Bandersnatch

Netflix with short notice dropped Black Mirror: Bandersnatch as a late Christmas or early New Years gift to their subscribers. 

But.. why am I talking about it on an arcade blog? 

It is a movie (which are videos, right?) it is also an on-rails video game of sorts.

Set in 1984 (because, of course: 1984), Bandersnatch is a choose your own adventure-styled interactive film that follows the  journey of a programmer creating a Zork (but with graphics) styled computer game based on a choose-your-own-adventure novel by the same name.

The film is said to have five main endings with many variants on each of the five endings.   The story is recursive and meta at times with plenty of exposition on the nature of free will, the possibility that the characters (and viewer) live in a simulation and Government conspiracy. Also, some pretty cheesy but dark Pac-man references.

Charlie Booker apparently spent extra time pouring over Plato’s The Allegory of The Cave playing text adventure games in a cloud of bong smoke.

I say that more out of jealousy in comparison to how I spent my time in 2018. :)

The movie is so meta at times that it becomes meta about its own meta-ness. One ending includes a cassette tape being played that contains Differential Manchester Encoding audio tones (kinda like Modem noises) that when loaded in a ZX Spectrum emulator take you to a QR code that takes you to a link to download a ZX Spectrum game from the movie.

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Unfortunately, Bandersnatch doesn’t run everywhere that Netflix runs. I was surprised to find the Apple TV 4k was unable to play the film. The latest generation Apple TV plays Angry Birds, Crossy Road and Minion Rush but not.. this. Go figure? It doesn’t play on ChromeCast either so this can’t be blamed solely as an Apple conspiracy. (“It’s a tech conspiracy, man! 1984, free your mind man…”) It does work on many other devices though; including PS4 and XBOne as well as many Smart TV’s. (Which, frankly surprised me because Smart TV’s apps are usually crap.)

Because this is Black Mirror, don’t expect a heart-warming Hallmark tale of family and virtue. I found the main character to be relate-able and as I steered his choices towards those options that I thought may bring him more happiness (or less pain) I was reminded that Black Mirror isn’t likely to reward such behavior.

Black Mirror clearly favors the darker decisions and this makes it more Grand Theft Auto than Zork.

If you are a film nerd like me, The Wikipedia article contains some interesting production notes that are worth a glimpse.  Things like orphaned story branches and challenges in script composition that led the creators to use things like Twine instead of typical Script Treatment packages.

All in all, I don’t think Booker’s Bandersnatch will be to Interactive Storytelling what Cameron’s Avatar was to Real3D. But, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this viewing experience. More will follow, I’m sure..

Seven Days in Sin City

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For the last couple of years, I’ve made the trip out to Las Vegas after Thanksgiving to take part in Amazon AWS re:Invent. Last year’s trip chronicle can be found here: http://arcadeshenanigans.com/blog/2017/12/2/vegas-arcade-y-goodness-at-amazon-aws-reinvent?rq=vegas

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AWS is Amazon’s technology and web-services division. Before Microsoft pushed the branding of “Cloud” into the collective conscience with Microsoft Azure, AWS was already there and already disrupting the industry in creative ways. The over-simplified Genesis story of AWS was that Amazon built highly scalable and resilient web-services platforms to serve Amazon’s growing needs. Someone on Andy Jassy’s team emoted: “Hey, I’ll bet we could see this stuff.” and presto-change-o, Amazon Web Services was formed.

In 2018, Amazon Web Services had around $26 billion in revenue and have a profit margin 5x larger than Amazon Retail in North America. AWS averaged 28% operating profit margin while AWS North American Retail averaged 5.1%.

All this to say, AWS is kind of a big deal and this annual conference is pretty massive. It takes up the majority of the Las Vegas strip.

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This means lots of walking :)

This means lots of walking :)

But what does this have to do with Arcades and Gaming? Re-Invent, knowing their nerd audience tends to work gamer references into the curriculum.
Last year, the certification materials were based on the theme of an 8-bit adventure. This year, a Pac-Man reference during a keynote discussion about Machine Learning advances.

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re:Play Party

The end of the work-week feature the re:Play party. Three football-field sized venues, this year erected on the Festival Grounds.

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Building One is the Club Tent, featuring DJ acts, a respectable collection of classic arcades. Skrillex was the headline act.

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New York, New York

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Exploring Vegas after the conference, I always try to drop in the Arcade at New York, New York. Here you find most of the recent Stern releases. The machines are well maintained and there is never a line to play.

Pinball Hall of Fame

The Pinball Hall of Fame is a $12 Uber trip from hotels on the strip. Rumor has it that it is moving closer to the strip in 2019.

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Each time I’ve been to Pinball Hall of Fame on a weeknight it is almost always empty of patrons. There were a few folks running around servicing games, this time.

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The parking lot of Pinball Hall of Fame.  It was a ghost-town.

