Visual Pinball is a nifty pinball emulation system for Windows-based PCs.


There are a couple different ways you can use Visual Pinball. The first is to use it for playing original tables designed just for use with VP. (Yup, you can make your own!) ... The second is to use it for playing a pinball game made by Williams, Gottlieb, etc... by using VPinMAME to emulate the machine's CPU board and Visual Pinball to emulate the table. The former is a lot easier to set up than the latter.

Getting Started

Download Visual Pinball here.

Make a new directory on your PC somewhere to temporarily store it. Unzip it into that directory and run the setup.

At this point, you will be able to start Visual Pinball from the Start menu or by double-clicking a Visual Pinball Table (.vpt) file. VP comes with two tables, which will be installed to C:\Program Files\Visual Pinball\Tables. You can get more tables at IRPinball or from the Visual Pinball site.

Play with it. Now. I command you.

Now, if you want to play a game via emulation, download the Visual PinMAME package. (Be sure to get VISUAL PinMAME, or it won't work.) Create a directory (probably off your root directory) and extract Visual PinMAME to it; then run its setup. Be sure to note what path Visual PinMAME is going to be expecting to find ROMs in!

Now, go back to your Visual Pinball tables folder, download from the ShivaSite Library, and extract the files within into the tables folder. These Visual Basic script files contain instructions needed by Visual Pinball to integrate with the CPU board emulation in Visual PinMAME.

Finally, you're ready to load it with some games. (Whee!)

Go somewhere and download both the table AND ROM files for the game. Extract the table files into your Visual Pinball tables directory (where you just put all that .vbs nonsense), then extract the ROM files to the ROM directory for PinMAME. (Rememeber what directory that was? If you forgot, or want to change it, run PinMAME's installer again.) If it doesn't exist, create it. Don't worry about the NVRAM or other folders, those will be created as needed. Be sure to extract the ROMs into a folder within the PinMAME folder with the same name as the .zip file you extracted them from... for example, the ROMs for The Addams Family, found in, must go in a folder called taf_l5. Otherwise, Visual Pinball won't be able to find them...

Once the ROM and table files are in place, you should be able to double-click the table file and have it all work. In most cases, once you hit F5 to play the game, you'll be presented with a picture of the table and any relevant lights on the backglass. In addition, PinMAME will be automatically started to run the game's internal software from the ROM files. Here, you will run into some strangeness. On a usual pinball machine (I'm excluding machines with Magna-Save buttons and such from this example), there are six controls accessible to the player; the Start button, left, middle, and right coin slots, and the left and right flippers. Visual Pinball maps these to the 1-5 keys.

1 = Start
5 = Inserting Coin
2, 3, 4 = Unknown (On some games, 4 seems to add about 3 credits... what is this?

Chances are, when you pressed F5 to play the game, the DMD or 'Union Jack' display came up saying "FACTORY SETTING", "FACTORY SETTINGS RESTORED", or something similar. This is the ROM software's way of telling you it's alive and has just loaded up to find no default settings loaded on the machine's battery-backed RAM, which is being emulated by PinMAME. You will probably need to enter and exit the Audit/Settings menu.

NOTE: I'm not sure about the button assignments here; they may be wrong. Play with it a bit anyway, ok? No harm can be done (although, when playing with Comet, whose software doesn't describe in plain text what each menu option is, I somehow managed to set it so that one coin gave eight credits!)

Inside the coin door of any solid-state pinball machine will be a small box with three buttons; black, green, and ? (exit). Pressing the green button (7, in Visual Pinball) will enter the menu.

The black button toggles between up and down. The position it's in when you press the green one determines whether you get the audit/configuration menu, or the diagnostics menu. So, I guess holding 7 and hitting 8 goes into the diagnostics... I really should go back and verify this stuff.

You can press 8 to scroll through all the available menu options. Pressing Start (1) modifies the currently displayed setting. Pressing 7 (black) changes which direction you're scrolling through the menu (it's usually pretty long...). 9 is the exit button. If the game says 'PRESS ADVANCE FOR REPORT' (This means a virtual 'switch' or something isn't working... oops!), it means 8. If you don't wanna mess with the options, just give it a press and the game will boot up, ready to be played.

I ran into some wierdness with the menus on The Addams Family; the software didn't want to let me get into the menus without opening the coin door switch, and I didn't know what Visual Pinball mapped that to. If anyone is nice enough to tell me, I'll include it in this document.

Once you've gotten the game's settings initialized (all you *really* have to do is go into the menu and exit), you should be able to press 5 to add 'coins' and 1 to start. Have fun....

If it's too slow, right-click the display, select Options, and turn off Samples. Then, close the Player window, and hit F5 from Visual Pinball's main window to bring it back up.

I hope this explains the whole process adequately...


This document fnorded by Tom Morris, Senator Of Defenestration. E-mail: vxoatblueneon dot xidus dot net