(Topic ID: 323915)

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

By idealjoker

1 year ago


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#351 83 days ago
Quoted from slochar:

Williams quirk

How funny! The Bad Cats manual clearly states "1 through 9 Extra Balls per game". This, I believe is correct-ish for Bad Cats, since Bad Cats does not award more than 1 EB per game. Does anybody here think that the setting is useful as it is? If this is a quirk, rather than a bug, I don't know whether I want to change it.

#352 83 days ago

Ever since I owned a Bad Cats, I have been wondering how to get more than 1 EB per game, or am I just so lousy player I don't get it.

#353 83 days ago
Quoted from LynnInDenver:

I think at the time, it was intended for exactly the idea of "limit the extra balls per ball" instead of "limit the extra balls per game"... a lot of early solid state games limited to a single extra ball per ball, and that likely would have still been the philosophy around the setting even by the time Bad Cats came out,

At least it was an option on Bally games to do this (no stacking of extra balls). The williams way was to allow it but limit it to "maximum number of extra balls at any one time". Early stern games experimented with add a ball stacking, but often the playfield doesn't lend itself to it.

I know people complained about it in tournament forums where they want to have one extra ball per game but Williams settings don't work that way, it's the at one time thing instead of an absolute limit. I think it's fun in a casual competitive situation to be able to win at least one extra ball. Most of the classic stern games I've modded I add a setting to do one extra ball available per 'real' ball in play - so max balls in a 3 ball game is 6 total.

Anything that gives flexibility in tuning a game to your liking I'm for, but at some point you run out of romspace, memory, or ability to adequately test every permutation of options.

#354 83 days ago
Quoted from Tuukka:

Ever since I owned a Bad Cats, I have been wondering how to get more than 1 EB per game, or am I just so lousy player I don't get it.

Set specials to extra balls or replays to extra balls. IIRC they all count as extra balls, replay/special routine checks the option and if it's extra ball, that routine runs. I don't even think they count the replay passage in audits in this situation, it all gets recorded as extra balls.

#355 83 days ago
Quoted from slochar:

Set specials to extra balls or replays to extra balls. IIRC they all count as extra balls

OK, never thought about that while trying to get EB relight on the fishbowl ramp. Anyway, I would prefer special and replay to give a credit and have a some way to re-light the EB.

#356 82 days ago

I have done some sleuthing with the manuals to figure out what Williams was doing with extra balls in the late 1980s. Here's what I found:

  • Jokerz! (Dec, 1988): AD11 allows the operator to limit the number of extra balls either per ball, per ball-in-play (not counting extra balls), or per game.

  • Earthshaker (Feb 1989): AD11 limits the number of extra balls, but the manual is not clear if this is per game or per ball.

  • Black Knight 2000 (Apr 1989): AD11 limits the number of extra balls per game.

  • Police Force (Aug 1989): AD11 allows the operator to limit the number of extra balls either per ball, per ball-in-play (not counting extra balls), or per game.

  • Bad Cats (Nov 1989): In the manual AD11 limits the number of extra balls per game to 1-9; the game, however, does not give out more than 1 extra ball per game.

  • Whirlwind (Jan 1990): AD11 limits the number of extra balls per game.

Based on these observations I am convinced that the intent for Bad Cats was to limit the number of EBs per game, as stated in the manual. Thus the behavior of TCM 1.0 is a bug that should be fixed.

#357 82 days ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

I have done some sleuthing with the manuals to figure out what Williams was doing with extra balls in the late 1980s. Here's what I found:
Jokerz! (Dec, 1988): AD11 allows the operator to limit the number of extra balls either per ball, per ball-in-play (not counting extra balls), or per game.
Earthshaker (Feb 1989): AD11 limits the number of extra balls, but the manual is not clear if this is per game or per ball.
Black Knight 2000 (Apr 1989): AD11 limits the number of extra balls per game.
Police Force (Aug 1989): AD11 allows the operator to limit the number of extra balls either per ball, per ball-in-play (not counting extra balls), or per game.
Bad Cats (Nov 1989): In the manual AD11 limits the number of extra balls per game to 1-9; the game, however, does not give out more than 1 extra ball per game.
Whirlwind (Jan 1990): AD11 limits the number of extra balls per game.
Based on these observations I am convinced that the intent for Bad Cats was to limit the number of EBs per game, as stated in the manual. Thus the behavior of TCM 1.0 is a bug that should be fixed.

Could it be a setting? Space Station is similar to Jokerz! in that there's an adjustable setting to limit the number of extra balls either per ball, per ball-in-play (not counting extra balls), or per game. This, to me, would be ideal so you can set it to whatever you prefer.

Screenshot 2024-01-31 at 5.41.51?PM (resized).pngScreenshot 2024-01-31 at 5.41.51?PM (resized).png
#358 82 days ago
Quoted from interconnect:

Could it be a setting?

It could, and I agree that this would be the best solution. But the effort is considerable, and it's the most boring type of coding, too. More importantly I have begun my next project. So no promises at this point, except that I intend to make the game consistent with the manual.

#359 77 days ago

Ok I'm still on L5 roms but hope this information useful. Little research today got some interesting results.
1. If you have extra ball from seafood wheel, extra ball not available from fish bowl ramp.
2. If you have extra ball from fish bowl ramp, seafood wheel extra ball does SEEMS to be available (Having tried 33 spins).
3. If you have got fish bowl ramp extra ball. Will not light again (This already covered on this topic).
But you are able to get extra ball from seafood wheel.

