Faqs By Pinball FAQ
What's the story with your pinball / 2 in 1 pinball machines?
This is pretty lengthy, but please take the time to read all the way through and to check out the linked videos and info. It'll give you a good idea of what to expect from our machines and details on our approach, the kit we use in our builds, and our processes. Our aim is to create products that provide our clients with the very best gaming and user experience, and we're always looking for ways to enhance this.
If you have further questions or suggestions on features you'd like to see in our products, please drop us a line.
We basically offer three levels:
- Standard pinball (or 2 in 1) machine
- Xtreme pinball (or 2 in 1) machine
- Xtreme Premium pinball (or 2 in 1) machine
International Purchasers pay no local taxes.
The "Xtreme" comes from our company name: Xtreme Gaming Cabinets, just like our arcade machines....rather than any crazy claims about being the "world's best" or having "world firsts" or "world exclusives".
It may surprise you to know that virtual pinball has been around for decades (David's Midnight Magic for the Apple IIe was released in 1982, for example), Future Pinball was released in 2010, and Visual Pinball way back in 2000. Hardware "toys" such as solenoids, contactors, plungers, lighting, shaker motors, and so on have been in common use for many years in hobbyist and commercial VPin builds. The same applies to the controller boards - such as the open source Pinscape, which we use - and Pinscape expansion boards: http://mjrnet.org/pinscape/expansion-board.html
Who knows? Maybe our virtual pinballs are world beaters in some respects, but all we're focused on is delivering the best possible machines we can build for our clients, at a decent price.
The difference between our virtual pinball machine models comes down to additional mechanical hardware and controllers, power, and wiring (and a bit of bling).
Both the Standard and Xtreme pinball models are identical from a system software and computer hardware perspective, but the Xtreme and Xtreme 2 in 1 model adds:
- 8 x 12V "Truck" solenoids
- A GENUINE Stern Shaker Motor with hardened safety case
- Two 8-channel FTDI-based hardware control boards with integrated relays
- An additional 12V power supply for solenoids/shaker/beacons
- Custom designed topper with integrated LED Lighting
- 2 x LED Beacon Lights
- 2 x power distribution bars
- Under Cabinet LED Lighting
- And loads of wiring, diodes, and time connecting/mounting all of this gear
Our Xtreme (and standard) pinball cabinets offer a further upgrade option to the amazing 120Hz ASUS XG438Q monitor - used for the playfield. This requires some serious graphic card muscle and more (electrical) power, and all of that eye candy goodness deserved a bump in the CPU spec as well. This doesn't come cheap, but it is the duck's nuts!
See more info on the upgrade package here....and check out the video.
This package is included as standard in the Xtreme Premium model, which adds the following on top of the kit in the Xtreme models:
- ASUS XG438Q monitor
- Nvidia RTX 2060 Super graphics card (soon "30xx" series)
- Ryzen 7 CPU
- 16 GB DDR4 3200 RAM
- High quality 650+ or higher wattage PSU
- A Dayton Bass Shaker driver with discrete amplification
- Enhanced speaker drivers for the backbox
- A full-size pinball coin door
- Addressable LED Matrix lighting on the sides and back of the playfield (optional extra for Standard/Xtreme)
- 200 Watt 5V Power supply and Teensy-based controller for the LED Matrix lighting system
- Perspex overlay and channels for the LED Matrix lighting system
- Anti-reflection board below the DMD display
- A multi-layer custom designed topper with built-in LED lighting
- A cup holder
- Additional, matching decals on hinges, coin door, and cup holder.
The 2 in 1 variants of our Xtreme, Premium, or standard machines come with two-player arcade controls that you can use to play arcade style games on the backglass monitor or on the playfield (vertical titles). Our 2 in 1 systems also have default support for wired or wireless X-Box controllers that can be used for players 3 and 4 in four player titles. The pinball system and controls are identical to our straight pinball machines.
Oh...as a bonus, a small number of vertical arcade titles are also available on our straight pinball machines that you can play with an X-Box controller or two, if you feel like a break from pinball.
So lets talk about our virtual pinball, and pinball-related "extras", and give you a bit of rundown on what makes our virtual pinball machines worth your consideration - in standard, Xtreme, or Xtreme Premium flavour....or the 2 in 1 versions, if that's your jam.
The engine room...
First up, lets look at the computer bits. We've thoroughly tested every table on our machines with various CPUs and graphic cards and have struck a great balance of price/performance. Here's our take on this...
Current pinball applications aren't CPU-bound, so putting in a hugely powerful CPU will see little performance gain for you, and serves no significant purpose except for future-proofing, and potentially for VR pinball.
Maybe in a few years time a pinball app may warrant a faster CPU, and if this happens you can simply replace your processor with a beefier model. At that stage, it'll probably cost about $50 to buy a CPU that currently sells for $450-550. The B450-based motherboard supports AMD AM4 CPUs up to the Ryzen 9. Pop the old one out, drop the new one in, attach the fan and fire it up.
The graphics card is a similar story - and to be honest - is where you're most likely to see benefits - both now and in a few years time IF future versions of pinball applications require more graphical "grunt". Just like CPUs, the equivalent of today's $900 graphic cards will cost $200-300 in a few years time...so you can upgrade cheaply then IF you need them and IF Visual Pinball 10.x/11.x or VPE (Visual Pinball Engine - using Unity) requires something more powerful.
