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Thread: Flippers are too strong in smaller swings

  1. #1
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    Default Flippers physics discussion

    So from what I can tell, the ball physics are fantastic. The flipper physics however could use some tweaking I think. I immediately noticed that the flippers seemed a bit too powerful in many cases. For example, post transfers seem to send the ball flying a lot. After playing a bit more, I think I realized what exactly the problem is. In real pinball for example, if you hold the flipper up to try and catch the ball, but the ball is going a bit too fast and will roll over the edge, you can quickly let go of the flipper and then press it again to give the ball a small tap. This usually gives the ball a little momentum up and back towards the flipper's respective side of the game, allowing you to safely cradle the ball. In Zen however, I noticed that whenever I try to do this, the ball will go flying.

    What I think is happening is that the Zen flippers are hitting the ball with pretty much full power whenever they're moving, regardless of the length of the stroke, when the way it should be is that a small stroke should have a fraction of the power of a full stroke. So for example, if the flipper is starting from 0% of it's swing, it should become more powerful as it progresses through that swing, and since the stroke is so long will have plenty of power relatively early in the swing. If the flipper is starting at 90% of its swing however, when it is energized it should certainly not have the same strength as a swing starting from 0% would have at 90%, rather it should have roughly the same power as the 0% swing had at it's start.

    Now I'm certainly not a physics expert, but this has always been my understanding of how flipper physics work. I think that if more realistic flippers could be introduced into the Williams game, it would really kick the whole experience up another notch!
    Last edited by mystman12; 09-10-2018 at 04:11 PM.

  2. #2
    Table Designer deep's Avatar
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    Thanks for letting us know, I am working on this!

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    Good to hear, and thanks for the quick response!

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    +1

    The overall physics is OK but being unable to do those "flicks" can frustrate some players.

    Here's a good example:



    Thanks for your work!

  5. #5

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    redafoe,,

    Nice choice in posting this video.

    Deep,

    So glad you're soliciting community input. I'm really impressed with your ball physics so far (especially in comparison with TPA). Flipper physics are a solid work in progress! I love that you're committed to "flipper tricks" -- they're a huge part of the game, as you know.

    Now that you Zen guys are aiming to create an actual pinball simulation as opposed to your fantasy offerings (which I enjoy as well), I recommend this video as essential viewing if you don't already own it:

    https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/randyelwin

    You'll find an absolute goldmine of slow-mo flipper tricks footage here.

    Regarding the flick pass (and with many backhand shots as well), I'm seeing the same problem with your flipper physics as with TPA: The flipper looks as if it's exhibiting the proper end of stroke, low-voltage "micro-flip" behavior, but it just kinda misses the ball altogether. It's as though when the ball is touching the flipper rubber, it somehow doesn't have enough weight and gravity to maintain contact with the flipper as it quickly descends and then re-ascends during the flick-pass. Same thing happens when you're trying to execute a back hand from cradle: The flipper just fails to make contact with the ball when "micro-flipped."

    One of the biggest problems with pulling off these kinds of moves (which are an essential part of the game -- watch any PAPA video!), is latency. Can you do anything to reduce it on the coding end? You guys mentioned that your games are ROM controlled. Can you bypass ROM polling for flippers to speed things up? This is a big part of realism for pinheads, trust me!

    Totally looking forward to testing your next iteration! I'm super excited that you guys are committed to doing this right.

  6. #6
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    With Ben on the taps. The flipper LOOKS like it's 'tapping' (very small flip) but it's not actually making contact with the ball so it just keeps on rolling right over the end of the flipper and down the drain.

    Also wanted to point out there needs to be a bit more randomness. The quickest example I can see is when the ball gets ejected out of the moat in MM. If you just let it roll down and bounce off the left flipper and across to the right you can see it behaves the 'exact' same way every time. That's great that the physics are following the programming, but in reality the should at least be some variance in that behavior. i.e: it should mostly always bounce over, but it should be a little different bounce each time.

    -Mike

  7. #7

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    +1

    Listen to this guy, Deep. Silderpoint knows his sh*t! Fellow pinball convention addict.

    "The ball is wild!"
    - Harry Williams

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    Quote Originally Posted by sliderpoint View Post
    Also wanted to point out there needs to be a bit more randomness. The quickest example I can see is when the ball gets ejected out of the moat in MM. If you just let it roll down and bounce off the left flipper and across to the right you can see it behaves the 'exact' same way every time. That's great that the physics are following the programming, but in reality the should at least be some variance in that behavior. i.e: it should mostly always bounce over, but it should be a little different bounce each time.

