Fire Marshall Bill

Gameroom lighting… What to do?

I went down a path of using a 12V switching power supply, LED Controllers and cut-to-length LED strips to provide a flexible lighting solution in my gameroom. The overhead work-lights are great for working on games but are not dimmable and have the ambiance of a automotive chop-shop in the shady part of town.

The LED strips have been pretty cool in that they can react to music, have flexible color options, were relatively inexpensive and easy to install. Unfortunately, they are also a fire hazard.

These are the LED Controllers that I’ve been using: LED Controller Link on Amazon

This is the power supply that I’ve been using: 12V Power Supply on Amazon

I’ve had two failure out of these LED Controllers in about 9 months.

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Unfortunately, this last failure wasn’t restricted to just a puff a magic smoke being released and the corresponding LED strips going dark. This time, the internal short on the 12 volt side of the LED controller essentially turned the 16 gauge wires that ran to the power supply into a 3-foot long heater strip. The jacketing on the cabling melted, smoke rolling off of it like burgers on a grill that have been left on for too long.

The thing is, I put a perfectly capable 12 volt power supply on these and I undersized each run with only about 7-8 foot of LED on each one. 16 AWG wire is better than spec for this purpose. It is simply a matter of sketchy design on the LED controller itself. It should not be able to weld-itself closed circuit. Full Stop.

SFGE 2019 or Bust!

850 miles were traveled, 9 games went up & 13 games returned. Another SFGE is in the bag. Boy, was it.. something..

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No plan survives first contact with the enemy”

Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

(paraphrased)

Q: What does proto-Germanic military philosophy, arcades & pinball and sailing all have in common?

A: SFGE 2019

von Moltke was trying to emphasize the need for battle plan flexibility two or three moves into the chess match of war.

Our group planned and operated under the goal of getting to SFGE early by staging games at a strategically agreed upon exfil waypoint a week early and scheduling our departure to SFGE with a couple hours of padding.

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Round 1: Live Oak vs Budget Truck

Winner: Live Oak in a TKO

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Friendly-neighborhood Spiderman- Nathan gets a birds-eye on the damage.

Friendly-neighborhood Spiderman- Nathan gets a birds-eye on the damage.

The wayward Oak limb peeled back a small portion of the cargo box roof like a sardine can. Once it reached the rear frame it nearly tore off the door frame. Inside the cab over the sound of the Diesel our volunteer driver didn’t hear a thing. Just a brake-warning light on the dash notifying something was amiss.

Did I mention Tropical Storm Barry? This is where the sailing analog comes in. In sailing, the act of changing course is a concerted effort between repositioning of the sails in relation to the wind along with corresponding rudder movements. One name for it is “Tacking.” You don’t turn a sailboat, you tack n-degrees to a new heading.

While we were waiting on a replacement truck a few small outer rain bands made it necessary to reposition the truck so that the wind could blow across the roof-tear, instead of against-it.

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Fun Fact: You can have pizza’s delivered to “The stranded truck in Walmart parking lot at the cross-section of Street & Road”. :)

Also a good time to make note of the general awesomeness of our Arcade-Pinball friend-group. Everybody was super helpful and supportive. John, “Mike”, “Diesel-Daddy”, “Tree-Surgeon” Cast volunteered to take on the task of driver this year. Any one of us would have hit that tree limb in his situation and it was cool to see that everybody working towards solutions and being supportive.

“The Bridge of Doom”

“The Bridge of Doom”

After about 5 and half hours of waiting with an extraordinary effort from all involved, 9 games passed truck-to-truck through the bridge of doom from the Box Truck of Destiny to the Diesel of Destiny. Take notice of Nathan in this picture, heavy lifting. None of these games are even his! Just one example of this crew coming together to help as needed.

6 or so hours later, 9 games, 4 hand-trucks, a mars-rover & sundries are secured on the new truck and ready to roll!

6 or so hours later, 9 games, 4 hand-trucks, a mars-rover & sundries are secured on the new truck and ready to roll!

 
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SFGE Load-In

SFGE show opened this year at 3pm EST. Prudent planning would put games on the floor and ready to press start by 1 or 2 pm.

