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Attack From Mars

GeorgeH

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I have decided to update the "Attack From Mars" table (Slamt1lt's ULTIMATE 1.02 version). I haven't decided exactly what I will do yet so I will add to this list as needed. If you have any requests or suggestions, please post them here.

:check: 1) Make adjustments to the color/brightness of the backglass.
:check: 2) Replace textures on plastic ramps so they are more transparent.
:check: 3) Change black on white instruction card to other colors.
:box: 4) Add custom physics and dynamic flippers
:check: 5) Add lighting mod.
:check: 6) Possibly add new or rework textures on the table loading screen.
:check: 7) Possibly add menu system.
:check: 8. Add HUD Toggle Key that saves setting.
:check: 9) Add message that looks at BAM version.
:check: 11) Possibly add shadow maps.
:check: 12) Possibly add side rails.
:check: 13) Fix rough spot on right inlane where ball bounces out in front of flipper.
:check: 14) Check resolution of playfield texture and posibly replace.
:check: 15) Add Gimli's old version of his multiplayer mod.
:check: 16) Repeat the lane lights on the backwall so you can see them more easily.
:check: 17) Add DMD background color, ball/flipper shadows and ball configuration to the script.
:check: 18. Try adding emkickers to the slingshots like @shiva did on "Jungle Girl".
:check: 19) Convert "execute" commands in script to long form to prevent stuttering from antivirus.
:check: 20) Change Slamt1lt's music mode option so it saves your setting the next time you play the table.
 
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GeorgeH

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Thanks Guys,

I just added emkickers to the slingshots. Wow! What a difference! I have never liked FP's slingshots. Something that drives me crazy is to have the ball hit one slingshot and bouce over to the other sling and then have the ball endlessly bounce between the two slings. The emkickers hit the ball a lot harder so this endless loop does not occur. I watched some videos of the table also and the slings with the emkickers match the real tables much better. I will need to tune the settings in the XML a bit but I like this!
 

wild

Bam is FP
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I have always used emkickers for other things, for bumpers, targets ricochet, but never used for slingshots, I have always put the force equal to 0, to prevent the ball from bouncing, between one slingshot and the other .... but this would be a another excellent solution.

About what you can add, one would be the ball trail, although I know you don't like it, the other would be the new Tilt code, which gimli made, which I used for two of my tables, really great,and maybe even some "custom camera".

if you need help with the "side rails", just let me know, but only if you already have the textures, I can fix the model part, to insert of the table
 

GeorgeH

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Thanks @wild !

I have a model for the siderails but it is a bit short. I will contact you if it does not work. I was planning on adapting the cityscape that is on the backwall for the siderails but if you think of something more creative, let me know.

George
 

GeorgeH

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I decided to check item 18 on the first post that adds the emkickers to the slings as complete but I may still tweak the physics.

This is a screenshot of item 16 where I added the lane lights to the backwall. I actually added this several years ago to my own version of the table. I remember the coding for it was a bit of a challenge to me at the time. Although the plastic ramps are more clear now with the new texture, you still have trouble seeing the lane lights on the playfield. I have noticed that others have added these lights to their tables and it really does help the game play. You can also see the cityscape on the backwall that I will probably adapt to the siderails.

1601369285279.png
 

GeorgeH

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I discovered some "Execute" commands in the script that is used to create the lights on and off effect for the plastics (new item 19 on first post). It is created by placing a surface above each plastic that has a dark texture and then render this surface in the script at the points when you want the plastics to be dark and not render it when lighted. "Execute" commands can cause a low frame rate when the ball is in play because the Windows Defender antivirus program uses all the system resources to scan this command. Some of the commands for this effect run when the ball is in play so I decided to convert them. I haven't noticed a low frame rate on my PC but I thought it might help those that have low end PCs. There are more a few more "Execute" commands used during the score calculations that I left unchanged because they don't run when the ball is in play.
 

