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 MAX Codelist Manager


What's the latest version?

Version 2.3, released 18th August, 2009.

What's on this page?

  1. What is it?
  2. Who is it for?
  3. Why would I want to use it?
  4. What doesn't it do?
  5. Can I add individual codes?
  6. Where can I get it?
  7. What's changed?
  8. Where can I find v1.x?
  9. How do I use it?
  10. What does Datel think of this?
  11. Extra Credits

What is it?

It's a program which lets you take the codelist.bin file downloaded from CodeJunkies, and strip out all the games that you don't care about in order to create a smaller file -- thereby giving you a lot more room on your memory card. In addition, you can also add additional games and codes, whether from an official source or a third-party website.

Who is it for?

You'll need to have an Action Replay MAX, a PS2, and some way to get the codelist file from your PC over to your PS2. This usually means one of the following combos:

  1. Old-school
  2. New-fangled

In theory, you could use some other device (such as a memory card reader or a modded & networked PS2), but in that case you'll need the help of some additional software, as MCM does not export full save files.

Another option, which might be simpler for those with a modded console and lots of spare CDs, is to burn your own copy of the ARMAX CD itself, replacing the standard codelist with your customised one. Since I don't have a modded console myself, I can't verify this procedure, but someone (called ITSE) provided this guide.

Why would I want to use it?

There are two primary features in the v2 series of MCM:

  1. Favourite Games (selective codes)
    As of now, the official PAL codelist download is slightly over 3MB, and the NTSC codelist is nearly 4MB. That means that it'll eat up 3-4MB of your memory card, and it's only going to get bigger from there. That may not be a big deal for people with 16MB cards, and with MAX Drive you can at least copy off all of your saves to make room for new ones... but what about people with 8MB cards, and those who don't want to copy/delete saves frequently? That's where this program comes in handy. When I build a codelist from just the games that I actually own (or expect to buy fairly soon) and intend to play in the next year or two, its total size is about 90KB. Yes, that's right, only about 3% of the size of the full list. And that means that I can use that space I've saved to store actual game saves.
  2. Custom Codes
    New to v2 is the ability to create and use custom codelists. These may be as simple as tweaks to the official codelist (eg. renaming a code or adding a comment), or additional codes for an existing game, all the way up to adding completely new games. There are some restrictions, however -- see the following section for details. Why would you want this? If you don't already know, you probably don't :-) But for those who're curious, essentially it allows you to obtain additional codes for existing games (perhaps simply tweaks to the standard codes, or perhaps something entirely different), as well as codes for games that weren't otherwise in the list, for whatever reason.

An additional feature that can come in handy is the ability to compare codelists. The most useful example of this is to compare the (official) codelist you've just downloaded against the one you had downloaded previously, thereby allowing you to see which codes and/or games have been added. Among other things, this allows you to see if there was anything interesting, giving you an indication whether it's worth going to the trouble of copying the codelist over to your console. In addition, you can of course compare custom codelists against each other as well, although that is less useful as custom codelists are frequently wildly different from each other.

What doesn't it do?

At its heart the program merges codelists together. You can selectively enable and disable custom codelists (to prevent them being included in the merge), but you cannot disable the official codelist. This in turn means that you cannot prevent a code in the official codelist from appearing in your final codelist except by excluding the entire game that contains it -- although you can tweak it by renaming it or changing the order in which it appears.

In addition, some of the features of MCM require an external component (the "decryption engine") in order to operate. Without the engine, MCM will fall back to simpler functionality. Specifically, the following features will not be available:

  • the structured view of a game (showing folders and indicating which are exclusive)
  • the ability to add new games or codes
  • the ability to edit the code lines (ie. make it do something different), although you can still rename or move the code

A standard version of this engine is included with MCM, although it had to be separated from the main program for licensing reasons. It is also possible for a third-party engine to be built and connected to MCM, if desired.

New to v2.2 is the ability to create and customise your own codes more directly; this requires an enhanced encryption engine (also included) and is intended for skilled code authors only. While it does have a few safeguards, it's still easily possible to create chaos if you're not sufficiently careful.

