Pinball Terms

Welcome!  In this section I will attempt to list some of the different terminology that is used in Visual Pinball and PinMame.  I will also tell what the terms mean.  Think of it as a good guide for beginners to Visual Pinball.

Auto Plunger - This is when the ball is shot out instead of using a traditional plunger.  You do not have any control on how fast or powerful the ball is shot out.  This is found on some newer tables.

Backglass - The glass that displays the name of the pinball machine is the backglass.  It also usually has the score.  In Visual Pinball, the backglass is usually used to fill the space on the sides of the pinball table.  It looks alot better than blank space.

Bumper - They are usually mushroom shaped and when a ball hits one, they repel the ball and usually score some points.  These will usually have decoration on them that is themed to the table. 

DMD - This is short for Dot Matrix Display.  It is the digital looking display that shows score and has animations that are found in newer pinball tables.

Drain - Where your ball goes when you lose it, as in down the drain.  Also a term used for losing a ball (drained another ball).

Flipper - These are the two devices (sometimes more) that you use to hit the ball around the playfield. 

Flipperless - These are a group of tables that for the most part, do not use flippers.  As strange as it sounds to have pinball without flippers, some can be quite fun.

Fonts - Just like a word processor, fonts are the way the text is displayed.  It usually involves the scoring but can also be used for the table name and any other text.  Fonts need to be placed in the script folder (and I found that sometimes they also need to be placed in the table folder as well) for the program to find them. 

Front End - This is a program that helps keep track of all your tables.  It puts them all on one easy to view page where you can see screenshots, read the rules and more.  There are currently two front ends for Visual Pinball;  VPMan and VPLauncher.

Kickback - This is a device that shoots the ball back onto the playfield instead of letting to go down the drain.  They are usually set up as a result of hitting certain targets or completing a certain task. 

MP3 - This is the music or sound file that you hear with the table.  While these can be saved in other formats, MP3 is the most universal one and easiest to find.  By the way, MP3 stands for MPEG 1, Layer 3. 

Multi-ball - As the name would suggest, it is when there are more than one pinball on the screen at one time.  It is usually a bonus that is given for hitting certain targets or other objectives.  Most of the time it is between three and five multi-balls at once.

Original Table - Unlike recreations, this is a table that was created from scratch by the author.  They created the table layout, added the background picture, added sound effects and the rest of what goes into a table.

Playfield - This is the area that you move the ball around on.  It is the actual table that has all the bumpers, ramps and stuff placed on it.

Plunger - This is the device that is pulled back and then let go to shoot the ball onto the playfield.  By pulling farther you can put more pressure on the ball and control where you shoot it.  Some newer tables feature auto plungers.

Ramps - Just as the name would suggest, this is an incline that takes the ball up to another level or around the table in a tunnel or similar piece.

Recreation - Unlike original tables, these are where an author attempts to duplicate a real table. 

Replay - This is where you win a free game of pinball for achieving a certain score or completing a certain task.  Also in newer tables, this could be achieved by matching numbers, usually the last two numbers of your score with two random numbers.

Roms - These are the animations that are found on Pinmame.  These are the actual programs that are downloaded from the pinball table.

Scripts - See fonts.

Spinner - Usually a metal plate with some decoration on it that spins when the ball goes underneath it.  Points are usually awarded for each successive revolution of the spinner.

Tilt - When a pinball machine is shaken too much, it tilts.  This was put in to keep people from damaging the pinball tables as well as to not be able and keep the ball in play indefinitely.  When a player tilts a machine, they lose their current ball.

Visual Pinball - This is the program, created by Randy Davis, that allows a person to create their own pinball table and play them.  All the tables you read about here were made with Visual Pinball.

VPinMame (also called Visual PinMame) - This is the combination of Visual Pinball and PinMame.  It combines the table physics of Visual Pinball with the Dot Matrix Display of PinMame.

Zip File - All the files you find on the net are zipped.  This is where you take all the parts of a program and zip it into a smaller file that makes it easier to download.  Then you unzip it and you have all the components.  You will need a utility like Winzip to unzip these programs.

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