April 2012 Update: Iain’s cracked the play-without-playfield-texture-or-don’t-play-at-all issue; the trick is to use PlayOnLinux, which forces use of Wine 1.2.2 for FP! See details in the comment here!
I used to play Visual Pinball back in the day on Windows, and when combined with PinMAME for the ROM side of things it was awesome! But when I moved to Linux the PC gaming basically stopped. However, the other day I picked up Williams Pinball Classics for the 360 – and it’s absolutely brilliant! So this got me thinking about whether Future Pinball (the newer incarnation of Visual Pinball) can run in Linux – and with some tweaking, it can!
Without the tweaks you’re likely to get two specific problems:
- You can’t start a game (the table loads, lights flash, you can nudge the table and change the camera angles but the game just won’t start), and
- There’s no sound.
The good news is that both of these can be fixed with a little bit of tweaking! The bad news is that unless you have a videocard with a lot of VRAM (I’m going to guess 1024MB minimum, as the issue occurs on my 512MB card under Gnome Shell) then tables which you download (but strangely not the Sci-Fi table that comes with FP) are likely to be missing the larger textures such as playfields. This is pretty odd as I can fire up FP in a XP virtual machine with 128MB of video RAM allocated (with far less performance, FPS-wise) and the textures will display without issue – they just don’t like to appear through Wine! So if this is a deal-breaker for you then you might be better off trying Future Pinball under an XP virtual machine, or calling the whole thing off. But if you want to get Future Pinball working in Linux, then we can make it happen…
Note: Wine automatically guesses the availble video RAM on your graphics card, and I’ve got to say, I have no idea if its guess is accurate. I took a look at the Wine useful registry keys and I don’t even have the direct3d key to modify the video RAM settings (because installing DirectX in Wine is considered bad-form, apparently), so I’ve no idea how to tell wine to allocate a reasonable amount of video RAM. Perhaps this will change in the future.
Step 1 – Installing Wine
To play Future Pinball you’re going to need a copy of the Wine (Wine Is Not an Emulator) “emulator”, which you can grab from your distro repositories or from WineHQ directly. So either run the following (or your distro’s equivilent package installing command) or grab it from synaptic package manager or such:
sudo apt-get install wine
Once it’s installed, if winecfg doesn’t automatically run, launch it yourself with the command (don’t sudo this!):
Then, get it to autodetect your drives by going to the Drives tab and clicking on, you guessed it, [Autodetect], like this:
Once that’s done, click [OK] to close down Wine Configuration. By default, Wine creates a hidden folder called .wine in your home directory where it places its files, including the folder that acts as your C: drive in the folder ~/.wine/drive_c.
Step 2 – Install Future Pinball through Wine
Now we need to go and grab the Future Pinball installer from here: http://www.futurepinball.com/download.html. At the time of writing the most recent version is: FuturePinballSetup_v184.108.40.20601231.exe. Although this ships with a few demo tables (very, very barebones) you’ll want at least one table to play, so snag a copy of the Sci-Fi Table installer as well from here: http://www.futurepinball.com/downloads/Sci-Fi%20Classic.exe.
Once these are downloaded, navigate to the directory you downloaded them to from the commandline and run:
Accept the licence, click Next/Next/Finish etc. and that’s done. Future Pinball will now be installed in ~/.wine/drive_c/Games/Future Pinball.
Now install the the Sci-Fi table by running:
wine ./Sci-Fi\ Classic.exe
You’ll want to change the installation directory from the default of C:\Program Files\Future Pinball to C:\Games\Future Pinball during the install wizard for this. Don’t bother creating a Tables folder though, as the table itself contains a top-level Tables folder – so just pointing it at C:\Games\Future Pinball will be fine.
Step 3 – Configuration and Tweaking
By default, Wine will attempt to run things as Windows XP (as opposed to 2000, or ME, or Vista or 7 etc). This is fine, but as things stand we’re still not going to be able to play any pinball just yet because Future Pinball itself wants to run as Administrator when running in Windows… but we don’t have a Windows Administrator account (in fact, this same issue appears when running FP in Windows natively – if you don’t “Run As Administrator” it, you can’t start a game) – and unfortunately no, sudo won’t cut it ;) So next we need to workaround this by adding a dll and telling Wine to prefer it.
