[Comp.Sci.Dept, Utrecht] Note from archiver<at>cs.uu.nl: This page is part of a big collection of Usenet postings, archived here for your convenience. For matters concerning the content of this page, please contact its author(s); use the source, if all else fails. For matters concerning the archive as a whole, please refer to the archive description or contact the archiver.

Subject: general pinball Frequently Asked Questions -- The rec.games.pinball DynaFAQ v5.0

This article was archived around: 5 Sep 1997 02:15:47 -0400

All FAQs in Directory: games/pinball
All FAQs posted in: rec.games.pinball
Source: Usenet Version


Archive-name: games/pinball/general Last-modified: 1997/9/4 Version: 5.0 Frequency: monthly
The rec.games.pinball Dyna-FAQ ============================== Originated by Keith Johnson <keefer@access.digex.net> and Kevin Martin <sigma@mcs.com> Maintained by: Keith Johnson <keefer@access.digex.net> Version 5.0 - 04-Sep-97 [ObLegalStuff] This guide is Copyright (c) 1995-1997 by Keith P. Johnson. Permission is granted to freely distribute this guide in any manner. You may also make any changes you wish, provided credit to those whose names appear in the DFAQ "Hallowed List of Contributors" as well as this notice are included in the new distribution and the new distribution remains FREE OF CHARGE. Use of this guide in any other manner without my permission is strictly prohibited. What does this mean for you, the consumer? Well, it basically means that you can't go off and write a book and include this DFAQ in it without asking me first. Not that you'd do that anyway... :) Any changes, suggestions, flames, or comments are welcomed. Mail them to the address given above for the maintainer. Any information that is sent to me by email or by posting on rgp or elsewhere becomes my property and fair game for inclusion in the DynaFAQ unless you explicitly state otherwise at the time the information is released. All contributions are of course noted at appropiate places and at the end of the document. Finding the DFAQ ---------------- If for some reason you possess a copy of the DFAQ that is more than one month old, you may get the latest version from a variety of sources. You should try (in this order): 1. Posted in rec.games.pinball, rec.answers, or news.answers (posting date is the 15th of the month, usually). 2. Via FTP from the Pinball Archive (see question 1.1). 3. Via WWW from the Pinball Archive (HTML version) or the Pinball Pasture (see question 1.9). 4. Via FTP from the news.answers archive at rtfm.mit.edu. (This would probably be located at /pub/usenet-by-group/news.answers/games/pinball/general.) And, as a final, FINAL resort: 5. Email me (nicely). General Guidelines for rec.games.pinball ---------------------------------------- rgp is meant for, well, pinball, so discussion of video games is highly discouraged! However, comparisons of pinball to video games are inevitable, and do come up fairly often. This is generally accepted. Every post to rgp should have *something* to do with pinball, though, be it real pinball, pinball vs. video games, or video pinball "simulations". (See question 1.7 for ObPinballs.) I think you'll find that in general rgp is one of the friendliest groups on Usenet. Flame wars rarely break out, and when they do, it's generally because one person was either flame baiting, obviously wrong, or generally making a spectacle of him/herself. Therefore, before you reach out and flame someone, sit back, think about it a little bit, and question whether the original post really deserves a response or whether you really need to flame the person to get your point across. "Netiquette" is very important, no matter how stupid the name sounds. If you are new to Usenet in general, then you should check out groups such as news.announce.newusers which often get helpful hints and guides and FAQs for posting to newsgroups and treating others on Usenet posted to it. Most of this stuff is common sense and courtesy, so if you can exercise that, you'll be in good shape. Among the finer points: A) Treat the people in the newsgroup as if you were talking to them in front of their face. The computer screen provides a nice shield from reality, but tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of other people are reading your words. You are essentially standing up in a crowded auditorium and giving a speech to them. B) If you are disagreeing with someone, try to keep it civil. (Refer to point A.) It is very frowned upon to pick on someone's spelling or grammer because generally people are moving along pretty quickly and not picking up every little thing that might be wrong. If people spent 30 minutes carefully thinking about every post they wrote, nothing would ever get done. :) Also, there are a lot of people around that didn't take English as a first language. C) Don't ask a question that's covered in this DFAQ. If you have a question about the answer or the info in the DFAQ, then you can ask about it. D) Make sure your post is somewhat worthwhile. Posting messages where all you say is "me too" makes you look really bad, and gains nothing for anyone. The same goes for quoting entire articles then adding like 1 line to it. E) This is kind of a personal peeve, but others may feel the same way: If you include a line in your post that says something like "Please email as I don't get to read this group often," then I don't have the time to respond to your question. F) NEVER post private email that someone has mailed you. Aside from being incredibly bad manners, thanks to Lawyermania it could potentially get you in trouble. It's OK if you get permission first, but otherwise, don't do it. Introduction ------------ The purpose of this DFAQ is to provide an up-to-date list of questions and their answers for the rec.games.pinball newsgroup. The current official FAQ for the newsgroup deals primarily with maintaining and finding/buying your own pinball machines. The FAQ is a valuable guide for this kind of information, and if that is the kind of information you really need, read that. Its maintainer is Andy Oakland <sao@athena.mit.edu>. This DFAQ tries to reflect the current goings-on and trends of the newsgroup and pinball in general, as well as the interesting past. Finally, and perhaps most important, we hope to provide some factual and interesting reading for anyone who enjoys pinball or wants to learn more about it. This DFAQ is set up so that if you want the answer to a specific question in the Index of Questions, you can use your favorite editor or pager to locate the question quickly by searching for: >>(section #).(question #) So if you want the answer to question 4 in section 0, you'd search for: >>0.4 You can also just search for >> to find the next question in line. If you want to go to a specific section, just search for >># (where # is the section you want) and you'll go to the first question in that section. Neat, huh? :) When referring to files in the pinball archive, just the directory from the base pinball directory and the filename are used. For example, if you FTP to the pinball.cc.cmu.edu archive, all references to files will assume you are already in the directory /pinball. Abbreviations and Glossary -------------------------- This is a list of abbreviations commonly used in this DFAQ (as well as the newsgroup in general). "Learn it, know it, live it." :) rgp - rec.games.pinball FAQ - Frequently Asked Question(s) DFAQ - the Dyna-FAQ (this guide!) BTW - by the way K - thousand (usually points) M - million B - billion SDTM - straight down the middle STDM - I don't know, but it sure shows up in rgp a lot :) IMHO - In My Humble Opinion PAPA - Professional and Amateur Pinball Association IFPA - International Flipper Pinball Association AMOA - Amusement & Music Operators Association TZ - Twilight Zone TAF - The Addams Family IJ - Indiana Jones JD - Judge Dredd JP - Jurassic Park LAH - Last Action Hero SF2 - Street Fighter II SMB - Super Mario Bros. ST:TNG - Star Trek: The Next Generation CFTBL - Creature From the Black Lagoon BK - Black Knight BK2K - Black Knight 2000 LW3 - Lethal Weapon 3 HS2 - High Speed II: The Getaway VUK - Vertical Up-Kicker EM - Electro-Mechanical SS - Solid State AFAIK - As Far As I Know FWIW - For What It's Worth AKA - also known as TOM - Theatre of Magic [If you feel I've left some important terms out, please let me know.] pinball(1) - a small ball, usually steel (see question 2.13) pinball(2) - a game in which you use skill and luck to bat a pinball around a playfield with flippers to score points flipper - the things you bat the pinball around with by pushing the buttons on the side of the cabinet plunger - a stick on the front of the cabinet that you pull back to launch the ball into play autoplunger - instead of a plunger, there is a solenoid that kicks the ball into play for you; it is activated by some kind of button or something on the front of the cabinet (usually) where the plunger would've been combo plunger - a normal plunger that has a kicker around the plunger rod that can also autoplunge balls into play trough - where balls are usually stored in the front of the machine when they are not being played drain(1) - the act of losing the ball in play drain(2) - the bottom middle of the playfield where balls go out of play and into the trough inlane - a lane near the bottom of the playfield that returns the ball to a flipper. outlane - a lane near the bottom of the playfield that leads to the drain slingshot - the triangular things above the flippers which project the ball back up the playfield bumper - the (usually) circular devices that shoot the ball away from themselves (often arranged in triangular positions); also called pop bumpers, thumper bumpers, jet bumpers, jets, etc. kickback - a device usually located at the corner of an outlane that, when activated, shoots the ball back up the outlane and back into play tilt - happens when you nudge or move the game too much; often games today will give one or more "warnings" before you lose the ball in play slam tilt - (see question 3.3) ramp - an incline off of the playfield that lifts the ball up to another section or transfers it to another place on the playfield via a path above the playfield habitrail - those wire paths on some games that move the ball from one place to another, usually connected by/to ramps; also called wireforms orbit - a path on the playfield that forms a half-circle loop; usually the entrances are on the extreme left and right sides of the playfield and go along the very back of the machine; also called loops (esp. if it's an inner shot, e.g. from a side flipper) sinkhole - a hole in the playfield that either is shootable and/or kicks balls out saucer - a small recess in the playfield where a ball can go into and rest temporarily and then be kicked back out in a certain direction spinner - a device triggered by the ball hitting it and causing it to start revolving; the faster or harder the spinner is hit, the more it spins special - (see question 2.3) skill shot - usually available at the very start of a ball, you have one chance or a brief period of time to make a certain shot after you launch it vari-target - a thin rod with a target on the front of hit that registers how hard you hit it death save - (see question 3.4) bang back - (see question 3.5) dead catch - stopping the motion of a ball by dropping the flipper just as the ball reaches it; of course, the ball is now on a lowered flipper and thus must be shot pretty much right away (aka drop catch) live catch - stopping the motion of a ball by flipping such that the flipper reaches its highest point just as the ball is also reaching that point; if done correctly, the ball neatly rolls down the flipper to a caught position bounce pass - letting a ball hit the flipper and bounce over to the other one (don't flip the flipper the ball is bouncing off of) There is an entire file in the archive dedicated to abbreviations used in rgp. I am about to update it and post it. A pointer to it will appear if and when the archive reappears. :) Index of Questions ------------------ * = change in answer to question + = new question PREAMBLE . ObLegalStuff . Finding the DFAQ . General Guidelines for rec.games.pinball . Introduction . Abbreviations and Glossary SECTION 1.............................................................On-Line 1* Did someone say "pinball archive?" 