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(Topic ID: 284413)

Multiball Mode added to EM Machine

By flipopotamustash

3 months ago

Topic Stats

  • 8 posts
  • 4 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 3 months ago by flipopotamustash
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider


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#1 3 months ago

I created a multiball mode for my Gottlieb EM "Pioneer". The multiball activates when I collect the special. The 2x ball is ejected into the playfield from between the two flippers similar to the game "big hit" however the regular ball advance hole continues to work normally and this mod does not interfere. Both balls must be drained before the ball counter will advance and the ball will kick into the shooter lane. For this mod I used a few bits of sheet metal, a flipper solenoid+switch and the coin return lever from the inside of an old coin door. I've been playing the prototype for a few weeks now and it works beautifully. I'd like to get some discussion going here to consider final tweaks or possible improvements before I lock down the design. The mod has breathed new life into the gameplay of this EM machine. It was fun to play before but now it is even better. The mod is fully but honestly it is so much more fun to play it this way that I couldn't imagine reversing it until its time to pass on the game. Having said that I believe this mod could be reversed without a trace. Check out the build process on youtube:

PXL_20201224_220023431 (resized).jpg
#2 3 months ago
Quoted from flipopotamustash:

The mod has breathed new life into the gameplay of this EM machine.

Could you say more about this? Does the interaction between the balls help in getting the letter C, or completing the drop targets, or landing in the hole? What exactly is more rewarding?
.................David Marston

#3 3 months ago

You might be able to convert Williams Post time to do the same thing since it already has that feature.

#4 3 months ago

That is indeed a fair question. How has this mod breathed new life into the gameplay of this old EM machine? Purists please take a deep breath while iI argue that in my opinion adding this multiball mod has actually returned this game to its designers originally intended balance in terms of rewards and game objectives. Does that sound weird? Does that make any sense? Well here is my thinking on that:

If you own this game (Pioneer or Spirit of '76 or New York) you know that the hole shot is extremely risky. So risky in fact that you will not aim for the hole shot unless it is lit for the extra ball. Even the double bonus isn't worth aiming for unless you have already locked in that extra ball. Before I added the multiball mod I never purposely aimed for the special. Not ever. The hole shot is just sooo risky! Plus it just wasn't satisfying to collect the special. Before multiball the special was only worth a wimpy 10k in points accompanied by a pathetic knocking sound. That knocking sound was empty and worthless to me of course because this game is in my basement and I have it set to free play. Another free credit? Yeah thanks. But how about now?! Well now hitting special unlocks the amazing multiball!!! Special is now the ultimate prize in the game play. Also now with 2 balls zinging around the points really do start to add up. Its like when the millenium falcon goes into hyperdrive. I also now totally brag to my entire family when I unlock the multiball. Of course only those few others that have actually unlocked the multiball for themselves seem to be able appreciate this and they also totally brag to me when they nail it. Multiball doesn't get unlocked by accident. Yes it requires a good amount of luck but you also definitely have to have some skill to make a lot of shots before you achieve it. And guess what? That's what the designers originally intended for the special.

I'm currently in a dry spell of 3 days now of playing this game solid with no multiball action. Over those 3 days I haven't unlocked multiball even once. a few times I've turned on the camera so that I could upload a video of me acheiving multiball gameplay to youtube. But I actually can't seem to nail it on demand. I've come close though... real close... tantalizingly close. It has definitely added that "just one more game" feeling. I've now got the multiball itch and I'm trying to scratch it daily.

The other thing about it is with Pioneer (like with so many other multiplayer EM games) once the special is lit all the targets are down and all the roll overs are lit so there ain't much else (or anything else really) to do except max the points. But now forget that, lets try to unlock the multiball frenzy. And I'll tell you the multiball frenzy is actually really really fun. Its fast and sometimes its brief but its always nuts. I now find myself trying to unlock multiball instead of trying to max the points. Unlocking multiball has become a stand-alone satisfying objective. Now that the game is modded I am suddenly starting to appreciate how the designers originally balanced the scoring and rewards of this game. Now that games like Pioneer are in basements and set to freeplay the "special" free credit has sadly and completely lost its special-ness. This mod totally revives the rewarding nature of hitting the special. I think that's a good thing. Now when I'm playing this game voice in my head says "hit the special" every time instead of saying "ignore the special" every time. Now I've even tried to hit the special before the free ball was even lit. It now actually makes sense from a risk/reward perspective to hit special without first locking in the extra ball whereas before the multiball mod that would have been pure madness. Please excuse me now I'm going to power up the machine and try to scratch that multiball itch again.

