Pinball Arcade Issues, Bugs and Discussion

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by MagnusVonMagnum, Apr 22, 2013.

  1. MagnusVonMagnum macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    I'm a huge real world pinball fan and I've played Visual Pinball + Visual PinMame in the Windows world and I noticed Pinball Arcade on the Mac App Store and decided to give it a try since it comes with my favorite real world pinball game, Theatre of Magic (plus 3 others). I ended up buying a load of other tables as well (White Water + Space Shuttle just came out today for that matter).

    Overall, the game is really good. The game play isn't perfect (i.e. some shots are too repeatable in odd ways that would rarely happen in the real world while others are more difficult than the real table such as the center ramp in Theatre of Magic which I can repeat all day long on the real table and then shoot the inner loop at will. Come to think of it, I can shoot any shot on that game at will EXCEPT the right ramp which is a little tricky (and too easy here, IMO). The ball can be a bit bouncy on the flippers and what not as well (although I think that has improved in the latest version; the ball bounces off the flippers from the slot machine to the left flipper now just as it should in Twilight Zone, for example). But frankly, compared to many pinball games of the past, the physics are better than most (Pro Pinball was pretty good, though). Virtually all the features are just like the real arcade pinball games and the toys work exceedingly well. But even so, there are some things that could be improved and I'll discuss some of them below.

    I've read complaints that the game isn't smooth and/or the flippers lag behind the buttons. On my 2012 Mac Mini, the game runs as smooth as it possibly could (i.e. RIDICULOUSLY SMOOTH) as long as the 30-frame per second limit is turned OFF. I can see where perhaps someone might have thought there was flipper lag by the visual animation or something (at least in the last version), but the actual "hit" effect seems right on time to me. I hit the flipper button when the ball is at a certain part on the flipper and it goes pretty close to where it would in the real world so I'd say there's no flipper lag at all on my machine either.

    However, the game has other issues so I'm starting a list (I've reported most of these as a bug report already to the company although not all of them are "bugs" per se):

    * Lighting on the tables is much brighter than the XBox/PS3 versions (which appear much darker overall and so the lighting on the table shows up much better). Imagine playing in a well lit room versus a dark lit arcade. I gather the Mac version is pretty much a port of the iOS version and it's too bright also, although I have no idea why either version is so bright compared to the console versions.

    Furthermore, none of the tables has "General Illumination" dimming/lighting support. In other words, the "background lighting" on real Bally/Williams games isn't just always on. It can turn off and/or dim during key events during the game. You can test this on the "Pro" versions of the tables with the pinball menu controls. Lights and flashers work normally but General Illumination does nothing. I don't know if does anything on the console versions. I'm guessing it doesn't. Visual Pinball + Visual Pinmame had full working GI lighting on most games (as long as the table supported it). For example, the PD version of Whitewater has 7-state dimming GI lighting plus flashers, etc. and looks unreal during certain events. The Pinball Arcade looks a bit bland by comparison.

    Similarly, most lights in Pinball Arcade don't "fade out" like a real incandescent bulb does on real pinball machines and so the lights look a bit fake at times. Some games like Twilight Zone clearly show just a lit version and an unlit version BUT there's a difference in the darkness of the lit version (i.e. it's darker in some cases on one side of the light lens and so it looks BIZARRE like "flickering wall" instead of a light bulb lighting up since the lit version should be brighter in all areas than the unlit state.

    * My Logitech gamepad can control the nudging with the left analog stick and the plunger with the right analog stick and the up/down menu controls with two of the front buttons and the up "4" button is the "RIGHT arrow" button in the menus, but none of them control the flippers and so it's pretty much useless in the end. It'd be nice if it were configurable and the keyboard controls too for that matter. I shouldn't have to keep switching between mouse and keyboard. I should be able to just use the keyboard or a configurable gamepad. Which keys you use should be configurable as well. This was a given in Pro Pinball (including the old OS9 Mac versions) and Visual Pinball. This would be simple for them to add.

