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Fruit Machines Inside Out: Design & Development


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#21 fuzion

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Posted 11 July 2017 - 11:09 PM

Electrocoin/Famous Games - Labyrinth.   Enough said.  This game was an amazing AWP.   So many amazing games from this era.

 

J


Edited by fuzion, 11 July 2017 - 11:09 PM.


#22 edwardb

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 07:26 AM

Thanks for all your feedback and kind words. I really want to help people understand what went into that box of flashing lights in the corner of the pub, and although the industry and players was (and is) "them vs us" I see no harm in opening this stuff up to the wider world. Enough time has passed, and so many pubs have closed or don't have machines any more.

 

I wrote an article for CoinSlot (the trade press) years back moaning about the % payout and stake/prize ratio of games. In short, pub companies wanted the same money in the cashbox week in, week out, as they use money from machines for investment in other areas of their business.

 

This means that when machines get less popular and the cashbox tails off, what do they do? They ask manufacturers to reduce the payout %. We always counter with "this will make the game play badly, people won't like it, and they'll stop playing" but the customer is always right..........

 

Guess what? People stopped playing - cashbox drops off, and the pub company asks for the payout % to be reduced.....and around we go.

 

A lot of pressure was put on governments to increase the jackpot, thinking this will attract players. When a higher jackpot comes about, there is an uplift in taking for a few weeks, but then it dies off as players realise they won't win it.

 

I don't know how you fix this, but certainly making games pay a fixed minimum % of 90% for example might help. The games will play a lot better with all that extra money, and maybe even allow people to reduce jackpots and have repeaters to make up the difference to the legal maximum.

 

In all honestly I think it's a lost cause - which is a real shame.

 

Anyway - is there anything people would like to know about next? I'll think of something. Might do a bit on how some of the hardware works, not sure. MFME has kind of beaten me to it ;-)



#23 shaun2097

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 09:18 AM

love reading these type of posts.

 

bring it on and lets have some more.......your suggestion on "how the hardware works" sounds a good one to me. :)

 

MPU4 maybe? it was a very common tech (is it the most used MPU on days of old?? if not its gotta be close)


Edited by shaun2097, 12 July 2017 - 09:20 AM.

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#24 edwardb

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 10:04 AM

There's not much I can add to MPU4, designed (by hand!) by a chap called John Wayne (no not the cowboy), and this has been long cracked now!

Did anyone ever see a Scorpion 3 or Scorpion 2 casino board? Not many of those made it out. 

 

I might write some stuff about dev tools for various hardware (for Scorp 4 that's easy - there were none!). Epoch had some good tools to poke memory and see what's going on.

 

I'll be posting the entire code for a game pretty soon, so watch out for that. 



#25 fuzion

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 10:51 AM

That will be interesting to see the game code.  What language are they written in and can we potentially compile and run in mfme?

 

Did you have some sort of furit machine emulator for testing games?

 

 

J  


Edited by fuzion, 12 July 2017 - 10:52 AM.


#26 edwardb

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 11:04 AM

All written in C, though when I started at Mazooma they were doing a couple of Scorp 2 games for America which were in assembler.

 

We didn't have any emulators, so to speak, though I know JPM did (phattbloke can probably tell more about that). We compiled the game for PC or for target hardware, but on PC you can step through the code and debug with standard coding tools (Visual Studio).

 

You should be able to compile the PC version, yes, but the target hardware needs the correct compiler. I'll see if I can get that working - it would only ever work on Windows XP as far as I can recall! Maybe a virtual box could be used.



#27 edwardb

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 11:17 AM

Tried to edit the above but it didn't let me:

 

The way to think about machines is to separate the visuals and logic entirely. A fruit machine is just a big calculator that spits out money now and then. So when coding it and debugging, you don't need any visual elements at all. The lamps/reels etc are just display devices after all.

 

Each part of the game has it's own autoplay code which will "press buttons" and play the game. 100000 games takes 5 seconds (less on a modern PC!) and you can code the autoplay to be a good player/average/idiot to ensure the compensators and game logic can deal with all types of player decision (or none at all, in case of timeouts).

 

On certain games you could press the green test button a few times on power up to enable machine-based autoplay, and just leave the game soak testing overnight/weekend to ensure it didn't crash.

You would often see a bank of machines on soak test for days at a time to ensure they were robust.



#28 wayne123

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 01:38 PM

Hi, few more questions if i may

 

1) - machine profile - i remember having some old machines and using the dip switches and according to the manual you could change the machine profile to 1,2 3 etc, although it didn't state what it mean't.

