(Topic ID: 323915)

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

By idealjoker

1 year ago


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#151 1 year ago

uv eraser hums...

#152 1 year ago
Quoted from shimoda:

uv eraser hums...

You (and all the other testers) should have the patch in your inbox. Anybody who did not get it, please email or PM me.

#153 1 year ago

I guess I'm going to have to get back into burning my own...been 20 years but I need a different rom for another game as well so I'd rather just have the equipment. Can anyone give me a quick run-down of the units that are nowadays the most trusted for this, but still affordable, go to source, etc?

#154 1 year ago

TL866 should handle most of this era.

A better one that can handle more voltages:

https://www.mcumall.com/comersus/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=4282

The 866 is the cheapest.

#155 1 year ago

I guess this amazon asin B0121980T0 which includes an eraser is same/same for a couple bucks more. Where do you buy chips, just in bulk from digikey or?

Quoted from slochar:

TL866 should handle most of this era.
A better one that can handle more voltages:
https://www.mcumall.com/comersus/store/comersus_viewItem.asp?idProduct=4282
The 866 is the cheapest.

#156 1 year ago

eBay and jameco sometimes digikey.

#157 1 year ago

I have read through another thread you had commented on about this and I think I'll just buy mine lol. I don't believe I have the bandwidth for re-learning this all now. LOL

1 week later
#158 1 year ago

How's this coming along? Eager for the release on this.

#159 1 year ago
Quoted from jrcmlc:

How's this coming along? Eager for the release on this.

+1

#160 1 year ago

If you want to play the game and don't mind having to upgrade, possibly several times, until the game is bug free, just become a beta tester. I do not think that there are any bugs left that will crash your game --- none have been reported to me and I know that there are several testers who have installed the patch. But there are definitely still bugs where the game does not behave as described in the manual, especially if you use non-standard settings. The only annoyance with the beta code is that you'll have to power-cycle your game once every 2 hours.

There are two hold-ups for the official release: Unfortunately System 11 games cannot be upgraded via USB, so I don't think I can follow software engineering 2.0 practices (let the -- possibly paying -- end-user do the beta -- sometimes alpha -- testing). My plan is to follow ancient customs and release the patch once I am reasonably sure that there are no must-do upgrades for at least a year or so. This is why the patch is currently out with the testers, even though I am not quite done with the rules changes. I am hoping that the testers will find loads of bugs, especially with non-standard settings. I think that this will take quite a lot of game-play time. The more beta testers there are, the quicker this process will be.

The second hold-up is that I still have a couple of rules changes I want to implement, including timed drop targets. This will require another block of coding and debugging effort and I am not sure whether it will take days, weeks or perhaps even months (hopefully not) to do this.

#161 1 year ago

I can wait, I just don't want this to die, very excited about this. Thanks for all the work.

12
#162 1 year ago
Quoted from jrcmlc:

I just don't want this to die

I have put way too much effort into it for this project to die...

2 weeks later
#163 1 year ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

I have put way too much effort into it for this project to die...

Your work is greatly appreciated!!!

1 month later
#164 11 months ago

UPDATE -- NEW BETA (R.1566): Bug Fixes, Improvements, Priority Threads and Game Play Video

BUGS FIXED

  1. Seafood wheel percentages were wrong (wrong stats pointers used)
  2. Start menu was available (sometimes?) on later balls
  3. occasionally, Jackpot was not lit when BAD CATS letters were completed
    even though completion was announced on display
  4. completion of BAD CATS letter occasionally left sound effects (but
    not background music) disabled for a few seconds
  5. 5M Fish Special (from the Seafood wheel when playing with SEAFOOD
    rules) did not actually score 5M
  6. insert lamps did not change correctly during game rules selection
    when non-default rules were selected in adjustments
  7. TCM Jackpot was not limited to 15M
  8. when playing with SEAFOOD rules, when the Fish Special was awarded
    on the Seafood wheel after both EB and Jackpot had already been
    awarded, the 20M WISH was not lit even though it should have been

IMPROVEMENTS

  • when playing with SEAFOOD rules, scoops (Doghouse and Trashcan) are now disabled
    when 20M WISH is lit and Unlimited Millions is in progress

PRIORITY THREADS

  • All the above changes are minor and were easy to implement. What was not easy to deal with (98% of the effort) was the fact that several of the lamp effects had slowed down considerably. The worst were the effects of the 5M Fishbone award, which took about a second longer than the guitar solo it is supposed to be synced with. Crud! I had not noticed before because I don't pay much attention to the lamp effects while playing and also because I had not made any changes at all to the code of these effects. I may end up writing a separate post with more and more technical information, but to make a long story short, I ended up adding priorities to the System 11 threads system to speed up the lamp FX back to the original speed.

