Game malfunction ruling question

I think that’s a HUGE assumption. There’s no telling where the game will take you from that point on, so as a TD my goal is getting the game back into a situation of a known game state. That way a TD doesn’t have to worry about determining whether the advantage is ‘material or not’ to play on>

Would it be okay for me to keep my multiple balls in play going and simply try and start Payback Time? Assuming I’m Daniele Acciari it’s then perfectly fine for me to rifle through 5 million Payback awards with 3 balls going ramp-ramp-ramp-ramp-ramp-ramp leading to a situation where you scored more points than was humanly possible in that mode with 1 ball in play.

For me as a TD, no thanks to making a determination on the ‘fairness’ of evaluating the minor malfunction of losing your multiball by allowing a player to play-on in certain situations.

Thanks for pointing this out, I had previously not been able to figure out a way to make the malfunction turn into an advantage greater than getting to play the original multiball without the bug occuring, and this is something that could potentially be that. Even though it wouldn’t happen from a practical point of view, I think this is the point that likely makes it the right ruling in the abstract.

Interesting. What if it’s not a ricochet from a cannon shot but something that could be skillfully done?

The malfunction rules seem to focus on the physical side of pinball, and arguably, this should not be considered a malfunction, because it is perfectly reproducible in a glass off situation. It might not be intended, but it’s hard to base a ruling on intention, unless every intended behavior of every machine is officially documented. This is a slippery slope indeed.

That said, if it is in fact ruled a malfunction, the go to solution would be to remove the benefit, which in this case can’t be done without giving a serious disadvantage to the player. Is it okay to trade a benefit for a disadvantage in case of malfunction? Maybe, if, for the average player in that match, the score gained by the benefit is deemed higher than the score lost by the imposed disadvantage.

That amount of speculation in a tournament ruling sounds awful, though. There have to be some hard rules. Not using the machine in tournaments is the obvious solution, but if it is used, I’m leaning towards continuing play on beneficial malfunctions, if there’s no way of removing the benefit without imposing a significant detriment.

After working this long with MHS to try and come up with a combined PAPA/IFPA ruleset, the idea of adding back in any grey areas where ‘sometimes’ it’s okay to take advantage of a beneficial malfunction, but only after the TD makes a judgement call as to how badly the player was penalized by the minor malfunction, I won’t speak for MHS but I’m assuming we will both choose to stick with our golden rule of:

“Sorry . . . you’re f*cked” (I can never remember if we can actually swear on rgp3 or not, so I will censor myself) :smile:

No compensation, do not pass go, do not collect $200, go directly to jail

Would it be OK to use highly skillful play to try to accomplish something difficult that might make up for the (potential) points the player lost by being screwed out of the thing they already skillfully accomplished? Sure, I have no problem with that. If the game progressed to doing other things like giving infinite ballsavers because its state was messed up, then sure, those are beneficial malfunctions and should be handled accordingly.

If I’m playing multiball on game X, and I get a freak airball that happens to land in the very-difficult super jackpot lane (and awards said SJ), should the TD remove those points from me because I didn’t make the SJ shot in the way the game designer intended?

I don’t want to get overly pedantic here, but the reason the ruling seemed unfair at the time is that the TD was claiming that it was a beneficial malfunction because two balls in play out of multiball is better than one ball in play out of multiball, i.e. separating what happened into two separate events.

If you treat it as a single event, which I think it should, the question is simply could I benefit from the malfunction, and with your example of how there may be some single ball modes that are balanced with a single ball in play and that having two balls in play for a non-multiball mode could be a benefit.

I don’t think this ruling was hard because it was determining whether I should be able to take advantage of a beneficial malfunction, I think it was hard because it wasn’t clear if you could claim that the malfunction was beneficial.

Excellent point. Having two (or more) balls in play is advantageous because you have insurance against losing your turn when you lose a ball… but that advantage is offset by the increased difficulty of making controlled shots while juggling multiple balls.

