Getting Halloween stuff out I ran into this glasswear set we’ve had since 2004. The similarities in the fill indicator levels and the Scared Stiff achievement ladder are interesting..
Getting Halloween stuff out I ran into this glasswear set we’ve had since 2004. The similarities in the fill indicator levels and the Scared Stiff achievement ladder are interesting..
Last week, Centipede decided to jump line in the repair queue with a monitor problem.
Monitor dark, game was playing blind and no neck glow. It had been playing fine the day before and hasn’t shown any warm-up quirks leading up to the failure.
My gut reaction was - flyback.
Before ordering parts, I consulted this handy troubleshooting workflow chart:
(first google result for g07 troubleshooting chart)
The fuse at 901 was indeed blown and you can see a slight crack in the flyback. I’m surprised it wasn’t arcing. If it was a Hantarex it would have arc’d… :)
I ordered parts from https://www.arcadepartsandrepair.com/ (the first time I’ve used this particular site) Prices were average, shipping was fast and the order was correct.
Not a fan of axial-lead fuses, so I added board-mount fuse holders when I replaced the fuse.
The new flyback proudly boasts its Chinese origin. Hopefully it’ll hold up? The transformer adjacent to it at T-503 looks pretty crusty but works and those aren’t made anymore, so I’m leaving it.
Quick test showed neck glow was back. I made a few small adjustments and we were back in business.
I let the game “burn-in test” for a couple of hours and so far-so good. Fingers crossed it stays working so I can move on to other regularly scheduled projects in progress!
For a couple years, usually adjacent to shows I often get feedback for:
“Wouldn’t it be cool if our pinball-arcade group had shirts to wear to the show?”
One year, I engaged a friend / local collector who was in the shirt biz. The good news is, it was nice supporting a friend and his wife’s side-gig and the shirts turned out great. The downside is, it puts me “in the middle” in some unfulfilling combination of personal shopper, transaction guarantor, tailor and delivery-boy. Yuck.
This year, I decided to try to use some available online-services to meet this need. I set up a couple designs with a print-on-demand service, tied in to a shopping cart on the blog and made it live. Took maybe a day or so, in all. Nothing major.
Look, I normally don’t engage with trolls and I’m pretty good at ignoring negative crap from keyboard-commandos. I don’t want to break my streak and answer this, per se but call it a catalyst for this post that hopefully other hobbyist bloggers might fight insightful or at least entertaining. One of my favorite podcast networks, Bald Move, does this thing they call “Empire Business” where they divulge all of the nitty-gritty financials to their supporters. This is going to be sort of like that.. Remember Catalyst, not Troll Engagement! anyway….
Today, I found this little gem in my inbox:
I laughed (loudly) when I read this. Laughter provides a dopamine release that generates more happiness. This actually improved my mood, somehow - so thanks for that.
Putting spell check, toxic trolling, mental illness or whatever aside for a sec.. Looking back, when I did post the Merch link, I did post in our local Arcade & Pinball Facebook Group (that I helped to co-found) some throwaway line that “… and the profits… if there are any…. whatever, we’ll do something good with that”
.. and what I meant by that, was that I’d donate them to a good cause or try to do something positive in the community, hobby: generic social good with whatever pennies were left over.
This site is hosted on Squarespace. True, I have web-development experience dating back to my teenager years and while I could certainly build up a site / blog or roll my own Wordpress or similar - these days - why would you? Going with a provider like Squarespace gives me a solid content-management system with nice content-creation tools in native apps for IOS and Android. It also gives me a nice selection of highly customizable included templates that have mobile-friendly, responsive designs.
.. and it keeps my hobby from taking on aspects of my day job. For $10/mo that’s a no-brainer, friends.
Not for nothing, Squarespace also provides a robust analytics platform that can be pretty informative. Not that I pay it much attention. This is a passion / hobby project and creative outlet for me. (full stop)
So, my Merch experiment was based on Squarespace, Shopify and Printful. There are certainly cheaper ways to go about setting up a shopping cart but they come with tradeoffs in inventory management, up-front expense or up-front time expenditure.
Shopify Monthly Recurring Charges
Shopify provides a shopping cart platform. This is inventory management, order fulfillment and secure credit card processing.
