Williams Space Shuttle

GeorgeH

Flippered Out
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I have decided to work on "Space Shuttle" next. Even though this table was created back in 2011, I was surprised to find Sepeteus is still around and he gave me permission to mod this table. I have already started working on it. Tomasaco created a beautiful model of the shuttle and some really nice high resolution textures for the playfield and plastics that I have already added. This is a screenshot of the shuttle and part of the playfield:

SpaceShuttle1.2.png


Some lights are way too bright like the red arrow in the foreground and the "U" located above the shuttle in the screenshot is not bright enough which will have to be fixed.

When I played it recently, I thought the sound quality was poor but later found that the sound levels are not right. Some are too loud and some are too soft. It needs what I have called a "Sound Level Control Panel" in the script like I added to "Funhouse" and "Masters of the Universe".

If you guys have any suggestions or changes you would like implemented on this table, please post them here.

List of Objectives

:check: 1) Replace the backglass texture and adjust the color/brightness of it.
:check: 2) Add game room floor and backwall.
:check: 3) Add new instruction cards to replace the black and white ones.
:check: 4) Add custom physics and dynamic flippers.
:check: 5) Add lighting mod.
:check: 6) Add HUD Toggle Key that saves setting.
:check: 7) Add new textures on the table loading screen.
:check: 8. Add menu system.
:check: 9) Add message that looks at BAM version.
:check: 10) Add Tomasaco's textures for playfield and plastics and his models for shuttle and others.
:check: 11) Add ball/flipper shadows and ball configuration to the script.
:check: 12) Add emkickers to the slingshots.
:check: 13) Possible shadow maps.
:check: 14) Add Sound Level Control Panel to the script.
:check: 15) Add plunger pull special script.
:check: 16. Add option to be able to switch lane lights with right flipper only or both flippers.
:check: 17) Add switchable option for 3 or 5 balls per game.
:check: 18. Add bulbs that provide the halo that shines through the slingshots.
 
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Ike Savage

Froggy like robot
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Just curious-- what are some of the factors that lead you to choose a table to improve?

Also, do you aim for a recurring set of goals? For example, lighting and physics? Anything more specific...?
 

GeorgeH

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Just curious-- what are some of the factors that lead you to choose a table to improve?

Also, do you aim for a recurring set of goals? For example, lighting and physics? Anything more specific...?

The tables I choose are largely random although I did post this to get requests which I use sometimes:


"Attack from Mars" is my favorite table so that is what prompted modding it. Of course, I have to like a table before I mod it. When I was working on AFM, I found Tomasaco's stuff for this table which I saved and I happened to get permission to mod it.

I always add dynamic flippers, custom physics, lighting, table loading texture, game room and have been adding Popotte's modified menu system plus some other BAM features (stuff at the beginning of the script). Other than that, I just look at the table as see what else is needed. Sometimes I add something new. AFM used to dim only the playfield at certain points of the game. I made it dim the whole table which wasn't really possible before BAM.
 

Ike Savage

Froggy like robot
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> I always add dynamic flippers, custom physics...

You know I'd meant to ask @NitroNimbus about that too, specifically in terms of his MOD 2.0 series.

One thing I keep struggling with, in terms of playing out-of-the-box FP tables, is the downright awful physics. Which is why I love that someone like Shiva / Blue can come along and create a table like Jungle Girl, that seems to remedy all that, and take FP to whole new levels in terms of physics.

What I don't understand is how that actually happens. (I don't even know what "dynamic flippers" means)

Like, how hard do you guys have to slave over this stuff until you get a table playing more realistically...?
 

GeorgeH

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Dynamic flippers is defined in the Glossary of Terms. It started out with Ravarcade creating the bounce control code and then he provided a way to identify where the ball hits a flipper. Gimli figured out a way to use this and ramp the strength so it is higher at the base and weaker at the tip. I could tell the code had some weaknesses so I figured out a way to improve it. This took a lot of work and thought. ...But now that the code is developed, it is easy to add it to a table. "Jungle Girl" has it's own version of dynamic flippers that I am sure took a very long time to develop but it appears to be specific to this table.
 

shiva

Pinball Wizard
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Correct, but it's actually usable on all tables, it's actually quite easy to adjust, it's just the time needed to get the key shots right. It can be a bit finicky, and there are a couple flaws within FP with flippers that make it more effort than my method is actually worth. Same with all the other aspects of play as well. Pretty simple ideas based on counteracting the physics problems of FP, and coming up with a way to get around those flaws or minimize the wrong effects as much as possible.
The time needed is more because it's a learning experience as well for me, and since I do Bally tables, it's pretty easy to transfer to the next table once I stop screwing around with changing things. Williams flippers and the tables themselves have different behaviors, but the stock FP Bam method was developed for williams flippers and table play so it's actually quite good now.
 

