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Bert's Bag-a-Ball and Golf (1933)

highrise

Pinball Wizard
Having seen TiltJLPs post about the Golf Bagatelle, I did some research and found the patent. I also got a few more pictures with JP's help. However, the pictures still weren't enough to recreate the table properly, so I decided I would build it from scratch, use the artwork I could and then try and draw the rest in as best as I could. The results so far are reasonable, and I've almost completed the playfield. This is quite and interesting table for its time, and one I'm looking forward to building. I've attached the work on the background so far, plus the original so you can compare.

Highrise
 

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highrise

Pinball Wizard
doh, sorry guys, that isn't a spot the difference competition, I clicked on the wrong file without realising. This is the original table.
 

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tiltjlp

PN co-founder
I think it's going to be interesting to see what rules you figure out from the patent information. I would assume you play until you've completed all nine holes. I don't envy you trying to figure out how to track every shot, or how you handle the putting. I want to thnks you for taking this one on, because I wanted to see it made, but knew that it was way beyond me.
 

highrise

Pinball Wizard
I tell you what, it will be easier for me in VP than it was for Bert in the 1930s!

There'll be a score card on the right of the table that will keep track of progress, each hole has a yardage and a par that you have to try and make, then there are sand traps you have to escape from and so on. It will all become clear.

As for the shooting, I'm going to be building an especially precise firing mechanism for this game, one that still relies on timing, but that gives you the option to switch to 'putter' for the second playfield to give you a better chance at making the shot. This gives the player the choice to play it in its original format, or with the 21st century addition, which I think Bert would have approved of. The firing mechanisms in VP don't quite measure up to the precision you get from being able to feel the tension in the spring in the real thing, this is something I hope to improve upon.

Al
 

tiltjlp

PN co-founder
After playing your Roulette game and seeing all your specialized demos, I have no doubt that you'll be able to make Bert proud. I wonder how many of those Bag A Ball Golf games he sold, and what he sold them for. I'm forever astounded at all the elaborate detail put into the pins and coin-op games so many years ago.
 

highrise

Pinball Wizard
I finished the playfield artwork, and knocked up a quick start table. I've decide to work it as a wall, so I can have a real hole in the middle that works properly with perspective. Don't worry that you can't read the writing, there'll be zoomed in bits on the side.
 

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highrise

Pinball Wizard
P.S did you look at the patent? it is much more complex than the actual table that you saw on Ebay. The patent had all these handles and things at the bottom for controlling the ball release and so on. It looks like Bert had to compromise a little from design to reality. I know how he feels. I think I may well implement Bert's original vision however, put the levers in, controlled by specific keys, just to get a real feel of the original.
 

tiltjlp

PN co-founder
I've looked at the patent drawings, but not the text portion yet. Hope to look at some of it later tonight. Also want to make the time to check out the Patent web site and find out about a few games I've made, and probably a few in the planning stages.
 

highrise

Pinball Wizard
I've more or less finished the woodwork, got to do a bit of sanding and polishing that's all. Now, where did I put that hammer and nails?
 

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tiltjlp

PN co-founder
I'm really enjoying looking over your shoulder as you bring Bert's game back to life. No matter how poorly I do on Bag A Ball, I'm sure it'll be a lot better than when I played golf in my younger days. I was lousy, but I clowned around and still had fun.
 

highrise

Pinball Wizard
Here's the latest progress. As you will see, I've put most of the nails in. Note that I've done my best to make them look right, they all have heads, are all image wrapped, and have individual shadows. I think they came out pretty good.

The main thing I did however was build the plunger. As anyone who uses VP for bagatelle will agree, the plunger that comes with VP, whilst fine for Pinball, is sorely lacking in the subtlety required of the launch with bagatelle, which is more like a shot in a pool game (which of course originally it was). So I created a new launcher with droppable walls. It's at least twice as long as the normal plunger, and because it runs on timers, it can be set to draw back as quickly or slowly as you'd like. Another nice touch is that I can make it look wooden. When you release it, it moves quicker depending on how far back it is drawn, and finally, as an extra bit of detail, it kicks back with a little bounce once it hits the ball, and even this is dependent on the strength of the shot. So all in all, it looks, feels, and performs much better than the original plunger for playing bagatelle. There are only two downsides. Firstly, because it uses droppable walls, it only really looks right at a high angle - the graphics are effectively an optical illusion, making what are actually two rectangular blocks look like a rounded plunger, and this illusion does not work if you lower the viewing angle. Since most bagatelle games are played at a high angle view anyway, that's not a disaster. And secondly, I've had to use a wall to hide part of the ball and plunger, as the ball behaviour was too tricky to implement reliably. Again, this means it's not a perfect replication, but it's not bad, and the advantages outweigh the disadvantages hugely.