SEAFOOD RULES GAMEPLAY VIDEO

  • The video is of a full (I scored the 20M WISH) game I played with the SEAFOOD (easy) rules earlier today. If you watch the video and spot any anomalies -- delays, mainly -- in the effects (lamps, flashers, displays) please let me know. (Noting that my Doghouse flasher is out...)

#165 11 months ago

I can't wait to try this out....

Quoted from idealjoker:

UPDATE -- NEW BETA (R.1566): Bug Fixes, Improvements, Priority Threads and Game Play Video
BUGS FIXEDSeafood wheel percentages were wrong (wrong stats pointers used)
Start menu was available (sometimes?) on later balls
occasionally, Jackpot was not lit when BAD CATS letters were completed
even though completion was announced on display
completion of BAD CATS letter occasionally left sound effects (but
not background music) disabled for a few seconds
5M Fish Special (from the Seafood wheel when playing with SEAFOOD
rules) did not actually score 5M
insert lamps did not change correctly during game rules selection
when non-default rules were selected in adjustments
TCM Jackpot was not limited to 15M
when playing with SEAFOOD rules, when the Fish Special was awarded
on the Seafood wheel after both EB and Jackpot had already been
awarded, the 20M WISH was not lit even though it should have been

IMPROVEMENTSwhen playing with SEAFOOD rules, scoops (Doghouse and Trashcan) are now disabled
when 20M WISH is lit and Unlimited Millions is in progress
PRIORITY THREADSAll the above changes are minor and were easy to implement. What was not easy to deal with (98% of the effort) was the fact that several of the lamp effects had slowed down considerably. The worst were the effects of the 5M Fishbone award, which took about a second longer than the guitar solo it is supposed to be synced with. Crud! I had not noticed before because I don't pay much attention to the lamp effects while playing and also because I had not made any changes at all to the code of these effects. I may end up writing a separate post with more and more technical information, but to make a long story short, I ended up adding priorities to the System 11 threads system to speed up the lamp FX back to the original speed.
SEAFOOD RULES GAMEPLAY VIDEOThe video is of a full (I scored the 20M WISH) game I played with the SEAFOOD (easy) rules earlier today. If you watch the video and spot any anomalies -- delays, mainly -- in the effects (lamps, flashers, displays) please let me know. (Noting that my Doghouse flasher is out...)

2 weeks later
#166 11 months ago

This is just amazing work. I can't wait till this is out of beta testing. I'll buy it for sure!

Chris

#167 11 months ago

UPDATE -- Timed Drop Targets

I have now implemented timed drop targets for the TCM HARD (ME-OW) rules, which was not very difficult. The birds and doghouse flashers are used to show the timer progress. Together with another small change to this rule set -- putting the BAD CATS letters back on memory -- this has resulted in a hard-core game that I find heaps of fun play, rather than just frustrating:

At the beginning of each ball both ramps as well as the Trashcan 10x are unlit. As a result, there are not many scoring opportunities. Mainly the Tiger ramp, which maxes out at 200K, and the Seafood wheel (without the Extra Ball, Special and light Jackpot awards) with a max score of 250K. To enable any of the more valuable awards the player has to complete either of the two timed drop target banks. The milk bank is not very difficult to sweep from the right flipper, and completing this enables the Goldfish ramp. However, the only really valuable award here is the Extra Ball, which requires 4 consecutive perfect (the timer is short) ramp shots. Therefore, the key to scoring highly with the ME-OW rules are the birds drop targets (5 bank). This bank cannot be swept and timed completion is difficult (for me). When completed, the bank qualifies the Tiger ramp Unlimited Millions and also lights the Trashcan 10x (Guitar), which cannot be lit via the right inlane with these rules. So now there are two major scoring opportunities, but the player has only one go at the Unlimited Millions and the Fishbone shot is dangerous.

When playing with these rules, after two decent balls (not very common), I typically have most of the BAD CATS lamps lit, which makes it worth going for the Jackpot, even though it is usually not above 3M at this stage unless I used the bonus multiplier to build the Jackpot during balls 1 and 2. And, of course, after the Jackpot, Extra Ball and 5M Fishbone, the 20M Wish is enabled. I have not yet managed to accomplish this when playing with the hard rules.

With these rules changes the gameplay feels *very* much different from that of the normal and easy rules. Ball times tend to be much shorter, because the bird bank can be quite risky, especially when the player has to rush to complete it. Overall game times are also reduced because the wheel does not award any extra balls. (Of course, for tournament play all extra balls can be disabled. This does not affect the 20M Wish shot.) I am very pleased with the results of these changes.