Having said all of that....if you want the best....we DO offer the amazing 120Hz ASUS XG438Q monitor - used for the playfield. This requires some serious graphic card muscle to run....so if you've got the funds, this is the highest computer spec we offer - and it rocks! - but this level of awesome doesn't come cheap.
Read more about this upgrade for our Xtreme pinball machines here....or just go for an Xtreme Premium.
The other area where graphics power can be of use is VR (Virtual Reality with a head mounted visor), which we've been testing/have supported on our range of arcade cabinets/gaming machines for a couple of years.
As of mid-2020 there are currently around 120 VR-specific Visual Pinball X tables (and at least another 100 that work in VPX VR without a VR "room"). Future Pinball has VR support for (almost) all tables through BAM (Better Arcade Mode). Pinball FX2 VR, Zaccaria VR, and Pinball Arcade - available through Steam - also have VR support.
This current-gen of VR pinball has been around since 2016 or so (and goes way back - Galactic Pinball for the Virtual Boy was released in 1995, for example).
We've also explored augmented reality on our pinball machines (head tracking hardware mounted in the backglass) that follows your movements and adjusts the view - no VR headset required.
As cool as this is....some home truths....
Neither full-on VR, and certainly not the augmented system, is "perfect" at this stage - but the former is at a point where we think it's worthwhile to offer our clients as an option for their pinball and arcade machines (just add your own VR headset).
The VR pinball menu system and VR tables run on a separate Windows drive due to a few technical aspects (and because not everyone has a VR headset or is interested in VR pinball). You can boot to this drive or the core pinball system.
Our VR pinball system works with the Oculus Rift-S headset by default, but other headsets supported by SteamVR will generally work. You WILL need to do some setup to get things going if using a non-Oculus headset, and you WILL need to adjust settings such as room size/boundaries to your taste and requirements - regardless of which headset you're using, Oculus included. A Steam account is required (for Steam VR), and you'll also (probably) need to register with your headset manufacturer's site.
Set up of headsets and navigating VR worlds is generally pretty straightforward these days, but VR can, sometimes, be a bit temperamental and "geeky" for less technically-oriented users. We can do the initial account setup on your behalf if requested....but you'll need to set up your environment.
So...if you have (or are thinking about getting) a VR headset and would like to dive into some VR pinball on your Xtreme pinball or arcade machine, just let us know.
If you're only interested in VR pinball (and shooters, racers, and other VR gaming) or don't have the space or budget for a full-sized VPin, check out our PINSIM VR and XTREME PINSIM VR.
Back on track....
In short, the computer hardware we use in ALL of our machines - regardless of level - is thoroughly tested, optimized to take full advantage of the dedicated graphic processing capabilities of the video card hardware and the 4K display, and is tweaked to perform without glitches, micro-stutter etc. on the playfield.
If you would like us to install a souped-up CPU or graphics card in your pinball cabinet, that's absolutely no problem - it's your custom machine!
A clear vision...
Our base-level pinball machines come standard with a 4K TV screen with dynamic dimming and direct backlighting, producing a bright, evenly-lit, and colourful playfield (download the PDF spec sheet here). TVs that only offer edge-lighting get "washed out" (a milky, grey haze) when viewed on an angle, and are inconsistent when it comes to table lights/flashers and colour reproduction.
This is why we made a choice to use the best technology for the job for ALL screens, rather than just choosing a "brand name" screen that costs the same amount, but has inferior tech to the models we use. We confidently offer a 3 year warranty on all parts in our machines.
Just as a related note, using software filters in Visual Pinball and other applications actually makes the image "blurry" on a 4K playfield - filters soften the image - so this type of software processing (and the playfield screen's internal processing, if applicable) is mostly disabled on our machines - resulting in responsive performance and superior image quality. Other display-related features like HDR and 10-Bit colour are not leveraged as they can cause issues with pinball system applications (DirectX 9 doesn't support HDR...and Windows HDR implementation is poor, at the moment). When such technologies are fully supported by pinball apps, your playfield will be ready to go - regardless of which screen your machine is equipped with!
Our approach that always favours function over fashion extends to the technology used in our two backbox screens.
The backbox contains a 32 inch Full HD IPS backglass monitor (not a TV), and a separate 22 inch Full HD IPS monitor that hosts the colour DMD and "topper" (actually under) displays - 4 "screens" all up.
We ONLY use IPS monitors in the backbox because they don't get "washed out" when players of different heights use the machine...or when your mates are looking on from the side while you're racking up the points.
All screens run at 60 hertz....unless you've upgraded your Xtreme pinball machine with the ASUS XG438Q monitor (or decided to go for an Xtreme Premium model)....in which case your playfield will run at 120 Hz.
There's a great deal of continuous development in the virtual pinball community - not only the creation of tables and backglasses, but also PupPacks, PupDMD, and other technologies and media from an amazing group of dedicated and generous artists, programmers, and creators.
Put very simply, in-game "events", such as hitting a target or losing a ball, can be linked to a short video, or a countdown timer, some amazing lighting effects, or feedback effects etc. that is displayed on the "topper" and backglass screens and heard and felt through the system.