    * In Twilight Zone, the Powerball is a ceramic white ball that is lighter than a regular ball bearing and when it comes into play on the real world table, it moves like lightning by comparison (hence the power in Powerball). It's hard to control it moves so fast. Here, it behaves like a regular ball as far as I can tell. Worse yet, it LOOKS like the regular ball if you use the standard ball image and that's a BUG since if you change the ball image to one of the alternate images in the OPTIONS menu for the game, THEN the Powerball suddenly becomes the white ball it should be visually (it still behaves the same, though).

    * In the current version (1.1.3 as of this writing), I get a "slow motion" effect on some of the tables (I've noticed it thus far on Creature From the Black Lagoon and Dr. Dude, but haven't re-tested them all since the new version yet). It's like the frame rate can't keep up or something, but it ONLY happens intermittently and ONLY if "Post Processing" effects are turned OFF. Well, I generally like them turned off since having them on gives the tables a sort of slightly "foggy" look and the colors generally aren't as vibrant and sometimes tinted less accurately as well. I never had this happen in the last version. If I turn post processing ON, it doesn't happen at all on any table thus far. In the previous version, though, Dr. Dude's playfield looked messed up (stretched into color bars) on "Detail 2" setting (but looked correct at "Detail 1" setting) and now that appears to have been fixed, but I get that slow motion effect instead sooner or later now unless I have Post Processing Effects turned on and that wasn't true in the last release.

    * I tried registering for Tournament play, but when once I'm logged in, I hit the Tournament Play menu option and then says "Creating Account" and proceeds to stop responding altogether (I have to do a Force Quit and restart).

    *I bought the Whitewater + Space Shuttle game pack and it offered the "Pro" versions for $7.99 instead of the regular ones for $4.99 if I bought them right then (i.e. The Pro versions give you control over the operator menus that are controlled inside the coin box on the real machines and let you set prices, game options, test lights, flashers, etc.). Whitewater had the Pro Menu, but Space Shuttle still showed the icon for "Buy Pro" next to it in the gaming menus. But clicking on it gave a "network connection error" message so there's something bugged there as well. Space Shuttle isn't a DMD (dot matrix display) game and I've seen no operator menu options on any other type of table so it could be it was not supposed to be offered period. the real world tables do have operator controls on non-DMD games, but they often require having the pinball manual handy to help select options with the limited display capabilities and obviously that would be a bit much for this game (usually does work in Visual Pinball, though)

    * Some textures and table elements look dead-on photo realistic looking (e.g. the clock in Twilight Zone looks and operates like the real thing). But OTHERS look like the early days of Visual Pinball effects (e.g. little white rubber tipped posts and many ramp textures like the train tracks in Cactus Canyon and even some under slingshot lights look like light colored piece of "gray matter". Other metal wire ramps, etc. look like real chrome ramps, so why some look like grey abstract CRAP is beyond me. One would think the tables would be a bit more consistent. White Water's transparent left ramp looks transparent and like plastic for the most part, but it's not SMOOTH around the edges where it bends into a circular shape like there aren't nearly enough polygons to handle that shape or something.

    * Sometimes the ball flies not only off the table element areas where it should stay (i.e. sometimes on real tables, the ball can go airborne and end up in some part it shouldn't be or get stuck, etc.), but it flies right off the table period like there's no glass on it (e.g. on the new Whitewater table, a shot of the upper "whirlpool" ramp on the 2nd level sends the ball right off the right side of the table and off the screen if you hit it hard dead on which is most of the time for that shot). I'm thinking this one will get fixed quickly since it happens so often and many people are complaining about it on the Pinball Arcade forums, though. But I have heard of it happening on other tables before as well.

    * Personally, I find the "flying camera" angles during attract, etc. very annoying. When you're playing with the lights, etc. in the operator menus, the game continues to "fly" the camera around instead of letting you see the table and what's happening on it. And despite advertising that you can move around the table to look around, etc. on the Pro version, I find that I can only scroll around from a straight down perspective above the table. There are no controls to alter the camera angle or anything which is ridiculous when it's supposed to be a free camera mode.

