TD's - Do you "install" competition mode or not?


It would be cool if you could save the current settings and name it something like “my custom settings”. Then if you install Competition you could quickly (re)install your original custom settings.

It would be cool to be able to save multiple custom settings. “Hard competition”, “casual competition”, “pingolf”, “children at home”, etc. Even for home use you might want different settings for people: children, spouse, yourself, etc.


Factory installed pingolf specific settings would be nice. Especially if they made mode and score based objectives. I’ve played in a few where they offered two different routes to completing a hole. Usually a target score and then either complete a mode or start a multiball. You could even make objectives that aren’t in the game rules normally, like hit every major shot once.

I would even appreciate a practice or training mode, where you pick from some basic objectives like “get combos” or “hit every major shot as many times as possible” or “learn to stage flip”.


Maybe not a terribly popular opinion, but I enjoyed the “water hazard” switches that triggered a tilt from NWPAS a few years ago.


I did as well. They were pretty out of the way, so it wasn’t easy to hit them on accident, but strategically avoiding areas of the playfield that might trigger them added an interesting dimension to the game.


But think of the TGP threads that would follow if that became the norm!


I don’t share your definition of “quickly” in this case. :slight_smile:

Things I somewhat frequently change: pricing, replay %, match %, special %, awards for high scores, virtual locks, strength of various kickouts, autoplunge strength, chase ball, tournament mode, restart settings, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

That’s a lot at risk by using something off the install menu that won’t tell me what it’s going to do, and won’t give me a way to go back to what I had (without making a custom cheat sheet that lists which ones I will need to change back). Some of my settings changes are standard (like reply %), but others, like strength of various coils, is game dependent and not something I would write down because it changes over time (as kickouts get weaker).

Was this stuff previously documented in manuals and now it isn’t? I guess either way it’d be good for us to build a wiki-like thing online to keep track of it for all games, right?


It may not be as easy as JJP games, but it is easy. You don’t look at each settings as you scroll through them, just the bottom corner to see if it says Default or not. The vast majority of settings aren’t changed with an install of any kind. You can determine what has changed in less than a minute.

What the manuals never really told you is the difference between Extra Easy Pinball Spellout (from FGY, pic above) and Easy Pinball Spellout, If any. If JJP is giving those details, awesome.


You are changing way more setting than most operators. When I operated games, my approach was to change as little as possible. Just like setting up games for tournament play. I usually lowered the match percentage a little, enabled 10 character initials and changed free game award to only GC score. Typically used default pricing. 3 - 5 settings changed per game tops.

The pic I posted above is from a Family Guy manual. The Installs chart has been in Stern manuals since Whitestar. Even Sega games had an install settings (which wasn’t called Install yet). Below is the first page of LOTR. Keep in mind that changed settings vary greatly between games and newer games have way more Feature setting (usually) than older games.


It is my understanding that Factory Install does not change things like pricing, kickout strength, Eb’s available etc. It only deals with rules changes. To change all those other things to default you would have to do a Factory Reset. Big difference. Why not try it once on a Stern and see what happens? If I am wrong you will have only screwed up one games settings and will know not to do it again.


No, typically install factory is the same as factory reset except it’s only adjustments. But it’s all of them.


American Pinball’s platform allows this, pretty much.

I somewhat like this concept, but different TDs may want different objectives, subject to local player skill, tournament objectives, etc etc etc… so a single factory-provided setting for this would just be “one of many”… and then what about PinBowling or other “alternate” competitive ideas?

Instead of trying to solve every problem, we’re hoping that TDs will publicly share adjustment packages for different scenarios.


Realistically whether it’s Factory RESET or Factory INSTALL, Competition MODE or Competition INSTALL they’re all just a template as to what each of the many game settings are.

Rather than having just the default templates, I would love to have 2 or maybe 3 Custom Templates that you could adjust yourself.

For instance, I would set up my ‘Usual template’ the same as factory, but on Freeplay, match off, replays off, etc. etc.

I would have another ‘Show Template’ for when I take a machine to a show for general public use again set on Freeplay, but with timed ball launch, quick restart, ball chase all turned ON.

I’d then have a further ‘Tournament Template’ with maybe settings a little harder, extra balls off, match off etc. etc.

I wouldn’t have thought it’d be too hard to have these 3 custom templates as an option loaded into the code - would it?

