(Topic ID: 323915)

The Cat's Meow -- a new home ROM for Bad Cats

By idealjoker

1 year ago


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#101 1 year ago

There seems to be about 30 GI lamps in backbox, and about 25 on playfield, so total GI power is 80-90 watts.

#102 1 year ago

UPDATE -- BETA VERSION R1169

Based on beta tester feedback as well as my own observations I have created updated patches and sent them to the testers for evaluation. The update fixes a couple of bugs and includes quite a few general improvements as well as minor tweaks to the rules. Creating a full change log at this stage does not make very much sense because a lot of the changes are largely invisible. However, there are two important changes the testers need to know about:

1. CAT NAP: To start the Cat Nap use the start button: When the ball is in the shooter lane, Doghouse or Trashcan, press and hold the start button until the game is muted to pause the game. To end the nap, again press and hold the start button. (Launching the ball and starting a Cat Scan also end the nap.) Adding a player or aborting a game and starting a new one works as before as long as you use short button presses. Short button presses are disabled during the nap. While this sounds a bit complicated I find it quite intuitive in practice.

2. GAME ADJUSTMENTS. In the updated code all the rules modifications can be disabled with game adjustments:

  • Adjustment 34: In L5 this is the FISH 10X MEMORY adjustment. In TCM this is the FISH DIFFICULTY adjustment with three different settings: NORMAL, EASY and EASIEST. EASIEST is the same as L5 FISH 10X MEMORY enabled; EASY is the same as L5 FISH 10X MEMORY disabled; NORMAL (default setting) are the TCM rules described in an earlier post.

  • Adjustment 41: BALL SAVER (enabled by default).

  • Adjustment 42: 20M WISH (enabled by default). Disabling the 20M WISH also disables the Seafood BBQ, the modified skill shot and the updated drop-target rules, since all of those provide rewards specifically for the WISH shot.

  • Adjustment 43: SHARED JACKPOT (disabled by default). When enabled the Jackpot behaves exactly as in L5. When disabled (individual Jackpot) the maximum Jackpot is reduced to 15M and the full value is indicated on the backglass with one or two lamps. (Using three lamps on the BG is more confusing than helpful.)

  • Adjustment 44: CAT NAP (enabled by default).

In addition to general testing there are two things I'd especially like feedback on: I would like to know whether you prefer the old or new method of starting the Cat Nap. Also, there are probably more bugs in the non-default game settings. I would therefore especially like feedback on playing TCM with the original Bad Cats rules.

#103 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

UPDATE -- BETA VERSION R1169
Based on beta tester feedback as well as my own observations I have created updated patches and sent them to the testers for evaluation. The update fixes a couple of bugs and includes quite a few general improvements as well as minor tweaks to the rules. Creating a full change log at this stage does not make very much sense because a lot of the changes are largely invisible. However, there are two important changes the testers need to know about:
1. CAT NAP: To start the Cat Nap use the start button: When the ball is in the shooter lane, Doghouse or Trashcan, press and hold the start button until the game is muted to pause the game. To end the nap, again press and hold the start button. (Launching the ball and starting a Cat Scan also end the nap.) Adding a player or aborting a game and starting a new one works as before as long as you use short button presses. Short button presses are disabled during the nap. While this sounds a bit complicated I find it quite intuitive in practice.
2. GAME ADJUSTMENTS. In the updated code all the rules modifications can be disabled with game adjustments:
Adjustment 34: In L5 this is the FISH 10X MEMORY adjustment. In TCM this is the FISH DIFFICULTY adjustment with three different settings: NORMAL, EASY and EASIEST. EASIEST is the same as L5 FISH 10X MEMORY enabled; EASY is the same as L5 FISH 10X MEMORY disabled; NORMAL (default setting) are the TCM rules described in an earlier post.
Adjustment 41: BALL SAVER (enabled by default).
Adjustment 42: 20M WISH (enabled by default). Disabling the 20M WISH also disables the Seafood BBQ, the modified skill shot and the updated drop-target rules, since all of those provide rewards specifically for the WISH shot.
Adjustment 43: SHARED JACKPOT (disabled by default). When enabled the Jackpot behaves exactly as in L5. When disabled (individual Jackpot) the maximum Jackpot is reduced to 15M and the full value is indicated on the backglass with one or two lamps. (Using three lamps on the BG is more confusing than helpful.)
Adjustment 44: CAT NAP (enabled by default).

In addition to general testing there are two things I'd especially like feedback on: I would like to know whether you prefer the old or new method of starting the Cat Nap. Also, there are probably more bugs in the non-default game settings. I would therefore especially like feedback on playing TCM with the original Bad Cats rules.

Thanks for the guidance - will put in non-default playtesting. Wondering if Ball Saver time could be adjustable.

#104 1 year ago
Quoted from shimoda:

Wondering if Ball Saver time could be adjustable.

That's definitely doable, but can you tell me why you want to adjust the time (5s + 2s grace)? For fine-tuning? If so, a range of 4-6s with 0.25s resolution should do the trick. Or do you want to be able to make the game easier? Then 1s resolution is enough with maybe a range of 4-10s?

#105 1 year ago

Bad Cats is one game multiball would have been so good in!

#106 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

That's definitely doable, but can you tell me why you want to adjust the time (5s + 2s grace)? For fine-tuning? If so, a range of 4-6s with 0.25s resolution should do the trick. Or do you want to be able to make the game easier? Then 1s resolution is enough with maybe a range of 4-10s?

Gottlieb System 3 games have an adjustable ball save time. Could follow there setting model. Stargate has it. Just don’t add their minimum game time setting. By default it is set to 2 minutes and during testing on that Stargate I thought something was wrong with the trough switches since it kept kicking out the ball. Until I turned that to 0.