GeorgeH

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I worked on the physics and had to resolve a couple of problems. The trajectory of the scoop kicker below the bumpers was kicking out too far to the left after the new XML file so I changed the rotation. I create physics where the ball has more energy so I often end up having to fix some of the table objects. It is a minor fix but I don't recall ever having that happen before. The other problem was the ball would get stuck on the left wire ramp after being hit by the vertical up kicker that discharges through the scoop and onto the ramp. This was a little more challenging. I made a very slight change to the wire ramp so the ball would discharge from the scoop directly to the middle of the wire ramp. The ball had been hitting the wire ramp slightly off center but it didn't make any difference and did not get stuck with the old physics.

Then I changed Slamt1lt's music mode option that selects between the original and movie mode background music. In the old version, the setting was always set to the original music every time you start the table. I changed it so your setting is saved whenever you change it. So now, it will still start with the original music the first time you play the table. ...But, if you change it to movie mode, the setting will be saved so the next you play the table, the option will still be set to movie mode. Those of you the are familiar with the other tables I have modded will be familiar with this because I set everything else this way. (This is a new objective that I added to the firs post as item 20).

Slam also created an overlay that displays your selection of the original or movie mode. I fixed the display so the pinball cabinet users have a round display instead of being oval shaped using the method I describe in my tutorial here:

 
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GeorgeH

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Today I added some instruction cards using a model I found. The model creates a shadow box below the apron surface and displays them at the bottom of the shadow box. It looks nice but it does require cutting holes in the apron which was more time consuming than I thought it would be. Something that is nice about it is I was able to add the full resolution textures of the cards instead of having to downsize them to add to the apron texture. The left one below in the screen shot below was barely readable when I downsized it. Doing it this way makes it easy to read. I found a new card for the one on the left which replaces a white card with black text. The text on the card is identical to the original card. The card on the right was replaced with an identical card that has a higher resolution.

1601584496093.png
 
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GeorgeH

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I got some feedback on the lane lights that I added to the backwall from message 7 above. They didn't like the red dots even though they are the same ones used on the playfield. I decided to replace the round light with flying saucers using an image based light. The texture was saved as a TGA file that uses a mask to make the transparent area around the periphery. I use and like Paint Shop Pro but masks are confusing to create, not exactly user friendly. I got the job done and I have to say I think it looks better.

I am not sure what the pinball cabinet guys will do with these lights. I watched some videos of this table in action on some cabinets. It looks like it depends on how they set the table up as to whether these the lights on the playfield can be seen. The lights being repeated on the backwall might help or might not. Of course if they don't want the lights, they could just move them above the translite so they can't be seen.

1601737376040.png
 

GeorgeH

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I have started work on the lighting. Some of you might that have opened the FP editor for a table and found something like the first screenshot below. The first screenshot shows the light inserts on the playfield of Attack from Mars. The lights have a section that can be moved that is called a halo. Halos are useful on bulbs but the default setting for the halos on light inserts does not look so nice (see the second screen shot below). The center of the light would be blown out bright and the edges of the light were more dim. So the table developers moved the halos under the apron to hide them. That leaves a line between the light and the halo. When the table is played, this makes the light darker but leaves the light with uniform brightness. A few table developers would change the lenses for the lights to make a halo effect but were not done on Attack from Mars. I decided to move the halos back over the top of each light and use BAM's new features to adjust them. I can now control the brightness of the halo (or we call it "glow"), the radius of the halo and brightness of the light. The third screenshot shows the first step of adjusting the lighting where I made some global changes to all the lights. I left a subtle halo that is barely noticable. I will be making more tweaks later and might make the halo a little more noticeable. I like to spread the halo out so it doesn't just create a spot in the center of the light.

1) Light inserts on the playfield of Attack from Mars in the FP editor:
1602035273741.png

2) Screenshot of the lights on the playfield using only FP without any BAM adjustments.
1602036873549.png


3) Screenshot of the lights on the playfield after making some adjustments with BAM:
1602037099171.png
 
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GeorgeH

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I have added the coding for the lighting. The work really starts with making all the lighting adjustments. It always looks bad at the start so no screenshots yet.