Working out the kickers is next, I plan to have a system that users timers to know when to kill the ball, so you get the satisfaction of seeing your ball in the trap for a spell.

Highrise
 

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tiltjlp

PN co-founder
Your attention to detail really impresses me. After I enhanced your image the playfield lightened a good bit and both the wood grain and nails sttod out, so you might want to consider that. The plunger you built looks perfect for the game, and using timers to delay the balls being destroyed is a stroke of genius . . . pun intended. Thanks for your step-by-step reports.
 

tiltjlp

PN co-founder
highrise said:
I'll look at lightening the playfield up a little for you JLP, since you'll probably be the only one playing it!

Now I really doubt that at all. But as you'll find out the longer you're around VP, flipperless has a decidedly small audience. That's why I make every table just for myself, and when it's done I offer it to anyone else who might be interested in playing it. If I didn't do it for myself first and foremost, I would have quit long ago.
 

highrise

Pinball Wizard
I've only recently become something of a convert to the subtleties of flipperless tables - I think one of the reasons they don't get so much attention is that visual pinball, whilst adaptable for flipperless, doesn't have the immediate capacity to get that subtlety across. A little programming wizardry can really help with this though - the new plunger is a good example of that, because all of a sudden you feel like you have so much more control over the ball, without compromising the skill factor that I feel is lost with an kicker that you adjust manually. I'll drop it over to you soon so you can see just what I mean.

All of that said, I must admit that my affair with flipperless is likely to be a temporary one. I'm enjoying the challenges that building a really nice one effectively is giving me, but I'm likely to move on to bigger challenges soon enough.
 

highrise

Pinball Wizard
Here's the latest SS. I've added the "foozler" which is a moveable wall for opening up the green (see the lever at the bottom left? You pull that to move it, just as in the patent). I've also added kickers so that the table is now in a state that the playfield can be tested.

One thing that is really annoying is that with hidden kickers, the image of the ball gets cut in half when the kicker captures it. Is there a way to avoid this?
 

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kristian

Pinball Wizard
I have to take another look at these vintage pieces one of these days... you guys seem to be hardcore enough creating them...

Although all these flipperless games took place decades before I was born......as a watch collector I can always appreciate antique and anything vintages.... I bought a 40 year old Rolex Submariner watch last week.... and I want a 60'S original Omega Moon Watch Speedmaster as well. ;)

I just wonder how the feel and playability of these old things can be transformed to VP.......perhaps the old flipperless games were even more "physical" machines than the new ones.....
 

tiltjlp

PN co-founder
I'll tell you Kristian, Highrise might be the new kid on the block, but he is way beyond me when it comes to working out theses sorts of elaborate games. When he comes up against a problem, he inverts a new object or writes a new routine. Me, I'm lucky if I can piece together code snipets and get them to work. I use trick mirrors, Highrise uses talent. Still, I have a lot of fundoing it my way.
 

highrise

Pinball Wizard
Hi Guys

Thanks for the compliment JP, but I do use mirrors too sometimes! Anyway Kristian, as for these old tables, well, like I said, I'm a recent convert. I like tables old and new, and if truth be told, I'd sooner be playing Addam's family than Bagatelle, but in terms of actually building a table, these old ones are great for several reasons. Firstly, they are genuine antiques that have often been overlooked - there's not many tables out there that haven't been made for VP nowadays, so it's a chance to add a new one. Secondly, as you say, it's a part of history. Although I don't know if the manually controlled 'foozler' in this game was ever actually built, I find it interesting because in the patent it's described ass a manually operated. moving obstacle, and I think in practice players could have used it to flick the ball. In other words, it was a kind of flipper. Considering the flipper didn't emerge till ten years after this table, it's really quite innovative. This table also has two playfields, something that didn't appear in regular pinball for until many years later, and in simulating a round of golf, where you can get stuck in bunkers and have to aim for specific targets rather than those that just score the most points, it has a progressive element to it, which again was not regularly seen in pinball until a generation later. So all in all, a very advanced table for it's time.

Thirdly, with a few programming tricks, it's possible to capture the feel of the original a little more, and see why these games were so popular. It's all about the getting the launch right, and then bumping the table - the table itself is what you use to control the ball. Practising your skill on a table like this will really improve your nudge skills on more advanced tables. As well as rewriting the launch mechanism, I'm also rewriting the code for bumping the table, to allow for softer or harder bumps.

And finally, making a newer style table can be a heck of a daunting prospect, whereas something like this means you do something simple, but with plenty of style!
 
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