Adjustable ball save is good. Adjustable minimum game time. Not so good.

#107 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

That's definitely doable, but can you tell me why you want to adjust the time (5s + 2s grace)? For fine-tuning? If so, a range of 4-6s with 0.25s resolution should do the trick. Or do you want to be able to make the game easier? Then 1s resolution is enough with maybe a range of 4-10s?

For friends not accustomed to pinball, the latter option (4-10 w/ 1s res) makes the most sense. BC can be a real drainer for newbies (and everyone else at times)

#108 1 year ago
Quoted from shimoda:

For friends not accustomed to pinball, the latter option (4-10 w/ 1s res) makes the most sense. BC can be a real drainer for newbies (and everyone else at times)

I like the idea of it being adjustable. 4-10 seconds seems like a good/fair range.

#109 1 year ago
Quoted from shimoda:

For friends not accustomed to pinball

Makes a lot of sense. I'll set different values in the different presets (EASY, EXTRA EASY, etc.). Speaking of presets, I am considering replacing two of the existing ones. Instead of NOVELTY there could be BAD CATS which disables all the rules modifications. And instead of 5-BALL there could be a TOURNAMENT option. I don't want to remove the randomness so this won't be for "hard core" tournaments, but I'm thinking of disabling all EBs as well as setting the seafood wheel minimum awards (adjustments 45 - 47) to zero.

#110 1 year ago

Make sure some of the options don't auto-install 5 ball options... some of the later system 11 games assume certain things depending on the preset, and will install the unique stuff for that preset, AND some of the other options. IIRC the 5 ball options get installed automatically if you set the balls 5 or above, and there is a 3 ball option as well for when you set it under 5.

So if you hijack the install 5 ball preset data, it might auto install if someone sets the game to 5 balls. It kind of "makes sense" that it was setup this way, but I don't like a singular option like balls per game implying the other options - I'd assume that "install 5 ball" did just that, not that the balls per game function also installed those presets.

#111 1 year ago

If this is the case, maybe I better replace either EXTRA EASY or EXTRA HARD.

#112 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

As slochar wrote, Pinball programming from that era is basically 8-bit assembler. I learned my assembler skills on a Micro-Professor MPF-1, which I bought in 1982 for about $300. Funnily enough one is currently available on eBay for $320. If you complete all the experiments in the manual you will have more than sufficient understanding for tackling Pinball programming. Sure, it's a different MPU, but a Z-80 is a better CPU for learning than an M6800, IMO. And, as a side benefit, you will understand much better how computers work, even modern ones. You may also need a cassette tape recorder

Sounds fun. I'm a programmer and while it's been a long time since I did any assembly code I'm sure I could pick it up. I used to play Corewar for fun which is a game about writing assembly language programs that battle each other.

I still want a few more modern pinballs for my collection but perhaps at some point I can find a nice System 11 game (with multiball) to use for writing my own game rules.

#113 1 year ago
Quoted from dboeren:

I'm a programmer and while it's been a long time since I did any assembly code I'm sure I could pick it up.

Here's some straight 6800 code (for stern dracula/wild fyre) so you can see what's involved.
http://tsqmadness.com/slochar/SOURCE/DRAC_WF.ASM

In that same directory http://tsqmadness.com/slochar/SOURCE/ is some stern mpu200 games, which incorporate a similar setup to system 11's coding in that you've got an interpreter operating as well that's pinball specific.

The stern version of this is called "pigs".

The williams version of this is called "pinbol".

Some of pinbol is documented at: http://gamearchive.askey.org/Pinball/Manufacturers/Williams/PinBuilder/text/williams_lvl7_programming.html#compatibility which is system 7 specific, but it transfers over into system 11.

So the first thing you'd want to do is get some kind of disassembly going so that you can get some kind of source that will assemble true.... while you can do lots of successful mods with patching, IMO this gets sloppy *QUICKLY* and really hard to maintain.

I'm not a professionally trained programmer at all, just high school level courses, so probably most of what I put in the source pro assembler programmers could look at and cringe. (Some have).... but it works for me.

Due to copyright of course we can't distribute our recreated source code for anything else although I've often thought that I could just post the COMMENTS I've added to each line, and post that. The copyright to the comments would be the comment creator. You paste the comments next to your disassembly

#114 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Speaking of presets, I am considering replacing two of the existing ones. Instead of NOVELTY there could be BAD CATS which disables all the rules modifications.

I REALLY like that idea. I'd love to be able to easily go back and forth between TCM and the original rules. Would make it much easier than having to remove and reinstall the ROMs whenever you want to do that.

#115 1 year ago
Quoted from interconnect:

I REALLY like that idea. I'd love to be able to easily go back and forth between TCM and the original rules. Would make it much easier than having to remove and reinstall the ROMs whenever you want to do that.

If there was enough memory available you could store the presets and switch back and forth with the flipper buttons before game start (assuming that the flipper switches on bad cats are read at the flipper button and not at the flipper like some are.... I remember putting in a bunch of stuff in a system 11 game assuming that the flippers could be read in game over, nope, only when flipping).

It wouldn't be as straightforward to modify for idealjoker but it could be done with some planning (assuming memory to hold all the settings in duplicate were available).

I have ZIF sockets in all my machines so rom swap isn't too bad, but I tend to pick a version and stay with it.... I'm probably biased since 90% of them I modded myself though.

#117 1 year ago
Quoted from slochar:

Here's some straight 6800 code (for stern dracula/wild fyre) so you can see what's involved.
http://tsqmadness.com/slochar/SOURCE/DRAC_WF.ASM

Thanks for the links. I'm saving this thread for "someday" when I stumble into a good deal on a System 11. Is there a list of all the System 11 games with multiball that would be good for modding like this? Is there any consensus on what are some of the "best" titles that would give a good playfield layout to work with?

