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FAQ: General

Why was the Mission Pinball Framework (MPF) created?

The Mission Pinball Framework was started in 2014 by Brian Madden for a homebrew pinball machine he and Gabe Knuth were planning. Both of them had dreamed of building their own pinball machines for years, and in 2013 they discovered the Multimorphic P-ROC and the wonderful community of homebrew pinball builders and hackers.

The P-ROC pinball control system didn't come with any software, rather, an open source and unrelated project called pyprocgame was created to let people write their own Python-based game software. Pyprocgame was great, but it's pretty basic. (It was more of a pinball development environment versus a complete framework.) One of the challenges we saw was that everyone building a game had to "reinvent the wheel" to implement a lot of the core basic functionality. After reading forum posts about "How do you write code for a trough?" about ten times, we thought, "Why isn't there a framework that just 'does that' for you?"

Pyprocgame also required everything to be written in Python code, and we found that a lot of people who wanted to build their own pinball machines weren't software developers. So we thought it would be cool to create a framework where the majority of the "programming" could be done with text-based configuration files.

Around the same time, FAST Pinball came onto the market with their control system, and many other hobby pinball controllers started to pop up. So we decided to make MPF hardware-independent so it could work with any pinball control system.

The first release of MPF was in May 2014. (That's before the project was even on GitHub!) (Check out the MPF announcement post on Pinside.) Since then, MPF has grown to be a complete framework that's used by homebrewers and commercial pinball companies to power real pinball machines around the world.

Isn't using config files limiting?

Finding the balance between "config files" and "real programming" is an age-old battle. We have a guide called Config files versus "real" programming which explains this in more detail, including our perspective on it and why we decided to make config files the focus on MPF.

Can I mix "real" code in with MPF config files?

Yes! See for details and examples.

Where does the name come from?

Brian lived in San Francisco's "Mission" neighborhood when MPF was first created. There were a lot of "Mission" things here, Mission Bowling, Mission Coffee, Mission Ice Cream... He had registered the Mission Pinball domain "just in case" and this project turned out to be a great use for it!

What pinball hardware does MPF work with?

The complete hardware compatibility list is here.

Who's behind this?

MPF is open source and is completely developed by volunteers. See the AUTHORS file in the MPF package for the latest list.

Is MPF stable?

MPF is open source software that is not yet at a 1.0 release. However we've been working on it since 2014, and several complete pinball machines have been built using it.

Furthermore, when we find crashes, we fix them. If you look at the list of commits (code additions, changes, and fixes that we check in) on GitHub, you'll see that we're busy with dozens of commits per week!

Is MPF beta? When will v1 be released?

MPF is open source and continuously developed. We're currently say, "Yes, it's beta" since we are not yet at a 1.0 release. However we release new versions every few months and don't expect that to change anytime soon.

We do expect to get to a 1.0 release at some point, but we don't have a specific time-frame for that. The important thing is to look at the code commit history and to notice that MPF is being very actively developed!

How can I download the documentation and read it offline?

Click the "Read the Docs" link in the lower-left corner of any page of the MPF documentation on for links to PDF, HTML, and Epub versions of the documentation.

What other options are there besides MPF?

While we think MPF is awesome, our main goal is to see more pinball in the world! Since all of us are working on MPF in our spare time (and not being paid for it), we won't be offended if you don't use MPF. Just please create more pinball!

At this time, if you don't want to use MPF, there are a few other options:

  • pyprocgame (P-ROC/P3-ROC only; website defunct)
  • PyProcGameHD+SkeletonGame (P-ROC/P3-ROC only, adds HD graphics and more to pyprogame)
  • Open Pinball Project framework (Open Pinball Project hardware only)
  • Rampant Slug Framework (P-ROC/P3-ROC only; website defunct)
  • FreeWPC (WPC hardware only, lets you write new code in C, burn it to ROMS, and run it on original WPC hardware)

Something missing or wrong? You can fix it!

This website is edited by people like you! Is something wrong or missing? Is something out of date, or can you explain it better?

Please help us! You can fix it yourself and be an official "open source" contributor!

It's easy! See our Beginner's guide to editing the docs.

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