The parking lot of Pinball Hall of Fame. It was a ghost-town.

A Gamer’s Paradise

Next door to Pinball Hall of Fame (in an adjoining parking lot) is a non-chain classic gaming store.

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The store has arcades and pinballs in the back (for sale at typical retail markup) and a vast collection of classic console gaming items at a fair price. I picked up an Atari 2600 and had it shipped home.

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Home Sweet Home

I’m not much of gambler and 7 days is really too long, especially around The Holidays. I was very-glad for the flight home and the quiet sanity of Alabama. :)

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Fall 2018 Game List

Sometimes, in this hobby you get to a point where you think: "Okay, now I'm done."  But, you seldom really are :)

That said, I think my gameroom titles are more-than-likely locked in for the remainder of 2018, with one potential exception.

Youtube rejected my first recording of this b/c of background music so I reshot it pretty quickly without voiceover and turned down the gameroom music.

The Arcades

Tron

My Tron has some of the usual lower particle board damage but isn't bad. The Artwork and Marquee are pretty good but not perfect. Let's call it authentic battle-damage. :) Picked it up from a Pawn shop in Saraland thinks to a heads up from fellow collector-friend, Mike.

My Tron has some of the usual lower particle board damage but isn't bad. The Artwork and Marquee are pretty good but not perfect. Let's call it authentic battle-damage. :) Picked it up from a Pawn shop in Saraland thinks to a heads up from fellow collector-friend, Mike.

Tapper

Owning a 3400 in 1 Games Family Multi-Cade I noticed my wife always played Tapper on it. Took awhile to find this one and a little work to get it to this point. Reproduction CPO, powder coated cup holders. Monitor issues galore... I eventually found an overpriced 19" Vision Pro CRT that works well in it with original mounting and wiring. It has the high score save kit & switching power supply on a factory harness.

Owning a 3400 in 1 Games Family Multi-Cade I noticed my wife always played Tapper on it. Took awhile to find this one and a little work to get it to this point. Reproduction CPO, powder coated cup holders. Monitor issues galore... I eventually found an overpriced 19" Vision Pro CRT that works well in it with original mounting and wiring. It has the high score save kit & switching power supply on a factory harness.

Nintendo Hyperspin

A couple years ago I came by this empty cabinet while it was on its way to the dump. No monitor, power supply or anything. I put Super Mario Artwork on it and a PC running Hyperspin. Recently I realized by the serial number on the cabinet that this was, at some point a Donkey Kong. I’m planning on do a conversion back to DK on this cabinet soon.

A couple years ago I came by this empty cabinet while it was on its way to the dump. No monitor, power supply or anything. I put Super Mario Artwork on it and a PC running Hyperspin. Recently I realized by the serial number on the cabinet that this was, at some point a Donkey Kong. I’m planning on do a conversion back to DK on this cabinet soon.

Star Wars

Many Bothan's died to bring this arcade to my game room. Procured from Michael @ Automated Services / pinballs.com. I parted with a Star Wars Trilogy stand up to make room for it, first part of 2018. I fixed the marquee light and worked out some cabinet swell. It has some typical wood-hardener-repairs on the cabinet bottom. It has a Wells 6100, Empire Strikes Back kit as well. I replaced a damaged AVG chip with a modern remade AVG chip, recapped the power supply and fixed some sound-issues to get it to this point.

Many Bothan's died to bring this arcade to my game room. Procured from Michael @ Automated Services / pinballs.com. I parted with a Star Wars Trilogy stand up to make room for it, first part of 2018. I fixed the marquee light and worked out some cabinet swell. It has some typical wood-hardener-repairs on the cabinet bottom. It has a Wells 6100, Empire Strikes Back kit as well. I replaced a damaged AVG chip with a modern remade AVG chip, recapped the power supply and fixed some sound-issues to get it to this point.

Q*Bert

This is the Arcadeshop remake Q*Bert Cabinet running the Mylstar FPGA boardset. Modern switching power supply and this machine and recently mounted a NIB 19" CRT w/ a custom-built chassis. The knocker works too! Fun game.

This is the Arcadeshop remake Q*Bert Cabinet running the Mylstar FPGA boardset. Modern switching power supply and this machine and recently mounted a NIB 19" CRT w/ a custom-built chassis. The knocker works too! Fun game.

Robotron

Original Robotron cabinet with a late series Wells 19" CRT. I believe it was an ArcadeShop machine back when they had CRT's available. A number of board issues, so it is currently running the FPGA multi-Williams board and direct booting to Robotron. The multi-Williams control panel is pictured here but it also has a Robotron Control panel that appears to have been adapted from a Bubbles. Original Wico sticks on the Robotron Panel, Groovy Game Gear leaf switch sticks on this control panel. The original boards are stashed away safely for "one-day-maybe" troubleshooting and repair.

