bit will work ok on most Windows machines. Although you might see a black block on the right or miss something at the bottom of the screen, depending on your PC. It is recommended by the WinUAE people that you press the Detect pixel format button to let WinUAE determine your computer's abilities. The best thing to do here is to just try, and find the setting that looks and feels best. Best not to touch the Refresh rate, unless the program is really very slow, reducing the refresh rate will make all picture movements a bit shocky, but the emulation will be faster. In general the setting displayed in the picture above should do just fine and provide a good starting point. Although you mighty have to play a bit, try running it, if it doesn't look good press F12 and you will see this menu again. You can run it full screen if you like, it's up to you.

  • Sound:
    One of the Amiga's strong points was, that is was always really very good at sound, this is now also one of the most difficult things to get emulated properly. This will need quite a bit of tweaking, depending on you PC speed, PC sound system, the game you want to play and how good you really want it to be. A good start is probably the setting you can see above, although your soundcard will most likely be different. Disabled means the emulator will not produce any sound, this might make it run smoother and remove sound related errors. Some games will not run like that though so then there is Disabled, but emulated. A new feature of WinUAE is for the real die-hard Amiga fans, it's the Disk Drive Sound Emulation: The Amiga's diskdrives were always probing for inserted floppies so the were ticking, they were also quite noisy. If you want the real 100% feeling, give this a go, it didn't work very well for me.
    I'm running it with the settings shown above. You'll have to take it from there.

  • Game and I/O ports:
    Here you tell the emulator where to find what kind of input. The original Amiga has two 'mouse' ports, one used for the actual mouse the other in general for a joystick. Most games assume you have a mouse in port 0, and a Joystick in port 1. Here you can also set other peripherals like whatever you would like to have on your Amiga serial port, what your Amiga printer is (you'll find all your PC installed printers here) and some MIDI settings.

  • Input:
    This menu lets you decide about all your input devices (Joystick (Gamepad), Mouse and Keyboard) and what it is supposed to do. This menu always starts in compatibility mode, this is a default, change that to configuration #1 (or #2, #3, #4) and you can start making changes. E.g. on the PC presssing Ctrl, Alt, delete resets your PC, on the Amiga you have to press ctrl, left A, right A (A is the Amiga button only found on real Amigas) you can emulate that here (I'm using the two Windows buttons and Ctrl). Basically that's all that you need to do here, the other options are for fine tuning if you find that things are not smooth enough. Pressing F12 while the program is running, and you want to fine tune something, pauses the program and returns you to the GUI to make whatever changes you like.

Floppies and Hard Drives.
Most Amiga games are perfectly playable from floppies, afterall that is all the Amiga 500 had. All games were on floppies and it wasn't until the Amiga 600 and especially the Amiga 1200 that the hard disk took off (a bit). Most games you'll find on the web will be on 'floppy disk' (.adf-files).
  • Disk Drives:
    First things first, whenever you Amiga emulator is running just press F12 to go back to the GUI. Then you can select floppies to go into any of the floppy disk drives. Rember that the floppies we are talking about here are not really floppies but the Amiga Disk Files. On the Amiga all floppy disk drives were denoted by DFx, the first one with x = 0. For instance, start your Amiga 500 and you'll see the original Amiga hand and disk prompting you to insert a disk.
    Press F12 to return to the GUI, go to the Floppies menu and insert the first disk (.adf-file), of any of the A500 games you might have, into DF0, by clicking on the button with three points behind the lines. Then click 'OK'. The game will start loading and the fun can start.

  • Disk Swapper:
    When playing a multi disk game, sometimes you would spend a bit of time swapping disks. The Disk Swapper menu will reduce the amount of time needed because now you can drag and drop all the ADF's needed for this game into this one menu (You will have to do this in windows: Open Windows Explorer, select the files and drag them into this window they will then be listed). While playing and you have to change disks press F12, go to this menu and click on the drive name behind the disk that has to be ejected (e.g. DF0: (at the end of the line)) then click behind the disk you want to insert (again in the last section of that line). Have a play with it, you'll get the hang of it soon enough. Remember you can only insert disks into drives that are made active in the Disk Drive menu.