#168 11 months ago

Nice! I need to burn some ROM's for other games this weekend. Looking forward to this update too. You've done a fantastic job on this and Pinbot. Really improves both games.

#169 10 months ago

UPDATE -- Game Audits

In Bad Cats, 58 audits are defined. Many of these, such as the number of games with certain score ranges, don't make all that much sense when the start button menu is enabled, and games can be played with different rules. Still, I left the original audits exactly as they are. However, System 11 supports a maximum of 63 audits, which leaves 5 for TCM:

  • AU59 records the number of games started with Bad Cats or Bad Kittens rules.
  • AU60 records the number of games started with default The Cat's Meow rules.
  • AU61 records the number of games started with the SEAFOOD (easy) rules.
  • AU62 records the number of games started with the ME-OW (hard) rules.
  • AU63 records the number of balls saved. To calculate as a percentage, divide by AU19 (balls played) and multiply by 100.
For AU59-62, each player in a multiplayer game is counted separately.

#170 10 months ago

UPDATE -- NEW BETA (R.1649): Bug Fixes, Audits and Rules Tuning

BUGS FIXED

  1. the SPECIAL was awarded too frequently from the wheel
  2. raising and lowering the flippers aborted running lamp FX (L5 bug)
  3. doghouse lamp was occasionally left lit (but not enabled) after wheel
  4. the thread producing BAD KITTY speech was paused during Fishbone lamp FX, delaying the speech
  5. ball saver thread was paused during ball launch FX (irregular blinking)
  6. game rules selection did not correctly update 50K Tigerramp lamp and value of first award
  7. start button thread was paused during wheel and fish FX, preventing CAT NAP from starting
  8. achieving multiple goals toward the 20M WISH on a single ball started multiple 20M flasher threads

IMPROVEMENTS

  • I ended up not liking the NORMAL setting of the F.BONE-US RULES very much because you have to complete the 5M shot in a single ball (neither the bones, 10x nor trashcan are on memory). Since I often fail at this, it made the fish much less fun. On the other hand the EASY rules are too easy for me (bones, 10x and trashcan on memory). So I changed the TCM rules to keep the fishbones on memory, but not the trashcan or 10x. For this to make sense, I changed the meaning of the trashcan lamp in the TCM rules: when the lamp is off and the player makes the trashcan, the display says "TRASH LID CLOSED", there's a sound effect and a 100pts score. To open the trashcan add some fishbones or light the 10x. The only way to end up with fishbones in the closed trashcan is to drain the ball. In this case the fishbone timer is re-started when the trash can is opened the next time.

  • I made several changes to the hard rules (ME-OW) to make them more fun: The drop targets are timed (see separate post) and reset only once both have been completed. Each target bank only lights its corresponding ramp (consistent with the printed text on the target plastics). The right inlane lamp is disabled. The initial value for the Jackpot was increased to 1.86M. With these changes I now quite often chose the hard rules when I want to play just a quick game.

  • There are five new audits to record information on the ball saver and game rules (see separate post).

  • The duration of the post-game GI-flashing is now shorter (2 seconds instead of 3).

#171 10 months ago

This is awesome. Thank you again for doing this. If I could upvote more than once I would LOL

#172 10 months ago

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thanks IdealJoker. This is so cool. Can’t wait to check it out.

#173 10 months ago

I just sent out the patch files.

I think that the game is getting close in terms of the rules so, beta testers, this is more-or-less the last opportunity to let me know if you really dislike something. I still have about a dozen items on my to-do list before I can start getting the release ready. A few bugs that are either rare (tilting at the wrong moment) or cosmetic and some sound and lamp improvements, mainly. Nothing major but everything takes time, especially things related to FX.

#174 10 months ago

It's funny, I have so much pinball stuff going on right now with new and other games, rebuild of police force, 2 new units incoming, Comets for 3 games, full Titans for 3, boxes of parts from Marco and PBL, flipper rebuilds, color DMD units, a pile of items going out for orders every day for my pinside shop here and I'm 100% MORE EXCITED ABOUT THIS LOL I love this game regardless of all the haters and BS and it's my childhood favorite, and this is going to be awesome to see another "spin" on it.

Quoted from idealjoker:

I just sent out the patch files.
I think that the game is getting close in terms of the rules so, beta testers, this is more-or-less the last opportunity to let me know if you really dislike something. I still have about a dozen items on my to-do list before I can start getting the release ready. A few bugs that are either rare (tilting at the wrong moment) or cosmetic and some sound and lamp improvements, mainly. Nothing major but everything takes time, especially things related to FX.