This is also a good time to shout out the show-volunteers. On their busiest day of the year we are bringing them a little hassle with our travel shenanigans.

“Should we still bring the games?”

As always, Joe & Micah extended nothing but kindness and grace to us during our communications with them. They showed us flexibility in our game-bringer benefits and load-in schedule and texted us several times during the day to check on us.

Then, when we do get there - these folks make all sorts of special concessions to let us move our games in out of the heat while the floor is open.

Seriously. Awesome. People.


 

The Game Room

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Warehouse O’ Games

This year’s arcade & pinball room was a 36,000 sqft expansion into the neighboring Cobb Galleria Centre. The new space is massive and can be expanded to multiples of this size my moving the airwalls pictured on the right.

Most people I talked to about it were excited about the new space, especially those involved with moving games in and out. The old space funneled game load in through a single freight elevator and was sometimes a challenge for game exhibitors. The new space has an attached loading dock and numerous roll up doors for more concurrent load / unload action.

Last year, the games were split into two rooms and I really liked that it added a sense of discovery while navigating the two rooms. It was as if SFGE was a meta RPG; a gamer-quest to hunt and find games to play. 2018’s double-room layout was also carpeted, differed in lighting and sound than this year’s layout. I did hear 2018 people complain about being relegated to the “B” room. Personally, I loved it. :)

This new space puts the games in a shared space again. Easy load in / out but you do get hard floors, a louder room and temperature control problems in the sweltering Atlanta heat and jungle-like humidity of July. Can’t make everyone happy. Didn’t brainy-smurf event a weather-control thingy? We need that.

 

I stand behind the SFGE Event Volunteers and their decisions for 2020: I’m sure it will be a blast, they always find new ways to improve and grow.

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Vendors

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Marco Specialties brought their sprawling display with an impressive smorgasbord of Stern pinball to choose from including Black Knight: Sword of Rage, Munsters, Star Wars, Guardians of the Galaxy, Batman 66 & Star Trek.

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Little Shop of Games brought some JJP Willy Wonka’s, Suncoast Pinball Cosmic Carnival & more.

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FlipNOut Pinball brought CGC Remakes of Monster Bash, Attack from Mars, Cosmic Carnival & more as well as the usual showing of Escalera's.

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Classic Game Rooms brought selections from JJP, American Pinball, CGC & a giant Galaga.

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Games that Stood Out

Monster Bash CGC emake

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I had a bit of a crush on the Monster Bash Remake. It played identical to a nice original and the added RGB LED GI that is mode aware and giant color display are both welcome additions. For about 15 minutes I considered trading my Scared Stiff to get one but then it hit me: How awesome would this look next to Scared Stiff? #lifegoals.

Deadpool Pro

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I was surprised how un-stripped-down DeadPool Pro felt. Seriously, it is equipped like a Premium. I really liked the feel of the game, the way it shot & the animation style on the backbox LCD.

Wizard of Wor

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Steve’s Wizard of Wor stayed up all weekend and was listed for sale at a reasonable price. I’m kinda shocked if it wasn’t picked up by someone. I almost texted him about 4 times about it, personally.

The Simpson’s Pinball Party

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This one kinda hurt because TSPP is on my Pinball short-list. It was an excellent playing game listed at a great price but I just wasn’t in a place to bring it home right now. Someone did, though! Congratulations to whomever picked it up - this might be Stern’s greatest contribution to Pinball.

Tempest!

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Style and Difficulty points for bringing a vector and it running all weekend. Well done / it played great!

Munsters Premium

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Munsters Premium is an insanely beautiful box of blinking lights. The green flashers and purple scoop lighting contrasted perfectly on the B&W playfield. It was about 3 games before I started to pay attention to what was happening on the LCD backbox and that, too - was pretty great.

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Cabaret Corner

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My one buy-goal for SFGE ‘19 was to bring home a new cabaret but alas it did not come to fruition. The ArcadeSD Ms Pacman played great, the Rally-X was beautiful and they got Missile Command Back up after this picture was taken. I really want to adopt them all but owners were not sellers this go around.

