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File size matters, but maybe ratings don't

tiltjlp

PN co-founder
Future Pinball is still shiney and new, and there's no lack of enthusiasm for our newest toy, which is only normal. In light of a discussion about huge files sizes elsewhere, I thought I'd conduct a bit of a survey study, since I enjoy number games. Using only the original tables at VPO and the 2 flipperless ones here at PN, I found some interesting facts and figures. I'll present the raw facts, voice my own conclusions, and then stand aside and watch the resulting discussion. FP tables at IRP weren't included, mainly because they aren't rated, and I'm too lazy to go through my FP tables directory weeding out the IRP stuff for the file sizes.

There are 22 tables in my study, 21 at VPO, and one of those is also hosted here at PN. There have been 5607 DL at VPO for 21 tables, and 151 DL for the two recent additions here at PN. The average file size is 8.9 MB, not including three tables under 300 KB. 2 were over 22 MB, 4 over 15 MB, 8 over 10 MB, and 11 under 5 MB, this time including the 3 extremely samll tables. Of the 8 tables over 10 MB, I wasn't impressed by them as a whole any more than I was with the 11that were smaller than 5 MB.

Now for the ratings. Some of us feel that ratings don't mean a hill of beans, and these facts and figures might just prove us right. Only 12 tables received ratings at VPO, with 91 votes cast, with the lowest rating a 7 and the highest a 10, for an average rating of 8.9! Now, if perfection is unattainable, which most of us might agree is a valid point, at least only 1 table was rated 10. But 5 were rated 9 or above, with one at 9.8, and 4 more were rated 8 or above. I found it odd that none of Sphere's tables were rated, draw your own conclusion.

As for my observations, bloated file sizes don't make for better tables, maybe all they do is indicate bloated egos or self-opinons by the authors. While I could let a few names slip, again, draw your own conclusions. And yes, I'm a proponent of music packs, so larger size tables have to really impress me to be justified, and very few seem to deliver on their promise.

Now on to the ratings. 15% particpation for an enthusiastic audience is fairly poor from where I'm sitting. The fact that none of Sphere's work has been rated is no real surprise, although I do wonder how many folks didn't rate his tables simply because there seems to be a mystique about Sphere. But anyone who belives that an average FP table is worth a 8.9 rating suffers from "stinkin thinkin" IMNSHO and would DL a bag of sawdust. But I like to think something else influences all of this, both in FP and VP.

Since this is a hobby, we tend to be more accepting, and much too forgiving, in our judgements, and at least our public opinions. That's all well and good, except that authors won't strive to improve if they're constantly told how wonderful they are. Not even when deep down they know it ain't true. I could name authors and tables that I feel suck eggs, but why be unkind? All I ask of authors, even me, is that you listen to yourself, rather than all the glad handing. And even if you are convinced you're as good as they come, you should try to make every table just a bit better than your last one. Challenge yourself to ignore all the BS.

John
 

tudnut

Pinball Wizard
Uh...huh? (Took me a little while to figure out just where all this was going, John!)

There are other possibilities to your voting results. I, for one, have been hesitant about mentioning any bad tables, per se, in any of my threads (though admittedly one or two have snuck out on occasion) since even the worst of them I think is worthy of some support simply by virtue of the effort involved (notwithstanding that I would suppose the average "bad" table has taken less effort). With that in mind, maybe some people, rather than be more critical just choose not to vote at all.

Also, although it could be argued that it would be nice if more people participated, it's still not unusual that not all that many do. Just look at any other ratings list and you'll see that the same thing applies everywhere. (As an example, if you go to the imdb and check out the votes for some really popular movies, you'll see that they tend to average between 20000 and 30000 votes, which is probably miniscule in comparison to how many registered members there are over there.) I won't even presume to guess at the reasons WHY this happens, I assume everyone's got his own, but it's obvious that it's no aberration over here; if anything, I think the percentage here (15%?) is pretty good, though I guess that's to be expected, too.