For machines that are limited to just a DMD and backglass display, "topper" information is either displayed as an overlay on the backglass itself....or is not shown at all.
The backglass display of topper info works well enough, but the discrete topper screen - included on our machines by default (unless you've chosen the "Stern style" display): - is clearer and is placed just above the DMD score display, so you can see instructions with a quick glance. This is why we use a discrete topper screen and why we don't place a separate video topper screen on top of the backbox - because you have to take your eyes off the playfield to see it....a sure way to lose the ball.
That being said...we can, of course, do this for you if you wish - it's your dream machine!
Another relatively recent development is the use of a single "Stern style" 16:9 display, invented by Stern (unsurprisingly) - in place of a DMD - in real pinball machines. This has filtered into the world of virtual pinball, with some folks in the virtual pinball community replicating this feature of real-world machines a couple of years ago and choosing to go for a single display for scores and/or video - below the backglass.
The downside with the single 16:9 display is that there are fewer than a dozen virtual pinball tables (out of thousands) that are specifically designed to support this in mid-2020. While there will undoubtedly be more developed in future, we feel that it's presently better to keep the "topper" and DMD displays separate for the 99.9% of titles that were designed to work/look best on two "screens".
For the handful of tables that specifically support the "Stern style" display, we simply move score components to the DMD and video or other elements to the topper or backglass screen - so you'll miss out on nothing for any Stern style tables developed in the future if you go for the separate topper/DMD displays.
There is no "best" option here - it's a matter of personal preference. Check out the video to compare.
As we can customize most elements of your build - if you have your heart set on a Stern style DMD display, we CAN, of course, do this for you. Just choose your preferred DMD display option on the product page.
You can - if you wish - have BOTH the Stern style display and a video topper (mounted on top of the backbox), at an additional cost.
We keep the backglass and playfield surrounds basic black because our machines are capable of running thousands of different tables with unique artwork and playfields.
This ensures a consistency and clarity that is lost with themed artwork on the backglass or blades (the "walls" of the cabinet between the playfield and glass). This sort of eye candy looks fine when the machine is off, or you are playing a table that matches the theme - but all bets are off when you're playing something else - and the whole point of virtual pinball is the choice of thousands of tables.
After all, who wants to look at bright yellow Simpsons artwork around the backglass, DMD, and blades when you're having a crack on Elvira, AC/DC, Batman, or another table?
Oh...and if you have an Xtreme Premium machine, kitted out with matrix lighting (or have added it to your Xtreme machine), you'll be eyeballing the light show, not blade art!
Sound and feel...
Our pinball machines come with a kicking 4.1 sound system which is loud, clear, and has plenty of bass. You can plug headphones in and can set levels at the front of the machine for some late night pinny action. The 4.1 sound system can handle all audio - music, dialog, and mechanical sounds....but....our all of our machines also include the tactile feedback system - sometimes known as Surround Sound Feedback (SSF) - which lets you hear and feel the mechanical elements of the table.
This works left to right and front to back...so you can hear and feel the ball rolling down the playfield, ramp drops, etc. (neither of which can be done with solenoids), you can hear and feel the flippers and other elements close to you, and can hear and feel the bumpers at the top of the playfield...with a true 3D sense of "space" and position (3D, quite literally in Visual Pinball VR which supports SSF and the analog tilt/nudge and plunger).
When you combine the tactile feedback system (for mechanical table sounds) with the 4.1 backbox audio system (game dialog/music/sound effects), your machine provides you with independent level control (via two hidden buttons and audio level knobs at the front of the table - the latter are conveniently accessible inside the coin door)....so you can set things to taste for the menu, in games, and can set levels for each Visual Pinball table - i.e. you can balance the mechanical sounds (and vibrations) with the table music/dialog etc. - and can run the machine near silently at night while the kids are in bed (a headphone jack is right at the front of the machine). Your audio settings are automatically memorized, so they'll be as you left them when you next play the table. Check out the video on sound controls.
Oh...and speaking of sound, we've long supported the AltSound option which provides alternative soundtracks for tables such as Indiana Jones, World Cup Soccer 94, Lord of the Rings, and many others. These often use PinSound remixes, and sound fantastic.
You can take it to another level of "feel" by going for an Xtreme (or Xtreme Premium) model which comes with:
- 8 x solenoids: No point in only doing solenoids for just the flippers and slingshots, as it just doesn't sound or feel "right" when you don't get the same "hit" from bumpers and other elements in the middle and upper playfield.
- A GENUINE Stern Shaker Motor. The shaker is used in hundreds of tables and is HIGHLY recommended by the crew at Xtreme Gaming Cabinets - we love it!
We ONLY use the genuine Stern part (and factory-supplied hardened safety case, not a cheap plastic box from the local hardware store) because the low-priced knockoff shaker motors rattle and grind - even at low speeds - whereas the Stern just "shakes" without sounding like a two-bob watch. Sure, it costs a bit more, but it is totally worth the extra spend. Like our 4.1 and tactile feedback system, we've included convenient controls at the front of the machine (just inside the coin door) so you can set the shaker motor speed/level...or you can turn it (and the solenoids) off completely for some late night play. Control of the shaker motor speed/intensity is critically important as it can be overwhelming, and can affect the tilt/nudge function, so you may need to tweak this occasionally in different tables.