Willy Wonka

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Willy Wonka is going to make JJP alot of money. If you like multi-flipper games and the WoZ light show - this is a game to check out. You get the crazy RGB insert animations of WoZ with the dream shot geometry that was missing in WoZ. I really enjoyed the few times I played it. It isn’t a theme for me, isn’t a pin for me - but I liked it alot. Wish I had one locally to go play.

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Whatever the hell this is!

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I don’t know anything about this game (yet) but I love the temerity of using human bones as controllers and eyeballs as buttons. Fun!

Mike’s Arcade Atlanta Annex

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still working on this part of the post.. :)… come back tomorrow..

 

Scared Stiff

Because of our distance, I’ve been on the notion of trying to bring a limited number of quality games over quantity. For about 9 months I’ve been working on this Scared Stiff and used the SFGE Game Bringer’s Facebook group to be my accountability on the project. Last year, I took pictures and posted them of the game as it stood and declared in a wavering voice, “Yeah, I’ll bring this next year!”

4 moving blankets plus 3 spares, 1/3 of a roll of pallet wrap and a spare roll for the trip home.

4 moving blankets plus 3 spares, 1/3 of a roll of pallet wrap and a spare roll for the trip home.

yeah, that’s my cellphone number. I’m kinda like that social security number guy from Lifelock.

yeah, that’s my cellphone number. I’m kinda like that social security number guy from Lifelock.

There was a QR Code on the instruction card that pointed here: https://arcadeshenanigans.com/blog/2019/about-scared-stiff

Which also includes a link to the game log of everything I’ve done to the game so far.

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Whenever I had the camera on me, I tried to snap a picture of people playing the game - just ‘cause.

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The game was pretty solid all weekend, though we did have a late arrival (Friday night). There were a few stuck balls in the crate and the Mind Orbits shooter lost the insulator between the rod and the outer spring at some point.

The totally epic part of all this for me, is the voting contributors of the show voted the game for Best Modern Pinball. I really can’t state how awesome that made me feel, coupled with the myriad of compliments and text-offers I got on the game all weekend.

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I didn’t realize the SFGE folks did real trophies. Talk about classing up the joint, I’ll be putting this somewhere in a place of honor in my gameroom near the machine!

Game Audits

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in the words of Optimus Prime: ”Let’s Roll Out!”

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These folks, right here. They helped make it happen. They moved 9 games from the Mobile Area multiple times to get them to Atlanta and moved 13 games on the return trip. They helped drive, they helped lift, they helped fix, they helped roll, they helped strap. They helped and they had fun doing it. These - are good people. :)

These folks, right here. They helped make it happen. They moved 9 games from the Mobile Area multiple times to get them to Atlanta and moved 13 games on the return trip. They helped drive, they helped lift, they helped fix, they helped roll, they helped strap. They helped and they had fun doing it. These - are good people. :)

Southern Fried Gameroom Expo 2019 Show Info

The show schedule is now up! Check it out: 

 http://southernfriedgameroomexpo.com/schedule/

The App

Attendees should sure to get the app installed so you don't miss out on schedule updates and the awesome stream of nerd consciousness that happens every year.   

For iOS:

 https://apps.apple.com/us/app/southern-fried-gaming-expo/id1325268991

For Android:

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.attendify.confqzmjej&hl=en_GB 

As of right now, it looks like online registration is still open but it should shut down any day now.   Didn't get tickets? Tickets are also available at the venue during the event.

Video Game Tournaments:
http://southernfriedgameroomexpo.com/video-game-tournaments/

Pinball Tournament:
http://southernfriedgameroomexpo.com/tournaments/

Speakers / Panels:
http://southernfriedgameroomexpo.com/speakers2019/

Directions:
 http://southernfriedgameroomexpo.com/directions/

CYA there!

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Mad Galaga Skills on Display!

On a random Sunday night. There was BBQ & beer and ad-hoc arcading and Mike showing some serious Galaga Skills. He rolled the game over and back to just below 2 million and only stopped because it was past midnight on a work week.

Side note: Youtube struck my first upload b/c of the licensing on the background music from the gameroom. (smh)

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Playfield Protector, meet Indy. Indy, meet Playfield Protector

Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure is still my favorite pinball after four years of ownership with Medieval Madness coming in at a close second.    Probably has as much to do with the fact that my teenager-self played  Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade on the VCR enough times to ruin the tape. 