June Hosting Invoice - $29.00
July Hosting Invoice - $29.00
August Hosting Invoice - $29.00
Printful is a really cool print-on-demand service. Your art, their products. They are secure, have a nice selection high quality products, an easy-to-use online interface for product branding & design.
Printful makes their money on the transaction. So, a $15.50 shirt would cost you about $17.80 shipped. Once you order it, Printful charges My American Express for your order. Once it is fulfilled, your payment minus their cut gets deposited back into my account. In this case, $1.95.
I also use AWS for DNS, large file storage, CDN features. Not including any of that in this particular post, though since it doesn’t particularly pertain to my Merch Store experiment.
$183.09 were my total Sales in 2019. Don’t get too excited, though… $113.90 of that was me buying shirts from my own store. A couple for myself and a couple to give away at events, etc.
Total Sales Revenue ……..$183.09
Less Inventory Buy ………$113.90
Less Production ………….$58.62
Less Shopping Cart ……..$87.00
Total Profits ………….. $(76.43)
Don’t feed the trolls
I don’t want to address the specific, ridiculous claims in the email above but it was a Catalyst and a reminder that I’d been meaning to express an open-door policy with respect to those financials. I took the store down last month (unrelated to this emailer, obviously) to keep my hosting fees in check but I definitely intend on doing it again in the future to make it easy for my friends in the hobby to get show-shirts, etc. Because… this is all for fun, folks. If you aren’t having fun - do something else. :)
The Sega Dreamcast turned 20 today! As part of my trip down retro gaming memory lane I’ve been jamming along on the Dreamcast. Soul Calibur is one of my all-time favorite button mashing fighters and Crazy Taxi was crazy good on the Dreamcast.
What Dreamcast games speak to you?
I’ve been a little quiet here for a few weeks with a busy schedule of life-related things. However.. you might have noticed a new menu item on the site. I shut down the “merch” link for now, since it cost me nearly $50/mo to run and added something a little different.. I’ve been exploring some “other retro” things that are nerd-adjacent, although not entirely related to arcades and pinballs.
First of them, is the BBS. I spent some time trying to revive my old OBLiViON/2 BBS, “The Graveyard” (of course it was the graveyard, because.. I was 14) but I haven’t had a ton of luck finding it on my archives and backups.
So, I’ve been going down a route of building up a “new” BBS using a modern Node.Js BBS Platform called Enigma. Time will tell if this was a good decision or not but I’m pretty familiar with Node and this gives me the ability to host the BBS on a super-inexpensive instance on AWS. Note: I tried to use an Azure Windows instance for this but Azure doesn’t support 32 bit or earlier OS’s without a bunch of flaming hoops.
Over Labor Day weekend I was able to get some inter-BBS door games running via BBS Link
My current challenge is trying to get a few local-doors set up so we can have control over game-resets and don’t have to join a game so far along in progress. I’m making progress on that front…. Hopefully this week I can get my licensed BRE running on the instance…
More details on this to come…
In other news… I’ve been playing with some multi-carts from Krikzz, as well. More details to follow… but my initial impression is: “I’m having a great time with it.”
This has been part of a larger “project” where I’ve hooked up the NES, N64, Gamecube, Genesis & DreamCast to a 19” Television for a retro-gaming trip down memory lane. Sadly, my Atari 2600 needs some repair but I’ll get there..
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.
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.
850 miles were traveled, 9 games went up & 13 games returned. Another SFGE is in the bag. Boy, was it.. something..
“No plan survives first contact with the enemy”
Helmuth von Moltke the Elder
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.
Round 1: Live Oak vs Budget Truck
Winner: Live Oak in a TKO
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Little Shop of Games brought some JJP Willy Wonka’s, Suncoast Pinball Cosmic Carnival & more.
FlipNOut Pinball brought CGC Remakes of Monster Bash, Attack from Mars, Cosmic Carnival & more as well as the usual showing of Escalera's.
Classic Game Rooms brought selections from JJP, American Pinball, CGC & a giant Galaga.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Style and Difficulty points for bringing a vector and it running all weekend. Well done / it played great!
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.
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 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.
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!
still working on this part of the post.. :)… come back tomorrow..
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!”
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.
Whenever I had the camera on me, I tried to snap a picture of people playing the game - just ‘cause.
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.
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!
The show schedule is now up! Check it out:
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.
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:
Speakers / Panels: