Southern Fried Gameroom Expo and Virtual Pinball

I had a great time with friends at the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo 2016 this last weekend. The new hotel worked well and still leaves room for future growth.

Over the course of the weekend, and the week before I was able to gather a few more things to get some games working.

I was able to get a few “super rings” flipper rubber replacements which I really like. I know others are purist and want traditional rubber on the flippers, but I’m a fan of the elasticized PET. They are much more durable, and add a nice pop of color. And I personally like the ball feel when using them.

I was also able to secure a ARII rebuild kit for my Missile Command that was tragically murdered by a vacuum cleaner induced power spike . [Showing again the dangers of house cleaning…]  But after talking with the vendor selling these nice sets – and no longer allowing myself to be overwhelmed at the prospect of obtaining 20 odd individual capacitors and transistors – I’m fairly confident that this will be what I need to finally fix Missile Command and bring it back to the land of the living.

It’s been a few weeks now, but I was able to get a very affordable pack of LEDs from CometPinball. 200 hundred for a bit more than half of retail. From a price/performance point of view (as of this writing) you just can’t beat Comet.

I got both the LED’s and the super rings for Dolly primarily. With the rectifier board I’m installing tonight, and these new additions – my fingers are crossed that this will be everything needed to bring the game fully to life.

Back to SFGE — I had gone into the show thinking I might build myself a standard width style virtual pinball machine. And go all out adding solenoids to replicate the physical feel of playing a pin. As expected there were a few of these on the floor during the event. And I just couldn’t get over what a comparatively unsatisfying experience it is versus a real pin.

One vendor had a more vertical virtual pin – which the first time I saw it I had just ignored. I mean – pinball is flat, right? So, I just ignored it in favor of the standard layout tables. But the standard tables – the perspective was off and heavy. Often though the screen is level and flat, it ‘feels’ like it is tipping away from you.

I finally went up to the vertical game and gave it a shot. And to my intense surprise the very same virtual pins that were so unsatisfying were engaging and immersive. The virtual tables “feel” right when they are at a slight angle away from the player.

Madonna Future Pin table

Madonna Future Pin table

Coincidentally – Jeremy found Madonna Future Pinball table while I was at the show. He asked about what it would take to make it. Armed with my recent great experience with the new format virtual cabinet we’ll have to see where this goes – as I’ve already mocked up the design for the cabinet along with dimensions… I have a good idea :).

What a great weekend – SFGE

What an exciting event and fun time the Southern-Fried Gameroom Expo was this past weekend.

The herculean effort involved in putting on a 3 day game centric expo is staggering.  Space for hundreds of pinball machines and video games, as well as the con-current IFPA pinball tournament. Break out rooms for special guests like Richie Knucklez, Billy Mitchel (who was actually a great person despite how he was portrayed in a recent documentary), and Walter Day; as well as some pinball designer legends like Barry Oursler, and John Trudeau, and the singer/songwriters Buckner and Garcia of Pacman Fever fame.

I love how the enjoyment pinball and arcade games crosses cultural, and socio-economic lines.

I talked with Preston (His minimalist game room posters are amazing) about my Missile Command game one afternoon, and what had brought it to death. He is both an arcade and pinball collector, and he gave me some direction on what to look for, and ideas on what to look at actually needs to be fixed to hopefully bring it to life. This weekend I’ll be off shopping for parts to try to give that a go.

I am looking forward to next year, and participating on a larger scale than I did this time around.

Great pictures of the event here.

*Barry Oursler designed (alone and on teams) pinball machines: Jackbot, Gorgar, Pinbot, Doctor Who, Comet, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and many many more.