Speaking of which...the other feature that really adds to the pinball experience is the digital/analog nudge/plunger/tilt unit (included by default on our models). Give your machine a bump to the left, right, or forward to save your ball or to rack up points - just don't be too heavy-handed or you'll see the dreaded "tilt" light or display.
The beautifully smooth analog plunger is only used in tables that actually had a mechanical plunger and works just like a real pinball machine plunger. For games that featured a fire (or launch) button...all of our machines include one as standard (you should note that the Magna Save and/or flipper buttons are used to load/launch or fire in a few tables as this is how the original machine works).
The big box...and the little details...
We'd like to touch on our cabinets, artwork, and other elements that make a difference to your gaming experience.
- All of our machines are made of locally manufactured and sourced matt-black laminated MDF board. Every panel we use is precision-cut with computer-controlled machinery. This minimises waste, has a lower environmental footprint, and ensures a perfect fit for every (glued and screwed) component - bottom line, this makes your machine look great inside and out, but more importantly, makes your cabinet incredibly strong and durable.
- Our decals (artwork) have a beautiful high-gloss or flat, matt vinyl coating (your choice) and are applied flawlessly to our precision-cut laminated panels. This ensures that there is no bubbling, lifting, or unsightly paintbrush marks showing through the skin on your machine - even under the brightest light.
Speaking of decals - if you're a fan of a particular theme and want artwork that isn't shown in the store - just ask. We (or our supply partners) might have it on file, but if not, we can can create custom artwork for your machine...or you can commission your own graphic artist. Please let us know what you have in mind.
- Our machines have extensive, precision-cut ventilation slots in the main cabinet body and the backbox - along with fans - minimising the risk of components overheating (screens, multiple power supplies, computer and control components, amplifiers, solenoids, shaker motor, matrix lighting, etc. all generate heat), aimed at providing you with years of trouble-free use.
- A lockable, hinged access door at the rear of the cabinet allows for easy component upgrades or additions (VR headset or another hard drive, such as our VR pinball system, for example) and periodic maintenance (cleaning). The rear panel of the backbox can be easily removed - allowing quick access to cords that may have been dislodged during transit (and also for occasional cleaning). The lockable coin door provides maintenance and control access for components mounted at the front of your machine.
- The angled playfield is protected with laminated safety glass that can be easily slid out to access the playfield for cleaning or maintenance (glass removal differs on 2 in 1 machines). We drop the rear of the playfield screen slightly as it provides some breathing space below the glass. 4K screens run hot!
- You can choose the optional anti-reflection board which minimises the mirroring of the DMD/topper screens on the playfield glass. This is mounted just below the DMD, and is a simple solution for people who find the reflected score display distracting. Just let us know if you'd like it on your build.
- We use a tinted perspex overlay on the lighting matrix at the rear of the playfield and tinted covers/channels for the addressable LED strips on the sides (if matrix lighting is fitted). This reduces the "halo effect" and "flaring" of the lights, while still providing a spectacular show. You can turn the matrix lighting off completely with a switch inside the coin door if a family member or guest is adversely affected by flashing lights.
- We use locally manufactured, powder-coated metalwork for our hinges, legs, brackets, lockdown bars, plates, side rails, trims, and so on. This not only provides work for other Aussie small businesses, but it guarantees supply which is the principal reason for going with locally made parts. We feel it is extremely unprofessional to hold up client builds due to delayed shipments from overseas or local parts suppliers.
Another reason for switching to local manufacture is that we've ordered supposedly "genuine" Bally/Williams pinball legs from several places and found that they were cheap knockoffs. This deceptive practice of passing off fake legs, lockdown bars, rails, etc. as "original" or "genuine" pinball parts is widespread, unfortunately.
Our locally manufactured, laser-cut pinball legs, for example, are made from 4 mm steel. They are thicker and stronger than ANY "genuine" pinball legs (2.5 mm steel), and certainly stronger than knockoffs. They are not ribbed, as this isn't required for strength like it is with thinner steel, and are slightly less "splayed" (i.e. they're not "straight", but are angled out a little from the cabinet). Each leg is mated with a precision-threaded backing plate and matching bolts that simply can't work their way loose over time, ensuring strength and stability. We think our pinball legs look great and we know that they're far stronger and more stable than any other legs on the market. So...local jobs, immediate supply, and superior products - it's a no brainer, really.
- We only use gold-leaf buttons for the flippers and lockdown-bar fire button. These don’t contain the micro-switch found in “standard” arcade buttons, and offer a ZERO DELAY response. They also have no “click” when pressed. You can choose to have illuminated or non-lit buttons if you wish.
- All of our machines include Magna Save buttons - these are used for functions in a number of emulated tables. As an example, the gear shifters in The Getaway: High Speed 2. These buttons are also used for rapid navigation in menu systems (standard and VR) and have secondary functions for audio control - in menus and in-game.
- We provide volume control buttons and place controls for all sound, lighting, and feedback toys at the front of the machine. There is NO NEED to reach for a keyboard or mouse to control these elements.
The ONLY time you'll need a keyboard or mouse is when you want to access/make significant changes to your custom pinball system on the E: Drive....if this is something you'd like to do.....or to boot the VR pinball system drive (if added to your build). Simple menu tasks like adding or removing favourites etc. can be done directly on the machine with no need for a keyboard.