2. I don't have FTP access. Can I get stuff by e-mail? 3* Can I read rgp by mail? 4* Can I post to rgp by mail? 5* Where are the archive mirrors? 6. What are brag posts? 7. What's an ObPinball? 8* Do the manufacturers read rgp? 9* Is there any pinball stuff on the World Wide Web? 10. Wouldn't it be a great idea to keep binaries of pinball games? 11* How about getting together on IRC? 12. Why do people put asterisks in game names? 13+ Can I read and post to rgp on the web? SECTION 2.............................................................General 1* Who are the manufacturers? 2. What is that loud cracking noise? 3. What is a special? 4. What is a match? 5* Do pinball machines have magnets in them? 6. Then what causes weird ball movement? 7. So the electro-magnetic field... 8. What is a beta machine? 9. Did I just see a cow in that game? 10. Are there cows in _____? 11. How much does a machine weigh? 12. How much does a machine cost? 13. What is the size of a pinball? 14. What is the Powerball? 15. What is the Power? 16. Are there any pinball-related or pinball-specific publications? 17. What is the Broadway Arcade? 18* What games are current and coming? SECTION 3.....................................................Playing Pinball 1. Is there a good source of information for improving my play? 2. How does tilt work, anyway? 3. What is a slam tilt? 4. What is a death save? 5. What is a bang back? 6. What are combos? 7. What are "Wizard Awards?" 8. Is _____ a good score on _____? 9. What is "rolling a game over?" 10. Why is the replay different from the other day? 11. How does the game know when a ball is stuck? 12. What does "Press start to adjust replay" mean? SECTION 4.....................................................Tournament Play 1. What are the major leagues? 2. What are the major tournaments? 3. What are common settings for tournament play? 4. What is a "tournament mode?" 5. How do tournaments work? 6. How can I find out about tournaments? 7. Can I start my own league? 8. Who are the past tournament winners? 9* What is this Rating System posted to rgp? SECTION 5.............................................................History 1. What was the first pinball game? 2. OK, then, what was the first game with FLIPPERS in it? 3. What are Electro-Mechanical games? 4. What are Solid State games? 5. What was the first Data East game? 6. What was the first Alvin G. & Co. game? 7. Aren't Tri-Ball and M-Ball really stupid names for Multiball? 8. So why do Gottlieb and Alvin G. machines say Multiball? 9. Is there a list of all the pinball games that have been made? 10* What manufacturers have died off over the years? 11. Do manufacturers from other countries exist? 12. Was pinball really banned in New York City? 13. Are replays still illegal in New York City? 14. What are the most popular games ever? SECTION 6................................................Technically Speaking 1. Can the rules change on the same game? 2. So how do I see what ROMs are on my machine? 3. What kind of sensors are used in games? 4. What happens when the switches break? 5. What are those wiry paths called? 6. How can the game get harder physically? 7. How can the game get harder otherwise? 8. How do flippers work? 9. Can I tell if anything is wrong with the game BEFORE I play it? SECTION 7..................................................Specific Game FAQs 1. What is the 4-way combo in TAF? 2. Why is/isn't there a rubber band in my TZ? 3. What are the songs used in CFTBL? 4. What is the Vacation Jackpot in Whitewater? 5. I just got the flipper bonus in TZ. How did I do it? 6. What is the proper way to go in STTNG's Shuttle Simulation? 7. What is the Secret Mission in STTNG? 8. Why in God's name are there 3 High Score tables in STTNG? 9. Are there really secret flipper combinations in games? SECTION 8.......................................................Video Pinball 1. Video pinball??? 2. How accepted is video pinball? 3* So what's available? 4. Why shouldn't I buy stuff from Amtex? SECTION 9.............................................Pinball and Your Health 1. Can I really get injured just by playing pinball? 2. How can I avoid pinball-related injuries? 3. So how do I know if I'm getting CTS? ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ** Section 1 - On-Line ** ------------------------- >>1.1 - Did someone say "pinball archive?" Sure enough. We have our own dedicated rgp pinball archive, maintained by Kevin Martin. It can be reached on the WWW at: URL: http://www.pinball.org/ It can also be reached via FTP at: Host: ftp.pinball.org Directory: /pinball However, due to many reasons, pinball.org has been non-existent for quite awhile. If you stop by, you'll see a message promising it's coming soon, really. Keep the faith, it should be there soon. HOWEVER, most of the paths given in this document are still valid. So, for example, in question 3.4 it gives the file /Binaries/Images/ds_bb.gif. You can convert that to http://www.pinball.org/Binaries/Images/ds_bb.gif and retrieve the image. So disregard the rest of this question for now, it should be useful again pretty soon... It would be nice for everyone if you would check here first to see if what you need is here before posting "Does anyone have rules for _____" messages to the Net. If what you want isn't here, then make a request and more than likely someone will be able to provide you with something. And in the process, it makes the archive even bigger, which makes Kevin happy for a couple of days. :) In general, the WWW interface is much better, especially for beginners. For FTP access, simply FTP to this site, login as anonymous and send your e-mail address as your password, same as any other anon-FTP site. If you're unfamiliar with FTP, basically what you would type is this: % ftp ftp.pinball.org username: anonymous password: (type your email address) [some welcome messages appear here] ftp>cd /pinball When here, you should grab the README file which describes the archive and its mirrors and provides some helpful information for getting files from the archive. Also, the Listing file provides a description of every single file currently in the archive. Also, you can get the Latest file if you've been here before to get the list of recent changes/additions to the archive. Both of these are in the pinball archive root directory. From there, there are a lot of other directories such as Rules (which contains all the rules sheets written so far). Visit it, it's worth it! -- Thanks to Dave Stewart <dstewart@eng.umd.edu> for suggestions. >>1.2 - I don't have FTP access. Can I get stuff by e-mail? Yes, you can. You can use the FTPmail server provided by DEC. It is not the place of the DFAQ to explain how to do it, but I will explain how to get help from them. Mail the following message: To: ftpmail@decwrl.dec.com Subject: help reply keefer@access.digex.net [of course, you'd put YOUR address here] help quit That's it! You should get a response within a couple minutes. When you get around to requesting stuff by ftpmail, though, it'll take considerably longer (at least overnight). Maybe someone will get around to writing a guide on getting stuff from the pinball archive via ftpmail. <hint, hint> >>1.3 - Can I read rgp by mail? A kind soul (Bill Ung, see address below) has offered to mail off the day's articles to anyone who wants them. Basically what you'll get is a compressed, uuencoded file of every article posted that day. You can then save the mail message, uudecode it, decompress it, then do with it whatever you want. Keep in mind, though, that the number of messages per day probably averages around 20-30, and during peak periods has hit 60-70 per day. That's a lot of disk space! -- Thanks to Bill Ung <ung@filenet.com>! ** See also question 1.13. >>1.4 - Can I post to rgp by mail? Currently, one mail-to-news gateway known to exist is news.demon.co.uk. So, to post to rgp, you would send your message to: rec.games.pinball@news.demon.co.uk There are probably others around. There may even be some kind of FAQ for them in news.answers. -- Thanks to Bill Ung <ung@filenet.com> for information. ** See also question 1.13. >>1.5 - Where are the archive mirrors? ftp.nl.net <193.78.240.1>: /pub/games/pinball ftp.funet.fi <128.214.6.100>: /pub/doc/games/pinball Generally speaking, the mirrors will not lag behind the original archive by more than a day. If you have net access from Europe (or Asia, I guess :) ), then more than likely the European mirrors will be a lot faster for you. Unfortunately, I'm entirely unsure as to the accuracy of this information right now... >>1.6 - What are brag posts? Just someone telling how well they've done on a game or something they've accomplished. Depending on who you ask, they're generally not discouraged. They are never flamed, though. Often interesting reading. >>1.7 - What's an ObPinball? An ObPinball (or ObPinRef or anything similar) stands for Obligatory Pinball. Every post made to rgp should have *something* to do with pinball or close to it. When something has strayed way off subject, someone will generally include some kind of ObPinball. Otherwise we start getting a lot of "What does THIS have to do with pinball??" posts... >>1.8 - Do the manufacturers read rgp? You bet they do! Some people who work for them even post on occasion. Most of them that do post will do so from chinet.chinet.com or mcs.com. There are a few other places, too, but those are the main ones. Don't let this deter you from posting a truly objective, honest opinion, though! Both us and them will benefit more if people can constructively criticize a game and they can get the problems fixed in future games. Don't expect to hear from them publically too often, though. And almost never about a current game or upcoming ones. If you do recognize one, try to act nicely towards them... We don't want to scare them off. :) Ed Boon (who as you may or may not know is the main programmer of Mortal Kombat and the voice of Rudy the dummy in FunHouse) posted to rec.games.video.arcade Spring 1993 and was accused of everything from being a phony to being a jerk for not giving out secrets about the game, etc. etc. Little did they know... Anyway, Ed does not post to rgva anymore (can you blame him??). I'd say they lost out on a potentially very valuable source of information. We just don't want to see the same thing happen to rgp, that's all. Sometimes you'll see posts from "Uncle Willy." This is the effort of several Williams/Bally employees to answer some interesting questions people post to them. There is an archive of Uncle Willy posts on the Williams web site at <http://www.wms.com/williams/willyworld.html>. >>1.9 - Is there any pinball stuff on the World Wide Web? The 2 main places for pinball on the Web are the Pinball Archive (see question 1.1) and the Pinball Pasture. The Pasture is