    Speaking of camera angles, the game has like 4 angles for the regular table plus a few for the plunger mode. Sometimes, none of the camera angles are agreeable to me and there's nothing in-between (e.g. on Space Shuttle, it's either way too low and close or too high and small; there's nothing in-between those settings). Also, the view you select is not saved on a per-table basis. It retains your last used setting on whatever table instead and you can't adjust the view for playing while in plunger mode (where the ball isn't moving around) so you almost have to trap the ball before you can play with it (or move real fast to the mouse). The plunger views are mostly annoying. The first view is an overall view, but it's so far BEHIND the table (to show off the cabinet art?) you can't see very well what's going on in the plunger area or any other area. But even so, this is often the best view. The 2nd view shows an overhead close-up of the plunger area and this is good if you like to "measure" your pulls, but you can't see where the ball is going after you pull it because the camera doesn't move fast enough to show where it went on most tables. The 3rd view pulls back at some odd twisted angle and is usually useless. Frankly, I'd like an option to just keep my regular table view so it's not distracting to move the camera around. They could have a little heads up display window open to show the overhead close-up or something instead and that would work best, IMO while retaining a locked favorite view.

    While you can tell the table to LOCK the view for the playing camera (you still can't stop it from going to the plunger camera), it doesn't stop it from showing certain table events regardless whether you want it to or not. For example, if you make the gumball machine shot when enabled on Twilight Zone, it zooms up to the gumball machine to show the balls entering and leaving it and then zooms back to the flippers. That's neat, but it shouldn't do it in LOCKED mode, IMO. Locked means I want a fixed perspective like on a real machine, not moving my head and body around the machine while playing. There's no way to adjust this.

    There's no way to set what keys do what in the game or to use a keyboard for the plunger or to set what the keys do on a given gamepad. I don't know what gamepad this is supposed to work with, but as I said before, my Logitech pad that resembles a Sony Dual Shock controller doesn't work right. This update mentioned gamepad controls, so I don't know why it doesn't work other than the author probably only made it work with whatever he is using. The fact you can't set your own keyboard controls tells me this thing was designed for a console and/or the iPad and computer controls are an after-thought. In fact, the cheesy menu system makes this kind of obvious as well. It would be better if they customized some things for the home computer versions to be more mouse and keyboard friendly. Heck, there isn't even a QUIT button (probably because you just turn the power off or reset on a console game or hit the HOME button on the iOS game to exit). COMMAND-Q does work, thankfully, though and if you're not using the full screen mode, you can use the menu bar or dock quit, but it's still such an obvious missing oversight....

    Price wise, the game costs $9.99 for 4 tables (Theatre of Magic, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Ripley's Believe It or Not and Black Hole). There are a lot of game packs you can purchase to add more tables and more keep being added in updates (like I said, White Water and Space Shuttle just became available in today's update). Most cost around $4.99 for two additional tables. I think Star Trek: The Next Generation was $4.99 for just it by itself, though. If you buy the 'Pro' feature when you buy the table, it's usually $7.99 total but can be as much as $5 more if you buy it later (one only cost me 99 cents, though). Some might consider those prices high, but given the level of simulation here, one should compare it more to the Pro Pinball series and they were like $20+ per game (ONE table). When you figure a real world pinball table is like $4500-5500 brand new and can be anywhere from let's say $600-8000 USED (yes, some games go UP in value because they're so rare and aren't made anymore), I'd say $2.50 - 5.00 per table is pretty reasonable given these are real world table simulations. I don't know what they cost on iOS, though (possibly less).

    I'm hoping some of the things I've mentioned will eventually be addressed and improved, but even so, for a real pinball fan, it's still a lot of fun.
  2. Garrod Suspended


    Nov 13, 2008
    Are you playing in it in a window or full screen? I get this on my iMac (specifications in my signature) whenever I play in a window (version 1.1.3, same as you). In full screen this doesn't happen, although I've also read from others where this doesn't make any difference.

    This happens to all Mac players at the moment. If there is no tournament being held it just stays there, continually looking causing us to force quit. The developers are aware of this.

    I seem to remember that this was something to do back in the early days of Pinball Arcade and they did a bit of a rush job or something in terms of releasing it for Mac OS X - basically it was just a quick port of the iOS version. However, the graphics are going to get the full treatment for Mac OS X eventually.

