17. Backglass Software Setup
If your pin cab has a separate backglass monitor, you'll want it to
display the appropriate backglass artwork for the current game. And
you'll want this to be more than just a still image, since the
backglass is an active part of many games, showing information on
score, bonus features, etc.
Fortunately, this is well supported in Visual Pinball. VP can display
live, animated backglass artwork that synchronizes with the game
action. VP requires an add-on program called B2S Backglass Server to
do this. B2S works alongside Visual Pinball to display the animated
backglass artwork, simulating the same backglass lighting effects,
score displays, and animated elements that you'd see on a real
machine. B2S is specifically designed for a cabinet setup where you
have a separate monitor for the backglass.
To get all of this working, you have to install the B2S software
itself, and then there are some extra setup steps required for each
table. This chapter explains how to set up the B2S software and
configure tables to use it.
The first step to getting backglasses working is to install the
B2S software itself.
If you installed Visual Pinball using the VP Installer program, B2S
should have been installed automatically as part of the setup process,
so you're already set.
If you didn't use the VP installer (that is, you installed VP manually
from ZIP files or something like that), you'll have to install B2S
separately. To find the download:
- Go to vpforums.org
- Click Getting Started the top navigation bar
- Select Essential Files > Frontends and Addons
- Find "B2S Backglass Server" in the file listing
There might be several versions of B2S Backglass Server in the file
list. I'd recommend picking the one with the highest version number
to make sure you have the latest update. Click the link, which will
take you to the download page. That should contain links for
downloading the file and for installation instructions. Note
that you'll have to create a vpforums account to download a
file, if you don't already have one.
Click the "instructions" link on the download page and follow the
steps. Here's the basic procedure:
- Unzip all of the files from the downloaded B2S ZIP file
into your Visual Pinball\Tables folder.
- Right-click the file B2SBackglassServer.dll. Select Properties from
the menu. Check for a message under the "General" tab saying
something like "This file was downloaded from the Internet and has
been blocked." If you find this, there should be an "Unblock" button.
Click it. If you don't find any such message, no action is required.
- Right-click the application file B2SBackglassServerRegisterApp.exe.
Select Run as administrator from the menu.
- Check the README.TXT file from the downloaded ZIP file for any
additional instructions or notes for the version you downloaded.
Download backglass files
Okay, you've installed B2S, loaded up a game in VP... and didn't
see any backglass artwork. That's because installing B2S isn't
the last step. You also have to do a little extra work to set up
each table. This is work that you'll have to repeat for each
new table you download, but fortunately it's only a one-time job for
Most VP table files are distributed without any backglass artwork.
Some authors bundle the two together, but in most cases you have
to download the backglass file separately.
Fortunately, it's fairly easy to find backglass files.
has a large collection:
- Go to vpforums.org
- Click Frontend Media & Backglass on the top
- Click Backglasses > dB2s Animated Backglasses
Files are listed by table title, so just find the title of the table
you're looking for and click through the links to download the file.
Are B2S files and .vpt/.vpx files paired?
No. You don't have to find the exact matching B2S
version for your table. Any B2S for a given title should work
with any .vpt/.vpx game for the same title. E.g., you don't need a
specially paired B2S for "Funhouse_NightMod_ToyMod_991_v26.vpt"; any
B2S for Funhouse should work.
This is the whole reason that the table files and backglass files are
usually distributed separately. The B2S files and VP table files are
more or less independent in terms of their operation and design. A
particular .vpt or .vpx file should work with just about any
.directb2s file for the same table. There's no need to find a
matching set for a particular version of either.
2-screen and 3-screen versions
Some of B2S backglasses have "2-screen" and "3-screen" variants. The
difference is how the speaker/DMD panel graphics are handled:
- A 2-screen backglass includes graphics for the speaker panel as part
of the backglass window. This is ideal if you have a single large
monitor in your backbox and no separate DMD video monitor or real DMD
- A 3-screen backglass separates the graphics for the backglass area
and speaker panel area into different windows, so that you can
position the two areas separately on your physical monitor layout.
This is ideal if you have a 1990s-style backbox, with a 16:9 monitor
at the top, and a separate speaker panel with its own DMD video
monitor or real DMD device.
In cases where both types are available, choose the one that matches
your physical cab setup. But it's also okay if only one type is
available and it's the "wrong" one for your cab. You can always use
either format. The worst that happens with the "wrong" format is that
the geometry will be a bit distorted because the proportions were
designed for a different monitor layout.
Installing the .directb2s file
After downloading a backglass file, perform
- Unpack it from the ZIP/RAR container if necessary
- Put it in your Visual Pinball Tables folder (the same
folder where you keep your .vpt/.vpx files)
- Rename the file so that it matches the name of the .vpt/.vpx
file you want to use it with, but keeping the .directb2s suffix
(e.g., if the table file is called Funhouse_NightMod_v2.vpx,
rename the B2S file as Funhouse_NightMod_v2.directb2s)
It's essential to put the .directb2s file in the same location
as the table file and to rename it to match the .vpt/.vpx file name.
That's how B2S finds the file. If the name and location aren't
matched like this, B2S can't usually locate the file and won't
show any backglass artwork.
(B2S does actually have some "fuzzy matching" that tries to find a
matching file even if the name doesn't exactly match, but in my
experience, that does more harm than good. B2S's fuzzy matching
usually just picks something random and wrong, and the fact that
it's doing it at all makes it that much harder to figure out why
the wrong file is getting picked. The only way to make B2S pick
the right file reliably is to give it the exact same name as
the table file.)
Enable B2S on each table
There's one more step before the backglass artwork will appear during
a game: you have to enable B2S mode for each individual game. This is
a one-time step, but you have to do it separately for each table.
Most VP 10 tables will automatically use B2S if present, so this step
isn't usually required for VP 10. However, if you try a VP 10 table
and it doesn't work, it might be an unusual case that requires the VP
9 procedure below.
Some later VP 9 tables, from 2016 and later, also will automatically
work with B2S.
Given that most VP 10 tables and some VP 9 tables will work "out of
the box" without any modification, the first step is to simply fire up
the game in VP and see if the backglass appears. If so, you're all
set with that game. If not, try this procedure:
- Open the table in the VP editor (see Customizing VP Tables)
- Open the table script (VP 9: Edit > Script menu command;
VP 10: View > Script command)
- Look for a line like this:
Const cController = 0
- Note that the variable name cController might be slightly different,
so just look for something that roughly matches that format.
- If you find such a line, change the "0" to the number listed for B2s
(usually 3). Save and run the table. If it successfully displays
the backglass, you're set.
- If you can't find the code above, look for something like this:
Set Controller = CreateObject("VPinMAME.Controller")
- If you find that, replace it with this:
Set Controller = CreateObject("B2S.Server")
- Save the game and try again.
If none of the above helped, and the table is a re-creation of an
older EM (electro-mechanical) game from the 1970s or earlier, the game
will need more extensive modification to make it work with B2S. The
work needed is beyond the scope of this chapter. Your best bet might
be to contact the author of the table and request a B2S-capable
update, or see if someone else on the forums wants to take it on.