I don’t think this would add any muddiness to the rules. TDs have to judge on malfunctions anyway, and if removing the benefit from a beneficial malfunction would result in a situation that, if it occured without the interference, would be considered a minor (detrimental) malfunction, just don’t do it.

I think the "Sorry . . . you’re fcked" attitude is perfectly reasonable, if it means “that’s pinball, so we won’t interfere”. Here, though, the player is fcked because of interference, not because of pinball, which is something else entirely.

Maybe I wasn’t clear enough.

In my mind, to make the ruling, the question is whether “2 balls in play out of multiball scoring/software state” could be considered beneficial to “2 balls in multiball scoring/software state”. @pinwizj comments about payback time or other scenarios proves that it’s possible this is beneficial, and if you have to make/use generalized rules, it’s reasonable to always make this ruling, regardless of whether the specific game has something to exploit with 2 balls in single ball state of software.

Asking whether “2 balls out of multiball” is beneficial to “1 ball out of multiball” was an unfair question to ask, in my mind, and I was under the impression the ruling was made at the time based off of this question. This question splits a single event into two, and only asks whether the 2nd part of the event was beneficial, which seems unfair to me.

This ruling seems to come down to several separate decisions, and I’d be interested in where you guys stand on those, judged separately:

1.) Is this a malfunction?
2.) If yes, is this a beneficial malfunction?
3.) If yes, should the benefit be removed?

I’ll start:

1.) No, because it’s perfectly reproducible.
2.) Maybe, but probably not. It results in a potential advantage, but whether it’s a “significant advantage”, as stated in the rules, is a hard call to make.
3.) No, because the situation resulting from removing the benefit is significantly different from the malfunction not occurring in the first place.

See, my feeling is that “beneficial” refers to “Is it more beneficial compared to another player in the exact same state you are in now?” to which the answer is pretty obviously yes.

I phrased it as two events in order to clarify my position, but you can also look at it as one. There was a minor malfunction (for which no compensation is ever given) that left you in a beneficial state compared to what another player would have in the same state, which I resolved.

I mean, we could go back and forth on this all day and obviously it really comes down to discretion. I think this is obviously a malfunction, just because it is a software one doesn’t make it not so. Josh’s point above about the 9B Creature bug is also perfectly reproducible, but it is also quite obviously a malfunction. Would you want someone winning PAPA based on that? Bugs are malfunctions and I truly believe that in the large majority of cases, intent is pretty obvious and it matters.

Once you establish that I feel like the ruling just takes care of itself. I’m really glad that my ruling didn’t make an effect on either of @johnnyfive’s matches (he won them both anyways) and I’m sure that this will provide a lot of fodder for @mhs and @pinwizj to work into future rulings.


I use the PG version “Sorry, that’s pinball” myself :smile:

Before we start going to haywire on whether this was a beneficial malfunction or not… THE DUDE LOST HIS MULTIBALL RULESET. No one is going to make a case to me that single ball multiball play on T2 is more valuable than multiball multiball play.

The dude got screwed, hard. Making him drain out is like… Nevermind I’m not coming up with an acceptable analogy right now.

And programmer laziness does not make an exemption to this ruling, IMNSHO. KM and Warp 9.9 need to be drained under this logic.

It’s actually laughable how often I typically agree with Keefer and how much I don’t on this :smile:

Greg summed it up perfectly IMO. The loss of the multiball SUCKS. It might be the worst thing that’s ever happened in ever… And at best it’s still just a minor malfunction.

To use that minor malfunction as a way to justify any sort of compensation by taking any sort of advantage of the beneficial state of 2 balls in play under an improper game state doesn’t make it right.

The KM situation is different because it’s how the game is meant to behave at that point in time, for sure, 100%.