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Friends often comment on the quality of my games but being their dad I see and know their flaws well.    My Indy, for instance has faded cabinet side art, the usual wear smudges between the slings and a few other small playfield issues.

Side art can be addressed, sometimes.  Playfields can be touched up or even swapped out with effort. 

Replacements for Indy are problematic to find because of licensing and other reasons. I was outbid at $3200 for a Kruzman-restored Indy playfield last year.  I think that's about what the game cost me years ago in rough condition. 🤑

I think people delude themselves with mylar and sometimes, in the words of David Hasselhoff: “Waxing isn’t enough.”

(I’ll wait while you get that mental image out of your mind)

When you put mylar down on a playfield you are committing, one-day, to remove it.  Odds are that eventually when removing it someone will get hasty and they’ll also remove insert printing or other art along with the mylar adhesive.  So, you put down a thing to protect a playfield that will likely damage the playfield when removed later.  Madness!

”Siri, make an appointment for 5 years from now to punch myself in the nuts because I put mylar down.”

As Q*bert was once heard saying:  @!#?@! Mylar!

Roll the tape, Bob…

The playfield protectors are non-adhesive playfield overlays that sit on your playfield and take the abuse that your clearcoat otherwise would be.  They are made of super thin acryllic, PETG or makrolon and are die or laser cut for a specific playfield layout. 

They cost about $120 and you get them here: https://www.playfield-protectors.com/22/Playfield-Protectors

General Instructions for Installation are:

  • Buy One

  • Unpack It

  • Take everything off of the playfield that prevents you from laying down the overlay

  • Put everything back

Result Observations

In this photo I tried my best to catch as much glare as possible off of the playfield protector.  The photo at the top of the post, is shot from player’s position after the install.  (Note: InvisiGlass is also in play in the top image.)

In this photo I tried my best to catch as much glare as possible off of the playfield protector. The photo at the top of the post, is shot from player’s position after the install. (Note: InvisiGlass is also in play in the top image.)

Once installed, the playfield protector more or less looks like fresh clearcoat except in the areas of the cutouts. I’ve observed that gameplay is a bit faster. From the player’s position you typically do not notice the overlay with the exception that you may at times note a (slight) reflection distortion as the ball rolls over the plastic.

Mortal Kombat 11 (Now w/ PTSD!)

Mortal Kombat 11 boasts a strong fighting engine with excellent potential for more technical fighting, diverse combos and amplified attacks. Unfortunately, I found the enhanced gore of the animations to be a heavy distraction from gameplay rather than a motivation to keep me engaged in learning finishing moves.

Mortal Kombat 11 boasts a strong fighting engine with excellent potential for more technical fighting, diverse combos and amplified attacks. Unfortunately, I found the enhanced gore of the animations to be a heavy distraction from gameplay rather than a motivation to keep me engaged in learning finishing moves.

Tagline, 1993. I’m 14. Living in a new town, 600 miles from everything I’ve ever known. Our house is a strange mix of cable-spools and lawn chairs for living room furniture and the smell of new waterbeds wafting down the hall.. I do have a computer and I eventually have a dedicated modem line to run my OBV/2 BBS, The Graveyard. At night, Razor1911 couriers are dialing into the PC to drop 0-Day Warez and I hear mom and dad in the other room arguing -talking about “maybe going to jail” because of [wah-wah - insurance, something-something - wah-wah] that I didn’t fully understand at the time.

We lived in a hotel the previous summer - The Ramada Inn on the Causeway in Mobile, Alabama that has since been demolished - near R&R Seafood. I suppose we were technically homeless but getting a new start. Growing up on 10 acres on the edge of an Indiana Forestry I found myself for the first time with the suburban freedoms enjoyed by kids in my favorite Spielberg movies.

Me, my bicycle and a BP gas station a few blocks away with a Mortal Kombat acade machine & Taco Bell Express. My teenage mind was blown with the opportunity. I fed so many quarters into that machine and played against football-playing high schoolers that were twice my size and a tendency to menace me when they lost. Admittedly, sometimes I let the Wookie win.