- At least one USB port is available at the front/side of your machine. It can be used for a keyboard, mouse, thumb drive, wi-fi dongle, etc. or an X-Box controller if you'd like to play a vertical arcade game on the playfield.
- Supplied by default on our Xtreme and Xtreme Premium machines, if you would like us to create a custom, illuminated topper to sit on the backbox of your standard machine, just let us know what you have in mind. Our toppers are precision-cut using industrial routers and etchers, and the artwork is directly printed on the perspex. We don't simply use stickers as they can bubble, lift, discolour, and fade over time. The direct printing process is more expensive and time-intensive, but your showpiece will be flawless!
- If you want to add your own figurine...say a plastic/ceramic zombie that some of our clients have added to their Walking Dead cabinets, for example....and would like some built-in lighting for it - just ask, and we'll be happy to install it so you can add your model when you receive your machine, with the lighting ready to go.
- We use discrete AUTO-SWITCHING power supplies - that work for multiple international voltages - for the PC, sound, lighting, screens, and mechanical toys. We use multiple power supplies because it reduces electronic "noise", which can come through speakers and can show up as visual glitches on displays, or can cause problems with PC components. More importantly this provides better protection for each subsystem in the event of a power surge. If this unlucky event happens, it's much better to lose one subsystem/power supply (or just a fuse), rather than the whole machine. This is also why we use discrete controllers, relays, etc. - and DO NOT use a non-user-serviceable "all-in-one" controller board. If that was zapped by a lightning strike, you'd lose the whole machine. Our modular approach makes parts user-replaceable, should something unfortunate happen.
- It's a small thing, but we're as particular about the "details" inside the cabinet as we are about the outside. We use heavier gauge wire and spade/screw terminals for most components, we use cable ties and clamps to keep things neat and to ensure that components and connections don't come loose during transit or use, we use rubber washers/spacers for fans, and provide easy access to controls that you may want to adjust for game play (or to run the machine near silently at night).
- This approach and attention to detail makes our machines durable, and easier to use, maintain, diagnose, service, and update.
Take a look inside one of our Xtreme machines.
Our pinball systems run on a fully-licensed copy of Windows 10 64-bit. The entire pinball system (and Windows) runs from a solid-state drive. It's quick to boot, navigate, and load.
We presently use the excellent, publicly available PinUp Popper front-end because it is fast, stable, provides a number of cool "under-the-hood" features, and looks great.
We've spent hundreds of hours configuring the system - and we'll spend hundreds more as we are always developing and refining things, adding new titles, new tech features, and media.
We take our time to thoroughly test features on our systems to make sure YOU don't have to.
To make your experience smoother, we've created a number of playlists (categories) and have set up alphabetical navigation on our pinball systems due to the huge library of supported tables.
Our machines provide enormous flexibility and choice by supporting multiple VPin apps out of the box: Visual Pinball X, Future Pinball, and Pinball FX. Zaccaria, Pinball Wicked, Pinball Arcade, and others are also available for purchase online.
As you add your own tables and artwork over time - if this is something you'd like to do - the menu system (on the E: Drive) will more than accommodate your changes....with the "safety net" of our unbreakable Popper system on the C: Drive.
To clear up some misconceptions and misinformation - or outright lies - floating around online about "frozen" or "locked" systems, commonly seen on the Chinese-manufactured machines....
Even though our Windows/pinball system on the C: Drive partition is indeed protected - making it impervious to accidental or intentional data loss, viruses, malware, Windows updates that "break" the machine and/or stop apps from working, etc., you are NOT "limited" in any way with our pinball machines. Here's why...
- An amount of drive space is allocated as a discrete partition (F: Drive) that is NOT protected by the reboot to restore feature. This is used to store "volatile" settings such as high score data and individual table volume settings. See the "Can I save high scores...?" FAQ.
- A further E: Drive partition is a non-protected duplicate of the main C: Drive pinball system (tables and menu) that you can freely change, add/remove tables, music, videos, change art and playlists, add favourites, etc. - safe in the knowledge that the core system on the C: Drive partition can NOT be broken...so you'll ALWAYS have a working machine!
This lets you create your own, custom menu and system, and is a great way to (safely) learn how different pinball apps and systems work. See the "Can I add new titles..?" FAQ.
- If you need to update a sound, video, game controller driver etc., or update/install an app (or the O.S.) - or want to change the core pinball system - you CAN "unlock" the C: Drive to make your changes, and then lock it down again....or leave it permanently unlocked. We recommend that you leave the C: Drive partition "frozen"....and only change your custom E: Drive system, but it's your machine, and your call.
- The last factor - overlooked by folks who don't have a full understanding of the underlying technology - is the fact that our machines are computer-based, not SOCs.
You are free to add multiple local or networked hard drives, each with their own operating and gaming systems, if you wish - if you have the technical chops. You could install Linux or Windows or another OS on one or more separate drives (or partitions), you could run your office apps, you could turn your machine into a jukebox, or perhaps use the playfield as a drafting table in a CAD program?
Our VR pinball system, in fact, runs from a separate physical drive that has its own operating system. You can choose to boot to this drive or the main drive when you turn on your machine.
