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Recreations of new Stern Pinball machines

m4paws

Inserted Coin
Retrieved from Google's VPF Cache:

Originally posted by TheManFromPOST

Recreations of new Stern Pinball machines

Short answer
Modern Stern pinball machines will not be recreated

Long Answer
In 2006 with the release of ‘World Poker Tour’, Stern upgraded to a new system of operating Hardware called S.A.M.
One of the main features of this new system is the ability for operators and private owners to upgrade the software on their pinball machine using a USB memory stick rather than the old method of burning an EPROM
Stern makes these new versions of the operating software available on their website

The problem for us (in theory) is that a week after Stern releases a new machine, there could be a recreation available for download
This is not good for Stern
Stern needs operators to buy their machines
Operators need venues to place the machines
Venues need people to put money into the machines
If people can download new Stern tables and play them at home for free, then people do not go out and pay to play, venues will then not carry Pinball machines, operators will not buy machines and Stern goes out of business
Nobody wants that.

So until Stern Upgrades to an even newer hardware/software system there will be no new Stern machines added to the VPMame lineup
(Sterns previous hardware system 'Whitestar' was in use for 10 years)

Machines that use S.A.M.:
World Poker Tour
Pirates of the Caribbean
Family guy
Spiderman
Wheel of Fortune
Shrek
Indiana Jones 4
Batman
CSI

Also
Pinball 2000, ( Revenge from Mars, Star Wars, Episode 1) has still not been emulated
Originally posted by sellenoff

FOR THE BENEFIT OF EVERYONE
----------------------------------------
I will try and explain in really simple terms what the issue of keeping VPM partially closed source was, and why now, we can finally open it and close this issue for good in August 2008.

#1) Stern doesn't want their newest pinball games playable on a pc. I personally spoke with Gary (around the time Monopoly first came out, 2001?) and that's what he said. We agreed a few years wait would be acceptable to allow inclusion.

#2) Since pinmame doesn't allow you to "play" the machine, it was and has always been fully open source and compliant with the mame licenses.

#3) Until 2006, Stern hardware ran on the same hardware as Sega & Data East which was created in the early 90's, dubbed the Whitestar system.

#4) Finally in 2006, Stern created a new hardware system, called SAM and all new pinball macines coming out as of today are running on it.

** Here's the key point that most people don't seem to understand properly **:

#5) When I spoke to Gary Stern, the source code for the Whitestar system was *already released in pinmame and available to the public* in the form of Data East & Sega emulation. THERE WAS NO WAY TO SIMPLY NOT INCLUDE SUPPORT FOR NEW STERN GAMES IN FUTURE RELEASES OF PINMAME/VPM, BECAUSE ANYONE COULD ALREADY COMPILE IT BACK INTO THEIR OWN VERSION AND HARM STERN PINBALL AND GET THE PINMAME TEAM INTO HOT WATER WITH STERN!

#6) The only true choice left at that point was to prevent people from bulding their own VPM versions so that *we* could responsibly abide by Gary Stern's requests and slowly introduce new game support, rather than "hoping" people in the wild would do so.

#7) Historically "hoping people will play by the rules" has shown to *never* happen as there's always someone who just doesn't care how many people get hurt by their desires to have the "newest" games and roll out their own versions. MAMEDEV eventually learned this lesson the hard way and finally stopped including new game support by exclusion from MAME awhile ago iirc.

#8) I made repeated attempts to get permission to have an "exception to the license" from MAMEDEV for VPM for the specific need to control new game releases for hardware code that had already been released to the wild. I was denied every time (iirc by Aaron and Phil S., but it might have been others) with the simple response that we'd have to hope nobody builds their own and hurts Stern Pinball.

#9) Knowing we were in a NO-WIN SITUATION -- either upset a small # of mamedevs who failed to understand or care about our no-win situation, versus upsetting Gary Stern, potentially harming the only Pinball Company in existence, and getting ourselves into potential legal troubles with them, we made the only logical choice we could which was to keep vpm partially closed (only 4 files out of all of them are not publicly available). Some would argue it's not a choice, if there's only 1 option.. but I use that word anyway for clarity.

#10) The day the new SAM hardware was introduced we all knew we finally had a way out of this mess and our VPM open source plan began to take place. We all agreed that we would not include the new SAM hardware support in either source or binary form in Pinmame, thus we could open the VPM source *once the last of the Whitestar system games was 3 years expired *.