About the file bloat, I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at there...except that you've convinced me more than ever that I shouldn't download FP at this time! (And I'm sure you know as well as I do that there can be multiple reasons why one file is so much larger than another, and that they're not all good ones: bad coding, inefficient graphics work, etc.) And, just for the record, I DON'T like music packs, as a rule. Nine times out of ten I've found that they add little if anything to a table--except for file size, of course--and seem to have been just added on to avoid the "cash register sounds" syndrome (to paraphrase something Pac once said). There are tables which are exceptions to this, simply by virtue of having the music contribute such a nice feel to things (Sphere's are admittedly almost all like that, but I could also mention "Build Your House" and "Inner City Life" as being among many tables that have nicely matched soundtracks...and of course, it's perfectly apropos to be hearing Bernard Herrmann's theme to "Psycho" while you're playing that table, or in the case of the various tables themed around musicians, to be listening to actual tracks by them. On the other hand, how on earth does listening to Edgar Winter's "Frankenstein" in any way add to the "Buffy" table? [For my money it detracts badly from it; that's a hard enough table, needing quite a bit of concentration, as it is.] For that matter, did we really need that midi clip added to one of the versions of "Captain Fantastic?" And that isn't even an original table!)

There is one thing, however, that I've noticed in looking over the screenshots of the FP tables (remember, those are all I've got to judge by), and I've been meaning to mention it somewhere: it seems as though FP is a lot less forgiving than VP was. I suppose it's because FP allows things to look so much more realistic (and, after all, doesn't have the artificial backgrounds) than VP, but it seems that, whereas a really nicely done table in FP looks as though you're right there, a less well done one can look GLARINGLY fake...and I'm not talking about BAD tables here, just ones that aren't quite as good. Tables that would look GREAT in VP can still very easily wind up looking like cartoons in FP.

If nothing else (and assuming that there's some truth in what I'm saying), I would think that, in and of itself, is going to wind up raising the bar a bit, which I think is what you're arguing for most strongly.
 

PacDude

Pinball Wizard
I think what you're really saying tudnut is that FP sucks for most users and we should all use VP instead. :twisted:

No FP table looks more realistic than a Kurt VP table, so I think it's off base to say FP tables look so much more realistic. FP looks crappy for most tables (cartoony or whatever you say) and it can't compete with the best VP table quality, so it loses on both ends of the spectrum. The only thing its good for is camera flybys and for those who can't manage to make a part to save their lives (as someone has kindly already made them for you in FP; on the other hand you can't make them yourself for FP too easily either).

So what you really get are basic tables that look better only because someone else did all the graphics work for them. If those parts weren't included, 99% of all FP tables would look like NOTHING because there'd be nothing to work with whereas VP allows you to build away at a low level all you want and get to the end result almost any way you can think of.

Sure it has its limitations, but FP has worse ones, IMO and it doesn't play very realistically. The lights look way fake (very 3D looking) and only look better than a typical VP table because a typical VP table just uses the built-in crap lights of VP when you can do them with photo-realistic results quite easily if you only spend a few hours to bother.

I think the average original author wants to get their entire table together in under an hour and if they can't do that, the heck on it. FP allows them to get closer to that goal as long as they don't mind forsaking ramps and other custom objects and just building cookie cutter style old school tables. That makes many non-creative people very happy and lets them think they are pinball designers. So FP is good for creating illusions, IMO.
 

tudnut

Pinball Wizard
I wasn't saying that at all, Pac, just giving some on-the-fly impressions; besides, not being an author on the one hand or having actually played with FP on the other, I don't feel I'm qualified to say any more than what I did, which was solely based on screenshots, as I took care to point out.

On the other hand, it certainly seems to be what you're saying, and as I value your judgment (believe it or not! lol) I guess there's something to it.
 

tiltjlp

PN co-founder
Hey Tudnut, we agree on something. I have petitioned for seperate music packs for VP tables for years, simply for the reason you mentioned. I want to be able NOT to DL the music if I don't want it. And it's not about file size completely, I just don't want the music cluttering my HD since I seldom turn my speakers on.

And as for what the Dude says about one hour originals, I won't go that far, but there are a ton of tables period that do seem like rush jobs. And most tables are simply not tested enough. Taking a few days extra to give your tables a good testing would really improve the majority of tables. IMNSHO, the worst thing around are beta releases. Do your own dang testing folks. Besides, the vast majority of betas never get finished.