GeorgeH

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I think I called "Jungle Girl" a masterpiece once and it really is. Everything about it is beautiful. It is about as good as FP can get. I am actually using the emKickers from it on the slings of all my tables now. I always used to set the strength of slings way low because I didn't like the way they performed. No one seemed to like them that way and emKickers are so much stronger that I can get them to perform the way I want now.

I didn't mention that I bugged the daylights out of Gimli when I was changing his flipper code because I didn't know much about coding back then. He was more patient than I think I would have been if I were him. It was pretty clear he was done with the code so I knew I had to change it myself. ...But then, I knew we had something when I sent a table with the flippers to Ravarcade to review. He replied, "I like these flippers!". He only suggested one change. The places that have a 1.2 multiplication factor in the code were originally set to 1.0 and he is the one that suggested they be changed to 1.2. Of course, he was right.
 

Ike Savage

Froggy like robot
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...my name was mentioned.
oOf yeah, seems like I've been guilty of that a bit, here and there. Thank you for bearing with me.

Me-- I was never a super-authority on VP8 or anything, but over time, I did kinda get the feeling that I could persuade the ball to behave, and make it happy for the most part in VP.

All of that's been pretty much blown out of the water with VPX and FP-BAM. It's like I'm Linus now from the Charlie Brown cartoon, clutching his blanket for all it's worth. I don't even understand what I don't understand.

So, please pardon my bitching and moaning whilst I proceed to bitch and moan. Also, thank you for the answers!
 
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GeorgeH

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Paolo (@wild) was nice enough to change one of Tomasaco's models for the backbox to remove a crossbar that got in the way. I need it to support the textures that Tomasaco made for it.

I have added emkickers to the slingshots and added my initial setup for custom physics and dynamic flippers. I always add these things at the start of a mod so I can make adjustments as I add everything else.

I have updated the first posting to add the list of objectives.
 

GeorgeH

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Tomasaco created a texture for everything on this table except for the backglass. I found a texture for it on the internet but also have the one that was originally on the table. I am having trouble deciding which one to use. I thought you guys might help me decide. Which one do you prefer?

SpaceShuttle1.png
SpaceShuttle2.png
 

GeorgeH

Flippered Out
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Thank you Shiva and Gin! I will use the one on the left. The texture on the right is the one that was originally on the table. I think the table developer may have enlarged the texture which makes it look soft. The texture on the left is the one I found on the internet. I don't think it was ever enlarged so it looks crisp even though it is about the same size as the original. After playing it awhile, I noticed that it matches the playfield better than the original texture.

There are some overlays that display text below the rectangular border on the backbox. I made then a bit larger since the area below the border has a bit more space. It makes them easier to read.

Today, I changed the layers around so that the light inserts are on one layer and the bulbs are on another layer. It will make the lighting easier when I get to that point.

I have found that it is best to test ramps before making many changes to the physics. If this is not done, the flipper strength has to be adjusted higher and it still won't perform well. I just use the ball roller and manually roll the ball up the ramps very slowly, noting any bumps the ball makes. Any bumps or rough spots will slow the ball down on the ramp. This table was not bad. Both ramps have a bump up at the beginning of the ramp so I added a short approach ramp to smooth it out. Then I made it invisible.

I had a little problem with one of the gates on the left ramp. It slowed the ball down a lot so I replaced the gate with a different model that performs better.

I kept having trouble with the performance of the dynamic flippers. Then I noticed the table developer changed their names from the default. This is the first table I have modified where the flippers had been renamed from the RightFlipper / LeftFlipper used on the template. I used a simple replace function to rename the flippers in the script and the dynamic flippers work well now.

I performed some preliminary adjustments to the flippers starting angles. They were off a bit. I have an Excel file that helps me figure out the initial settings. It helps but I usually have to make some additional adjustments.
 

GeorgeH

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I discovered today that none of the large bolt caps on the table had any textures applied. They were white which is the color of the model. It was easy enough to apply textures to them though.

I have decided to create new lenses for the light inserts. I made the first screenshot above using the old lenses which doesn't have very good resolution. Tomasaco's playfield texture just has black spots where the lenses would be so I will add them. I am using a texture for the lenses that I used on "Phantom of the Opera" and then lay the text on top of the lens.

Today I added a nice model for the plunger that Tomasaco created that you see in the screenshot. He also created the coin door you see in the screenshot. The coin slot on the door extends out from the door which gives it a 3D shape. The entire apron is one model also that I added today. It is not easy to see in the screenshot but the part of the apron above the plunger is set lower than the rest of the apron giving it some depth. Tomasaco even created the red buttons on the side of the table and the white button on the front. This table is going to look pretty sharp. I am planning on adding some nicer instruction cards. The side rails are not very tall so I am not sure if I will be able to add any graphics there or not.

1607659405565.png
 

GeorgeH

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I have finished creating the new lenses for the playfield inserts. I thought you would like to compare the new lenses to the old ones.

