Quoted from bingopodcast:
I did do a brief bit of bingo-ing yesterday - some maintenance on my United Caravan, which is also headed to the show.
I'm going to forward this statement to Jay Stafford. Might entice him to attend the show!
Apologies for the delay in posting. The York show was extremely memorable.
First, a play counter...
A little over 3000 plays over the weekend. Not bad!
I was very pleased to participate in the unboxing of a 1962 Bally Silver Sails with @DennisDodel. It was in such beautiful shape! I'll likely never see its like again. It was a lot of fun to introduce new players to a brand new machine! Bingo Butch brought the United Serenade, the only one known to exist - in fact, there were three United games there.
One of the games that started my obsession made a return with Jeffrey Lawton bringing his Night Club. It remains one of my favorites to this day.
I was also honored and humbled to receive an award for Best Pinball - along with @DennisDodel for his beautiful NIB Silver Sails. The only two pinball awards at the show both went to bingos this year! I'd say we've arrived.
I did notice a couple of United logic issues with guaranteed awards. I will be fixing those shortly, along with a MASSIVE improvement to game load times.
Currently, I am loading in all assets and rendering the entire game as you page through the menu (for each game). This was initially so that I could do cool stuff like track game state and use a shared replay counter across games. What I found was that the "garbage" was not being collected quickly or efficiently when using this method, so I had to kill the process and start a new thread for each return to the menu. This prevents certain crashes due to resource exhaustion and a couple of other nasty side-effects. Unfortunately... it also meant that I was no longer receiving the benefit from the 30s load time on game start, and in fact, I introduced a 30s delay for each return to the menu!
I should be able to speed this to a few-second delay. I will be capturing still images of the assembled backglass/mechanicals as rendered from my machine to replace the renderings of the whole game. This will allow me to only load the 142 images as assets when the menu loads, then only import the game code when it is time to execute the game. I may find that there will be an approx 2 second delay when loading the game, but this is perhaps preferable to 30s of wait time just to hit the menu.
Looking forward, your next opportunity to play the game should be the Texas Pinball Festival, 2019! I look forward to meeting more of you, and seeing familiar faces ready to try their hand at the one, the only Multi-Bingo.
Other small improvements will continue as game documentation surfaces. I will keep this thread updated with appearances and big changes to the code!
For now, my attentions have shifted to two new projects:
Robo-Frenzy, a scratch-build EM arcade game (2 player, simultaneous, competitive) https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/new-em-arcade-game
And Multi-Races! A Multi-Bingo-esque reimplementation of all one ball horserace games from the 30s/40s and 50s that will play with a standard Bally playfield.
Multi-Races will have both payout and replay versions of games available. All three of these games will travel with me to shows, once complete.
A minor, but very exciting update.
I've been working on the menu routines for the Multi, as I am going to bring it to TPF in March!
The game menu takes approx. 30s to load, typically. It is loading all the assets, positions, and details of EVERY unit in EVERY game. Each time you drop to menu.
Obviously, this isn't very efficient, but it has served me well from a reliability standpoint.
Today, I spent a little bit reworking my menu code, and I can boast a 3000% speed improvement (or better). Less than 1s to load the menu, and much much less than 1s to start the game.
This should make new and existing players quite happy, as you had to get 'stuck in' on whichever machine you picked, unless you were willing to hear me jabber on about the game while you waited for the menu. Less wait = less time being annoyed by me.
I'm looking forward to seeing some new players in Texas in March, and I should have this new addition bugtested and rock solid by then.
Every game has been tested within the menu, but my lunchtime dev machine won't let me test resuming menu function after exiting a game. Just means I'll have to try it on the real hardware now. I don't expect any issues.
The hardest part was exporting the pre-rendered menu screens for each game with dynamic elements (almost all of them).
Went back over my notes from York, and there were a small handful of bugs to handle - I've resolved several of them today during my lunch break. Pretty minor things, overall. I'll have the remainder finished tomorrow, most likely. The biggest open one I have is that guaranteed awards on the middle set of United games do not always award when they should. Should be an easy fix, just requires a lot of testing.
The rest of the bugs squished, as anticipated. I poked around after reviewing guaranteed awards and realized that I didn't randomize the positions of Spotting Discs or Mixers on game load. Whoops! Everything starting at zero was killing a goodly portion of my portioning for the first few coins of each game.
All fixed. I also randomized the position of the lite-a-name feature, and special pocket feature while I was in there...
Finally, I wrote down about 5 games that need a minor bit of graphical polish on the odds during coin flash. The odds are spaced in such a way that they can obliterate their neighbor as they flash through - you wind up with weird flashes of odds cut out. I'll have that resolved for some tomorrow, but that change requires lots of coordinate stuff. It'll take a bit longer. I'd like to go ahead and hit all the games while I'm thinking about it. I am pretty sure there are a couple of Bally games with the problem (like Hi-Fi). I went through a similar thing with the red letter games like Orient, Zodiac, and other 20 holers. Just takes time. This should be the final bit of graphical polish I can apply unless someone finds some nice backglasses to photo to replace blurry/dusty ones in my library.
I have one other thought on a minor cosmetic change that I might try before Texas.
So the list of games with this minor graphical issue:
and Variety (Bally)
Only certain positions of the odds unit have this issue. Correcting it is a matter of rendering the lit elements that are overwritten by the neighboring lamps on the odds unit.
In other words, if the lit elements are placed at coordinate 180,450 - I need to render a small portion of it beginning at 195,472 and a square of 25x25.
Now, what makes this rather time-consuming is that each lit element is completely different - both in the coordinates and the size of the lit element I'm replacing.
I spent most of the evening reviewing the work of the last few days and checking for other rendering errors. 5 out of 142 isn't bad, but I can make it perfect, so why not?
Very slow going, but I think I have the method needed to handle this correct. There is, however, a tradeoff. The unit steps at the final frame of animation, and there can be up to a 1s situation where your new odds are not displayed and your old odds are wiped off the map, somewhere between 1 and 30 frames of the actual animation. Not a huge deal, and it certainly looks better than before, but that's one of the reasons I didn't start on this process until now.
I've got United Tahiti (one of the most egregious examples of this phenomenon) corrected for the first two steps of odds.
Well, that was much more complex than it needed to be! I wrote several different methods to automatically determine which odds were shown and erase and redraw as needed.
I gave up on that. It was not working, and I'd wasted hours playing around with it.
Instead, I am drawing and erasing only one number for each set of odds at a time. Imagine controlling the individual lamps instead of the string.
All that to say, Tahiti is done and I have a clear path for the remaining 4.
Hawaii is also done!
I'm left with Variety, Rio and Mexico. They should fall quickly now...
The last bit of optional programming has been done in preparation for Texas! I have one more thing I may try to do before the show, but otherwise, it'll be in heavy testing from now until March 22nd!
Had a friend over this morning to play test the changes to the game. Held up extremely well and worked great. There was an issue lifting ball 5 in every game. It seemed like there was a ball missing!
Turned out it was - had fallen inside the cabinet after York, I suppose. I need to play more...
TPF should be great, from a Multi perspective! Hope to meet some new players (and some familiar faces) in Frisco in March!
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