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Visual Pinball (VP) & Visual PinMAME (VPM) Installation & Setup Guide (IG)
Revision: Mar 14, 2014
Welcome to VPForums.org and the world of Visual Pinball! This Installation Guide will give step-by-step installation and setup instructions for the 'Visual Pinball' and 'Visual PinMAME' software packages on a computer running Windows XP. Later Windows versions require some additional steps during installation, these are explained where applicable.
This tutorial only covers a VP setup for a single normal-oriented 4:3 sized monitor, so that the bottom of the monitor is the front of the pinball table. This enables you to play tables from the 'Visual Pinball Tables -> VP8/VP9 Downloads' section at VPForums, or from other sites.
Besides the desktop tables, VPForums also hosts 'Spanned', 'Full-Size (FS)' or 'Cabinet (Cab)' tables, which require a 90 deg clockwise rotated 16:9 monitor and maybe even multiple monitors. In this case the right hand (shorter) side of the monitor is the front of the pinball table, before you rotate it. This setup is beyond the scope of this tutorial, so if that's what you want, please refer to the Setup Guide for VP9 / HP / UltraVP / DMD by Tweegster, Visual Pinball for Yummies by Tweegster / Godsin, covered by FlyingDutchman, and the Installation Support here at VPForums.
In Tweegster's manual you'll find additional information about the setup of VP/VPM in the latest Windows environments, like Windows7/64bit.
The procedures we describe here are not that complicated, but you need to read carefully, take your time and follow each step for a successful installation. We'll cover the basic configuration of VP and VPM and provide tips & tricks and solutions to common problems, once the installation is done.
We presume that you have some basic knowledge of the Microsoft Windows operating system, like how to create folders and subfolders and how to access them, how to copy files or how to extract a zip file (or part of it) to a folder. We will refer to files with extensions like 'exe' or 'dll'. You don't have to know their meaning, but your Windows should be configured to display these extensions after the file name, separated by a dot, e. g. vpinball.exe or vpinmame.dll, so you can recognize them better. If you don't see files with their extensions when you open a folder on your harddisk, consider to adapt your system setup accordingly.
File compression, zip and rar files:
In order to save disk space and download time, all tables for Visual Pinball (and Future Pinball as well) come as zip or rar files which have to be uncompressed. A complete guide to file (de)compression would exceed the intent of this tutorial, but Windows XP and higher versions contain the functionality to extract zip files without any additional software. Just start Windows Explorer, navigate to the zip file and double-click on it to see its content in a new window. Mark the file(s) you wish to extract and choose the 'Copy' command from the left hand side menu. You're asked for the destination. Navigate to the intended place (=destination folder) and validate the action.
Alternatively you can just drag&drop single, multiple or all files from the opened source (=zip file folder) window to the target (= destination folder) window instead of the copy procedure described before.
If you prefer a dedicated application rather than the inherent Windows functionality, you can use e. g. WinZip (or other) to unpack zip files.
To be able to work with compression formats beyond zip, like rar and 7z, you’ll need additional software. 7-Zip is a compact and easy to use, but anyway powerful freeware tool that can handle zip and rar files and is more than suffcient for all uncompression tasks in VP and FP.
Later in this guide we'll explain what files you will find inside the zip or rar and where to put each of'em.
Before we start: you have to be a registered member of VPForums to be able to download the installation files from this site (except the VP Installer, that's 'free'). The same applies to the huge resource of tables and ROM sets here at VPForums. So, if you didn’t already, this may be a good opportunity now to register and become part of the VPF community – it’s free (explanations here), or subscribe and become a supporting member of VPForums with additional benefits!
Follow these links to get a first impression of what VP and VPM is all about:
Visual Pinball and Visual PinMAME at Wikipedia
VPM: Pinball Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator homepage
Worth and recommended to read: Pinball at Wikipedia
Valuable information about the installation of Visual Pinball is in this 'How To Install Visual Pinball' video by tehkgeek. It is part 1 of a series. Thanks to tehkgeek for creating it!
A short note about Future Pinball (FP): this is a pinball emulation software, like VP, but different and completely incompatible to it. You can find the same tables created for VP and FP in the Visual Pinball Desktop and Future Pinball Tables download sections at VPForums (or other sites), but have to use the correct software for each, either VP or FP! You can easily distinguish the table types by the file extensions, once they are uncompressed:
VP tables: .vpt
FP tables: .fpt
The installation and setup of FP will not be covered in this tutorial.
