Pinball manufacturers: Please add easy HDMI output for streamers!


#1

This is an open plea to pinball manufacturers to add easily accessible video-out ports for streaming purposes!

I had hoped this would get easier as games moved to LCD displays. But, for example, Aerosmith does not have standard video connectors. Streamers are forced to record the screen, which usually becomes over-exposed and unreadable. The streamer must spend time fiddling with their camera settings for a sub-par capture.

In an ideal world:
(no game does this yet, AFAIK)
Out of the box, there is an easily accessible HDMI port somewhere on the outside of the cabinet. Game audio would also output over the HDMI connection. The streamer only needs to connect an HDMI cable to their capture device.

Acceptable:
(many newer tables do this because they are PC-based)
The game internally uses some standard connector for the display (HDMI, DVI, or VGA). A splitter can be used to grab the video signal. Additionally, a 3.5mm jack is available to grab the audio, either from inside the cabinet or from a headphone jack outside. A 3.5mm splitter may be required.

Worst:
The game does not use any standard connectors for the display. An extra camera setup or external hardware is required to capture the display.

Check out @kdeangelo’s streams to see the awesomeness of direct AV from the table.

I realize this is a tall order. Streamers make up a tiny segment of an already tiny audience, and this adds cost to the table. Maybe there are licensing issues involved. But I hope manufacturers will know there is some demand for this!

Streaming is an awesome marketing tool. Look at how many orders Spooky received for TNA during @DEADFLIP’s stream! Ensuring that your game looks as great as possible on stream can only help to make pinball more popular.


#2

Built in cameras at strategic locations in the game would be a neat addition.


#3

Here Here!
I’ve been putting this bug in some ears recently.
Fingers crossed.


#4

Drain-o-vision


#5

Whilst we’re doing that, maybe we can have a network port for data access. For large competitions you’d be able to hook all the machines up to a TCP network and capture the scores digitally/remotely by making socket requests and pulling data serially

Could even have an API so that operators can poll audits, or adjust settings remotely

Then requires all manufacturers to adopt and follow the same standard

Dreaming I know, but I’ve fantasised about this for a while


#6

Based on the manual, it looks like SPIKE 2 already uses HDMI between the CPU node and LCD. Assuming they’re not using some absurd display mode while simultaneously failing to send an EDID from the LCD, odds are pretty good that any HDMI capture device with pass-through could be used on existing games.

edit: On second look, that appears to be for the mini-lcd using HDMI (Looking at the Star Wars manual), with the LCD using a 34-pin cable.


#7

I was bummed when I found out Stern went the LVDS route instead of HDMI. Assumed we’d have an easy hookup for all lcd games. I’ve been on the lookout for LVDS->HDMI devices ever since but they don’t exist. LVDS->DVI exists, which may be converted to HDMI or may not. Don’t have a new Stern to test with.


#8

Welcome to IoT! I can’t wait until I finally get a pinball machine that gets hacked and then eavesdrops on my network…

That’s if you ever could get all the vendors to agree on a common API, which I very much doubt they would.

It would be nice if it were secure and standardised. I can’t see this happening though. Where is the economic incentive for the manufacturer in all this?


#9

Me too - DVI would be good enough as that can be HDMI just without the audio. I was speaking to the colordmd guys about this and pointed out some TI chipsets that could do this conversion also. Fingers crossed.


#10

Let’s just kill ourselves now :wink:

To be honest it the vendors are crap enough that they can’t agree a common API then just give us what ever they can and we can device driver it, but the audit system is pretty much consistent across all manufacturers. From a security POV put connected pinball machines into their own zone with their own policy as you should with different things in your network. Again it’s not rocket science! Economic incentive? Make it easier to do global / national / regional / local leagues without the load of compromises we have in today’s leagues, more people play, more machines get sold! For location operators it’s a dream come true where the machine can send a message when it’s broken or the operator can see something is up because takings are down. The API would be simple to construct and most of it is already done.

Regards,
Neil.


#11

If current and past software manufacturers are any indication, a different API from each and every vendor is, sadly, the most likely outcome :frowning:

Yes, as a software person, I know how to set up a separate subnet and firewall it off from the rest of my network. Unfortunately, 99.99% of mere mortals don’t know how to do this. They’ll expect the machine to magically connect once they’ve entered a wifi password, and that’s the end of it.

This last bit I find difficult to believe. It might be something that operators would love, especially when there is a nice app that automatically tallies up the takings, reports any faults, and so on. But would operators really buy more machines because of that? I doubt it.