#118 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Instead of NOVELTY there could be BAD CATS which disables all the rules modifications. .

definitely agree this would be a good option to keep roms in sockets - if possible

#119 1 year ago
Quoted from shimoda:

definitely agree this would be a good option to keep roms in sockets

I am not sure what you are asking for because you can already do this with the current beta version. There is no Bad Cats preset yet, but if you change settings 34 and 41-44 as indicated in a post above you'll be playing Bad Cats rules and the game will identify itself as such (Bad Cats callout at game start and BAD CATS displayed at game over).

The only intentional difference in game play is that you'll have to light the trash can again after you drain a ball (the trashcan light bug fix that I implemented). I think that I should probably change this so that when you play with Bad Cats rules the trash can stays lit on a drain, in which chase there are no intentional game differences remaining.

#120 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

I am not sure what you are asking for because you can already do this with the current beta version. There is no Bad Cats preset yet, but if you change settings 34 and 41-44 as indicated in a post above you'll be playing Bad Cats rules and the game will identify itself as such (Bad Cats callout at game start and BAD CATS displayed at game over).
The only intentional difference in game play is that you'll have to light the trash can again after you drain a ball (the trashcan light bug fix that I implemented). I think that I should probably change this so that when you play with Bad Cats rules the trash can stays lit on a drain, in which chase there are no intentional game differences remaining.

Sorta misspoke there. Aware of the current options, really just agreeing that a single option change would be easier for the end-user than changing several options.

#121 1 year ago

Being able to chose the rules at game start would be even more convenient. In any case, if there are two different rule sets, there pretty much have to be two separate high-score lists. Maybe BADDEST CATS for the Bad Cats high scores and LOUDEST CATS for the TCM high scores?

#122 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Being able to chose the rules at game start would be even more convenient. In any case, if there are two different rule sets, there pretty much have to be two separate high-score lists. Maybe BADDEST CATS for the Bad Cats high scores and LOUDEST CATS for the TCM high scores?

Haha, sure. Maybe MEOW MASTERS? lol, just throwing stuff out there.

#123 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Being able to chose the rules at game start would be even more convenient.

Holding start button down while powering on could toggle between standard and enhanced rules (and save the setting to CMOS RAM). This would prevent accidentally changing ruleset at game start.

#124 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Being able to chose the rules at game start would be even more convenient. In any case, if there are two different rule sets, there pretty much have to be two separate high-score lists. Maybe BADDEST CATS for the Bad Cats high scores and LOUDEST CATS for the TCM high scores?

Two things - rules selection at game start would be great - or similar. Raddest Cats?

Great work so far with no known issues. Next testing step is sans glass with full switch control and tracking all hits/scoring.

#125 1 year ago

Some great ideas here!

I found a bug: When you play Bad Cats rules, on ball 3 the 20M shot is lit. You shoot the Tiger ramp until you score the 1M. Now, if you immediately shoot the Tiger ramp again you score 20M. If you don't, the ramp is supposed to reset to 50K. In the current beta version, based on the lamps it looks (almost) okay. However, next time you make the ramp you score 20M, rather than 50K. When I fix this bug I'll also make the Tiger ramp lamps more consistent.

#126 1 year ago

Does the stock ROM do that as well?

1 month later
#127 1 year ago

UPDATE --- Beta Testing Feedback / Ideas for Discussion

I have not had much time for this project since my last post. This has given the testers some time to find bugs. None have been reported. Yay! However, I have received some valuable feedback on the game play.

One issue that has come up is that the 20M Wish is difficult. Yup. The shot is difficult to light and, once lit, it is difficult to score. That's what I had to do for myself to *really* start liking Bad Cats. When I play at night I manage to light the shot once every half a dozen games or so and I barely ever score it. When I do, it makes me feel like a really good pinball player

But I realized is that there will be quite a few owners who will want to disable the 20M Wish because it makes the game harder. But the same players might still be interested in the TCM features that make the game easier: the skill shot, the updated drop target rules and the Seafood BBQ. So I am thinking of having 2 game adjustment for the TCM rules, one to enable these three options that make the game easier, and the other to enable the two mods that make the game harder: the 20M Wish and the updated Fish Bone-Us multiplier rules. What do you think?

Another thing that I got from the feedback is that the 5M Fish Bone shot is difficult, too, so many players don't go for it. I think that's a real bummer because with all its flaws, the Fish-Bone Us target is one of the best features of the game. (Unless you have the L-5 ROMs installed, in which case the fish target stinks -- see earlier post.) Since I need to come up with different T-letter skill shot award for the "TCM easy" rules I am thinking of 1) disabling the fish timer for the current ball or/and 2) lighting 2 fish lamps (or 1 additional, if 2 or more are already lit) setting this as the "fish minimum" for the current ball. (The "fish minimum" in the original rules is 25K -- once you light the fish it never drops back below that value.) Again, let me know what you think.

#128 1 year ago

This is awesome! Where do I send my money?

#129 1 year ago
Quoted from Spyderturbo007:

Where do I send my money?

