Merits of custom ROMs vs. original software


Not a fan of these things at all. Cheesy, distracting, and an unfair advantage for the few code snobs out there who are hip to this nonsense.

Rarely if ever have I seen one of these ROMs improve game play or make a game more fun.


… can you check for the next NYCPC then?

Tommy at NYCPC was using custom ROMs in qualifying; some confusion about how the blinders should behave led to the blinders getting disabled early Saturday when they were working the right way (according to the custom code). This had major impact on game scores.

I agree with all your points on custom code.


Or “not miss one shot and you’re still dead”, with some of the changes that are made to these games to shorten ball times.


I think the custom TAF ROM that shortens the Power magnet time-out timer is a great example of what a custom ROM should do: it removes a time-wasting technique without altering the rules of the game.


You let them play. There’s no reason as to why a certain playstyle shouldn’t be allowed from an in-game standpoint, but considerations can be made to alleviate this without having to modify a game. Using our local weekly’s method, where we’ve run into the 11PM preferred stop wall:

  • Slant the 3 player groups to take 2 strikes (if you’re willing to deal with some shitposting about it), or use a system that is more aggressive in doling out strikes. Maybe a progressive/fair system may work out cleaner for the players and time?

  • Set up an “A bank” or “Fast Bank” that excludes the criminally-slow playing games. Use this bank after a few rounds when the dust settles. Maybe outright exclude any blatant offenders that aren’t liked (Popeye Saves the Earth, even with the plug mod)?

There’s ways you can play with the tournament structure and yet allow for games to be included as-is in some fashion. Hopefully you can get your timings down @GolfKill, there’s a definite art to it that takes time to master! :slight_smile:


As a player this is one of the things that infuriates me, especially when the TD is also player in the tournament. If you are going to do this set up the schedule ahead of time. Either these games will be excluded for X rounds, or until X time. If not layed out ahead of time it is difficult to be unbiased


As per the head TD, the system is implemented after Round 4 unless there are extreme exceptions (such as DJ showing up and nuking Stern games for 40 minutes in back to back rounds).

It’s also okay to experiment with the system until it fits nicely, as long as you communicate in the moment and document it so you know what to do in the future.


This side comment is exactly my point. I understand time constraints and it is tough to balance things as a TD. But the fact that your example of an exception is a specific named player, who you would disproportionately disadvantage with a decision part way through a tournament. That just doesn’t sit well.


Admittedly that was a lazy example and can be replaced with many of the weekly players. That instance was the most recent one and memorable because of how much modern dominance he’s held at Kickback the past few weeks.

The issue with “screwing specific players” is also the forced pressure of having to finish a tournament on schedule. We’ve had to shut down early and not play out the last few rounds before this system was implemented, which in it’s own way screws over players. There’s no way to start earlier at this point, and we’re not forcing anyone to stay late to accommodate.

I think the moral of the story is “there’s not really a good answer to this problem, so figure out the best possible solution.”


We had a trigger at 30 minutes to closing that all games instantly became 1-ball games.

That seemed to expedite the process of finishing the event without any specific games being removed for subjective reasons.


Can you put a score cap on games as a TD. For example: If a player reaches _____ score they automatically win the game and can stop play but If more than one player achieves that score then that player as well will not get a strike, will also get 4, points, etc…

Not ideal but could be another way to speed up tournaments without butchering games that “may” play long if a player gets ahold of it.

I know that’s not ideal but seems like a possibility especially for a local (non-major) type event.

This is where something that a couple of us locally have talked about (mainly when snailman is playing) and that is a mercy rule in the game. If the player blowing up the game is not the last player it would be nice if the game would allow us to skip that players last ball and to only come back for them to play it if their score is surpassed. Maybe something that is activated via competition mode.


A small little local type event called PINBURGH has that provision in their rules at TD discretion.


I’m with the chorus of folks that thinks that custom ROMs for the sake of making a game that is otherwise unfit for tournament play is nifty, but are not especially loving the current trend of custom ROMs that nerf one specific thing on games that are not otherwise problematic.


Keep in mind that mercy rules and switching to 1-ball games impact the TGP of the event, which was raised as one of the reasons for wanting to move things along.

Basically, if there’s a set score for where the mercy rule kicks in, all games played on that machine count for 1/3, regardless if mercied or not. If it’s at the TD’s discretion (à la Pinburgh), it’s just that game. 1- and 2-ball games would count for 1/3 and 2/3 respectively.

See Pinburgh "Exceptionally Good Play" - TGP Question for the previous discussion on the impact. (Link goes directly to the clarification of the mercy rule reduction.)

As for custom ROMs, they definitely have their place. I don’t have a problem with them being used in competition as long as the players are advised of what the changes are. I’ve got the unofficial version of the LAH ROM in my game at home and would actually probably be thrown if I encountered factory code in a tournament!

I appreciate that there are folks who are willing to make changes and share them with the community.


So is progressive jackpot leveling not an improvement in competition?
Or anything that de-randomizes what would be mystery awards?


I couldn’t agree more brother!

I don’t really involve myself too much in the actual tournament aspect of the show but happy to pass on concerns. I will say that Tommy was a problem child all weekend and we would have been better off without it in the tournament.


Yup, absolutely. @timballs and myself will be taking a close, hard look at code revisions and ROM versions for the games that will be included this year. I don’t believe it was an issue last year, but there was also an AFM that had an old ROM, before Dirty Pool was implemented.


Not really interested in debating the merits of every single custom ROM. I guess there’s a takeaway from my rant that works with a little common sense on both sides. I won’t complain about a High Speed ROM that gives a 750 jackpot every time. That’s a fun game and if it helps that stay in a tournament, great. But I have a friend with tons of classic old Stern and other early digitals and his place is a basement of custom ROM horrors. Significantly changing rules is not anything I like to see and it’s becoming more common.

Even dropping the zero on a game like Flash or Firepower is obnoxious and unneccesaary. Everybody always wants to get cute!


I’m the friend with the custom ROM horrors. Let’s see:

Black Knight - Non-Random Mystery
Firepower - OK, you got me here. 7 digit scoring. 2x, 3x scoring during multiball
STTNG - Video mode removed
Getaway - All bug fixes, multiball starting during multiball, etc…
Cheetah - One time left lane bonus collect instead of infinite (can be relit of course)
BSD - Tilt warning no bonus bug and random mystery removed. Basically PAPA tournament ROM
Stars - Stock
Nine Ball - Stock
Flash - Stock
Harlem - Stock
F14 - Stock
Big Game - Bonus line collect on all 3 balls (instead of only ball 3 or ball 2 & 3)
Stargazer - Cannot spot Zodiac from star rollovers
Dragonfist - Stock

Are these really horrors??

PS. Currently working on Rollergames ROM that eliminates random sudden death and lock stealing. Oh the horror!!!



Wasn’t there also some bollocks on Quicksilver or was that just a setting?

I don’t even want to get into Ron’s Settings of Horrors!!! (no 100K special on Stars???)