Visual Pinball

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Visual Pinball
Visual Pinball rendition of Bally's Fireball (1972)
Developer(s) Randy Davis
Stable release 10.0.0 / December 24, 2015 (2015-12-24)
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Pinball
License MAME like license (Source-available)

Visual Pinball is a freeware video game engine for pinball tables and similar games such as pachinko machines. The software is composed of an editor and the simulator part itself. It runs on Microsoft Windows. The program is also able to operate with Visual PinMAME, an emulator for ROM images from real pinball machines.

A huge variety of user-created Visual Pinball tables is available on the internet. Players can choose between faithful recreations of existing pinball machines with or without ROM emulation and original pinball simulations based on licensed themes or completely self-designed tables.

In February 2010, the source code of Visual Pinball was released under a MAME-like license that allows free use for non-commercial purposes.[1]


Every Visual Pinball table includes two main parts: the "physical" playfield design and the script which controls the table gameplay. The editor uses Microsoft VBScript for user programming. The game itself is written in C++ with the Active Template Library for making ActiveX controls.[2] Visual Pinball runs on Windows 98 or newer.


Visual Pinball was first released to the public on December 19, 2000 by programmer Randy Davis.

In 2005, David R. Foley purchased the rights from Davis for modification of the suite for a full-sized pinball cabinet based on the Visual Pinball software.[3] Chicago Gaming purchased rights for licensed tables from Williams Electronics. The Visual PinMAME team and the Visual Pinball development community also joined in the effort to produce improvements to the suite product and a few tables. This project, known as UltraPin, was acquired by Global VR following the acquisition of certain assets UltraCade,[4] and was discontinued in 2008.

In 2008, NanoTech Entertainment acquired the rights from Davis for the use & distribution of the engine for inclusion with its Pinball Wizard PC Controller. NanoTech also released Version 9 of the engine featuring many updates that had been developed between 2005 and 2008. Version 9 of Visual Pinball includes some major improvements but not full backward compatibility therefore some older tables still need version 8 to run properly.

In 2010, the source code of Visual Pinball was released.

Visual Pinball X with improved physic and graphic engine and new functions was released on December 24, 2015.

Visual PinMAME

Visual PinMAME
Visual PinMAME rendition of Capcom's Flipper Football DMD
Developer(s) Steve Ellenoff, Tom Haukap, Martin Adrian, and Gerrit Volkenborn
Stable release 2.5 / June 6, 2012 (2012-06-06)
Operating system Microsoft Windows
Type Pinball
License MAME like license (Freeware)

Modern pinball machines (especially those made after 1992 and using DMD animations) usually require the Visual PinMAME (sometimes referred to as VPinMAME or VPM) program in order to work. VPinMAME adds to Visual Pinball's system requirements and, like other emulators, uses image files of the actual ROMs from the physical pinball machines, executing them as simulations of the embedded CPUs, sound chips, and displays from the physical machines.

Visual PinMAME is a program (a COM class) that works in combination with Visual Pinball (or any other program that can make use of the COM class, e.g. Unit3D Pinball[5] or Pinball Labs [6]) that allows for 3D renderings of actual pinball table designs. Specifically, Visual PinMAME is for emulating CPUs and the connected ROMs used in modern pinball tables, as opposed to tables with solid-state electronics/electro-mechanical mechanisms that contain no ROMs or advanced ICs in their hardware design. Visual PinMAME displays the LEDs or DMD of the machines in a separate window and also delivers emulation of the integrated sound chips. In order for Visual PinMAME to work properly with a rendered pinball table, it requires that table's ROM images. Without VPinMAME, Visual Pinball can be used to make original pinball and pinball-like games (such as pitch-and-bat baseball, pinball bingo, and pachinko).

Visual PinMAME was written by the team of programmers including Steve Ellenoff, Tom Haukap, Martin Adrian, and Gerrit Volkenborn and was started March 30, 2001. The program is named after the original MAME program for emulating arcade games. Visual PinMAME runs on top of the PinMAME software engine which again uses some parts of the MAME core. Visual PinMAME is written in C++ programming language.

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