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HDmenu game launcher

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I'm happy to announce the release of HDmenu.


What is HDmenu?  At its core it is a menu system for launching hard drive adapted Atari ST Games or Demos on real Atari hardware.  Though it will also run happily on emulators such as Hatari or Steem. Please note the menu runs in Low resolution and supports only Low and Medium resolution games.  At this time the menu does not run on Monochrome displays.


But more than that it can display screenshots for each game and also has a built-in text file viewer for reading those game instructions or solution texts. Screenshots supported for Low and Medium resolutions.


It can also directly launch save states created with Ppera's HAGA/HAGE/HAG2 system games.  The save states can be viewed and each show a screenshot of where in the game the save state was taken. Useful for remembering where in the game you left off!


Below is a flow graph of the basic operation of the menu system.  Control is by keyboard cursors or with a joystick in Port 1.




The menu works on a database system specified through a plain text .CSV file.  Pre-made CSV files can be used or each user can create their own.


Further, the user can select whether a game is a "Favorite" and the list can be filtered to show the entire list or only "Favorites".


The menu has a built-in screensaver with configurable trigger times.


Also, a music file can optionally be played in the background while you scroll through the entries.  A built-in tune is included but an external file can also be played.  Further, multiple music files can be placed in a "MUSIC" folder and selected at whim to play.  An optional graphical vu meter can strobe in the top left of the screen displaying the volume levels of each of the 3 music channels.


The menu font can be changed to an external one of the user's choice.


WHERE CAN I GET SOME FONTS???  visit https://damieng.com/typography/zx-origins/ for a large selection of cool fonts.


The last game played can be remembered so that when restarting, it moves automatically in the list to the recently played game.


Categories can be created and each game can be assigned to a category.  The list can be filtered by category to show, for example, only RPG or Dungeon Crawlers.  It is up to your imagination for what you create.


A Game Info screen shows the entire database specifications for the game when defined.


A status bar can be enabled to show the total number of games in the list and items from the game's database specifications such as Control Type (mouse, joystick, etc), Memory Required, Number of Players, etc.


The menu is run from the AUTO folder and should be the first program there.  At boot, the program allows bypass of the menu with a configurable key.  Or, you can set the menu to boot to Desktop and use the bypass key to run the menu.  It's really up to you.


The menu has "real-time" searching feature so that as keys are typed at the menu list or screenshot screen, the menu will "jump" to the matching entry.  Useful when the menu has hundreds of games :).


There are more features of course, the included README.MD file does its best to describe each in detail as well as the CSV database file construction.


WHERE CAN I GET THIS HDMENU???  Why right here of course :).  For now, the program doesn't have a homepage so new updates will be posted here and on the other popular Atari forums.


WHERE CAN I GET GAMES FOR THIS??? Well, the main sources are Ppera with his GAMEX and HAGA/HAGE/HAG2 adapted games and D-Bug with their ULS system games. Of course there are other sources for hard drive games and also demos can be run from the menu.  Note that games/demos using the AES portion of the Atari operating system are not compatible unless converted to Ppera's HAGE system.


Ppera: https://atari.8bitchip.info/fromhd3.php

D-Bug: http://d-bug.mooo.com/


WTH??? I RAN THE PROGRAM AND IT JUST SAID NO CSV FOUND AND EXITED???  Yes, the program is meant to be totally configurable so no CSV file is included. Follow the README to construct a CSV file or maybe some kind soul here will post a pre-made one!


Many hours went into the production of the menu system and I hope you find enjoyment from it.  The code is based on the Atari ST Harddisk Menu from Paradize with kind permission from Simon Sunnyboy and the program has been rewritten/enhanced almost entirely from that start.  Also, many thanks to the beta testers who were such a big help - DarkLord, JezC, Jordi aka "crashman", Mikerochip and of course Piotr "Kroll" Mietniowski. Big shout out!


Please feel free to post here or PM me with any feedback, suggestions or bug reports. I am a fellow Atarian and hope you find much usefulness from the program.



Edited by TheNameOfTheGame
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Looks good, one small issue, if you select a game and there's a problem with the entry to run it,

it flashes the error momentarily on screen, then disappears before you have time to read the message, 

I had the select the game a few times to be able to read the error message.


This really looks like a fantastic utility, will save so much time once the database is set up

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10 hours ago, TGB1718 said:

Looks good, one small issue, if you select a game and there's a problem with the entry to run it,

it flashes the error momentarily on screen, then disappears before you have time to read the message, 

I had the select the game a few times to be able to read the error message.


This really looks like a fantastic utility, will save so much time once the database is set up


Here's a version with the change for you.  Thanks for the report!


<file moved to first post>  Thanks Albert for allowing me to edit the initial message!

Edited by TheNameOfTheGame
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New release 1.1.0 up in the original post.  There is now a new menu font.




Further, the font is now freely selectable.




The original post now has a download file for FONTS.ZIP.  This zip contains 226! new fonts you can try out and find one you like.