Clearly game is keeping track of extra balls, but will not allow more than 1 per ball.
My Addams family keeps track of extra balls, but if you can earn 2 and then you need to loose 2 balls before light go's out.

#360 76 days ago
Quoted from No_CLU:

2. If you have extra ball from fish bowl ramp, seafood wheel extra ball does SEEMS to be available (Having tried 33 spins).

This surprised me, so I took another look at the code. You are correct, the Seafood wheel awards EBs even if you have already gotten an EB. It does so at half the usual probability, which is why it took you 33 spins. (I admire your patience ) What this means is that there is a bug in the Bad Cats manual (or code) since you cannot actually limit the number of Extra Balls per game. You could make a post in the thread on bugs in early solid state games...

Quoted from No_CLU:

Clearly game is keeping track of extra balls, but will not allow more than 1 per ball.

It is more complicated than that.

  • The game keeps track of how many extra balls are currently pending (stacked). This requires one byte for the currently active player (one byte in total), but could also be done with only 4 bits.

  • For each player, the game sets a flag when an EB has been awarded. This requires one bit per player (4 bits in total).

This is not sufficient information to limit either the number of EBs per game, per ball, or per ball-in-play. Each of those limits requires its own counter.

#361 76 days ago

Great work in investigating the EB issue!

#362 75 days ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

This surprised me, so I took another look at the code. You are correct, the Seafood wheel awards EBs even if you have already gotten an EB. It does so at half the usual probability, which is why it took you 33 spins. (I admire your patience ) What this means is that there is a bug in the Bad Cats manual (or code) since you cannot actually limit the number of Extra Balls per game. You could make a post in the thread on bugs in early solid state games...

It is more complicated than that.
The game keeps track of how many extra balls are currently pending (stacked). This requires one byte for the currently active player (one byte in total), but could also be done with only 4 bits.
For each player, the game sets a flag when an EB has been awarded. This requires one bit per player (4 bits in total).
This is not sufficient information to limit either the number of EBs per game, per ball, or per ball-in-play. Each of those limits requires its own counter.

Feel I have not been clear part of this subject of stacked extra balls (When you have extra ball light on).
It does not seem possible to get another extra ball when you have extra ball already. This was the 33 spins and no extra ball.
But if collect and used extra ball from seafood wheel or fish bowl ramp I can get extra ball again from seafood wheel.
Does this match your find look at the code?

Understand 1 extra ball from fish bowl ramp, as if you master this shot would be easy to keep getting extra balls.
I assume once you have the extra ball from fish bowl ramp, you can not get it again for the rest of your game (Not tested).

#363 75 days ago

Ah, okay I misunderstood about the 33 spins. Yes, you are correct, when there is an EB pending (the EB lamp is on), the wheel won't give out another extra ball. But if you have been awarded an EB before and you are playing it or have already played it (the EB lamp is off), then the wheel will still give out an EB with reduced probability. And you are correct, too, in that with L5 code you cannot get an EB from the ramp if you have already gotten an EB before (from the ramp or the wheel, it does not matter).

With TCM, the EB from the ramp becomes available again after you have completed the 20M Wish shot.

#364 74 days ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Ah, okay I misunderstood about the 33 spins. Yes, you are correct, when there is an EB pending (the EB lamp is on), the wheel won't give out another extra ball. But if you have been awarded an EB before and you are playing it or have already played it (the EB lamp is off), then the wheel will still give out an EB with reduced probability. And you are correct, too, in that with L5 code you cannot get an EB from the ramp if you have already gotten an EB before (from the ramp or the wheel, it does not matter).
With TCM, the EB from the ramp becomes available again after you have completed the 20M Wish shot.

So coming back to original point AD11 limits the number of extra balls PER game not per ball. Game consistent with the manual and no extra work for your good self

#365 71 days ago

BUG REPORT -- wrong Jackpot score displayed

interconnect reported that it is possible for the Jackpot FX to display a wrong score. Since the award score is not affected, this is another cosmetic issue. While I have not yet been able to reproduce the problem on my game (more likely, I just never noticed) there is a likely race condition in the code that should not be too difficult to fix.

Quoted from No_CLU:

Game consistent with the manual and no extra work for your good self

I like the sentiment for sure! But, alas, what we have discussed so far is the L-5 code. In TCM, after you score the 20M wish, the EB becomes available again. So, unfortunately, in TCM the adjustment limits the number of EBs stacked at the moment, rather than per game. It's okay, though. I will have to provide an update at some stage anyway, because there are by now quite a few cosmetic bugs that should be fixed.

#366 66 days ago

Had one of those rare thing called an evening free. So tried to sort ghosting problem on my LED inserts Fish Bone-us, 8 & 6 on seafood wheel, 6x eye, extra ball & outlanes.

Ghosting (resized).jpgGhosting (resized).jpg

Got some non-ghosting LED but sadly did not help. Power going to these lights and not a problem with normal bulbs. Assume need to fix with Resistor?

But 2 good things did some out of this. Old bulbs look better than cool white.

Warm (resized).jpgWarm (resized).jpg

Also an odd find that Bird cage, Left Tiger ramp & Cat in house flashers go off when you use flippers. Is this normal?

#367 66 days ago
Quoted from No_CLU:

Had one of those rare thing called an evening free. So tried to sort ghosting problem on my LED inserts Fish Bone-us, 8 & 6 on seafood wheel, 6x eye, extra ball & outlanes.
[quoted image]
Got some non-ghosting LED but sadly did not help. Power going to these lights and not a problem with normal bulbs. Assume need to fix with Resistor?
But 2 good things did some out of this. Old bulbs look better than cool white.
[quoted image]
Also an odd find that Bird cage, Left Tiger ramp & Cat in house flashers go off when you use flippers. Is this normal?