To your favorite charity

#130 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

UPDATE --- Beta Testing Feedback / Ideas for Discussion
I have not had much time for this project since my last post. This has given the testers some time to find bugs. None have been reported. Yay! However, I have received some valuable feedback on the game play.
One issue that has come up is that the 20M Wish is difficult. Yup. The shot is difficult to light and, once lit, it is difficult to score. That's what I had to do for myself to *really* start liking Bad Cats. When I play at night I manage to light the shot once every half a dozen games or so and I barely ever score it. When I do, it makes me feel like a really good pinball player
But I realized is that there will be quite a few owners who will want to disable the 20M Wish because it makes the game harder. But the same players might still be interested in the TCM features that make the game easier: the skill shot, the updated drop target rules and the Seafood BBQ. So I am thinking of having 2 game adjustment for the TCM rules, one to enable these three options that make the game easier, and the other to enable the two mods that make the game harder: the 20M Wish and the updated Fish Bone-Us multiplier rules. What do you think?
Another thing that I got from the feedback is that the 5M Fish Bone shot is difficult, too, so many players don't go for it. I think that's a real bummer because with all its flaws, the Fish-Bone Us target is one of the best features of the game. (Unless you have the L-5 ROMs installed, in which case the fish target stinks -- see earlier post.) Since I need to come up with different T-letter skill shot award for the "TCM easy" rules I am thinking of 1) disabling the fish timer for the current ball or/and 2) lighting 2 fish lamps (or 1 additional, if 2 or more are already lit) setting this as the "fish minimum" for the current ball. (The "fish minimum" in the original rules is 25K -- once you light the fish it never drops back below that value.) Again, let me know what you think.

Thinking your alternate options sound good for multiple types of players. Every game is different, mine is a drain monster and the ramp shot, for whatever reason is not really repeatable with the kind of regularity that makes going for the Tiger ramp worthwhile. So far so good on my end. Once when we had the game on for a while it did the lock thing and everyone was worried they broke the game, had to let them know the test rom would slam tilt the game, but first had to remember that myself

#131 1 year ago

The new rules are great!

I was just thinking, if the linear "BAD CATS" to jackpot rule could be modified into awarding each letter individually according to some rule, instead of in sequence. This would require more RAM, to keep status for each player, and I don't know if it would make the jackpot too easy. Depends on how the letters are awarded of course. Gilligans Island, where you have to collect 7 ingredients for "Lava Seltzer" comes to mind. There are 7 letters in BADCATS... so only 1 byte per player to keep track of lit letters.

#132 1 year ago

UPDATE - MAKING THE 20M WISH EASIER (if you wish)

Here's a simple solution that allows the owner to make the 20M Wish much easier with the settings: You can crank up the probability for the Extra Ball on the Seafood Wheel to any level you want with adjustment 46 (defaults to 33%). You can also crank up the Jackpot award from the wheel with adjustment 45 (defaults to 5%, 1 in 20 games). So the only thing missing for the 20M Wish is the 5M Fish Bone-Us. But there is the Special award from the Seafood wheel, which is a pointless award in a Home ROM setting. With adjustment #7 you can chose either a free game (default), an extra ball (add-a-ball mode), or a score for the Special. In Bad Cats L5 the score is 100K. In TCM the score will be 5M, with the guitar sound playing as the FX, and the Special counting toward the 20M Wish.

With this minimal change, if you want to make it (way too) easy to light the 20M Wish shot, you set adjustments 45-47 to 99% and then you only need to spin the wheel a few times and shoot the Goldfish ramp once to light the shot. Of course, you'll still have to collect it, which is hard.

Quoted from shimoda:

had to let them know the test rom would slam tilt the game, but first had to remember that myself

Same happened to me a week ago. Stopped my heart for a little bit until I remembered myself...

Quoted from Tuukka:

could be modified into awarding each letter individually

I want to keep close to the original rules. This will keep the plastics and rules cards (mostly) consistent. More importantly for me, it preserves the "look and feel" of the game. And, from a technical point of view, the farther I deviate from the original rules the harder it makes the coding, because the same code must also support the original game rules.

1 week later
#133 1 year ago

If you don't want to run the patching utility on your computer I found an online site where you can do it:

https://www.marcrobledo.com/RomPatcher.js/

#134 1 year ago

UPDATE -- Game Rules Selection

Continuing the thread of my previous update, I can now select between 5 different rules at game start: The Cat's Meow (default), Handicap Easy, Handicap Hard, Bad Cats, and Bad Kittens (Bad Cats with ball saver). The game starts with the rules played last, so you only have to select your favorite choice once after the game boots. (To my surprise I play all five game options, depending on wakefulness, sobriety, mood, etc.) The way the rules choice is implemented is that you long-press the start button when the first ball is in the shooter lane. Instead of starting a Cat Nap, this enters the rules-selection menu. As an aside, I really like the updated Cat Nap with the GI turned off and all lamp effects slowed down 16x.

Since different players in the same game can play with different rules the Easy and Hard game options implement a handicap system. To do this I decided to define four different rules for each of the eight main game features: Skill Shot, Drop Targets/BAD CATS letters, Seafood Wheel, Fish-Bone US, Tiger Ramp, Goldfish Ramp, 20M Shot and Jackpot Advance. The four different rules are TCM normal, TCM easy, TCM hard and Bad Cats. The Bad Cats rules are L5 with the L2 fish target rules. The TCM normal rules are those I have described in previous posts. The TCM hard rules remove most of the randomness, making it suitable for competitions. The TCM easy rules implement the Fish-Bone Us rules described in my previous update. The easy rules for the Skill Shot include lane change, which I think one of you requested earlier.

All in all, I have implemented all but 5 of the 32 rules options, so things have been progressing well. However, having so many options massively increases the potential for bugs. (8 game settings with 4 options each make for a total of 65536 different possible rules combinations!) It will take more time for me to finish the rules options and fix all the obvious problems. Once this is done I will send updated patches to the beta testers.

And hopefully even before that I will upload a game-play video or two.

1 week later
#135 1 year ago

This sounds amazing. Thanks for all your work and I'm eager to give $ to someone for the finished product!