run by David Byers <byers@lysator.liu.se> and is located at: http://www.lysator.liu.se/pinball/ To access these, you'll need a WWW client. The main ones are Netscape and Mosaic (for Windows, Mac, and X) and Lynx (for regular terminals). Of course, it's much cooler with Mosaic or Netscape (esp. Netscape), because with Lynx you can't see the pictures or animations (yes, there are animations there too...). Other Web sites: http://www.wms.com/ A new site (as of March, 1996) run by Williams itself. In the absence of the Pinball Archive, a couple of rulesheet archives have popped up recently: http://pilot.msu.edu/~mccannr1/ http://www.mindspring.com/~rosco29/pinball.htm >>1.10 - Wouldn't it be a great idea to keep binaries of pinball games? Yep. Unfortunately, we can't. The reason is, quite simply, our old friend the Copyright. The manufacturers' lawyers won't allow any storage for public access of anything having to do with their games. This includes scans of playfields and the promotional flyers they give out to advertise their games! So why is this the case? Basically, we have too many lawyers in the USA. Seriously, the reason that has been regurgitated by the manufacturers is that they don't want any distribution of their copyrighted material that isn't under their control. So why don't they start something that IS under their control? Good question. This has been brought up a number of times, so you really shouldn't consider bringing it up again. We are serious. Do *NOT* ever post binaries to rgp. It's a bad, *bad*, BAD, *BAD* idea. The main reason is because it is not a binaries group and many people who get their newsfeeds via modems, UUCP, and all that other good stuff rely on this fact so that they don't get bogged down with a sudden 750K of stuff on a group that rarely gets over 40K a day. If you really *must* post something because not even I will keep it for public FTP for awhile, post it to alt.binaries.misc or something like that and post a pointer of it in rgp. With the Archive's move to CMU, Kevin has added a binaries subdirectory, but it mostly contains demos of computer pins and images. >>1.11 - How about getting together on IRC? IRC is almost always active. The "scheduled" time is Sunday nights at 9 Eastern Time. This translates into 2AM for England, 3AM for Sweden, and 4AM in Finland. You can of course use a table and find out what this is for your local time. The channel, of course, is #pinball. However, we have our own server, irc.citenet.net. If you connect to #pinball on "regular" IRC (i.e. EFNET or one of the others), it is likely not many people will be on there if any. Having our own server keeps the conversation much more reliable since we don't really have to worry about netsplits and the like. If you don't know what IRC is, or don't know how to access it, then check out the alt.irc FAQ. If you don't get alt.irc, then hopefully they also have gotten it on rtfm.mit.edu by now (the news.answers holding-place). Also, if that fails, try alt.answers and news.answers. The preferred IRC access program that most of us use (for Win16 and Win32) is mIRC. Check <http://www.mirc.co.uk/>. >>1.12 - Why do people put asterisks in game names? This process (which has become coined as "disemvowelment" or a couple other catchy phrases) is used for a game that someone thinks is just plain amazingly bad. Any vowel in the game's name is taken out and replaced with a "*". It was started with Dr*c*l* and has become a regular part of rgp ever since. The rationale behind the system is this: When people want to swear but don't want to be harsh or offend people, they generally write those words with a "*" in the word (e.g. sh*t). This procedure was adopted because the game is so bad, it is sometimes considered an offense to acknowledge its existence or to say it out loud, hence the "*"s in the name. :) OK, it's not really offensive, but you get the idea. >>1.13 - Can I read and post to rgp on the web? Yup. In case you didn't know, there's this nifty site at <http://www.dejanews.com> which has posts from the last couple years. It archives posts automatically, but they do honor a "X-No-Archive: Yes" header if you put it in your posts. You'll have to check with your news posting software about setting that if you wish. The Pinball Archive used to also have rgp reading and searching facilities. We'll see if this makes a return or not. ** Section 2 - General ** ------------------------- >>2.1 - Who are the pinball manufacturers? Currently, there are Williams (who owns Bally/Midway and also uses this name to manufacture pins, effectively giving the same company 2 pins on the assembly line at once) and Sega (who bought Data East). If for some reason you'd like to contact one of these companies, their addresses are given in the FAQ. >>2.2 - What is that loud cracking noise? That is the sound of a solenoid banging the side of the pinball cabinet. Well, not always the side of the cabinet, but usually. Some newer Williams/ Bally games have the thwacker (technical term) in the backbox. Weird. In most cases, it signals the award of a free game, a chance to play the machine again at no cost! Along with being a real-life physical entity that you can manipulate, free games are what sets pinball machines apart from video games. There *is* the occasional video game that gives free games (like Mr. Do), but they are few and far between. A more recent example is Cruisin' USA (for getting first place), but I don't consider that to be the same thing because you are still continuing where you left off. >>2.3 - What is a special? Usually a special is a free game. However, the reason that it's called a special is because it doesn't HAVE to be a free game. It could also be an extra ball or some number of points. (The latter is most often the case in tournaments.) The precursor to the Special was an award called "WOW". >>2.4 - What is a match? At the end of your game (unless your operator has disabled it), you will be given a chance to randomly win a free game. If the selected digits match the last 2 digits of your score, you get it. Note, though, that on modern games, you do not have a 1:10 chance of getting a game. The percentage of matches awarded is operator settable, and often defaults to 7%. Supposedly Gottlieb machines default to a paltry 1%! And Data East uses a newbie-catcher trick: When the game matches, it plays some sounds, some animations, and gives you the credit after about 3-5 seconds. If you hit start before then (because you still have credits left), you won't get your match credit! Back when scores didn't have dummy 0's (or 2 or 3 or 6... :) ), matches were only on the last digit of your score... On No Fear, Williams has introduced an entirely new matching mechanism. They may or may not keep using something similar. (It has each player roll a simulated pair of dice, and then the game rolls a pair and matches are based on that.) >>2.5 - Do pinball machines have magnets in them? NO! Well, usually not. Some games have visible, purposeful magnets in them, but they are usually pointed out to you somehow. Some examples are the spiral magnets in TZ, the power in TAF (LAH also uses the same technique as TAF), and the "Don't shoot!" ball-trapping magnet in Rollergames. In TZ, there is also the Magna-Flip in the Powerfield, where you activate the magnets in an attempt to sling the ball up to the top. And, in some games of the past (most notably BK and BK2K), there was Magna-Save. Hit the button, and your ball would be caught from the outlane, and generally fall back into the inlane (assuming you were fast enough, of course...). A rather non-exhaustive list of games with purposeful magnets: Lost World, Tales of the Arabian Nights, No Fear, High Speed 2, Theatre of Magic, World Cup Soccer, Twilight Zone, Dr*c*l*, Last Action Hero, The Addams Family, Dr. Dude, Rollergames, Black Knight 2000, Black Knight, Centaur, Zodiac (Planets)... Feel free to mail me stuff I've forgotten. >>2.6 - Then what causes weird ball movement? Strange things happen because the ball will develop spin. When the ball bounces off of something, several things can happen. If the ball hits metal, it'll have a tendency to have its velocity absorbed for the most part and the spin will carry it in a new direction. This is most often observed with metal outlane posts. If the ball hits rubber, then it'll generally bounce off it, but not at the angle you might expect. Another cause of weird movement is when the playfield covering (mylar, or the new Williams Diamond-Plate (tm)) starts to bubble up from underneath. This can rise high enough to cause a miniture hill of sorts for the ball to roll over. Not only that, but under-playfield gizmos that have something on top of them to protect them from the regular playfield (like that hologram in CFTBL) sometimes sink down a little bit further than the playfield level, and balls can get caught on the lip or have their velocity otherwise altered. -- Thanks to Dave Stewart <dstewart@eng.umd.edu> for suggestions. >>2.7 - So the electro-magnetic field from underneath the playfield that is generated by the lights and all the wiring doesn't affect the movement of the ball in any way? No. >>2.8 - What is a beta machine? Beta machines are pins that show up a while before their production run. Most often, they appear in areas around Chicago (since that's where all the manufacturers are located) so that people can try them out and give their initial impressions and feelings about the game. Betas generally are quite a bit different from their later production counterparts in the way the rules are set up. However, the artwork and playfield layout almost never changes, though other things like rubber posts may be added and/or removed. There are also even earlier prototype machines that may wind up being radically different from the later betas and production machines. The term "Beta" was coined by rgp (probably due to the nature of its inhabitants) and is not necessarily used by other people, like the manufacturers. ** See also question 6.2 for information on prototype ROMs. ** See also question 2.18 for machines currently being produced. >>2.9 - Did I just see a cow in that game? Yep. Lots of recent Bally/Williams games have cows in them. The reason is unbeknownst to the pinball public, though. Data East caught on to this, and a cow is featured in one of their games (LW3). It pops up during video mode and is considered an enemy. :) Shoot it, quick! >>2.10 - Are there cows in _____? If you really want to know, there is a guide to cows in pinball machines in the archive. It is called Misc/cows. >>2.11 - How much does a machine weigh? Around 250-350 pounds, depending on the number of toys in it, whether it's a widebody or not, etc. >>2.12 - How much does a machine cost? New machines fresh from the factory retail for $3000-$3500. Sega, Gottlieb, and Capcom machines tend to be on the less expensive end of the scale; Williams/Bally tend to be more expensive. Capcom has recently started producing much lower-costing games starting with Breakshot. >>2.13 - What is the size of a pinball? 