My 1st State Of The Community Message


PN co-founder
Jun 9, 2003
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Favorite Pinball Machine
Flying Trapeze 1934
It has been suggested that originals might just be the best saving grace of Visual Pinball. While I don’t feel that VP needs saving, I will concede that originals are the area where we are most likely to see the widest variety in table design. While there seems to be a segment of players who’re interested only in VPM, a growing group of authors working on originals has made that part of VP quite exciting. And as the list of VPM tables left to be emulated shrinks, the authors might just dabble in an original design of two. I’d think that improving and tweaking existing VPM recreations might not be as enjoyable as beginning something fresh from the start.

While the more experienced VPM authors have their skills at a finely honed level, sometimes it might seem as if they’re simply repeating the same procedures over and over. This is far from the situation with originals, where every table is often world’s apart from the last. My only complaint about originals is that with the exception of Add-A-Ball-Bob, the same modern style tables are being released, with too many ramps and flippers for my liking. The quality of those new offerings have improved, surprisingly, as newer authors are drawing inspiration from other original tables, and are learning much more quickly than I did when I began. While I haven’t noticed a lot of help being asked for or provided at VPO, I have to assume that such help is being offered behind the scenes, or we’ve gotten ourselves some amazing new authors over the past six months.

The EM arena seems to be a bit sluggish, with Greywolf the only active author, as some of our established EM authors take a well-deserved rest for a number of reasons. And the Flipperless folks, what few there are of us, continue to release a goodly number of offerings, many which are tested by owners of the tables, to assure authenticity. And with Jonathan back with his release of Diamonds, and now and then flipperless releases by Rocky and Anthias, as well as a few unexpected surprises from others, nudging fans should be satisfied.

Into the mix we can add speculation about the fate, or lack of fate, of the promised Future Pinball project. Now when FP finally appears, and yes, I’m being optimistic here, I doubt if much will really change. Free, pay, or whatever, I simply don’t think Visual Pinball will die. Many authors have said that they will probably made dual releases, and since FP will involve a learning curve, those among us who are not technical minded might simply continue using VP to make their tables. Which is what I expect Patrick and me to do, no matter how good FP may be.

So with thousands of tables already made in VP, and since it will still be needed for VPM emulation, the future of VP seems assured, even if Randy disappears again, rather than sticking around to continue refining Visual Pinball. So if you feel a need to plead for scrapes of information about Future Pinball, be my guest. I’ll simply wait until and if it is released, and see if it looks like a tool I can use. Until that time, I’ll keep making flipperless and novelty games and tables with Patrick.

If you enjoy nudging, or looping ramp shots, or add-a-ball games, you’ve got plenty to choose from right now. If FP becomes a reality, that should mean even more tables for us all to enjoy. At least the way I see it, this is and will continue to be a win-win situation for us all. Who could ask for more variety in tables to play in between all our arguments and debates.

I think the VPM tables "left to be emulated" is a mis-nomer in the sense that having "a" table and having a "good" table are two different things. Destruk's goal all along has been to get SOMETHING out there to play and test/demonstrate the roms and system emulations we have available to us. He's always made this sound like a short process in the sense of "we can then go and improve those tables". I'll be interested to see what he does when actually reaches his goal.

But for others of us, the goal all along has been to try recreate the real games we loved and in some cases games we never got to play. This means trying to do a really good job right off the bat and not have to come back later and work on them so much. To this end, there's a TON of potential work left to do. Maybe upgrading older tables isn't much fun. So why do that? I don't do that anymore for precisely that reason. I start a NEW table from scratch. Why should the existence of someone else's table deter me from making my own? If nothing else, their table provides at least some reference on how certain features work or lights are laid out on some systems that are hard to decode (e.g. Early Bally and Stern games are that way). So those tables are both useful as an alternative version to play and as a potential reference for any authors looking to build a new version (assuming they're not locked).

The thing is I remember like two years ago talk about reaching the end of VPM tables and I thought that perception was off the mark back then and it's still off it now. How many tables are Kurt quality or Emkaah quality or even Kristian upgraded quality? How many are Centaur quality? There's a LOT of room to make new tables if there are authors interested in making them. But I believe the REAL problem is a lack of author interest and/or talent to do so. But in that respect, it's no different from EM tables or Original tables. Very few authors produce high quality work and whenever such a table IS released, that only seems to discourge new authors as they think they can't ever measure up even though none of us got there overnight and unlike us, they have plenty of good references to learn much more quickly from than those that had to blaze paths.

So now like then VP is what you make it and there's room for flipperless tables, EMs, VPM solid state and Originals in the community. Do what you like best.
I have no idea whether there are a lot of VPM tables left to be emulated or not. However, I reckon there are quite a few EMs still to be emulated in VP. Two I can think of right off the top of my head are Jive Time and Gulfstream - I remember playing both many years ago. There were a hell of a lot of EMs made in their day as Pinball was more popular and widespread then. The biggest problem I can see is resources, I really don't know where to get good pictures of these two machines for a start. If I could get the pics and rulesets I'd have a go. My next step is to try all the libraries for Pinball books - if anyone knows of books with pics of these 2 let me know 'cos I'll try and get them and scan the pics.

Also there are quite a few EMs which were emulated ages ago and must have been done in earlier versions of VP - we need some people to have a go at these too, although pics remain a problem. All this needs to get done before all of the real machines disappear.

David, you might want to check out our Image Gallery. I have just added close to 800 flipperless and early EMs, many flippered, and some are either flat or 80% flat. The quality varies from better than nothing to fairly good. I also will be adding a section of Flat and Nearly Flat images soon. But you're right, the biggest problem is getting decent images. That's why I do the old flipperless mostly, because they need to be preserved before they're all gone.

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