#175 10 months ago

I really appreciate the enthusiasm!

1 month later
#176 9 months ago

The newest ROM is the cats meow! No pun intended!

#178 9 months ago

UPDATE -- Bug Fixes, Improvements and Remaining Items on the Must-Do List

BUGS FIXED

  1. Tilt and tilt warning sounds were disabled during Cat Nap and at other times when regular sounds are disabled.
  2. Goldfish ramp is actually called Fishbowl ramp; adjustment text changed.
  3. Fishbowl ramp 30K lamp flashed quickly after EB has been scored.
  4. Multiple simultaneous Fishbone timers could be started by repeatedly shooting the closed trash can.
  5. Handling of the "stuck" fish target switch was broken.
  6. Several threads that should not have been were paused during lamp FX; most importantly, the Fishbowl ramp regular awards were paused during the Jackpot lamp FX.

IMPROVEMENTS IMPLEMENTED

  • Special Callouts: In the original Bad Cats rules there are occasional sound anomalies (missed sounds). Early on I implemented a handful of fixes for specific problems, but with the additional sounds from TCM these fixes did not work well. I therefore chose 5 longer callouts that are used for awards and implemented a system where they cannot be interrupted by other sounds (except tilt warnings) and where a second special callout is queued while one is in progress.
  • Runtime Errors and Spoiler Thread: In System 11 serious runtime errors cause the games to hard reset. While this is way better than System 7 (the games usually crash, often with solenoids locked on) no error messages are supported. I therefore implemented a simple runtime error system with error numbers on the display. The 2-hour spoiler thread now creates runtime error 22 instead of freezing the game.
  • Drop Targets: Using the bird flasher for different purposes when playing regular rules (flasher indicates that targets dropped as singles) or hard rules (flasher is used for DT timer) is confusing. I changed the regular rules to use bird sounds instead of the flasher.
  • Default Game Rules: Last played game rules are kept as default for 7 minutes after a game.
  • Hard Rules: i) Light 50K lamp when Tiger ramp is qualified. ii) Increased initial Jackpot value to 1.86M.
  • Lights and Sounds: Several minor changes, including unpausing of the BBQ lamp blink thread during lamp FX and changes to the rubber sounds to have the dog bark only on the right side of the playfield.

REMAINING TO-DOs

I have been playing with this version for about a week (not very frequently) and it plays well. However, there are a couple of bugs that I fixed only recently --- including one that occasionally reset my game --- that I want to test some more. Then there are a couple of minor additional sound mods that I would like to try out, including using different sounds on the upper left side when the guitar 10x is lit. Also, I am still not happy with the way the "stuck" fish target is handling, so that needs some work, too. And the lamp FX during the Seafood wheel runing too fast (fishing too soon), needs to be fixed.

Finally, in Bad Cats and in the current TCM rules the Fishbowl ramp gets a lot harder once you have been awarded an Extra Ball. I want to do the same for the other major awards, the 5M Fish and the Jackpot. For the Jackpot I am planning on enabling timed drop targets after first Jackpot has been scored. I am not completely sure how I want to handle the Fish. Probably with a harder timer.

#179 9 months ago

Holy shit that is a lot of work in this... Make sure there is an option to donate so some of us can help you out. This is ridiculously awesome... And I can't wait.

Quoted from idealjoker:

