The Slam Tilt Podcast - Episode 130 - Space Invader


I’m a little late posting this to Tilt Forums (we’re up to Episode 8). This podcast is from the perspective of 2 Pinheads who have been in the hobby for 10+ years. In our podcasts we cover a wide variety of topics:


Just to name a few…

Episode 8 - Too Slow For Quicksilver

-Batman 66
-Cactus Canyon remake?
-Project Updates
-Nine Ball is a PITA!!
-Plug Time/Listener Email
-Games to Like, Games to Hate
-Quicksilver For Sale-Too Slow!!
-Pinball Life Party
-Upcoming Tournaments

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Episode 9 - Welcome to the Real World

-Pinball News
-Eric is a Super Hero
-Slayer vs Cornholio
-T-Shirt Design Dilemma
-Games to Like, Games to Hate
-Stars Better than Ghostbusters?
-Matrix Moments
-12 Levels of Good, 12 Levels of Suck
-Features We’d Like to See
-Expo Needs a Proofreader

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Episode 10 - An Evening with TSex

Our first guest!! Fellow Upstater and Tournament Guru, Tim Sexton

-Timmy Bio, Bruce is Old
-Ghostbusters Rant
-Stars Stock is Still Climbing
-Games to Like, Games to Hate
-What Makes a Good Game?
-Let’s Fill Out a Stern Application!
-End of Summer Open
-Features We’d Like to See
-Gridiron Greats
-People Want Something Different

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i somehow predicted the price of Batman on the nose lol


Holy crap, you can’t be serious… its that much?

Edit: Sorry Tim, you were over by a dollar… you lose.



Super funny show. I agreed with everything and I died during the stern application. I still like GB tho.


Fun to listen to the opinions on GB, but the highlighted notion that GB is terrible because it strongly encourages players to appreciate and to learn how to plunge skillfully??? Come on. It’s about time that modern pins encourage/reward skillful plunging vs. a gimme skill shot of full plunge to 2-3 lanes that have lane-change.

I agree that putting the player in mode-start jail with no “breadth” of worthwhile, fun options other than shooting the GHOST target of death + Slimer, or trying to light SFMB locks that reward you with one of most unrewarding, frustrating, difficult multiballs of all time… that’s a bad decision. Especially for novice players.

And what’s wrong with having an element of the code and gameplay that blows up the scoring IF you set it up right with skill and careful game sequence choices? Imho, that’s what makes pins like ACDC, MET, TWD, etc so much fun – because it’s possible to do that.

Oh, and Mass Hysteria is NOT a wizard mode on par with MET’s End of the Line or TWD’s Last Man Standing. Nor do I think it was intended to be that. “Are you a God?” is the main wizard mode. Mass Hysteria is a type of mini-wizard multiball, but I do hope it’s rules/scoring is improved. Granted, I don’t like Mass Hysteria because it doesn’t strike me as very valuable score-wise vs difficulty… or maybe I’ve missed out on its nuances because of the bad code decision of toggling reversed flippers every time you accidentally hit the center captive ball.

full disclosure: I don’t own GB, nor do I have one on order. Only play it on location.


I think the issue with the GB skill shot is not that it’s difficult but that the best strategy is to soft plunge which I’m sure wasn’t the intention of the designers.


Plunging so as not to trigger enough switches to validate the playfield is a code exploit more than a game design exploit, but the playfield validation needs to be considered in game design now and there is no indication to me that they were here on Ghostbusters. It’s already skillful to plunge the correct lane on the standard skill shot. That is not what I was referring to. I am talking about plunging so the ball does not hit the switch to register the right loop like in Sopranos and how that is much more valuable because it makes it much easier to hit the super skill shot or mode start shot.

I’ll admit that most of my complaints are things that can and likely will be addressed by code. My argument is more against a hypothetical straw man who is assembled from all the people who tell me that they think the game is great in its current state. It’s just wonky right now and the code and gameplay don’t seem to fit the game they are on. One example, which I didn’t get into on the podcast, is a situation where you have a ball trapped on the left flipper and your left ramp is lit. Without anything worthwhile (points-wise) to shoot on the right ramp or right scoop (assuming that will bounce the way you want and is consistent) I was thinking of post passing, despite the huge flipper gap and shallow flippers. In a situation like this, the game is just frustratingly confusing because I just don’t know what the game wants from me.