Sometimes, I didn’t.

This person named Hillary Clinton was on the television talking about censoring my favorite albums (2 Live Crew, RATM, Tool, Gravity Kills, God Lives Underwater) and the dangers posed by this new menace to America’s youth: Video Game violence.

- ”Is all the world Jails and Churches?”
(well, that was VietNow (1997) but you get the point)


Agreed that is a long walk to get you into my headspace. Now that you are here, pull up a lawn chair and let’s set at the cable-spool turned-coffee table and have a chat about video game violence, 26 years later.

I remember being annoyed when Mortal Kombat (1 and 2) were finally ported to home consoles with minimal gore, no-blood and paired down graphics. It just wasn’t the same game, anymore. Mortal Kombat 1 was the first arcade game I ever bought. I own and often still play a MK4 w/ MK1, MK2, MK3, Mk4 PCBs in it. I let my 13 and 9 year old kids play it and think nothing about it.

Enter, Mortal Kombat 11. MK11 (I’m playing on the Nintendo Switch) continues a trend in the MK franchise through the introduction of mid-fight super-move sequences that can be triggered during a match when a player’s health bar reaches a critical part. MK9 called these X-Ray moves because they used an X-Ray camera view to show the devastation being wrought to the opponents skeletal structure.

If you think of MK3, where there are improbable grapples where an opponent might crack the fighter’s neck or damage their spine during the match. It’s like that. The moves do an incredible amount of damage at the expense of player control for both players but do not necessarily completely drain the opponent. As unlikely has it might seem, Liu Kang can hop back up and keep fighting after Katana snaps his neck..

Mortal Kombat 11 calls these Fatal Blows and they are a strategic crutch that either player can employ to provide momentum for a comeback or level the health meters. The thing is: Fatal Blows in 2019’s Mortal Kombat 11 are the equivalent of 1993’s MK1 or MK2 Fatalities.

Which means.. the fatalities… are more so.
How much, more?

Maybe, PTSD levels of more.

In my best Obama, “Let… me.. be.. clear:” I’m not saying that playing through MK11 gave me any form of PTSD. But I will say that MK11’s fatalities in particular probed the edges of what I’m comfortable watching and classifying as entertainment. Several points during my initial play through of the game, I had a sensation that I can only describe as my neural-net-firewall throwing a warning. “Hey, there are things going into your eyeballs that you should be aware that we aren’t sure is good for us.”

Sure, previous Mortal Kombat games were equally horrible in the fatality death of a character through evisceration, explosion, decapitation and more. This installment in the franchise pauses at the worst bits of horror while the reward and menu system delay to return user control by to the player.

For instance: You get to see Kronica tear your character in half length-wise. Pause. Put you back together through a time-rewind and then tear your character in half at the waste. Repeat as many as 6 times until the menu renders allowing you to navigate the game.

Most fatalities now end in the complete drawn-and-quartered explosive destruction of the opponent and the game developer seems pretty proud of their bloody accomplishment as featured through the game credits.

Searching the web, I found that there is at least one case of an individual who worked on the game being treated for PTSD:

http://www.nintendolife.com/news/2019/05/one_mortal_kombat_11_developer_had_to_see_a_therapist_after_violent_dreams

Take that with a grain of salt, it was picked up as click-bait by half of the internet. No such thing as bad publicity, right?

I’ve met soldiers who operated turrets from inside armored vehicles in Afghanistan. Instead of gunning from an exposed position, “Playstation Johnny" sits in the relative armored comfort of his vehicle as he mows down the enemy from a computer monitor and gamepad. Despite this, Playstation Johnny has just as much potential for combat fatigue and mental trauma as the guy with boots on the ground carrying a rife.

In the mid-90’s I found myself frowning at the Pant-Suited Politician trying to censor my video games and music. 26 years later I find myself wondering if the ratings label on this game is an adequate communication device juxtaposed to the affect it might have on an emotionally developing mind.

I feel like I should love this game but I don’t. The hazards of adulting, I suppose? If my 14 year old self could see me now, he’d probably kick me in the nuts.

“Go get laid, kid.”