You probably wouldn't want to use cool white LEDs... the game is orange, red, etc., which are warm colors. Warm white or Sunlight look best, IMO.

Yes, I've heard about that before. Do you have incandescent or LED flashers? Not sure if it's normal, but my game does that as well and mine are incandescent flashers (rest of game is LED). You can't see them light up from the players perspective; they barely light up. I believe the issue is detailed somewhere but I can't remember. I checked on PinWiki but couldn't find a mention of it. I saw someone did mention checking the diodes for the flippers coils; could be bad/shorted.

#368 65 days ago
Quoted from interconnect:

You probably wouldn't want to use cool white LEDs... the game is orange, red, etc., which are warm colors. Warm white or Sunlight look best, IMO.
Yes, I've heard about that before. Do you have incandescent or LED flashers? Not sure if it's normal, but my game does that as well and mine are incandescent flashers (rest of game is LED). You can't see them light up from the players perspective; they barely light up. I believe the issue is detailed somewhere but I can't remember. I checked on PinWiki but couldn't find a mention of it. I saw someone did mention checking the diodes for the flippers coils; could be bad/shorted.

My Bad Cats shown on page 7 of this topic. Cool white ok layout, but in backbox barbecue & candle in window are incandescent. Also now some of the inserts.

LED flashers. Also my flippers have all been replaced and updated.
Wondered if it's in the game code?

#369 65 days ago
Quoted from No_CLU:

My Bad Cats shown on page 7 of this topic. Cool white ok layout, but in backbox barbecue & candle in window are incandescent. Also now some of the inserts.
LED flashers. Also my flippers have all been replaced and updated.
Wondered if it's in the game code?

I don’t think so. Mine does that with the factory/stock ROMs.

1 week later
#370 56 days ago
Quoted from No_CLU:

Had one of those rare thing called an evening free. So tried to sort ghosting problem on my LED inserts Fish Bone-us, 8 & 6 on seafood wheel, 6x eye, extra ball & outlanes.
Got some non-ghosting LED but sadly did not help. Power going to these lights and not a problem with normal bulbs. Assume need to fix with Resistor?

I have the exact same leds ghosting and flickering. I tried every led that is sold, but to no avail.
Also it's not a latching problem afaik.
I tried adding resistors from 470Ohms to 1KOhms to no avail.
With the ghosting so bad I am returning to incandescent bulbs after my playfield swap and restoration is done.

#371 56 days ago

Numiah You might check these out to see if they fix your ghosting issue. I have some on order for when Victor get back from vacation, so I can't speak directly yet, but his stuff is always legit.

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/earthshaker-owners-club-its-all-your-fault/page/45#post-7987960

Also, anyone that recently acquired one of the CPR playfields for Bad Cats and has a somewhat decent one they swapped and looking to sell, PM me pics and price, I might be interested. Mine is not too bad, just the normal wear and discoloration where the mylar isn't and I want to try and possibly air brush mine as a project, but would like a backup just in case.

1 week later
#372 46 days ago

Some useful info.

That extra balls "per game" setting is actually the stack limit. you most definitely CAN get more than one extra ball off of the fishbowl ramp. But when you are at the stack limit, it will just wrap around instead of give you the extra ball.

I remember getting one letter for getting the FIRST drop target in a bank, and getting a second letter on the last drop target in the bank. This may be a rom difference, as there is no adjustment for it.

So i suggest three options for jackpot.
Easy. get letter for first and last target for bank, carries over.
Medium. only get letters from completion of a bank
Hard. Completion of both banks required for a letter.

There's also the letter memory setting.

I am also pretty sure at least one rom revision will let you get a second 20 million, but only if the curiosity spin gives you an extra ball. then it forgets it gave it to you. but i've never reproduced this. this is most definitely a bug.

btw on those games that allow per game, per ball, and per b.i.p. per ball and per b.i.p. mean the opposite of what b.i.p. means on WPC games. per b.i.p. is the stack limit on those system 11b games, and per ball is the number per ball number. so on say Swords of Fuy, "per ball" of 2 means you can get a total of 6 (t for ball1, 2 for ball 2, and 2 for ball 3". and per b.i.p. of 4 is a stack limit of 4. Swords of fury definitely needs the one of those limits. i recommend per game.

WPC games only provide max extra balls (stack limit) and max per ball in play, which usually ends up getting set to two if it's turned on, for a total of 6 for a 3 ball game. Williams did this to screw people out of extra balls and make operators more money, as they had properly working balls per game limits in earlier software, like every other manufacturer.

#373 45 days ago
Quoted from _Zaphod77_:

Easy. get letter for first and last target for bank

Interesting suggestion. The easy DROP TARGET RULES at the moment consist in pre-lighting B-A-D. Other Sys 11 games do that, so it fits. But spotting letters for the first and last drop targets of a bank is definitely something I'll try out. Putting it on memory may be confusing, though, as sometimes the first target will spot a letter and sometimes it won't.

Quoted from _Zaphod77_:

I remember getting one letter for getting the FIRST drop target in a bank, and getting a second letter on the last drop target in the bank.

I think your memory may be bad because neither L-2 nor L-5 do that and I don't think that there are any other ROM versions out there. (If there are, let me know, please!) I am sorry to break it to you, but you may have come up with those drop target rules on your own...

