Interview with Ravarcade - Plans for BAM

Fearful Asymmetry in the  Bamtastical World of Ravarcade- An interview with the author of BAM 

 

"What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy fearful symmetry?"

from William Blake's poem "The Tyger"

After years away from the virtual pinball scene, I went online to download a few tables and perhaps update the software, to find, not just Visual Pinball, but Future Pinball ( and Unity and FX2 etc…) .  Over the years , a grassroots   community has burgeoned with numerous forums on sites such as vpforums, irpinball, Pinsim, GoPinball, Pinball Nirvana etc… Amazing original tables and recreations have been artistically realized by very talented people.  Youtube videos floored me with their 3d realism, "Arcade Mode", photorealistic graphics and surround sound. People are building Pinball Cabinets with dual monitors and LEDs and Coin Doors.  Many such videos tout a Future Pinball Mod named "BAM" as the source of 3d fun , which implements head tracking from numerous cameras (simple web cams, , PS3 Eyes, WiiMotes and Kinect,) and also incorporates 3d (Anaglyph , Passive, Active Shutter etc..).  And the results are amazing to say the least.

 

With minimal fanfare the Future Pinball Mod   "BAM" (Better Arcade Mode) broke onto the scene March 25 ,2013 with the following announcement:  "Hi! My name is Rafal Janicki (AKA Ravarcade) . After 3 months work, I made BAM.  BAM is Future Pinball MOD".  For many virtual pinball geeks like me, this understated proclamation, has revolutionized the virtual experience  

(!!! BAM !!! Exclamation marks added by me, because I think it looks cool).   In fact, Future Pinball author Chris Leathely commented on line  "Wow..  I'm the creator of Future Pinball and this is fricking amazing…"

 

Additionally  BAM not only implements 3d realism and  head tracking, but also provides the following:

   •FrontEnd support for PinballX, and Hyperpin.

   •Support for two monitor setup.

  • Scaling of table & backbox. Table is automatically centred and scaled to fill the whole screen.
  • Easy to change the position of the table, camera, lighting and immediately show the changes.
  • No need for registry changes.
  • Automatic read / write changes for selected table (you can have different settings for different tables).
  • Future Pinball internal physics files on the fly replacement.

 

Such a cool Mod of Future Pinball inspired me ask Ravarcade the following questions:

 

 1.  What are your long term goals with BAM ?

 

Ravarcade: " Main goal: popularise "asymmetric frustum" (BAM view/perspective)"

 

Gimli : "Oh, is that all….Say what?   What does that mean, I just want to play pinball…."

So a little Wikipedia :

"In 3D computer graphics, the viewing frustum or pyramid of vision is the region of space in the modelled world that may appear on the screen; it is the field of view of the notional camera.[1]

The exact shape of this region varies depending on what kind of camera lens is being simulated, but typically it is a frustum of a rectangular pyramid (hence the name)."

 

Ravarcade: " Goal 2 :Convince table authors to make better models with advanced features (like normal maps). I think, that FP, VP & Unity Pinball are all parts of the same community. All the models can be shared on all 3 platforms ( in FP now, in UP probably too, in VP in future (VP10?)

 

- FP/BAM is my "playground" to learn and improve pinball simulation.

 

- It is proof, that the "FUTURE IS NOW". People think, that augmented  reality,  and 3d glasses are something, that will be in the future. It is not true. BAM/FP uses 5-10 years old hardware true and the Math/software are older but now in a room with 4 walls/displays, we  can  create something like StarTrek's holodeck."

 

Gimli :"Cool, I could play virtual pinball on Mars…."

 

2.. Are you considering implementing !!! BAM !!! in Visual Pinball? (There seems to be a

rumour to this effect)

 

Ravarcade  "Yes and no. "

 

Gimli:  "How cryptic"

 

Ravarcade: "No, I will not work directly on VP. VP already has better programmers  than me

... and Yes because  VP10 will use "asymmetric frustum". From this it is only small step needed to have  a BAM-like-experience.

I plan to convert BAM to  a "head-tracker" plugin  like FreeTrack. BAM will work independent of FP and could serve player coords to other programs.

This way VP can use head-tracking without worrying about all the hardware/software.

In this way it should work with UP (only if authors want).

 

…also Randr has already made 200 PS3Eye BAM-kits. So I have at least 200 users, who bought hardware. I t would be a shame  to leave all those people without support."

 

3.What is your perception about how BAM  is being received? 

Ravarcade: "After every release, I hope, that it will work without errors. Every time , I'm disappointed. It is frustrating. 

On the other hand, I'm surprised that BAM works so well for so many users. From my perspective BAM has more users than I expected.

Now my biggest concern: lack of negative response from users/bug reports. Once ,I got info about a bug that was several months old."

 

4. Do you need assistance from the community in any way?

Ravarcade: "You are doing  it. " 

 

5. Would user surveys help with further development?

Ravarcade: "Every bug report is useful. With every bug fixed BAM is better. With every new feature request,  BAM evolves into something much more that I expected.

Thanks to users,  I have learned a lot. It is great motivation to work.

This is a first week story: First request from HappyCab - add small camera sway effect. My first thought:

"Stupid idea. It will not do anything good" ... but I couldn't  say that to the first people asking for something. So I did the best I could: "happycab mode".

I did a test - hmmm ... it worked . The response from first few people - it worked  and was a  good thing. Damn.  So It was  good to learn at the beginning, that my opinion/Point of view may be wrong. So next time, when someone asked  - I shut up and did my best , with success a few times."

 

6. Do you want me to add other youtube videos that highlight and promote "BAM" ? There are quite a few that are very impressive.

Ravarcade -" If you have time and want to do this, I'm ok with this. I did not do  this to save time as I would need to ask the authors first."

 

Gimli hopes: "Perhaps people with youtube videos highlighting BAM can message me their approval……:)"

 

7. Do you want to include a bio about who you are on your website? 

Ravarcade: "I don't plan to put my bio on site. I'm not professional programmer. It is only my hobby (for over 25 years). I am not seeking a  job as programmer."

 

 

 

8. Would you like a gentle reminder to consider a donation ?

Ravarcade: "No. BAM for me is not a way to make money. I have more to learn . That's why I never ask for or remind about donation."

 

Gimli: "I love the generous spirit of the virtual pinball community…but for those so inclined there is a donate button on Bam Ravarcade site  :)"

 

So in conclusion don't be frustrated by your ""asymmetric frustum" .  Instead embrace it and who knows what Virtual Pinball will become!

I believe Randr is already taking orders for "Holodecks"…..  :)

 

Cheers!   Here's to Ravarcade and all the software developers , table creators and the whole pinball community!!    !!! BAM!!!

 

Gimli