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 Post subject: Why Future Pinball gets a bad rap
 Post Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 11:40 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:49 am
Posts: 143
I often hear people ripping Future Pinball apart .

"I play Visual Pinball because you can't play a Future Pinball table the way it was originally intended."
"The physics in Future Pinball are crap, the ball just doesn't go where it is supposed to."
"I love Future Pinball, but it is best left to original tables, it doesn't play reproductions properly."

I don't think the problem is Future Pinball itself, but I think some complaints may be justified by the way we create our tables. The problem involves the most simple, most important factor of any pinball table, the flippers. Somewhere along the line, someone came up with the some great flipper settings. People copy these from table to table, without tweaking them, making it an almost universal problem. This makes sense, people are creating copies of real life tables that they may have never even played. You can look at a playfield and know how to make the artwork. You can't just look at the flippers and instantly know exactly what they should be doing.

If you just play pinball as a "flipper fest", batting the ball whenever it gets near a flipper, you probably won't even notice what I am talking about here. When your goal is to slow the ball down, keep it under control at all times, trap it, and accurately make shots, you will notice huge problems with most Future Pinball tables. When I try to make shots, I put three imaginary points on the flipper. I call them, the sweet spot, the center, and the choke. I don't know if there are real names for these, that is just what I call them in my head.

Image

In almost every single real pinball table I have ever played, if you trap the ball, release the flipper, and launch the ball from the sweet spot, you will hit a ramp or important target on the opposite side of the table. If you do the same, but launch the ball from the center spot, the ball will go right up the center of the table and hit whatever target is in the middle. Table designers usually put something really important there (Medieval Madness Castle, TOTAN Genie, etc), you get major points, and it causes a lot of drains, which means more quarters in the machine. In many tables, if you do the same, but launch from the choke, you can complete a flipper pass by banking the ball off of the bottom of a slingshot, back onto your flipper, which will bounce over to the opposite flipper. These three positions that I have described vary from machine to machine slightly, but they are almost always there. I also use these imaginary spots as guides. For example, in Medieval Madness, the ball lock is just to the right of the left ramp. Instead of launching the ball from the sweet spot, I will launch it slightly early, right into the ball lock.

I will continue to use Medieval Madness as my example, because it illustrates my point well, and most people have played it in at least one incarnation. The future pinball table of Medieval Madness is an amazing beautiful thing, almost a masterpiece. The scripting, artwork, and models are perfect! The ball just doesn't go where it should off of the flippers. This is true for most Future Pinball tables.

This illustration shows where the ball is typically launched in real pinball tables
Image

This illustration shows where the ball is typically launched in Future Pinball tables
Image

As you can see, in most Future Pinball tables, it isn't even possible to launch the ball directly from the flipper to the castle in Medieval Madness. This may be the most important goal in the game and the table isn't even set up to allow the player to accomplish it normally. Every shot launches too low. The player must hit a ball that is floating above the flipper to get the center. I see this all over Future Pinball tables, not just Medieval Madness. I don't believe this is the way the tables were intended to be played. Have a look at this tutorial. If you look closely, you can see the ball being launched the way I am describing. This is what it looks like when you master slow, controlled pinball. I think that even original Future Pinball tables would benefit from keeping these concepts in mind.

We really should tweak the flippers more often. I have tinkered with the Medieval Madness flippers and got closer results to what I am describing. They aren't perfect yet, but I am getting them closer. I bet we could really nail this if we collectively put our minds to it. Visual Pinball, Pinball Arcade, and other emulators have this down perfectly, let's catch up.

If you have successful results lining up these imaginary points with targets in your game, please let us know what you did in this thread. I am trying to get the same results in my original table and I am having trouble nailing it down. If you tweak an existing table to perfection, please let us know in this thread so we can try it out on our favorite tables too.


Last edited by rooter on Thu May 24, 2012 4:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Why Future Pinball gets a bad wrap
 Post Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 2:33 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 25, 2011 11:49 am
Posts: 64
I can't agree more! I love Future Pinball but this exact issue drives me nuts! What are the settings you use that are better so far? I'd love to try them...


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 Post subject: Re: Why Future Pinball gets a bad wrap
 Post Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 3:07 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 01, 2012 11:13 pm
Posts: 91
The stock flipper settings are horrendous, and have been pointed out since day 1 I'm sure. The one thing I have noticed is using a lower angle greatly improves the low shot problem. As you have pointed out, most people just leave it at default, and the purists as well at 122, because that is the angle of most of the older tables.

