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Starting in Virtual Pinball


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Hi!

I've been using Launchbox for a couple of years now and have had a lot of success setting up many different arcade and console games, I love it!

What I'm unsure about at the moment is how to start setting up pinball games. I'd like to use my X-Arcade Stick because of the side flipper-type

buttons it has. I really enjoy Zen Pinball on the PS4 but I want to set some tables up on my PC, so I'm wondering what programs or emulators would work

best for what I want. It looks like Steam has a lot of options. If anyone has any recommendations I'd really appreciate it!

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I would definitely go with Visual Pinball and Future Pinball, you can find many threads and videos on this forums on how to get them running. Gives you hundreds of tables, originals, recreated, fan made. 

Edited by DeadVoivod
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5 hours ago, DeadVoivod said:

I would definitely go with Visual Pinball and Future Pinball, you can find many threads and videos on this forums on how to get them running. Gives you hundreds of tables, originals, recreated, fan made. 

Awesome thanks, I'll definitely check those out in here!

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@mallaard Steam has Zen Pinball FX3 and occasionally they go on sale by about half price.  If not in rush that is cheapest option since your purchases on PS4 don't carry to Steam/PC. 

Pinball is a bit quirky to install overall and then to get working in LB (and other front ends) versus other emulators.  Like mentioned above by Mallaard, there are variety of threads on these programs in forum.  The main annoyance is you will not get much support for media direct from the LB database.  So high quality media tends to be a bit more time consuming to hunt down versus just letting LB download it for you.  There are fortunately packs here in the forum download section (FX3 full set of media, VP/FP logos) and at other pinball forums.  The big suggestion I have on pinball side, more so for Future Pinball and Visual Pinball is that you start with small set of tables that look interesting to you, get those running and figured out then go from there.  Don't expect to download some mega table FP and VP pack, extract, import, and assume will all work versus say a console emulator setup.  

I would say as far as ease of getting running based on my experience from easiest to hardest:  

  • FX3 - It has installer and getting the base running is easy in Windows since just "works" most times like a normal Windows program.  Works in LB with a specific command line although the LB pause menu does not work.  Otherwise can run in Bigbox or Launchbox once setup.  You will need to get a free "cabinet" code from Zen for this to work best in Launchbox.  This thread goes into detail on command you need for Steam to launch direct into a table:  Setting up Pinball FX3 to launch directly into tables - Noobs - LaunchBox Community Forums (launchbox-app.com)
  • Future Pinball (FP) + BAM - BAM is an additional program that runs as launcher prior to FP and adds additional features that are not in original program.  Many new tables in FP require BAM to run.  Unfortunately, the original FP EXE is no longer updated and closed source so BAM is only real mechanism to "update" anything in the program.  If have a new setup of FP then the easiest to get going is to use the "2 in one installer" of BAM and FP located here.  There is a highly detailed install thread here   For LB, to setup launching there are screen snaps here:  
  • The Pinball Arcade (TPA) - This is probably similar in complexity to FX3 since a for purchase Windows program. But unlike FX3 that has a built in ability of "cabinet" mode you have to run a separate program for TPA to get it to launch directly to table from LB. TPA development also seems to have stalled over last few years as well.  You can easily setup in LB without but it will just open the main TPA program and then you have to scroll to table you want from within TPA.  The TPA FreeCamera Mod gives ability to link directly to table and launch (among other features).  See here:
  • and here Pinball Arcade Guide (New Method) - Troubleshooting - LaunchBox Community Forums (launchbox-app.com)
  • Visual Pinball (VP) - VP works in LB, it is more that getting a base VP setup can be a bit daunting at first since has multiple pieces. The VP software, PinMAME, and depending on what doing may need DMD software.  The all in one installer is best to start with if new install.  There is an excellent Google Docs spreadsheet that gives links to various pieces of VP and updated table links (has some FP as well) here.   I personally stick with the VPX tables to keep things easier.  See LB thread here (among others). 

Edited by sundogak
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On 1/28/2021 at 12:02 PM, sundogak said:

@mallaard Steam has Zen Pinball FX3 and occasionally they go on sale by about half price.  If not in rush that is cheapest option since your purchases on PS4 don't carry to Steam/PC. 

Pinball is a bit quirky to install overall and then to get working in LB (and other front ends) versus other emulators.  Like mentioned above by Mallaard, there are variety of threads on these programs in forum.  The main annoyance is you will not get much support for media direct from the LB database.  So high quality media tends to be a bit more time consuming to hunt down versus just letting LB download it for you.  There are fortunately packs here in the forum download section (FX3 full set of media, VP/FP logos) and at other pinball forums.  The big suggestion I have on pinball side, more so for Future Pinball and Visual Pinball is that you start with small set of tables that look interesting to you, get those running and figured out then go from there.  Don't expect to download some mega table FP and VP pack, extract, import, and assume will all work versus say a console emulator setup.  

I would say as far as ease of getting running based on my experience from easiest to hardest:  

  • FX3 - It has installer and getting the base running is easy in Windows since just "works" most times like a normal Windows program.  Works in LB with a specific command line although the LB pause menu does not work.  Otherwise can run in Bigbox or Launchbox once setup.  You will need to get a free "cabinet" code from Zen for this to work best in Launchbox.  This thread goes into detail on command you need for Steam to launch direct into a table:  Setting up Pinball FX3 to launch directly into tables - Noobs - LaunchBox Community Forums (launchbox-app.com)
  • Future Pinball (FP) + BAM - BAM is an additional program that runs as launcher prior to FP and adds additional features that are not in original program.  Many new tables in FP require BAM to run.  Unfortunately, the original FP EXE is no longer updated and closed source so BAM is only real mechanism to "update" anything in the program.  If have a new setup of FP then the easiest to get going is to use the "2 in one installer" of BAM and FP located here.  There is a highly detailed install thread here   For LB, to setup launching there are screen snaps here:  
  • The Pinball Arcade (TPA) - This is probably similar in complexity to FX3 since a for purchase Windows program. But unlike FX3 that has a built in ability of "cabinet" mode you have to run a separate program for TPA to get it to launch directly to table from LB. TPA development also seems to have stalled over last few years as well.  You can easily setup in LB without but it will just open the main TPA program and then you have to scroll to table you want from within TPA.  The TPA FreeCamera Mod gives ability to link directly to table and launch (among other features).  See here:
  • and here Pinball Arcade Guide (New Method) - Troubleshooting - LaunchBox Community Forums (launchbox-app.com)
  • Visual Pinball (VP) - VP works in LB, it is more that getting a base VP setup can be a bit daunting at first since has multiple pieces. The VP software, PinMAME, and depending on what doing may need DMD software.  The all in one installer is best to start with if new install.  There is an excellent Google Docs spreadsheet that gives links to various pieces of VP and updated table links (has some FP as well) here.   I personally stick with the VPX tables to keep things easier.  See LB thread here (among others). 

Thanks a ton for the detailed information, when I get a chance I’ll definitely start working on this! And you’re right, a big part will just be me trying to figure out what kinds of tables I’d want. 

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