Again, how can you claim that short-plunging was not part of the design? I’m just hazarding a wild, crazy guess here that Trudeau and Sullivan understand that short-plunging is possible, given that GB isn’t their first rodeo. There are five non-lane skill shots that encourage the player to try foregoing the upper lanes on the plunge and make a skillful initial shot. You can do this by either full plunging, or short plunging. And there’s even more options – two of which can have significant value – at the top lanes. Should all modern machines just have a auto-launch button instead of a plunger ala AFM, MM, and BSD? I hope not. I appreciate games with a manual plunger that provide players the opportunity to demonstrate skill.

Sopranos is a bad choice for your comparison: in that pin, there’s nothing apparent to the player inviting them to short-plunge on that game, other than game knowledge of knowing that the unlit, unmentioned (on the DMD) Steugot’s drop target is far better to attack than getting the non-skillful Stern lane-change plunge plus a trip in the pops.

I’m not disagreeing for the sake of being argumentative, I just don’t see the logic you’re using to support your gripe.


Just because the designer is aware that it could happen doesn’t mean there is a perfect solution for it.

From the programmer’s perspective.

  1. My first priority is to make sure that the ball does not end prematurely due to a failure to launch the ball into the shooter lane or for any other reason that is unfair to a location player who is paying for the game. To do so I need some way to ensure that there is a game state which will not allow for the ball to end prematurely.
  2. To transition to a state where the ball is in play, I need sufficient evidence that the ball is on playfield and in a position where I, as a programmer, would consider the ball to be in play.

So we must remember that a computer is stupid and cannot do anything on its own without explicit instruction. This has just been the convention in pinball programming since the dawn of the solid state era pretty much when state became possible. On an EM game since you have no state you don’t really have this ability because there’s no memory. Any SS game could do the same by adding a simple line such as
if (outlaneSwitchPressed)
but instead they add more code to help with what are much more common problems -> slings randomly firing while ball is in the shooter lane, faulty targets dropping or not resetting, phantom spinner hits, etc.

To humans with vision and ideas you can establish a concept of a ball being “in play” and “not in play” or “on the playfield” and “not on the playfield” but a computer has no way to make this distinction itself.

While this is known to designers I have 0 evidence that this is the intended design at any point. I do not believe any game designer has hoped that the player can put the ball in play, on a flipper, and then drop the ball into the drain, only to get it back. I believe I have evidence to back this up because OF the design of Ghostbusters, Game of Thrones, Sopranos, etc. Sopranos is a GREAT comparison because it demonstrates the exact same thing: A player choosing when to validate the playfield. There is 0 difference between what I do on Sopranos when I drop the ball into the drain after it hits a sling and what I do on Ghostbusters when I drop the ball into the drain because I hit an inlane. The only difference is that Sopranos lets me start multiball before my playfield is “valid.” In theory, on any solid state game with a number of switch hits greater than 1 to validate the playfield it’s possible to get an infinite score without being in any danger of losing the ball if you can always hit 1 scoring switch and then drain. So typically to avoid this from being exploited by a player like Cayle a designer will either a) make it nearly impossible to put the ball in play without htting enough switches to validate the playfield (aka the ol’ spinner in the plunge lane trick, or on wrestlemania the switches and gate in the lane trick) or b) de-incentivize the player from doing so. To claim that the designer intends to make this a valuable skill shot strategy if not the best skill shot strategy you also would have had to claim that the designer intended to allow players to start their game on GoT by maxing the pf multiplier at 5x by skillfully draining. The correction of that in the later code show that that was perhaps not intended!

I don’t see how you can claim that Sopranos requires different knowledge somehow than Ghostbusters. Both require the same knowledge that the game only goes into a “valid” state when a certain number of switches are pressed. Both also require knowledge that this number gets incremented after a certain point (such as ball leaving trough or plunge lane) and can be reset (by ball entering the trough or shooter lane)

In all these situations where you plunge from the right-hand side into a shot that is also a loop, the switch that registers the loop is also used to validate the playfield and is often set very close to where a ball would land when plunged into play, but it’s not perfect. You could use a second switch but that would be redundant for all other features on the table. You could also lower the switch but that would wind up with more shots registering as completed loop shots when they in fact did not complete the loop. It’s a compromise in design that only really has significant implications to .001% of all people playing a pinball machine.