 

2) Icon lamps - i remember i while back there were 3 lamps i think which represented which setting the machines were on i.e pub / arcade - did this mean alternative compensators etc to affect the game

 

3) Player manipulation - i remember another lamp - which disapeared quite quickly which almost consistently read - cash full - was this to tempt the players

 

4) %, is it possible to lower the machine to below 70%, or are these horror stories of arcades setting them at 10% etc urban myths

 

 

 and i'll throw this one is as well - just for your opinion -

 

5) do you agree about the signage each machine has to display when they are compensated games.

 

Thanks

Wayne



#29 edwardb

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 01:55 PM

Hi, few more questions if i may

 

1) - machine profile - i remember having some old machines and using the dip switches and according to the manual you could change the machine profile to 1,2 3 etc, although it didn't state what it mean't.

 

2) Icon lamps - i remember i while back there were 3 lamps i think which represented which setting the machines were on i.e pub / arcade - did this mean alternative compensators etc to affect the game

 

3) Player manipulation - i remember another lamp - which disapeared quite quickly which almost consistently read - cash full - was this to tempt the players

 

4) %, is it possible to lower the machine to below 70%, or are these horror stories of arcades setting them at 10% etc urban myths

 

 

 and i'll throw this one is as well - just for your opinion -

 

5) do you agree about the signage each machine has to display when they are compensated games.

 

Thanks

Wayne

 

Point 1 - profile is how the game plays. For example, arcades want a "harder" profile, that is, more lumpy - less small wins and infrequent bigger wins. People go in arcades to gamble.
Normal (pub) profile is softer/flatter - more frequent smaller wins, as pub players dont want their arms ripped off :)

 

2: No, if the machine was set on one profile it used the same compensators, it just used different chance tables etc to determine wins etc. Remember than compensators are effectively a bank account. If you don't pay what's in the comp, your machine won't hit %.

 

3: Cash Full was bollocks and was always on, well it was on Mazooma games anyway. We added it when "backing" started being a thing. Did it for a laugh. I think phattbloke did the first game with that on (was it Top Gears or something?)

 

4: No, lowest % setting was always 70%. Yes some unscrupulous developers at 2-bit outfits knocking machines together in someone's garage would do 40% ROMs for fairgrounds, but none of the big manufacturers would ever touch that kind of stuff. Every new set of ROMs was mastered, recorded and checked. BFG had an entire team for this stuff. You cannot release test ROMs etc. To get a real machine to power up you need the ROMs mastering which you can only do with a valid part number issued by the department responsible.

 

5. Yes I do - I am a big supporter of regulation for the right reasons. You should tell players the payout %, if the game is compensated and also gambling helpline numbers. I would even go further (as they do in Holland, for example) and lock machines out for 5 mins after a large win, and even force you to set your loss limit. I don't see a problem with this. I would gladly take this regulation in return for letting us do more interesting stuff with games, from a legal perspective.



#30 fuzion

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 02:53 PM

The thing I remember most about the 'golden era' of fruit machines and I'm talking about the years I played, 1987 - 1998 - is that when you got a machine streaking it was an exciting experience, you just knew you were in for a load of tokens and maybe a little cash as well depending on how the machine streaked, some machines paid the streak over a longer period eg Barcrest Blue Moon, Cloud 999 etc and it was a fairly drawn out streak while other games like Project Coin's 777 Heaven was over fairly quickly.

 

My favourite machine streak has to be BFM Party Time, it's just so out the blue and wham jackpot, the machine goes mental and the next credit it does the same again, 4 or 5 times in a row, it's over in a couple of minutes but it's an experience.

 

 

J



#31 fruitman69

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 06:59 PM

The thing I remember most about the 'golden era' of fruit machines and I'm talking about the years I played, 1987 - 1998 - is that when you got a machine streaking it was an exciting experience, you just knew you were in for a load of tokens and maybe a little cash as well depending on how the machine streaked, some machines paid the streak over a longer period eg Barcrest Blue Moon, Cloud 999 etc and it was a fairly drawn out streak while other games like Project Coin's 777 Heaven was over fairly quickly.

 

 

That was a crafty way to make the streak less as your paying for all those credits during the streak lol

 

 

My favourite machine streak has to be BFM Party Time, it's just so out the blue and wham jackpot, the machine goes mental and the next credit it does the same again, 4 or 5 times in a row, it's over in a couple of minutes but it's an experience.