1 week later
#374 36 days ago

BUG REPORT -- Seafood Wheel Special and Jackpot awarded too frequently

interconnect has reported a multiplayer game where every player was awarded multiple "Specials" and/or "Light Jackpot" awards. On my own game, I seem to be awarded the Special more often than I expect, but i have not exeprienced extreme behavior like that. Anybody else seeing this problem?

#375 35 days ago

I mostly play one, and occasionally two player games, but haven't seen such behavior.

Randomness is a funny thing. You might get 10 heads in a row when flipping a coin, but that does not make it any less random.

#376 35 days ago

I only play single player games, and the awards seem fairly random to me.

#377 35 days ago

The schemes that williams used to generate randomness vary with game to game/system to system.... they're all pseudo random anyway since true randomness is difficult to acquire. The issue ends up being how they deal with the raw random number - they're usually manipulated in some way either using odd/even, truncating it at 16, or some other scheme, then comparing it to the list of valid values that you're looking to use. There's always a failsafe loaded so you get SOMETHING valid (or an error trap that uses some default) - and if they're really tricky they do an EOR on some value too (I'm looking at you, BSD....) to prevent a 'regular' result.

The way to fix it is to rewrite the random testing to do what YOU want it to do with the new results set, not what the original scheme with its weight is/was, or to intercept the results and again do it the way you want.

A test case I used is black knight's mystery score award on the gate. I ended up creating a table of random numbers I used google to generate and stuck it into a table. I made sure none of the generated table was too high or too low or too not-so-random, and I used the random seed in the game itself to pick a starting location in the table. Each player gets to start at the SAME starting location, so everyone gets "random" results, but they are "fair" random results because they always give the same score to each player.

That might not apply here in bad cats if the goal is to just manipulate the existing results, but you get the idea. For bad cats, there might be a hidden special percentage or jackpot award that's trying to goose it occasionally to reward the player - if so, just needs to be found and modified to not do this. Might be as simple as keeping track of whatever percentage is getting tested and changing it there.

#378 35 days ago
Quoted from slochar:

For bad cats, there might be a hidden special percentage or jackpot award that's trying to goose it occasionally to reward the player

Yeah, there is. In the settings, you can change the odds of getting a Special, Extra Ball or "Lights Jackpot" via the Seafood Wheel. I have always left them on the default and up until recently have never noticed anything unusual; it always seemed to be consistent with the settings. Recently, my daughter (6 years old, trapping the ball and putting up impressive scores, btw!) has been playing every day. This weekend we had some family over and played a bunch of single, two and three player games. This is when we noticed something was not right. On the three player game, every player got a special, extra ball and two of the three players got "Lights Jackpot" from the Seafood Wheel. Subsequent two player games had multiple Specials and "Lights Jackpot". A single player game also got a Special, Extra Ball and "Lights Jackpot" from the wheel... all games that were right after one another. That's when I knew something was not right; there's just no way that game after game that could happen and it still be random coincidence.

I thought I remember IdealJoker mentioning previously that the Seafood Wheel is not truly random; it gives the illusion of randomness, but is not. An example of this is the Curiosity Spin on Ball 3 if you drain out the outlane.... the wheel shouldn't award a "Lights Jackpot" as you'd have no way to actually get it as the game is now over. I'm sure he can give us much more technical information on how that all works.

Edit: Now that I think about it, could there be something to the fact that my daughter has been playing a whole bunch of relatively low scoring games (several games a day over a period of 2-3 weeks) then the adults play and noticed what I mentioned above? Like some of those awards were "overdue" so to speak?

#379 34 days ago
Quoted from Tuukka:

Randomness is a funny thing. You might get 10 heads in a row when flipping a coin, but that does not make it any less random.

Exactly. True randomness includes long sequences which do not look random at all to our numbskull brains. (Most humans are completely incapable of generating a "random" sequence of numbers that passes any statistical test for randomness.) This is the reason why Williams used tables for their awards. If you want to have awards that look random, you'll have to dial down randomness a lot. I had to deal with this in TCM for the guitar sounds on the left side of the PF. With completely random sounds there are way too many repetitions (1 in 4). In order to make the sounds appear more random (and pleasing), I had to make repeat sounds less frequent.

Quoted from interconnect:

Edit: Now that I think about it, could there be something to the fact that my daughter has been playing a whole bunch of relatively low scoring games (several games a day over a period of 2-3 weeks) then the adults play and noticed what I mentioned above? Like some of those awards were "overdue" so to speak?

I am thinking along similar lines, but I don't fully understand what is going on. (The code is quite opaque.) First, here's how the high-value wheel awards are handled: the Special, Extra Ball and Light Jackpot awards are handled separately from all the other wheel awards. They are not included in the pseudo-random tables at all. The operator can choose percentages for the high-value awards in the adjustments. From the manual:

SPECIALS / GAME
The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the MINIMUM AMOUNT OF ALL Specials awarded during a single game. This adjustment controls how many Specials are awarded by the Seafood Wheel feature. The range of this adjustment setting is Enabled 1% (Conservative) through 99% (Extremely Liberal). This adjustment can also be turned of, via a setting of 0 (Off).

(This description is somewhat misleading as a multi-player game is counted multiple times.) Here's a possible scenario that might explain what happened to @interconnect's game: The default setting for both Jackpots and Specials is 5%, which I think means there should be at least one Special and one Light Jackpot award every 20 games. If there are 20 games played without ever spinning the wheel, both Jackpot and Special are overdue. When the wheel is spun next, there should be a Special (since the Special is handled before the Light Jackpot award). Next wheel should be a Light Jackpot award. Instead of playing games without spinning the wheel, I think that the same should happen when you play a bunch of games in HARD mode (where the wheel award percentages are all set to zero).