#11) The last of the Whitestar games is Nascar and according to Gaston expires in August, thus our plan is to release VPM fully open source on that day.

#12) Despite what will likely upset our end users, we will not include the new SAM hardware support in any version of pinmame until such time as a new hardware system comes out from Stern, so that we can avoid getting into another mess like this in the first place.

#13) We are discussing the possibility of releasing a closed source SAM emulator which is not based on MAME code (other than what we wrote ourselves and contribued to MAME/PINMAME) so our end users can enjoy SAM emulation with Visual Pinball in the future, however, it will take a lot of time to rewrite most of the MAME core, so there's no timetable for it, nor any guarantee we do it at all as it's a lot of wasted time in my opinion to re-invent the wheel, and many of us don't have the free time to devote to it. The possibility still exists though, so I am not saying it will never happen. Also, if anyone is interested in rewriting the needed parts of the MAME core for this project, please let us know and we'll be happy to work with you.
 

Tiger-Heli

Inserted Coin
I just found this thread, but I found it very interesting.

Not sure this is the correct place to ask, but ...

#13) We are discussing the possibility of releasing a closed source SAM emulator which is not based on MAME code (other than what we wrote ourselves and contribued to MAME/PINMAME) so our end users can enjoy SAM emulation with Visual Pinball in the future, however, it will take a lot of time to rewrite most of the MAME core, so there's no timetable for it, nor any guarantee we do it at all as it's a lot of wasted time in my opinion to re-invent the wheel, and many of us don't have the free time to devote to it. The possibility still exists though, so I am not saying it will never happen. Also, if anyone is interested in rewriting the needed parts of the MAME core for this project, please let us know and we'll be happy to work with you.
Why do this? - instead of releasing a closed source SAM emulator, why not just keep the SAM VpinMAME drivers out of the public open source project until Stern comes out with a new OS and the last SAM game is three years old and then release it into VpinMAME at that time.

Despite the bad press above, arcade MAME frequently does this, which is why you will have working versions of arcade games once the 3-year (5-year?) unofficial timeline is up.

I don't think Arcade MAME is technically open source, though, but not sure that makes a difference.

Just curious?
 

m4paws

Inserted Coin
Why do this? - instead of releasing a closed source SAM emulator, why not just keep the SAM VpinMAME drivers out of the public open source project until Stern comes out with a new OS and the last SAM game is three years old and then release it into VpinMAME at that time.
Because keeping vPinMame closed source violates the MAME license, which IIRC states that MAME and any derivative projects must remain open source. Sellenoff laid out pretty clearly why they were willing to do that for a period of time, but SAM gave them the way out and they took it.

I'm not sure what's unclear, unless I misunderstood your question?
 

Tiger-Heli

Inserted Coin
Been a while since I read the MAME license, but I suppose it is open source.

Maybe I misunderstood the original post, but I guess what I was getting at was:


  • VPinMAME is open source.
  • SAM is already emulated, but was removed for the open source files at Stern's request.
Rather than release the SAM emulation as a closed source project - why not just keep it as is and share it with the VpinMAME dev team until Stern comes out with a new OS and it can be released into the public project?

You run the risk of someone leaking the code and compiling their own version, but you run that risk with any open source project (PONG and MAME comes to mind immediately).
 

faralos

Faralos
well you know there is nothing stopping me from making a new stern pin and just putting my scoring and sounds into it is there? I mean I am not looking to make money so therefore it's not stealing, just 'borrowing' their table layout, which is freeware since the pics are already uploaded to various sites. Let them try to stop me! Bwaa haa haa haa. Just like the Zizzles, they wont be recreations since all soundsand such would be my own, so except for the actual table layout nothing would be the same.
 

Tiger-Heli

Inserted Coin
Actually, that is not quite true.

I am quite sure the table layout is copyright, and any images you use on the table are either copyright by the person that took the photograph or by the company.

Namco has pressed the issue with hand-drawn images in the likeness of their originals, but I'll spare the details unless asked.

Not making money doesn't make it not IP theft nor does it rule out the argument of loss of revenue from the game.

Whether they are recreations or not also doesn't matter - except to the extent that it shifts legal liability to you rather than the PinMAME team.