#136 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

UPDATE -- Game Rules Selection
Continuing the thread of my previous update, I can now select between 5 different rules at game start: The Cat's Meow (default), Handicap Easy, Handicap Hard, Bad Cats, and Bad Kittens (Bad Cats with ball saver). The game starts with the rules played last, so you only have to select your favorite choice once after the game boots. (To my surprise I play all five game options, depending on wakefulness, sobriety, mood, etc.) The way the rules choice is implemented is that you long-press the start button when the first ball is in the shooter lane. Instead of starting a Cat Nap, this enters the rules-selection menu. As an aside, I really like the updated Cat Nap with the GI turned off and all lamp effects slowed down 16x.
Since different players in the same game can play with different rules the Easy and Hard game options implement a handicap system. To do this I decided to define four different rules for each of the eight main game features: Skill Shot, Drop Targets/BAD CATS letters, Seafood Wheel, Fish-Bone US, Tiger Ramp, Goldfish Ramp, 20M Shot and Jackpot Advance. The four different rules are TCM normal, TCM easy, TCM hard and Bad Cats. The Bad Cats rules are L5 with the L2 fish target rules. The TCM normal rules are those I have described in previous posts. The TCM hard rules remove most of the randomness, making it suitable for competitions. The TCM easy rules implement the Fish-Bone Us rules described in my previous update. The easy rules for the Skill Shot include lane change, which I think one of you requested earlier.
All in all, I have implemented all but 5 of the 32 rules options, so things have been progressing well. However, having so many options massively increases the potential for bugs. (8 game settings with 4 options each make for a total of 65536 different possible rules combinations!) It will take more time for me to finish the rules options and fix all the obvious problems. Once this is done I will send updated patches to the beta testers.
And hopefully even before that I will upload a game-play video or two.

Looking forward to testing this update.

#137 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

UPDATE -- Game Rules Selection
Continuing the thread of my previous update, I can now select between 5 different rules at game start: The Cat's Meow (default), Handicap Easy, Handicap Hard, Bad Cats, and Bad Kittens (Bad Cats with ball saver). The game starts with the rules played last, so you only have to select your favorite choice once after the game boots. (To my surprise I play all five game options, depending on wakefulness, sobriety, mood, etc.) The way the rules choice is implemented is that you long-press the start button when the first ball is in the shooter lane. Instead of starting a Cat Nap, this enters the rules-selection menu. As an aside, I really like the updated Cat Nap with the GI turned off and all lamp effects slowed down 16x.
Since different players in the same game can play with different rules the Easy and Hard game options implement a handicap system. To do this I decided to define four different rules for each of the eight main game features: Skill Shot, Drop Targets/BAD CATS letters, Seafood Wheel, Fish-Bone US, Tiger Ramp, Goldfish Ramp, 20M Shot and Jackpot Advance. The four different rules are TCM normal, TCM easy, TCM hard and Bad Cats. The Bad Cats rules are L5 with the L2 fish target rules. The TCM normal rules are those I have described in previous posts. The TCM hard rules remove most of the randomness, making it suitable for competitions. The TCM easy rules implement the Fish-Bone Us rules described in my previous update. The easy rules for the Skill Shot include lane change, which I think one of you requested earlier.
All in all, I have implemented all but 5 of the 32 rules options, so things have been progressing well. However, having so many options massively increases the potential for bugs. (8 game settings with 4 options each make for a total of 65536 different possible rules combinations!) It will take more time for me to finish the rules options and fix all the obvious problems. Once this is done I will send updated patches to the beta testers.
And hopefully even before that I will upload a game-play video or two.

Holy cow!

3 weeks later
#138 1 year ago

Writing time... The code is ready for the next beta release. But with all those rules options available in the adjustments and at game start a manual is needed. So I will be making a few posts over the next week or two that will serve as the manual. Once I have finished describing the adjustments I will send out the new patch to the beta testers.

#139 1 year ago

MANUAL SECTION -- Rules Selection at Game Start

When the STARTBUTTON MENU is enabled in the game adjustments and the first ball of any player is resting in the shooter lane, a long-press of the start button enters the game-rules selection menu (PICKY KITTY). Five different rules options can be selected with the flipper buttons:

  1. THE CAT'S MEOW -- default rules of the TCM home ROM.
  2. BAD CATS -- original Bad Cats rules with factory settings; L2 or L5 rules can be selected with the BAD FISH HANDLER adjustment.
  3. BAD KITTENS -- easier variant of the original Bad Cats rules with longer timers and Ball Saver enabled.
  4. SEAFOOD -- easier variant of The Cat's Meow rules.
  5. ME-OW -- harder variant of The Cat's Meow rules.

Pressing the left flipper button once selects the BAD CATS rules, and then you can launch the ball to play a game with the original rules. In the following YouTube Short I first start a two player game, enter the rules-selection menu, change the rules to BAD CATS and launch the ball for a two-player game with the original rule set:

There are two difficulty levels of the Bad Cats rules and three levels of the TCM rules to chose from. Different players in the same game can play with different rules. So, for example, if you as player 1 want to play a game of Bad Cats (original rules) with a more casual player 2, you start a game and enter the rules selection menu as shown in the video above to chose BAD CATS rules. Then you (short) press the start button to add another player, which automatically switches the menu so you can change the rules for player 2 to BAD KITTENS. This is shown in the video below, where I also long-press the start button after selecting the rules for player 2, to return the display to show the scores, before launching the ball:

NOTES:

  • Regardless of what you chose as the rules when you add a player to a game, when that player's first ball is parked in the shooter lane they can long press the start button and chose whatever rules they want to play with.

  • Long-pressing the start button, which is also used to enter and exit a CAT NAP, is safe in the sense that it will never use up credits by adding another player to a game.

  • In order to mute the game (CAT NAP) instead of choosing the game rules when the first ball is in the shooter lane, long-press the start button until the game is muted.

#140 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Writing time... The code is ready for the next beta release. But with all those rules options available in the adjustments and at game start a manual is needed. So I will be making a few posts over the next week or two that will serve as the manual. Once I have finished describing the adjustments I will send out the new patch to the beta testers.