Just my 2c, but in my experience, players too-often seek to apply malfunction rules to what is just a broken game. Someone recently mentioned a similar situation to me where an outlane on AFM triggered strobe multiball. In both of these situations, the game is broken. Whether it’s the software or the hardware doesn’t matter, it’s messed up, and as unfortunate as it could potentially be, the fix in those cases is turning it off and back on. The malfunction stuff is mostly there to address specific loss of ball scenarios, double-switch hits, or other easily understandable beneficial oddities created by a properly functioning mechanical game.

There’s several lines of logic in the PAPA / IFPA rules that could lead to a TD safely making this ruling, but the most clear that I know of is the first paragraph of Disabled Machines.

Any tournament machine that breaks down during play will be attended to by technicians as promptly as possible. In the event that a breakdown is severe and cannot be repaired promptly, the machine may be taken out of service temporarily or permanently. A permanently disabled machine may be replaced with a substitute by tournament officials. If the failed machine is eventually repaired, it will be put back into play.

T2 is broken. Just fix it, grin and bear it.


IMO all you’re doing is rationalizing why the written rules shouldn’t be followed (because the Minor Malfunction in this case is a huge screw job for the player impacted - and I’m not arguing that it isn’t).

Giving the player a chance to make up for this crappy situation by allowing them to play the game in a known beneficial malfunction state (single ball play rules with multiple balls in play - when this is normally something a player will always have to stop doing under typical beneficial malfunction situations) is creating a slippery slope out of something that is really crystal clear under the current written rules.

Joe . . . Joe . . .really? You’re comparing software behavior that we all know isn’t proper game behavior to a situation where a random ball that flies around as part of the game makes a shot that the player didn’t intend to hit? Maybe create a new thread if you actually want to debate this subject on whether all valid shots need to be intentionally hit by a player to be valid . . . but this has nothing to do with the topic at hand IMO.

A better example you could have made that kept things slightly more on topic would have been:

“If I’m playing multiball on game X, and my ball gets stuck, when the tournament director goes to free the stuck ball they accidentally trigger the very-difficult super jackpot lane (and awards said SJ). Should the TD remove those points from you because you didn’t make the SJ shot?”

I think this is directed at me, and my stance on that issue is pretty firm: Every computerized game is bugged, and bug knowledge is a part of game knowledge.

Having to judge that the multiplier bug in Creature is okay to use intentionally, but some other bug isn’t, is exactly the kind of judgment call @pinwizj doesn’t want the rules to depend on, and rightly so.

There are no specific rules on software “malfunctions”, but there should be, and if I were the one to write them, they would read something like this:

  • If some weird software stuff happens, and neither the player nor the TD know how to reproduce it, judge it a malfunction and go from there.
  • If the player claims to know how to reproduce it, don’t interfere, just let them play on.
  • In that case, after the game the player will instruct the TD on how to reproduce it, glass off, ball in hand. If it’s indeed reproducible, the score is valid, and the bug is now a canon part of game knowledge that can be used in any future games. If not, judge it a malfunction and go from there (voiding the score, additional penalty, as per current rules).

If that means that more machines end up on the no play list, so be it. The most important thing here is that no player should be penalized for knowing a game and its exploits better than the TD.

I REALLY don’t think you want to go down the path of allowing the 9.9B hurryup.

That means either CFTBL is now invalidated for all time or you need to start making specific rulings on specific bugs.

I do indeed plan to never use it in any tournament I’m running ever again. Why even go there?

In the end, as far as arguments against my ruling, I find @mhs’ most compelling. I wish I had just said “Screw this, new game” or even better “Screw this, new machine”.

I have to disagree with multiple balls in play after a game thinks a multiball is over is a beneficial malfunction.

In most games, multiball is more lucrative than single ball play, even absent the multiple balls. This is why playing multiball with a single ball is a beneficial malfunction.

Ergo, by the contrapositive, being in single ball software with multiple balls in play is not a beneficial malfunction. Play on. Yes, having multiple balls in play in single ball software is better than having one ball in play in single ball software, but it’s worse than the correct state.

I initially posted this in the wrong thread, so my attempts to move it here are getting eaten by the spam filter.