Thursday, March 20, 2014

A little slow on the updates...

Things have been slow lately and will become even slower - I'm going on tour with my band.
During April we'll be around in Europe so there will be very little time and thoughts going to the pinball machine. Planning the tour and dealing with various venues all over the world, along with rehearsing with a new band member, has taken most of my time this year (and a good portion last year as well).

But when I'm back, I intend to finish the machine up fast! Time to wrap it up! :)

Meanwhile, you can all help me decide on a position for my new crawler splicer figure...

1) This way...?

2) Or like this?

3) Maybe even this. But then the right area looks crowded.
4) It's also possible to have it like this. Perhaps even just the upper body.

I purchased the figure to add some detail to the left area of the board, but which position do you think looks the best?

Oh, and by the way - this is how the package looked upon arrival. *thumbs up* 

5) The postal office needs Anger Management in their lives!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Bling for the rings!

Found these on eBay and had to get them.
No keys belonging to my BioShock machine should come without its own bling! 

1) BioShock keyrings. I was just wondering what to put on the keys when these showed up on eBay!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Thank you for the tango, Irrational Games!

I'm sad to read that Irrational Games are closing down their business as we know it. Without them there would have been no BioShock and most definitely no BioShock pinball.

"Seventeen years is a long time to do any job, even the best one. And working with the incredible team at Irrational Games is indeed the best job I’ve ever had. While I’m deeply proud of what we’ve accomplished together, my passion has turned to making a different kind of game than we’ve done before. To meet the challenge ahead, I need to refocus my energy on a smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers. In many ways, it will be a return to how we started: a small team making games for the core gaming audience."

This is by no means a death sentence for the studio as it is reshaping its core. Hopefully they'll keep making awesome games, as I'm sure they'll do!

You can read more about it here:

This does not affect my pinball machine, in case you're worried!

Monday, February 17, 2014


Quick update.

1) Side view. Spotted any of the new features yet?

2) Below the 1959-sign there's supposed to be a splicer mask... but I've misplaced it. Hopefully I'll find it.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

State of the Machine

The past few days I've been able to focus a little on the machine, which is always nice.

I've added three switches that were missing - top drophole, upper shooterlane and the last ball through switch. All three very crucial switches that were somehow forgotten to be added or simply to complicated to setup.

1) Upper drophole switch. Not the nicest setup in history - but considering I forgot to make room for it during design and it's extremely tight to work in that area, it looks all right and is not visible from a players perspective. (I really need to clean the board before putting on the glass!)

I'm about to rewrite the ball handling code now that I've got more (and more accurate) ways of detecting the balls so instead of "it's probably launched now" I can actually know for sure if a ball has been launched successfully. 

I've also added a little bit of decorations here and there and the machine is almost 100% physically complete. What's left is a couple of switches that needs to be tweaked after a couple of games to make them behave reliably and easier to read titles on the inserts. I have printed out new titles in white that needs to be applied before putting the glass on. Preferably.

A message system has been added to send the player small messages (or large) to hurry up or if a ball gets stuck, failed to launch and so on. The smaller one is more informative and overlays the current screen while the bigger one covers the entire screen and is meant to present more mode-related messages such as "JACKPOT!" etc. I've added a couple of modes as well such as EVE, Rapture, DNA / ADAM frenzy, JACK in order to get the game programming started. It's nice to have the machine "talking" back to you while testing!

Here's the current state of the machine.
Those of you who's been following the blog for a while probably notices a few new pieces...

2) Current state of the pinball machine.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Modern caveats...

So my plan for bi-weekly video updates failed somewhat.
No surprise there really, even thou I've thought about what to record I've just not been up for the task.

What I have done on the other hand is creating a new development environment using an old spare laptop (is to be used for the CNC - whenever that's done). But I noticed a lot of curious internal compiler errors popping up. At first I thought it was a flawed harddrive or RAM, but it turns out the project is just to complex to properly compile using all optimizations on the limited RAM available on the laptop. GCC has a lot of options to limit memory usage so the problem was quite easily remidied once the cause was known.

With that sorted out I created a debug mode where I can directly toggle switches, lights and solenoids from the laptop. Should ease troubleshooting as some of the switches are reaaaally hard to trigger manually, not to mention specific modes could be a pain to recreate etc.
Now I'd just send (via console) "s5 s6 s7" to toggle switches 5,6 and 7 for instance.
Obviously this would only be useful for momentary switches, but anyway - still very useful.

I also noticed that I forgot to actually upload the music and sound effects to the SD cards (doh!) so that has been done, as well as creating the maintenance diagnostics page for sound and music. While creating the SD cards I noticed one of the major drawbacks of using a Mac - unnecessary hidden folders. That means file #1 wasn't always the first file on the system, so the cards behaved differently in the MP3 Trigger boards. At first, the two sound effects cards looked the same, but showing hidden files it was obvious Spotlight had been indexing files on one of the cards. One of the downsides of programming/handling old filesystems on modern systems, I guess.  

Off topic - 

I found my pinball machine "featured" in an online quiz as "question #59 (ultra hard) - What's the name of this game?". After numerous guesses such as F-14 TomCat, Addams Family, somebody (who wasn't me!) finally guessed the right answer - my BioShock machine. Fun stuff! :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bits and Bytes

Finally an update.

Time is really not my ally these days and since the last post I've not been able to do very much on the machine. I've been busy scheduling gigs for my band, arranging with pressing and distribution of our record, video and photo shoots and a whole lot more. Phew.

But yesterday I got to sit down a program a little and it felt good!

I've decided on a code structure now and will enable feature by feature, ranging from easiest to implement and up. Basic functionality first and then more complex behaviors as needed.
I will program it all using placeholder video and replace the videos as I go, but video has the lowest priority right now and is easily changed when needed. With this approach it's easy to break down each section of the board and independently program it, so the whole task becomes less daunting. In theory, at least.

I have only programmed a couple of basic tasks at the moment, but it's very important that the code is solid, since it should function independently and without human interaction so heavy testing will be required for each mode implemented, whenever a mode is changed etc. But it will be worth it!