UPDATE -- Bug Fixes, Improvements and Remaining Items on the Must-Do List
BUGS FIXEDTilt and tilt warning sounds were disabled during Cat Nap and at other times when regular sounds are disabled.
Goldfish ramp is actually called Fishbowl ramp; adjustment text changed.
Fishbowl ramp 30K lamp flashed quickly after EB has been scored.
Multiple simultaneous Fishbone timers could be started by repeatedly shooting the closed trash can.
Handling of the "stuck" fish target switch was broken.
Several threads that should not have been were paused during lamp FX; most importantly, the Fishbowl ramp regular awards were paused during the Jackpot lamp FX.
IMPROVEMENTS IMPLEMENTEDSpecial Callouts: In the original Bad Cats rules there are occasional sound anomalies (missed sounds). Early on I implemented a handful of fixes for specific problems, but with the additional sounds from TCM these fixes did not work well. I therefore chose 5 longer callouts that are used for awards and implemented a system where they cannot be interrupted by other sounds (except tilt warnings) and where a second special callout is queued while one is in progress.
Runtime Errors and Spoiler Thread: In System 11 serious runtime errors cause the games to hard reset. While this is way better than System 7 (the games usually crash, often with solenoids locked on) no error messages are supported. I therefore implemented a simple runtime error system with error numbers on the display. The 2-hour spoiler thread now creates runtime error 22 instead of freezing the game.
Drop Targets: Using the bird flasher for different purposes when playing regular rules (flasher indicates that targets dropped as singles) or hard rules (flasher is used for DT timer) is confusing. I changed the regular rules to use bird sounds instead of the flasher.
Default Game Rules: Last played game rules are kept as default for 7 minutes after a game.
Hard Rules: i) Light 50K lamp when Tiger ramp is qualified. ii) Increased initial Jackpot value to 1.86M.
Lights and Sounds: Several minor changes, including unpausing of the BBQ lamp blink thread during lamp FX and changes to the rubber sounds to have the dog bark only on the right side of the playfield.
REMAINING TO-DOs
I have been playing with this version for about a week (not very frequently) and it plays well. However, there are a couple of bugs that I fixed only recently --- including one that occasionally reset my game --- that I want to test some more. Then there are a couple of minor additional sound mods that I would like to try out, including using different sounds on the upper left side when the guitar 10x is lit. Also, I am still not happy with the way the "stuck" fish target is handling, so that needs some work, too. And the lamp FX during the Seafood wheel runing too fast (fishing too soon), needs to be fixed.
Finally, in Bad Cats and in the current TCM rules the Fishbowl ramp gets a lot harder once you have been awarded an Extra Ball. I want to do the same for the other major awards, the 5M Fish and the Jackpot. For the Jackpot I am planning on enabling timed drop targets after first Jackpot has been scored. I am not completely sure how I want to handle the Fish. Probably with a harder timer.

#180 9 months ago

Super impressive!

#181 9 months ago

Can’t wait to try the latest!

#182 9 months ago

Awesome. Thanks for all your hard work IdealJoker!

15
#183 9 months ago

The project is a lot of work and some of it is difficult, but to me it does not feel like hard work. I get to solve a set of interconnected small puzzles based on incomplete information. And testing consists of playing Pinball. And the end result is a game that plays exactly the way I want it to. I cannot think of many things more fun than this.

Yesterday was great. Late last night when I got to my games I finally figured out what had crashed my new callouts. Satisfaction right there. Even better, it would have taken me days of work to figure it out without the runtime errors I had implemented a couple of weeks ago. The time spent on implementing those paid for itself; more satisfaction. Then it turned out that the very simple guitar sound mod also works well -- I like the sounds much better than the cat/dog combo so now I go for the 10x just for the sound. And once it is on, the sound is a reminder that 10x is lit and the trashcan shot is worth a lot. For me, a couple of hours of solving puzzles and playing pinball is a much more satisfying way to end a day than watching anything on screen, for example.

#184 9 months ago

Love it!
Meow meow meow meow!

2 weeks later
#185 8 months ago

UPDATE -- getting there

The sounds are done -- the special callouts work reliably and the rubber switches on the upper left side of the playfield now indicate the status of the Trashcan/10x shot, which adds sound variety and works well for me as a reminder that there are points to be scored in the Trashcan.

The level-based handler for dealing with phantom fish switch closures also works much better now. I still have not had a lot of opportunities for testing it (I cannot manually get my target into the right position), but still enabled it as default for the BAD CATS and TCM rules. The alternative pattern-based handler is still available in the adjustments but it is not enabled by default in any of the game rules. (The BAD KITTY and SEAFOOD rules use the L2 algorithm, which does not filter out phantom switch hits while the ball is in play, and the ME-OW rules use the L5 algorithm, which is overly strict.)

I have also implemented progressive rules for the Fish Bone-Us shot and for the Jackpot when playing with SEAFOOD and TCM (normal) rules. I have done this mainly to make scoring the second 20M shot very difficult and to prevent myself (I hope) from ever being able to roll the game.

Finally, based on feedback from one of the testers I replaced the fixed award sequence of the Seafood Wheel ME-OW (hard) rules, which did not work correctly for multiplayer games, with a random sequence that varies from game to game but is shared between all players playing with the hard rules.

The next version to test will be the pre-release, which will be overall somewhat faster, won't have the 2-hour spoiler thread, and should be identical to the eventual release version except for further bug fixes. I will also have to update the game manual to reflect the recent rules changes. Hopefully I can get this done within the next week or two. I then want to give the testers several weeks for final testing, which means that release of version J1.0 sometime in October looks likely to me.

#186 8 months ago

Thanks for this!