I set my flippers by the table, I usually fiddle with them constantly to get as close to the perfect angle and speed as possible, and make sure the table play is as balanced as possible to take advantage, but I also found that the settings are different from table to table. Even so, the default settings put in FP have a lot to be desired, but you can get far better results if you make the angle of your flippers less severe.

As a example, in Star trek xse, my flippers are 118 instead of 122, and my swing is set to -54, with the table angle set to 8.75
The Paragon xse table though, which is what I am working on, is set at 119/-52/8.25 at the moment. I will more than likely change that many times as I build and script the table, as I play test a lot, and always fiddling to try and get the best combination.

As a personal note, I do wish the authors spend a lot more time with balancing and fine tuning their play. As much as these things are pretty to look at, we don't play the graphics, we play the game. A lot of games with some tweaking can play a lot better with a bit of time and effort, and not just flippers, it's with other aspects of the table as well.

I had to have played a thousand games of Star Trek (I really was sick of even looking at it towards the end) and I'm still not happy, but, it plays great for FP and avoids some of the more common problems that FP has with collision and physics. Just simple things, a little logic, and a fair bit of testing and moving control points around made a huge difference to me.


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 Post subject: Re: Why Future Pinball gets a bad rap
 Post Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 7:13 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:48 pm
Posts: 1423
Location: Lufkin, Texas
While I agree with the points that are being made, I also would hope that this thread will stay more about what each individual is doing and what tweaks they are making, and less about what you think other builders need to do. People do this for a lot of different reasons, and some really do get off on having it as authentic and realistic as possible. Not everyone is like that, though. That's where it really falls on the purists to ask for permission to tweak the settings and release a new, adjusted table as an official mod.

Just my two cents. As I said to start, I agree with a TON of what is being pointed out, and I think THIS is the best way to have a discussion about the differences between FP and VP without it turning into a "FP sux0rs!" "VP blows!" kind of argument.

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 Post subject: Re: Why Future Pinball gets a bad rap
 Post Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 9:26 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:49 am
Posts: 143
I tinkered with getting the flippers just right on Medieval Madness and I just couldn't get them accurate. I even downloaded a screen cap of the real table, set it as the playfield, matched the flipper angles exactly, and it wasn't even close. After that, I opened the VP version and looked at the flipper angles used there. I entered those numbers into FP and I was able to make all the shots from all the spots I am accustomed to. They match the video tutorial I posted earlier exactly. They flippers do look strange though. I think the FP flippers are longer than the real ones and the up angle feels way too high. It makes the ball too easy to trap. Still, I think the settings I tried made the game a lot more fun and a lot more like the game I grew to love in the arcade. If anyone else makes any progress with them, I would love to know. My adjustments:

Left:
Start Angle: 121 degrees
Swing: -70 degrees (seems crazy, I know)

Right:
Start Angle: 239 degrees
Swing: 70 degrees

Not that I am a huge stickler for realism, the castle explosions look awesome!


Last edited by rooter on Thu May 24, 2012 9:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Why Future Pinball gets a bad rap
 Post Posted: Thu May 24, 2012 9:34 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:48 pm
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Location: Lufkin, Texas
Interesting. So, in theory, a new flipper model might solve this particular issue on some cabs, I'm guessing.

I think it's great that you're willing to test out your theories and report it back to everyone.

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 Post subject: Re: Why Future Pinball gets a bad rap
 Post Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 9:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 4:49 am
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Location: Lyon, France
Yes, one should try with a custom flipper shape (with "per polygon collision" set instead of the predefined "flipper" collision shape)

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 Post subject: Re: Why Future Pinball gets a bad rap
 Post Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 9:51 am 
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Is bounciness (or elasticity?) not a problem with custom model? I mean is there a parameter available to customize the value of the bounciness of the rubber around a flipper?

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 Post subject: Re: Why Future Pinball gets a bad rap
 Post Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 3:19 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 17, 2010 2:15 am
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This is a great thread and I really like the progressive nature of the issue because usually it ends up being kind of a like a firebomb.

Good luck with your tests, I eagerly await the continued commentary on it.

D_struk: Great post


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 Post subject: Re: Why Future Pinball gets a bad rap
 Post Posted: Fri May 25, 2012 6:20 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2012 12:49 am
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To bad I can't get my hand on Louizou's work. I bet we could resize the flippers with code. It would be simple to try lots of different values that way.


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