I do not know if this is what actually happens, because I do not know if an award is always automatically chosen when it is "overdue". What I do know is that I don't like the behavior where many high-value awards are given out in short order. Too random

#380 34 days ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

Exactly. True randomness includes long sequences which do not look random at all to our numbskull brains. (Most humans are completely incapable of generating a "random" sequence of numbers that passes any statistical test for randomness.) This is the reason why Williams used tables for their awards. If you want to have awards that look random, you'll have to dial down randomness a lot. I had to deal with this in TCM for the guitar sounds on the left side of the PF. With completely random sounds there are way too many repetitions (1 in 4). In order to make the sounds appear more random (and pleasing), I had to make repeat sounds less frequent.

I am thinking along similar lines, but I don't fully understand what is going on. (The code is quite opaque.) First, here's how the high-value wheel awards are handled: the Special, Extra Ball and Light Jackpot awards are handled separately from all the other wheel awards. They are not included in the pseudo-random tables at all. The operator can choose percentages for the high-value awards in the adjustments. From the manual:
SPECIALS / GAME
The operator can choose (via the Credit button) the MINIMUM AMOUNT OF ALL Specials awarded during a single game. This adjustment controls how many Specials are awarded by the Seafood Wheel feature. The range of this adjustment setting is Enabled 1% (Conservative) through 99% (Extremely Liberal). This adjustment can also be turned of, via a setting of 0 (Off).
(This description is somewhat misleading as a multi-player game is counted multiple times.) Here's a possible scenario that might explain what happened to @interconnect's game: The default setting for both Jackpots and Specials is 5%, which I think means there should be at least one Special and one Light Jackpot award every 20 games. If there are 20 games played without ever spinning the wheel, both Jackpot and Special are overdue. When the wheel is spun next, there should be a Special (since the Special is handled before the Light Jackpot award). Next wheel should be a Light Jackpot award. Instead of playing games without spinning the wheel, I think that the same should happen when you play a bunch of games in HARD mode (where the wheel award percentages are all set to zero).
I do not know if this is what actually happens, because I do not know if an award is always automatically chosen when it is "overdue". What I do know is that I don't like the behavior where many high-value awards are given out in short order. Too random

Very interesting. Hopefully you can figure out some way to resolve it. I feel like there has to be a better way; but interesting nonetheless.

#381 34 days ago

With the glass off I started 20 games without hitting the wheel. Then I started a 3-player game and got the following awards:

Ball 1, P1: EB, Special
Ball 1, P2: EB, EB, EB
Ball 1, P3: EB, Spin Again, Special

Ball 2, P1: 50K, 10K
Ball 2, P2: EB, Spin Again, 50K
Ball 2, P3: Spin Again, 50K, Letter

Ball 3, P1: Letter
Ball 3, P2: 250K
Ball 3, P3: Letter

7 Extra Balls and 2 Specials; so the "overdue" concept works, although it is less deterministic than I had thought. On the other hand, not a single "Light Jackpot" award?! Come to think of it I *never* get those, compared to Specials. Must be a problem somewhere.

Oh, and these results are with code that is (to the best of my knowledge) identical to the L5 Bad Cats ROM. So it's not really a TCM bug...

#382 33 days ago

This is getting really interesting!

#383 33 days ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

With the glass off I started 20 games without hitting the wheel. Then I started a 3-player game and got the following awards:
Ball 1, P1: EB, Special
Ball 1, P2: EB, EB, EB
Ball 1, P3: EB, Spin Again, Special
Ball 2, P1: 50K, 10K
Ball 2, P2: EB, Spin Again, 50K
Ball 2, P3: Spin Again, 50K, Letter
Ball 3, P1: Letter
Ball 3, P2: 250K
Ball 3, P3: Letter
7 Extra Balls and 2 Specials; so the "overdue" concept works, although it is less deterministic than I had thought. On the other hand, not a single "Light Jackpot" award?! Come to think of it I *never* get those, compared to Specials. Must be a problem somewhere.
Oh, and these results are with code that is (to the best of my knowledge) identical to the L5 Bad Cats ROM. So it's not really a TCM bug...

Interesting that no “Lights Jackpot” was given. We somehow got multiple “Lights Jackpot”. We have it set to the default… which I think is 10%, although I’d have to check.

So is the table that’s used separate for each player? Because after the first player got their extra ball or special or whatever high value award, shouldn’t it of reset and no longer be “overdue”? It’s interesting that it just kept giving out high value awards during that game and subsequent games. It’s almost like it got stuck in that state. Did you try another game after the three player game?

#384 33 days ago

Usually the way they handle this weighting is they not only take into account the current awarded percentages, but also don't always give X as the award - there's a random flip on those as well. So perhaps idealjoker 's jackpot percentage was abnormally high, so the other percentages outweighed that one. On your machine, it's the other way around.

I'm sure he's combing through that area of the code now to get the formulae down so he can change it. I'd probably leave the existing and add a new one with the canned responses, that way when you select original rules it's all still there.

#385 28 days ago

TECH INFO -- Percentage Based Awards in System 11 Games (long post)

I have been combing through the code, and I also ran more tests. First off, there is no problem with the Light Jackpot award on my game. I got all those saved up awards in the games that I played since my running the original test. It is true, though, that after a factory reset I tend to get the Special more quickly than the Light Jackpot award, even though they have the same default probability (10% in TCM). The reason for this is an undocumented Bad Cats rule: The wheel never awards the Light Jackpot when the B-A-D C lamps are lit. If I play enough games after a factory reset eventually the Light Jackpot award will "catch up".