1 1/16" diameter, weight 80 grams for a regular steel ball. 1 1/16" diameter, weight 65 grams for the Powerball. A "normal" pure ceramic Powerball would only weigh 40 grams. However, there are apparently several different types of ceramic, and the Powerball is one of these. By comparison, if the Powerball was phenolic (the stuff used to make pool balls), it would weigh 13.6 grams (or maybe 17.7 with a steel middle). -- Thanks to Brent Earl <earl@rtsg.mot.com> for the answer to this question. -- Thanks to Chris Hehman <hehman@vnet.net> for information. >>2.14 - What is the Powerball? The Powerball is found in TZ. It is ceramic, and thus immune to the magnets. It is also lighter and moves much faster around the playfield. It seems to be just slightly larger than a normal pinball, supposedly verified by a caliper by someone. (Anyone know who or for sure?) It's awfully close to 1 1/16", though. >>2.15 - What is the Power? The Power is a somewhat recurring theme found in Williams' games. It has been featured as early as Big Guns, with "Feel the power" written on the promo flyer. Pat Lawlor's games have used it the most, as a rule. First, in Whirlwind, where you "Feel the power of the wind." Then it shows up in TAF (a trio of cycling magnets that can throw the ball off into weird places). Finally, TZ features the mini-playfield to defeat the power. It doesn't seem to have any kind of deep inner-meaning significance.. >>2.16 - Are there any pinball-related or pinball-specific publications? Yes. There is a list of books and magazines (some dedicated to pinball, others to the entertainment industry in general) in the FAQ, along with addresses to contact the publishers. >>2.17 - What is the Broadway Arcade? Quite possibly one of the finest arcades in the US for playing pinball. It is located at 52nd & Broadway in New York City. Its owner is Steve Epstein, who has been an incredible force in advancing the world of pinball. He is the founder of PAPA and is responsible for numerous tournaments held nowadays. Truly a great man dedicated to a great cause! :) After January 1, 1997, the Broadway Arcade was closed for business, due to a non-renewal of its lease. This was a tremendous loss for New York City and pinball in general. Presumably Steve will be restarting somewhere else in due time. -- Thanks to Steve Baumgarten <sbb@panix.com> for corrections. >>2.18 - What games are current and coming? Williams/Bally: Producing: Medieval Madness Next up: Cirqus Voltaire Sega: Producing: Lost World Next up: X-Files ** Section 3 - Playing Pinball ** --------------------------------- >>3.1 - Is there a good source of information for improving my play? In the archive, there is a file called Info/playingtips. It is maintained by Dave Hollinsworth <hlsw_ltd@uhura.cc.rochester.edu>. It is an invaluable guide to getting better and explaining techniques. If you are at all serious about improving your skill, you should not be without this guide. There is a LOT of information in it, but some questions are asked so often, I felt they also deserved a spot in the DFAQ... Also check the Pinball Pasture (Playing.html appended to URL in question 1.9) which contains that file (with cross-references) and other articles that appeared on rgp. >>3.2 - How does tilt work, anyway? The main tilt sensor that you are probably familiar with (the one that gives you warnings and ends your ball if you move the game too much to the side or back and forth) is a ring on the side of the cabinet. In the middle of the ring is a rod that hangs above. Attached to the bottom of the rod is a weight (which can be adjusted in height). The end result is a pendulum that swings about as the machine gets moved. When the bob (or the rod if the bob is missing for some reason) touches the ring, you set off the tilt sensor for a warning or a tilt. Most games give you 2 warnings before actually tilting (which basically means you lose your ball - the flippers go dead, nothing else registers a hit, and you lose any bonus you had). Data East games only default to 1 warning at the moment. There are other tilt switches, too. One is a ball on a shallow rail to detect if the game is being picked up at the front end or not. This may or may not immediately tilt your ball, or worse slam tilt your game. *** ROUGH ASCII DRAWING ALERT! *** | | | | | <-------- metal rod | | | - / \ | | / \ ---+-----+--- <- ring / \ | | <---- pendulum bob / \ --------- | | "Side view of a tilt mechanism" The lower the bob is on the rod, the less sensitive the game is. The higher up, the more sensitive, since the edge of the bob will getting closer and closer to the ring (due to the slope of the bob). >>3.3 - What is a slam tilt? A slam tilt is used to discourage heavy abuse of a game. If a machine slam tilts for whatever reason, your game (and any other players' games) is OVER. Bam. No questions asked. The two most typical places for a slam tilt switch are on the coin door and on the bottom of the machine. There's one on the coin door to prevent "slamming" credits on the machine. The one on the bottom is to try and detect a drop. And some machines (though recent ones don't seem to have these) have a sensor just under the lockdown bar to detect slamming the top of the glass near the front of the machine. These are simply leaf switches that signal a slam to the game when they come into contact (though older Gottliebs had slam switches that were normally CLOSED - this must have been weird). Sometimes your coin door may be a bit loose for some reason. When this is true, it will make the game a lot easier to slam tilt because of the extra pressure provided by your fist moving forward and the door moving then stopping and having no where else to go. A great way of reducing accidental slams (I've brought my knee up into a loose coin door just by using body- english before and the game slammed, even though I just grazed it) is to take a penny (or other coin or semi-thick metal object) and wedge it into the gap between the coin door and the frame outside it. This will effectively keep the coin door from moving at all because of the pressure the penny provides against it. -- Thanks to Mark Phaedrus <phaedrus@halcyon.com> for information. >>3.4 - What is a death save? A death save is a way to get the ball back into play after it has gone down an outlane. For it to work, you need to have a machine that is not very sensitive tilt-wise. These are easiest on any Data East machine, followed closely by Williams/Bally and Alvin G. machines. They are very hard to do on Gottlieb machines. You can do a death save if the ball has gone down the right outlane (or down the left on a Gottlieb, since they have that rubber pin there to bounce the ball off of). When it has gone down the outlane, hold up the LEFT flipper. Then, as soon as the ball hits the metal plate on the left side, give the machine a sharp quick shove to the right (and perhaps back a little bit). For a Gottlieb machine, you should reverse the process, since you'll be trying to save a left drain off the post. Right outlane saves are very hard. When you try these, please make sure there's enough room for the machine to move around, or else you'll wind up damaging the machine, machines around it, walls, etc. The operator will be less than pleased at you if any of this should happen. However, if you do it right, the ball should now be just above the right flipper. Lower the left and flip away! Warning: Be sure you have your weight sufficiently behind you when you try this! Otherwise, you could wind up hurting your elbow or arm. In the archive, you should check out the /Binaries/Images/ds_bb.gif picture (or its PostScript counterpart, /Binaries/Images/ds_bb.ps). It gives you the general idea of how a death save is supposed to work. These files include bang back diagrams as well. Also see the file referenced in the next question. >>3.5 - What is a bang back? Bang backs are extremely useful for getting the ball back from EITHER outlane when you have a very sensitive machine. They work best on all but the most recent Williams/Bally games (like IJ and JD). They work on Data East machines as well, but they're somewhat harder to do. I've never gotten a bang back on a Gottlieb machine for some reason. Basically, hold up the flipper on the side that the ball is draining. Then, when the ball is under the "swiveling part" of the flipper, hit the front of the machine at the lockdown bar or a little below HARD and in the direction you want the ball to go (i.e. up-left). The ball should pop right off the drain plate and back onto the playfield. These 2 terms (bang backs and death saves) get mixed up all the time for some reason. A good way to remember is that bang backs involve BANGing the machine. In the archive, Dave Stewart <dstewart@eng.umd.edu> has written an entire guide to saving outlane drains. It provides an excellent description of how to do a bang back. Not only that, but death saves are described in there too. What more could you ask for? The file is Tips/bangbacks. It is the main reason why I'm not describing how to do them in extreme detail in the DFAQ. >>3.6 - What are combos? Combos are usually defined as a sequence of shots made in rapid succession without missing. More often than not, they involve use of a different flipper for each shot. The first game to my knowledge that had a "hidden combo award" in it was Whirlwind. It also had the coolest sound effect for getting it. Since then, many games have had combo awards in them, and some have even made the combo an integral part of the game (e.g. Dr. Who's W-H-O shots and Dr. Dude's Reflex 1-2-3 shots). A couple of the most recent even have the combos laid out for you (Bally's Black Rose and Gottlieb's Stargate). Combos play a major part in Williams' Demolition Man. >>3.7 - What are "Wizard Awards?" This is the general term given to an objective in a game that is pretty difficult to reach and can be worth a lot of points once you finally get it. In mode-based games, the Wizard Award tends to be something that happens once you have completed all of the modes. In other non-mode-intensive games (like Whitewater) the Wizard Award is completing several objectives, each of which can be a difficult task. Some games may have a couple of Wizard Awards. JP, for example, has the complete-all-modes System Failure as well as the multiball super jackpots. Another recent example is the Lost In the Zone mode in TZ. >>3.8 - Is _____ a good score on _____? This is, in general, a pretty difficult question to answer. Games vary widely in terms of setup (both physically and in the software settings - more on this in the Technical Section), how much tilt they have, the condition they're in (e.g. clean and fast or dirty and slow). A fairly crude estimation of a good game is whether or not you got a replay. Usually, a replay means you've had one of the best 10% games recently. Now, maybe everyone else who plays there is a terrible player, but like I said, it's crude. If you get a high score, then you've done extremely well. Of course, you could always post and ask, and someone will probably tell you they've gotten 5x your score at one point. :) >>3.9 - What is "rolling a game over?" Quite simply, this is what happens when your score becomes more digits than the machine can handle. On today's machines, this commonly happens at 10B points. However, ST:TNG and all machines after it (from Williams/Bally) handle 10B+ scores, so rolling over the game will become quite a bit more difficult. The upper limit is currently not known, though, since 100B scores have been reported. Sega games simply stop scoring at 9,999,999,990. Starting with Corvette, Williams/Bally games (at least in single-player mode, don't know about others) will actually display 10B+ scores during the game. >>3.10 - Why is the replay score different from the other day? All modern games use reflexing to adjust the replay value of a game every so often to a desired target percentage of replays. Generally, this is set to about 10%. This means that the game looks at the last x number of games played, determines the percentage of those games that replays were awarded, then makes the