Pinball Machines

Pinball Machines

pinball machine

Pinball Machines

A pinball machine is a game that combines elements of physical and electronic play. The game is played by guiding metal balls on a playfield through a shooter alley and other obstacles, and the player scores points.

Modern pinball machines are mini marvels of Rube Goldberg-inspired engineering. They’re a series of interconnected machines designed with precision.


The gameplay of a pinball machine consists of the ball being propelled into a specially designed table, bouncing off various targets to score points. These targets can be anything from bumpers, ramps and flippers to lights, holes and hollows that give points when the ball bounces in them.

Many modern games also include minigames and video modes, which add additional fun and challenge to the game. These include things like the use of ‘kickbacks’ to launch balls back into play (and sometimes other special features), missions and timed rounds.

Typically, these features have to be triggered in order for them to work. For example, a player might have to hit five specific targets within a certain amount of time in order to trigger a mission. They are usually accompanied by DMD animations and sound.

Most pinball machines come with a large display that can be used for playing the game, scoring or showing other information. The display is typically in the form of a dot-matrix board, which contains LEDs that are programmed by a microprocessor.

The display can show information such as the ball’s position, the number of balls locked in place and the current ball lock count, as well as other information related to the game. Often the display is controlled by a central computer that is located in the main controller board in the backglass area of the machine.

In older games, these tasks were handled using an electromechanical system. A pulse from a switch embedded in the scoring elements would cause a complex mechanism composed of relays to ratchet up the score, ranging from tens of thousands to millions of points.

With newer machines, these tasks are carried out by semiconductor chips and displays are made on electronic segmented or dot-matrix displays (DMD). These displays are usually faster than traditional lamp matrixes, allowing the CPU to read every column and know which switches are closed in each row.

A key part of the gameplay of a pinball machine is its tilt function. This feature prevents players from tilting the machine too much, which could lead to a game ending or even damage the playfield and backglass art. It is a good way to protect the machine and keep it running safely, but it can be frustrating for players who are trying to get high scores.


The electronics that make up a pinball machine are ticket redemption game machine located within the cabinet and are used to operate the different components. They include a computer, a TV or monitor, and external speakers that produce the sounds that the ball makes as it jumps around the playfield.

The most obvious electronic component is the flipper, which allows a player to rotate a rubber cylinder and shoot a ball upwards and down. Most modern pinball machines have at least two flippers, though some have as many as four.

These flippers are connected to the main controller board, located behind the backglass. This board is similar to the motherboard of a computer and contains ROM chips that contain all the information needed to operate the game.

Once the flipper is pressed, the main board sends commands back and forth to the electromechanical bumpers, targets and ramps that are located on the playfield. These commands are sent through a massive wiring network consisting of over a half-mile (0.8 km) of wires.

Another important piece of electronics is the transformer, which takes power from the wall and converts it into voltages that the circuit boards can use. This power is then filtered and smoothed by capacitors.

The next major piece of electronics is the solenoid driver board, which is responsible for driving the electromechanical devices that are found on the playfield. These devices are made up of a number of coils, which are connected to an electric motor that spins them.

Aside from the electromechanical devices, the game also uses a number of electronics to provide lighting effects and sound. These are controlled by a set of outputs that range from 16 to 24 outputs, varying in size and requiring specific voltages.

There are a variety of other electronic components that can be found on the game, including a dot-matrix display board, which provides a visual display of the score and hints about how to increase it. This display is usually 128×32 pixels in dimension and uses a series of switches to relay information to the player.


Pinball machines are designed with eye-catching graphics and blinking lights to catch the attention of players and make them feel like they’re playing an arcade game. The graphics are often based on licensed themes such as a movie or game. They also include score displays (lights, mechanical wheels, an LED display, or a dot-matrix display depending on the era), and sometimes other mechanical devices tied to gameplay such as elevator doors that open or a woman swatting a cat with a broom such as in Williams’ 1989 “Bad Cats.”

The playfield is a specialized piece of glass that encloses all the mechanisms that impact the ball’s path. Its design is a carefully thought out maze of cause and effect, all meant to challenge the player and make money for the manufacturer.

Each game has a specific layout of scoring elements such as ramps, bumpers, and spinners. When the ball strikes these, the game’s electrical switches detect the contact and relay it to a complex system that scores points for the player. The system may be an electromechanical one or a computer with semiconductor chips.

Electronically controlled flippers were first introduced in 1947 by Gottlieb and are the primary way that a ball can be moved through the playfield. The flippers are powered by solenoids, tiny wire coils that when energized with electricity make the flippers flick back and forth instantaneously.

Another major component of the game is the backglass, a vertical graphic panel mounted on the front of the machine’s backbox. The backglass usually contains the name of the game and eye-catching graphics. In games up to the 1980s, the artwork would generally portray large-breasted women in skimpy clothing.

The graphics are printed on the backglass and the playfield using a technique called silk-screen printing. This process is typically done by an outside vendor. The artist’s drawings are enlarged to scale and laid out on the screen. The printer then applies ink to the screen using a stencil.

Most modern pinball games feature computer-generated graphics. Several video-game hybrids and virtual pinball games have been developed, based on franchises such as Metroid Prime Pinball, Mario Pinball Land, Pokemon Pinball, and Sonic Spinball. Most early video-game pinball simulations were top-down 2D, but as processor and graphics capabilities improved, 3D pinball simulations became possible.


The sound of a pinball machine is one of the most important aspects of its design. Whether the machine is electronic or mechanical, sound effects can make the game feel more realistic and help players to focus on their play.

Most machines have an alarm sound that is triggered when the player has won a match sequence or has made a certain score on a level. This is a great way to get people excited about playing the machine and can be an excellent tool for marketing the game.

There are also other sound effects that can be used to make the machine more exciting and interesting. These include a knocker sound that is triggered by a high-score, a flipper alarm that is triggered by a high-scoring flipper or a sound that alerts players to the fact that the ball has been dropped.

These sounds are typically very loud and can be heard throughout the game. For this reason, a good way to prevent the sound from ticket redemption game machine getting too loud is by using a pair of headphones that can be attached to the machine.

Another way to reduce the volume of sound is by adjusting the settings for individual sounds. You can adjust the volume of each sound individually as well as set specific properties such as how long a sound may wait in the playback queue before being discarded, how many loops it will repeat and more.

You can also use sound pools to combine multiple different sound variations into a single grouping. For example, if you have a number of slingshot sounds that are similar but slightly different, you can create a pool with each sound and then reference it from anywhere a sound asset name may appear.

Adding sound pools is an easy way to keep your sounds organized and a good idea if you have a lot of different sound variations to use.

In addition to determining which sounds should be a part of a sound pool, you can also configure the sound pool to play specific songs when the selected MPF events are posted in the song_player: section. This can be a very useful feature for adding custom music to the machine.