Here's how it works: The algorithm has two components: i) Keep track of awards to determine whether how over- (or under-) due it is. ii) Use "goosed" random numbers to control distribution of the award in a way that nudges the award toward being neither over- nor under-due.

Component i: Keep track of awards. There is a percentage counter that keeps track of a cummulative percentage for the award. Every time a new player is added to a game, the percentage set in the adjustments is added to this counter. Every time the award is given out, 100% are subtracted from the counter. Without the randomizer (part ii) the game could simply provide the award whenever the cummulative percentage hits 100. For example the default match award is 10%. With single-player games the cummulative percentage goes 10%-20%-30%-...-%90-%100. After then 10th game the percentage is 100, and there could be a match award, which would return the percentage to 0 for the sequence to start again.

Component ii: Randomizer. Whenever the game has to determine if an award is to be given, it looks at the percentage counter. If the percentage counter is not much different from zero (the award is neither over- nor under-due) the award is paid out with a fixed standard probability that depends on the adjustment. This probability is greater than zero for almost all values of the counter, which means that the counter can become negative. In order to nudge the game back toward the target probability for the award (counter value zero), the award probability is increased when the counter has a large positive value and it is decreased when the counter has a large negative value.

So what's the point of this algorithm? Why not simply roll the dice each time the wheel is spun and award an EB with 1/3 probability, for example? After all, in the long run (after playing many games) the outcome would be the same with a lot less code and also less RAM needed. I think that there may be two different problems: 1) Uniformly distributed numbers are too random to appear to be "fair". When I play 20 games with the Match probability set to 10%, my own sense of "fairness" makes me expect between 1 and 3 free games. With uniform random numbers I get that less than result only about 10% of the time. 2) The manual is emphatic that the award adjustments are MINIMUM percentages. (This is not a very good statement, because it does not tell the operator over how many games it is guaranteed that you get at least the promised awards.) I am guessing that this may be because of some gambling laws that try to protect the gamblers. With a sequence of uniformly distributed random numbers you cannot guarantee this statement for any number of games played, however. (Uniformly distributed random number sequences can have runs of any length.)

Regardless of the reasons, as far as I am concerned this is a really intriguing part of the System 11 operating system, which I do not want to change in any significant way. (I am also wondering if this may be the way some WMS slot machines work ) The problem that interconnect found is not caused by a design flaw with this system. It is caused by the fact that you can play Bad Cats games where you never spin the wheel. (You can also "goose" the Match system by starting but not finishing a lot of games.) With TCM default settings every new player adds a total of 55% to the three wheel award percentage counters. So if you never spin the wheel the counters just grow and grow. My intended solution is very simple: For every game that does not end with a Curiosity Spin I will run a quiet "dummy wheel spin". This will give the game the opportunity to deduct 100% from one of the counters; usually the one that is highest. Additionally, I am also considering not counting the games started with the high-value awards disabled.

#386 28 days ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

TECH INFO -- Percentage Based Awards in System 11 Games (long post)
I have been combing through the code, and I also ran more tests. First off, there is no problem with the Light Jackpot award on my game. I got all those saved up awards in the games that I played since my running the original test. It is true, though, that after a factory reset I tend to get the Special more quickly than the Light Jackpot award, even though they have the same default probability (10% in TCM). The reason for this is an undocumented Bad Cats rule: The wheel never awards the Light Jackpot when the B-A-D C lamps are lit. If I play enough games after a factory reset eventually the Light Jackpot award will "catch up".
Here's how it works: The algorithm has two components: i) Keep track of awards to determine whether how over- (or under-) due it is. ii) Use "goosed" random numbers to control distribution of the award in a way that nudges the award toward being neither over- nor under-due.
Component i: Keep track of awards. There is a percentage counter that keeps track of a cummulative percentage for the award. Every time a new player is added to a game, the percentage set in the adjustments is added to this counter. Every time the award is given out, 100% are subtracted from the counter. Without the randomizer (part ii) the game could simply provide the award whenever the cummulative percentage hits 100. For example the default match award is 10%. With single-player games the cummulative percentage goes 10%-20%-30%-...-%90-%100. After then 10th game the percentage is 100, and there could be a match award, which would return the percentage to 0 for the sequence to start again.
Component ii: Randomizer. Whenever the game has to determine if an award is to be given, it looks at the percentage counter. If the percentage counter is not much different from zero (the award is neither over- nor under-due) the award is paid out with a fixed standard probability that depends on the adjustment. This probability is greater than zero for almost all values of the counter, which means that the counter can become negative. In order to nudge the game back toward the target probability for the award (counter value zero), the award probability is increased when the counter has a large positive value and it is decreased when the counter has a large negative value.
So what's the point of this algorithm? Why not simply roll the dice each time the wheel is spun and award an EB with 1/3 probability, for example? After all, in the long run (after playing many games) the outcome would be the same with a lot less code and also less RAM needed. I think that there may be two different problems: 1) Uniformly distributed numbers are too random to appear to be "fair". When I play 20 games with the Match probability set to 10%, my own sense of "fairness" makes me expect between 1 and 3 free games. With uniform random numbers I get that less than result only about 10% of the time. 2) The manual is emphatic that the award adjustments are MINIMUM percentages. (This is not a very good statement, because it does not tell the operator over how many games it is guaranteed that you get at least the promised awards.) I am guessing that this may be because of some gambling laws that try to protect the gamblers. With a sequence of uniformly distributed random numbers you cannot guarantee this statement for any number of games played, however. (Uniformly distributed random number sequences can have runs of any length.)
Regardless of the reasons, as far as I am concerned this is a really intriguing part of the System 11 operating system, which I do not want to change in any significant way. (I am also wondering if this may be the way some WMS slot machines work ) The problem that interconnect found is not caused by a design flaw with this system. It is caused by the fact that you can play Bad Cats games where you never spin the wheel. (You can also "goose" the Match system by starting but not finishing a lot of games.) With TCM default settings every new player adds a total of 55% to the three wheel award percentage counters. So if you never spin the wheel the counters just grow and grow. My intended solution is very simple: For every game that does not end with a Curiosity Spin I will run a quiet "dummy wheel spin". This will give the game the opportunity to deduct 100% from one of the counters; usually the one that is highest. Additionally, I am also considering not counting the games started with the high-value awards disabled.

