Future Pinball needs your help. (i.e. we have a Wikipedia problem)

Isaac Sauvage

Meep!
Site Supporters
Consultant
Hello out there in cyber-land! I want to tell you about a certain problem I recently discovered. It's like this-- a week or so back, Wikipedia's official FP entry read like this:

Future Pinball is a freeware 3D pinball editing and gaming application for Microsoft Windows. The software is similar to Visual Pinball but usage of original pinball ROM code is not allowed. The project discontinued and the last version of Future Pinball was released in 2010.

Me, I really can't see how that text helps the FP project, this site, virtual pinball, or pinball in general. I.e. the entry reads like FP has been dead for years.

On the contrary, though-- not only is FP a robust, active project (via BAM), and not only can ROM tables be emulated in FP, but most (or all?) of the long-time issues, such as a poor flipper physics, have been solved or greatly improved over time, especially with major leaps forward such as this.

Unfortunately, I have to think all that outdated info has done some real damage over the years, and turned off plenty of interested virtual pin folks along the way. Because it's not hard to imagine a typical visitor thinking "Why should I try out this completely outdated software when there's VP and the commercial pin emulators, instead?"

So then, I've gone ahead and tried to improve the intro. Hope it looks better now? It's a start, anyway! At the same time, the main article still needs to be updated, as well as modern, supporting links added to support the claims.

My problem with trying to do all that myself is that I'm still very much a FP noobie. A more recent issue is that I've been having eyestrain the past week that doesn't seem to be going away. I'm afraid I need to pass the baton on to the community, at this point.

Please, then-- feel free to add whatever edits you can in order to improve the article. Start by going to the WP entry, then hit "edit" from the top of the page. Even improving a word or some formatting, or dropping in a reference link would help. In this way, little by little, hopefully as a community we can bring the article up to speed.

Thank you for whatever help you can provide. :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Future_Pinball (Future Pinball - Wikipedia)

Note: You don't need to have a Wikipedia acct in order to do edits, and editing progress is kept in a history in case update errors are made.
 

shiva

Administrator
Staff member
Site Supporters
Yeah, we really do need to promote ourselves and each other a lot better. With all the advancements already and more coming (real soon) we should be shouting that out as much as possible now. Soon, we will be at the point that not only will we be comparable to vpx, but actually be better in a few ways. shivaFlippers v3, TerryReds amazing effects, Georges mods which get better and better, the great stuff in BAM in which we are just scratching the surface. We don't just need to outshout the fp haters out there, we can outshout them AND prove it as well now.
 

GeorgeH

Flippered Out
Staff member
Site Supporters
The posting reads better although FP doesn't emulate the ROM code. It is all coded in the script. Some of the guys are able to extract the ROMs and add some of its contents to the table like DMD fonts and audio but none of the tables use ROMs directly.

I have noticed that the guys on VPForums don't bad mouth FP very much anymore.
 

shiva

Administrator
Staff member
Site Supporters
Might have a bit to do that a few VP community members have played the latest test version of Jungle Girl, and are seeing what's coming from others. Space shuttle was very good as well, BTW George, that would be a perfect table for the new physics.
 

Isaac Sauvage

Meep!
Site Supporters
Consultant
The posting reads better although FP doesn't emulate the ROM code. It is all coded in the script. Some of the guys are able to extract the ROMs and add some of its contents to the table like DMD fonts and audio but none of the tables use ROMs directly.
VP doesn't directly emulate ROMs either. It relies on vpinMAME to do all that work.

The difference is-- VP was left more open-ended when it came to third-party .exes and plugins, while Black wanted to keep tighter reigns on FP. So if you want to inject third-party plugins with FP, it's necessary to run the modern BAM. That's according to Terry Red here, as I understand it. Or if you want to to simulate a ROM, that's why programs such as PinballBrowser (etc) are used to rip a ROM's end-output, then add it back to FP. Hence, why FP can emulate games like Space Shuttle.

Regardless, my point in saying that FP can handle ROMs is to make it clear that FP (with a little help, just like VP needs) can indeed emulate modern ROM-based tables.

And the greater point of all that is to make it clear that FP isn't an 'old pin sim emulator' that can't keep up with modern pin sim emulators. Quite the contrary.

Hence, why I think its time for the WP entry to be lifted out of the stone ages.
 
Last edited:

wild

No Bam no Play
Chat Moderator
I used to be an 'FP hater,' to be honest.
I hope, now you change the opinion on FP....many things have changed with Bam ..... even if we have a version of FP, not updated.
I wouldn't mind if one day, we could use the "rom" just to be curious what it would be like.

however you did a great job on WP.
 

GeorgeH

Flippered Out
Staff member
Site Supporters
VP doesn't directly emulate ROMs either. It relies on vpinMAME to do all that work.