(And IANAL and everything I posted applies to every other VP table (except any that the table manufacturer licensed or formally allowed to be re-created - if there were any, and most of the artwork and emulation in arcade MAME also. And I'm not an IP police type that is overly concerned with the possible legality of any of this).

In the end, there are only two real considerations:

  • Stern is pretty much the only remaining Pinball manufacturer - Bally, Midway, Williams, Gottlieb, have all gotten out of the business, and the owner of the company has said he does not want versions of his tables recreated for playback on the PC, and the VpinMAME team has acceded to his request. Do you want to go against (at least in spirit) the decision of the VpinMAME team.
  • I'm not sure I follow the logic, but Stern is claiming that if the tables are available on the PC, nobody will play them in the arcades (what's an arcade?) and the company will go out of business. Personally, I think many people are MORE likely to play a table for real (Hey's this is that fun table I have from VP - and it will have true feedback and solenoids and vibration from the bumpers!!!), although many people are probably LESS likely to buy a home pinball when they could buy/build a cab to play hundreds of virtual pins. (But my opinion really is irrelevant - it's how likely Stern or others would be to bring legal action and what the odds are that they could convince a jury (that likely knows little about pinball that the actions of VP or VpinMAME or the table designer cost Stern revenue - and who knows how a jury would view that.)
This can be bickered back and forth, though, and we are really getting away from the topic of the thread - somewhat.
 

Joe

Pinball Player
Actually, that is not quite true.

I am quite sure the table layout is copyright, and any images you use on the table are either copyright by the person that took the photograph or by the company.

Namco has pressed the issue with hand-drawn images in the likeness of their originals, but I'll spare the details unless asked.

Not making money doesn't make it not IP theft nor does it rule out the argument of loss of revenue from the game.

Whether they are recreations or not also doesn't matter - except to the extent that it shifts legal liability to you rather than the PinMAME team.

(And IANAL and everything I posted applies to every other VP table (except any that the table manufacturer licensed or formally allowed to be re-created - if there were any, and most of the artwork and emulation in arcade MAME also. And I'm not an IP police type that is overly concerned with the possible legality of any of this).

In the end, there are only two real considerations:

  • Stern is pretty much the only remaining Pinball manufacturer - Bally, Midway, Williams, Gottlieb, have all gotten out of the business, and the owner of the company has said he does not want versions of his tables recreated for playback on the PC, and the VpinMAME team has acceded to his request. Do you want to go against (at least in spirit) the decision of the VpinMAME team.
  • I'm not sure I follow the logic, but Stern is claiming that if the tables are available on the PC, nobody will play them in the arcades (what's an arcade?) and the company will go out of business. Personally, I think many people are MORE likely to play a table for real (Hey's this is that fun table I have from VP - and it will have true feedback and solenoids and vibration from the bumpers!!!), although many people are probably LESS likely to buy a home pinball when they could buy/build a cab to play hundreds of virtual pins. (But my opinion really is irrelevant - it's how likely Stern or others would be to bring legal action and what the odds are that they could convince a jury (that likely knows little about pinball that the actions of VP or VpinMAME or the table designer cost Stern revenue - and who knows how a jury would view that.)
This can be bickered back and forth, though, and we are really getting away from the topic of the thread - somewhat.
I think it more to do with the people own the licences that the games are based on who don't want it on the pc.
 

faralos

Faralos
I didn't say I would, only that I could.

I have way too many original ideas at the present time to even think of stealing their new commercial pins ( i also am not that good yet to redo one of them anyhow even without the rom pack or whatever it's now called). at the present I have 4 wips', my 3 older ones(the 2 zizzles and Legends) I am redoing in VP9 and a brand new one based on the Munsters TV show. I had started that one in vp8 last year but lost it when my hard drive crashed. I found buried on my second drive all the pics for it, so I have restarted it in VP9! Here is a pic of it so far, and yes, that is a see-thru red ramp on the table. Someone on another site had uploaded a red translucent bitmap to go with the grey one we already have so I am incorporating it into the pin. All the ramps work as does that second level table. There will also be drop targets and bullseye ones and spinners in it but this is what I did all day yesterday. So far that took 6 hrs. It'll have various voice samples from the characters from the tv show and that's all I'll say, can't give away everything! i am going for the look of just a wood table now with various things on it rather than plastering an image onto the entire table playfield. This to me looks more like a real pin so I'm trying it.
 