Awesome info; thank you. Does this, in your opinion, seem to explain the following scenario: 6 year old daughter plays a few games every day for almost three weeks straight (no one else plays and I bet she rarely, if ever, went into the doghouse; that shot is hard for her), then suddenly the adults play a three player game and got the results I reported before? If I understand it all correctly, the game would’ve nudged the high value awards quite a bit, and then even more by playing a three players, which as you said, adds 55% for each player. We don’t play the TCM defaults, but no changes to anything related to award percentages. Just curious if this explains that scenario.

#387 28 days ago
Quoted from interconnect:

Just curious if this explains that scenario.

Yes, your daughter playing many games without spinning the wheel except for the Curiosity Spin will have increased the percentage counters of all high-value awards, making them over-due. With the "dummy wheel spin" that I plan to implement this should not happen any more.

#388 28 days ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

TECH INFO -- Percentage Based Awards in System 11 Games (long post)
I have been combing through the code, and I also ran more tests. First off, there is no problem with the Light Jackpot award on my game. I got all those saved up awards in the games that I played since my running the original test. It is true, though, that after a factory reset I tend to get the Special more quickly than the Light Jackpot award, even though they have the same default probability (10% in TCM). The reason for this is an undocumented Bad Cats rule: The wheel never awards the Light Jackpot when the B-A-D C lamps are lit. If I play enough games after a factory reset eventually the Light Jackpot award will "catch up".
Here's how it works: The algorithm has two components: i) Keep track of awards to determine whether how over- (or under-) due it is. ii) Use "goosed" random numbers to control distribution of the award in a way that nudges the award toward being neither over- nor under-due.
Component i: Keep track of awards. There is a percentage counter that keeps track of a cummulative percentage for the award. Every time a new player is added to a game, the percentage set in the adjustments is added to this counter. Every time the award is given out, 100% are subtracted from the counter. Without the randomizer (part ii) the game could simply provide the award whenever the cummulative percentage hits 100. For example the default match award is 10%. With single-player games the cummulative percentage goes 10%-20%-30%-...-%90-%100. After then 10th game the percentage is 100, and there could be a match award, which would return the percentage to 0 for the sequence to start again.
Component ii: Randomizer. Whenever the game has to determine if an award is to be given, it looks at the percentage counter. If the percentage counter is not much different from zero (the award is neither over- nor under-due) the award is paid out with a fixed standard probability that depends on the adjustment. This probability is greater than zero for almost all values of the counter, which means that the counter can become negative. In order to nudge the game back toward the target probability for the award (counter value zero), the award probability is increased when the counter has a large positive value and it is decreased when the counter has a large negative value.
So what's the point of this algorithm? Why not simply roll the dice each time the wheel is spun and award an EB with 1/3 probability, for example? After all, in the long run (after playing many games) the outcome would be the same with a lot less code and also less RAM needed. I think that there may be two different problems: 1) Uniformly distributed numbers are too random to appear to be "fair". When I play 20 games with the Match probability set to 10%, my own sense of "fairness" makes me expect between 1 and 3 free games. With uniform random numbers I get that less than result only about 10% of the time. 2) The manual is emphatic that the award adjustments are MINIMUM percentages. (This is not a very good statement, because it does not tell the operator over how many games it is guaranteed that you get at least the promised awards.) I am guessing that this may be because of some gambling laws that try to protect the gamblers. With a sequence of uniformly distributed random numbers you cannot guarantee this statement for any number of games played, however. (Uniformly distributed random number sequences can have runs of any length.)
Regardless of the reasons, as far as I am concerned this is a really intriguing part of the System 11 operating system, which I do not want to change in any significant way. (I am also wondering if this may be the way some WMS slot machines work ) The problem that interconnect found is not caused by a design flaw with this system. It is caused by the fact that you can play Bad Cats games where you never spin the wheel. (You can also "goose" the Match system by starting but not finishing a lot of games.) With TCM default settings every new player adds a total of 55% to the three wheel award percentage counters. So if you never spin the wheel the counters just grow and grow. My intended solution is very simple: For every game that does not end with a Curiosity Spin I will run a quiet "dummy wheel spin". This will give the game the opportunity to deduct 100% from one of the counters; usually the one that is highest. Additionally, I am also considering not counting the games started with the high-value awards disabled.

Some interesting research. So more spins less good awards (i.e. just points)? Explains some of the behaviour when doing my tests for extra ball.
Also old random number programs use to add 1, as asking computer for random number up to 6 would also include 0.

#389 28 days ago
Quoted from No_CLU:

as asking computer for random number up to 6 would also include 0.