Quoted from idealjoker:

UPDATE -- getting there
The sounds are done -- the special callouts work reliably and the rubber switches on the upper left side of the playfield now indicate the status of the Trashcan/10x shot, which adds sound variety and works well for me as a reminder that there are points to be scored in the Trashcan.
The level-based handler for dealing with phantom fish switch closures also works much better now. I still have not had a lot of opportunities for testing it (I cannot manually get my target into the right position), but still enabled it as default for the BAD CATS and TCM rules. The alternative pattern-based handler is still available in the adjustments but it is not enabled by default in any of the game rules. (The BAD KITTY and SEAFOOD rules use the L2 algorithm, which does not filter out phantom switch hits while the ball is in play, and the ME-OW rules use the L5 algorithm, which is overly strict.)
I have also implemented progressive rules for the Fish Bone-Us shot and for the Jackpot when playing with SEAFOOD and TCM (normal) rules. I have done this mainly to make scoring the second 20M shot very difficult and to prevent myself (I hope) from ever being able to roll the game.
Finally, based on feedback from one of the testers I replaced the fixed award sequence of the Seafood Wheel ME-OW (hard) rules, which did not work correctly for multiplayer games, with a random sequence that varies from game to game but is shared between all players playing with the hard rules.
The next version to test will be the pre-release, which will be overall somewhat faster, won't have the 2-hour spoiler thread, and should be identical to the eventual release version except for further bug fixes. I will also have to update the game manual to reflect the recent rules changes. Hopefully I can get this done within the next week or two. I then want to give the testers several weeks for final testing, which means that release of version J1.0 sometime in October looks likely to me.

1 week later
#187 8 months ago

UPDATE -- Performance Solutions

It's getting close to release time, so I thought I'd pop the LA-5 ROM back in for a comparison. Ouch! Snappier display FX, and much better synchronization of the insert lamp FX with the sound than in the last few TCM beta versions. Not good enough.

1. The display FX were easy to speed up again. I only had to remove the compressed game strings. System strings for the adjustments and diagnostics are still compressed but those don't have any performance penalty during game play.

2. The insert lamp FX (e.g. 5M Fish, Jackpot, Extra Ball, etc.) were much more of a problem. They are synchronized closely with sound effects, especially guitar riffs and drum patterns. The priority thread system I had implemented was nowhere near precise enough to reproduce the timing of the original code. I ended up with a replacement solution that works well: All the important lamp FX are now run in a sort of "virtual environment" that is (nearly) identical to that of the original BAD CATS software. With this, the synchronization of the lamp FX in TCM is as good as it is in LA-5.

All the game-play bugs that I am aware of have been fixed. What remains is polishing. Below is my list of stuff to polish. I believe that those are all problems that also affect the original game ROMs (LA-5):

  • When both EB and Jackpot are lit on the Fishbowl Ramp, there is an anomaly in the FX. I think that the EB FX are started and almost immediately aborted by the Jackpot FX.

  • During the post-game match FX normally all insert lamps are off. However, after a Curiosity Spin the BAD CATS and Wheel Result background lamp threads are running during the match FX.

  • After the game ends there is an FX sequence that includes rapid flashing of the GI lamps. During this time, the value of the Jackpot is not displayed properly on the backbox.

  • The timers that control the ramp-abort sounds of both ramps are too short for the correct sound to be played during many ramp aborts.

#188 8 months ago

I read every one of these with more eagerness than I read almost anything else on pinside. Thanks for all the hard work.

Quoted from idealjoker:UPDATE -- Performance Solutions
It's getting close to release time, so I thought I'd pop the LA-5 ROM back in for a comparison. Ouch! Snappier display FX, and much better synchronization of the insert lamp FX with the sound than in the last few TCM beta versions. Not good enough.
1. The display FX were easy to speed up again. I only had to remove the compressed game strings. System strings for the adjustments and diagnostics are still compressed but those don't have any performance penalty during game play.
2. The insert lamp FX (e.g. 5M Fish, Jackpot, Extra Ball, etc.) were much more of a problem. They are synchronized closely with sound effects, especially guitar riffs and drum patterns. The priority thread system I had implemented was nowhere near precise enough to reproduce the timing of the original code. I ended up with a replacement solution that works well: All the important lamp FX are now run in a sort of "virtual environment" that is (nearly) identical to that of the original BAD CATS software. With this, the synchronization of the lamp FX in TCM is as good as it is in LA-5.
All the game-play bugs that I am aware of have been fixed. What remains is polishing. Below is my list of stuff to polish. I believe that those are all problems that also affect the original game ROMs (LA-5):When both EB and Jackpot are lit on the Fishbowl Ramp, there is an anomaly in the FX. I think that the EB FX are started and almost immediately aborted by the Jackpot FX.
During the post-game match FX normally all insert lamps are off. However, after a Curiosity Spin the BAD CATS and Wheel Result background lamp threads are running during the match FX.
After the game ends there is an FX sequence that includes rapid flashing of the GI lamps. During this time, the value of the Jackpot is not displayed properly on the backbox.
The timers that control the ramp-abort sounds of both ramps are too short for the correct sound to be played during many ramp aborts.