    -Mike
    Are you sure there's no randomness? I was playing MM quite a bit, and while the moat eject is very consistent, I'm pretty sure there were a few instances of it not hitting the left flipper the same way and not passing to the right as expected, requiring me to react differently. Randomness on kickouts and things is good, but I certainly wouldn't want *too* much randomness. No more than you would find in a real pinball machine, anyways.

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    there should only be slight randomness in kickouts. slight angle/strength/spin adjustments. a little goes a long way here.

    that said, the moat eject should be more consistent than usual, because it feeds down an orbit. scoops that aim at the flippers should be a bit less predictable.

    i agree that the flippers feel off.

    if you hare having latency issues, try switching to borderless fullscreen and disabling vsync. that worked for me.

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    anyway to get truly realistic flipper tap action, incredibly high timer resolution is needed. good luck doing a tap pass even if the physics should allow for it. i'm also pretty sure only a proper opto/leaf switch flipper button can respond quick enough. the latter you pretty much have to get a momentary spark of contact to do the tap pass.

    but if you can actually do it, i'll be amazed.

  11. #11
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    I play with a keyboard (with mechanic "red" switches) and can do "realistic" flipper taps on Visual Pinball X, it depends of the table of course. So I bet it's possible to do on PFX3.
    What you're saying about opto/leaf switches can be reproduced with the triggers (LT & RT) on a Xbox 360 controller, you could even stage flip if it would have been setup in the game.
    Last edited by redafoe; 09-06-2018 at 01:42 AM.

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    well there's the shown flick pass, which seems doable, and then the the famous bally tap pass.

    the tap pass has a much shorter press than the flick pass.

    can you do actual tap passes in VPX? the typ where the ball barely moves off the lowered flipper and onto the other one?

  13. #13

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    I was just coming to post about the flippers being too strong and noticed this thread. The physics are really good for a first build, but if some of the tweaks recommended in here can be accomplished they will be close to spot on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by zaphod77 View Post
    well there's the shown flick pass, which seems doable, and then the the famous bally tap pass.

    the tap pass has a much shorter press than the flick pass.

    can you do actual tap passes in VPX? the typ where the ball barely moves off the lowered flipper and onto the other one?
    Sorry I maybe misunderstood your point I was talking about flicks only.
    For the bally tap pass I have to admit it's hard on VPX but still doable if you tweak the flippers settings correctly (especially coil ramp up) but it results in a weird feelings when you play. Here's a video where I try some on Harlem Globetrotters:

    https://streamable.com/oyvck

    Anyway I don't think PFX3 developers have to worry about tap passes since they're focusing on eras of machines where doing them is almost impossible and inconsistent most of the time

  15. #15

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    The tap pass is a pretty rarely used move, even for pros on the PAPA circuit. Announcers always act with surprise when they see one: "Whoa! Tap pass! Risky move!"

    Personally, I'd rather see tap pass functionality skipped for digital pinball. Why? Because the code routine that checks for it would add further delay / make things feel even less snappy compared to real pinball. The machine's having to distinguish between "Is this a super short press? If so, execute tap pass. Is this a longer press? If so, execute full stroke" takes time. This translates to the player as perceived added latency. I always set coil ramp up to zero for this reason on digital pinball sims that allow you to do so. We need to speed up checks for calls for full flipper strokes, not slow them further!

    Flick passes are another beast altogether. Digital pinball can simulate them fairly convincingly. A little extra polling time when the flipper is held at end of stroke (fully extended position) isn't going to break the bank. Latency isn't as big a deal when the player is calling for flipper release to resting position (although for drop catches, even this is less than ideal!).
    Last edited by Ben Logan; 09-06-2018 at 04:10 PM.

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    The tap pass is rarely used, EXCEPT in older thick flipper Bally games. These are the easiest games to tap pass on, and doing so is completely ESSENTIAL to high level play on the game. The PAPA guidelines specifically say to make sure the flipper buttons allow you to tap pass properly for that one.

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    Yeah, I don't think tap passing is something to worry about when it comes to System 11 and newer.

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    Noticed some changes to the flipper physics in the 2018-09-07 update. Based on a minute of play, I like it! I like it a lot. I can do some post passes! Keep up the good work, Deep.

    /goes back to check out the flipper physics
    Last edited by foofoorabbit; 09-07-2018 at 06:30 PM.

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    OMG!