The random number generator of Sys 7-11 generates an uniform random byte (0-255 value). It's easy to use bit masking to turn the result into a random number generator for powers-of-two (2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 or 128 choices), but creating random numbers with any other number of choices (e.g. 6 as in your example) is hard.

#390 28 days ago
Quoted from idealjoker:

creating random numbers with any other number of choices (e.g. 6 as in your example) is hard.

Isn't it just a DIV or MOD operation on the 8 bit value? Not in 6800 instruction set but 8 bit by 8 bit /MOD is quite trivial.

Entropy for RNG in a pinball game should be quite easy, just latch a free running counter value on every switch hit.

OT:

Old EM games did have their match units step the final number to match every 10 points, but they relied on either score reel or the match unit skipping steps sometimes. And of course multiplayer games made counting very difficult. Gottlieb used a simple count from 90 to 00 backwards, while Williams had a more random looking sequence, but same in all games.

Gottlieb System 1 games started on match number 70 and increased that on every switch hit. So a nice trick was to make sure there was at least 3 credits in game, then power cycle it to show match 70, start a 3 player game and slam tilt. Presto - 3 knocks and credits for 3 players matching the 00.

#391 28 days ago

Thanks a lot for the info on how the EM games handle the match. I should take a look at Sys 6 (Alien Poker), too. I know that sys 6 does not have a random number generator as part of the OS; the games have to implement that themselves. And, yes, there is a lot of entropy that can be harvested on pinball games. Switch hits, as you write, and also counters used by the IRQ routine, for example.

Quoted from Tuukka:

8 bit by 8 bit /MOD is quite trivial

Okay, hard was not the right word. A bit of a pain would have been more accurate. I have not see a modulo calculation in this context in any of the games I have looked at (not very many). A simple algorithm that I have seen to get a 0-5 random value is the following:

LOOP
JSR sys_get_random
ANDA #$07
CMPA #$05
WHILE_HI

As long as the sys_get_random does not contain any loops, this is likely more efficient on average than a modulo calculation.

#392 26 days ago

GAME RULES -- Fishbowl Ramp Extra Balls

At least twice in this thread I have claimed that in Bad Cats the Fishbowl Ramp does not light again after you have collected an Extra Ball and a couple of you have pointed out that on your games this is not the case. Yes, I was wrong yet again. I use a combo defense of "weird code" together with "it never happens on my game"

Only now that I understand the percentage-based awards better I get what is going on. It is not easy to light the EB a second time on the ramp. You can only do it if the Seafood wheel Extra Balls are significantly over-due. Specifically, the cumulative percentage counter has to be at least 200. To try this out on your game it's best to start with a Factory Reset (not necessary unless your wheel Extra Balls happen to be "under-due"). Then you have to get the wheel EB counter to 300, which I do as follows: i) start a 4-player game, ii) drain ball 1 from all players, iii) repeat steps i (which interrupts the running game) and ii; iv) start a two player game. Now you can collect the 1st EB on the ramp. This subtracts 100 from the percentage counter, reducing it to 200. Drain the ball, because the ramp won't light another EB if you already have one pending. Drain ball 1 of the 2nd player without collecting an EB. Now you can collect the 2nd EB of the 1st player on the ramp.

Nothing weird with this. What's weird is that before the game checks if the percentage counter is greater than 200, it first uses the Randomizer to generate a random result at half the probability defined in the adjustments. But then it ignores this random result and tests the percentage counter directly, instead.

I am guessing that the reason for the additional Extra Ball from the ramp that is tied to the wheel Extra Ball may be to compensate for a broken doghouse switch. (As far as I can tell, Sys 11 games are designed to keep working with any single broken switch, except for the micro-switches.) And I am also guessing that the call to the Randomizer is left over code from an earlier version of the game. In any case, the EB rule is not very fair for multi-player games, because it is very difficult to build up the EB percentage counter to a value of 600 or more. But since it happens rarely, and since it will happen even more rarely once I implement the blind wheel spin at game end I don't think there's a need to change anything.

#393 25 days ago

Fascinating!

2 weeks later
#394 8 days ago
Quoted from Numiah:

I didn't see a reference in this thread, but maybe it was discussed elsewhere.
Would it be fun/feasible if the knocker went off when scoring a replay instead of only when match is won?
Or am I being greedy.

I found out what was causing this behavior when installing a nvram and setting things up.
The solution is actually quite simple.
When the replay award is set to extra ball, there's no knocker.
When set to credit award, there is.
Obvious.

#395 8 days ago
Quoted from Numiah:

When the replay award is set to extra ball, there's no knocker.
When set to credit award, there is.

Yeah, that's pretty much by design on all solid states (maybe not some gottliebs when set to add a ball or novelty, those knock 5 times). Most of the code for this looks like this pseudo code:

replay threshold passed - > check setting for payout - > if set to replay, go knock and award replay, if set otherwise, just go as if it were awarding that (extra ball or points).

Since the default behavior in other routines isn't to knock, that's why it doesn't - and the other thing it doesn't do is increase the replays awarded audit - it increases the threshold award audit and the extra ball one too. So you can't tell just from looking at 'extra balls awarded' how many of those extra balls are from replay crossing vs. actual eb awards without going to the other audit and subtracting.

It's nice that they put so many tracking options in games that 99% of operators ignored. I doubt there were operators that percentaged their games, as long as the cashbox was filling, it wasn't their way to question how.

#396 8 days ago

In the EM times, we installed an electromechanical counter across the knocker coil, then calculated the replay percentage from that vs. total play counter, and really did try to aim and adjust for about 20% replays. Also useful for checking the total coin intake in locations, that emptied the cashbox by themselves.

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