I am looking forward to adding the script lighting to all the saucers, aliens and maybe even the stationary targets below the aliens. Hopefully, everything will be illuminated better than it ever has been before.
 

GeorgeH

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If any of you are curious about how I code the lighting, I copy the name of each light insert on the playfield and paste it into Microsoft Word with each name on a separate line as the example below:

lmult1a
lmult2a
lmult1
...

Then I replace the hard return in Word using the code ^p and replace it with some code like "Ext.GlowBrightness = GlowBright: "

"GlowBright" is a constant that I define at the beginning of the script like this:

const GlowBright = 0.8

Then I can change the 0.8 value and change the setting for all the light inserts on the playfield.

There are always some lights that are brighter than others so I edit the code for the light to add or subtract a value from the constant like this:

lmult1aExt.GlowBrightness = GlowBright+0.1
lmult2aExt.GlowBrightness = GlowBright-0.1

This ends up producing a lot of code but it is not difficult to generate. There is probably a shorter way to code it but have not figured out a way to do the +0.1 and -0.1 adjustments without doing it this way. Some of you guys might suggest a better way.
 
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Ike Savage

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I have started work on the lighting...
Googling around a bit for comparison views, just now I bumped in to JP's version of the table. I must say, his lens and halo combos are pretty gorgeous (see attach). Also, the realism of other plastics in that shot really impresses me. For example, the green dome of the mothership.

Now maybe he spends like 10,000 hours touching and retouching every pixel to get that level of realism, but do you think it's possible for BAM to help achieve this level of realism?
 

Attachments

GeorgeH

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Googling around a bit for comparison views, just now I bumped in to JP's version of the table. I must say, his lens and halo combos are pretty gorgeous (see attach). Also, the realism of other plastics in that shot really impresses me. For example, the green dome of the mothership.

Now maybe he spends like 10,000 hours touching and retouching every pixel to get that level of realism, but do you think it's possible for BAM to help achieve this level of realism?
I can adjust shininess of anything that has a texture. On FP, the green dome of the mothership is a flasher and I can't adjust the shininess of surface of flashers because they have no texture. I can get pretty close to what he did on everything else. On FP, you can either use BAM to create the halo effect on the lights or change the lens on every light so it appears to have a halo effect. I am still working on AFM but I think "Road Girls" looks good. I used BAM to create the halo effect on the lights of the playfield on "Road Girls" (see screenshot). I revised Smoke's "Tales of the Arabian Nights". He incorporated the halo effect into the lens so I did not use the BAM halo effect on it (see second screen shot below of one of the lenses). Of course, Smoke built TOTAN before we had all the BAM lighting options. I think BAM is better at creating shadows than VP if you look at the shadows cast by the left slingshot on the "Road Girls" screenshot.

I did notice something that I think Francisco666 did on AFM that must have done when the table was originally created. He managed to simulate the look of a piece of glass almost perfectly. Check out the last screen below of a saucer with the piece of glass below it. It does not use any special BAM features at all. It was done just by creating the correct top and side textures of a simple surface with the transparency in the FP editor set to half transparent. Pretty cool.

Edit: After looking at the last screenshot, I am thinking I might be able to make the saucers look a little better using bump maps. I decided to add it to my list of objectives above.

Playfield2.png


1602186835525.png


1602187362316.png
 
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Ike Savage

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Yeah, that glass / plexiglass surface is amazing! I'm not sure even VPX could come close to that level of detail.

In terms of that pirate lens / halo example, I have to go with JP's thus far. He seems to perfectly simulate what an actual PF lens looks like, with all the rays having their own shadow and light areas, and the whole thing blending together marvelously.

It's not a contest of course, and I don't know how much this stuff matters, but I guess I could try to research how he pulled it off if you want. For example, many years ago I think he was simply using a decal sitting on top of a light, and that was wonderfully realistic in itself, but I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if the methodology / technology improved since then.

JP-attack-from-mars-201.crop2.png
 

GeorgeH

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I don't think I can make the lights look just like that.