Original Robotron cabinet with a late series Wells 19" CRT. I believe it was an ArcadeShop machine back when they had CRT's available. A number of board issues, so it is currently running the FPGA multi-Williams board and direct booting to Robotron. The multi-Williams control panel is pictured here but it also has a Robotron Control panel that appears to have been adapted from a Bubbles. Original Wico sticks on the Robotron Panel, Groovy Game Gear leaf switch sticks on this control panel. The original boards are stashed away safely for "one-day-maybe" troubleshooting and repair.

The Mutt

After a few failed attempts at acquiring some cabarets, this happened. It started as a joke, re: "Hey here's this thing, it's a piece of junk anyway and you won't owe it anything, just have fun with it." Typically found for $100 or less, the Konami 12 in 1 is my RPi3 MAME cabinet for discovery and play of vertically oriented arcades. The 15" VGA monitor and small cabinet footprint paired with the RaspberryJAMMA / ArPiCade setup are going to make it a pretty versatile little game that isn't taking up a ton of space. The Attract-Mode, Raspberry Pi-based Multi-MAME boot image is ridiculously customizable if you are comfortable with linux command-line and bash scripts. Converting it to JAMMA and using VGA to CGA adaptor, the front hatch access will make it a convenient test bench for JAMMA games. Currently working on building a different control panel with less-crappy stick and switches. I'd kinda like to find the Midway 12 in 1, equivalent horizontal cabinet now...

After a few failed attempts at acquiring some cabarets, this happened. It started as a joke, re: "Hey here's this thing, it's a piece of junk anyway and you won't owe it anything, just have fun with it." Typically found for $100 or less, the Konami 12 in 1 is my RPi3 MAME cabinet for discovery and play of vertically oriented arcades. The 15" VGA monitor and small cabinet footprint paired with the RaspberryJAMMA / ArPiCade setup are going to make it a pretty versatile little game that isn't taking up a ton of space. The Attract-Mode, Raspberry Pi-based Multi-MAME boot image is ridiculously customizable if you are comfortable with linux command-line and bash scripts. Converting it to JAMMA and using VGA to CGA adaptor, the front hatch access will make it a convenient test bench for JAMMA games. Currently working on building a different control panel with less-crappy stick and switches. I'd kinda like to find the Midway 12 in 1, equivalent horizontal cabinet now...

The Cocktail

The first arcade I ever bought.. Picked it up from a central-Florida area arcade repurposing business. I overpaid and it arrived smell like Geritol and discount Wal-mart paint. Featuring a 60 in 1 , wrong controls and a sketchy slot machine monitor barely hanging onto a rebuilt top. Sketchy power supply, dead bugs and rusted-through leg levelers rounded out this $1050 Craigslist find. I didn't know any better. Custom cut glass, new control panels, new controls, new wiring harness, new power supply and running ArcadeSD, this arcade gets more play than any other in the room.

The first arcade I ever bought.. Picked it up from a central-Florida area arcade repurposing business. I overpaid and it arrived smell like Geritol and discount Wal-mart paint. Featuring a 60 in 1 , wrong controls and a sketchy slot machine monitor barely hanging onto a rebuilt top. Sketchy power supply, dead bugs and rusted-through leg levelers rounded out this $1050 Craigslist find. I didn't know any better. Custom cut glass, new control panels, new controls, new wiring harness, new power supply and running ArcadeSD, this arcade gets more play than any other in the room.

Multi Mortal Kombat

No side art on the cabinet so I'm not sure what it was originally but the inside stickers and serial numbers all match a MK4. Added IL sticks and fresh buttons. Still needs some T-molding and a little cabinet love. I added Mortal Kombat 1, Mortal Kombat 2, Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate to Mortal Kombat 4 via a JAMMA switcher and a vertical rack. It also has a Pandora's box on a spare JAMMA Channel for exploration of horizontal arcades. This winter, I'm planning to add two auxillary LCD panels to the marquee and a deep-learning enabled camera to provide glanceable real time moves-and-fatalities to each player based on their current game and character choice.

No side art on the cabinet so I'm not sure what it was originally but the inside stickers and serial numbers all match a MK4. Added IL sticks and fresh buttons. Still needs some T-molding and a little cabinet love. I added Mortal Kombat 1, Mortal Kombat 2, Mortal Kombat 3 Ultimate to Mortal Kombat 4 via a JAMMA switcher and a vertical rack. It also has a Pandora's box on a spare JAMMA Channel for exploration of horizontal arcades. This winter, I'm planning to add two auxillary LCD panels to the marquee and a deep-learning enabled camera to provide glanceable real time moves-and-fatalities to each player based on their current game and character choice.