#189 8 months ago

I was hoping to have the next/final beta done by now, but I don't.

What I do have is another game play video, this time from a game with the hard (ME-OW) rules, where you first have to drop one of the drop target banks, which are on very short timers, to qualify the ramps and the fish. You can see the modified sounds, especially in the upper left of the playfield around the fish and trash can. (Forward to around minute 4.) The game also shows off nicely that the sound synchronization with the lamp FX (5M fish, Jackpot, etc.) finally works well again.

#190 8 months ago

That looks great and like a ton of fun. I hate to admit this but although my BC is turned on every day for at least a few hours, it hasn't been played in a month or more.

Quoted from idealjoker:

I was hoping to have the next/final beta done by now, but I don't.
What I do have is another game play video, this time from a game with the hard (ME-OW) rules, where you first have to drop one of the drop target banks, which are on very short timers, to qualify the ramps and the fish. You can see the modified sounds, especially in the upper left of the playfield around the fish and trash can. (Forward to around minute 4.) The game also shows off nicely that the sound synchronization with the lamp FX (5M fish, Jackpot, etc.) finally works well again.

#191 8 months ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

I was hoping to have the next/final beta done by now, but I don't.
What I do have is another game play video, this time from a game with the hard (ME-OW) rules, where you first have to drop one of the drop target banks, which are on very short timers, to qualify the ramps and the fish. You can see the modified sounds, especially in the upper left of the playfield around the fish and trash can. (Forward to around minute 4.) The game also shows off nicely that the sound synchronization with the lamp FX (5M fish, Jackpot, etc.) finally works well again.

You are doing such a phenomenal job on this upgrade! Looking forward to the latest iteration. If you ever need any board work I’ll be glad to help you out to support everything you’ve done on this and Pinbot. Hope your weekend is a great one!

#192 8 months ago
Quoted from Robotworkshop:

If you ever need any board work I’ll be glad to help you out

Your offer is highly appreciated! Nothing wrong with my boards at the moment (I refuse to knock on wood) but that's just a matter of time.

I just need a few more test games to convince myself that I have not messed up anything major before I send out the next and hopefully final beta. In the mean time I have been playing with the idea to allow numbers in the initials so that I can encode the date when I got a certain score. (On my games there's never anybody else but myself in the high score list, which probably tells you something about my social life...) Any thoughts on that idea?

#193 8 months ago

I like the idea of making numbers available as part of the high score initials. They could be used many ways in addition to dates

#194 8 months ago

Seems like a cool idea. More choices is usually better ya?

No high scores besides my wife and I on any of ours usually, don't feel bad.

Quoted from idealjoker:

Your offer is highly appreciated! Nothing wrong with my boards at the moment (I refuse to knock on wood) but that's just a matter of time.
I just need a few more test games to convince myself that I have not messed up anything major before I send out the next and hopefully final beta. In the mean time I have been playing with the idea to allow numbers in the initials so that I can encode the date when I got a certain score. (On my games there's never anybody else but myself in the high score list, which probably tells you something about my social life...) Any thoughts on that idea?

#195 8 months ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Your offer is highly appreciated! Nothing wrong with my boards at the moment (I refuse to knock on wood) but that's just a matter of time.
I just need a few more test games to convince myself that I have not messed up anything major before I send out the next and hopefully final beta. In the mean time I have been playing with the idea to allow numbers in the initials so that I can encode the date when I got a certain score. (On my games there's never anybody else but myself in the high score list, which probably tells you something about my social life...) Any thoughts on that idea?

Love that idea; would be a cool addition to the game.

#196 8 months ago
Quoted from jrcmlc:

More choices is usually better ya?

Usually. For other sys 11 games I would open the entire character set that's available for the custom message. But in Bad Cats the high score initials are formatted with a period after each character and with space in between and that does not look good with a slash, for example.

I have just sent out the patch of the next, hopefully final, beta version to the testers. It includes the mod for the alphanumeric initials. My first test, encoding today's date as S20 misfired, because the letter S is the same character as the digit 5(*), so these initials look just like 5. 2. 0. But then I tried 666 and this made me realize that there are all sorts of possibilities for mischief with digits. I will make a post with the change log sometime over the next few days.

