(Topic ID: 287963)

Age Of Empires 2 DE pinball: A humble homebrew attempt

By Edenecho

1 year ago


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  • 83 posts
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  • Latest reply 8 months ago by Prospekteur
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    There are 83 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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
    20210130_001602_edit (resized).jpg
    First version in Future Pinball:
    First version in Future Pinball
    Starting over in Visual Pinball:
    Starting over with Visual Pinball

    #4 1 year 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 1 year ago

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

    #6 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year ago

    Untitled-1 (resized).jpg

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

    #13 1 year ago

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

    #14 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year 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 1 year ago

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

    #18 1 year 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:

    1 month later
    #20 1 year ago

    How is it going? Are you making any progress with your ideas?

    #21 1 year ago
    Quoted from stefanmader:

    How is it going? Are you making any progress with your ideas?

    Hi Stefan, thanks for following up! i have been slightly busy with both my pinball show Draintalk and recording some music for my projects, but have started with learning solidworks now. Thats where i kinda hit the wall a little, cause i want to model the playfield so i can CNC it on plywood and start assembling the physical version

    Will probably be a month or so with learning solidworks and modelling the playfield

    Btw if you want to check out the youtube show:

    #22 1 year ago

    Hey cool i will check it out!

    #23 1 year ago
    Quoted from stefanmader:

    Hey cool i will check it out!

    Cool Next episode being filmed within these weeks will be about our trips to Austria and Austrian Pinball Open! stefanmader

    #24 1 year ago

    oh really thats interesting

    #25 1 year ago

    An important TODO-item has been checked out!
    I managed to buy a used Addams Family cabinet and backbox which I will be using for prototyping the playfield!
    That means I can focus on modelling the playfield in Solidworks, get it CNC cut and then order the parts and start assembling, and not worrying about the cab part.

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    2 weeks later
    #26 1 year ago

    Its been abit quiet but I have not been still. I have just finished the first version of the layout in solidworks, and has sent it off for cnc cutting. very excited!

    I made a few changes to the center right spinner lane for more flow. Now it will send the ball into the right upper flipper, OR if holding the right flipper up the ball will go into the right side lane. This will also make it easier to shoot into the castle-area through the spinner lane with the upper right flipper.
    It is (should be, in theory) also possible to enter the right side lane by shooting with the lower left flipper into the upper right when held up.

    I expect much minor tweaks will be necessary when I get the cnc whitewood and start assembling and testing, but im very excited just to hold a real cut whitewood in my hands

    cnc cut2 (resized).jpg
    #27 1 year ago

    Still waiting for the first CNC cut of the playfield, but I have finally placed a huuuge order with Pinballlife, and also some other orders for wiring, power supplies etc etc. So for now, its the waiting game

    pasted_image (resized).png
    #28 1 year ago
    Quoted from Edenecho:

    Still waiting for the first CNC cut of the playfield, but I have finally placed a huuuge order with Pinballlife, and also some other orders for wiring, power supplies etc etc. So for now, its the waiting game [quoted image]

    Please make a foto of the playfield when its cut . I just cut it myself, its still cool, but not so percise

    #29 1 year ago
    Quoted from stefanmader:

    Please make a foto of the playfield when its cut . I just cut it myself, its still cool, but not so percise

    Of course! I am not that handy / patient when it comes to woodwork, and its easier to make small adjustments when testing and make the changes in solidworks.

    #30 1 year ago

    Cool project!
    I spent FAR too many days and nights losing track of time playing RTS games like AoE, AoE2. I began first with playing Warcraft on my own and then online against friends while I was at university. There were too many times where I would realize that I'd been playing all night, when I noticed the sun rising through the window. Whoops! Should have been studying for an exam instead. hahaha

    #31 1 year ago
    Quoted from Snailman:

    Cool project!
    I spent FAR too many days and nights losing track of time playing RTS games like AoE, AoE2. I began first with playing Warcraft on my own and then online against friends while I was at university. There were too many times where I would realize that I'd been playing all night, when I noticed the sun rising through the window. Whoops! Should have been studying for an exam instead. hahaha

    Thanks for your comment!
    I remember having nights like that too in my youthier part of my life, the hours just flew. I still play age of empires 2 online with some friends, still gives me a good vibe with the music, sound effects etc

    Though now I apparently spend most of the nights trying to make an overview of all the parts I need for this pinball, haha. Hopefully I got most of it in the orders I just placed!

    #32 1 year ago

    First orders arrived today:
    48 psu, coindoor, idc-connectors, start button and backbox hinge bolts. Had only all e-shops used dhl without demanding ridicilous amount of money

    20210520_185012 (resized).jpg20210520_192107 (resized).jpg
    1 week later
    #33 1 year ago

    After being ghosted by the initial CNC-guy, i managed to get in touch with another dude who can do it for me! Tentative date for cutting is 10th june. Gotta be patient.

    But i received the pinball life package today! Omg so much glory! Sadly its limited what i can do yet, but started slow with coin door, lockbar receiver, start button and backbox hinges. Will fasten the playfield side rail supports in the coming week. Progress, albeit slow.