Mario Kart Arcade GP 2

Hands down my most expensive and time consuming arcade-effort has been in the acquisition, repair and maintenance of these two Mario Kart Arcade GP machines. Both machines are running HAPP LCDs in order to get compatibility with the new version running in the game, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2. 4 Triforce Main PC's, 4 cameras and two force feedback controllers later, they run and stand out as my kids' favorite. The problem areas are the wheel control loom being pinched by a cam in the steering column (item button not lit), camera failures in POE power transmission and force feedback controller failures (usually relays) related to walk-aways during a game and the carts vibrating themselves down the track at default speed.

Hands down my most expensive and time consuming arcade-effort has been in the acquisition, repair and maintenance of these two Mario Kart Arcade GP machines. Both machines are running HAPP LCDs in order to get compatibility with the new version running in the game, Mario Kart Arcade GP 2. 4 Triforce Main PC's, 4 cameras and two force feedback controllers later, they run and stand out as my kids' favorite. The problem areas are the wheel control loom being pinched by a cam in the steering column (item button not lit), camera failures in POE power transmission and force feedback controller failures (usually relays) related to walk-aways during a game and the carts vibrating themselves down the track at default speed.

The Dome

The Dome is my custom-built Star Wars Battle Pod wanna-be. Its strengths are racing games, flight sims, space games. Its weaknesses are First/Third Person shooters and sheer size. Currently running w/ a PS3, xBox 360 and Wii U which all exhibited a good selection of titles for this format. I've also used it as a mixed experience sit-down VR booth with a PS4. Future enhancements to this would be to acquire a professional quality planetarium optic for direct projection or upgraded first-surface lab-grade mirror for improved reflected projection. However, this is currently the only Arcade game that I consider "for sale" and even then only because of its size. If I sell the dome, it opens up some rearrange opportunities in the game room.

The Dome is my custom-built Star Wars Battle Pod wanna-be. Its strengths are racing games, flight sims, space games. Its weaknesses are First/Third Person shooters and sheer size. Currently running w/ a PS3, xBox 360 and Wii U which all exhibited a good selection of titles for this format. I've also used it as a mixed experience sit-down VR booth with a PS4. Future enhancements to this would be to acquire a professional quality planetarium optic for direct projection or upgraded first-surface lab-grade mirror for improved reflected projection. However, this is currently the only Arcade game that I consider "for sale" and even then only because of its size. If I sell the dome, it opens up some rearrange opportunities in the game room.

The Pinballs

Indiana Jones

The longest lasting Pinball in my collection, Indy is still my favorite pinball. An upgraded player's quality game, it has custom golden-vein, relic-inspired powder-coated metals. It is running a customized Pinsound orchestration to bring John Williams iconic sound to the gameplay experience but still nods to the original mix quite well. The playfield is pretty good and the plastics look great. It has OCD LED on the controlled lamps and I recently went back to incandescents in the GI, trying to add the warm-fire-glow back to the game. The side art has alot of fade and a few gashes. Instead of cabinet decal, I'd like to find a mural artist to brighten the colors back but keep the original elements in-tact.

The longest lasting Pinball in my collection, Indy is still my favorite pinball. An upgraded player's quality game, it has custom golden-vein, relic-inspired powder-coated metals. It is running a customized Pinsound orchestration to bring John Williams iconic sound to the gameplay experience but still nods to the original mix quite well. The playfield is pretty good and the plastics look great. It has OCD LED on the controlled lamps and I recently went back to incandescents in the GI, trying to add the warm-fire-glow back to the game. The side art has alot of fade and a few gashes. Instead of cabinet decal, I'd like to find a mural artist to brighten the colors back but keep the original elements in-tact.

Tales of the Arabian Nights

Low production numbers and not being part of the current projected CG Remake roadmap seems to make this a hard pin to find. Having a designer who was nearly run out of pinball and being the free table offered in Pinball Arcade probably didn't hurt, either. Scarcity and such. Acquired from Big Bob in Atlanta, by far this game came to me in the nicest condition of any game I've ever bought. The Mike Chestnut-gold plating on the rails has a few wear marks but not enough to make me want to undo the legend's work. I added OCD LED and GI LED. It isn't as purple and blue as it appears in the photo. Color Changing LEDs in the BAZAAR inserts are one of my favorite additions to this game.

Low production numbers and not being part of the current projected CG Remake roadmap seems to make this a hard pin to find. Having a designer who was nearly run out of pinball and being the free table offered in Pinball Arcade probably didn't hurt, either. Scarcity and such. Acquired from Big Bob in Atlanta, by far this game came to me in the nicest condition of any game I've ever bought. The Mike Chestnut-gold plating on the rails has a few wear marks but not enough to make me want to undo the legend's work. I added OCD LED and GI LED. It isn't as purple and blue as it appears in the photo. Color Changing LEDs in the BAZAAR inserts are one of my favorite additions to this game.