On a different note, I was able to switch the lighting on and off for models of the aliens and the saucers using Ravarcade's code described here:


The aliens and saucers look pretty cool all lit up:

1602193662054.png
 

GeorgeH

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I got side tracked. Ravarcade posted a way to make what I have called texture lighting so it can be switched on and off in the script. Attack From Mars turns lights on and off depending on the game mode. I decided to add more content to it using Ravarcade's new feature. I even created a few textures that had none just so I could use texture lighting. I figured out the code with some help from Ravarcade. You can read about it here:


Anyway, I resumed work on the rest of the lighting today and began the shadow maps.
 

Ike Savage

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I meant to mention that the above pic looks really cool... exactly how I remember the game looking, with the martians lit up like that, when I used to play it long ago.
 

GeorgeH

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Thanks. It is hard to beat a true 3D model like we have on FP. I will try adding bump maps to them which may make them look even more 3D (or they could look terrible with it). I increased the shininess of all the saucers and it makes them look more metalic. It loads pretty quickly. You might be able to play it.
 

GeorgeH

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This table has a feature where the lights on the playfield are dimmed before the game starts and then lights up when you press the start game key. Then they dim when the ball drains and turn on when the ball is released to the plunger. I have seen this done on several tables. I always thought that it looked a little odd to not have the backglass lights turned on and off with the playfield lights. So I decided to make it happen using the new BAM features. After setting that up, I thought I may as well turn the exterior cabinet lights on and off so I did that too. You can see the results in the screenshots below.

For those of you that work on tables, I encountered a couple of snags. Turning the lights off didn't look right on the backglass and I needed to switch between normal and slightly dimmed lights. I discovered the BAM brightness and glow brightness commands didn't work for bulbs on the backglass. It turns out that you have to save a line of code that tells FP that the bulb in not on the backbox even though it is (I guess it is OK to lie to a program since it isn't alive). Even then the only BAM lighting option that worked is the glow radius.

Bulb1Ext.isOnBackbox = False

Then I had trouble lighting the texture for the backglass. For reasons unknown, the fancy way Ravarcade showed us here did not work when I added the backglass texture to the same list of textures as the others. So I ended up doing it the old way like this:

Dim BackBox
Set BackBox = xBAM.GetTexture("translite")
BackBox.Brightness = 0.8

Lights OffLights On
```Attack From Mars ULTIMATE 1.02-12.png
```Attack From Mars ULTIMATE 1.02-13.png
 

GeorgeH

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I have finished:

1) the lighting for the 5 lighting modes which includes setting up the halos or glow on the playfield light inserts
2) texture lighting like the code for the translite described in the previous post
3) shadow maps
4) adding bulbs that produce halos or glow through the plastics.

I completely rethought and reworked all the source and attenuation parameters for the day and night modes that I have used on other tables. The "Night Glow" mode is a bit darker now than on previous tables. The Day mode is not changed much. The Night and Dark Night modes are also slightly darker and are set up to be progressive shades of darkness between Day and Night Glow. The steps between these modes produce a more noticeable change than on previous tables. I have noticed a lot of folks seem to like the darkest mode so I think these changes will be welcomed. I even changed the "FP Original" mode so it looks as close to the New Renderer Day mode as I could make it. I mostly changed the attenuation of the lights which is a bit tricky to work with.

The shadow maps worked surprisingly well on this playfield texture so I ended up using 21 of them. I replaced the playfield texture with Tomasaco's really nice HD version. This is Slamt1lt's version of the table and he usually adds add the glow bulbs under the plastics but he did not do it here so I did it for him. I reduced the glow radius and glow brightness of all these bulbs below what could be accomplished in the past so maybe that is the reason Slam didn't add them.

I have been hesitant to post screenshots of the progress because all 4 of the items listed above interact so when I change one, I end up changing the others. I am done with all that so here it a screenshot of the "Dark Night" mode. I didn't show the "Night Glow" mode because it doesn't show details very well in a screenshot though it plays well.

```Attack From Mars ULTIMATE 1.02-1.png
 
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