Now you know a bit about Pinball, Visual Pinball and Visual PinMame - so let's start to install!
VP & VPM installation
Due to file size limitations for this guide, we will only explain the Standard Installation using the VP Installer. The manual installation is no longer part of this guide.
Software maintenance tasks are desribed as well:
• You just want to update your VPM version? See addendum #1 near the bottom of this tutorial.
• You want to use several VP versions in parallel (i. e. VP 8.1.1 and different VP 9 versions)? See addendum #2 near the bottom of this tutorial.
1. The installation will result in the parallel installation of two versions of Visual Pinball: VP8 and VP9. While VP9 includes many enhancements, and almost all new tables are being created and have to be played with this version, there's still a huge amount of tables available which were created and have to be played with VP8, an older 'mature' VP version. Generally, for a proper function you have to make sure to use the correct VP version with each table you download, either VP8 or VP9. See further explanations throughout this manual.
2. VP 9 is still developing, and this Installation Guide always links to the latest VP9 release, right now this is VP 9.2.1. If you encounter problems with it during play, or read about issues in related topcs in the VPForums, you can always add a previous VP9 release from here and try to play the table with this one. See addendum #2 near the bottom of this tutorial for instructions.
In this chapter the term VP folder will describe the folder or directory on your harddrive where you install VP and VPM. The default path of this VP folder is C:\Program Files\Visual Pinball (in Windows7 64bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Visual Pinball), but at the beginning of the installation you can specify its location on your hard drive. You may want to write down its path for later reference, because you will install or add more files to this VP folder later.
The VP Installer 1.0.3 includes almost all the necessary programs and files (except the pinball tables themselves) to run VP and VPM tables (I say almost, because you have to update some of the installed files later).
A new version of the VP Installer is nearly finished and will perform a fulll installation of the latest s/w versions - no more manual updates. Stay tuned!
Remark: VP Installer vs. VIP (Visual Install Pack)
You may get recommendations to rather use the VIP, another VP/VPM installer package, than the VP Installer. We can't endorse the usage of the VIP for several reasons:
• the VIP installs outdated versions of VP and VPM and has to be updated manually (like the present VP Installer 1.0.3)
• the VIP creates a different folder structure, compared to the VP Installer. This may cause issues if you use the VIP for a fresh install but decide to change to the VP Installer later (also with regard to the upcoming new release which will only be compatible to its previous version).
• The installation instructions in this guide only apply to an installation using VP Installer.
Download the VP Installer 1.0.3, unpack it to a temporary folder, execute the contained VPInstaller_1_0_3.exe, read and follow the messages, and you're (almost) done! Help files are included, they are found in the 'Help documents' folder inside the VP folder, after the VP Installer has finished.
In detail, the VP Installer:
• creates the VP folder on your harddrive, its default path is C:\Program Files\Visual Pinball (in Windows7 64bit: C:\Program Files (x86)\Visual Pinball) and several subfolders like Tables e. a.
• installs the Visual Pinball 8.1 exe file in the VP folder and a link to it on the desktop
• installs the Visual Pinball 9.0.2 exe file (outdated version) in the VP folder and a link to it on the desktop
• creates entries in “Start - Programs” to run and uninstall VP
• creates a VPinMAME folder inside the VP folder
• installs VisualPinMAME 2.1 (outdated version) in the VPinMame folder
• creates several subfolders (roms, nvram etc) inside the VPinMAME folder
• adds a basic set of VBS files to the Tables folder
• adds NVRAM files to the VPinMAME\nvram folder
• adds a Bally sound samples ZIP file (s3250u3.zip) to the VPinMAME\samples folder
Once the VP Installer has finished, open the VP folder and do the following:
Windows Vista and Windows7 users: right-click the VPinball.exe file inside the VP folder and choose “Run as administrator” from the context menu.
Windows 7 users may want to disable the Aero theme while VP is active, to speed up their computer: right-click the VPinball.exe file inside the VP folder, choose 'Properties', from there go to the "Compatibility" tab and select "Disable desktop composition".
All Windows versions (recommended): right-click the VPinball.exe inside the VP folder, choose "Properties", from there go to the "Compatibility" tab, check "Compatibility mode" and choose "Windows NT 4.0 (Service Pack 5)" from the drop-down menu. Confirm and exit.
Attention: it was reported lately that this setting causes an issue under Win7 that VP Editor closes when you try to open a table with 'File-Open', so you may try w/o compatibility mode.
