Competition Mode vs. Tournament Mode


I appreciate the JJP preset system. The UI is very clear. E.g. here is the install 5 ball preset. It is clear what it changes, what the current is and the default. Awesome. I chose this over competition preset because that only had 2 settings changed :slight_smile:


Tops has its own Tops menu. Not under install menu.

It is somewhat confusing, but it’s been the same confusing for more than 10 years. When in doubt, scroll through standard and feature settings to quickly see what has changed. Diags says which are default and which aren’t.

It could be better, but TD’s changing settings should know this stuff. Good to see others suggesting staying away from the installs menu. As mentioned, you want the game to be as close to what the player is used to as possible. Set to competition mode (standard adjustments), open the outlanes, increase the pitch, wax the playfield, but don’t change the rules. When shots don’t do what they normally should do, that turns a player off. The other stuff will keep them coming back, rules changes won’t.

Rule changes also won’t decrease ball times, but will increase frustration levels. Easy choice.


In my experience, PAPA’s go to is install comp mode. And outside of TWD, I have zero clue what that does.


I’ve never played in C or D, but I’m guessing they don’t use the install menu for most of those games.

For many SAM games, the manual tells you exactly what is changed. Pic below got lost between threads.


The past three tournaments I’ve played in that PAPA ran with TWD was running comp install. Meaning no modes qualified during MB. Never seen a TWD set that way in any other event.

So I assumed that all sterns were that way for them.

I only noticed it in TWD because it was the only game I knew well enough to notice.


Note that for many of the later WPC games, the “Tournament Play” setting also keeps game scores on the screen for longer at the end of the game. But yeah, de-randomization is really what it’s about.

That was the approach we took on the Heighway games. We had a “Tournament Preset” that did the following:

  • Tournament mode/de-randomization enabled
  • 3 balls per game
  • No replays
  • Extra ball/Special awards points
  • Match sequence disabled (to save time)
  • Allow flippers during bonus
  • Disable chase ball/lost ball recovery (we called it Ball Search Limit)
  • Disable buyin
  • Disable flipper/timed plunger
  • Disable game restart in progress


While prepping for PinFest this year, I know that I had difficulty articulating ahead of time all the settings and dip switches that should or shouldn’t be changed on each of the machines ahead of the tournament, and thought afterwards that it would awesome to have a centralized resource with recommended settings by machine.

I think a wiki or some other type of community-contributable resource would be a valuable way for tournament organizers to be able to view potential configurations for an event. I’m just not sure how to approach it on a technical front.

Here’s a prototype screen for Globetrotters:

I’ve never seen a diagram like the one I’ve prototyped before. I find it a pain to read through the Bally instruction manual, especially when the order they discuss what the switches do isn’t the order that they are on the board itself. I’d like to produce things like this in the future so that I can just hand it off to a tech and ask them to “please make the switches look like this”’, so I’d be interested to see more diagrams like this, especially from people who feel they have a “tried and true” approach to a specific machine.

Modern machines would be more complicated but could be broken down into a set of Instructions.

Hypothetical Example:

  • Install Competition Mode
  • Setting A-10: Set Extra Balls to 0
  • Setting A-15: Set Doctor Septopus Multiball to Extra Hard
  • Setting A-16: Set Ball Save Time to X Seconds
  • …etc, etc.

And it’s certainly not a “only one setting for each machine” thing…I would imagine that as people put together diagrams you’re then going to have spirited debate about the merits of “retaining super bonus in memory” and other such nuanced discussions.