(Topic ID: 193314)

Pinball and technological advances


By rammstein99

2 years ago



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  • 17 posts
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  • Latest reply 2 years ago by solarvalue
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    #1 2 years ago

    Remember visiting the page of one of the smaller manufacturers and they had made a promo video where it was mentioned in passing that it is remarkable how little key components of gameplay have changed in the past 30+ years: the style of gameplay, the lock-3-balls-in-a-row-and-you-get-multiball aspect, the familiar spot targets/drop targets/bumpers/ramps/flipper configuration etc. Technology in general has modernized considerably but the tech used in making these machines has changed comparatively little (although of course, this doesn’t make the hobby any less enjoyable), even though there have been some notable developments e.g. high resolution screens/lighting and more.

    Had a few ideas and was curious to know the opinions of the forum; please bear in mind the caveat here that I’m much less familiar with the technological side of pinball than many of you so if these ideas are ridiculous please be easy on me

    For instance, consider the standard rollover target. Of course the rollover target combined with the coding aspects indicates to the machine where the ball is on the playfield and whether the ball has completed an orbit or ramp completely. If you take a standard optical computer mouse (not an old trackball mouse), and you flip it over, there will be the optical/laser indicating movement of the mouse as you move it across the mousepad. Tech exists wherein anything that ‘breaks’ the beam will be detected. Would it be possible (practically, and financially) to implement this kind of tech on a pinball playfield…? For example, a rollover target in an inlane or orbit shot- the ball would break the beam negating the need for a rollover. Is that possible.

    Going a step further, given that various aspects of scoring and gameplay are based on detection of where the ball is on the playfield at any given time, there have been advances in motion detection technology. What if this were implemented somehow in the game, perhaps rollovers and possibly other mechs would not have to be present?
    Thoughts on if any of this is doable?

    #2 2 years ago

    Not new technology. For years many games have had pairs of optos (one to send and one to receive a signal) where the beam being interrupted by the ball is the same as the ball triggering a rollover switch. Switches are cheaper than optos, so the designer decides which to use where on any game.

    #3 2 years ago

    All of it can be done but adds complexity to the coding. There is little new technology added in pinball compared to what could be done. These could be good additions to get rid of switches but we know they are reliable. Optos fail but are easy to replace usually.

    I think what many want to see is some completely new gameplay feature that we have not seen. Seen a ton of bash toys, typical ball locks, etc. but we have yet to see a new feature that is gameplay interactive. Lights have been modernized, DMD's are a thing of the past. We all love that it is mechanical interaction with the ball and don't want "virtual" pinball to creep into our games.

    New ideas would be welcome from designers and hopefully it will evolve. Time will only tell.

    #4 2 years ago

    Heighway games use magnetic sensors instead of physical switches for the ball rollovers

    Lexy Lightspeed has ball tracking

    #5 2 years ago
    Quoted from zacaj:

    Heighway games use magnetic sensors instead of physical switches.

    Back in 1993 Twilight Zone used both kinds to differentiate between a metal ball passing by and the powerball.

    #6 2 years ago

    Mini LCD screens now seem to be appearing on all the new games, adding some interactive elements--sort of like a mini version of pin2k.

    #7 2 years ago

    TNA has inline target ball locks, a light show that follows that ball as it is coming out of the scoop and off the pop bumper, and other features that might not be found in other pins. An old school pin with new and innovative features.

    I think part of the joy of pinball is how tactile and old school it is. The new trend is obviously the displays, both in the back box and on the playfield, throwing balls into the ball lock (ala Aerosmith, and soon-to-be Houdini). I think the industry, in general, is trying to push out more innovative features.

    Having screens is not a winner for me yet, because, let's be honest, when you're playing a game, how much time do you really have to look at the displays? But that's where the industry seems to be moving as of now.

    #8 2 years ago
    Quoted from FatPanda:

    Having screens is not a winner for me yet, because, let's be honest, when you're playing a game, how much time do you really have to look at the displays? But that's where the industry seems to be moving as of now.

    I'd rather see more mechanical interaction with the ball than digital. Screens are everywhere these days--they don't impress me. A clever mechanical mechanism, like the POTC pirate ship will, however.

    #9 2 years ago
    Quoted from FatPanda:

    TNA has inline target ball locks, a light show that follows that ball as it is coming out of the scoop and off the pop bumper, and other features that might not be found in other pins. An old school pin with new and innovative features.
    I think part of the joy of pinball is how tactile and old school it is. The new trend is obviously the displays, both in the back box and on the playfield, throwing balls into the ball lock (ala Aerosmith, and soon-to-be Houdini). I think the industry, in general, is trying to push out more innovative features.
    Having screens is not a winner for me yet, because, let's be honest, when you're playing a game, how much time do you really have to look at the displays? But that's where the industry seems to be moving as of now.

