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MPF includes functionality to manage “timed_switches” which are scenarios when a single switch is continuously active (or inactive, depending on the settings) for a set period of time.
A classic example of this is the flipper “cradling” where a player holds a flipper button in for a few seconds. In almost all modern machines, this is used to trigger a “player info” screen that shows the player’s score, how much bonus they have built up, high scores, etc.
Flipper cradling is also used to reset (and pause) the ball search timer, since a player could be holding a ball and drinking a beer, meaning no switch hits will happen, but the ball search should not start.
In fact MPF’s default config file (which is automatically used in all games) includes
timed_switches: section for flipper cradling and automatically creates
flipper_cradle and flipper_cradle_release events (as long as you tag your flipper
switches with left_flipper and right_flipper).
Note that timed switches are similar to, but not the same as combo switches.