John
 

kristian

Pinball Wizard
FP is a nice addition to pinball world but it's not worthy enough to shine VP's shoes... when you compare the scripted tables with the best modern VPM recreations... by the best authors. It's not even a contest... but of course it's partly because I mostly play VPM tables.

I agree that it all looks neat but so "fakey fake" in the same time. Where do I need the option to have a scroll when I play pinball? Wall lights that PD and Scap do on VP look way more realistic.

FP is light years more advanced simulator if you just take the tech in mind... and it must be a lot easier for new users to build a table. In pure VP recreations (the EM tables) it's probably fairly even... but even those I have seen haven't impressed me that much.

Played Kurt's Close Encounters table in FP which is very good of course... by the master himself... but I think the VP version is still better. FP added NOTHING to the table except some neat eyecandy.
 

bob

Add-a-ball specialist
Site Supporters
Both of my FP tables took about an hour and a half to make. :mrgreen: but seriously, FP is really cool to build tables with, but it sucks for playing them. The FP flippers have virtually no aiming ability. VP really sucks at making tables, but is really fun when just playing tables. Both program editors crash so much that I can't believe that I even bother to create tables with them.

I don't download large table files. Sphere's tables have no ratings because he updates them about every 3 weeks and that erases all previous ratings.

I don't give much creative feedback anymore because only a couple of people really want it.

Ultracade barging in and making everyone see dollar signs when they will probably be the only ones to really see a profit is a joke. I can't believe the VPM team worked out a deal with them. I don't begrudge anyone from the community making money for their hard work, but for a third party to come in and take over has almost soured my disposition.

I always used to look forward to logging in to all of the pinball forums, I almost always had a few enjoyable moments, but lately the fun is fading, maybe I'm burnt out or maybe I've just lost my enthusiasm, but either way, it's getting harder and harder for me to find the "fun" that was once associated with the pinball community. I just see a bunch of serious people, getting more serious as time goes by. Personally I think it's a shame, it's a game, it's not a job, it's suppose to be fun. I do see some newbie original authors having fun at VP-O and that gives me hope for the future, but the real table recreators are mostly a bunch of stiffs.

Pacdude, you wouldn't like FP if it was the greatest thing on earth....

I'm not rereading this post because it seemed like a downer when I was writing it, maybe I shouldn't even submit it, ah, what the hell, no one reads this shit anyway.
 

PacDude

Pinball Wizard
Well considering I can't even run FP at home, that's kind of a "can't run it" kind of thing. I'm not going to invest a ton of time regardless to see if it can build a table with lights that look more real than the ones I've seen so far if there's no VPM support and you can't aim for shit. I have more fun building when it's not something every other guy on the planet can do anyway. If everyone can do it as well as I can, I might as well look for a new hobby as there's nothing special about it anymore. I'd probably go back to PLAYING tables instead and/or buying and fixing up real ones to put in my new game room when I get it.
 

Shaolian

Pinball Nudger
I think FP should be given more time to mature. And as long as it remains freeware, it has my support. I can't play FP myself (PC hangs or something), maybe I could if I tweak some settings but that would be stretching resources anyway. I'm quite new to this Pinball emulation stuff having discovered it last year. But I did notice how crap the VP/VPM tables were (graphically) when VP was still new. Well, at least it seems FP is the perfect software to recreate EM's at the moment!
 

PacDude

Pinball Wizard
Well gee, LiteUser, I guess we "experts" should go home and watch TV instead or something so the "new" guys can have all the "fun" since the rest of us don't have "fun" anymore building tables. I have yet to see a dollar for anything and I've never told anyone to stop building tables. I don't think things were better at all at the beginning (except maybe a few attitudes), but any hobby has different people at different skill levels. If it's all about building and not playing, maybe we should set up different "level" areas like you might have for building model airplanes or something (junior divisions, senior, expert, etc.) and then no one will feel bad about their table sucking too much unless someone else in the junior division absolutely wastes their work with a vastly superior version of the same table. It's like those new age junior sports games where they don't keep score because they don't want anyone to feel bad about losing. Yeah, nice thoughts, but not much fun for those that are any good at what they do. On the other hand, the only person I'm competing against is myself. I try to make my next big table better than my last one. That's the only real competition anyone needs.
 

davidsss

Pinball Wizard
When I see Gottlieb's (that's the author) version of Spirit of 76, Kurts Twilight Zone, PacDude's Firepower and compare to FP tables I just wonder what all the hype is about. FP is quite nice, but the best of the VP recreations are better. I believe this is because VP is so much more flexible.