  1. In Stern games, the "COMPETITION" adjustment is only particularly meant to equalize the random features across players, inasmuch as that can reasonably be done. Whatever confusion exists today probably stems from the history of the setting and how it used to perform a complex operation (reset audits, change other adjustments (tilt warnings to 2), change the game pricing (free play), etc.), as discussed. The setting would probably still be called “TOURNAMENT” if Stern didn’t come up with the cash tournament system that used the Beta-Brite sign.

  2. Going forward, I’m not a big fan of the “COMPETITION” adjustment dictating policy over other settings. This is a general computing pet-peeve of mine – I do not like it when someone dictates what they think is best for me and I am powerless to change it. As far as competition INSTALLS go, you may not agree with what I have chosen, and if so then I want you to have a way to set up your game the way you want.

  3. The things I put in the Competition INSTALL generally make the game more suitable for tournament play where I expect a higher caliber of player and I want to minimize the things I think would cause the game time to be excessive, such that the time constraints of the tournament are compromised (i.e., World Poker Tour at last year’s Pinburgh). For example, in AC/DC Premium, I set the “LOWER PLAYFIELD DIFFICULTY” adjustment to “HARD” in the competition INSTALL; this requires the player to make several shots on the main playfield before gaining access to the lower playfield. Some people would consider this “less fun” (I actually like it), but it is done in an effort to keep the tournament moving along. I don’t want people picking Highway To Hell or Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be and making one shot and tying up the game risk-free for 30+ seconds. I don’t always get it right; you are free to change the setting if you wish.

  4. I told Josh: “Install Novelty, Install Competition” because that is simple enough for him to convey to a new (possibly inexperienced) TD so they can get machines up and running quickly and hopefully not have any time issues with the tournament. The “Install Competition” I have set up for various games is based on playing the games extensively and watching the games being played extensively in tournaments.

  5. I agree – any settings changed from the Factory Defaults should be conveyed to the players.

  6. I agree – it would be extremely useful to be able to “uninstall” the competition “install” after the tournament is over.

  7. I’m sure next year if World Poker Tour is in one of the banks at Pinburgh, the settings will have changed, and the changes will be posted on the game.

  8. I am not speaking for Stern.


Always great to hear from ya, Lyman. :slight_smile:

Would it make sense if there was an industry-wide move to rename the thing currently known as the Tournament or Competition adjustment to instead be called something more specific, like “derandomize”? Because IMHO that’s the only thing that adjustment should do. Then the Tournament/Competition preset (or install) can still be the package of adjustments based on the designer’s opinion of what should be done for competitive play. But a nomenclature change like this might avoid a lot of confusion.


thanks for that very useful to know. Also 5 is something to note, I advised virtual locks but not that I had made groot a lot harder.


The sign will read “outlane post rubbers removed” :slight_smile:

That happened when the original WPT went down and the game from backup came in; I and others forgot about removing its posts.


That and Heavy Metal Meltdown was in the same bank.



(Repeat 200 times)


I said my piece about this in the other thread, but I agree that cleaning up the UI here would be helpful. JJP gets this right.

Having the Competition Mode adjustment change certain arbitrary things is confusing. For example, in Star Wars Competition Mode adjustment changes the max multiplier from 20x to 10x. Making “Max Multiplier” a separate feature adjustment would be much better. Rename/split “Competition Mode” to “Random Mystery”, “Random Mode”, etc.

As far as the installs, why do I have to install Novelty and then Competition to make sure EBs etc. are off? Why not just turn off EBs in Competition Install? IMO make that the one keypress for typical tournament settings.

FWIW, most tourneys I’ve been to tend to use Competition Mode adjustment, because no one really trusts the installs (TWD might be the exception that I often see using the can’t-light-modes-in-MB adjustment).


Wait, are you telling me that there is a setting to enable the ball save when you open the coin door? Holy crap, I never knew that was even an option. That will make my life a little easier. How long does the ball saver run after the coin door is closed?

Does it handle stuck balls during multiball? For example, someone traps up because they have a stuck ball. I open the machine and it drains the ball on their flipper. I get the ball unstuck and stick it in the shooter lane. Does the machine then spit the other ball back out again?

Here is something else that drives me nuts. I’ll have someone with a stuck ball call me over, I open the machine, put the ball in the shooter lane (since the high power is disabled) and as soon as I close the damn coin door, it fires the ball out. Is there a way to shut that off?