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Iron Maiden and Deadpool Rumor Roundup

Iron Maiden and Deadpool Rumor Roundup

Rumor [roo-mer], noun: a story or statement in general circulation without confirmation or certainty as to facts

 

Disclaimer section:  At This Week in Pinball, we try to just stick to the facts.  But hey, sometimes you have to speculate!  There have been many rumors regarding upcoming machines from Stern Pinball, specifically Iron Maiden and Deadpool.  Below is a rumor roundup – what we’ve been hearing from what we believe to be credible sources.  Is it all true?  Probably not.  That is why it is a RUMOR roundup!

 

Backstory Regarding Iron Maiden and John Trudeau

From what TWIP has been told, the initial plan was for Iron Maiden to be released at Expo 2017 with John Trudeau as the designer.  As you may already know, John Trudeau was arrested on August 25th, less than two months before Expo 2017.  (For the full story about Trudeau, click here.)  Trudeau and Stern parted ways, and it is our understanding that Trudeau’s Iron Maiden design was completely scrapped and redone.

 

Design Cycle

We have also been told that the design cycle for Stern was as follows:

 

  1. Iron Maiden
  2. Deadpool
  3. Guardians of the Galaxy

 

Just speculating here, but with Iron Maiden delayed, in order to keep the assembly line going they probably needed to bump up one of the other titles.  If this is true, it could help explain why Guardians of the Galaxy shipped with v0.65 beta code, when Stern’s documentation listed v0.72 as the code at “Initial Release”.  Why not go with Deadpool instead of Guardians if it was next?  Could be a number of reasons – maybe something critical (art or parts or something) was delayed on Deadpool.  You can ship a game with immature code, but you can’t ship it without artwork or if it is missing parts.  (Insert Magic Girl joke.)

 

IRON MAIDEN

Don’t know much about Iron Maiden?  They are an English heavy metal band that have released 38 albums and have played over 2,000 live shows.  According to Wikipedia, “Despite little radio or television support, Iron Maiden are considered one of the most successful heavy metal bands in history, with The Sunday Times reporting in 2017 that the band have sold over 100 million copies of their albums worldwide.”  Not sure if you know any songs?  Here is a nine minute video on YouTube that plays snippets of a top 10 list of Iron Maiden songs.

What We’re Hearing about the pinball machine:

  • that Iron Maiden will be the next title released
  • that Keith Elwin is the designer
  • that Zombie Yeti is the artist
  • that it should ship with v1.0 code (!)
    • that Lyman Sheets is on code…and that Keith Elwin is on code?
      • Explanation: we first heard that Lyman was on code, but we also saw this post by Elwin on Tilt Forums which indicates Elwin himself is doing the rules.  Perhaps it is something where they’re working together on rules?
  • that it may have four flippers
  • that it may be based on the layout from Archer, a home-brew machine designed previously by Keith Elwin

 

Keep in mind, those are all unconfirmed rumors!  So when will Iron Maiden be revealed?  We’re not sure.  Texas Pinball Festival seems like a good choice, and TPF just announced in this post that George Gomez and Lyman Sheets would attending TPF and possibly doing a seminar.  The Amusement Expo in Las Vegas is next week, which is another possibility.

 

DEADPOOL

Deadpool is a movie starring Ryan Reynolds.  If you haven’t seen it, check out the trailer here.  But as we mention below, the pinball machine sounds like it will be based on the comic books, not the movie version.  To read about the Deadpool comic books, click here!

 

What We’re Hearing:

  • that Deadpool will be released this summer
    • Note: the movie Deadpool 2 has a release date of May 18th, 2018
  • that it is based on the comic book, not the movie
  • that the design looks George Gomez-ish
  • that Zombie Yeti is the artist
  • that there are two flippers
  • that it is a unique layout with a very unusual right ramp shot
  • that one of the orbits actually feeds the ball to a ramp
  • that there is a sword ramp with a ball lock mech

 

 

 

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Interview with Ben Heck: Leaving Spooky, Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle Preview, What is Next for Ben Heck

Interview with Ben Heck: Leaving Spooky, Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle Preview, What is Next for Ben Heck

 

This Week in Pinball: I was sad to see you were parting ways with Spooky since you’ve been with them since the beginning.  In reading your tweet and your post on Pinside it sounded like the main reason that you and Spooky parted ways was due to a delay on your second game after America’s Most Haunted?