 

 

I loved that too, I found that emptier pretty early on that one which was just as well as it was chipped out pretty quickly  lol even if it was by accident.  would love a ROM set where the cheat still works   :)

 

 

J

 

 

That was a crafty way to make the streak less as your paying for all those credits during the streak lol

 

 

I loved that too, I found that emptier pretty early on that one which was just as well as it was chipped out pretty quickly  lol even if it was by accident.  would love a ROM set where the cheat still works   :)


Edited by fruitman69, 12 July 2017 - 06:59 PM.

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#32 fuzion

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 07:14 PM

Yeah we did one in a local Gala, next day it had been updated.

Certainly would be nice to have a play with the original rom, a great game even without that little bug.

J

#33 Guitar

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 08:51 PM

Not to my knowledge. Was probably viewed as too childish for an AWP audience.

 

Similarly, WWE went PG several years ago to attract the high budget childrens advertising, they would not want their product associated with gambling now.


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#34 Guitar

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 09:00 PM

IMHO what the industry needs is a concorde agreement similar to Formula 1. For the non F1 fans this was basically an agreement between the teams to do certain things for the benefit of the sport as a whole, despite them being is extreme competition with each other.

 

The manufacturers should have an agreement with the breweries. The manufacturers wont tell the breweries how to make beer or which beer to sell, and the breweries won't tell the manufacturers which machines to make and how to stat them.


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#35 ritdav

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 12:17 AM

How much thought was given to whether it should be trail to get feature board or 3 symbols in a row.I have always thought that machines which have things constantly being lit up i.e a trail would do better than machines that need 3 in a row where the machine can appear dull.This leads onto the feature a lapper board or trail vs high lo.Personally when i see i need maybe 10 hi/lo's to get to a jackpot it puts me off as well as on machines where you  go round a board for 2-3 mins and achievie nothing.


Edited by ritdav, 13 July 2017 - 12:18 AM.


#36 phattbloke

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:40 AM

IMHO what the industry needs is a concorde agreement similar to Formula 1. For the non F1 fans this was basically an agreement between the teams to do certain things for the benefit of the sport as a whole, despite them being is extreme competition with each other.

 

The manufacturers should have an agreement with the breweries. The manufacturers wont tell the breweries how to make beer or which beer to sell, and the breweries won't tell the manufacturers which machines to make and how to stat them.

 

If only....



#37 phattbloke

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:43 AM

How much thought was given to whether it should be trail to get feature board or 3 symbols in a row.I have always thought that machines which have things constantly being lit up i.e a trail would do better than machines that need 3 in a row where the machine can appear dull.This leads onto the feature a lapper board or trail vs high lo.Personally when i see i need maybe 10 hi/lo's to get to a jackpot it puts me off as well as on machines where you  go round a board for 2-3 mins and achievie nothing.

 

When i used to design / code these games, i used to just mix it up a bit - so you didn't always have the same base game. Sometimes you might want to have an trail overspill (like on Yabba Dabba Darts) in which case you had to have a trail in the base game. Also, if you want a low feature frequency (i.e infrequent) a trail is not the best thing to do, as it makes it more obvious that you aren't giving people a feature... and with the new 100% hold-over games, a trail works even less well...



#38 fuzion

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 09:43 AM

JPM were totally players machine back in the day.   I think one of my favourite JPM machines from this era was Red Alert.  

 

J



#39 edwardb

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 10:22 AM

Agreed, most of the best games were made by people who played machines. It was always clear when accountants started designing games.................look at BFM in the 90s. Only a few good games, and a hell of a lot of dross. Luckily their export games were very good and kept them busy. 

 

Some of the good guys from JPM left to form Impulse (and others to form Red Gaming), hence their run of good games, and then some of the Barcrest team left to start Extreme Gaming.

 

Global got one of the developers from Mazooma (ex JPM/Maygay!) who did their Beaver series and a lot of other popular games.

 

So you can see that a relatively small number of people (probably 10 or so) are responsible for the vast majority of the games in the 90s/early 2000s. They are still knocking about the industry to this day. You can never leave!

 

Maygay really were in the shit big time in the early to mid 2000s - it was only thanks to Global, Impulse and Extreme that they managed to keep afloat.



#40 fuzion

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Posted 13 July 2017 - 11:35 AM

I always remember seeing a Maygay Monopoly (green) just come in onto the arcade floor back in 1991 ish, £4.80 token jackpot.  Loved those 'Vision' cabinets and it was a pretty awesome machine looking back, great sound with the classic monopoly feature board.

 

J






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