We build ourselves - another - game machine!
Since 2017, we have been taking our self-built game machine to many trade fairs. There it serves very successfully as an icebreaker and casual conversation starter. But as is often the case with good things, there is always room for improvement. For this reason, our colleague Philipp presents the story of the creation of our second gaming machine in this blog article. He built it himself, from the first sketch to the finished machine, and can therefore report first-hand.
"At the beginning of 2019, we came up with the idea of building a new, more stable gaming machine for two players. With the first machine, we always had to take a keyboard with us to allow players to sign in to the high score list. The keyboard had to be handed over and that was impractical. Another criticism of the small machine was that at the fairs we had to find a place for the computer and the cabling was difficult, depending on the fair.
So the initial requirement was this: build a stable 2-player gaming machine that could comfortably provide a keyboard (and a mouse). Another bonus would be the possibility to install a laptop directly in the vending machine.
So instead of building a "half" vending machine, this time I wanted to develop one that was completely functional on its own. The shape should correspond to the classic shape of the vending machines from the 80s.
At the beginning of every project like this it is important to make a plan how the whole thing should look like in the end. Concrete considerations were to build in a drawer that can be opened by simply pressing the button, which contains the keyboard and mouse, and to build the vending machine out of two parts that can be transported separately. The following plan emerged from these considerations.
In the next step I had to decide how the machine would look like assembled. For this purpose, I built a full-size model out of cardboard. Based on this cardboard model, I then tried to cut out the outer, rounded shape as accurately as possible from two wooden boards using various devices.
In this rough form, the drawer, the holes for the control board (on which the buttons and joysticks were to be mounted at the end), the base at the bottom, the two shelves, and the back panel, which was to consist of two doors, were still missing. Also, the frame here is still one piece and not separable in the middle. I wanted to do that later, when I had determined the exact dimensions of the monitor and thus the exact position of the drawer.
But to keep the frame stable even without the missing parts, I glued it directly.
With our first vending machine, I noticed over time that the edges were particularly suffering. Therefore, I wanted to provide these with a protective edge made of plastic for the new vending machine. To do this, I had to cut a joint, or groove, into the two side panels, which works with a disc groove cutter.
Next, I built a wooden structure into the vending machine as a suspension for the monitor, to which I bolted the monitor. It was important to me that I could put a glass pane in front of the monitor. I sprayed this with black paint so that only one window, which corresponded to the screen area of the monitor, remained transparent.
After that, it was all about the drawer. The construction of the drawer was surprisingly simple: the fascia in front, a board for the bottom, and a finishing board in the back. Then, once the drawer was in place, I had the height specifications and knew where to make the cut to separate the top and bottom halves. Now I could also attach the protective edges and glue them right in place.
Another important part of the slot machine was the control board. For this, I clamped a board between two pressboards so that the actual control board would not fray when I drilled through it, and then drilled the appropriate holes.
Only a few details were missing for the finished wooden construction: The three floor panels - a floor for the upper part, a floor for the lower part and a "lid" for the lower part for stabilization - and the two rear doors still had to be installed.
So that the upper part can be stably connected to the lower part, case clamps were mounted on both sides. And with that, the wooden frame in plain white was then finished!
Compared to all the work on the frame, attaching the electronics for the vending machine was relatively quick. I ordered the knobs and sticks online. Then I just screwed them in, wired them up, fixed the cables with duct tape and hot glue gun and I was done.
Finally, there was a foil to cover the outside of the vending machine. Attaching this was more difficult than expected. First, I applied the FaktorZehn logo to the front and the foil to the control board. For the rest of the foils, I needed help from another person because of the large areas involved. But together, that also worked out very well.
However, the new machine has one drawback - it is quite heavy. Transporting it to different trade shows will be difficult or even impossible given its weight, because even when disassembled into its two parts, the upper part can only be carried by two people and the lower part is so large that it is at least easier for two people to carry it. In addition, the film will probably not survive frequent assembly and disassembly without damage.
Maybe we'll optimize that in a third game machine someday ;-)"
"I am Philipp Bouillon and have "always" been interested in computers and programming. The Commodore C-128 was the first computer in our family in 1985 and on it I learned the basics of programming. Since 2012 I've been working as a software developer and consultant for Factor Ten and programming computer games on the side as a hobby. In 2015, I brought Alite for Android smartphones to the Playstore, which is a remake of the classic game Elite from the 80s. After that, I got into the Unity game engine and wrote some smaller games, including for Factor Ten. In July 2020, I released MagnetoBotty, my first game for Steam.
One day there was a brainstorming in the Faktor Zehn about how we can get more attention at fairs for potential new employees and after a short time we came up with the idea to build our own game machine. That's how the first small machine came about. But it still had room for improvement, which is why I've now built the second, much larger gaming machine."
We are already looking forward to when our colleagues can play together on this one. :-)
Your Faktor Zehn team