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RetroArch, the front-end app for emulators and more is heading to Steam

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RetroArch, a popular front-end application for running emulators, game engines and much more is now officially coming to Steam.

This FOSS application is pretty popular, along with the Libretro API enabling you to get a rather pretty-looking PS3-styled interface to deal with all sorts, although as I understand most just use it for emulators. From the announcement:

RetroArch as a program serves as the fundamental backbone of many retro gaming machines out there in the wild. Even when it is not deliberately namechecked, chances are it’s running in the backend of said retro program. Same goes for its sister project Libretro. For instance, several programs available on Steam already, such as Grid Cartographer, and New Retro Arcade, integrate Libretro support to allow you to run the software that has been ported to the Libretro API. As for Libretro, this API is being leveraged by several retro gaming companies right now to serve as the backbone of their retro emulation services. Given all this interest and burgeoning activity, we feel now is the time to finally bring the official Libretro frontend to Steam. RetroArch is truly in a class of its own on a technical level when it comes to latency, shader features, and now soon-to-be disc loading and disc dumping. We can’t wait to bring you complete control over your retro gaming library coming this summer on Steam!

Something to note, is that the Steam release on July 30th is starting off just for Windows with the Linux build to be released later. They said this is due to them being a bit "wary of the support burden that will come with a much wider audience" which I can't really argue with. Moving over to Steam is a pretty big step for any developer.

Hopefully the Steam release will allow them to push RetroArch even further, it could certainly do with making the initial setup for new users a lot easier.

It confuses the heck out of me every time I go to use it. Although, that's mainly due to distribution packages often disabling the core download ability (cores are essentially plugins, to run emulators and so on), which I've seen confuse many others. If you install it yourself and find you can't download cores either, go into the second menu -> User Interface -> Views -> Show Core Updater. After that, make sure you also go into the Directory menu and ensure download folders are set to somewhere your user can access.

It does come with a few ROMs you can download (most of which I presume are freeware). However, you can also find things like the NeoGeo Classic Complete Collection which comes with with ROMs too legally from places like Humble Store.

Find it on Steam and the official site.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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17 comments
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fagnerln 15 July 2019 at 10:39 am UTC
Emulator with DRM... Yaaaay!!!(?)

Would be interesting if Steam integrates the core emulators in their application natively.

"ADD A NON PC GAME"
Hori 15 July 2019 at 11:19 am UTC
Nice.

But I'd much rather have Steam with this functionality built in, like Steam Play.
0ttman 15 July 2019 at 2:29 pm UTC
I'll be really excited if it will support steam cloud for all those different game saves.
elmapul 15 July 2019 at 2:51 pm UTC
holy cow!

"It confuses the heck out of me every time I go to use it. Although, that's mainly due to distribution packages often disabling the core download ability (cores are essentially plugins, to run emulators and so on), which I've seen confuse many others. If you install it yourself and find you can't download cores either, go into the second menu -> User Interface -> Views -> Show Core Updater. After that, make sure you also go into the Directory menu and ensure download folders are set to somewhere your user can access."

thanks! i was stucked with this.
dibz 15 July 2019 at 2:53 pm UTC
I'd be surprised if this was released non-janky, it'd almost have to be the same as this article mentions with the core updater being disabled. To anyone that doesn't know, RetroArch is actually just a frontend that implements the download, management and use of "libretro" cores, along with configuring and loading roms etc. The cores are the actual emulators and are not technically part of RetroArch.

Personally I find RetroArch to be usually fairly nice -- albeit sometimes confusing if something isn't working properly -- except when using it for a core with a "not modern" amount of controller buttons. IE any console that uses a 6 button controller (Sega Saturn) is incredibly confusing to set up properly, especially if using an actual 6 button controller along with it. I'm far from new in games, technical challenges, and tinkering with games/emulators/hardware, and I just gave up and used a different emulator.

Thinking maybe I just didn't understand what I wanted I looked it up and found a feature request over the same thing. Turns out I'm not alone and there are no intentions to make "non-modern conforming layouts" (Things that don't fit to a 360 or dualshock pad's layout) less confusing, unfortunately.

Then after a few months I decided to try again, and gave up again.
TheSHEEEP 15 July 2019 at 3:43 pm UTC
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I just wish RetroArch devs would finally develop a UI that doesn't suck when used with mouse & keyboard.
Having to manually scroll through hundreds of N64/SNES/NES/GB/GBA/etc. games (all of which I legally own. Obviously) is slightly annoying, to say the least. Just give me a frickin' text search field like MAME does.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP on 15 July 2019 at 3:48 pm UTC
Smoke39 15 July 2019 at 8:40 pm UTC
RetroArch used to be my preferred way to use emulators, but ever since they changed the interface I haven't been able to configure the blasted thing. Last time I tried I couldn't even get my 360 controller working properly. RetroArch was always kinda complicated, but for me they've actually managed to make it worse.

Maybe the more mainstream attention of Steam will help them to finally design a comprehensible interface.
Munk 16 July 2019 at 3:54 am UTC
I did not see this coming, but I like it. I'm interested to see what they do with integration. I don't see how they could do achievements realistically (though they do have integration for 3rd party achievement tracking), but they could perhaps use some of the steam API's like multiplayer joining in very interesting ways.
emphy 16 July 2019 at 4:44 am UTC
> However, you can also find things like the NeoGeo Classic Complete Collection which comes with with ROMs too legally from places like Humble Store.

Additional legal ROM source tip: On steam itself you can also get the sega mega drive collection. It's regularly on sale for around $10. That collection has notoriously bad emulation and a silly bloated 3d interface, but you can just copy-paste the rom files for use in an emulator of your own choice and then uninstall sega's bloated mess.
Phlebiac 16 July 2019 at 4:47 am UTC
HoriBut I'd much rather have Steam with this functionality built in, like Steam Play.

The steam-dos project has shown it is possible integrate with the compatibility tools, but that's only useful if there are games sold on Steam with ROMs. Are there many, besides the Sega Classics that already come with an emulator?
https://store.steampowered.com/sub/102625/

I suppose having an alternative to the bundled emulator is useful sometimes. After all, steam-dos is nicer than using SteamPlay for the various Doom games (native DOSBox instead of Windows version of DOSBox through WINE).
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