(*) That randomly reminded me of a license plate I saw many years ago on a chopper parked in front of a pub in Cornwall somewhere. In the UK there are no vanity plates, only random letters and numbers. The plate read P155 0FF (P-one-five-five zero-F-F).

#197 7 months ago

UPDATE -- NEW BETA (R.1813): This, That and the Other

  • The only significant change to the game play is that I upped the award for the O skillshot from 2x to 3x with both the NORMAL and EASY skillshot adjustment. I did this because every time I got the O skillshot I was disappointed, as the other two rewards feel a lot more rewarding.

  • In addition to the alphanumerical initials, other small changes include an additional improvement of the post-game backbox lights, more consistent abort sounds from both ramps, and updated background music when the ball is in the shooter lane and the Jackpot is lit.

  • I tested and reworked the bad fish switch handler. I removed the "PATTERN" version, which did not work well on its own, but added a similar idea to the "LEVEL" version, which works now quite well. I made it silent so that, ideally, you won't even notice when the fish target goes bonkers.

  • There are quite a few changes "under the hood." I re-wrote some threads, including the ball saver and Tigerramp lamp blinker, to reduce the MPU load. Most importantly I also stumbled upon a nasty bug where I used an unused RAM area to store Jackpot related information and it turns out that the area was used after all, but "only" for playtime accounting. That was a real lucky break, because this bug caused (or would eventually have caused, because I never noticed anything during testing) really weird Jackpot value issues. Fixing it forced me to reduce the stack size by 6 bytes because there is no free RAM left otherwise as far as I can tell. Definitely no space for a second high-score list. (It bothers me that I can only record my initials with the default game rules.)

  • I removed the spoiler thread. While there are still some issues (see below) I am pretty confident that the rules are now set and the game seems stable enough so I don't mind too much if this version escapes into the wild, somehow.

I am not quite as close to the release as I thought, because I found two additional (minor) bugs after sending out the beta: i) Starting the Cat Nap with the ball in one of the scoops does no longer works smoothly and ii) The Trashcan display FX does not wait sufficiently long after spotting a BAD CATS letter. And finally there is something that had mildly bothered me for a long time and that has now also bothered one of the testers: The Doghouse scoop really needs a short grace period because it is quite common that the lamp turns off between the ball entering the scoop and the switch actually closing.

#198 7 months ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

UPDATE -- NEW BETA (R.1813): This, That and the Other
The only significant change to the game play is that I upped the award for the O skillshot from 2x to 3x with both the NORMAL and EASY skillshot adjustment. I did this because every time I got the O skillshot I was disappointed, as the other two rewards feel a lot more rewarding.
In addition to the alphanumerical initials, other small changes include an additional improvement of the post-game backbox lights, more consistent abort sounds from both ramps, and updated background music when the ball is in the shooter lane and the Jackpot is lit.
I tested and reworked the bad fish switch handler. I removed the "PATTERN" version, which did not work well on its own, but added a similar idea to the "LEVEL" version, which works now quite well. I made it silent so that, ideally, you won't even notice when the fish target goes bonkers.
There are quite a few changes "under the hood." I re-wrote some threads, including the ball saver and Tigerramp lamp blinker, to reduce the MPU load. Most importantly I also stumbled upon a nasty bug where I used an unused RAM area to store Jackpot related information and it turns out that the area was used after all, but "only" for playtime accounting. That was a real lucky break, because this bug caused (or would eventually have caused, because I never noticed anything during testing) really weird Jackpot value issues. Fixing it forced me to reduce the stack size by 6 bytes because there is no free RAM left otherwise as far as I can tell. Definitely no space for a second high-score list. (It bothers me that I can only record my initials with the default game rules.)
I removed the spoiler thread. While there are still some issues (see below) I am pretty confident that the rules are now set and the game seems stable enough so I don't mind too much if this version escapes into the wild, somehow.

I am not quite as close to the release as I thought, because I found two additional (minor) bugs after sending out the beta: i) Starting the Cat Nap with the ball in one of the scoops does no longer works smoothly and ii) The Trashcan display FX does not wait sufficiently long after spotting a BAD CATS letter. And finally there is something that had mildly bothered me for a long time and that has now also bothered one of the testers: The Doghouse scoop really needs a short grace period because it is quite common that the lamp turns off between the ball entering the scoop and the switch actually closing.

Nice! Great eye on catching the smaller bugs!

#199 7 months ago

Notice anything different in the short video below?

#200 7 months ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Notice anything different in the short video below?

I can't believe I never noticed that before. There's a basically an unused controlled light in there. That's awesome you integrated into the game.

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