Sounds awesome! Looking forward to it.

#141 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

MANUAL SECTION -- Rules Selection at Game Start
When the STARTBUTTON MENU is enabled in the game adjustments and the first ball of any player is resting in the shooter lane, a long-press of the start button enters the game-rules selection menu (PICKY KITTY). Five different rules options can be selected with the flipper buttons:
THE CAT'S MEOW -- default rules of the TCM home ROM.
BAD CATS -- original Bad Cats rules with factory settings; L2 or L5 rules can be selected with the BAD FISH HANDLER adjustment.
BAD KITTENS -- easier variant of the original Bad Cats rules with longer timers and Ball Saver enabled.
SEAFOOD -- easier variant of The Cat's Meow rules.
ME-OW -- harder variant of The Cat's Meow rules.
Pressing the left flipper button once selects the BAD CATS rules, and then you can launch the ball to play a game with the original rules. In the following YouTube Short I first start a two player game, enter the rules-selection menu, change the rules to BAD CATS and launch the ball for a two-player game with the original rule set:
There are two difficulty levels of the Bad Cats rules and three levels of the TCM rules to chose from. Different players in the same game can play with different rules. So, for example, if you as player 1 want to play a game of Bad Cats (original rules) with a more casual player 2, you start a game and enter the rules selection menu as shown in the video above to chose BAD CATS rules. Then you (short) press the start button to add another player, which automatically switches the menu so you can change the rules for player 2 to BAD KITTENS. This is shown in the video below, where I also long-press the start button after selecting the rules for player 2, to return the display to show the scores, before launching the ball:
NOTES:
Regardless of what you chose as the rules when you add a player to a game, when that player's first ball is parked in the shooter lane they can long press the start button and chose whatever rules they want to play with.
Long-pressing the start button, which is also used to enter and exit a CAT NAP, is safe in the sense that it will never use up credits by adding another player to a game.
In order to mute the game (CAT NAP) instead of choosing the game rules when the first ball is in the shooter lane, long-press the start button until the game is muted.

Lookin' awesome. Can't wait!

#143 1 year ago

MANUAL SECTION - Game Adjustments

[The information in this section supersedes the corresponding information on pp.18-20 in the Bad Cat Operations Manual.]

    AD31: DROP TARGET RULES. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the Drop Target rules that light B-A-D C-A-T-S letters. The choices are:
    • ORIGINAL -- Each target bank spots 1 letter; B-A-D C-A-T-S letters carry over from ball to ball.
    • NORMAL -- The 3-bank spots 1 letter; the 5-bank spots 2 letters (normally), or 3 when all targets are dropped individually; B-A-D C-A-T-S letters carry over from ball to ball.
    • EASY -- Same as
    • NORMAL, except that the B-A-D letters are pre-lit at game start.
    • HARD -- Each target bank spots 1 letter; B-A-D C-A-T-S letters reset at start of each ball.

      AD34: FISH BONE-US RULES. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the rules governing the Fish Bone-Us award. The choices are:
      • ORIGINAL -- The 10x multiplier can be lit (blinking) either via the lit right inlane or by completing the 5-bank. Once lit, the Fish Bone-Us valued does not drop below 25K. Both the Fish Bone-US value and 10x multiplier carry over from ball to ball.
      • NORMAL -- The 10x multiplier can be lit temporarily (blinking) via the lit right inlane or semi-permanently (solid) by completing the 5-bank. When blinking the 10x multiplier is turned off whenever the current Fish Bone-Us timer expires. On time-out Fish Bone-Us value drops to zero. Neither the Fish Bone-US value nor the 10x multiplier carry over from ball to ball.
      • EASY -- The 10x multiplier can be lit semi-permanently (blinking) via the lit right inlane or permanently (solid) by completing the 5-bank. When the 10x multiplier is not blinking the Fish Bone-Us timer is disabled. On time-out the Fish Bone-Us value drops to zero. Both the Fish Bone-US value and 10x multiplier carry over from ball to ball.
      • HARD -- The 10x multiplier can only be lit (solid) by completing the 5-bank. On time-out Fish Bone-Us value drops to zero. Neither the Fish Bone-US value nor the 10x multiplier carry over from ball to ball.

        AD35: TIGER RAMP RULES. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the rules governing the Tiger Ramp awards, except for the 20M shot, which is controlled by AD42. The choices are:
        • ORIGINAL -- The starting value of the ramp is 50K; the 1M shot is always qualified; 3 consecutive ramp-shots are required to score the 20M shot.
        • NORMAL -- The starting value of the ramp is 50K; the 1M shot is pre-qualified at ball start but must be re-qualified by completing the 5-target bank after each Unlimited Million mode, unless the 20M shot is lit.
        • EASY -- The starting value of the ramp is 50K; the 1M shot is always qualified; no consecutive ramp-shots are required for scoring the 20M shot.
        • HARD -- The starting value of the ramp is 50K; the 1M shot must be qualified by completing the 5-target bank, even when the 20M shot is lit.

          AD36: SKILLSHOT RULES. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the rules governing the skill shot. The choices are:
          • ORIGINAL -- All three T-O-Y letters award the 2x bonus multiplier; lane change is disabled during the skill shot.
          • NORMAL -- The T letter awards the same Fish Bone-Us 10x multiplier as the 5-target bank; the O letter awards the 2x bonus multiplier; the Y letter awards a B-A-D C-A-T-S letter. Lane change is disabled during the skill shot.
          • EASY -- Same as NORMAL except that lane change is enabled during the skill shot.
          • HARD -- All three T-O-Y letters award a score of 100K; lane change is disabled during the skill shot.