Attachments

Tiger-Heli

Inserted Coin
I think it more to do with the people own the licences that the games are based on who don't want it on the pc.
That makes sense, but I don't think it's true. First off, it doesn't jive with:

#1) Stern doesn't want their newest pinball games playable on a pc. I personally spoke with Gary (around the time Monopoly first came out, 2001?) and that's what he said. We agreed a few years wait would be acceptable to allow inclusion.

Also, there is ton's of VP stuff out there that falls into the second category - Robocop, Johhny Mnemonic, Indiana Jones, Batman, Jurassic Park, The Flintstones, etc.

All licensed by the pin manufacturers from WB or Paramount or some other movie house, all freely available in VP.

I have heard of (predominantly Gottleib and Stern) not wanting VP recreations of their tables, but nothing from the movie houses, and you would think we would have by now, but ....
 

m4paws

Inserted Coin
Maybe I misunderstood the original post, but I guess what I was getting at was:

  • VPinMAME is open source.
  • SAM is already emulated, but was removed for the open source files at Stern's request.
Is that true? I didn't think SAM had been emulated at all, even in unreleased form. Even so, if it used PinMAME to simulate it then it would (continue to) violate the MAME license to keep it closed source. And making it open source would violate the agreement with Stern. A new closed source code base is really the only option.
 

Tiger-Heli

Inserted Coin
Is that true? I didn't think SAM had been emulated at all, even in unreleased form.
I have no idea - your post in this thread was the first I had heard of it:

#10) The day the new SAM hardware was introduced we all knew we finally had a way out of this mess and our VPM open source plan began to take place. We all agreed that we would not include the new SAM hardware support in either source or binary form in Pinmame, thus we could open the VPM source *once the last of the Whitestar system games was 3 years expired *.

#12) Despite what will likely upset our end users, we will not include the new SAM hardware support in any version of pinmame until such time as a new hardware system comes out from Stern, so that we can avoid getting into another mess like this in the first place.

#13) We are discussing the possibility of releasing a closed source SAM emulator which is not based on MAME code (other than what we wrote ourselves and contribued to MAME/PINMAME) so our end users can enjoy SAM emulation with Visual Pinball in the future


The items in red made me think it was already either developed or partially developed.

Even so, if it used PinMAME to simulate it then it would (continue to) violate the MAME license to keep it closed source. And making it open source would violate the agreement with Stern. A new closed source code base is really the only option.
I'm not an expert on the MAME license, nor am I clear on what "Our end users" in blue means above, but three things are readily apparent:

  • As I understand it, the MAME license on derivative works forbids releasing a MAME version without including the source code. The key word used here is redistribution, and the PinMAME team would have to clarify with Aaron (Giles) exactly what that means. Clearly, including SAM support and posting it in a version on retrogames.pinmame.com without the source code would violate the license and get the team in hot water. Clearly - some of MAMEdev (for example Haze, RBelmont, etc.) do work on emulation of games that are too new to be added into official MAME and simply don't release the drivers until the agreed on time. For example, on this page, you are discouraged from developing games that are less than three years old, and removing the nag screens, and you couldn't do that in a binary containing the word MAME in the title (without violating the license), but posting source code to remove the nag screens is okay (but frowned upon). The question then becomes - We have determined that it likely violates the license for Haze to post a binary with KOF 2007 enabled on his website. We have determined that it is okay for Haze to emulate KOF 2007 for his use and inclusion next year. If Haze sends his Binary to ArBee (RBelmont) for his review, does that consititute a "re-distribution"? (I wouldn't think so, and I would think that is what the post above meant by "our End users" - i.e. the rest of the PinMAME team. If they meant the community at large, then you get to my next point:
  • Whether the emulation is open source or closed source, I think releasing the emulator violates the agreement with Stern, but I don't know enough about table design to answer this - i.e., if I have a VPinMAME binary and no source code, can I still develop a table that works with PinMAME, or is the source integrally required (in which case the closed source emulator would just be a DMD display and I don't see the point) (Similar to if MAME emulated KOF2009, but did not provide any keyboard control inputs - cool that they figured it out, but not very useful in a practical sense.)
  • In reality - most of what this is about is protecting the PinMAME teams relationship with Stern. I.e. this page is out of date, but look at the entry for DefMAME. I think it is highly likely that one of the following things will happen (all of which will not make Stern happy):
    • Someone will leak/discover/create SAM emulation using PinMAME and release an unlicensed version - which keeps the team on good terms with Stern, but still let's anyone build SAM tables.
    • Someone will develop SAM-based tables, but will build the DMD in VP (using EM-Reels for example) - again, keeping the team on good terms, but making Stern unhappy.
    • My gut feeling is that having a closed source Emulator would make it easier to get a SAM-base VP table working, b/c you could test various commands and likely figure out what you needed to know, but I can't say that for sure.
    • It's similar to telling the WWII scientists that they shouldn't work on the atom bomb, b/c it could be a bad thing - cue Manhattan Project from Dis-Arm-Ageddon (Whoever finds it first, would be sure to do their worst - they always have before...)
Just my thoughts and sorry for the long-windedness.
 

