Obviously, you'll need pinball software to make your virtual pinball machine into something other than a PC in a pinball cabinet. You'll need to install and configure all of the following:
Visual Pinball and/or Future Pinball: The pinball editing software. I chose to install only Visual Pinball--there are more than enough VP tables to keep me busy for a good long time.
Visual PinMAME: The emulation software.
Hyperpin: The front-end menu software. There are others--but Hyperpin is pretty awesome. (Note: I'm actually unable to find Hyperpin these days. I'm not sure it exists anymore.)
You should be able to download everything you need from VPForums under the Getting Started menu.
I have nothing but appreciation for the folks who brought us all of the pinball emulation and editing software that makes a project like this a possibility for those of us who are programmer-challenged.
I also thank the many dedicated hobbyists who have written lengthy tutorials to explain how to make all of the software work, and those who are always out there in the forums answering questions from newbies like me.
But I am here to tell you that this software is arcane: it's hard to configure and extraordinarily frustrating. I found myself searching for hours on end for answers to issues I encountered, and found myself following installation tutorials that, about halfway through, assumed that I had more knowledge than I did and, thus, became unintelligible.
So, in the interest of making other people's lives easier, I have posted detailed solutions to every issue I encountered with step-by-step instructions which will hopefully solve those problems.
NOTE: When I originally wrote this guide, I linked a couple of really awesome videos that walked you through the setup of Visual Pinball, Visual PinMAME, and Hyperpin by a YouTube user called "tehgeek." These videos have since disappeared, so you're going to have to rely on the tutorials on VPForums.
Follow these steps and your installation SHOULD go smoothly:
Go to VPForums, click the Support VPF link, and join. It's $10 for a year, and it's well worth the money. First, it gives you unlimited downloads (instead of 5 files a day--most pinball tables that you download have more than five files!). Second, it supports all of these people who are making it possible for schlubs like us to build virtual pinball machines!
Follow the guides on VPForums (under the Getting Started menu) to set up your pinball software.
Read my document and follow the instructions on how to install pinball tables and how to edit the FPLaunch file. You're going to need the info in there--I promise.
Contact me if you have any questions. It's been a while, but I'll do the best I can to help.