Updating the VP and VPM installation:
VP and VPM have gone through some development since the VP Installer 1.0.3 was written, so you will have to update your installation.
Perform these steps:
• download VPinball 9.2.1 Standalone (VPinball921_Minimal.zip) to a temporary folder on your harddrive.
• open it by double-clicking and extract the contained files VPinball921.exe, FreeImage.dll and SciLexer.dll into the VP folder.
The procedure adds the latest VP9 release to your installation.
• create a link to it on your desktop
• Windows Vista and Windows7 users: right-click the VPinball921.exe file and choose “Run as administrator” from the context menu.
• Windows 7 users may want to disable the Aero theme to speed up their computer: right-click the VPinball921.exe file inside the VP folder, choose 'Properties', from there go to the "Compatibility" tab and select "Disable desktop composition".
• All Windows versions (recommended): right-click the VPinball921.exe file inside the VP folder, choose "Properties", from there go to "Compatibility", check "Compatibility mode" and choose "Windows NT 4.0 (Service Pack 5)" from the drop-down menu. Confirm and exit.
Attention: it was reported lately that this setting causes an issue under Win7 that VP Editor closes when you try to open a table with 'File-Open', so you may try w/o compatibility mode.
• download VPinMAME 2.5 (vpinmame_25.zip) and double-click it to open it in a window -or -
• download VPinMAME_Cabinet_DLL_2.5 (VpinMame_Cabinet_DLL_2.5.zip) and double-click it to open it in a window (this version of the VPinMAME.dll removes the splash screen at the start of the table, allows for ignoring CRC's, eliminates many of the popups for 'sound not accurate', etc.)
• from the open window copy just the chosen VpinMAME.dll file to the VPinMAME subfolder in your VP folder. Overwrite the file by the same name. This updates your installation to the latest VPM version.
VP8 and VP9 use the same VPM version.
• open the VPinMAME subfolder inside the VP folder, double-click Setup.exe. This will open the "VPinMAME Installation Program" window. Verify that the 3rd line in this window reads “Visual PinMAME Version 2.5 is currently installed on your computer”, then quit. If the displayed version is not 2.5, click 'Install', follow the prompts, then quit.
Attention: the 2.5 cabinet version will be displayed as version number 2.4!
• you may delete the (outdated) VPinball_9_0_2.exe from the VP folder and its link from your desktop. You have added the latest VP9 version in a previous step.
• create a new subfolder by the name 'Music' inside the VP folder. Some table zip or rar files contain mp3 files that will have to be stored in this Music folder and will be used during play of the specific table.
• download the VBS Scripts v3-42 and extract the contained files into your Tables folder (inside the VP folder), overwrite the vbs files there. This will update and add the latest versions of the script files.
• download bally_6803_gts3_nvram.zip (zipped files) and unzip the contents to the NVRAM subfolder inside the VPinMAME folder. This will provide for a smooth initialization of certain tables at first start.
• Install the VP Fonts 1.0.0 for Visual Pinball. In Windows XP it is ok to unzip all fonts to a temporary folder, open it, select all fonts and copy them to C:\Windows\Fonts. In Windows 7 you rather select all fonts inside the temp folder, right-click one of them and choose 'Install' from the context menu.
If in doubt about how to add fonts, consult Windows Help or other sources for the proper procedure according to your Windows version.
The default location of the fonts folder is C:\Windows\Fonts. Some of the fonts from the collection may already have been installed earlier, answer the corresponding messages accordingly.
Now download pinball table files from the Visual Pinball Tables -> VP8/VP9 Downloads section of this site, unpack them and add them to the Tables folder inside the VP folder.
There's a valuable resource, created and maintained by ta2686: the Alphabetical Listing of VPM tables w/Links to Tutorials gives you an overview of the tables that have been emulated in VP/VPM. Thanks to ta2686 for it!
Download the ROM sets that you'll need with VPM tables from here. These stay zipped and are just added to the ROMs folder (inside the VPinMAME folder).
Congratulations! You have finished the standard installation of Visual Pinball and VPinMAME.
Continue for explanations about VP/VPM tables and ROM sets and the basic configuration of your installation.
Why do I need VP and VPM software, tables and ROM sets to play Visual Pinball?
Unlike electromechanical (EM) pinball machines which run with relays, switches and motors only, Solid-state (SS) pinball machines contain a 'micro-processor unit' (MPU) which, like any computer, requires an operating system and data to work, these are programmed into one or more ROM chips and plugged into the MPU.