new replay value higher or lower depending on what the actual percentage of games won is compared to the desired percentage. Williams/Bally and Gottlieb games reset their replay scores every 50 or so games. Data East games ask you to hit start after power-cycling the machine in order to adjust the replay (or they do it right away if you are using the menus). Lots of recent Gottlieb games have a bug in them that sets the replay well out of reach for pretty much anyone. No one knows why for sure, but there are quite a few machines (SF2s and SMBs, especially) that have replays in the 9 BILLIONS! Ouch. Different from the base replay score is the replay boost: Most games will start raising the current replay score until you run out of credits (so that it isn't easy to constantly keep getting replays at a set score). Williams games nowadays typically raise the replay by 50% of the BASE replay score (so if a replay was 1.2B, the boost would be 600M every time) until you run out of credits or someone else puts more money into the game (although Johnny Mnemonic will not allow a replay of more than 10B points). Either of those actions will put the replay score back to its base (usually). Sega games boost their replays after a replay *OR* a match! Running out of credits or putting more money in should reset the replay back to normal here, too. For older Gottlieb games, you can get a few replays in a row at the base score, but after that, the score starts to skyrocket. And the boost gets higher and higher after each game played until there are no credits left. Newer Gottliebs (starting with Stargte) seem to have adopted the normal replay boosting system. Also note that the replay score isn't the only thing that can reflex on a game. Number of ramp shots needed to light extra ball is a good example of other reflexing features. Beware of Data East "reflexing," though! Their games have a tendency to reflex either on or off, not just harder or easier! (This is a Bad Thing, of course.) -- Thanks to Dave Stewart <dstewart@eng.umd.edu> for suggestions. >>3.11 - How does the game know when a ball is stuck? Well, the true answer is that it doesn't know, really... at least not at first. When the game has been idle for a little while during play (no sensors have been tripped, and you're not holding a flipper up), it goes into "ball search mode." This basically involves kicking every solenoid in the game in an effort to lodge the ball free from wherever it might be. Usually this is sufficient because a ball will be resting against a fairly unsensitive jet bumper or perhaps accidently trapped by a diverter (seems to happen in IJ a lot, at least to me, on the right ramp during or just after multiball). However, sometimes airballs (or "glassies") will cause the ball to land in a place that it shouldn't have been able to get to. :) In a lot of these cases, no amount of solenoid kicking is likely to get the ball free. Now, at this point you have a few options: Try to shake the ball lose, risking a tilt; wait for a few ball searches, and the machine will either kick out any locked balls (if there are any) or (very rarely) give you a new ball at the plunger; turn the machine off or slam tilt it to make the machine give up on the ball for good. Option 1 will at least let you continue your game if you get the ball unstuck. Option 2 will let you continue your game, but often relocking a ball that got kicked out from a lock will just make the game sit there again until it kicks the locked ball out again. Draining the newly given ball will usually mean you have to resort to 1 or 3. Option 3 should be a last resort, obviously. When the machine comes back on, hitting start will give you a "pinball missing" message for 30-60 seconds, then let you start a game with the ball missing. This means that multiballs will have 1 less ball if applicable. If there are 3 balls installed, and there's a 2 ball multiball, you'll still get 2 balls. But with 3 installed and a 3 ball multiball, then you'll only have 2 and it'll end when 1 of them drains. If there are 6 balls, then 3 ball multiballs will work OK, but obviously only 5 will be available during the 6 ball round. The (rather alarming) trend in games these days is that if a ball should somehow get unstuck during a game after the machine has flagged it as missing, draining one of the (now two) balls will usually end your ball no matter how many targets you hit after it starts counting your bonus. Hopefully, the other ball will drain while your bonus is counting and the game will realize that it now has all the balls again. If it doesn't, though, and the ball winds up in the drain while the other one is at the plunger, you may wind up with 2 balls in the plunger lane! This is bad, because the game will still end your ball after one of them drains. The trick here is to just get one into play. This is impossible, though, if the game has an autoplunger. You're in real trouble if this is the case... ** Section 4 - Tournament Play ** --------------------------------- >>4.1 - What are the major pinball leagues? Currently, there is 1 national pinball league - PAPA (Professional and Amateur Pinball Association). In July, 1994, the IFPA (International Flipper Pinball Association) ceased operation. IFPA used to be supported by the manufacturers themselves (at a supposed US$20,000/year/manufacturer), but they pulled out, effectively killing the IFPA. This has not been much of a surprise, really. More than likely, the reason is the manufacturers just didn't see any results in the popularity of pinball as a result of the operations of the IFPA... Note: The IFPA was sponsored by the AMOA, which still sponsors some pinball tournaments from time to time, though this may not last. Recently, lots of other local leagues have popped up and are becoming quite popular: FSPA (Free State Pinball Association) - MD/DC/VA area BAPA (Bay Area Pinball Association) - Bay Area, in CA SCPA (Steel City Pinball Assoctiation) - Pittsburgh, PA TPL (Triangle Pinball League) - Raleigh, NC (Feel free to mail me to mention your league here.) >>4.2 - What are the major tournaments? There are 2 very major tournaments during the course of the year. The first one is the PAPA tournament, held in New York City early to mid February (there hasn't been one in 1996, due in part to the slimy company Amtex -- see question 8.4). The next one is the Wild West Pinball Fest, held in Arizona around late May. Another annual tournament is at Pinball Expo (held in Chicago in early September). The PAPA tournament usually has 6 divisions: Open A, B, & C, doubles, womens, and juniors (under 16). They pay out the top 9 in each division (whoever made the semis). The WWPF has a couple of divisions and lots of other different events, such as head-to-head play on Joust machines. Many people have regarded this tournament to be the most "fun", and PAPA as the most "serious". >>4.3 - What are common settings for tournament play? This depends on the tournament. All of them will set the tournament mode option on (if the game has one). Since the tournament only lasts for a weekend and there are a LOT of matches that have to be played, games are usually set so that the average game time is pretty low. Extra balls are off, specials score points, and there are no replays or other credits. Typically, they are also set for hard rules and *very* hard outlanes. >>4.4 - What is a "tournament mode?" The purpose of tournament modes is to take the "randomness" of a game as much as possible. What this mainly means is that any random awards given out by a game will be made non-random. Examples: The Fish Finder on Fish Tales and the Burn Rubber award on HS2 give out the same awards in the same order each time. Along these same lines, games that physically lock balls (FunHouse is a good example) often attempt to not give one person an advantage by "stealing" other locked balls. In FunHouse, when someone has multiball lit, at the start of each ball the clock resets to 11:30 no matter what to keep it 100% consistent. Some machines (Gottlieb's Wipeout is one) actually release all locked balls. Starting with Baywatch, Sega has included an option for letting the player(s) decide whether they want to play tournament settings or not. There is a special tournament play button that basically puts the game into Tournament Mode without having to have access to set that in the machine's menus. -- Thanks to Mark Phaedrus <phaedrus@halcyon.com> for suggestions. >>4.5 - How do the tournaments work? Well, this depends on the tournament, too. Here is a brief overview of the major tournaments: IFPA (at least, how it used to work) ---- The IFPA tournament features the game currently on the production line or very close to it for each manufacturer that is a member of the IFPA (this is all 3 (4 if you separate Williams/Bally, which are really the same) of the major manufacturers at the moment). The tournament is a double-elimination tournament, each match being the best 2 out of 3 games, each one played on a different machine. If you get to next day's competition, you start all over again (i.e. you have to lose twice again to be eliminated). All the machines (typically, 100 of them - 25 of each) are always available for play, but for a price. You also have to pay for each game that you play for actual competition. In its effort to pay out to as many people as possible, the IFPA has succeeded in making its prize money pretty much a joke. The winner of the highest division this year made slightly over $800. Yay. Generally speaking, though, most people aren't in it for the money (probably, quite frankly, because it just isn't there - you can't make a living playing pinball). The IFPA has come under question after each of the last 2 tournaments they've put on. It seems that the prize money given out doesn't seem to quite equate to the amount gained for entry fees and coin drops (since you always have to pay to play). This amount has generally been fairly substantial. For IFPA 3, the total purse advertised was $20,000, when the actual payouts were closer to $10,000. For IFPA 4, the advertised amount was $25,000, with the payouts being closer to $15,000... PAPA ---- This is by far the premiere tournament for pinball players. It is generally held in New York City (at least, the first 4 were). The PAPA tournament features the qualifying round and the finals round. To qualify, you need to have one of the 20 or so top scores in the division. Your total is the sum of all scores on (usually) 8 machines. These tend to be the 2 machines in production from each manufacturer right before the current machine (which is used for finals/doubles), though it also has a great deal to do with the availability of certain games. In the quarters, there are about 5 4-player games played. Each person scores points on each game based on where he/she finished (10 for 1st, then 5, 1, 0). There are a certain number of people that move on to the next round based on the number of "PAPA Points" they have. In the case of a tie, total score is used to break it. Then around 12 people move to the semis, then 4 to the finals using the same format. Prize money is very good here, but then they only pay out the first 4 places in each division. The divisions are: A, B, C, Women's, Doubles, and Juniors. Other ----- At the Arizona show, there is a qualifying round, then the top scorers compete on one machine (a surprise until finals, could be *anything*, including old EMs!), top score wins. What do they win, you ask? A new pinball machine (current). At Expo, there is a qualifying round, then later rounds on different machines for each round. The qualifying machine tends to be the latest machine from the manufacturer giving the factory tour that year. Winner here also gets a new machine. >>4.6 - How can I find out about tournaments? Obviously, the best way is to read rgp! :) Other than that, most of them do some advertising in the trade magazines and pinball magazines that are listed in the regular FAQ. After these two choices, though, you're on your own! Perhaps your local friendly operator would let you skim through their magazine to check (any half-decent operator will subscribe to something like Replay, even a lot of the ones that AREN'T half-decent :) ). >>4.7 - Can I start my own league? Sure, why not? If you want it to be sanctioned by PAPA, then you'll need to contact Steve Epstein. If you just want to start small, and perhaps become sanctioned later, then you can run it pretty much any way you want. A good source of information is the Pin-Wizard Archive (see question 1.9) provided by Dave Stewart <dstewart@eng.umd.edu>. It's a really good idea to have the help and approval of a local operator when trying to start one up, if not essential. >>4.8 - Who are the past tournament winners? As of February, 1995... 