 

Ben Heck: Yes, that’s correct.  Originally, it kind tied back to the show – The Ben Heck Show – I was kind of to the point where I wanted to stop doing that as well just because it was a ton of deadlines and creatively exhausting.  The show company had been acquired by another company and they’re like “…do you want to do one more season after the buyout?”  And I said sure, but it ended up being like 1.5 years.  So I was like “I could do a game in that time, like another pinball machine”.  It had been a couple years since I did America’s Most Haunted and I was super burned out after doing AMH.  For a while I was like “I hate pinball, I hate it”.  If you’re not absolutely furious and sick of the project you’re working on then you didn’t work on it hard enough.  I was definitely tired.  And then after a couple years I came around.  I had been helping Chuck with other things as well, like Rob Zombie.  We were writing new code and updating the boards and stuff like that.  I actually did a lot of the story boards for Rob Zombie as well.  And then I was like I should do another game and Chuck wanted me to do another game.  And I was ok with that because I could line it up with my show being over.  And then what happened was the license we were looking at – basically there were additional costs that – we were trying to figure the best way to make it work and it kind of got put in the back burner.  The Alice Cooper game has been delayed a couple times, I think that is pretty obvious because I think they announced it last summer or a year ago – TPF 2017 I think?  Yeah they did.  So they had that and then the Total Nuclear Annihilation kind of came out – well it didn’t come out the blue, but they were like hey, we’re going to build this too.  And that’s done really well for them.  But it basically – you have TNA and then you have Alice Cooper and then after that is Ben’s game.  My game just kept getting pushed back and then it was to the point where there was no way it would be done at the same time I leave the show and I didn’t want to have something still going.  I wanted – when the show was done, I wanted to be done.  Then I could move, I could change up everything.  And if I’m still trying to finish a game, that wouldn’t happen.  Basically when it got past the point of no return, when my game wouldn’t be done when the show was done, that was basically where I was like I think it is time.  There is a white wood, I guess they could turn it into something else, or who knows, maybe that license will come back around.

 

TWIP: And was the main reason for the delay due to licensing issues or was there more to it than that?

 

BH: I would say the delay was – I think if Alice Cooper could’ve been done sooner – I think initially Chuck wanted it to come out last fall.  And if that could’ve been done sooner, my game would’ve had a shot of coming out next summer which is what I wanted.  Everything just kind of pushed it back.  Basically just delayed.  I mean its tough when you’re a small company trying to get stuff done.

 

TWIP: I know you had mentioned in an interview on YouTube you’d be leaving the Ben Heck Show in June, and you mentioned on Pinside that was originally the time your second game was going to be released and that it wasn’t a coincidence, that was to have both done at the same time?

 

BH: Yeah, my plan going back to like October or November of 2016, was to do the one and a half year contract, and that should be enough time [to finish the game].  I should mention that during my final season of the show, I changed it up so I was only there three days a week – the show was full time for quite a while – I changed it up so every Thursday and Friday I was off and using that time to do the pinball.  In my estimation I think a year and a half would’ve been enough.  My idea was to have a white wood after about 6-8 months and spend like a year programming it so it would be pretty well programmed when it was released in 2018.  And my plan was the show is done, the game is done and being manufactured.  That would be a breaking point to move or do something different with my life, and get royalties as well.  And that’s not happening now.  Since that clean break point didn’t happen that’s why – here’s the thing, I live in Wisconsin and I’ve been thinking about moving south – we always joke and call Spooky “south”…But if the games not done, I’m stuck here.  I’d have to stay in this area and finish it.  My shows done and I’m stuck doing this game on the side.  I basically wanted everything to be a clean break.  I don’t really want to do pinball full time and I think I would’ve ended up doing it full time had that been the case.  Chuck probably would’ve been like “Nice, make the game full time!”

 

TWIP: And does Spooky have the rights to the whitewood that you designed?

 

BH: Yeah, they paid me a retainer so the whitewood is theirs.

 

TWIP: I know you had mentioned on your tweet that the design might be turned into something by them down the road.  Is the design something that can be turned into a different theme easily or was it very specific to the license?

 

BH: Yeah, why couldn’t it be?  There have been a lot of games that have been changed – Gladiators was Zelda, WWE was Hunger Games, it happens a lot.

 

TWIP: Can you share what the license was at this point?

 

BH: I’ll never tell (laughs).

 

TWIP: I know we’ve heard some rumors on Futurama…

 

BH: Futurama would make a good pinball.

 

TWIP: Could you see yourself ever going back and working with Spooky at all in the future?