VP and VPM cooperate to recreate the SS pinball: VP controls the EM part, e. g. most of the playfield objects, while VPM emulates the MPU, using a zipped ROM set file that contains images of all the real ROMs of the particular table, and creates the score display (LED or DMD).
Rule of thumb:
EM tables are VP tables, don't use ROM sets and only require Visual Pinball for playing.
SS tables are VPM tables, need at least one ROM set, VP and VPM for proper function.
VP/VPM tables and ROM sets: some considerations (or: where do I put all that stuff?)
• We already said in the beginning that this tutorial only explains a 4:3 monitor setup, so, after the installation, you can only play tables from the VPForums' ‘Visual Pinball Tables -> VP8/VP9 Downloads' section (or from other pinball sites, e. g. pinballnirvana.com). Full size (FS) tables, like found in the 'Visual Pinball Tables -> VP Cabinet Tables' download section, require at least a 16:9 monitor with 90° clockwise rotation, and preferably a 2nd monitor for a separate DMD, plus some tweaks in the installation setup.
The Desktop Tables (like the Cabinet Tables) are divided into 3 segments, for VP8 and VP9 each:
- Recreations: these are VP recreations of real existing pinball tables from the known manufacturers. Can be VP or VPM tables.
- Originals: do not resemble a real pinball table, but were created after the VP author's own layout ideas. Originals are VP tables, because ROMs only exist for real tables.
- Mods: you take a recreation or original table and apply a change (layout, graphics etc.) to get a mod. Make sure to get the author's permission first!
• Tables come as zip or rar files, you have to uncompress these. 7-Zip is a freeware tool that can handle zip and rar files.
You may find the following file types inside the zip or rar file:
- the table itself is recognized by its file extension vpt. That’s the three letters/characters after the dot in the filename, .vpt means Visual Pinball Table and is used for both VP and VPM tables. Add the vpt file to the Tables folder.
- Visual Basic scripts (extension vbs): have to be put into the tables folder. A bunch of vbs files has been added to that folder during VP installation. Tables may come with table-specific VB scripts or other versions of scripts already existing in the tables folder. Don't replace an existing vbs file with an older version. When Windows prompts you that the file already exists, compare the date/time-stamps or the file sizes, cancel and try to run the table with the vbs file that already exists in the tables folder. If the version of the vbs file version coming with the table is newer, you may want to save the old version to some place on your harddisk before you replace it with the new one, so you'll still have it available just in case.
- Fonts (mostly ttf, True Type Font) are added to the Windows fonts. Use the fonts installation procedure that's most appropriate for your Windows version.
- music (.mp3 files) goes to the Music folder inside the VP folder. If this folder does not exist, create it.
- .hta files are rule sheets that are used by the main table and go to the Tables folder.
- .nv files have to be copied to the NVRAM folder, by default it is inside the VPinMame folder.
- .cfg files have to be copied into the cfg folder, by default it is inside the VPinMame folder.
- screenshots (jpg or other graphics format) can be copied to the Snap folder inside the VP folder (or any place where you store your snapshots). We recommend to give the screenshot exactly the same name as the table (except the extension of course). Later, if you choose to use the VP-Man front end, it can then link each screenshot to the correct table automatically.
- .vp+ files cooperate with the VP+ 1.3 Add-On which lets you play a multiplayer pinball game with other users over a network. Download and execute it once to install VP+, then put both the .vpt table file and the .vp+ resource file into the Tables folder and run the table as usual.
- Few tables come with further additional files. There may be a note explaining where these have to be stored.
• Tables were created either with VP version 8 or 9. You have to run each table with its proper VP version. VP9 tables will hardly run with VP8 (due to new commands only available in VP9), while VP8 tables may run with VP9 (but, for example, in VP9 the ball has a slightly larger diameter compared to VP8, so a VP8 table played with VP9 may suffer from balls getting stuck on the playfield). It is a good practice to maintain two Tables folders to separate VP 8 from VP 9 tables. You just have to put a complete set of vbs files into each of these Tables folders. See expert installation step 3 to do so, or copy all vbs files from one Tables folder to the other.
• Be aware that an author may have added folder information when he compressed a table, so depending on the way you uncompress it may end up as a file within a subfolder of the Tables folder – in this case, in order to be able to play that table, you have to manually move the .vpt file up to the Tables folder level. Delete the (now empty) subfolder to clean up.
• ROM sets are zip files which contain one or more ROM files. ROM sets have to be kept as zip files and go into the roms folder, inside the folder where VPinMAME was installed. Your roms folder should only contain zip files!
