(Topic ID: 287963)

Age Of Empires 2 DE pinball: An honest homebrew attempt


By Edenecho

16 days ago



Topic Stats

  • 19 posts
  • 8 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 7 days ago by stefanmader
  • Topic is favorited by 15 Pinsiders

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    #1 16 days ago

    Hi fellow pinball enthusiasts, greetings from Norway!
    I have been working on this for a months time and thought id make a topic sooner than later because it actually evolves quickly, and part of the fun of these homebrew threads is following the progress

    Short concept backstory:
    I was very young (12 years) when introduced to the Age of Empires computer game on a pc magazine demo cd, and got immediately mesmerized. For those not familiar, it is a game about choosing a civilization and advancing through dark age up to imperial age. In dark age you start with a few villagers and a town center, and from there you gather resources as food, wood, stone etc and build military and eco buildings, create villagers and military units and researching technology. Advancing through feudal, castle and imperial age, you strive to build an empire and defeat the other civilizations.

    Around 2000 the sequel was released, and it really took it all to a new level and sparked a relatively huge tournament scene. A HD edition was made several years ago, and a makeover called Definitive Edition was released some years ago, but in a perfect way: staying true to the original Age2 game, but remaking animations, more civlizations and upscaling the game. And the competitive scene is bigger than ever, which is actually amazing considering the game is basically a real time strategy from 2000

    Pinball backstory:
    I have been a competitive pinball player from 2013, and in 2016 i started toying with the idea of making my own pinball machine based on my favorite sci-fi game series: Mass Effect. I did some drawing, designing in future pinball and fleshing out the ruleset, and I also started with a basic whitewood. But due to economical situation and a challenging private situation with my wife having cancer, other priorities took precedent. Today, the situation is different, in both tragic ways and also coming to terms with the way life has unfolded and doing the best out of it, and I feel I am ready to give this passion a new go. To create your own pinball machine would be a thing you do once in your life, right? Ill follow up quickly with more posts about the actual concepts, and the steps ive taken til now.

    Cheers!
    Morten

    #2 16 days ago

    game concept:
    as mentioned in the opening post, Age of Empires 2 is about bringing your chosen civilization from the dark age, up through the feudal and castle age and reaching imperial age, researching technology, military and gathering resources. For me it is a very nostalgic game, all down to the graphics, music and sounds. When some of my friends I am playing the game with joked with making a pinball machine, I started thinking about it, and BAM! Since then, the last three-four weeks I have been spending almost all my time after work working on this machine. Drawing, designing, programming and preparing the most expensive parts order I have ever done.

    I believe the concept of the pc game is very convertible to a pinball machine. The main outline:

    1. Choose your civilization. I am starting with 4, britons, franks, aztecs and chinese. Each will have their own perks to the player, based on their strengths in the game.

    2. The main game phases will be the four ages: Dark age, feudal age, Castle age and imperial age. in each age, you need to gather resources by shooting respective shots, and also shooting specific shots for building the required buildings in that age, before you can advance. more resources is required for each age.

    3. Multiplayer/attacking: Part of the pc game is about attacking your opponent; do you send a few archers early in the game to try and disrupt the enemy? Do you try to sneak in villagers and build towers in the enemy base for a quick victory? or do you build up a huge army and wait until imperial to attack his city and castles with cavalry, archers, trebuchet etc? I want to replicate this in a fun way not done much before in pinball, and also focus on the fun of playing pinball with friends. My basic idea is that a timer starts when a player plunges the ball, and he is free to initiate an attack when he wants to, with the units he has made. he then enters an attack mode where he makes shots for attacking, and he ends the attack by shooting a given shot or draining. When the other player starts, the timer will start and the game will proceed as normal until the timeframe reaches the attack time of the first player,then the current player will be attacked and need to deal with it, like the Winter is coming hurry up in game of thrones. It might seem abit complicated when I write this, But i have a clear idea in my head how this can work

    4. Design/Layout: As I am making this for myself, I will incorporate elements of games I like, and also try to make it diversive in both shots and rules strategy. I am a big fan of both Dwight Sullivans code and also keith Elwins games Iron maiden and Jurassic, and I am a very devoted tournament player. So it is important to make it a balanced game, fun for both tournamnet players and casual ones.

    #3 16 days ago

    I started drawing on paper, but I am hopeless at being able to draw the correct proportions, so after getting the initial idea on paper I downloaded deadflip 's photoshop template and made a digital 2d sketch. I then started with Future Pinball, because I am familiar and Visual Pinball was always frustrating to learn, but... Realizing I could use Mission Pinball Framework to program the actual game and test it digitally I took the time to learn VPX, AND got MPF and the MPF to VPX bridge setup.

    as you can see from the shots, the elements I want in the game is:
    - The left "C"-lane like in Stern PoTC.
    - The motorized target bank from AFM
    - A sopranos like center spinner lane
    - I also am thinking about a onager/trebuchet mech in the back, loading a ball and flinging it towards the castle wall.
    - A castle model in the back center. I know it might bring medieval madness associations, but the rules and vibe will make it different.

