Tutorial step 2: Create your machine folder

Okay, so MPF is installed and you’re able to run Demo Man. Great! Now it’s time to create the folders and files for your own game.

1. Understand the “machine folder” concept

In MPF, we use the term machine folder to describe the folder that contains all the configuration files, code, images, videos, sounds, audits, and everything else you need for a pinball machine. Machine folders are portable, so you can grab a machine folder from one computer and run it on another—-even if it’s a different platform. (Windows to Linux, Mac to Windows, etc.)

Note that we call these “machine” folders and not “game” folders because in MPF, a “game” is an actual game-in-progress running on a machine. So you’re really creating a pinball machine config, not a pinball game config.

2. Create your machine folders

Okay, so let’s get started with your own game’s machine folder. The first step is to create an empty folder somewhere. (Anywhere you want.) You can name this folder whatever you want too.

Let’s use the name “your_machine”, and we’ll assume you’re on Windows, so you might put it in your C:\pinball folder, like this:


Throughout this tutorial we’ll refer to this as “your machine folder”.

Next create a subfolder in your new machine folder called /config. This is where your machine configuration files will live. This folder should be inside your machine folder, like this:


3. Create your machine config file

Now let’s actually create your machine config file. To do that, create a file called config.yaml in your /config folder. This will be your main config file which will ultimately be hundreds of lines long and which will contain all the config and settings for your machine. This file should be here:


Note that if you’re on Windows and you just right-click and select New > Text Document, make sure that Windows Explorer is configured to show file extensions so you actually create a file called config.yaml and not config.yaml.txt. (That’s in the “View” menu of Explorer.)

4. Add #config_version=4 to the top of your config file

The first thing you need to do when you create any new config file for MPF is to add an entry on the very top line that tells MPF what “version” of the MPF config spec you’re using for the file you’re creating. For MPF 0.30-0.33, that should look like this:


So just open the file (with a text editor or a free tool like Atom or Sublime) and then add that to the top of the file and save it.

Be sure to enter this exactly as it’s shown here, with no spaces around the equal sign.

This line tells MPF which version of the config spec you have. That way if a future version of MPF requires changes to a config file, it can automatically recognize older files and update them.

The current version of the config files is 4 which is what’s used with MPF 0.30 and newer, so that’s what we’re adding here.

At this point, your environment should look like this:


Note the folder structure, the location of the config.yaml file, and the #config_version=4 as the only contents of that file.

5. Run your game!

Believe it your not, it’s time to run your game! Simply open a console window and change to your machine folder, and run mpf -b, like this:

C:\pinball\your_machine>mpf -b

Again, enter it as shown, with a space between mpf and -b. (The -b option tells MPF not to try to connect to a media controller for display and sound since we haven’t set that up yet.)

You should get results that look something like this:

C:\pinball\your_machine>mpf -b
INFO : Machine : Mission Pinball Framework Core Engine v0.30.0
INFO : Machine : Machine path: C:\pinball\your_machine
INFO : Machine : Loading cached config: C:\Users\BRIANM~1\AppData\Local\Temp\235c13dee169bec54dce4d06c2665fe9config
INFO : Machine : Starting clock at 30.0Hz
INFO : Mode.attract : Mode Starting. Priority: 10

You might notice that it seems like the command is hung because you didn’t get the command line back. Actually what’s happening is MPF is running! Your machine is live and sitting in the attract mode!!

At this point since we are running a completely blank config, the only way to stop MPF is to hit CTRL+C . When you do that, you should see a few more lines appear, like this:

INFO : Machine : Actual MPF loop rate: 32.04 Hz
INFO : root : MPF run loop ended.


At this point you’re all set! If your machine is working like this, go ahead and move on to the next step. However if you got something else on your display or some kind of error or crash, read on below...

What if it didn’t work?

If you don’t get an output that shows the attract mode running like the example above, there could be a few reasons for this, depending on the error.

If you get a crash with a message about a “Config file version mismatch”, like this:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "z:\git\mpf\mpf\commands\game.py", line 130, in __init__
    MachineController(mpf_path, machine_path, vars(args)).run()
  File "z:\git\mpf\mpf\core\machine.py", line 98, in __init__
  File "z:\git\mpf\mpf\core\machine.py", line 290, in _load_config
  File "z:\git\mpf\mpf\core\machine.py", line 309, in _load_config_from_files
  File "z:\git\mpf\mpf\core\config_processor.py", line 99, in load_config_file
    config = FileManager.load(filename, verify_version, halt_on_error)
  File "z:\git\mpf\mpf\core\file_manager.py", line 155, in load
  File "z:\git\mpf\mpf\file_interfaces\yaml_interface.py", line 295, in load
    raise ValueError("Config file version mismatch: {}".format(filename))
ValueError: Config file version mismatch: C:\pinball\your_machine\config\config.yaml

This means you don’t have #config_version=4 in the top line of your config file. (Make sure you include the hash mark as part of that.)

If you get an error that says Could not find machine folder: 'None', that means that you ran MPF from the wrong folder. For example:

Error. Could not find machine folder: 'None'.

This happens because the command prompt is in the child “config” folder, rather than the base machine folder. So cd .. up one level and try again.

Error. Could not find machine folder: 'None'.

Again, same thing here. The example above is in the root of C: which is not a valid machine folder. (It is possible to run a machine from another folder via command line options which is why this error says it couldn’t find the machine “None” (since no command line options were passed), but for now just know that you need to run MPF from the root of your machine folder.

It’s possible you might also get an error about “mpf” not being recognized. For example, on Windows:

'mpf' is not recognized as an internal or external command,
operable program or batch file.

Or on Mac or Linux:

$ mpf
-bash: mpf: command not found

In this case you probably don’t have MPF installed right, so jump back to the installation part of the docs and follow that again.