• You find the latest and well-tested ROM sets in the Downloads section here at VPF. There are other sites offering ROM sets as well, but be aware that that you may encounter outdated or corrupted ROM sets that can cause error messages at table start.
• Each VPM table requires at least one specific ROM set, but there may be more that one ROM set per table available for download, e. g. different languages or ROM versions (that may even be selectable at table start) require different ROM sets.
We recommend you to download all available ROM sets for a table and add them to the roms folder.
• On each table download page you'll find a link ROM: link to ROM on the right hand side, just click it to download the correct ROM set.
• If you can't find the ROM set that way, here's an easy way to determine the ROM set you'll need for a specific VPM table: If you start a table and VPM doesn't find the correct ROM set for it, it will stop and open a Game Info window, the line ROM set name tells you exactly which ROM set is expected but missing, so you can download and add it to your roms folder. The line ROM directory(s) tells you where VPM expects it to be - verify that this is the folder you have set up as the ROMs folder, and put the ROM zip file there. Next time you start the table it will work.
• For advanced VP users, another place to find the ROM set name(s) is the table script: open it in the VP Editor and search for the line cGameName = "xxx_yy". Inside the quotes you see the name of the ROM set used in the game. Now you can look it up in the Downloads section at VPForums and add it to the ROMs folder.
Attention: Searching inside the script may not work out if the author provides the choice of several ROM sets at table start, the ROM set name is not defined in the main table script, or the table was locked by the author to prevent modifications.
• A front end like VP-Man can help you identify the necessary ROM set for a table. It scans the main script and lists all ROM set names found there. VP-Man comes with many other useful features: you can organize your table collection, assign a VP version and a screenshot to each table and use different table folders (really useful for parallel usage of VP 8 and VP 9!), and much more.
• You can only download VP tables if you are a registered VPForums member. You are entitled to use 5 download 'slots' (each slot represents one table file download, ROM sets don't count) within 24h. Corrupt or cancelled downloads won't be reimbursed - you'll have to retry after 24h.
To get rid of this limitation, you may consider to subscribe and become a supporting VPForums member.
Need help with a problem ?
If you followed the above instructions to the point, re-checked everything, browsed through the Installation Support and VP Help Center forums and you still can't get Visual Pinball to work properly or have any VP-related problem or question, feel free to post it here at VPForums. There's a lot of friendly members around who are always willing to help!
Just some things we ask you:
- post in the correct forum: that's the 'Help Center' (link above)!
- specify your problem! The more information you provide in the first place, the easier and quicker somebody can help you. "It doesn't work" doesn't work...
- if applicable, add a screenshot to describe your problem. Use a file format that uses up as little disk space as possible (e. g. jpeg) but is still readable.
- if applicable, list your PC's specs like OS version, CPU, memory and especially graphic card details
- be patient! Answers may take time!
- please mind your wording: what goes around, comes around...
Basic configuration of Visual Pinball and VPinMAME
Before you play the first pinball table you should once launch each VP version you installed and check or apply the following settings in the editor:
• VP 8.1: Preferences - Video Options:
- choose Full Screen, your monitor's native resolution, and 16 or 32 bit color depth.
- you may want to uncheck the 'Cache Rendered Table' setting, otherwise a rendered image of each table you start will be saved to your harddisk, occupying space. This feature was reported to have issues, on the other hand it speeds up the next start of the table. It's your choice !
• VP 9: Preferences - Video Options:
- choose Full Screen, your monitor's native resolution, and 16 or 32 bit color depth.
- check Reorder Playfield Objects to fix some ATI graphic card issues
- check Hardware Device Rendering for the best graphics experience. This option is new in VP9 and, depending on your graphics card brand, capabilities, settings and drivers, it may cause issues so may you have to uncheck it - see "Message 'Could not create texture offscreen surface' at table start" and Graphics card hardware and drivers in the Tips&Tricks section of this guide.
- open the VP9 Editor, load a table, select 'Options' on the left to open a menu bar on the right hand side of the Editor: here you may want to uncheck the 'Table Render Caching' setting, otherwise a rendered image of each table you start will be saved to your harddisk, occupying space. This feature was reported to have issues, on the other hand it speeds up the next start of the table. It's your choice !
• VP 8 and 9: Preferences - Security Options: Make sure that 'Always create controls' is checked.