1991 - PAPA 1 - Joey Cartegena IFPA 1 - Rick Stetta 1992 - PAPA 2 - Rick Stetta IFPA 2 - Dave Hegge 1993 - PAPA 3 - Lyman Sheats, Jr. IFPA 3 - Rick Stetta 1994 - PAPA 4 - Bowen Kerins IFPA 4 - Dan Wilson 1995 - PAPA 5 - Paul Madison >>4.9 - What is this Rating System posted to rgp? An effort to rate players worldwide. It is kind of difficult, as there are not that many major tournaments at the moment to provide cross-pollenation of the main leagues around the world. Not much work has been done on this recently, but I plan to start very seriously pretty soon. You can mail me <keefer@access.digex.net> with questions. It was originated by Bowen Kerins. ** Section 5 - History ** ------------------------- >>5.1 - What was the first pinball game? This depends on what exactly you're asking. Before pinball as we know it today, there were machines that just had pins in them and balls would fall down from the top (like a Pachinko machine, except they weren't upright). This is probably why it was called pin-ball. This coin operated pinball industry as we know it today came into being around 1931. The term "pinball" wasn't coined until 1936. -- Thanks to Terry Cumming <terry.cumming@canrem.com> for information. >>5.2 - OK, then, what was the first game with FLIPPERS in it? That would be Humpty Dumpty by Gottlieb. The flippers still weren't as we know it today, though. They were really small mini-flippers, and there were six of them. Not only that, they were in the middle at different levels and faced like this: \ /. However, the pivot point was on the *bottom* of the flipper, so you worked your way up. It wasn't until much later that the flippers migrated down to where they are now. The first game to feature flippers at the bottom of the layout was Triple Action (Genco, January 1948, which was designed by Williams' Steve Kordek). However, the flippers were facing outward here. The first game with "normal" flippers was probably Spot Bowler (Gottlieb, 1950). The really small flippers used on these games (about the size of the "Thing" flipper on TAF) were used almost exclusively on games until around 1970. Here's a brief timeline of other events: 1929 - John J. Sloan, an American advertising representative, starts mass- producing bagatelle (an early 19th century game) tables 1931 - Raymond T. Maloney builds Ballyhoo, with sales of 50,000 at $16 each, marking the beginning of the pinball era (Maloney goes on to found the Bally Manufacturing Company) 1934 - Tilt device introduced (dag-nabbed contraption! ;) ) 1946 - Harry Williams founds Williams Manufacturing with his first machine, Suspense 1950 - Rotating dials are used to show scores, as opposed to lights for numbers in the various places; some previous machines did use rotating dials, but showed the entire score on one piece, not individual wheels for each digit 1954 - Gottlieb produces the first 4-person table, Super Jumbo 1960 - Gottlieb's Flipper introduces the idea of an extra ball (this was done as an alternative to replays to conform to laws of certain areas, thus their concentration is higher in some places) 1962 - Williams' Vagabond introduces drop targets 1968 - First game with 3-inch flippers produced (Williams' Hayburners II) 1970 - Big Flipper produced (by Chicago Coin) which had the largest flippers to date (at 5 inches!) 1975 - Micro produces first non-relay based game, Spirit of 76 (and supposedly, only 100 were produced due to an unattractive playfield - it resembled Gottlieb's Flying Carpet (1972) and had very few layers of silk-screening) 1979 - Williams produces first talking game, Gorgar -- Thanks to Terry Cumming <terry.cumming@canrem.com> for information. -- Thanks to Paul Fernquist <pfern@technix.technix.mn.org> for information. -- Thanks to Jarod Nash <j.nash@ukc.ac.uk> for information. -- Thanks to Harry Cline <clinehe@cig.mot.com> for information. -- Thanks to David Marston <marston@coos.dartmouth.edu> for information. >>5.3 - What are Electro-Mechanical games? EMs, as they are affectionately called, are basically games that have lots of wires, bells, whistles, and (perhaps their most distinctive feature) scoring reels. I would say the name refers to their basic nature of electricity signalling certain relays and solenoids to move and change your score or ring bells. -- Thanks to David Marston <marston@coos.dartmouth.edu> for suggestions. >>5.4 - What are Solid State games? Basically, anything that came out after EMs died out. The first solid state game came out around 1976. The most obvious changes in these new machines were the use of 7-segment displays for score, and more electronical-sounding noises (computer-generated beeps and boops). The first SS game available for general operator purchase was Freedom (Bally, 1976). Several games from the 1976-1979 period were made in both SS and EM versions. -- Thanks to David Marston <marston@coos.dartmouth.edu> for information. >>5.5 - What was the first Data East game? Data East Pinball released their first pin in 1987, called Laser War. They have since become a fairly major force in the industry. They have also since been bought by Sega. >>5.6 - What was the first Alvin G. & Co. game? I believe their first machine was A. G. Soccer-Ball, which was released in 1991. This was basically a regular-sized pinball machine with flipper buttons on both ends and a playfield that was crowned in the middle towards either end. If you don't play against a friend, then the game will itself provide somewhat of an opponent using its patented Switch Flippers. Basically, each flipper has a switch on it that detects when the ball hits it, then it flips. It has been seen doing slap saves! Their first conventional pin was World Tour, released in late 1992. (Its full name is "Al's Garage Band Goes On a World Tour" I think.) The big "feature" of this game was a spinning disk as a ramp. Not a very big deal, really. Another "feature" of the game was the fact that every time the ball hit a jet bumper, you'd feel it in the flipper buttons! This was a pretty strange sensation, to say the least. ** See also question 5.10 about their fold. >>5.7 - Aren't Tri-Ball and M-Ball really stupid names for Multiball? Multiball is a registered trademark (R) of Williams. As such, they are the ones with the rights to use it and can forbid other people to use it. They actually sued Data East for using it (because they were starting to provide some decent competition, and wanted to thwart them in any way they could), and so Data East started using the infamous Tri-Ball in the middle of the production run for LW3. That's why some LW3s say Multiball and some say Tri-Ball. Everything since has been Tri-Ball or something other than Multiball. Late breaking news: Starting with Tales From the Crypt, Data East can now use Multiball to their heart's content. >>5.8 - So why do Gottlieb and Alvin G. machines say Multiball? Because Williams has chosen "selective enforcement" for Multiball. Since these two companies aren't perceived as much of a threat, Williams hasn't bothered with them. >>5.9 - Is there a list of all the pinball games that have been made? Well, most of the solid state games that have been produced are in a list in the archive. It is called /Info/pinball. It is maintained by Rob Rosenhouse <rob_rosenhouse@hq-bbs.wisdom.bubble.org>. There is also a more comprehensive list covering games in a bit more detail from 1947 on up. You can get information on the guide itself or order it from: Daina Pettit, 4805 Marabow Circle, Salt Lake City, UT 84117. Phone number is (801)277-6296. Email: daina@xmission.com. Web page: "http://www.xmission.com/~daina". Contains nearly all you'd want to know about 1,600 games. I haven't seen it myself, this is what Daina has told me. >>5.10 - What manufacturers have died off over the years? There was Chicago Coin (which later became Stern) which put out a good number of pins, Game Plan, Exhibit, Genco, Keeny, United (apparently later acquired by Williams), Zaccaria (an Italian manufacturer), Atari (who also put out the biggest pin, called Hercules, with the pinball being roughly the size of a cue ball!), and supposedly even Sega had a brief pinball stint (this was before they bought DE Pinball in late 1994). On March 5, 1994, Alvin G. and Co., which had been in business for probably a little less than 2 or 3 years, closed its doors as well. On July 9, 1996, Gottlieb/Premier closed its doors. Their assets were acquired by a parent company, Mondial. Their name will likely be on machines again some time in the future. On December 9, 1996, Capcom closed its pinball division. Talks with Sega to acquire them didn't quite pan out. They had been operating since approximately March 15, 1994 (ribbon-cutting ceremony). A few companies also produced 1 or 2 games that I haven't bothered to list here. If you really want to know, check out the list mentioned in 5.9. -- Thanks to Lyman Sheats, Jr. <lyman@chinet.com> for information. -- Thanks to David Marston <marston@coos.dartmouth.edu> for information. >>5.11 - Do manufacturers from other countries exist? Well, after Zaccaria from Italy died out, no. At least, not that I'm aware of. >>5.12 - Was pinball really banned in New York City? Yes, for quite a long time: January 21st, 1942 up until 1976. The mayor at the time (Fiorello Henry LaGuardia, as in LaGuardia airport) made a big spectacle by smashing up a large number of pinball machines in front of a fairly supportive crowd! Anyway, the ban was put into place because the machines were seen more as a game of luck than of skill. (And games of luck == gambling, apparently!) However, in 1976, one Mr. Roger Sharpe went up to the NYC City Council when they were having hearings on the ban. He said something to the effect of: "I can pull back this plunger and make the ball go into the lane I want at the top of the machine." He proceeded to plunge, make the lane, and right away they voted to end the ban. Neat story, huh? If you didn't know, Roger Sharpe is the Major Marketing Dude at Williams now. -- Thanks to Scott Piehler <rosco29@mindspring.com> for information. >>5.13 - Are replays still illegal in New York City? Well, replays were a major reason why pinball was banned in the first place, as far as I know. They are still illegal in NYC, apparently. However, it turns out most places blissfully ignore this law and let their games give out replays anyway. -- Thanks to Steve Baumgarten <sbb@panix.com> for information. >>5.14 - What are the most popular games ever? Here is what has been pieced together from various sources: Units Year Manu. Game 1. 