There are really no restrictions to this, and suggesting there are limitations or that you are "stuck" with the machine you received on day one with no chance of upgrading is clearly untrue and a baseless claim from folks who don't understand computer fundamentals.
Just as a note on Windows updates: the majority of these are "security fixes". Some are so "secure" that they disable hardware and/or software that previously worked on your machine. As our C: Drive (when "frozen") is impervious to viruses, keyloggers, trackers, etc., there's no actual NEED to install the latest security patch...because it's impossible for the C: Drive on your machine to be infected.
Further to this, virtual pinball apps - inclusive of the menu system - have MAJOR problems with anti-virus software, including the built-in Windows AV/malware utilities. As such, this MUST be disabled or you need to set exceptions for pinball apps - even if the machine is always offline. AV software and security updates do nothing beneficial for pinball-related stuff on your machine. Put more bluntly, Windows updates...particularly "security patches" and anti-virus software are a total pain in the butt for virtual pinball owners!
Our approach makes our machines both bulletproof AND customizable!
We have built arcade machines for several years and this experience has taught us (and continues to teach us) many lessons, but the main one is that ALL clients want a machine that "just works".
If you're someone who just wants to play pinball with NO downtime, NO wasted hours on helplines, NO waiting for days for technical support - we've got you covered.
If the kids manage to mess something up ten minutes before you're hosting a "tournament" night with some mates, simply turn your machine off and on again....and it will work!
We also understand that a percentage of owners want to get "under-the-hood" to make changes....so to cater for everyone we decided to provide the best of both worlds with a partially locked system....and a free-for-all "playground".
If you're a tinkerer, you can do as you wish with the E: Drive (an unlocked clone of the pinball side of things), and if you really mess things up, you have the safety net of the protected C: Drive....both as a system to play, but also to use as a starting point for version 2.0 of your customized E: Drive system....or add another drive and build your own system from scratch.
Just on this, and being brutally honest, it is VERY easy to totally mess up a pinball system with a tiny change to a single file. There are many software (and hardware) components that interact and need to be set up in a particular way to work on multiple screens with a wide variety of "toys" (solenoids, shakers, lighting, sound, plunger/tilt functions etc.). Changes to certain files can result in minor or significant issues, such as score windows and backglass or playfield displays being messed up or missing, sound problems, unexplained error messages or crashes and a host of other potential hassles.
We suggest you start off slowly by adding a few tables and some artwork to the E: Drive, and learn more as you go, if you'd like to take it further.
If you're not a tech-y type, but like to keep up to date, we offer a drive update service (a physical drive swap) to our clients every year or so. This incorporates all new features we've added to our systems over this period - fully tested - so you don't need to be the guinea pig.
Our Xtreme models are set up with the DOF (Direct Output Framework) software ready to run - with support for the 8x solenoids, beacons, genuine Stern shaker motor, and matrix lighting, if you've added it (or gone for an Xtreme Premium). DOF translates actions in game - hitting bumpers, flippers, dropping targets, ramp shots, etc. into "events" that are sent to a mapped device - a light, a solenoid, shaker motor etc. which is activated during playback.
Even if you go for one of our standard machines, you can have us add the mechanical (and lighting) "toys" later on and your newly-added hardware will work straight off the bat.
As a note on mechanical toy support...
Many tables you can download and add to your E: Drive are "ready to wear" for specific toy support, or require a small code or app tweak to get up and running (often just activation within the table script or app settings). Many tables, however, will require significant script editing or other changes to take full advantage of the specific hardware (notably matrix lighting) that is installed in the machine. As mentioned, the software side of things is often relatively easy to get up and running but it is not always a simple "plug and play" thing when dealing with multiple VPin applications. If you limit toy support to a single app, such as Visual Pinball X, with DOF support built-in to most tables then it's pretty straightforward - even if you're not much of a "tech guy" or "tech gal".
All "add-on" or ancillary technologies such as AltSound, AltColor, B2S, PinUp Player, UltraDMD, FlexDMD, PupDMD, DOFLinx (DOF for Future Pinball and Pinball FX), PinemHi, FastFlips, BAM, Freezy, PinEvent, and Physics Mods (FP and VP), etc. are - of course - supported. PinUp Player, for example, triggers video and audio, or dialogs ("shoot again", "multi ball", "ball lost" etc.) on either (or both) the backglass and "topper" screens in response to what's happening in-game.
What about other pinball hardware?
There are heaps of other "toys" you can add to a virtual pinball machine to make it more like the real deal...but we fundamentally disagree with this entire way of looking at things on a couple of levels....
When it comes down to it - virtual pinball is all about having the CHOICE of thousands of different Electro-Mechanical (EM), Solid-State (SS), and imagined tables (virtual pinball machines that have no real-world equivalent).
It is not about trying to exactly replicate real pinball machines....which is an unrealistic goal.
Virtual pinball is not real pinball.
It can get definitely get (amazingly!) close, but it's a different animal.
This is why our focus is crystal clear: a great, reliable, and trouble-free GAMING experience - at a reasonable price - for our clients.