So trying to understand your argument I believe the difference seems to be that the skill shot requires a 'shot" and is labeled as a skill shot? Where as on Sopranos the boat shot is not a skill shot.


Anytime the optimal play is to plunge the ball as short as possible, I think the game is badly designed. To do so requires patience, but not skill, especially if the margin is tight. The bit after–getting it on a flipper without hitting a switch or whatever, fine.

But the endless fiddling on whitewater and the various sterns mentioned drives me nuts. Unlimited retries is boring and is basically a tax on player’s enjoyment to do the ‘required’ thing.


I think the issue with the GB skill shot is not that it’s difficult but that the best strategy is to soft plunge…

Not always. If I start a ball with 57 ghosts in the bank, I’m going for the middle lane to light 2X and 3X. Only three ghosts left means not enough time to light the multipliers from the captive ball. Too easy to get ghosts unintentionally.

Granted, the majority of the time short plunging is the desired strategy. But that’s just the start. You can validate the playfield and start features without canceling the skill shots. That’s huge. Especially when you consider that the lower skill shots award 10% of your score. 6X x 10% of your score skill shots are possible. I, for one, like the skill shots on GB.


I think you missed my point: The gripe I thought you had expressed was that GB encouraged short-plunging (which it does!). And I completely disagree that encouraging a short plunge as a valid option is bad design. Whether a player chooses to dump the ball due to not having the playfield valid isn’t the primary point of short-plunging in this case. The primary reason for short plunging is so that you have a chance to shoot an announced, clear, select-able, and valuable skill shot that you make from the flippers.


Great show.

Pretty confusing, as Ron sounds like Josh Sharpe at times.

Why do you need an extra button in order to have player controlled kickback? You don’t really now a days, do you.

How can you guys hate on Bally 6803 platform when compared to -35? I don’t get it. BTW, the tally is 80 CPU lights. 2x40 matrix.

No. 14 - “Not so so”.


Warning too long post by a ghostbusters fan boy.

I am late to the party, and felt I couldn’t comment until I actually listened to the podcast. Also, Snailman has probably expressed a better argument than I will, but defending ghostbusters is my new favourite hobby.

I think the GB skillshot could be the greatest skillshot in ball. There I said it. I think it has ridiculous risk reward. 2 of the lane rewards are certainly worth going for (light multipliers and 5X). If I am running a lot of ghosts, or have a hold bonus from previous ball I take the 5x. I don’t fear qualifying a mode from slimmer if ghost is already full.

About short plunging. On many ghostbusters, I plunge around because I have an easier time getting control that way. If I am not choosing right orbit skill shot, the risk is too high that I will over plunge and hit then lane switch. On mine, and the location game and almost full plunge will give a perfect bounce to a craddle on the left. The location one is also an easy catch on the left, but I still have the Trudeau droop. Maybe I am just bad at plunging.

When you talk about being in jail if you miss, I think GB mode start is way safe than TWD. Sure you are disadvantaged if you miss the mode start skill shot, but it is not like you should just drain. I also find the game makes me change my strategy while I am playing a lot. Choosing my modes strategically, choosing to collect ghosts when the opportunity comes up. Choosing to avoid video mode in competition mode to build the value.

The game is not perfect. The multiballs (especially WCWS and MH) need work. The geometry is certainly not perfect (air balls and SDTM). And scoring is maybe unbalanced. But I love this game as it is today. Yes I am a huge fan boy who played with the toys, watched the movie on vhs and watched the cartoon as a kid. But theme aside, I think the layout is something special. I get a lot of people don’t agree, but I think that might be part of what makes it special.

One last thing. Play the came in competition mode. You will see many fewer people crushing the game without knowing it. You need to earn your ghosts. You need to earn your playfield multipliers, you need to earn your locks.


Episode 11 - Gettin’ Floaty With It

-The Search for More Money
-Pinball News
-Tournament Weekend
-Pinball as a Flotation Device
-12 Levels of Good, 12 Levels of Suck
-Liquid Dookie
-Games to Like, Games to Hate
-The Fingerlakes Open
-Bruce Still Needs a Name

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Episode 12 - Apologies are in Order

-A New Era Begins
-It Hits the Fan
-Pinball Escape Artist
-Expo’s Gonna be Crazy
-Arcade Expo, Flight Change Needed!!
-Who Ya Gonna Call?
-Games to Like, Games to Hate
-Features We’d Like to See
-Batman 66
-Upcoming Events

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