m4paws

Inserted Coin
Your understanding of the SAM emulation is not how I read that section, but again it doesn't matter how you read it for reasons already stated.

I feel like you keep arguing things that are already answered in this thread, so it makes me hesitant to continue explaining, because I feel like we're just covering the same ground. It could be that I'm missing your points I guess. For instance, you state they'd have to ask Aaron about the license, but point #8 indicates they'd already done so and couldn't reach an agreement. Your statement that Stern wouldn't be OK with it open or closed source is already covered too, see point #1.

BTW - as to another of your points, even though PinMAME had traditionally supported tables under 3 years old, VPinMAME had not. That was OK because you couldn't use VP to integrate with PinMAME, only VPinMAME.
 

Tiger-Heli

Inserted Coin
Point 8 is slightly different than what we are talking about.

Point 8 is saying if SAM emulation is included in VPinMAME, then any new SAM game can be added once the ROM is available (which they usually are, unlike arcade MAME) and someone creates a skeleton driver for it (which is fairly simple to do).

The 3-years-old was off the arcade MAME page and referring to Arcade MAME, not PinMAME or VPinMAME specifically.

The only point I was making was that if SAM has already been emulated in VPinMAME, I thought the dev team could just share that with themselves, rather than putting out a closed source EMU. If it isn't emulated, it's a moot point, and it's very possible I misunderstood the entire posting.
 

Joe

Pinball Player
Also, there is ton's of VP stuff out there that falls into the second category - Robocop, Johhny Mnemonic, Indiana Jones, Batman, Jurassic Park, The Flintstones, etc.

All licensed by the pin manufacturers from WB or Paramount or some other movie house, all freely available in VP.
There is no longing a active license for those game but the stern ones may still be with the room for a rerun.

And as for having on pc to as a promo likely the license holders would want more $ for that and a per copy fee as well with DRM as well.
 

Tiger-Heli

Inserted Coin
I'm not following you, but this whole thing is very much a gray area, I believe.

Stern undoubtedly paid license fees for NASCAR and SpiderMan, Williams would have for The Flintstones.

I imagine Global VR had to when they put together the Pinball Legends package, and I imagine if you tried to take a freeware Nascar table that TAB or Destruk made and sell it as Best Buy, the copyright holders would want a license fee also.

The fact that you are giving it away and not selling it doesn't void the copyright infringement - WB could argue that they COULD have sold their PC Pinball version of they game, but nobody would buy it or pay them for the license b/c the TAB/Destruk table was freely available.

Now what probably does stop them is that most table authors are average guys like you and me, so it doesn't make much sense for them to spend $100,000's of dollars in court costs to collect maybe $5000 that they might not even see.
 

Joe

Pinball Player
Point 8 is slightly different than what we are talking about.

Point 8 is saying if SAM emulation is included in VPinMAME, then any new SAM game can be added once the ROM is available (which they usually are, unlike arcade MAME) and someone creates a skeleton driver for it (which is fairly simple to do).

The 3-years-old was off the arcade MAME page and referring to Arcade MAME, not PinMAME or VPinMAME specifically.

The only point I was making was that if SAM has already been emulated in VPinMAME, I thought the dev team could just share that with themselves, rather than putting out a closed source EMU. If it isn't emulated, it's a moot point, and it's very possible I misunderstood the entire posting.
and how does that 3 year rule work with games that may be on the same hardware system for like 4-5+ years?