  • Hard Drives:
    Don't mess around with this if you are just playing games and you don't know what you are doing, have look at the UAE guide, for more info near the bottom. If you're convinced that you do need an Amiga Hard disk, press the Add Directory, Add Hardfile or Add Harddrive button a new window will open asking you for Device names, volume labels and sizes. Name and label it as you like and make it as big as you like. Have a look here. but once again, just for playing games you don't need this.

  • Misc:
    No really vital things here, just make sure that Show GUI on startup is ticked, this just means you will get this display when you start the program and you can actually change things. Just some things to make you feel good, not to make the program run well. State files can be used to save the state of your Amiga, so basically you can use them as a save option when the game does not have one. Because when you load a previously saved state the Amiga emulation will start from there.

  • Output:
    If you want, WinUAE can write everything you do to an output file, a standard windows video file (avi) or even just the sound to an wav-file. Donít think this will be of much use to you to play games.

  • Filter:
    These are graphical filters you can use to adjust display properties. Best left alone if you don't know what you're doing. You will most likely not need this for games. Although playing with it doesn't really hurt, since F12 will get you back to this menu and you can undo everything.

  • Priority:
    Here you can tell Windows how much of your system's resources should be devoted to WinUAE when it is: a) Active, b) Inactive or c) Minimized. You might want it to stop making noise once you minimize the program and such.

  • About:
    Tells you exactly what version you are running and a button to show you all the contributors. If you are going to ask anybody for help about problems you are having with WinUAE, always make sure you mention the full version number, in this case: WinUAE 0.8.26.

  • Starting:
    Now press OK and the emulator should start. The Amiga 500 start screen slooks like this.
    In the bottom right you can see several different coloured boxes with numbers and letters in them. The green boxes are for the Amiga floppy drives, in other words if nothing is happening on the screen but one of these boxes is flashing or changing numbers, the Emulator is reading something from the 'Floppy Disk Drive' (your .adf-file). The blue boxes are for Harddisk (HD) or CD-rom (CD). The red box is supposedly for 'Power On' the others are for CPU activity.
    Once this screen is displayed you can insert a floppy disk (adf-file) into DF0: by pressing F12 and going to the Floppies menu, see here. The A1200 shows a screen with a moving floppy.

General Advice:
  • When the emulator is running, just press F12 to pause whatever it was doing and return to the Graphical User Interface, GUI, to change settings, tweak and insert/change floppies.
  • Tweaking the sound will take time, nobody can help you much with that, it is too dependant on the game you're trying to play and on your pc-system.
  • When you change something to a loaded configuration and it seems to work, save it in a new configuration file. That way you can always go back to your previous configuration if the new one doesn't work well afterall. Sometimes a small imperfection is better than nothing at all.
  • Your pc will be unable to read actual Amiga formatted floppies. Yes, Amiga disks are usually double density and your pc is High density. Doesn't matter! The formatting is different, so different that no software can ever help your pc floppy drive read them. They are just physically NOT able to do it, no fixes, no patches, no tricks, just Amiga Disk Files. So if somebody gives you a real Amiga disk to try, ask him/her to give the Amiga as well. However, with the right software installed, your Amiga is able to read Double Density PC-formatted floppies.
  • When the display of a game looks wrong, or if you can't figure out how the controls are set up, press F12 to change and check settings. (Can't say F12 often enough.)
  • A Guide on how to transfer real Amiga disks to Amiga Disk Files will be written shortly.
Trouble shooting:
  • The emulation is very slow:
    A quick solution is to decrease frame rate in the Display menu.
  • Error: 'you need to have a diskfile in DF0 to use the Kickstart replacement!':
    get a Kickstart ROM file or a game that doesn't need one (almost none).
  • The colours seem all wrong:
    If you've got AGA selected, un-select it in the Chipset menu by selecting OCS/ECS and 68000 in the CPU menu, if you haven't got it selected, try selecting it and the 68020 CPU.
  • You are using the A1200 and all the images seem stretched and deformed:
    You are probably trying to play a non-A1200 game, try running it on the A500.
  • Only every second line seems to be used, every other line is black.
    Go to the Display menu and set Linemode to Double.
For standard configurations, try these files provided by us:
Trouble? Questions?
Post in the forum and we'll try our best to help you even with specific configuration problems. And if we can't then somebody else in the Forum might.