Attack from Mars

One of the byproducts of the CG Remakes is that games that were once astronomically priced can now be in the cloud-city price range, instead. This is a player's quality game with alot of additions and repairs. It came missing the strobe electronics and with various issues in the saucer area. New ramps, upgraded strobe board, reworked the power driver board, fixed a few careless grounds and it was back in business. Added chrome-plated metals from  Pinball Plating , OCD LED board on the controlled lamps and  Convolux  protectors for extra pop. A few wear spots with sloppy mylar work left to address on the playfield but nothing major.

One of the byproducts of the CG Remakes is that games that were once astronomically priced can now be in the cloud-city price range, instead. This is a player's quality game with alot of additions and repairs. It came missing the strobe electronics and with various issues in the saucer area. New ramps, upgraded strobe board, reworked the power driver board, fixed a few careless grounds and it was back in business. Added chrome-plated metals from Pinball Plating, OCD LED board on the controlled lamps and Convolux protectors for extra pop. A few wear spots with sloppy mylar work left to address on the playfield but nothing major.

Star Trek: The Next Outlane

Second time around with this title.. Bought one and a sold it to get Stern's Star Trek. Eventually I came back to STTNG through a convoluted trade of my Ghostbusters. The cabinet is really nice with nearly no fade and the playfield cleaned up very well, shows minimum wear. It came with a RD MPU board and I'm still looking for an original WPC-95 MPU to swap back in because of some (very) subtle differences.

Second time around with this title.. Bought one and a sold it to get Stern's Star Trek. Eventually I came back to STTNG through a convoluted trade of my Ghostbusters. The cabinet is really nice with nearly no fade and the playfield cleaned up very well, shows minimum wear. It came with a RD MPU board and I'm still looking for an original WPC-95 MPU to swap back in because of some (very) subtle differences.

Scared Stiff

Another title that I've previously owned and came back around to. Limited production numbers and the hard life of living in a bar, increasingly make this title hard to find for a decent price. An abundance of new pinball, rumors of a future Elvira themed game and a somewhat shallow gameplay dynamic helped to bring this game into my price range. A pretty nice player's quality game, it was at a pinball clubhouse & weed dispensary in the Rhode Island area. The power driver board has some interesting hacks and the left portion of the cabinet has a substantial fade in the Red accents. I'm a little young to have been a consumer of Elvira's TV shenanigans but I really appreciate that this is an all-around fun game and in my opinion the all-around winner for best Halloween theme. Just the right amount of dime-store knock-off Boris Karloff and playfully suggestive callouts mashed with classic 90's feeling generic halloween music make for an excellent sound design. The shots have excellent flow and a nice balance of control versus random bounce. My favorite edition to the pin is the MindOrbits color changing shooter knob and the custom bony-beast lighting.

Another title that I've previously owned and came back around to. Limited production numbers and the hard life of living in a bar, increasingly make this title hard to find for a decent price. An abundance of new pinball, rumors of a future Elvira themed game and a somewhat shallow gameplay dynamic helped to bring this game into my price range. A pretty nice player's quality game, it was at a pinball clubhouse & weed dispensary in the Rhode Island area. The power driver board has some interesting hacks and the left portion of the cabinet has a substantial fade in the Red accents. I'm a little young to have been a consumer of Elvira's TV shenanigans but I really appreciate that this is an all-around fun game and in my opinion the all-around winner for best Halloween theme. Just the right amount of dime-store knock-off Boris Karloff and playfully suggestive callouts mashed with classic 90's feeling generic halloween music make for an excellent sound design. The shots have excellent flow and a nice balance of control versus random bounce. My favorite edition to the pin is the MindOrbits color changing shooter knob and the custom bony-beast lighting.

Medieval Madness

For a couple of years I've let myself get talked out of buying this pin. The excuses ranged from the high average cost to the shot-map similarity with AFM and MB. This summer CG ran another batch of remakes for this title and they started showing up in distributor inventory. Typically, whenever distributor inventory stacks up on a re-make you can temporarily find an original for less-than MSRP of the Remake. Medieval Madness is my newest pin and last new-to-me pinball for 2018. Really enjoying it so far!

For a couple of years I've let myself get talked out of buying this pin. The excuses ranged from the high average cost to the shot-map similarity with AFM and MB. This summer CG ran another batch of remakes for this title and they started showing up in distributor inventory. Typically, whenever distributor inventory stacks up on a re-make you can temporarily find an original for less-than MSRP of the Remake. Medieval Madness is my newest pin and last new-to-me pinball for 2018. Really enjoying it so far!

Labor Day Pinball Maintenance

Didn't have the inclination to fight boat-ramp traffic on the last summer beach holiday of the year, so ended up spending Labor Day weekend fixing things (and cooking things) instead of enjoying the beaches and water.

Instead, decided to tackle a few projects in the gameroom that I've been putting off.