Old lenses:
1607962117596.png


New Lenses
1607962151475.png
 

GeorgeH

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I spent some time working on the plastics. Tomasaco created models for the ramps but they are much higher than Sepeteus's original table. It was really difficult to make the ball go up Tomasaco's ramps even after tweaking the physics. I ended up using Sepeteus's ramps and his plastics around the ramps because the height matches the ramps. I used Tomasaco's plastics everywhere else becasue I like the way they look. This made it so I had to match Sepeteus's textures to Tomasaco's plastics. It was problematic but I got the job done. You can see the plastics in the screenshot below. I changed the color of all the lights to make them pop a little more but I still haven't started the lighting.
SpaceShuttle1.2.png
 

GeorgeH

Flippered Out
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I have added new instructions cards. I found the cards on the internet but the text in the center of the left card was too small so I enlarged it. All of the content of the text on the new card is the same as the original card but looks better. I ended up removing Tomasaco's model for the apron that I previously added because I wasn't able to add the new cards to it without distorting the cards. So I added Sepeteus's original FP surface built surfaces back and added Tomasaco's high resolution textures to it. Sepeteus's surface had no opening so you can see the plunger and I added one. The apron still looks identical to the version with Tomasaco's model.

I have been moving some rubber pegs around. It is surprising how a small move of a peg can affect game play. I almost never hit a bank of drop targets that are located inside the lane that goes back to the top of the table until I moved a rubber post in front of the targets to the left.

I have also been tweaking the plastics. One of Sepeteus's plastics around the ramp didn't meet up with Tomasaco's plastics on the right side of the table so I added a surface to bridge the gap.

I am finished deleting/adding objects to the table and can finally focus on the other stuff. These are the new instruction cards that show the tweaks to the colors on the light inserts on the playfield that I mentioned in the previous post. The white lights seem a bit bright yet but will adjust them later.

SpaceShuttle1.2.png
 

GeorgeH

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I have finished what I call the "Sound Level Control Panel" in the script. It is really just a group of constants where you can set the volume of a group of sounds. It is a quite a task because I have added a setting for every sound on the table. I start out by listening to each sound and group them to one of 4 groups. Then I add a constant to each sound and music item in the script like the first screenshot below. "Gamevolume" is the constant which is defined at the beginning of the script that you see in the second screenshot. ...So the "shcoinin" sound in this example will play at a volume of 0.4.

Sound.jpg


SLCP.jpg


I also changed a texture on a guide around the top of the table. It is too bright. You might not notice it until after it is changed. So these are the before and after screenshots.

Before:
SpaceShuttle1.1.png


After:
SpaceShuttle1.2.png
 

GeorgeH

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Definitely looking good George! and awaiting the release in due course :smile:
Thanks Gin! It was a difficult decision to decide whether to use Tomasaco's models for the plastics or apply Tomasaco's higher resolution textures to Sepeteus's models. It would have been easier if Tomasaco had not increased the height of the ramps so they were so difficult to navigate compared to Sepeteus's models. ... But I think I made the right decisions and the table plays really well. It is important for a table to look good but it is critical that it play well also. I really like the way this table looks and plays. ... And it sounds good too. I really think I didn't play it very much in the past because several of the sounds were too loud but that is fixed now. This will be one of my best efforts.

I would like to send it to you @Gin to try it out when I get further along. I think it will go faster now that the major decisions are completed.
 

GeorgeH

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I have been playing this table for awhile now and the U-S-A lane lights on the top left side of the table can only be changed with the right flipper. That is the way the original Williams table plays. I am used to being able to change lane lights with both flippers. I even read on the internet were someone that owns the real table said it felt rather awkward. So I decided to provide a way to switch between using the right flipper only and using both flippers. Of course the right side of the apron has a label that says to use the right flipper so I made it switch also as shown in the screen shots below. It makes it clear how you have the switch set. I made the option switchable because I know some of you want the table to play like the original table; in fact, it defaults to the right flipper only when you first play the table.

SpaceShuttle1.24.png
SpaceShuttle1.23.png


I completed a few other items on the punch list. I added the HUD toggle key so you can switch the Heads Up Display on and off. I also added an option so you can switch between 3 and 5 balls per game. Of course, I set these two options plus the lane change option above so your setting is saved so you have the same option set when you play the table the next time.

I also added the plunger script mentioned previously. The original plunger for FP pulls the plunger back very quickly so it is difficult to release the plunger at the correct time. This script slows the plunger pull down a little so you have a little more time and can release the ball exactly when you want it.
 
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GeorgeH

Flippered Out
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I have completed 2 more items on the check list. I added a game room with floor and back wall. I also added 2 table loading textures. One is in landscape format and the other in portrait for cabinet users.

Game Room:
SpaceShuttle1.2.png


Landscape Loading Screen:
Image2.jpg


Portrait Loading Screen:
Image3.jpg
 
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