Can I add individual codes?

Yes, provided that they are valid MAX codes, and provided that you have the decryption engine installed. This is the major advance over the v1 series.

Note that while MCM does perform basic validation of codes you enter (to catch typos and the like), and I've put in a number of sanity checks to discourage making invalid lists, it is still possible to slip a bad codelist through the cracks. Care is warranted. We will not take any responsibility for corrupted savegames or other weirdness through the use of any codes you've set up through MCM.

Where can I get it?

One proviso: it requires the Microsoft .NET Framework v2.0. It will not work if you have v1.1 or earlier. If you have a later version, it will work fine (though if it's too recent the installer might complain a bit -- but will let you install anyway). If you're not sure whether you have the right version (or whether you have the framework at all), then just try running the installer, since it will check this for you. If you need to upgrade the framework, you can get it from Windows Update (or failing that, direct from Microsoft [x86, x64]).

What's changed?

  • Version 2.3, released 2009-08-18:
    • Just a couple of bugfixes to the Advanced Code Editor. Evidently not many people actually use this, or it would have been reported sooner.
  • Version 2.2, released 2009-01-01:
    • Added advanced code editing functionality, permitting codes to be customised even more than previously possible (without the use of a third-party program). This feature is disabled by default (since it's both experimental and potentially dangerous), but it can be enabled by experienced code authors.
    • The What's New? and general codelist differences screens will now show modified codes (where the code lines themselves have been altered) in orange. Changes only to the name/comment fields will not be considered as modifications.
    • Also on those screens, you can right-click a game (or code within a game) to add or remove it from your favourite games lists. (Particularly useful for the What's New? screen, when there's a newly-added game you want as a favourite.)
    • The restriction that code ids must be completely unique has been removed; now code ids are only required to be unique within a single game. (This change has been made because a user has reported that ARMAX itself doesn't seem to care about duplicated ids; but tread cautiously all the same, just in case.)
    • A warning is now shown when leaving the Codelist Browser if the Favourites checkboxes have been altered without being saved. This should help to prevent accidentally forgetting to save changes to the favourite games.
    • Favourite games can now be removed from the main screen by selecting them and hitting the Delete key (on the keyboard). This is particularly handy to remove favourites that are no longer in any of the available codelists.
    • Non-folder codes that do not contain any active commands are now shown in green in the game viewer (matching how they're shown in ARMAX itself). These codes are essentially sub-headings or extended comments.
    • When a code is encountered in the current codelist that doesn't have any actual code lines stored for it (which is illegal), MCM will now attempt to auto-repair the code by generating the missing code line. (Note however that it can only save this change if it's in an individual custom codelist, not if it's in the official codelists or if you're viewing the combined list.)
  • Version 2.1, released 2008-03-13:
    • Added the ability to import codes from the MaxSettings\arsettings.dat file (stored on the MAX Drive by AR MAX EVO), and from .max files (created if you copy a codelist.bin to your memory card and then back to your MAX Drive, or directly by AR MAX when codes are manually entered). This means that you can "rescue" any codes manually entered on your PS2.
    • Added a backup codelist server, which is used if the CodeJunkies server could not be contacted (for whatever reason). Note however that I'm making no promises to keep this up to date :-)
  • Version 2.0, released 2007-12-31:
    Significant redesign and retool. Now requires v2.0 of the .NET Framework and supports custom codelists, enhanced codelist viewing, and code editing. Also changed the file structure: data (settings and downloaded codelists) is now stored in the user profile folder, which should make the program Vista-ready. (And don't worry: it should upgrade cleanly without losing your settings.)
  • Version 1.5, released 2005-09-15:
    Minor bugfix; it wasn't saving the username/password of the proxy server. Now it does.
  • Version 1.4, released 2005-05-03:
    A couple of bugfixes to "Both" mode. It was downloading the PAL codelist twice, for some silly reason, and ended up with two copies of it loaded simultaneously. Which works, but it's kind of pointless :) It now downloads the correct lists, and displays them slightly better than before too.
  • Version 1.3 redux, reuploaded 2005-04-18:
    Something got broken during the release procedure, which killed your settings file if you chose "Both" mode. This has now been sorted out and the program reuploaded, but since it was just a minor fix and the initial release was only yesterday, I haven't increased the version number.
  • Version 1.3, released 2005-04-17:
    Two major changes here. Firstly, the program can now import the codelist from your Action Replay MAX CD. You'll find this feature in the Settings page. Once you have imported the codelist, it will then automatically merge codelists that you download or load with them -- thereby ensuring that you will still be able to use codes for games on the CD, even if they are dropped from the downloaded codelist.
    The second change also affects your Settings -- you can now tell the program that you use both PAL and NTSC systems. This will make it load both codelists simultaneously, although it will still only export a single codelist (potentially containing codes from both regions). In theory, you will then be able to use the same codelist on both types of game, and ARMAX will show only those codes that are valid for the region you're using at the time. Please note that this feature is currently experimental; while it appears to work correctly as far as I can determine, I do not have an NTSC system to test it with, so I do not know how ARMAX NTSC will react to it. I am also uncertain whether this will permit you to use a single memory card for both NTSC and PAL, or whether you'll still need two.
  • Version 1.2, released 2005-03-16:
    The download process now behaves a bit more politely -- the download progress window will no longer sit on top of other applications, and it now also contains an abort button (for those times when the download stalls, or you change your mind). Note that with the way the download is performed at present, the abort button may not take effect immediately -- it will usually require a few more bytes to be received from the server before it cancels the download.
  • Version 1.1, released 2005-02-08:
    Now provides support for HTTP proxies. By default, it will use any manually-defined proxy from the Internet control panel (as used by Internet Explorer). If that fails, you can manually specify the proxy (or forbid the program from using the proxy) in the settings screen. Note that it cannot automatically fetch the proxy configuration from a server or configuration file -- it can only use explicitly specified info.
  • Version 1.0, released 2005-01-31:
    Initial release. Provides code browser, favourite games, and basic export functionality.