LED OCD & GI OCD

For a game that I know I'll be keeping for awhile - LED OCD is something I'm inclined to add to games but the install process isn't my favorite task.
LED OCD and GI OCD essentially try to make LEDs, less .. umm.. LED-y.     I'm sure they explain it better over at: ledocd.com

Ultimately, they give you finer control over the LEDs in the game by wedging a micro-controller between the original controlled lamps and the lamp matrix harnesses.    The LED OCD micro-controllers endeavor to smooth insert animations to more closely resemble the inter-fade in incandescent bulb animations.  The GI OCD board performs similarly for games where GI animations might be used. (TOTAN, Scared Stiff for instance)

They also tend to just make the LEDs less bright but in a good way. 

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One challenge to the install is actually fitting the board in the backbox so that: it doesn't ground against anything, it doesn't get in the way of the speaker panel but can still be reasonably close for the factory harness to be diverted to the new board.

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GI LCD adds a few more parts, including a breakout board.    

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GI OCD also complicates the mounting dilemma a little, the breakout board doesn't really have enough lead cable to mount anywhere.    They accounted for that by removing the mounting posts and including a large tie wrap, I suppose the intention is to tie-wrap it to a cable bundle.   Oh, OCD-named product, this disturbs my wire management OCD. :)

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GI OCD really only seems to come in handy if you have a game with overly bright GI that needs to be brought into check or if the game has fade effects in the GI as part of the light show.  I'm not really sensing a tremendous difference in the GI board on Scared Stiff, as I did in Tales of the Arabian Nights.     Still, the extra control to dim them is kinda nice.

The video shows the smoothing on the insert animations and the GI adjustments.  Admittedly this quick clip looks darker than it really is in person but I also intended for this game to be a bit darker than normal for theme purposes.

Monster Bash Ramps

I also took the time over labor day to replace the ramps in Medieval Madness.   A task that took me, entirely too long :)
Medieval Madness's ramps were originally flame-polished to a bubbling crisp by a well-meaning previous owner. 

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The end result is nice though, no more burned ramps.  Although the new left ramp has a screw instead of a rivet in the plastic diverter.  I didn't have an appropriately sized rivet on hand but I do plan to address that.

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Speaking of that plastic diverter on the ramps - ever notice them on Medieval?  I never noticed them playing on Pinball Arcade on Steam or at the Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas.   I guess the purpose is to prevent ramp-rejects from STDM?   Cool idea, I wonder if this came out of initial testing from the prototype batch in March 1997 or was part of the original design?  If anyone knows the story, I'd like to know!

Getting Medieval

Lots of new pinball out there..  A steady stream of interesting-looking titles from Stern, the PPS Chicago Gaming remakes and others are the grease the move the wheels of collection turnover.    A good time to buy pinball and sometimes a good opportunity to pick up classics that have been on the want-list for awhile.

I started the year with a pretty clear mindset in regards to the hobby and my intended acquisitions:  Out With the New, in With Old.   Coming off a disappointing ownership experience with JJP and having witnessed a friend having an even-worse ownership experience with a WOZ and battling Stern Spike Node-board failures on my Ghostbusters Pin, I decided it was time to take a break from modern pinball and pursue some 90's Bally and Williams classics.

Last year around this time it was Attack from Mars.  This year, it is Medieval Madness!

Medieval Madness has been on my radar for a couple of years.   But, my sleep number (the number of Pinball machines I can reasonably maintain at one time) is still 6.  In order to buy Medieval Madness something had to find a new home.  Both for space and because of the big hobby spend..

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It all worked out that in one weekend Star Wars found a good home and the Medieval Madness transaction went through. 

Archived photos from Pinside listing: 
https://images.eyedyllic.com/Hobbies/Medieval-Madness-Pinside/n-3djLCC/

Shipping / Delivery

Medieval Madness was located in the Tampa area.   I needed to get Star Wars to its new owner and Medieval Madness from Florida.    

Plane ticket = $200
Rental truck from Tampa, with mileage = $500
Typical pinball mover dude = $275

STI - Not allowed on my premises anymore.
UShip - $800 avg quote
Roadie - $500, open pick up truck move with a tarp.   No thanks.
RLCarriers - Retail $1600 on a pallet
Seller not willing to take it to Fastenal ($175)

This looks like a job for..

An arcade mover dude!    I posted to the book-of-faces and the village and the four corners of the tubes that make up the internet.   Bob Cunningham wasn't going to be in the area.    Greywolf not coming down the panhandle anytime soon.  Pinballs on the Move, no answer...

Mover Dude

In the end, this isn't a complaint nor a recommendation but at this time I don't really want to publicly influence some guys' livelihood.  I might use him again in the future.  Spoiler alert: The game made it and I'm happy..  There.. were .. bumps along the way, though. So, for now and for purposes of this post, we'll call him Mover Dude. 

Eventually, I found said dude and after reviewing some of his history and talking to him he agreed that he would be able to work my pick up in for $320.     I pulled the proverbial trigger. After a few promising SMS and Facebook Messenger exchanges I had a decent level of confidence that I the right guy.  Sort of like w/ Bob, you can follow the guy's check-ins on Facebook and get a general idea of his route and location.   