            AD38: GOLDFISH RAMP RULES. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the rules governing qualification of the Goldfish Ramp. The choices are:
            • ORIGINAL -- The ramp is always qualified.
            • NORMAL -- The ramp must be qualified with a completion of the T-O-Y letters or either drop target bank.
            • EASY -- Same as ORIGINAL with ramp not resetting to 25K. The award sequences are 25K-50K-75K-100K-100K-... and 25K-50K-75K-100K-EB-100K-100K-...
            • HARD -- The ramp must be qualified by completing the 3-target bank.

              AD41: BALL SAVER. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) whether to enable the Ball Saver. This setting is either OFF or ranges from 3 seconds (conservative) to 10 seconds (liberal).

                AD42: 20M SHOT RULES. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the rules governing qualification of the 20M award of the Goldfish Ramp. The choices are:
                • ORIGINAL -- The 20M shot is enabled on ball 3 and can be collected only once per game.
                • NORMAL -- The 20M WISH is qualified by scoring a Goldfish Jackpot, an Extra Ball, and a 5M Fish Bone-Us award. After scoring the 20M WISH, all awards are re-enabled and the WISH can be scored again.
                • EASY -- Same as NORMAL except that the Unlimited Million mode is NOT aborted when another playfield switch is hit while the 20M WISH is lit. As a result, there are no consecutive shots required to score the 20M WISH.
                • HARD -- Same as NORMAL except that Seafood Wheel awards do not count toward progress for the 20M WISH shot.

                  AD43: JACKPOT RULES. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the rules governing advance of the Goldfish Ramp Jackpot value. The choices are:
                  • ORIGINAL -- The Jackpot value, with a maximum of 20M, is shared between players and carried over from game to game. Jackpot advance is mainly by the skill shot (500K). After scoring, the Jackpot is reset to 1M. On game reset and after 7 minutes of inactivity a Jackpot value below 3M is reset to 3M. During attract mode the shared Jackpot value is shown on the backbox (up to 8M) and periodically reported as the LITTER JACKPOT on the score displays.
                  • NORMAL -- The Jackpot value, with a maximum of 15M, is separate for each game but partially shared between players during multi-player games, as follows: At the beginning of ball 1, the Jackpot value for each player is initialized to 2,840,000 points. At the beginning of each subsequent regular ball (not extra balls), the the Jackpot value of each player is initialized with the highest Jackpot value of any player achieved during the previous ball. The skill shot, drop targets, ramps and outlanes advance the Jackpot Value. Scoring the Jackpot does not change its value.
                  • EASY -- The Jackpot value, initialized to 2,840,000 at game start and with a maximum of 15M, is not shared with other players or carried from game to game. Jackpot advance is double that of NORMAL and scoring the Jackpot does not change its value.
                  • HARD -- The Jackpot value, initialized to 1M at game start and with a maximum of 15M, is not shared with other players or carried from game to game. Jackpot advance is the same as NORMAL and scoring the Jackpot does not change its value.

                    AD44: SEAFOOD WHEEL RULES. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the rules governing the high-value Seafood Wheel awards. The choices are:
                    • ORIGINAL -- The Seafood Wheel awards Light Jackpot, Extra Ball and Special according to the percentages set in adjustments 45-47 and the Consolation Extra Ball according to AD39.
                    • NORMAL -- In addition to the high-value awards of the ORIGINAL setting, the Wheel awards Spot B-A-D C-A-T-S Letter with significantly increased probability while the BBQ mode is running and the Jackpot has not been awarded yet.
                    • EASY -- Same as NORMAL setting but with the Special always (independent of AD07) awarding a score of 5M that contributes to the 20M WISH progress (when the 20M WISH shot is enabled with AD42).
                    • HARD -- The Seafood Wheel gives out the awards as a non-random sequence that does not include the Light Jackpot, Extra Ball and Special awards.

                      AD51: STARTBUTTON MENU. The operator can choose (via the Credit button) whether additional functionality is enabled when the Credit button (Start button) is long-pressed (longer than 0.75s) while the ball is parked in the shooter lane, in the Trashcan, or in the Doghouse. The choices are YES (default) or NO. The start button menu enables two different features:
                      1. When the first ball of any player is parked in the shooter lane, long-pressing the Credit button enters the rules-selection menu (PICKY KITTY), as described in the RULES SELECTION AT GAME START section of the manual.
                      2. When enabled and the ball is parked in either of the scoops, or in the shooter lane during later balls, long-pressing the Credit button starts a CAT NAP, which mutes the game, dims the GI and slows the insert lamp effects. For more information, see the CAT NAP section of the manual.

                        AD52: BAD FISH HANDLER. The opto interrupter wheel of the linear Fish Bone-Us target occasionally lands in a position where even the slightest vibration causes the opto to toggle. (With bright LEDs installed it is also possible that reflection off the wheel causes switch toggles without any vibrations at all.) The operator can choose (via the Credit button) four different algorithms for mitigating these effects. The choices are:
                        • WMS LA-2 -- The fish target behaves like the LA-2 version of the WMS software, where there is no special treatment of phantom switch hits. Shots to the target award 1-4 fish advances, which is taken as the behavior intended by the game designers. This setting is not suitable for competition play.
                        • WMS LA-5 -- The fish target behaves like the LA-5 version of the WMS software, where the fish switch is throttled severely and there are very few phantom switch hits. On the other hand, shots to the target award only 1-2 fish advances. This setting is most suitable for competition play.
                        • LEVEL -- Water-level based algorithm for detecting phantom switch hits, intended to combine the target responsiveness of the L2 version with the phantom-switch filtering of the L5 algorithm. Phantom switch hits are announced with male YEAH.
                        • PATTERN -- Temporal-pattern based algorithm for detecting phantom switch hits, intended to combine the target responsiveness of the L2 version with the phantom-switch filtering of the L5 algorithm. Phantom switch hits are announced with female OH.