The second factor is that the money spent on adding extras like bells/chimes, or replay knockers (essentially a heavy duty solenoid) isn't in-line with the actual cost of installing them because it doesn't really "add" to the overall experience. Realistically, once you've got solenoids, a shaker motor, tactile feedback, and a bit of lighting "glamour" in the form of beacons, under-cab and/or matrix lighting, and an illuminated backbox topper...there's not much need to go further - in our opinion.
Just on Addressable LED Matrix lighting (included on our Xtreme Premium models): on blades and at the end of the playfield. It certainly looks impressive, and definitely adds the "wow factor" and excitement to gameplay. On the flipside, matrix lighting can be quite distracting, irritating, or dangerous for SOME people due to a medical condition.
We need to make it clear that this form of lighting may be unusable for someone who is adversely affected by flashing lights (epilepsy, nausea, headaches, etc.).
This is an optional "extra"....and should NOT be considered for anyone with a medical condition that is affected.
Note: You can turn all matrix lighting OFF with a switch at the front of the cabinet (inside the coin door), if required.
If you're not affected adversely, check out the addressable LED Matrix Lighting in action on one of our machines.
Below, we've listed some possibilities that could potentially be added to any virtual pinball machine and outline the reasons why we're not particularly keen on offering them as options - at this stage....
That said, if you DO want us to implement some of this stuff in your build, let us know.
It's simple enough for us to add and the technology, which has been around for several years in hobbyist and commercial builds, is well established and robust.
- Chimes/Bells: You would typically add 3: high, mid, and low frequency chimes/bells - rather than use the sampled sounds (i.e. CD or higher quality audio recordings) of tables. The PROBLEM with using physical bells/chimes is that EVERY electro-mechanical (EM) table will sound exactly the same / will be limited to these three mechanical sounds (if configured for DOF). In this respect, it is actually FAR more limited than the use of sampled sounds in the table files. In our experience, the chimes and bells used in real world EM tables can vary quite a lot, sonically - and this is also true of virtual recreations. As clear examples - two tables from Bally...only a few years apart: "2 in 1" (1964) and "4 Queens" (1970) sound totally different because one uses bells and the other uses chimes. Bally bells and chimes sound different to Gottlieb, Williams, Chicago Coin, and other manufacturer machines. So....in our minds, the extra cost to add bells/chimes (about $120-130) that actually REDUCES the accuracy of emulations and limits every virtual EM machine to the same three sounds - just doesn't make sense!
- Replay knockers: Basically, these are used when you get a free game, or occasionally for an extra ball in some tables. The SSF and/or 4.1 sound system produces this sound which you'll hear once in a blue moon. Dropping $90 for this? N'ah.
- Gear motors: Used in a small number of tables and these sounds are reproduced by either the standard 4.1 sound system, or the tactile feedback system. Most gear motor mechanisms are small and quiet so have to be mounted inside the coin door or on the underside of the cabinet front panel (so you can actually hear them). The problem is that this location doesn't correspond with the position of the crane, door, lid, hand, etc. moving at the top or middle of the playfield...and to be brutally honest - SSF (the tactile speaker system) does a far better job because it's much louder, it's positioned at the correct spot(s) under the playfield, and because various machine "gears" sound different - just like chimes/bells. Dropping $100+ on a gear motor - or hundreds more for multiple gear motors to cover 3 or 4 positions under the playfield....why would ya?
- Smoke machines, blower fans, and sirens: Frivolous, but are easy to add, and relatively inexpensive (a few hundred bucks). If you have (or are thinking about getting) one of our machines (with solenoids/a shaker motor) and want any of these "extras", let us know.
- Extra screens on the Apron: Used for rules/flyers etc. are a total waste of money when the machine has a 4K playfield / apron which can easily be read (and this stuff can also be viewed/read fullscreen on the backglass with a button press), but Apron screens are easy enough to add if you have very deep pockets - as it requires not only the screens but also additional graphics hardware.
- A hologram generator/mechanism on top of the backbox: Adding a "Hulk" robotic figure, for example, or holo generator, etc. is cool, but pointless, and can be expensive. That said, if you want to source a figurine/model and want some lighting for it - or would like us to create a custom topper to sit on your backbox (supplied by default on our Xtreme and Xtreme Premium machines) - we can certainly help with that.
We suggest that you spend a good couple of days playing multiple real pinball machines at a nearby retro gaming parlour. While doing so, pay particular attention to the feel and sound of mechanical noise-making toys and/or the look of lighting options. This will help you to make the decision on what YOU value.
With this in mind, what "toys" would you add to make your VPin experience mind-blowing and how much would you be prepared to pay for it?
Is the actual cost of adding the kit worth it...keeping in mind the fact that including a "limited" mechanical bell/chime system, for example, will be the same in every virtual EM table - which is certainly NOT the case with various real pinball machines?
They all sound, look, feel, and play differently.
The bottom line is that you can easily throw many thousands at a virtual pinball machine, but there's a law of diminishing returns when it comes to the actual gaming experience in thousands of different tables - and remember that virtual pinball is all about CHOICE.
Our Standard virtual pinball machines - with the tactile feedback system and analog nudge/plunger - deliver an experience that is astonishingly close to thousands of different real machines, without breaking the bank.
Moving up to the Xtreme model adds 8 x solenoids and the Stern Shaker Motor - for even more "feel", and some lighting bling in the form of beacons, a topper, and under-cabinet lighting....and you can go the whole enchilada by adding the 120Hz playfield upgrade and/or the Matrix lighting system....or simply go for an Xtreme Premium if you appreciate the finer things in life.