The difference is-- VP was left more open-ended when it came to third-party .exes and plugins, while Black wanted to keep tighter reigns on FP. So if you want to inject third-party plugins with FP, it's necessary to run the modern BAM. That's according to Terry Red here, as I understand it. Or if you want to to simulate a ROM, that's why programs such as PinballBrowser (etc) are used to rip a ROM's end-output, then add it back to FP. Hence, why FP can emulate games like Space Shuttle.

Regardless, my point in saying that FP can handle ROMs is to make it clear that FP (with a little help, just like VP needs) can indeed emulate modern ROM-based tables.

And the greater point of all that is to make it clear that FP isn't an 'old pin sim emulator' that can't keep up with modern pin sim emulators. Quite the contrary.

Hence, why I think the WP entry should be lifted out of the stone ages.
BAM has the capability to use a ROM now but no one has done it yet.
 

wild

No Bam no Play
Chat Moderator
BAM has the capability to use a ROM now but no one has done it yet.
is yours a question or a statement?

if Bam, has the capacity, as you say ..... then explain it to me,please.... so I will be the first to use it
 

TerryRed

Pinball Master
I mentioned before... to use a rom you need to use VPinMAME. To use VPinMAME you needed to have COM object capability. This wasn't originally possible because FP restricted access to external applications.

Now with BAM's COM Extensions plug-in, we can use COM objects. This means FP can now access and use the following applications that VP also uses:

- Direct Output Framework (DOF) - for cabinet lighting and feedback
- Pinup Player - for backglass / dmd / modern text and videos played on another window outside of FP
- VPinMAME
- ultradmd
- flexdmd
- b2s server

The only ones of interest for FP are DOF, PuP, and VPinMAME

I use DOF and PUP on my PinEvent tables and mods.

To use VPinMAME with FP, someone would need to convert the vbs code on VPX that allows VP to work with vpinmame, and adapt it to FP. Beyond my knowledge.... but it may be possible.... and of course requires VPinMAME installed and the roms,etc.
 
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TerryRed

Pinball Master
Oh... and some good news. You no longer need a dummy plug monitor connected to your video card to use the PUPStream option for my PinEvent tables!

You can now install a "fake" monitor driver that creates a virtual monitor. You can then display my PuP-Packs on that "fake monitor", and enable the PinEvent PUPStream option which will "stream" the PuP-Pack videos and text directly into FP with it running in fullscreen.

This means that anyone "should" be able to use this if their computer is fast enough.




More info in the PUPStream section in the PinEvent Install Guide:

 

GeorgeH

Flippered Out
Staff member
Site Supporters
Someone sent me this guide that I think shows how to add a ROM to FP among other things:
 

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TerryRed

Pinball Master
Someone sent me this guide that I think shows how to add a ROM to FP among other things:

No that has nothing to do with VPinMAME or using a "rom" for the table code in FP.

That has to do with using DOFLinx for cabinet feedback and lighting and also getting DOFLinx to work with MAME.

Two completely different things.
 

GeorgeH

Flippered Out
Staff member
Site Supporters
OK I guess I don't have it anyhmore. Someone posted a message to me on Discord on how to use it. I guess I don't have it anymore. It seems like it was either NailBuster or DDH69. I tried searching for it but couldn't find it.
 

TerryRed

Pinball Master
OK I guess I don't have it anyhmore. Someone posted a message to me on Discord on how to use it. I guess I don't have it anymore. It seems like it was either NailBuster or DDH69.

The only thing myself and Nailbuster (creator of PuP) have ever done with FP and a rom is getting a FP to start VPinMAME to and initiate the rom.

All that does is get the rom "running" on VPinMAME. It doesn't include any kind of communication back and forth between FP and VPinMAME.

There is much more to getting vpinmame to work with a FP table than that. You need to have code in the table to translate communication back and forth between VPinMAME, and also to be able to receive input from VPinMAME (for lights, solenoids, motors, etc)

This is all we got working. Just starting the rom in vpinmame... that it.

 

Isaac Sauvage

Meep!
Site Supporters
Consultant
@TerryRed,
Hey Terry-- do you know if any particular tool besides Pinball Browser by Oga83 has been used to help simulate ROMs in FP?

A few years back, when I first noticed that various ROM-based tables were being emulated in FP, I assumed that people were laboriously capturing the media, like @destruk once tried with Williams' Pinball 2000 games, before he got shut down by IP lawyers.

But in reality, after the ROMs are digitally dumped, I would guess there might be several other tools besides PB that could capture the internal media, no?


Side note-- for anyone who wants to help improve the Wikipedia entry, could you please add the PB site? (linked above)
 

TerryRed

Pinball Master
I don't know what any FP authors used.... but Pinball Browser only applies to mostly Stern SAM and Spike based tables.