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    #34 1 year ago

    i love getting pinball parts packages

    #35 1 year ago

    As mentioned the CNC will hopefully be done thursday next week, but I was so impatient so today I tested the playfield slides brackets and also measured up and drilled holes and installed the Eazy slide brackets into the Addams Family cabinet. Took abit time because its important to get them aligned and level.
    I added the playfield slide brackets to my old whitewood attempt (didnt get far in 2016, lol...damn T-nuts discouraged me) and put it in the cabinet juuuuust to get a feel

    Too low since its not cut right, but. well, im looking forward to do this to my actual Age of empires whitewood

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    #36 1 year ago

    Following with interest.

    1 week later
    #37 1 year ago

    Patience is a virtue. Was supposed to CNC today but due to covid its very shortage of plyfield these days, so we had to postpone to tuesday next week.
    But the guy doing this has programmed the paths for the CNC machine to cut, and sent me a video of the simulation. Looking forward to this

    #38 1 year ago

    I’m having trouble getting the same plywood myself this week. Hopefully the shortages will alleviate soon. I have been looking at your layout. You are far along in the design but I thought I would offer a thought. The post at the bifurcation of your ramp may make for a lot of right down the middle drains. Have you considered a flap diverter sending the ball to either the left or the right? That would allow you to narrow the ramp a bit and have another target or maybe even a scoop.

    #39 1 year ago
    Quoted from Cmartin1235:

    I’m having trouble getting the same plywood myself this week. Hopefully the shortages will alleviate soon. I have been looking at your layout. You are far along in the design but I thought I would offer a thought. The post at the bifurcation of your ramp may make for a lot of right down the middle drains. Have you considered a flap diverter sending the ball to either the left or the right? That would allow you to narrow the ramp a bit and have another target or maybe even a scoop.

    thanks for the comments, and Im always open to hearing suggestions, I have never designed a machine before so there are probably many things I will discover.

    Regarding the center post, between ramp and spinner lane, I actually have thought about it, but I am also a sucker for difficult machines which punish you hard for missing shots, haha.

    But could you make aquick sketch in paint or something to show what you mean? I cant really visualize a flap diverter in that area, so would like to see what you mean?

    1 week later
    #40 1 year ago

    Finally things are progressing more rapidly! I picked up the Cnc-cut playfield (v1) on saturday, its so friggin cool to have my first custom design

    Sunday and today i started hammering in t-nuts, and assembling stuff. For every component added it brings it more to life!

    I also quickly realize some design fuckups which i am correcting in solidworks for v2, because i have not designed the size of brackets and placement, especially on the upper left kicker its abit too close to the edge and tight. But its easier to adjust it now that i know.

    A major issue that the upper right flipper hole is too close to the edge and sliding bracket to fit the flipper assembly base. Havent figured out what to do with thst yet.

    Here are photos of the progress so far.

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    #41 1 year ago

    love it! it's so beautiful and clean.

    #42 1 year ago

    Beeaauuutifulll! Beats the hell out of my first (and second) whitewood! You've got a long road ahead but just getting pieces on a whitewood is in itself a hell of a long way to have come. Keep it up!

    #43 1 year ago

    AAAAAAAWWWESOME!!!!!! Love this!!! When do you go into production???? Take my money!!!!!!

    #44 1 year ago

    I have been stressing abit with how to make prototype ball guides, i dont have a 3d printer (yet) and foamcore is more suited fir ramps etc. I decided to visit local home depot, bought 0.7 mm steel plate and a plate scissor. most to try it and see how useless it was.

    well, its abit tidious but with the right technique it works for simple prototyping. when i get it all done and tested, i will probably measure up and order a custom mantis kit

    i even tested my cross playfield into left side lane skill shot by plunging and it works small joys

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    #45 1 year ago

    Very nice! I am also without a 3d printer, I went to my local metal shop and ordered a bunch of 1.125" tall strips of stainless sheet. For my first playfield draft I used 20ga for extra flexibility, then upgraded to 18ga for later builds. Saves having to cut the long sides by hand

    #46 1 year ago
    Quoted from avanwinkle:

    Very nice! I am also without a 3d printer, I went to my local metal shop and ordered a bunch of 1.125" tall strips of stainless sheet. For my first playfield draft I used 20ga for extra flexibility, then upgraded to 18ga for later builds. Saves having to cut the long sides by hand

    avanwinkle
    I might do something similar in next version..How did you solve the small "flaps" to fasten the strips to the pf/posts?

    #47 1 year ago

    Been doing a little bit off all the last days.. started wiring up power and serial wires to different boards, making more crappy ball guides, planning wiring of switches and started sketching for making ramps in foamcore.

    Continuing tomorrow..

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    #48 1 year ago

    Really nice progress. It's a lot of work and time that runs into all the wiring.
    how are you planning to make the final ramps? Metalramps, 3d printing or even vacuum forming?

    #49 1 year ago

    Nice! Looking good so far!

    #50 1 year ago
    Quoted from stefanmader:

    Really nice progress. It's a lot of work and time that runs into all the wiring.
    how are you planning to make the final ramps? Metalramps, 3d printing or even vacuum forming?

    The left ramp ill probably 3d print after foamcoring, center ramp the same, and the right u-turn ramp will be wireform ill cross that when i get there i guess

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