#5 3 months ago

I’m doing this w my Pioneer!

#6 3 months ago

While playing today I discovered a cool and unexpected thing about this Pioneer multiball mod. it is not just a multiball feature sometimes it is also a "keep alive" bonus ball. Today I was playing my last ball (ball 5) and I had a ton of bonus racked up when I drained it. Game over? Not this time! When the ball drained my bonus started to add up (as per usual). But what was unusual this time was that the score from my bonus happened to roll to a free game knock which kicked my multiball into action. But weren't the flippers dead as soon as I drained the ball? No!!! The flippers were still alive!!! In this situation the flippers were still active even though the actual ball 5 was definitely sunk and gone. The machine continued to allow me to play my multiball as though my ball 5 was still in action. It was only when I finally l drained again that the game was over and the ball counter finally advanced.

Now that I think this through and understand what was happening it makes perfect sense: The ball count only advances after all of the bonus is counted down. So when I won a free game knock DURING the bonus count the multiball launch halted the bonus count. The ball counter was not able to advance because the advance switch was opened as soon as the multiball was ejected into play. The result was that my "ball 5" was now back in play until I drain it one last time.

This is actually a pretty cool bonus feature as a stand alone item so with this mod you get two features for the price of one. This keep alive feature will probably only work on games that count down some kind of bonus points after you've drained your ball.

#7 3 months ago

I discovered today that at the end of a game when the last two digit number match this also kicks the multiball onto the playfield but in this scenario the flippers ARE already dead. So in other words you cannot actually play the "keep alive" ball by winning a free game with the last 2 digit number match. But as I mentioned in the post above you certainly CAN play the keep alive ball when you knock it out during the bonus count.

1 week later
#8 3 months ago

So its been several weeks now and no problems or issues have popped up. The multiball mod works exactly as I had hoped it would. After playing quite a bit for several weeks I confirmed that there are no weird rebounds or slow ball advancing or anything at all that would make me want to rethink any part of the multiball fence shape design.

My next step really is to copy the exact shape of the multiball fence but see if I can make it with cleaner bends to get rid of the "homemade" look. Not that anyone can really see my handiwork because it is all hidden under the apron but still I know its there. Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated. I'm using thick but soft (and easy to work) automotive sheet metal which is unpainted. I'm thinking for the final piece I will want to spray it with something to keep it from rusting. krylon triple thick perhaps? I have a can of that here. I also have some left over "tremclad" oil based rust paint I could use. Another thing that occurred to me is whether or not the metal switch under the ball should be isolated from the metal ball which in turn touches the metal fence.... perhaps i should find a way to add a plastic bit on the tip of the switch to avoid possible risk of shock. I have not experienced any shocks from this set up and no blown fuses or anything bad has happened but perhaps that would not a a bad idea to isolate the ball from the metal switch. I've noticed on the Atlantis Gottlieb pinball machine that the ball return hole also has a metal switch that is bent at 90 degrees and it contacts the ball metal-to-metal. So the design might not necessarily pose a risk as far as 1970s safety standards would have been concerned (?) Having said that I see that the design difference with my pioneer mod vs the Atlantis is that the Pioneer's metal multi-ball also simultaneously rests directly on the metal fence while resting on the metal switch. And the fence bone could potentially connect to the underside of the poorly painted metal apron bone and the poorly painted metal apron bone could potentially connect to the unpainted metal lock down bar bone and the metal lock down bar bone definitely connects to the metal side rail bone and the metal side rail bone definitely connects to your hand bones... hmmmm. I don't think the set up is very likely to deliver the 24(?) volts to my hands instead of connecting the voltage through the intended switch to power the intended solenoid but then again fashioning a plastic tip for the switch to isolate it from the ball wouldn't hurt now would it? Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated!!


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