    This update feels RIGHT!

    there's still some weirdness with sneak arounds from left to right, but the weird float away is gone, post passing works, live catch works, and i was able to blast through the boat ramps just like i did on that first fish tales machine i EVER played, that did have the lightning flippers.

    oh, and i can now keyboard nudge without a warning on the first press.

    and i can still fast cast some of the time, just likei could on that same machine.

    now just need to fix that missing dimming effect on bonus count.

  20. #20
    Table Designer deep's Avatar
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    Thank you, I just finished the work on the new flipper features in time to update the beta. I can hopefully fine tune them further based on your feedbacks first thing next week.

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    OK, @Deep you win the award for best dev response to feedback!

    I agreed that the changes are really good!! The flippers seem slightly less powerful (good) and definitely less elastic (really good, ball was really shooting off of them)

    Flicks are good (maybe a little too good/easy, but I'm not suggesting a change yet).
    Post transfers feel right.
    backhands feel pretty good.
    Aim feels right on to me, even got a couple shatz's
    Live catch! Nice, wasn't expecting that to work!
    Practiced some cradle separations, they went as well as they do for me in real life (not great, lol) so those were pretty accurate.

    Very good. (psst, you should secretly change ALL the zen tables to have these physics!)

    -Mike

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    Catches and backhands are definitely feeling good with the flipper tweaks. Deep has done some remarkable work in just a few days.

    I don’t have enough experience with the real Fish Tales to know if what I’m doing is close to the real deal. But it feels right.

    Flicks are still difficult to pull off IMO. The ball still seems to glide over the flipper rubber. Only once in a while does the flipper actually make contact... most other times it goes over the edge and down the center.

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    I definitely think the flipper tweaks are great for the most part. Post passes seem right, flicks seems pretty good as well (Though in some cases they still felt a bit too powerful).

    One thing that I've seen others complain about is that the flipper rubbers aren't bouncy enough now, and I think I'd agree. The ball does seems a bit too easy to catch by just holding the flipper. Try holding left flipper when launching the ball on Medieval Madness. It will end up settling nicely in the flipper every time. It should definitely bounce off a bit more and be harder to catch in general. I think somewhere in-between would be the sweet spot.

    Another thing I noticed is that backhanding seems a bit off. For example, in Fish Tales the boat ramp should be easily backhandable from both flippers (Right flipper should be able to hit right boat entrance, and left flipper should be able to hit left entrance), particularly from a cradle, but I'm having a really hard time doing that.

    Similarly, shots straight up the middle seem pretty hard as well. Try hitting the wrecking ball on Junkyard straight on. It seems pretty hard to do in the current version.

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    I think that the Tournament setting is just too steep.

    I'm testing in arcade mode. I'm also on a cab with leaf switches so I'm not find things near as difficult as others are describing. If there is any issues with the flicks it is definitely right out at the tip of the flippers, that seems to be where other folks are also having issues. Flipper still not making contact with the ball if the flick is too quick. If you wait long enough to where it does make contact it end up being too strong.

    -Mike

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    Have you played in an actual PAPA tournament?

    Try it, then come back.

  26. #26

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    Deep,

    Just want to (mainly) echo what others have said. You've made some really nice improvements to flipper settings. Flick pass and post pass feel really close to just right. Ball fails to stick to flipper for flick pass just a small percentage of the time.

    Drop catches feel a little too easy now. I can drop catch the ball pretty consistently with the left flipper as it fires around the upper loop from launch. I'm not nearly that consistent with a real FT! Drop catch functionality is close, but just a little too easy.

    Still super impressed with just how weighty the ball feels. Nice job, Deep! Thanks for listening to us.

  27. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Logan View Post
    Deep,

    Just want to (mainly) echo what others have said. You've made some really nice improvements to flipper settings. Flick pass and post pass feel really close to just right. Ball fails to stick to flipper for flick pass just a small percentage of the time.

    Drop catches feel a little too easy now. I can drop catch the ball pretty consistently with the left flipper as it fires around the upper loop from launch. I'm not nearly that consistent with a real FT! Drop catch functionality is close, but just a little too easy.

    Still super impressed with just how weighty the ball feels. Nice job, Deep! Thanks for listening to us.
    Yes the drop catches are happening way too easy. In real life I think I have only pulled this off a 2-3 times and I have managed more than that now in 3 or so games.

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    Quote Originally Posted by allmodcons View Post
    Yes the drop catches are happening way too easy. In real life I think I have only pulled this off a 2-3 times and I have managed more than that now in 3 or so games.
    Herein lies the conundrum: we all want accurate physics. And drop catches should be possible. But almost no one can consistently pull these off. So how can it ever be tested? Who’s good enough at real pinball to drop catch and test the Williams FX3 physics?

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