If you prefer to make your own, the details are in the README file.  Place the FONTS folder in the root where the CSV file is and press Shift-F3 at the menu to bring up the selection list.  ESC to cancel or ENTER to use the selected font.  The new font choice can be saved in the configuration file so it is used automatically from then on.




If you preferred the original font, it is available in the FONTS folder under PARADIZE.FNT.  Have fun!


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The screenshot viewing option of the launcher is nice, but the files have to be .NEO format and named for the games folder they are in.  With over 1600+ games compatible with this launcher it's hard to make screenshots of all the games, right?


Well, no problem, here is a zip with 1661 screenshots already in NEO format and inside folders already named for most of the games you will find over at Ppera's site. 


So it is just a matter of dropping the folders over the games folders you've downloaded and you have the pic ready for viewing in the launcher. Easy  :D .



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What about the CSV file...it's complicated I hear you say.  The menu is meant to be configurable and the CSV can get complex if the specifications sections are used, but at the simplest, the file only needs a game name and the path separated by a semicolon for each entry like this:




Here is a simplified CSV for you to try out.  It has 1800 entries named for the folders you will find on Ppera's site.  It only uses the game name and path to make it easier to come to grips with.  You will notice the paths in this file are in the format C:\GAMES\A-Z\<game folder> But of course the paths will need to be adapted to your particular system.  Find and Replace through any good text editor works well  :D. (Well if you test with Hatari you can put all the games on a GEMDOS drive C:\GAMES\A-Z to try out).


If you don't have/need all 1800 games in the CSV there's two options:


1) just cut and paste the games you do have into a new CSV file to use.


2) or in the menu, just type the first few letters of the game you have and the list will "jump" directly to that game so you can launch it.


Keep in mind, you can type the first few letters of the game whether you are in the list mode or the screenshot mode.  Either mode will "jump" to the first matching entry.




Edited by TheNameOfTheGame
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7 hours ago, TGB1718 said:

@TheNameOfTheGame well that saved a lot of typing :)

My file are on a different disk, but a quick search/replace fixed the entries, all seem to work fine.


Once again thanks very much for this, a great utility.


Yeah, getting all those title and folder names in there is the hardest part.  Glad it saved you some time.


7 hours ago, tuf said:

Loving this!



Thanks, appreciate it!

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New version 1.1.1 up in the first post.


The Help screen has been updated to use 3 pages of info now to include all the navigation and function keys.






Increased the spacing of text lines in the text viewer to improve readability.




Keep in mind there 4 color schemes available for the text viewer, you're not stuck with the green text if you don't like it.


How to change the color scheme?  In the text viewer, press either 'P' or F2 to cycle through the options.  If you then save your config file the choice will be remembered for next time.


1 - White background / Black text (default)

2 - Black background / White text

3 - Black background  Green text

4 - Black background / Red text


Other small changes:


- Changed the tagline under the HDMENU logo to add "16/32" after ATARI to distinguish between 8-bit apps.

- Added small delay when saving config file from the F2 screen so that the user can see the "saved ok" or "FAILED" message.  Previously it disappeared too fast.

- bugfix when starting with a saved external font and then changing font within the F2 screen (Thanks Kroll for the report!)

Edited by TheNameOfTheGame
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  • 2 weeks later...

Merry Christmas to all Atarians everywhere!  I am happy to announce that version 2.0.0 of the HDmenu launcher is now available!  Updated release.zip is in the first post above.


This release is a major change to the presentation layer.  Gone are the separate screens for simple confirmation prompts or search entries.


The menu now offers message boxes (written in assembler for speed) for all functions so that the main list is always in view.  Scrollable selection boxes now let the user select fonts or music without leaving the main list.


Configuration message box:

Scrollable selection boxes:

Searching is now done at the bottom line of the screen.  No more having to leave the menu list to search.  Both manual search and real-time "jump" seaching is supported.


Further, a cool new feature is an Atari Fuji with raster color bars in the upper left corner.  This runs on Timer B and is always active when music is not playing.  When music is playing the Atari Fuji is displayed without color bars.  But more, the user can instead opt to display the 3-channel vu meter that strobes along with the music volume.  The choice is yours!


Music Off - Fuji with rasters:

Music On - Fuji

Music On - VU Meter


Existing users please note that the timing required for the raster effects necessitated changes to the trigger values for the screensaver.  (The technical reason is the menu is no longer using Timer C for timing.  Vblank timing is now used).  On launching the new version the first time a message box will be displayed notifying you that an older config file was found and the screensaver is turned off.  Simply go to the F2 configuration screen and set your screensaver time again and press ENTER to save the new settings.  Of course the timers are adjusted for whether the menu is running in 50Hz or 60Hz.


I hope the new changes make using the menu a more enjoyable experience.  Try it out!   Best Holiday wishes to all Atarians out there keeping Atari alive!


Special thanks to user Kroll!  Without his diligent testing and bug-finding this Christmas release would not be possible!  The best tester in the Atari world!