To do this, download the file: oleaut32.dll and place it in your ~/.wine/drive_c/Games/Future\ Pinball/ folder, then run winecfg again. This time you should see “Future Pinball.exe” in the applications pane of the Applications tab – so click on it to select it:
Now click on the Libraries tab, then on the New Overide for Library dropdown. Find the listing for the file oleaut32, click on it then click [Add] (you can leave the default settings as “native, builtin”. With that done, you should see something like this:
With the new DLL taking precedence over the Wine built-in we’ll be able to start a game of pinball, so just hit [OK] to save and close the Wine configuration settings and we’re ready to get our flippers on =D
Step 4 – Launch without PulseAudio
Wine doesn’t natively support PulseAudio, although it’s fine with Alsa. So to play with sound we’ll need to bypass PulseAudio with the pasuspender util. To do this, all we have to do is launch Future Pinball like this:
pasuspender wine ~/.wine/drive_c/Games/Future\ Pinball/Future\ Pinball.exe
With that done, just press F4 to bring up the table selection window and you should see something like this:
Now click on [Load and Play Table] and we’re good to go.
Step 5 – Play a Mean Pinball
Future Pinball is like an arcade emulator, so you have to “insert a coin” before you can play. The main keys are:
- 5/6/7/8 – Insert coin for player 1/2/3/4 respectively
- 1/2/3/4 – Start 1/2/3/4 player game
- Enter – Launch ball (i.e. shoot ball w/ plunger to start game)
- Left/Right shift – Left/Right flippers
- Space – Nudge table
- F1-F8 – Different camera views
- F9 – show stats (fps etc.)
So to start a single player game you might press 5 to insert a coin, 1 to start a 1 player game, then Enter to launch the ball – and you’re off! This isn’t my video, and it’s prolly not running on Linux, but this is the kind of stuff FP is capable of:
6 – Cleaning up
FP doesn’t close down cleanly in Wine, so you have to assist it with a bit o’ the old kill -9 ;)
Update: FP will close down properly on Wine 1.5 onwards, so you won’t need to perform these steps. When I originally wrote this I was using Wine 1.3.something.
To find the process ID (PID) run:
r3dux@r3d-laptop:~$ ps -ef | grep wine r3dux 11553 2721 0 09:38 pts/0 00:00:00 pasuspender wine /home/r3dux/.wine/drive_c/Games/Future Pinball/Future Pinball.exe r3dux 11554 11553 51 09:38 pts/0 00:03:40 /home/r3dux/.wine/drive_c/Games/Future Pinball/Future Pinball.exe r3dux 11557 1 0 09:38 ? 00:00:02 /usr/bin/wineserver r3dux 11563 11561 0 09:38 ? 00:00:00 C:\windows\system32\winedevice.exe MountMgr r3dux 11661 2721 0 09:45 pts/0 00:00:00 grep wine
Then to kill the pasuspender/Wine process, enter:
sudo kill -9 <PID-of-pasuspender-process>
So in the above, I’d run:
sudo kill -9 11553
This will get rid of all wine processes so that after a few seconds when you run ps -ef | grep wine you only see this:
r3dux@r3d-laptop:~$ ps -ef | grep wine r3dux 11669 2721 0 09:47 pts/0 00:00:00 grep wine
And on the off-chance that pulseaudio stops working, just run the following and it’ll restart for you:
Many thanks to Christopher Leatherly and everyone who had a hand in Future Pinball for its existence, to Mahen for his posts on the WineHQ Future Pinball entry for the fixes needed to get everything running, and to everyone who’s worked on Wine =D
Final Technical Notes
I did try to install FP through the fpwine FP installer script, but it’s legacy because some of the wine options called are deprecated, so I found a modification of the script on ubuntuforums-fr.org, which with suitable tweaking (DCOM98.EXE would throw a fit on install) would install FP into its own ~/.fpwine “shell” but although that added overrides for the oleaut32.dll, ole32.dll, rsaenh.dll and crypt.dll, I still couldn’t get all the textures working in downloaded tables (which would work fine in an XP virtual machine). If I could specify how much VRAM I had to Wine, I think the issue would be solved.
Also, a workaround to minimise VRAM is to disable loading the textures into the editor (available in FP from Preferences | Editor Options…) – but at least for me, it doesn’t minimise VRAM usage enough. And if you’re trying to minimise VRAM and get textures working you’ll probably want to enable non-power-of-2 textures (Preferences | Video / Rendering Options…), try starting tables off at minimum detail settings (i.e. no High Quality textures), and re-start Wine/FP between table reloads as alledgedly it leaks memory (including VRAM), which is only going to make things worse each table you load.
Finally, the fpwine script likes to install version 5.6 of VBScript (vbs56men.exe), which I found completely knackered the table scripts, so I’ve found its best to avoid installing it and leave Wine alone with its own VBScript functionality.
I’m -sure- this is all doable somehow… I just haven’t managed to crack it yet, and it might be the case that Wine needs further work before it can be cracked at all.
The Sci-Fi table works perfectly, but it still feels like 4th and inches to get everthing working 100%…