Because of this and the fact that I only learned to make tables in VP fairly recently I just can't see the point of making tables in FP at this point in time.

On a related issue: I really can't understand why you would build a new pinball simulator which doesn't interface with VPM. Despite us oldies liking the EMs, the most popular machines are those with ROMS. It is just a lot more real when you can use the original programming from the real machines as you do by using VPM. I just cannot understand this aspect of FP.

DS
 

bob

Add-a-ball specialist
Site Supporters
kristian said:
@Bob: Having a bad hair day again?

Everyday is a bad hair day when your hair starts to turn grey :) Here is me with a good hair day, unfortunately, it was 26 years ago :cry:
 

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tiltjlp

PN co-founder
Nice picture Bob, you look how I imagine Opie Taylor would look up grown up. I'd rather have grey hair than no hair any day.

And I agree with the Dude, the only real competition should be each author trying to improve with every release. And I figure that FP can evolve into as good a program as black will allow it to become. Using models might limit the flexibility he can build into FP, but unless he premits as much as possible it'll never match VP. For example, so far he won't/can't allow for dropping walls, which means I'm unable to make the majority of tables I'd like to in FP.

John
 
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tudnut

Pinball Wizard
Aaaaaughhhh!!!

A bit more on-topic (while I'm still gagging), I've heard it mentioned recently that Black is looking for FP to eventually be profitable, meaning, I guess, for pay.

I've actually nothing against that, per se...though I can foresee possible problems with people using FP to rec old machines.

After all, from what I've read and inferred since I joined in, there were problems before that got circumvented because the program was from the start DICTATED as being free. (Heck, we still have problems getting Gottlieb roms.)

If FP is going to be a nice little program whereby people can invent their own tables, and Black makes some money, more power both ways.

But if it really does go commercial, and some of us have used it to rec old games...that invites a whole old can of worms to open up again.
 

tudnut

Pinball Wizard
That doesn't make VP illegal or commercial, just the people doing that, as such. (And, for that matter, if all they're doing is pricing said disks dependant upon the cost of the disk and the time it took them to do it, they'd probably even be justified in charging something...maybe.)

It's kind of a fine line, though, so you do bring up a good point. Just what has to happen before what we're doing becomes "commercial?" Tii's evidently been selling cd's of his tables for awhile now. Is that "commercial?" I'd be tempted to say no, it's just for convenience, except for the fact that he also strategically removes his tables from the web, thereby making said disks necessary in order to have his tables. So now we'd have to look at the actual TOS for the program in the first place (and sorry, I'm not gonna do that right now, but be my guest...and, for the record, I've no idea what it says). Does it allow us to generate some money via our own tables, or is it only for "private, non-commercial use?"

At any rate, that's not even the subject at hand (though another thing that would come under scrutiny). VP, itself, has always scrupulously maintained its "free" status (though I had my doubts about the Ultracade thing, and what may have come of that). That's probably the only reason we've been able to fool around for so long now with ostensibly commercial products (which, of course, we've no real right to).

But if FP is truly intended to be (eventually) a commercial product, then rec's are going to be looked at (I think) in a whole new light...and said light can't help but cast a bit of an indirect glow back on VP, as well.

Heck, if I were the holder of all those copyrights and something happened to finally p*** me off, I'd be looking to shut down EVERYTHING once and for all, rather than having to go through it all over again in a few more years.
 