    Definitely. The high res screens can be used to produce some amazing video modes though, and no doubt will.

    #10 2 years ago

    How about a machine based on Portal? After unlocking portals - through traditional targets I would guess - the ball would then enter and appear somewhere else. Unlike a subway though, entering the other end would bring it back to the first position. The ball would of course simply be locked/hidden there and another ball launched.

    Maybe this has been done? I don't know. Probably not that exciting either in terms of this discussion, but trying to brainstorm here.

    As you can tell, my brain is tiny!

    #11 2 years ago
    Quoted from RonSS:

    How about a machine based on Portal? After unlocking portals - through traditional targets I would guess - the ball would then enter and appear somewhere else. Unlike a subway though, entering the other end would bring it back to the first position. The ball would of course simply be locked/hidden there and another ball launched.
    Maybe this has been done? I don't know. Probably not that exciting either in terms of this discussion, but trying to brainstorm here.
    As you can tell, my brain is tiny!

    That can be kind cool. Imagine several "portals" (scoops) throughout the playfield. When the ball goes into the scoop, one of two or three different solenoids can kick it into one of several different subway routes into another scoop which then would kick it out. Completely random, and would go to a different subway each time, resulting in a different location each time. There would be a complex subway system. Throw in some subway diverters to change it up. Who knows?

    Again, not really any new technologies per se, more like different implementation.

    #12 2 years ago
    Quoted from RonSS:

    How about a machine based on Portal? After unlocking portals - through traditional targets I would guess - the ball would then enter and appear somewhere else.

    This can be simulated with two saucers and two balls. See spectrum. A bally from the 80s. Make it look like the ball is transporting.

    #13 2 years ago

    Gottlieb selling their System 3 era tech.

    Untitled (resized).png

    #14 2 years ago

    Safe cracker also used reed switches to detect lanes.

    OP -- someone already mentioned it but if you are not familiar with the p3 system you should take a look at it.. not everyone is bought into the ball/screen interaction but multimorphic is doing pretty accurate ball detection across a good portion of the Playfield along with so many other innovations.

    #15 2 years ago

    Another idea would be a smaller than average pinball itself, instead of the silver balls used interchangeably in pins there could be used pinballs that are smaller in diameter by a slight margin. Not like the mini playfield in Family Guy, or basically like a marble size (which makes the game feel more like a toy than a game), but slightly smaller than the average silver pinball.

    The advantage in this would be since the ball is smaller in diameter, ramps could be narrower and take up less space on the playfield. The approach could free up playfield space making for more room for additional targets and ball action.

    #16 2 years ago
    Quoted from rammstein99:

    Remember visiting the page of one of the smaller manufacturers and they had made a promo video where it was mentioned in passing that it is remarkable how little key components of gameplay have changed in the past 30+ years: the style of gameplay, the lock-3-balls-in-a-row-and-you-get-multiball aspect, the familiar spot targets/drop targets/bumpers/ramps/flipper configuration etc. Technology in general has modernized considerably but the tech used in making these machines has changed comparatively little (although of course, this doesn’t make the hobby any less enjoyable), even though there have been some notable developments e.g. high resolution screens/lighting and more.
    Had a few ideas and was curious to know the opinions of the forum; please bear in mind the caveat here that I’m much less familiar with the technological side of pinball than many of you so if these ideas are ridiculous please be easy on me
    For instance, consider the standard rollover target. Of course the rollover target combined with the coding aspects indicates to the machine where the ball is on the playfield and whether the ball has completed an orbit or ramp completely. If you take a standard optical computer mouse (not an old trackball mouse), and you flip it over, there will be the optical/laser indicating movement of the mouse as you move it across the mousepad. Tech exists wherein anything that ‘breaks’ the beam will be detected. Would it be possible (practically, and financially) to implement this kind of tech on a pinball playfield…? For example, a rollover target in an inlane or orbit shot- the ball would break the beam negating the need for a rollover. Is that possible.
    Going a step further, given that various aspects of scoring and gameplay are based on detection of where the ball is on the playfield at any given time, there have been advances in motion detection technology. What if this were implemented somehow in the game, perhaps rollovers and possibly other mechs would not have to be present?
    Thoughts on if any of this is doable?

    Keeney used photo-electric vacuum tubes and mirrors in 1937 on 'Fire Ball' for ball motion detection.

    http://mirror2.ipdb.org/images/847/image-1.jpg

    pasted_image (resized).png

    #17 2 years ago
    Quoted from RonSS:

    How about a machine based on Portal? After unlocking portals - through traditional targets I would guess - the ball would then enter and appear somewhere else. Unlike a subway though, entering the other end would bring it back to the first position. The ball would of course simply be locked/hidden there and another ball launched.

    Bally Spectrum is a bit like this.

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