Be aware that since VP9.0.9 some video options were moved to different menus: in previous VP9 versions 'Hardware Device Rendering' and 'Reorder' were found in the 'Options' menu and had to be set per each single table. Since VP 9.0.9 these are global settings.
Find a documentation of VP 9.0.9 menus, settings and options in the VP9.0.9 Guide, the updated version for VP 9.1.1 is here
• Aspect ratio in VP9: nowadays there are at least three different aspect ratios used in desktop monitors: 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10. During table creation the author chose one of them for his table. While VP8 tables use 4:3, many VP9 tables already use 16:9 per default. If your monitor doesn't match the VP table setting, the table looks distorted and the ball is shaped like an egg...
To adjust the aspect ratio according to your monitor, do the following:
- open the VP9 table in VP9 editor
- on the left click 'Options' and 'Backdrop', this opens a menu on the right hand side of the editor
- on the right, expand 'Colors & Formatting'
- Use the 'Y Scale' value as the orientation point and adjust the 'X Scale' value to get the correct aspect on your monitor. The factor to use is 0,75, either you multiply the present X Scale with it to change the table from 4:3 to 16:9 or divide it by this value to change from 16:9 to 4:3.
For 16:10 the factor is 0,833.
Many table authors issue the necessary changes in the table description (on the download page).
• For VPinMAME check the following settings:
- double-click Setup.exe (in the folder where VPinMAME was installed)
- click 'Setup Paths...'
- verify that Display is set to '(Default)'
- verify that 'Always run full-screen on this display' is unchecked
- verify that the folders paths (ROMs, cfg, nvram, Samples) match your setup
- 'OK' or 'Cancel', then 'Quit'.
How to start a table properly:
If you followed the Standard or Manual installation, you will have both VP 8.1 and VP 9. In any case, due to the way the VP Installer works, VP 8.1 will be registered in Windows, and all vpt files will be associated with VP 8.1. This means that a double-click on any vpt file will always launch VP 8.1, regardless of the VP version the table was made for! To avoid errors at table startup, you have two choices:
- to play VP 8 tables you can double-click a vpt file. This will launch the VP 8.1 Editor with the table loaded.
- to play VP 9 tables you have to open the VP 9 application (directly or via a link on the desktop), load the vpt file and start it.
Of course you can use the second method for all tables, just open the correct VP version by double-clicking the correct application or link, load a table and start to play.
With several VP versions installed in parallel it is essential to know for what VP version each table was created; you may consider to separate VP8 and VP9 table files in different Tables folders (make sure to copy all vbs files to each Tables folder!).
A front end like VP-Man can assist you with a built-in feature that lets you define a default VP version (e. g. VP 8.1) that is generally launched with any table but assign a different VP version to each table that requires it (e. g. VP 9 tables).
For advanced VP users: with VP 9 you have the option to run the VPinball921_Full.zip installer instead of just adding the single executable to the VP folder like explained previously. By applying that installer VP9 will be registered in Windows and associated with VP tables instead of VP 8.1. This means that double-clicking any VP table will launch VP 9, not VP 8! If you applied this installer and want to play a VP8 table, you have to launch VP 8.1 manually (either directly of via a link on the desktop), load the VP8 table and start it - or use a front-end to choose the correct VP executable per table.
There's no way to start a table with VPinMame itself, only VP can interpret the vpt file. VPM will be launched automatically and perform its tasks as soon as VP encounters the corresponding commands in the vpt table script.
In the VP Editor click on 'Preferences - Keys' to see a list of the most common in-game keys (in VP9 the default key list was enhanced). Press F2 while you play a VPM table for a more detailed list.
The default keys on main keyboard are:
1 - start new game
2 - buy-in extra ball
3, 4, 5 - add credit
Left and Right Shift - Left and Right flipper button (read about Right Shift problems on notebooks in Tips&Tricks)
Enter - activate plunger. The longer you hold it before release, the faster the ball launches
Down Arrow - used in some tables (e. g. created by Scapino) to set the plunger strength, then press Enter to launch ball
ESC - pause game, show 'exit' menu
A and ' (near Return key) - Left and Right MagnaSave or
Left and Right CTRL - Left and Right MagnaSave
Z - Left Tilt
Spacebar - Middle Tilt
- (Dash) - Right Tilt
B or O - add a ball to the trough. This is useful in case a ball gets stuck on the playfield and you want to continue the game
T - 'hard' hit on the table to release a stuck ball, may cause Tilt!