Also I think there was a other mame rule saying
still being sold new by the company that produced them. MAME is not intended to be a platform that competes with arcade games that are still being actively sold.

Now where do stuff like cherry masters type games and UK AWP / SWP games fall? As you are competing with gambling games some of them are on site as a illegal game to have on site.
 

faralos

Faralos
so then are all my past pins are illegal, since they all use copyrighted pics in them?
I thought since I am not out to gain anything money wise I can use any pic
I thought it was only if I planned to profit from said image could I be held reliable
 

Shockman

appropriate at this time
If VP took away from real pinball, or even if it didn't, but that point was made by the copyright holder, then yes. Copyright is copyright. Money is not an issue, but is usually the motivation.

Like rebroadcasting football games. It is illegal. You are not taking anything away, you are just rebroadcasting.

I think everyone really gets it. I even think some people that do it would be upset if someone else did it with their work. Take mods of recreations (VP) for example. Money was never an issue, though legality was not either. Copyright holders have that legality.

Mods for personal use (again VP), how many times have you heard that? Why? When the recreation was never intended for personal use? Yes I think everyone gets it, does it, and does not like others to.
 

faralos

Faralos
okay some of the images do have watermarks, but how about ones that don't
are they available for public use? I thought any image that did not have actual
watermarks in it was okay to use, heck how about the vp recreations then?
are they all technically illegal too since they use the copyrighted pf images
 

Shockman

appropriate at this time
It's not a matter of law so they are not illegal. It's a matter of copyright. Unlike laws, there is no flags from witness, but only complaints. You are not arrested for copyright infringement, you are sued over it.

As far as the pins mechanics, as Paul has said, most IP owners know and some even support digital re-creations using the VP model, which is fan based sharing outside of commerce.

I don't, but if I was going to worry about any part of it, it would be the music number one, because digital is a medium for that industry, and re-producing that part is not arguable, unlike a digital re-production of something mechanical, where the result is something different.

Complaints about art, unlike music, is about forging, or using in commercial applications, and forging is illegal, and using to promote profit for yourself a civil matter. Both are just as wrong, in this situation, but the artist is not needed in a legal case. The complaint could be anyone that discovers it. Civil matters require the injured party, or representative to complain.
 

RockWizard

Rockin' And Rollin'
After looking at the posts, nothing was mentioned about Family Guy. If I remember correctly, the author waited 3 years to put the table out. Did it use the same design/engine? Sorry for the question, but my knowledge isn't on par with some on this forum.
 

LeeVanCleef

RIP Ruby. Whosa good dog?
Site Supporters
Unfortunately, that's a Stern I've never played IRL. The screenshots sure seem to have the regular "Stern-esque" feel to them... but 2D is no was to judge a pinball machine!
 

faralos

Faralos
okay how about songs in my pins? Must or should I
say who the artists are who did each song somewhere in the coding
lest someone thinks it's mine or I am laying credit to it?
Or is it because it's only vp no one really goes after anybody?
 

StevOz

Administrator
Staff member
Site Supporters
okay how about songs in my pins? Must or should I
say who the artists are who did each song somewhere in the coding
lest someone thinks it's mine or I am laying credit to it?
Or is it because it's only vp no one really goes after anybody?
Yes and Yes..

Either way what Shocky was saying is this is not a legal matter, it's a civil matter..In other words the law will not hunt you down unless they receive a verifiable complaint from the copyright holder.
 
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    okay, well let me know if you need space cleared up across the torrent area, because I have some ideas
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  • @ JonPurpleHaze:
    Yeah, noticed a .zip file contains many versions etc..
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  • @ JonPurpleHaze:
    Uploading a 1.34 GB Pink Floyd The Wall zip file via ftp to test...
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  • @ JonPurpleHaze:
    The file is actually on the server in FP originals but isn't public.
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  • @ Anthias:
    Um, so, Hi!. What did I miss? (he says as though he ducked to the toilet while the adds were on...)
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  • @ AnonTet:
    Hi guys, I«m asking here as it might have a quicker response. How can I check the ball size used by authors in FP? or at least the default size if anyone knows. Thanks
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  • @ Gimli:
    Most FP authors use the default size and don't know how to use BAM to alter it.
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  • @ Gimli:
    I think it may be 13.8 though
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    @ Gimli: I think it may be 13.8 though
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