                          AD60: INSTALL 5 BALL. The operator can change the game to 5-ball play. In addition to setting BALLS/GAME (AD09) to 5, REPLAY START (AD02) is set to 5,000,000.

                            AD62: INSTALL BAD KITTENS. The operator can change the game rule adjustments to the same combination that is in effect when the STARTBUTTON MENU (AD51) is enabled and the BAD KITTENS rules, an easier version of the original BAD CATS rules, have been selected at game start. The GAME DIFFICULTY SETTING TABLE lists the Adjustments and the settings that comprise the "BAD KITTENS" group.

                              AD63: INSTALL BAD CATS. The operator can change the game rule adjustments to the same combination that is in effect when the STARTBUTTON MENU (AD51) is enabled and the original BAD CATS rules have been selected at game start. The GAME DIFFICULTY SETTING TABLE lists the Adjustments and the settings that comprise the "BAD CATS" group.

                                AD64: INSTALL THE CATS MEOW. The operator can change the game rule adjustments to the same combination that is in effect when the STARTBUTTON MENU (AD51) is enabled and the THE CAT'S MEOW rules, the default rules, have been selected at game start. The GAME DIFFICULTY SETTING TABLE lists the Adjustments and the settings that comprise the "THE CAT'S MEOW" group.

                                  AD65: INSTALL T.C.M. EASY. The operator can change the game rule adjustments to the same combination that is in effect when the STARTBUTTON MENU (AD51) is enabled and the SEAFOOD rules, an easier version of the THE CAT'S MEOW rules, have been selected at game start. The GAME DIFFICULTY SETTING TABLE lists the Adjustments and the settings that comprise the "BAD KITTENS" group.

                                    AD66: INSTALL T.C.M. HARD. The operator can change the game rule adjustments to the same combination that is in effect when the STARTBUTTON MENU (AD51) is enabled and the ME-OW rules, an harder version of the THE CAT'S MEOW rules, have been selected at game start. The GAME DIFFICULTY SETTING TABLE lists the Adjustments and the settings that comprise the "T.C.M. HARD" group.

                                    TCM_GameDifficultySettingTable.pdfTCM_GameDifficultySettingTable.pdf
                                    #145 1 year ago
                                    Quoted from idealjoker:

                                    EASY -- Same as
                                    NORMAL, except that the B-A-D letters are pre-lit at game start.

                                    This part of the AD31 list is a typo and should read:

                                    EASY -- Same as normal, except that the B-A-D letters re per-lit at game start.

                                    I had not considered the time limit for post editing. Maybe Pinside posts are not such a great idea for publishing a manual after all...

                                    #146 1 year ago

                                    UPDATE: Project status and beta testing

                                    The overall design of the TCM patch is pretty much complete but there will still be some changes. In particular I want to add timed drop targets to the HARD rules as was suggested earlier in this thread and I also want to add more progression (making the shots more difficult the longer you play). The bad fish handler algorithms also need more work.

                                    I have begun sending the new patch to some of the testers and almost immediately received the first bug report (the 5-bank does not qualify the 1M Tiger Ramp shot with a particular adjustment combination). I will fix this bug, as well as another, similar one that I found myself and then send the updated patch to the remaining testers. I expect that there are many more bugs, because the game logic affected by the 5 rules sets and the 22 adjustments has become very complex. The goal of the testing is to make sure that the game rules are consistent with the manual, so please report anything that looks inconsitent.

                                    For those testers who had problems patching the U26 file with the previous patches, that's my bad: Until recently for development I was using a 16KB 27128 EPROM for U26 and a 32KB 27256 EPROM for U27. This is what I used for PEMBOT and it works just as well for Bad Cats. However, the original U26 ROM used by Williams is another 32KB 27256 chip, which means that you could not patch the unmodified L5 U26 ROM image with my patch. With my new patches this problem is resolved. PM or email me if you cannot apply the patches.

                                    #147 1 year ago
                                    Quoted from idealjoker:

                                    However, the original U26 ROM used by Williams is another 32KB 27256 chip, which means that you could not patch the unmodified L5 U26 ROM image with my patch.

                                    This is likely an error by williams as the rom address space is still $4000-$FFFF on all system 11 boards. I've noticed that with some other system 11 dumps, not sure if they were right from WMS or not, where they doubled up the roms. Of course it's very possible they did this because stocking one type of eprom the 256 makes more sense than stocking 2 types the 128 and 256.

                                    How we both wish that we had the full $0000-$FFFF space for roms code!

                                    #148 1 year ago
                                    Quoted from slochar:

                                    How we both wish that we had the full $0000-$FFFF space for roms code!

                                    RAM and I/O take their part, but it could be possible to make a plug-in daughterboard that goes to CPU socket, with CPU, 64k x 8 EPROM and a GAL to enable the ROM in all unused addresses, and only pass the actual used RAM and PIA addresses with VMA to the board address bus. This way ROM space could be maximized, with only a few holes that would be easy to skip in code.

                                    #149 1 year ago
                                    Quoted from slochar:

                                    This is likely an error by williams

                                    It is not an error --- the original ROM chips from my game are 27256. I suspect that it was a cost-savings measure. It's a lot quicker to program two identical chips than to program two different ones. (These days I only use Winbond W27C512 for myself to save the the hassle of erasing.)

                                    Quoted from Tuukka:

                                    RAM and I/O take their part, but it could be possible to make a plug-in daughterboard that goes to CPU socket

                                    Another pinsider designed something like this except that it plugs into the RAM socket and provide both ROM and RAM extensions. Really neat.

                                    #150 1 year ago

                                    interconnect kindly formatted the corrected game manual as a pdf (attached). This is the official target for the beta testing

                                    The Cats Meow -  Game Manual.pdfThe Cats Meow - Game Manual.pdf
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