22,000 1991 Bally The Addams Family 2. 20,230 1977 Bally Eight Ball 3. 19,000 1978 Wms. Flash 4. 18,250 1978 Bally Playboy 5. 17,000 1991 Wms. Terminator 2 5. 17,000 1976 Bally Kiss 7. 16,850 1978 Bally Star Trek 8. 16,260 1976 Bally Mata Hari 9. 16,000 1976 Wms. Space Mission 10. 16,155 1976 Bally Captain Fantastic 11. 14,550 1978 Bally Harlem Globetrotters 12. 14,000 1993 Bally Twilight Zone 12. 14,000 1976 Bally Evel Knievel 14. 13,750 1977 Bally Power Play 15. 12,820 1977 Bally Strikes and Spares 16. 12,000 1985 Wms. High Speed 17. 11,400 1979 Bally Space Invaders 18. 11,000 1979 Bally Xenon -- Thanks to Ted Piknis <bure@wam.umd.edu> for contributions. -- Thanks to Matt Walsh <mtmr@walsh.dme.battelle.org> for contributions. -- Thanks to Federico Croci <wiz@pinball.nervous.com> for contributions. ** Section 6 - Technically Speaking ** -------------------------------------- >>6.1 - Can the rules change on the same game? Yep, and they usually do quite a few times. One reason is because most of the rules and timers can be adjusted with the operator menus. (See the later questions on how games get easier or harder.) The other major reason is because the rules in general go through several revisions. In order to do this, though, they have to make new ROMs for the game. Generally speaking, the later the ROMs the better, because that means they have the rules refined a bit more and the bugs worked out for the most part. However, as games get more and more complex, the likeliness of bugs showing up gets higher and higher. IJ and JP are 2 good examples of games that still have a large number of bugs in them despite having gone through a large number of ROM changes. >>6.2 - So how do I see what the ROMs are on my machine? Usually the only way is to power-cycle the machine. On Williams/Bally games, the ROMs are labeled like this: P-?? means prototype (pre-production run) ROMs, where the ?? is a number of some sort. The higher the number, the later the ROMs. L-?? means production ROMs (again the higher the number the later they are), and H-?? is used for custom ROMs. You have to have some pretty good connections to get these kind. :) For a while, Williams/Bally games used PA/LA and PX/LX. These signify American ROMs and export ROMs (the A and the X that is). The difference is that it is impossible without extra hardware for an American ROM game to be set to $.25/game. Boo. Sega games use actual ?.??-type numbers for their ROMs, as well as the date of release. Williams/Bally, starting with Theatre of Magic, have gone to a ?.??-type numbering system like Sega's now. Gottlieb games don't give any indication of ROMs whatsoever. It just tells you how many balls should be in the game and the ROM checksum. Not very helpful, really. Alvin G. games display something like "AG10/R3". The best guess is that the first number is the game number and the second number is the revision level. -- Thanks to John Gantert <gantertj@vitro.com> for information. >>6.3 - What kind of sensors are used in games? Microswitched switches ---------------------- Rollover - Ball rolls over wire sticking up through slot in playfield. Rollunder - Ball rolls under (or next to) a switch mounted on a ramp. VUK - Weight of ball on VUK cup depresses a switch lever. Star Rollover - Weight of ball rolling across button depresses switch lever. Saucer - Ball in saucer depresses switch lever. Spinner - Spinning target repeatedly trips switch lever. Optos (optical sensors) ----------------------- Standard opto - Emitter/detector. Ball crosses and breaks a beam of light. Micro opto - 1-piece emitter/detector. Use on "gizmos" for positioning. Also used for multi-bank drop targets to detect dropped targets. Long Range opto - Same as a standard opto, except that the emitter/detector use *modulated* light. This helps the detector detect the light source as it gets quite dim with great distances. Williams uses infrafred LED emitters, Sega uses visible red-light emitters. Proximity sensors (detect a ball from under the playfield) ---------------------------------------------------------- TZ Style - These are fixed sensitivity. New Style (STTNG and newer) - These have a little potentiometer on a control PCB to adjust sensitivity. All Proximity sensors work via Hall effect sensors. When a metal ball passes by the loop sensor, its ferric content induces electric current in the sensor loop. This is why it's similar to induction loops used to detect cars at traffic lights. The Powerball, of course, doesn't affect the things at all! This is how TZ differentiates between ball-types (if the proximity sensor is NOT tripped before the Slot Machine switch, then it must be the powerball). -- Thanks to Bill Ung <ung@filenet.com> for suggestions. -- Thanks to Jonathan Deitch <musjndx@gsusgi2.gsu.edu> for a rewrite. >>6.4 - What happens when the switches break? Well, unless it is a Williams/Bally game, probably nothing. Gottlieb games can do some compensation (SF2, for example, will give you credit for hitting a ramp if you shoot the shot underneath the ramp because the game thinks that the ramp is stuck up; also, vice versa), but supposedly the general concept of compensating for bad switches is patented by Williams. That is why when your Control Room or Power Shed break on JP, nothing happens, and the game becomes utterly useless. >>6.5 - What are those wiry paths called? Well, we in rgp have taken to calling them "habitrails." I've heard them called different things as well, like "wireforms" (in an interview with Mark Ritchie in the Flipside). >>6.6 - How can the game get harder physically? On most games, things like rubber posts near the outlanes can be set in one of several different postitions. Obviously, the further apart the posts are in the outlane, the harder it'll be to save a ball. Also, there may not be any rubber on the outlanes at all, which can be downright rude. (See question 2.6.) Also, unethical things such as increasing the playfield angle can be done. And, of course, making the tilt more sensitive. Nice, clean, recently waxed playfields will tend to be really fast, adding another element of challenge altogether (called, "getting control of the 150 MPH ball"). >>6.7 - How can the game get harder otherwise? Most games nowadays allow you to adjust almost everything about the game you could possibly think of. For example: extra ball % (target value for number of games with an extra ball in it), replay % (discussed in question 3.10), number of tilt warnings given before the game actually tilts, number of extra balls you can get per game or per ball, number of extra balls in reserve at once, and practically every single timer or difficulty of each individual award possible in the game. There are also usually 5 settings that each game will come with to make it easier for the operator to select the general difficulty he wants for the game: extra-easy, easy, medium, hard, and extra-hard. With Data East games, sometimes changing the overall difficulty level will change things that you couldn't normally change from menus. Why? I don't know. Also, there is an "install 5 ball rules" option that will set the game to 5 balls per play and install harder rules, usually hard or extra-hard. This is to make up for the extra 2 balls you will get during the game. >>6.8 - How do flippers work? The flipper mechanisms differ from company to company - that's one of the reasons why games from different manufacturers tend to have different "feels" to them, and probably the biggest one. Williams/Bally - On an older machine (pre-Addams Family), when you press the flipper button, the current flows through only a portion of the flipper coil, generating a high magnetic field that forces the flipper up with a lot of power. When the flipper is all the way up, the end of stroke switch (EOSS) opens, and the current now much flow through the entire coil. This creates a lower magnetic field, which holds the flipper up without burning out the coil (the high current would do this very quickly). A newer Williams/Bally machine uses two coils, one for high power and the other for low power, and uses the EOSS to switch off the high-power coil. If the EOSS breaks, the flipper will operate on a timing setup similar to the Data East one (see below). Williams calls this setup "FlipTronic II". Data East - On a pre-Jurassic Park DE, there are two current inputs, one at 50 volts DC and the other at 8VDC, and no EOSS. When you press the flipper button, the higher current activates to fire the flipper, and then a timer will switch to the lower current to hold the flipper up. This setup is called a "Solid State Flipper." A newer DE appears to use a setup similar to the "old" Willaims/Bally flippers (any new info appreciated!). Gottlieb - Gottliebs' use a single coil with an EOSS. There are three inputs to the coil, with a diode across the outside two. The diode is there to help the magnetic field that the coil produces collapse more quickly when the coil is de-energized, thus saving wear and tear and decreasing the flipper reset time. Alvin G. - The coil is very similar to older Williams' games (around Millionaire era). The mechanism is flipper/link assembly like Williams, but the flipper pawl is like the new Gottliebs (two hex screws lock the flipper shaft in place). This may actually be quite similar to the current Gottlieb system. -- Info originally appeared in Dave Hollinsworth's <ad836@osfn.rhilinet.gov> Playingtips guide. -- Thanks to John Gantert <gantertj@vitro.com> for information. >>6.9 - Can I tell if anything is wrong with the game BEFORE I play it? Currently, the only company which signals game problems publically is Williams/Bally. If the game detects something wrong (such as a missing ball or a stuck/nonregistering switch), then the credits display will change to something like "Credits 0." The period after the number of credits is the indicator of some kind of malfunction. DE games use to have a couple of blinking lights on the front of their games but not any more. Starting with Stargate, on Gottlieb games (in attract mode) you can hold down the start button the press the right flipper button to cycle through switches the game suspects are bad. Prior to this, you couldn't do anything. Alvin G. games implement a strategy similar to Williams called SmartDots(tm). On the credits screen, a dot will appear on the lower left if the game thinks a pinball is missing. A dot will appear on the lower right if the game detects some kind of switch problem. Alvin G. games DO compensate for these problems. -- Thanks to John Gantert <gantertj@vitro.com> for information. ** Section 7 - Specific Game FAQs ** ------------------------------------ NOTE: All of these questions are covered in their respective rules sheets (I think!). However, they still come up so often that we think they warrant a space in the DFAQ... >>7.1 - What is the 4-way combo in TAF? Shoot the Bear Kick ramp, then the "Advance X" shot to the upper right flipper, then the left ramp, then the 5x Graveyard (swamp) shot. Doing either the first 3 or last 3 of these gets you a 3-way combo. >>7.2 - Why is/isn't there a rubber band in my TZ? The rubber band in the jet bumpers was removed during the production run. Starting at the IFPA '93 tournament (== L3 ROMs), games no longer had the rubber band in there. Though it protected the ball from left drains very nicely, balls coming from the Powerfield would tend to bounce of the band into the center drain! The latter was deemed