    20210124_004721 (resized).jpg
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    First version in Future Pinball:
    First version in Future Pinball
    Starting over in Visual Pinball:
    Starting over with Visual Pinball

    #4 16 days ago

    I realize I have to deep dive into alot of software. I jumped into after effects and started testing out some animations, and used a static background image from the game menu, and added some dynamic smoke which makes for a nice screen for choosing civilizations. Also a good attract mode effect.

    I then recorded some voice over (just for testing, I need someone with dark nice british voice for the actual game ) when launching the game with MPF and playing the attract mode animation I made, with sound and music:

    #5 16 days ago

    Very cool! Great game, following to see what you come up with.

    #6 16 days ago

    MECH:
    So I have this idea for a mech I think could be cool. Maybe you could call it a mix between the houdini catapult shot and the Medieval madness catapult effect.
    A big part of the age of empires 2 game is using trebuchets to destroy castles, but it is a tall unit and also it kinda has a mechanic which is not easy transferrable to using a pinball ball. So an Onager is better. Not 100 % conceptually correct attacking a castle with an onager, buuut lets have some creative freedom. I started modelling a physical model with foamcore to get an idea of the size and also how it could work. After doing version 1, I realized that I needed to do some changes with regards to dimensions.

    Was two actually good evenings with beer, music and creative cutting

    VERSION 1:

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    #7 16 days ago

    Version 2: better placement of the VUK and a mini slope to load the onager, which will in turn launch the ball towards the castle wall, with a wide standup target on the upper part.

    After this, I made a 3d model in Blender which I imported into Visual pinball. I added a kicker for the VUK and a kicker for the Onager shot, and it friggin works Just digitally, but omg, small pleasures! The idea is that there will be a diverter (like the damsel ramp on MM) which goes down and the ball is flying free fall into a hole like on JJPs Pirates, where it hits a VUK, is loaded up on and rolling down on to the Onager catapult.

    It will require some tuning when i get to the physical stage, but I think it has potential to be cool!

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    #8 16 days ago

    SO! At this stage, I am working on the rules and will start to program them bit by bit with MPF, while moving the design over to Solidworks so I can make a V1 for CNC'ng a whitewood. Meanwhile finishing up the huuge order of assemblies, parts and the P-rocs and everything. its so much to think about, so I need to take it in steps not to get a panic attack haha. Well, here is the current-ish layout.

    I have decided to add a U-turn ramp on the right side, I like that type of ramps. and also I added a complete ramp on left side, but it will have player controlled up-post which will divert the ball down a mini ramp into a saucer. This will be used for the attack mode and can hold the ball for necessary information and choices on-screen.

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    #9 14 days ago

    Hi, Edenecho

    i love your idea. I also played Age of Empires a lot, mostly the first one. Can't wait to see more of your project!

    #10 14 days ago
    Quoted from stefanmader:

    Hi, Edenecho
    i love your idea. I also played Age of Empires a lot, mostly the first one. Can't wait to see more of your project!

    Thanks for the kind words, stefanmader !My late wife, Sandra, was from Austria, it holds a special place in my heart and I visit every year (non-covid..)

    #11 14 days ago

    Definitely following this!! Still one of the only games I can sit down and play for hours! Can’t wait to see your progress!!

    #12 14 days ago

    Untitled-1 (resized).jpg

    (Favorited this thread based on a plastic spoon pinball catapult alone.)

    #13 14 days ago

    Looking great and a cool theme, I did play aoe a lot when I was younger. Following!

    #14 12 days ago

    Thanks for the following!
    Been struggling abit with something basic as enabling manual plunger in visual pinball with mpf to vpx bridge. I love the different skillshots on Iron Maiden, and i will add several here, which will award different stuff.. resources, villagers, instant wololo-multiball etc. So i need to manually plunge.

    Else, i did some outlining for photoshopping for some test artwork and added inserts, which will help in programming some skill shots and modes. It still looks very amateur but it sparks ideas and is more inspiring than a white playfield

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    #15 12 days ago

    Nice work, I'm keen to see how you progress with this.
    That's such a great theme for pinball. I can imagine the drop target banks acting as enemy walls or buildings to knock down. A catapult would be awesome to get going, looking forward to seeing your prototypes in action.

    #16 11 days ago

    the visual pinball tabel looks really cool
    That makes me wanting to do that as well, i tried that before but gave up quickly.

    #17 11 days ago

    Age of empires2 is my favorite game. I play it nearly every day. Good luck with this project and I am following.

    #18 7 days ago

    I have been doing some work on the display graphics, the fonts and colors must be optimalized, but I added a background from the game artwork, added some minor animation to the candle flame and also added some "flickering" light to simulate the candle light.

    Quite fitting this is for the dark age, maybe Ill make different side art animations for the different ages as the player progress.
    A short demo can be seen here:

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