Cabinet players use DMDext (from freezy) to output the VPinMAME DMD,etc to another window (separate and much better than VPinmame's DMD). We also use the output of DMD images from dmdext to trigger pup-packs on VPX rom based tables for playing videos / audio on the Backglass,etc.

That output can be dumped to an avi file as well if I recall.... or be recorded by another program like OBS.
 

Gin

Pinball Wizard
Site Supporters
@GeorgeH Where VPinMAME supports/uses currently dumped ROMs - there are indeed methods to extract the DMD Animations and Music/SFX from them; albeit quite lengthy - but most definitely doable 👍

@Ike Savage
But in reality, after the ROMs are digitally dumped, I would guess there might be several other tools besides PB that could capture the internal media, no?
You are probably aware, but by using VPinMAME and a current ROM that is supported, there is a way to extract/capture the DMD Animations (Frame-by-Frame) through 'emulating' the respective "Switches" required - that result in the DMD animation being displayed etc. ** This can happen automatically when playing a VP/VPX table, as the switches are monitored/called through the script when setup to do so (@TerryRed perhaps this is similar to using DMDext for triggering PUP videos etc.?) ** This then creates / captures the information in an accompanying "dump.txt" file.

There is also a similar method for playing back and exporting; capturing, the Music/SFX in an accompanying *.mp3 file - although this is better done manually through a laborious process of locating, playing and recording the required elements (IMHO); although being honest - capturing "Any" Music / Sounds that you can play and/or hear on your PC is doable using Audacity and enabling the inbuilt 'Stereo Mixer' on your windows OS.

Then, using the "dump.txt" file it is possible to create Future Pinball DMD Animation *.dmdf files through the use of DMDPaint; although yet again - this can be quite time consuming, as there may be the requirement to amend/update each frame of an animation to remove the 'overlaid' text (i.e. score / timings etc.) to enable the games specific players score etc. to be used when playing in Future Pinball as an example (this is just my experience, and others may know of better/more efficient ways..?).
 

wild

No Bam no Play
Chat Moderator
BAM has the capability to use a ROM
in addition to Terry's explanation ... I add that of Rav ....... here is what he told me

Rav.....explanation

Now from script you can use COM.

COM is general interface between diffrent programs/modules/extensions/services (name is irrelevant).

In VP script writen by table author is communicating with VPinMame via COM interface. VPinMame is emulator where ROMS are executed.
From script perspective it works like this:
Script ask for COM object with given name from OS (it can be for example VPinMame), and in return it gets object like "xBAM". This object is presenting a lot of functions & properties to communicate with MAME emulator. For example you can set lets say "sensor100" On and read state like "Bulb100" to turn bulb on or off.
This is really tedious work. You have to know what every sensor input in rom means on real table and know every output. In return you are running table with all rules stored in ROM, but not much else.
You don't read rom, you don't have access for example to DMD data (it is displayed to user via another program controled by VPinMame), you don't have access to sounds or music. But you can use other programs to dump/steal that data.


From what i know VPX gives table dev tool to make that mapping between input/output signals for VPinMame/ROM easier. I will not try to provide that part.
 

TerryRed

Pinball Master
Or otherwords... its like I mentioned above. You need to adapt the vbs scripts and table code used on VPX to work with FP.

It's not a "BAM" thing... it comes down to creating / adapting code to communicate with VPinMAME. On the table you are simply emulating switches / sensors and sending the states (on/off,etc) of those to the rom through VPinMAME. Then the rom will react to this and send signals back to the table through VPinMAME telling it to turn on a light / motor / solenoid,etc.


Take it from someone who has dealt with the "limitations" of working with rom based tables on VPX. It has disadvantages. The sound quality on VPX rom based tables is for the most part...bad. I mean really bad in some cases.

While coding a FP table is a pain to do from scratch... once its done you have the advantage of doing anything you want. Just look at what SLAM does with his table mods. WAY more fun than the rom with way better sound and music and lighting and better gameplay.

Ironically... you are seeing more and more VPX tables that can't emulate the rom pop up such as TNA and GOTG and more to come.
 

GeorgeH

Flippered Out
Staff member
Site Supporters
I modded Funhouse that used the audio from the ROM. I guess that is what was available at the time it was built. The sound was horrible. I managed to find better sound and replaced it. I just noticed it has been downloaded 3500 times although I did post 2 versions so many of the downloads are probably repeats from the same user.
 

TerryRed

Pinball Master
To clarify... when I said that VPX rom based tables have bad sound quality... I mean the "rom" has bad sound quality. Not that the "table" has bad sound quality.


This is because back in the day in the 80's and 90's when those pins were built, the hardware couldn't provide high quality sound. The other part is not all VPinMAME emulation of sound hardware is perfect either (MAME has the same problem) which results in poor sound quality of "old" sound quality. :)
 
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