    As a video and real-world pinball fan I couldn't agree more with you on that. Some of the tables have been subsidised too via Kickstarter too; here's two that spring to mind:
  3. MagnusVonMagnum thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    I've since had it happen in both modes, but only on my Intel 4000 Mac Mini. I haven't seen it happen on my NVidia 8600M GT powered MBP, but then I haven't played a lot of it on that machine either. It definitely didn't happen on the version before this last one that added Whitewater. Switching back to window mode or full screen view seems to fix it, temporarily at least, though (i.e. the opposite of the one acting up) as does turning on or off the post-processing effects (at least one way or another works).

    Turning post processing ON and lowering my monitor's gamma settings temporarily gives some of the tables a pretty decent "dark-lit" look, although some are a bit off.

    I also find it annoying that there is no "Pro" mode for Theatre of Magic. They could use a quick switch-over to and INSERT COIN buttons to play in credit mode instead of free mode (more fun to win games that way, IMO). I also don't like how the camera keeps flying around when you are using the coin box controls. I want to see the playfield reactions, etc. and the camera is still flying around the screen in an annoying pattern). They need to make the extra buttons for things like the magnetic save button on Black Knight more apparent, as well. I had to ask on a forum to find out what they were using. My Logitech Gamepad doesn't fully work with the game either (no buttons activate the flippers for one thing). I shouldn't have to buy a PS3 gamepad just to assign buttons to it. I've sent feedback for all these things and more, but never got any reply back so who knows if any of the developers read it.

    I hope so. I don't know if the other versions had full GI (General Illumination) light support or not. The GI effects on PD Whitewater for Visual Pinball were fully implemented, fading, etc. so I was a bit let down here. I don't miss having to boot into Windows to play a game, though. I like some tables better on VP and some better with Pinball Arcade and some better in one thing and less on another, etc.

    I'm sure a lot of the dual-license tables (Addams Family, Judge Dredd, Jurassic Park, etc. etc.) are all going to cost considerably more than the single license tables. Too bad since there were a lot of good ones. Of course, there are plenty more single license ones that were awesome they could add (e.g. Red & Ted's RoadShow, High Speed I & II, Earthshaker, etc.)
  4. cotufa macrumors newbie

    Jun 22, 2013
    I have what I guess is a Macbook Pro from 2010 and am using OS X 10.8.4. I was basically unable to play the game until I came to this forum. The ball was slow and moved unpredictably, but after reading the comments I realized the problem could be fixed by playing on full screen. The movement of the ball still isn't 100% smooth (compared to Gameprom's Pinball HD, for example), but it's passable. It's a pity the game has bugs and issues, because I love the idea of digitalizing real pinball machines.
  5. MagnusVonMagnum thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    I've since discovered (at least in the newest version that has Centaur and Pin*Bot) that using a hot-spot for Mission Control just for a second fixes the ball motion (I don't think the hot spot even worked in the last version). That's not the same as a real fix, but at least it's a doable work-around.

    Once past that issue, though, the game is 100% smooth here on both my 2012 Mac Mini and my 2008 Macbook Pro (the 8600M GT one) and that's playing at 1680x1050 (22" screen) on the Mac Mini and 1940x1280 on the Macbook Pro (24" screen). I'm not sure what would make it behave worse on a 2010 Macbook Pro than a 2008 one unless you're using an even higher resolution.
  6. xword55 macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2013
    Pro Problem

    I recently decided to to load FPA on my MacBook Pro 10.8.4 just to see what it was like. I currently run FPA on an iPad and PS3. The initial Mac App installed and ran fine. Then I purchased Monster Bash, and now the whole App won't launch. Here's what happens. The App tries to open initially in a small window, then winks out to the desktop screen with the sound still running. I have since deleted and reinstalled the initial App twice, but nothing has changed.Anybody have any thoughts?
  7. MagnusVonMagnum thread starter macrumors 601


    Jun 18, 2007
    I recall it jumping to desktop before to show a "confirm buy" type request window, but I never couldn't find the app again. What happens when you click the Pinball Arcade icon on the dock?

    I haven't purchased Monster Bash so I can't say whether that could be a specific bug, though.

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