Where can I find v1.x?

Hopefully you won't need it any more, but if you like, the v1.x version of this page contains the downloads for v1 and its documentation.


How do I use it?

Installing

MCM is available in two editions: standard and portable.

  • Standard Edition
    This is the version that most people should use. It comes with an installer, and is intended to be installed onto your home PC in a central location. A single installation can be shared by any number of different Windows users; their settings (and codelists) will all be kept separately.

    To use this edition, simply download the Standard Edition installer above and run it. The installer will take care of the rest.

  • Portable Edition
    This version comes as a simple zip file without an installer, and is intended to be installed onto a USB or other portable drive, for use on public PCs. Like v1 of MCM (and unlike the Standard Edition), all settings and codelists are kept in the application folder, thereby avoiding storing anything important on the PC itself.

    To use this edition, download the Portable Edition zipfile above and unzip it into its own folder on your USB drive using the unzipping program of your choice. No icons will be created, so you will need to run it manually as needed.

Initial setup

The first thing you should do after running MCM is to hit the Settings button in the lower right hand corner.

  • The most important thing in here is to indicate whether you have a PAL or an NTSC console. This determines which codelist will get downloaded.
  • Next up, you should decide whether you want the program to automatically check for a new codelist whenever you run it, or whether you want to manually click the Download button before it does anything. Both automatic and manual downloading follow these rules:
    • If you have not yet downloaded a codelist, then the full codelist will be downloaded.
    • If you have previously downloaded a codelist, then it will first do a quick check (which only takes a second or two) to see if there is a later version available.
    • If there was a newer version available, then you will be asked if you want to download the new list (and you will be told the version numbers of each).
    • If you already have the latest version, then for manual downloads you will be told that; for automatic downloads it just returns to the main screen without any other notification (because showing a dialog each time would be annoying). In both cases, nothing further is downloaded.
    So you can see that even if you turn on the startup check, you can still choose to avoid downloading a codelist (if you're in a hurry). Note however that only the official codelists will be updated in this way -- if an updated version of a custom codelist is available you'll have to download it yourself (since we don't know where to find it).
  • It's a good idea to import the codelists from your ARMAX CD, which you can also do here. Datel have recently taken to removing some games from the downloaded list, when those games are provided on the CD. Importing the original lists will allow you to keep them all together, avoiding the need to keep swapping between the CD and the memory card.
  • The remaining settings determine where the exported codelist is written to. The default settings should be correct for most people, but you can tweak them if desired.