worse than the former, so out it came. Any game that shipped with L-3 roms and later does not have the rubber band in it. Some prototype machines may have newer ROMs in it, which would explain why your machine (with, say, L-4 ROMs) has the rubber band. For those of you that haven't seen the rubber band, it looks approximately like this: O O (The O's represent the jet bumpers.) \ O >>7.3 - What are the songs used in CFTBL? The game plays 3 out of a possible 5 every day. The 5 songs it has are: Get a Job (Silhouettes) Summertime Blues (Eddie Cochran) Rock Around the Clock (Bill Haley and the Comets) Hand Jive (Johnny Otis) Red River Rock (Johnny and the Hurricanes) -- Thanks to the readers of alt.rock-n-roll.oldies for a couple of groups. >>7.4 - What is the Vacation Jackpot in Whitewater? If you get all 4 parts of the Vacation Planner some time during the game (though the locks must be last), you get the 200M+change. That means that you must get a Class 6 River some time during the game, get to Wet Willies, and have done all of the Boulder Rounds at least once. After you've done these 3 things, when you lock your third ball for your next multiball, you'll get the Jackpot. It goes up 10K for each game played, BTW. >>7.5 - I just got the flipper bonus in TZ. How did I do it? If your end-of-ball bonus (NOT from the Camera award "collect bonus") gives you enough points to get a replay, then during the replay animation, hit both flipper buttons for the flipper bonus. >>7.6 - What is the proper way to go in STTNG's Shuttle Simulation? At each split in the path, you can go left or right (you HAVE to do one or the other). If you go L-L-R-R-L-L-R-L-L-L then you can get an easy 149M or 159M (depending on whether or not you were offered the extra ball after going right the 3rd time) and an artifact. >>7.7 - What is the Secret Mission in STTNG? When you shoot the Shuttle Ramp, you are told the Holodeck is ready after 3 ramps, then 9 ramps, then 18, 24, ... If nothing else important is being displayed (like Explosive Millions or Rescue animations, etc.) then the screen will tell you that "Holodeck X is ready" where X is a number 1, 2, 3, or 4. If the number is 3, then pull the gun trigger *3* times, and you'll start the Secret Mission. It's basically a frenzy where each target is worth 1M+(some weird number)+. The spinner doesn't count for multiple hits. >>7.8 - Why in God's name are there 3 High Score tables in STTNG? Which table you get on is based on your score and how many buy-ins you used. If you used 0 or 1 buy-ins, then your score is eligible for the Honor Roll or Grand Champion positions. If you used 2 or more buy-ins, then your score will go in the Officer's Club (thus, the reason it comes after the Honor Roll). HOWEVER: If your score is over 10B and is NOT the Grand Champion score, then it goes into the Q Continuum. An unfortunate side effect is that if your score is over 10B, but not higher than the LOWEST score on the Q Continuum, then you do NOT get a high score (and thus no credit reward). Bleah. If you get a Grand Champion score that pushed off a score that was also above 10B, it'll still get pushed into the first place of the Honor Roll, but only the last 10 digits will be displayed (i.e. no 10B digit). It looks mighty weird having a score of 2.9B over a score of 9.9B... Fortunately, Williams seems to have finally decided on a regular high score chart and a buy-in high score chart. Buying in may or may not push you off of the regular chart (e.g. on Shadow, you can't buy in at ALL or you get pushed down to the buy-in high scores). >>7.9 - Are there really secret flipper combinations in games? Yep. We currently only know of ones in Williams/Bally games. The following steps describe what you can try to do. Most of them work only in attract mode with no credits since you have to use the start button (therefore, free play is also out of the question). Also, it is best to do them right after a game, slam tilt, or power-cycle. L = left flipper, R = right flipper, S = start button, B = both flippers. A number in front indicates hit the button that many times. TAF - 7L S 14R S 20L S = cows 13L S 1R S 2L S = credits TAFG - same as above, PLUS 12L S 5R S 4L S = new cows Whitewater - 3L S 15R S 23L S = cows STTNG - B 8L R 5L R 5L R 6L 2R = Steve Ritchie games (works during normal play as well) No Fear - use the STTNG code to get "Put on your 3-D glasses now" Dr*c*l* - When he crosses his eyes, hit the start (or launch) button. ** Section 8 - Video Pinball ** ------------------------------- >>8.1 - Video pinball??? Pinball is in fact becoming more and more popular these days with video games becoming more tests of how much money you have rather than how much skill you have (especially games like NBA Jam). It only follows, then, that more and more home pinball games come out. >>8.2 - How accepted is video pinball? There are some 100% pinball purists out there that absolutely refuse to accept any implementation of video pinball, and it's not too hard to understand their positions. I think the vast majority of people accept it as long as the implementation is good (I know I do). >>8.3 - So what's available? Due to the sheer number of programs out, I have disbanded this section for now. However, I can make a few recommendations... Pinball Illusions has 4 tables, each with fairly decent rules. These tables are 2D scrollers and kind of "cartoony." The best sim currently is Pro Pinball: Timeshock!, which was the sequel to Pro Pinball: The Web, another excellent simulation. Timeshock! goes a long way to simulating an actual machine with operator menus and audits. Both of the Pro Pinball sims are 3D non-scrollers. Finally, I wouldn't buy anything from Sierra. I just find their pinball "sims" repulsive. Non-serious players may enjoy them, though. There is a PCPin FAQ/review list posted to rgp occasionally. >>8.4 - Why shouldn't I buy stuff from Amtex? Because they supposedly sponsored PAPA 5, and then didn't pay anything. Not PAPA for being a sponsor, and not most of the participants that won their little tournaments. No reason has ever been given, despite the fact that they maintain a presence on the net. This is certainly not the only reason, but more than likely a major reason, that PAPA 6 will not be able to take place this year. They produce simulations of a game that is near and dear to a lot of our hearts. Their willful destructive behavior is this matter is something I'm not taking lying down, and will never ever buy anything from them again until they rectify the situation. (*I'm* one of the people they owe money to.) I also recommend that anyone that truly cares about pinball should also join me in boycotting their products and spreading the word about what a dishonest and disreputable company Amtex is. Rumors currently abound of their demise. ** Section 9 - Pinball and Your Health ** ----------------------------------------- >>9.1 - Can I really get injured just by playing pinball? It's possible. If you play for long periods of time often, then you can develop RSIs (repetitive strain injuries) and even CTS (Carpal Tunnel Syndrome). It is not unlike conditions developed by typists and chicken cutters. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, don't worry...) -- Thanks to Michael Field <field@cae.wisc.edu> for suggesting this section. >>9.2 - How can I avoid pinball-related injuries? Well, the obvious answer is to cut back on your playing for awhile. However, this is not always possible. :) You can take drugs (like Ibuprofen, the stuff in Advil) to reduce pain an inflamation, but this is certainly not something that should be done constantly for obvious medical reasons. If it is only your wrists (i.e. tendonitis), then you could probably get away with using wristbands. However, you should also be aware of the possibility of CTS, which if left untreated, can be extremely serious. So far, a number of people (including myself and Dave Stewart) have had great success with padded gloves, such as the kind used by bikers and weightlifters. There is an exercise that has been prescribed for people who sit at computers all day that may also be of benefit: Hold your arms out straight in front of you. Make a tight fist with each hand. Then bend your hand inwards and hold it after it stops going in for a few seconds. Repeat this 20 or so times. Feels pretty good after awhile. -- Thanks to Michael Field and Dave Stewart for information. >>9.3 - So how do I know if I'm getting CTS? From a simple test you can do by yourself (or with a friend's help). With the suspect hand, hold your thumb and pinky together as tightly as you can. With your other hand (or have your friend do it), use the index finger to try and break the hold of your thumb and pinky. When your hands are healthy, it will be extremely difficult to break the hold. One of the first signs of CTS, though, is that this hold is extremely weak (so much so that a small child could probably break the hold as well). This doesn't mean that you have CTS. What it does mean is that if you continue the activity causing the pain (and sometimes numbness) in your hand, you are at high risk of getting CTS, and should immediately take steps to avoid it. As noted above, using padded gloves while you play seems to do the trick. People may laugh or make comments to you, but hey - they're your hands, and you'd probably like to keep the use of them, right? -- Thanks to Dave Stewart <dstewart@eng.umd.edu> for information. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- ** Related Documents ** ----------------------- The following documents are referred to in the DFAQ. This is simply a summary of them for your convenience. The authors/maintainers of these documents appear in the question their reference comes from. Q # File Description ----- ------------------------- -------------------------------------------- Intro Misc/abbreviations "All" the abbreviations used in rgp 3.1: Tips/playingtips General pinball playing tips 3.4: Binaries/Images/ds_bb.ps Rough diagram for death saves and bang backs Binaries/Images/ds_bb.gif GIF of the above file 3.5: Tips/bangbacks How to save outlane drains 4.7: Tourney/league* Information for forming pinball leagues 5.9: Info/pinball List of every recent game made ** The Hallowed List of Contributors ** --------------------------------------- Keith Johnson <keefer@access.digex.net> Kevin Martin <sigma@mcs.com> Steve Baumgarten <sbb@panix.com> David Byers <byers@lysator.liu.se> Harry Cline <clinehe@cig.mot.com> Federico Croci <wiz@pinball.nervous.com> Terry Cumming <terry.cumming@canrem.com> Jonathan Deitch <musjndx@gsusgi2.gsu.edu> Brent Earl <earl@rtsg.mot.com> Paul Fernquist <pfern@technix.technix.mn.org> Michael Field <field@cae.wisc.edu> John Gantert <gantertj@vitro.com> Chris Hehman <hehman@vnet.net> Dave Hollinsworth <ad836@osfn.rhilinet.gov> Louis Koziarz <koziarz@mcs.com> David Marston <marston@coos.dartmouth.edu> Jarod Nash <j.nash@ukc.ac.uk> Mark Phaedrus <phaedrus@halcyon.com> Scott Piehler <rosco29@mindspring.com> Ted Piknis <bure@wam.umd.edu> Lyman Sheats, Jr. <lyman@chinet.com> Dave Stewart <dstewart@eng.umd.edu> Bill Ung <ung@filenet.com> Matt Walsh <mtmr@walsh.dme.battelle.org> Frank Wang <fwang@sbcs.sunysb.edu> Minor corrections/additions: Matt Ackeret <unknown@apple.com> Johannes Gronvall <joha@nic.funet.edu> Clive Jones <c.jones@sni.co.uk> Johan Lagerstrom <vip@tripnet.se> Todd McCarty <astjm@acad3.alaska.edu> David Smith <maa036@lancaster.ac.uk> Tuukka Tikkanen <tic0@sata.fi> -- Keith P. Johnson, keeper of rec.games.pinball DynaFAQ Insults are random and for amusement only. "Win this war for me."