Igorokk

Pinball Nudger
File size matters but maybe ratings dont

Hey everyone. I got WiiEngine and Dracula X running on my Wii. The sound effects are very poor. They sound distorted and at low volume. Is there any way to fix this?The music plays werid sometimes by overlaping/early, but from what I understand that is normal.Here is how my directory is set up.roms/pcengine/syscard.pcedracx.iso/dracx/.toc file and ogg/iso track filesI run it by selecting the .toc file because when I try to run the .iso it give me a load error. Also does WiiEngine support cdroms? Could I burn the bin/cue to a cd and put it in the Wii? Thanks for reading
 

faralos

Faralos
I try to make all my pins to work when i post them. problem recently has been stupid oversights on my part. as for large table sizes, i admit I am at fault here due to me liking stereo music for some of my pins for atmosphere. my average pin size upon release is around 30 megs. that may seem large to some of you but keep in mind that some of last years recreations over at vpf were way over 100 megs in size! But, I do not use mp3 file packs, my music is scripted into the actual table itself. so there is no extra crap to search for. Due to that though the table size does indeed grow. for sound effects I have them saved as mono 16 bit files to save space. but the full length songs are saved in full stereo 32 bit sound. My dogtown wip is one such example. it is 90% finished and already tops out at over 30 megs due to three full length songs in it, but they do lend atmosphere as they each play on different levels in the pin. i do try not to have that much music in a pin, but that one is special as it is a tribute to the movie, "Lords of Dogtown" in general and Heath Ledger in particular.
usually it's just one song with numerous sound effects.
As for bad tables, yes you may consider what I make 'bad' compared to JPs' or Scapinos', but in each table i put something new i learned. if you look at all my originals you will see just that. so yes the first ones were 'bad' but the newer ones while still nowhere near as nice as the above mentioned authors, i think are an improvement over each previous one so in essence they are getter 'better'
I try my best to make each table unique and have something different in each one.
 

tiltjlp

PN co-founder
I try to make all my pins to work when i post them. problem recently has been stupid oversights on my part. as for large table sizes, i admit I am at fault here due to me liking stereo music for some of my pins for atmosphere. my average pin size upon release is around 30 megs. that may seem large to some of you but keep in mind that some of last years recreations over at vpf were way over 100 megs in size! But, I do not use mp3 file packs, my music is scripted into the actual table itself. so there is no extra crap to search for. Due to that though the table size does indeed grow. for sound effects I have them saved as mono 16 bit files to save space. but the full length songs are saved in full stereo 32 bit sound. My dogtown wip is one such example. it is 90% finished and already tops out at over 30 megs due to three full length songs in it, but they do lend atmosphere as they each play on different levels in the pin. i do try not to have that much music in a pin, but that one is special as it is a tribute to the movie, "Lords of Dogtown" in general and Heath Ledger in particular.
usually it's just one song with numerous sound effects.
As for bad tables, yes you may consider what I make 'bad' compared to JPs' or Scapinos', but in each table i put something new i learned. if you look at all my originals you will see just that. so yes the first ones were 'bad' but the newer ones while still nowhere near as nice as the above mentioned authors, i think are an improvement over each previous one so in essence they are getter 'better'
I try my best to make each table unique and have something different in each one.

Getting better as you learn more is what it's all about, I think. Comparing yourself with any other author is a mistake, since there are a few authors who outshine us all. And since most If not all of us make tables first for ourselves, and share them, we really are competing with ourselves.
 
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druadic

Stay tuned.....
Site Supporters
Getting better as you learn more is what it's all about, I think. Comparing yourself with any other author is a mistake, since there are a few authors who outshine us all. And since most of not all of us make tables first for ourselves, and share them, we really are competing with ourselves.

No author is better/worse than any other. Sorry, we all make our different versions of "art" within VP.

The company Infocom said it best;

"our games are all text and the reason is that everyone paints a different picture within their minds after they read what they are playing."

Couldn't have said it better myself. :)

d
 

faralos

Faralos
I got an pm last year from a to remain unnamed person over at vpf that my tables were built as by a child and i am not ever going to get as good as jp so i should quit. it bothered the hell out of me almost forcing me to quit, then I realized that I do not make my pins for him I make them for me then share them with the pb community. so i promised myself back then to make each pin a little better with at least one new thing I learned in it. irt still bugs me that he said that (he himself does not make tables just backglasses, I checked) but to each their own opinion no matter how hurtful, I guess. I can't and won't ever try to compare my pins to jp's: he is on a whole other level, but I have fun making mine and learning on the way and i am happy with that.
 
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