"What's new?"

Initially this function won't be available, since you will have only just downloaded your first codelist. Once you download a later codelist, though, this button will become available, and if clicked will show you the list of games and codes that have been added or removed between your older list and the newly-downloaded one. This can help you determine if there's an interesting new game to add to your favourites or not.

Note that this will only be available during the session that you downloaded the new list -- once MCM is closed, it will "forget" about the older list and will no longer be able to show you the changes.

Choosing favourites

The core of the program is still your list of favourite games. Only codes for these games will be exported into your personal codelist file. Typically you should choose the smallest number of games you can (normally just the ones you expect to be playing over the next few days/months), since the smaller your selection here, the smaller the resulting codelist file will be and hence the more room you'll have on your memory card for actual gamesaves. One exception to this is if you're burning a new ARMAX CD (requires modded console), in which case you'll probably want all of them.

To choose your favourite games, you first need to see what's available. So click on the "View full combined codelist" button. This button will always show you the largest codelist we have -- the result of combining all the other lists specified in the program. From here, the simplest thing to do is to scroll through the list and tick the boxes next to those games you're interested in, finishing up by clicking the "Update favourite games" button. (If you don't click the button, changes to the checkboxes won't affect your favourites -- this is to help prevent accidentally changing your favourites.)

Another way to choose your favourites is when you're viewing the codes for a specific game; a button appears at the bottom indicating whether this game is already one of your favourites and provides the opportunity to either add or remove it, as appropriate.

Adding custom codelists

New in MCM v2 is the ability to manage (and edit) custom codelists, whether built by yourself or downloaded off others. This is what the list on the left side of the main screen is for. Bear in mind that this is an optional feature of the program -- if you just want to use the official codelists, then that's fine.

To start out with, you've got two options -- you can either create a new codelist (with the New button) or import an existing list (with the Add button). Once you've added a codelist to the list, you'll see that it has a checkbox next to it. This determines whether the list is enabled (which it is, by default). An enabled list will be included in the combined codelist; a disabled one won't be. This allows you to "swap in" different (perhaps conflicting) codelists fairly easily.

There are two main functions that a custom codelist can perform. The first, obviously, is containing entirely new games or codes. Note that MCM will not help you actually create these codes -- it's strictly a codelist manager. You will need to obtain valid codes from elsewhere. The second function is to "tweak" existing codes, especially those from the official codelists. Perhaps you want to rearrange the codes to put the ones you use the most near the top, or perhaps you want to correct a typo or provide additional comments for a given code. All of that is possible.

Importing MAX settings

If you're just starting out using MCM, chances are that you've manually entered some codes into your PS2 at some point. If you follow the normal codelist update strategies (which usually involve deleting your old codelist file), these can get lost. But never fear, MCM now includes the ability to import these as well.

Note that you only need to import manually-entered codes if they were obtained from a third-party source -- codes that were in the official CodeJunkies codelist are already available to MCM (if you've downloaded them).

  • arsettings.dat:
    AR MAX EVO will save a file called arsettings.dat into a folder called MaxSettings on your MAX Drive, if it is inserted in your PS2 while you're adding the codes.
  • ActionReplayMAXSettings:
    Older versions of MAX (and also MAX EVO, if you don't have your MAX Drive in) will store your codes on your memory card as a save called ActionReplayMAXSettings. If you copy this back off to your MAX Drive then you'll end up with a file called something like 00000_nnnnn_ActionRepl.max (where the 'nnn's are a number that can vary). MCM can load this to extract the codes.

