Redo Results When Map is Moved

We added a new website feature: Redo Results When Map is Moved.

To use it, perform a search. When the result loads, you’ll see this checkbox in the upper left of the map:
redo checkbox

When checked: if you move or zoom the map, then the results will reload, showing all the locations within the map window. This is similar to Yelp’s “redo results when map is moved” function. Now you can more easily browse around an area to find pinball machines. You won’t have to do new searches; you can just zoom around!

We made a quick video showing how it works:

  • Posted on April 28, 2017
  • Tagged news, tech

Update Location Metadata - Show Closest Locations

New website features:

1) Users can now edit some location metadata fields:

- Operator
- Location Type
- Phone Number
- Website

To edit them, lookup a location then click “click to update location metadata”.

Both Operator and Location Type are from dropdowns. So if you want to assign an operator that isn’t currently listed, then you should use the contact form and request to have that op added.

The Website field currently only accepts values that start with http:// – But we’ll soon have it also accepting https://

The Phone Number field only accepts this format: 000-000-0000. And we haven’t added error messages yet! So, if you type in (000) 000-0000 you’ll be silently rejected.

2) Regional maps now include a “Show Closest Locations” button! When clicked, it will display all locations within a 5 mile radius.

This button is in the header.

The results even show how far each spot is from you!

We’ll be adding in more geolocation-based features to the website soon.

  • Posted on October 19, 2015
  • Tagged news, tech

Feedback About Regional Map Model

When we first launched this site back in 2008, it was the Portland Pinball Map. Then people in other cities wanted to use our interface+app, so we created separate maps for them. We figured that distinct maps would encourage locals to “own” their map and keep it up to date. And distinct maps would help contain the data, so that admins would have a better chance of verifying the validity of data. And users would have a higher chance of updating the data, given that the regions were centered around populated areas with active pinball scenes. Plus, we didn’t want to attempt to map every machine in the entire country. That had been done before, and it resulted in many locations in far off areas that are never updated.

We refer to each map as a “region.” But what is a region? Where does it end? The Portland, Oregon map extends across the river to Vancouver, and all the way to the coast. This map includes all the pinball machines in Portland, but also all (or most) of them in 30 other cities. The edge of the Portland map is fuzzy. We don’t know where it ends – it’s a judgment call.

Now there are 65 regions on the site, which means 65 judgment calls. Which means site users are sometimes confused. For example: We used to have a Milwaukee region. But it grew to cover the entire state. Users from Madison would contact us asking for coverage in their city. They didn’t realize (understandably) that Madison was tucked within the Milwaukee map. So we changed the name of the region to Wisconsin to more accurately reflect the contents.

Regions are sometimes defined as cities, sometimes states, and sometimes… regions. But most of them turn into the same thing: amorphous blobs with no definable edge. And it’s the people who turn them into this. So we’re trying to figure out if each map’s value as a curated, regional map has been surpassed by peoples’ desire to cover everything.

So please take this survey! And leave a comment if you have a comment. We want the data to be valuable and accessible. There are upsides and downsides to both the regional model and the open map model.

Survey is closed as of November 17, 2015! We’ll make a post about the results soon!

  • Posted on October 09, 2015
  • Tagged tech

Pinball Map Pebble App

POP QUIZ. Do you know what’s easier than pulling out your phone to find nearby pinball machines? Bzzzt! Time’s up. The answer is glancing at your wrist. Glancing at your wrist is easier.

Pebble makes a cool smart watch with a long battery and a simple interface. So we made a Pinball Map Pebble App.

Here’s what it shows you:

  • The closest locations with pinball machines
  • Recent updates to the map
  • Upcoming pinball events in your area

Nice and simple! Here are some screenshots:

Now you can have the Pinball Map app in the palm of your… wrist.

UPDATE: @FamilyFunArcade just made this amazing graphic of the Pinball Map Pebble app in action, and we have to share it:

Yes, there are downsides to this app: Dick Tracy might miss out on catching some baddies because he’s too busy playing pinball. Are we okay with that?? We are!

New Format for Machine Condition Comments

As we mentioned in the last post, we’ve updated the format of machine comments. We said, “Instead of each machine allowing just one comment that users can edit and edit with no punctuation until it turns into nonsense, each comment will now stand on its own.”

What do we mean by unpunctuated nonsense? We mean this:

and this

Why are those so hard to read? Well, that’s partially our fault. When a user edits a comment, the previous comment sits there in the textbox. So they add their new comment on top of the old one (before it, or after it, or in the middle of it – whatever’s easiest!).

This is bad because the comments you leave about machines are really valuable! People use them to figure out where to play. Do you want to ride your bicycle five miles to play a crappy Earthshaker? No, nobody does. And now you don’t have to. The comments are not only useful to other humans, they’re also useful to operators (har har). Operators can check them out to see what’s broken. And they do!

So now it looks like this (screenshot from the website):

Pretend those don’t all have the same date on them, but are a succession of comments left over time (oldest on bottom). With this format, you can see the condition history of a machine in a simple, readable format. The current comment is on the top, and the others are below.

You can’t edit your comments anymore. When you activate the textbox to add a new comment, the previous comment clears out. But you can remove old ones (power to the people)! And we’ll only display the most recent ones.

At the moment this feature is only on the website. The apps will catch up. Oh, and about the next iOS app update: it will come out really soon. It re-adds machine comments into the location info view (as mentioned in the last post), and adds back the date of the last comment (we accidentally removed that), and more. We’ll post more details about it when it comes out.

  • Posted on February 09, 2015
  • Tagged tech