VP Tables from the 1950's and 60's may use these additional keys:
A - lift ball to plunger (simulates manual ball lifter)
S - start new game
Function keys (while running VPM tables):
F 1: VPinMAME settings
F 2: key assignment list
F 3: VPM restart (after nvram config change or first VPM table start)
F 6: table options (eventually different ROM choice etc.)
F11:video RAM usage
Advanced VP users: Access the VPMKeys.vbs file inside your tables folder to look up or modify VPM key assignments.
Sound volume control
A real-life pinball machine generates certain sounds:
- mechanical ones, coming from bumpers, flippers, plunger, reels, rolling balls et cetera, and
- electronic ones, like sounds, speech, music and other audio effects generated by a microcontroller and a ROM holding the digital sound patterns, and output through loudspeakers inside the pinball machine.
In VP and VPM tables all 'mechanical' sounds are embedded in the table's vpt file and controlled by the script. VPM tables add electronic sounds that are controlled by VPM using the ROM content. In the VP Editor you can set the Music and Sounds volumes in 'Preferences-Audio Options...'. For further control and to achieve a good balance between the mechanical and electronic sounds you can access the VPM volume control by using certain key sequences while you play a VPM table. These are different for each pinball manufacturer and controller type, so here's a link to an Excel sheet which contains the required information, sorted by table name.
Thanks to ta2686 for creating this sheet and the tutorials behind it!
Another way to influence the VPM sounds is via the VPM display (DMD):
- during play left-click the DMD once to bring it into focus
- press the ~ (tilde) key, left to the '1' on main keyboard, to open a menu
- use the up and down arrows to select a channel
- use the left and right arrows to adjust its volume
- press the ~ again to close the menu
- left-click the table once to bring it back into focus
This method can be applied to adjust the volume of e. g. 'Phantom of the Opera' (link) and 'Bram Stoker's Dracula' (link).
Thanks to Russ_H for finding the solution and to ta2686 for pointing me to it!
Tips & Tricks
• "Sticky Keys" in Windows: In Visual Pinball by default the Shift keys control the flippers. Windows will misinterpret the repeated pressing of either Shift key and pop up a window during play asking if you want to turn on Sticky Keys - while you try to sort this out the ball is most probably lost. To disable that setting permanently, go to Start->Settings->Control Panel->Accessibility Options, and under Keyboard find 'Sticky Keys'. Uncheck it. Go to 'Settings' from there and uncheck 'Use Shortcut'. Confirm and exit.
• Folder locations
folders don't necessarily have to be located inside the VP folder. The Tables folder(s) can be anywhere on your hard disk, for example on another partition or drive. The other four folders listed above can be moved to different locations as well, provided that you define the new path to them: launch the Setup.exe tool inside the VPinMAME folder, this opens the "VPinMAME Installation Program" window. Click 'Setup Paths' and edit the path(s) to point to the new location(s).
In contrary to that the Music folder has to stay inside the VP folder. It contains mp3 files that may have been included in the table zip or rar file you downloaded.
• Factory settings restored - bookkeeping totals cleared': press F3 if you see this message on the DMD after launching a VPM table, or if you are requested to restart.
• Graphics card hardware and drivers
Visual Pinball, especially VP9, does prefer NVIDIA graphic cards. Nevertheless there was a major boost in performance of ATI Radeon cards (regarding Visual Pinball) since ATI released the Catalyst 10.3 driver package - all over sudden HD Rendering became usable (see next topic).
Since the companies are constantly developing new drivers it is hard to give recommendations here, but it is vital to check their sites for new releases and consult VPForums to see if any incompatibility or problem was found by a member.
You should only download drivers from the manufacturers' official websites:
In contrary to that, notebooks may require special graphics drivers that have to be downloaded from their manufacturer's website, even if the chipset was supplied by Nvidia or ATI.
The graphics card's video RAM size should at least be 512 MB, but 1 GB is highly recommended for large playfield textures that come with latest (FS) tables - see next topic.
• Message 'Could not create texture offscreen surface' at table start:
Usually a problem of the graphics card - it has run out of video RAM space while rendering the table.
Problematic configurations include
- Motherboard-embedded graphics solutions
- 'Shared Memory' graphics solutions
- dedicated graphics cards with insuffiicient amount of video RAM.