WARNING: if you import these codes into a custom codelist and then include that in the codelist being exported by MCM, then you should delete the original files (arsettings.dat or ActionReplayMAXSettings) from your MAX Drive or memory card afterwards. This is because any user-entered codes in those files takes precedence over the codelist.bin file that MCM generates, so any changes made in MCM will be overridden by the "old" codes in the files you imported from. (Don't forget to take a backup copy of these files before deleting them though, just in case.)

Editing custom codelists

Only one codelist at a time is editable -- this is called the "active codelist". You can make any of the custom codelists active simply by clicking the Make Active button when the codelist is selected -- it doesn't even matter if the list is enabled or disabled. Note however that the official and combined codelists cannot be made active and thus cannot be edited directly (they can, however, be edited indirectly by overriding their codes).

Once you've made a codelist active, it will appear in the Active List section. From there, click on the View button to see the list of games and codes within just that list. When viewing the active list, a number of additional functions become available, such as the ability to directly Add a new game or code, or Edit an existing code (editing a game is achieved by editing its master code). This can be as simple as changing the text associated with a code (and in fact, if a valid decryption engine couldn't be found then that's all you'll be able to do), or include changing the actual definition of the code as well -- though again, MCM will not help you with that, except to verify that the code you've entered is a valid one.

There's one other useful ability that appears once you've made a list active: if you view a different list (including the combined list), an option to add a given game to the active list appears. This is how you can accomplish tweaks to existing games/codes, since once they're in the active list then they become editable.

There is also limited support for moving codes up and down within the list, which you can use for example to put your most frequently used codes at the top for easy access. It's limited because we don't support reorganisation -- while you can move codes within a folder and you can move folders of codes, you can't move a code into or out of a folder. There are two important reasons for this. The first is that folders themselves require a unique id (just like any other code in the list), making them tricky to create on the fly. The second is that exclusive codes (the ones that appear as radio buttons and only allow you to select one at a time) depend on the folder they're in to determine which codes cannot be mixed -- which is important to prevent code clashes. Moving those around would let you set up potentially unsafe codelists, which doesn't seem like a good idea.

Special symbols

In addition to regular letters and numbers, ARMAX can display special icons representing most of the controller buttons. This is most commonly used in a Comment to indicate the buttons that need to be pressed to activate a certain code in-game, but you can put them wherever you want. MCM will automatically translate the following escape sequences:

  • {Cross}, {Square}, {Triangle}, and {Circle}.
  • {Up}, {Down}, {Left}, and {Right}.
  • {Select} and {Start}.
  • {L1}, {L2}, and {L3}.
  • {R1}, {R2}, and {R3}.

How codelist merging works

To create the combined codelist, the official codelists and any enabled custom codelists are merged together. The merging itself is an ordered process -- this means that if a given game or code exists in two different codelists, then whichever one is merged last "wins" and will be included in the final merged codelist.

The starting point is always the codelists from the CDs (if you've imported them), since they should be the oldest. Then the downloaded codelist is merged with that, producing a combined Official Codelist. After that, each of the enabled (ticked) custom codelists are merged in the order listed (meaning ones toward the bottom will "win" over ones further up), and the result is the Combined Codelist. After that, the list is filtered by your choice of favourite games, and the final result is your Personal Codelist, which is the one that you'll end up exporting to ARMAX.

The most useful thing to remember is that you can move custom codelists up and down to influence when they are merged in, and consequently which of them will "win" if there is a clash. This isn't all-or-nothing at the game level, though -- you can delete individual codes from a given codelist, which will ensure that they can't clash with codes merged in earlier. This whole merging thing makes it fairly easy to create little "patch" lists that only change one or two codes in a given game (or add additional codes without affecting any of the standard ones). But all this merging also means that you can't get rid of a given code entirely without disabling any codelists that contain it -- and you can't disable the official lists.