Around dinner-time one evening, I received a missed call and an iMessage photo of a black-painted stick of wood from the seller.   I knew the delivery dude was in Tampa but I didn't know that the move was in progress.   The photo, below - had no caption and set my spidey senses tingling.

 

 

 

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Hours later, I get this story, paraphrased, from the seller:

He broke off a board from the back of the pinball machine while going down my stoop.   He went down the wrong direction and turned and I just heard this sick-grinding noise and a snap.   I don't know if it damaged the art or not.

In fairness. I don't know what happened.  Because I'm not there.   But...... crap!

Whiskey.  Tango. Foxtrot.

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Honestly, at this point I'm stressing the move so I send over this message to the delivery dude and try to get some additional details from his perspective.

On a personal note, at this point in the evening my ADD med has begun to wear off and I'm aware that I'm not always in the best of moods while that happens.  It took extra effort to come across more calmly about the situation than I was actually feeling.. Typically, for that 30 minute-to-1hr of the evening my inner Steve Jobs is most near the surface and ready to burst out when provoked.    I think.. I succeeded in not freaking out..

and... at least I know that I sometimes have unreasonable Griswold-like expectations and standards and that people aren't mind readers and... yada yada..   

The response that I received were the following photos from the move.  Not bad!    Started to freak out less.   Though, there was also Whiskey involved, so maybe that helped.

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General feedback here is that it's cool that he took the time to pull the game out and play it and noted functional condition of the game (draw bridge works, gate opens, etc).   He also paid special attention to note the flaws of the game, like the gash from the lockbar on the front of the cab that the seller had communicated and I wasn't too worried about.   That's cool and I can appreciate that.

I'm personally not a big fan of the head->cardboard->rails sandwich packing method.  I like to use a double or triple folded moving blanket between the head and side rails but that's just me.    Not too thick to generate pressure on the hinges but thick enough to provide a little give on that plane of potential impact.  If you ever watch high-speed camera, slow-motion ripples of impact force transferring through wooden objects, the idea is to create an opportunity for the impact forces to dissipate.   Again, I didn't micro-manage this with mover and he's not expected to be a mind reader - just commentary. :)

The fact that mover dude took steps to protect the rail->head contact points at all is bonus and shows experience IMO.

I did drop-ship from Amazon blankets and plastic wrap for the move but Amazon Prime 1-Day turned into Amazon Prime 3-4 Day and missed the window. 

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I'm also not a huge fan of stretch wrap touching a bare cabinet.   Stretch wrap can stretch and pulls with surprising force with friction against the art.   When I saw these pictures, no blankets involved, my worry ramped back up a bit..  Coupled with the photos of the broken skid, my imagination ran away and I partially expected to receive a large garbage bag with approximately $7k in castle-themed Williams parts and troll head bash toys amongst shards of wood and millions of crystalline tempered glass shards.

My fears were calmed three days later when the machine arrived it was wrapped in an additional layer of (2) moving blankets and another layer of plastic wrap.  It was securely strapped inside his truck and made it without any (additional?) damage.

Also, bonus points that he brought the legs (last move with a different moving dude was missing legs) and the skid and all accessories.  ++ For mover dude.

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The back-right of the cabinet has a significant scrape and a separation in the ply of the head support board.  That scrape is on the same side of the cabinet as the missing skid. From the listing photos, I don't have any way of knowing for sure if this was a result of this move or something else.    Fortunately all easy fixes and didn't mess up the artwork.   At the end of the day, the machine made it to me safely in all of the ways that really matter.  Any damage that is there either from previous ownership or this move - I will easily have fixed and touched up by the weekend.

All things considered..  Mover Dude was a success.  The Seller was flexible and described the game quite well. (Probably under-sold the condition.)

Survey of Initial Condition

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Overall, I'm really pleased with the condition of the game. 
ColorDMD included, LED OCD Controllers included, all things I typically do to games and reduce my shopping list burden on the receiving side. 

The owner said it was a pinballbulbs.com kit and I found some of the color choices to be a bit much for my taste.  A little too much UV and too much green on the castle. Green in the mote, full green strip under by the backboard support, green spots on the castle.

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The Pinball Pro speaker upgrade was a nice touch, the sub almost feels like a shaker motor at times.   Very nice touch and surprisingly good sound for a non-pinsound-based system.

Who Does Number Two Work For?

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The Serial Number on the game is 53359100002.  Production date 5/23/1997.  According to IPDB, 4016 units were built with a production dated as June, 1997.    Prototypes ran in March.  Serial number 00002 with a 5/23/1997 mfg date.    That makes this the second production Medieval Madness off of the line. (Probably)  Inspected by.. you guessed it.. 