Possible solutions or workarounds:
In the VP Editor, Preferences -> Video Options
- reduce the screen resolution and/or color depth (32 bit -> 16 bit)
- run VP in 'Window' mode instead of 'Full Screen' (graphic glitches can occur, so that's not really recommended)
Change settings which are only available in VP9:
- open the VP9 Editor
- go to 'Preferences - Video Options'
- uncheck 'Hardware Device Rendering' and/or
- try to reduce the 'Max Texture Dimension' (observe the remark about file types, restart VP)
Since VP 9.0.9 the Hardware Device Rendering' setting affects all VP9 tables globally.
Depending on your graphics card the HD Rendering setting can cause issues with some tables' visual appearance, like blank, black, missing or 'washed out' playfield or other graphics on the table, or other effects.
A different approach to the 'Could not create texture offscreen surface' problem is described in this thread: by applying a software named NTcore 4GB patch on a 64bit-System Visual Pinball is able to use more than the 2GB of Virtual Memory normally assigned to a 32bit-application, and the problem disappears.
• DMD covers the whole screen and/or messages like "Error creating D3D device, Error Code 88760082 ":
Go to the VPinMAME subfolder inside the VP folder, run Setup.exe, click 'Setup Paths...', make sure that Display is set to 'Default' and 'Always run full screen on this display' is unchecked.
• DMD is hidden behind playfield or playfield is hidden behind VP Editor at table start:
- right-click each VP application in your VP folder and choose 'Preferences'
- from there click Compatibility, check 'Compatibility Mode' and choose 'Windows NT 4.0 (Service Pack 5)'
- confirm and exit
This setting is especially recommended when you use a front end (VP-Man or else).
• Right Shift key does not activate right flipper on my notebook (Microsoft Windows Vista):
Here's a possible solution (found by kruge99 in this link):
- Go to 'Device Mananger' -> 'Keyboard' -> 'Microsoft eHome MCIR 109 Keyboard'
- Right click it, and now you can either choose to 'uninstall', or if you feel discomforted uninstalling the driver, there is another solution:
- Right click it and instead of clicking 'uninstall', choose 'update driver software'
- when new window pops up, choose 'browse my computer for driver software'
- now when new stuff comes up, choose 'let me pick from a list of device drivers on my computer'
- several stuff comes up as a list. click on 'HID-compliant device' and click 'next' (or simply double click it)
• Setting replay levels
To set the replay levels in a table, follow these links:
Replay levels for non-DMD tables
Replay levels for DMD tables
or use the new Excel sheet, sorted by table name, that will lead you to the correct tutorial.
• Setting balls per game
To configure the balls per game, follow these links:
Balls per Game in non-DMD tables
Balls per Game in DMD tables
or use the new Excel sheet, sorted by table name, that will lead you to the correct tutorial.
These tutorials and the Excel sheet are provided by ta2686. Thanks!
To update to Visual PinMAME 2.5 from a previous version: Download the VPinMAME 2.5 zip file and unzip only the contained VPinMAME.dll file to your VPinMAME folder (see Manual Installation step 2.), overwrite the file already existing there. Usually that's all you need to do. To check that the version is recognized correctly, run the Setup.exe file in the VPinMame folder. This opens the "VPinMAME Installation Program" window. Verify that the 3rd line in the window reads *Visual PinMAME Version 2.5 is currently installed on your computer*, then Quit.
Attention: the Cabinet version 2.5 will display as version 2.4!
To use different VP versions in parallel: Download the VP version you want to add from here. Unzip the contained VPinballxyz.exe to your VP folder. Do not overwrite an existing version that you want to keep. You can put as many Visual Pinball executables there as you like and launch each of them separately, either from your file manager (i. e. Windows Explorer) by double-clicking the desired VP exe inside the VP folder, or by creating links to each VP executable on your desktop, or by adding them to your front-end.
According to your Windows version perform the steps described during the Standard Installation to finish the addition of VP executable versions.
• A BIG “Thank You!” to Yogiholzer who started and maintained this guide until January 2010 and initiated and supervises the translations!
• Thanks to Tiltjlp, Destruk and MrHide for providing their VP/VPM installation procedure. The contained information was integrated into the IG.
• I will try to always keep the IG up-to-date, complete and as easy to read as possible, but like anybody I am far from being perfect, so please report problems, errors or broken links, send PMs and/or make comments to improve it!
• Somehow the nice header formatting got lost during my last update of this tutorial - sorry for that!
This document is provided 'as is'. It is subject to changes without further notice. The author(s) can not be held responsible for the topicality, correctness, completeness or quality of the information provided. Liability claims regarding damage caused by the use of any information provided, including any kind of information which is incomplete or incorrect, will therefore be rejected.
-- yogiholzer, hgpinball --
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