Edited by TheNameOfTheGame
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  • 5 weeks later...

New version 2.1.0 up in the first post. This release has the following changes/improvements:


1)  Database parsing rewritten/optimized.  Loading of CSV now up to 3 times faster.


2)  Can now press <space bar> at boot to skip boot timeout counter.


3)  Boot timeout can now be turned off altogether in the F2 Config menu with new boot timeout option "off"


4)  Fixed bug for screenshot display routine checking byte 2 instead of byte 3 of the NEO file for the rez byte.  This means any Med rez screenshots with the old rez flag position will no longer be displayed properly.  Attached is a zip with corrected Med rez screenshots to replace the old ones with.


This change was needed since Hatari (development version) now allows screen dumps in NEO format which makes it very convenient to get new images for the launcher (Thanks Hatari dev team!).  However, since the Hatari NEO screen dump correctly uses byte 3 for the rez flag, the hdmenu launcher needed fixing.


5) Other minor bug fixes.



Edited by TheNameOfTheGame
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Just a quick note that was brought up in another forum.


Part of the CSV parsing optimizations is that the HDMENU.CSV file now requires Atari line endings (CRLF - same as windows endings).


So if you get the message at start:

Database Init - Please Wait!

CSV has wrong line endings

Press any key to exit


Then you'll need to convert your HDMENU.CSV file to Atari line endings (or send me your file in PM and I will convert it for you). Converting from unix (LF) or mac (CR) line endings ony takes a moment and can be done in a text editor.

Some programs that can do the conversions:

Atari - QED editor
Windows - notepad++
Linux - "unix2dos HDMENU.CSV" from command prompt


If you don't see the above message at start, then your HDMENU.CSV file already has Atari line endings and you can disregard this.


I always try not to impose restrictions on users of the program, so apologies for the inconvience.  If it too much of a bother for people, please lt me know.  I can always add code in to account for other line endings but it would in-turn slow down the CSV parsing marginally.

Edited by TheNameOfTheGame
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New version 2.1.2 up at the first post.


After thinking about it, only allowing Atari line endings kind of goes against the philosophy of not restricting users so I've changed it to allow both line endings now. Really no speed difference from the previous version which is nice.

So users can continue using their existing HDMENU.CSV files with no change and enjoy the speed increase by using the new version.

Edited by TheNameOfTheGame
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One of the features of HDmenu is the ability to designate any game as a "favorite".  This allows quick access to your favorite games without having to scroll through a list of all the titles.  So how does the "favorites" feature work?


There are two ways, one is done graphically from within the launcher itself and the other is a manual method.


For the graphical method we'll start with a database with no favorites assigned.



To see your favorites, press the F5 key.  Here after pressing F5 we can see there are no favorites assigned.




To designate a game as a favorite, press the <Space Bar> with the game highlighted.  This will toggle the game's favorite status on/off.  Here we have designated some games as favorites.  You can see that a "*" is now shown before the games' names to indicate they are favorites.



Now pressing F5 we can filter the list to show only the favorites.  Here we see the list has changed to indicate this.  When viewing the favorites list, everything works the same as with the full list; games can be launched, the list scrolled, screenshots can be viewed, text files read, save states launched, etc.  If at any time you press the ESC key you will will exit the favorites list and return to the main full list.

(for advanced users, keep in mind the "favorites" features also works within Category lists)



If you want to clear a favorite, press the <Space Bar> and it will no longer be a favorite.  Here we have cleared the favorites status for the game "Wolfchild".



If you want to clear all your favorites at once, press Shift-F5.  You will be prompted to make sure you really want to continue.



After confirming with the 'y' key, all the favorites in the list will be cleared.



To retain any changes to the list you might have made, the database can be saved using the F7 key.  Responding with 'y' to the prompt will save your new CSV file so that any changes to list will be active the next time the launcher is run.



The manual method to designate a game as a favorite involves editing the CSV file directly.  Using a text editor, place a "*" character immediately before the game name and the next time the launcher is run, the game will show up as a favorite.  In this snippet from a CSV file, you can see the game "Wolfchild" has been manually designated as a favorite by placing a "*" before the name.


Wonderboy in Monsterland;C:\GAMES\W\WONDBM\START.TOS


To summarize, the "favorites" feature is a convenient way to quickly see a list of your most-liked games where they can be quickly launched.  I hope you find the feature useful.

Edited by TheNameOfTheGame
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  • 3 months later...

New version of HDmenu in the first post.



- Text viewer can optionally use Medium Rez for clearer text.  Set in F2 config menu.

- FONTS directory location can now be specified in HDMENU.CSV.

- MUSIC directory location can now be specified in HDMENU.CSV.

- A default Category to display at start can be specified in HDMENU.CSV.

- HDmenu now recognizes if run from AUTO folder or Desktop.

- When selecting Music or Fonts with Shift-F2/Shift-F3 the list will jump to the current SND/FNT file if one is active.

- Added support for Apollo V4SA computer.



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