Mommy's Best Games, Inc. is an independent game developer founded in 2007. This is a view behind the scenes of our game development and marketing!


Thursday, February 8, 2024

Building the Arcade Cabinet, Part 3: Cabinet Design

After I bought the IP rights for Bumpy Grumpy from the parent company Occidental Designs, I was surprised that they kept pretty loose business records. For a company that had a sterling record of professionalism, I was shocked they didn't even have any photos of their own cabinet! And allegedly all the paper designs for Bumpy Grumpy burned during the great Arcade Fire in '85. 

That meant I had to work pretty hard to re-create the design of the iconic Bumpy Grumpy cabinet! You see, having played it as a kid, I could definitely remember some high points of the cabinet. I knew the profile of the cabinet was unusual. And I also know that I had to figure out the angle at which the monitor was set inside the cabinet. 

Monitor Tilt

The first step was figuring out what angle I wanted the monitor. The monitor angle is important because it effects how the average person will stand and position themselves at the cabinet when trying to play. The Bumpy Grumpy cabinet is a full sized 6' tall cabinet. Which means, if you are six foot tall or taller (like myself) you typically have to look down at the monitor to see things. This help explain why arcade cabinets often have the monitor tilted back, down inside the cabinet.

There are some cabinets where it makes sense to have the monitor tilted upright, such as gun game cabinets like House of the Dead. But if you are right next to the cabinet, using a regular joystick, you'll probably be looking down into the monitor somewhat.

I took a look at cabinets through the years, and it seems like older games typically had the cabinet tilted back more.

Nintendo used this cabinet style for several games including Donkey Kong in 1981

Also in 1981, Galaga, by Namco had a more extreme monitor angle.

It did seem like cabinets ended up near 30 degrees in the later years as a good tilt.

While still sorting all this out, I tried out some heights and tilts with my tv monitor in our bedroom to see what would feel good. 

First up, after getting all the controls working, I made sure windows worked on it on the TV. 

In the bottom right you can see the PC desktop that will run the game.

I set my test version of the Control Panel inside my sock drawer. This was a good test, but wasn't sure how to test the monitor tilt angle. The TV is bulky and heavy after all!

I ended up with the right side version, with more tilt backwards.
I eventually rigged up several pillows on my bed, to continue to test the TV, leaning it back and trying the game at about the same cabinet height in the final version to see how it felt. I ended up with closer to a 40 degree angle.

Cabinet Profile

Occidental Designs was always a pretty provocative company and they knew how to turn heads. Most cabinets through the years have been angular. 

Many cabinet designs over the years. Only Burger Time (upper right) had a similar curved top design to Bumpy Grumpy.

But not Bumpy Grumpy. It had a signature circular side panel! Easy to spot, and easy to accentuate with some exciting side art.

Bumpy Grumpy's CURVY design!

Yes, that makes it tough to cut the curves in the side boards, but once you get a template going it's all about the same. That first cabinet is tough to make though!

The red line is the side shape. The black bars are in the "cross parts", like the control panel.

 I ended using Adobe Illustrator to measure things in my picture to get a properly scaled drawing. I really wanted to make sure the actual TV I bought was going to fit, and at the angle I wanted. After some time  measuring, drawing, and checking, I got a decent layout figured out.  

The Build Starts Next Week!

That's it for this week's cabinet update. With all the designs triple-checked and planned it's time to buy some boards and start cutting!

In the meantime enjoy one more picture of testing with the heavy TV on my bed. 

You might call it a "Test Bed".

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