So...get on down and play some real pinnies, then come visit us and have a crack on our Xtreme Premium showroom machine...loaded with all of the toys that we offer.
We're sure it'll put a smile on your face.
Do I need to do any sort of setup when I receive my pinball / 2 in 1 pinball machine?
No you don't....although there's some assembly required (and loads of unpacking) if you're an overseas or WA customer. See the video below.
SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY lift up the backbox, taking care to GENTLY EASE the cords through, then fasten the clip.
There's an instruction document attached to your machine.
Give it a read to learn about the key, remote control(s), etc. - as applicable to your build - and follow the steps.
There's video instructions and other Help documents in a folder on the desktop of your machine. These cover all operational aspects and provide extra info, tips and tricks.
Please watch the videos from start to finish and take the time to read all of the documentation.
We understand that this is probably not something you'll want to do right at the beginning, but try to make the time over the first few days/week.
What's the story with the PINSIM VR machines?
Our PINSIM VR and XTREME PINSIM VR machines are full-on virtual reality cabinets that are principally designed for playing pinball simulations in a virtual room/world.
- The XTREME PINSIM VR basically adds more processing and graphics power, more storage space and more RAM. We recommend this model if you want to venture into VR racing games, VR shooters, and other VR experiences,
- The PINSIM VR is designed specifically for visual pinball. It will also allow you to explore other VR experiences, but you may need to compromise on visual fidelity and other features.
Both units include a mechanical plunger with nudge/tilt, and the tactile feedback system - also known as Surround Sound Feedback (SSF) - which lets you hear and feel the mechanical elements of the table.
This lets you hear and feel the ball rolling down the playfield, ramp drops, etc., you can hear and feel the flippers, slingshots, coin drops, and other elements close to you, and can hear and feel the bumpers in the middle and top of the playfield...with a true 3D sense of "space" and position.
You plug-in a virtual reality headset - either an Oculus Rift-S supplied with the machine - or your own VR headset. Let us know if you already have a headset.
All navigation is done with the buttons on your PINSIM or with VR controllers/an onscreen keyboard on your virtual desktop. You can also use your real-world keyboard/mouse via USB or wirelessly.
There's no need for a screen on the PINSIM cabinet itself because your VR headset IS the screen!
That said, you can plug-in a monitor if you prefer to navigate and/or perform system tasks outside of a VR environment.
For owners of our virtual pinball cabinets, you can add our VR system to your machine. Please get in touch if this is something you'd like to do.
The VR system drive is NOT protected by our reboot to restore feature as you need to make specific changes for your headset, physical (and virtual) environment, and personal needs, and you also need to enter account details for SteamVR (and the Oculus or other manufacturer sites).
It's impossible to describe the experience and videos don't do it justice because you're watching them on a two-dimensional screen. Further to this is a "jerkiness" to the video caused by the video conversion from curved 3D to 2D. In the VR world, gameplay is butter smooth and the sensation of playing a REAL pinball machine is TRULY amazing!
Check out the video of the PINSIM VR menu, worlds, and game play.
Can I add new titles to my pinball system?
Yes, of course you can.
Our Pinball cabinets ship with our reboot to restore feature enabled. This protects the Windows partition on the C: Drive (and core Pinball menu system) from accidental deletions, viruses, and so on. Simply reboot the machine to restore the C: Drive to factory defaults should the kids manage to mess things up.
A duplicate of the core pinball menu system is found on a second partition (E: Drive).
This is not protected by the reboot to restore feature and you are free to add tables, to add/remove favourites, to add, remove, or change artwork, playlists, and so on - safe in the knowledge that the core pinball system on the main C: Drive partition is unbreakable.
Watch the video to see how you can add tables to your E: Drive.
Can I save high scores on my pinball system?
Yes, you can.
Our Pinball cabinets ship with our reboot to restore feature enabled. This protects the Windows partition and core pinball system (C: Drive) from accidental deletions, viruses, and so on. Simply reboot the machine to restore it to factory defaults should the kids manage to mess things up.
Even though our system is "locked down", an amount of drive space is allocated as a discrete partition (F: Drive) that is NOT protected by the reboot to restore feature.
This partition is used to store "volatile" settings such as high score data and volume settings. It saves scores/settings for both the protected/unprotected pinball systems on the C: and E: Drive partitions.
Watch the video to see how this works.
How do I set up favourites on my pinball system?
They say a picture's worth a thousand words, so here's a couple of videos.
This functionality is available on the E: Drive menu system.
You can set the C: Drive or E: Drive menu system as the default at Windows startup.
Adding favourites to the Global playlist.
Adding favourites to any playlist.
How do I control sound levels on my virtual pinball (or 2 in 1) machine?
Our pinball (and 2 in 1 pinball) machines feature multiple sound systems - for music/dialog etc., and for "mechanical" sounds like bumpers, flippers, coin drops, a.s.o.
We provide several sound controls on your machine - no need to reach for a keyboard - that you can use to customize levels to your taste. Your sound volumes are automatically saved and will be just as you left them the next time you launch the table.
Check out the video to get a handle on how things work.