If this happens, it will happen because an innovative manufacturer decides to take the risk, makes the investment into the software development, and then promotes it as a desirable feature to operators. But, once the manufacturer has done that, they’ve also created the first API, and a second vendor is unlikely to ever implement the same API because, most l likely, the original API will be closed source. The original vendor is unlikely to open the source or the API because, after all, they have no interest in helping their competition.


#12

Someone put on their whinging onesie today! :sunglasses: (Sorry we are British!)

We are engineers! second only to God! we can do anything we put our minds to!

You think in feet when you should think in inches! Moving inches in pinball is the way we get to moving it by feet! I’ll use everyone’s favourite analogy - Apple didn’t add the sleep function to sell more phones they added loads of little functions and a few big ones! And it’s great your a software guy, you can help your local op do things securely! Going online is all about the community!

More working games, more revenue for ops, more return on their capital more machines bought.

More excitement about pinball scores online, more people play more games needed! I put two of my own games into my office lowered the default high scores and the fight that’s brewed between colleagues and teams is epic, people coming into work early to beat their buddies at work and stay late to do the same! If I could put that online I can do it across offices same can be true in many many environments!

Focus on the inches and the feet, yards and miles take care of themselves! Whinge that the feet are too hard and never move!

Neil.


#13

Wizard’s Arcade (WA) has a camera on the spec sheet for the Deluxe version (Camera on top of backbox, pointed down to playfield and perspective corrected, so that the parallax is corrected to be a rectangle). Its intention is to record game play and allow player to download that game-long video or upload it to youtube. Also there is a feature where two games can be remotely connected and the camera allows you to view the other connected game on the display.

But, this is a great idea to have the video outputs available (to in this case, one for display and other for the camera)!

I will add them to the spec sheet for WA. Note- the lower cost street version would not have a built-in camera, but can have a video out for the display.


#14

I’m curious about this for colordmd capture. Could you share what you’ve found?


#15

The problem with any of these ideas is that business cases have to be made for them and, generally speaking, they fall pretty flat.

Since we already use standard outs, you probably aren’t going to see us do anything other than that. It’s still in my mind to support that WOZ apron screen, for example, but just haven’t had any time to think about it.

An API to get at stuff is an even harder sell because there’s a fair amount of infrastructure (i.e. time i.e. money) that would have to be setup to support it. If we were to do it, I would be fine with following a standard within reason, but I wouldn’t look for this very soon for similar reasons. There’s lots of other stuff that we could work on that would be a better use of time and money from a company perspective.


#16

keefer,
Thanks for your reply. I don’t think we are asking any of the manufacturers to setup infrastructure (infact I’d encourage them all not to do that!). But having a way to use an API to push/pull on scores in a parsable format would be hugely valuable. I’m not even bothered if the networking capability is in the pinball machine because I can Pi it but if there was even something as simple as a serial port way to grab scores then we enthusiasts can create the hardware using PI or other solution and create the infrastructure if needed. Until its easy to pull the data from the machines then nothing will happen.

On the display format, yes there are many LVDS screens/video solutions that are slightly cheaper than putting HDMI on but having access to that or to HDMI would be fantastic for streaming tournaments, it won’t solve older machines for sure but doing “televised pinball” is a nightmare owing to the two camera setup that you need. I do tech at a TV station and was talking to my team about televising a tournament but with the two camera setup (and we shoot 4K) its a lot of effort for an OB. Something where I could feed our video switch with DMD/LCD output would be superb. We have this on Dr Pinball which is fantastic for DMD games, but we lack it for new LCD based games and I’d like to see colordmd which I know the colordmd guys have looked at. Making it easier to televise will bring rewards in my view.

Neil.


#17

google…

http://tw.ieiworld.com/product_groups/industrial/content.aspx?gid=09049535992720993533&id=0B073530860479137390&cid=09049605030737850288#.WZ6FQMaZPq0

there are quite a few options. TI do a chipset for it also.


#18

Perhaps you misunderstood me. I was talking about code infrastructure, as right now we have nothing setup to listen to and respond to requests, so that infrastructure would have to be written. APIs don’t just magically happen.


#19

Keefer, yes of course they don’t. I’ve been playing with stern machines and it’s possible to grab the hi scores through thru the USB port. I’ve got an app running on a PI that can then do $something with it. WPC95 also looks like there might be away to pull them (but more scarey hardware wise). Clearly we won’t get all machines to work but at a rate of 8-10 new games a year it would be good to fix the future :grinning:

Making pinball touch social media in a connected way I think would be epic for the hobby/sport/industry.

Regards,
Neil.


#20

Sorry, I meant more specifically a way to do this for someone without a hardware/EE background, e.g. me. Can you estimate how much time and money it would take someone who knows what they’re doing to turn that item into something you can plug in on a ColorDMD?