Number 2

Number 2

Dialing it in

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I added some warm tone LEDs back into the mix to reduce the UV saturation a bit and abandoned the green strip on the castle.  I put in RGB changing LEDs on the castle spots and cleaned and waxed the playfield.   Ordered what I needed from Titan to bring the rubber situation into my liking.

The scoop kick out beneath the left ramp (ejects into the orbit) has a tendency to shoot the ball into drain instead of returning to the left flipper.  The joust / orbit however would return directly to the left flipper.  The scoop appears to be kicking it out too hard and rolling down the inside of the joust orbit instead of against the rail itself.

After adjusting the scoop kickout tension bracket down a few mm, the gameplay feels a good bit more balanced.    

Well, that's it for now.   My last pinball purchase for awhile.    I'll do some arcade-y things next, this fall and winter.   Many incomplete projects over in that side of the hobby for me. :)

Scared Stiff Progress

Scared Stiff cleaning and mods are coming along..  

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Shopping List

ColorDMD: http://shop.colordmd.com/colordmd-replacement-display-for-scared-stiff-pinball-machine/
Pinball Life Lit Flipper Buttons: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=3760
Mind Orbits / Cointaker Slow Color Changing Shooter: https://cointaker.com/products/led-lit-shooter-rods
New Lockdown Bar (Pinball life "Seconds"): https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=2061
New Pinball Glass: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=768
New Bat Ramp (LSOG): https://littleshopofgames.com/product/scared-stiff-bat-ramp-with-decal-and-hardware-a-20754/
New Bony Beast Ramp (LSOG): https://littleshopofgames.com/product/scared-stiff-boney-beast-ramp/
New Crate Board: https://littleshopofgames.com/product/scared-stiff-crate-board-ssc001
New Dancing Boogies: https://littleshopofgames.com/product/boogie-man-for-scared-stiff-eatpm/
Robert Winter Dancing Boogie Extension Arms: http://www.robertwinter.com/pinball/ss/kitbm.html
Robert Winter Skull Pile LED Eyes: http://www.robertwinter.com/pinball/ss/kitled.html
Scared Stiff Slingshot Plastics: https://bit.ly/2KIpqh1
Clear Warm White Comet LED: http://www.cometpinball.com/product-p/1smd5050.htm
Flame Comet LED: http://www.cometpinball.com/product-p/fire.htm
RGB Color Changer: https://cointaker.com/products/ct-color-changer
Clear Warm White Retro Cointaker LED: https://cointaker.com/products/44-47-retro
Titan Pinball Glow Rubber Kit: https://www.titanpinball.com/kits/index.php/view/id/126
LED OCD Controller: http://ledocd.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=22
GI OCD Controller: http://ledocd.com/cart/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=7
Power Splitter: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=4234
Power Tap: https://www.pinballlife.com/index.php?p=product&id=5037
LED Strip with Waterproof Coating: https://amzn.to/2AZFoDO

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I tried to "warm up" the tone of the pin. It already had LEDs but many were on the cool side of the spectrum.  I tried both the Cointaker Warm Retro and the Comet Warm 1SMD and found them to be identical to my eye.  Both are still a little brighter and blown out than I'd prefer.  I have a GI OCD kit to put in the pin, which will give me better control over the GI brightness.   Contemplated putting incandescents back in the GI, even.   So far, I don't hate it but I'm not 100% satisfied.   "Needs something".   The flame flicker bulbs maybe interspersed? It would be pricey and may not play well with GI animations in the game..

Custom Paint

 My friend, Nathan provided some inspiration with his background in imagineering-level yard haunts.   He showed me plastic skeletons that he had tea-stained and melted plastic to them to appear fleshy.    Googling some resources I found these helpful:

https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-Corpse-a-Skeleton-The-Quick-and-Dirty-Way-/
http://manningkrull.com/manningmakesstuff/making-plastic-bones-look-aged-dirty/

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I re-strung the Bony Beast spine with thin picture-hanging wire and zip tied the LED strip at every vertebrae joint, pointing downward.  Use the waterproof-type LED strips, they are more sturdy because of the plastic casing.  I used Minwax Special Walnut Stain and a bristle brush.  A light coating of spray urethane to seal in the stain.   

Skull Pile

The game was wired for LED eyes in the Skull Pile plastic on the backboard but this was not included when the game shipped.    A mountain of hot glue later, it is mounted and installed.  I went a little overboard b/c the LED and wiring seem quite delicate and I don't want them moving.

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Other Stuff

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The coffin door was a little fidgety.  The door pops open and the coffin inhabitant yells "boo!" and horizontally rotates to allow a ball to eject from beneath.  It would often hang open after ejecting a ball.   When another ball  ejects while the door is open, it ejects the ball over the lane guides into the drain.  I replaced the vertical hinge pin, straightened the horizontal hinge pin flaps and replaced the horizontal pin with a new one.

Finished it out with a color-changing LED spotlight on the sarcophogus face.

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Clips