Exporting your personal list

Once you've included all the codelists you want and set up your favourite games, it's time to get your personal codelist over to your PS2. For starters, insert your MAX Drive (if you're using one) and click the "Export favourites to ARMAX" button. Depending on what choices you made in the settings, this may automatically copy your personal list to the drive, or it may put it elsewhere for you to manually copy across later. Exactly how you do this depends on the method you chose (and disclaimer: these steps work for me; I make no warranties or guarantees they'll work for you, though I hope they will):

  • Burning a new ARMAX CD:
  • Using separate ARMAX and Max Drive CDs (older editions):
    1. Insert the MAX Drive into your PS2.
    2. Turn on your PS2 and insert the MAX Drive CD.
    3. Once it boots, select the MAX Drive as your primary device.
    4. Select the codelist, then Copy To MC1.
    5. Once it is finished, reset your PS2 and insert the ARMAX CD.
    6. That should be it -- it should now load the updated codelist.
    7. (If it didn't, then repeat this procedure but go into MC1 first (within MAX Drive, not the PS2's built-in browser) and delete any files mentioning ARMAX; this shouldn't be necessary unless you're updating the list multiple times for a given official codelist version, however.)
  • Using ARMAX EVO (or a combined ARMAX and Max Memory CD; newer editions):
    1. Turn on your PS2 and insert the ARMAX CD (without inserting the MAX Drive!)
    2. Once it boots, select MAX Memory from the menu.
    3. Once it loads, insert your MAX Drive and wait for the USB icon to become available.
    4. Ignore that for the moment and go into MC1.
    5. Locate and delete any files mentioning ARMAX -- there will usually be one or two.
    6. You've now got two options:
      1. If you don't mind leaving your MAX Drive in all the time, then you can stop here; EVO will automatically load the codelist.bin file from the USB drive if there isn't one on the memory card.
      2. If you don't want to leave your MAX Drive in all the time, then you'll have to copy the list across to your memory card:
        1. Return to the main screen and go into the USB drive now.
        2. Select the codelist, then Copy To MC1.
        3. Once it is finished, remove the MAX Drive. (Leaving it in can confuse it.)
    7. Reset your PS2. (This is important; using the menu to restart ARMAX without actually resetting can sometimes result in the wrong codelist being used.)
    8. That should be it -- it should now load the updated codelist.

Exporting a custom list

In addition to exporting your personal list, MCM can also export individual custom lists in a variety of formats. The idea is that if you've spent a while tweaking a codelist or building your own list of custom codes, you may want to share them with the world. (After first making sure you have permission to redistribute them, of course!) Or simply print them out or save a backup copy somewhere. Most people won't need to use this feature, but it's there for those who do.

To do this, first make the codelist in question Active. Next, click on the Export button (in the Active List section). From here, you can choose a file type (from the dropdown list) and choose where you want to save the resulting file.

Something else

Hopefully everything else is obvious; I tried to make it fairly easy to use. But if you have any other questions, or feel that something should be added to this manual, then please let me know.

Feature Requests

There's all sorts of weird and wacky things you might want to do with your codelists. If there's something you particularly want and can't seem to get MCM to do, then leave me some feedback and I'll see what I can do.


What does Datel think of this?

I have no idea. I told them about the upcoming release of this program about a month prior to releasing it, but haven't as yet heard anything from them about it. So until I specifically hear otherwise, I'm considering them as "not actively disapproving" -- in other words, they don't actually approve of it, but they don't care enough to make an issue out of it. Or possibly that they like the idea but can't officially endorse it for legal reasons. Either way, it's much the same thing.

I don't foresee any real problems with this -- after all, I'm not trying to profit from it, and if it catches on then it gives people one more reason to go buy an Action Replay MAX and/or MAX Drive, if they haven't already -- but you never know. Some companies (or their lawyers) get snooty, and I don't know whether Datel is one of those or not :-) Besides, the PS2 is nearly EOL anyway.

Extra Credits

Special thanks to the following people, without whom MCM v2.x probably would never have come out (or would be missing some things):

  • Pyriel, Parasyte, and Misfire
  • gothi
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