Kid-friendly RetroPie: How to go about it?

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This topic contains 9 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  zigurana 2 years, 1 month ago.

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    Hi all!
    I am planning to build a bartop arcade box using a Pi2 and RetroPie. It would be great if this would be something that I can hand over to my young kids (currently 3 and 5 yrs) without having a >80% they will break it. So putting hardware requirements aside for the moment, how can I configure my RetroPie installation such that it is as child friendly as possible?
    To split it out in smaller questions:
    1 – Is there a way to have retropie boot up into a ‘protected’ mode? I’ve seen some videos showing the configuration options in EmulationStation. Is there some way to shield/filter this?
    1b – Is there a way to boot into a list of games in ES? I dont really care to select the system first, and it complicates the experience. I would rather see the games listed by release date.

    2- Is there a way to filter the ROM set, or switch between sets? I would rather not expose them to games that I have not explicitly whitelisted, on the other hand I would like to be able to play what I want. If this means to perfom a little trick to ‘unlock’ the adult-games (in ES or during bootup) thats no problem. (Bonus points if the unlock sequence is uuddlrlrBAstart)


    I had to do something similar and make a very friendly RetroPie console for my mother. She likes to play a few older games, but even the menus inside of emulationstation can cause games to be deleted amongst other problems.

    So what I suggest is to actually dive into the emulationstation source code if you can handle it. What I did was customize emulationstation to make it super protected. I removed several features like the scraper, nearly all the options under the UI and sound menu, and under the shutdown emulationstation menu, all I left was the ability to turn it off. I set up a button that boots the system up, plays a nice little video that goes right into ES. There are no options where she can mess up or really configure anything. All she can do is select a game. I also set up the button to exit the game back to ES. Then she can shut down from ES and that’s all she can do. I had to make my system be fool-proof, and make it look as nice as possible. I went so far as to completely hide all console messages etc…

    So to answer your first question, yes, you can edit and shield/filter the configuration options in ES but it takes a little work and learning how to compile the source.



    Hey thanks for thinking with me here. I’ll have a look into doing a private build for ES. As I don’t have the HW yet, its difficult to build and debug on the real thing.
    In any case, do you think this is something that needs to be tackled in ES only? In that case i will open up a thread there as well.


    I think you’ll be able to make a protected-mode version of ES fairly easy. Look at GuiMenu.cpp source code.

    If you’re looking to make a whitelisted set of roms, you can do that by using a modified ES_Systems.cfg There can be a kids version and a grown up version. A script can be written that could take the file and do something like,
    mv ES_Systems.cfg ES_SystemsKid.cfg
    and take adult version

    mv ES_SystemsAdult.cfg ES_Sytems.cfg
    sudo reboot

    That’ll reboot into ES using a different set of roms.

    The script can be made so you can enter in your Capcom cheat code button sequence.



    Yeah, I agree it’s fairly easy to gut the interface until only the bare functionality remains. However, it would b nice to retain some flexibility. Do you recon its feasible to run two separate installations of ES (one full, one gutted/simplyfied) and switch them at boot-time?

    That would solve the gamelist issue at the same time (as soon as the — gamelist-only option is restored).

    In any case, I’ll let this rest until i have all the HW, which will be after the summer holidays. Thanks for now!



    If you want to just get rid of the start and select menu then you could just unmap those controls then add a shutdown and restart option under the retropie menu.



    add a shutdown and restart option under the retropie menu.

    Can you tell me how to do this? I would love to be able to shutdown from the EmulationStation menu itself without having to hit Start and then use the popup menu. That would be a very easy way to childproof the system.



    What I do with my arcade machine setup is boot from USB. Then I have 2 USB keys with different ROMs and Settings. I just plug in the one I want to use or my kids use. Then if they are in trouble, I take the USB key away. LoL. I keep a copy of the USB on a storage drive and if they mess it up it only takes 5 min to fix. I have a 5 and 8 year old and they have only broken it once in 3 months. I recommend using RetroPie 2.6 for the kids as it doesn’t show as many graphical settings.



    What I’ve done so far for my 3 and 6 year old:

    I have 2 directories for the 3 platforms I’m currently serving up: nes, snes, n64. This script moves games in and out depending on who is playing, then reboots the RPi. Shell scripts are easy for me, that’s why I use them.

    I think I might alter them to swap the es_systems.cfg file in and out of the way, too. The only modification I’ve made to that is to disable the retropie menu. This was done just by commenting out the ‘retropiemenu’ section in es_systems.cfg using <– and –> around that particular section. There is absolutely nothing in there a 3 or 6 year old needs in there. If push comes to shove, I can re-enable it and reboot.

    Basic administration is done by myself over SSH. I don’t need direct access from the GUI.

    There are only 2 things so far that I need to implement:

    1) Disable before-game interruptions. ES or Retroarch (not sure which it is) allows you to hit a button when a game is loading. I want to disable that because they’ve already gone in and hosed settings, forcing me to reconfigure.

    2) Disable or customize select and start button menus within ES. They should be able to reboot and nothing else.


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