 

BH: Oh yeah, sure.  Just not right now.  They’ve at least made one of my games!  I mean, I’m disappointed I couldn’t get something going.  My game – we kind of paused it last year, and I started working on Alice Cooper in July.  I basically switched over to doing that.  I did quite a bit of work on that, most of the story boards and a lot of the rules.  So there is some Ben DNA in that game.  But ultimately I’m not interested in monsters and things like that as much as Chuck is.  And all I know about Alice Cooper is that he was in Wayne’s World (laughs).  It wasn’t a license I could get into very much because I wasn’t familiar with it.  But hopefully the stuff we came up with makes for a cool game.

 

 

TWIP: You were working on the rules and the story board and the dialog for Alice Cooper.  How far along are the rules and the dialog for that?

 

BH: The rules are pretty much all the way – I mean the framework.  I think when you’re making a game, you have the rules in your mind but when you’re playing you’re like “oh we should add this rule or we could do this or this would be really cool”.  I guess we’ll see if they stick with it – I thought of it like Dragon’s Lair.  It is Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle, so I’m like “its a castle, so the castle should be part of it”.  My big thing was I wanted people going through rooms – like there is a kitchen or there is a parlor.  Each room acts like a different mini mode and there is a map to it.  The orbit shot navigates you through the rooms.  You’re basically always going forward.  The way you go through the mansion – basically once you do four moves you get to the monster and then you fight it. Then you work to the next monster.  It is pretty in depth – there are nine monsters and you collect objects that have effects on them.  So the way you go through the castle will actually effect the mode when you get to the monster.  The order you do it matters.  It is pretty in depth – I didn’t think the rules in Rob Zombie were super interesting, so I was like “you have to have better rules in this game Chuck”.  I was thinking if you give the player more ways to play the game it will make it more interesting and give it longevity.  So you can just shoot the orbits, get to the monster, and break the legs off the bug or whatever and have fun.  But if you actually want to get the big points you need to traverse the castle a certain way and do things along the way to get the best advantage based on what monster you’re going after.

 

 

TWIP: On the teaser, on the bottom middle of the LCD it looked like nine rooms with arrows – does that correspond to the room that you’re in?

 

BH: Yeah, it is basically a mini-map.  There is an X that is like “you are here”, and I believe – well I haven’t done this part – if you hold for flipper info, you get a big map.  So you start at the bottom and you’re going up.  It’s like a grid, you can go left or right and every time you go left or right you’re going up in the grid.  You can’t go backwards.  You start out in the foyer and there is a big painting of what monster you’re going to go after.  I’m so sick of games where you hit the flipper buttons to select sh*t – in this you hit a simple target, and that is what changes the painting.  I am just so sick of games where you stop dead and you’re sitting there like “select your city, select your song, select your house”.  So you select a monster and you can spend as much as you want in the foyer.  Then you make a right shot and you end up in the library.  And from the library you can go left or right – if you go right from the library you end up in the conservatory.  That is on the right hand edge so you can only go left, and then you’re in the torture room or the dungeon or whatever they call it.  Then one more orbit shot and you’re to the monster.  So you choose how you move through the castle and the castle is a big part of it.  The art is really cool and there are all these animated things in the background like bats and spiderwebs and bones.  The guy who did the cabinet art – I don’t know how much of that they’ve shown – the guy that did the cabinet though is also doing the elements for the screen animations and the rooms.

 

TWIP: I think the animations look really cool – kind of that comic book style look…

 

BH: Yeah, it is a very good looking game – it kind of reminds me of Big Bang Bar in a way, the aesthetic feel of the cabinet.  A lot of deep blacks with splashes of color.

 

TWIP: So as you go through the castle – lets say your in the foyer and you shoot the left orbit – that is like a door?

 

BH: Yeah – left orbit goes left and right orbit goes right.  Or you can shoot other stuff to stay in that room and do other stuff.  As you mentioned you saw in the clip where there is nine rooms.  You always start at the bottom which is the foyer, and you’re always working your way to the top which is the monster room.  So all the rooms in between – that is where you’re collecting items and doing other stuff.  But you’re always moving up.  And once you move up through a section of rooms you can’t go back.  Basically four orbit shots or four navigation shots will always get you to the monster.  But if you do it too quickly you’re not going to get as many points.   It is better to take your time and explore and collect things, like shotguns and axes and whatever.

 

TWIP: I love the idea of working your way through a castle.

 

BH: I am a big fan of video games, so I wanted it to have a bunch of videogameification.  The video game market is like astronomically, infinitesimally, I can’t even think of words to describe how much bigger it is that than the pinball industry.  It is like an elephant stepping on an ant.  So if you can get in some of those elements, that is good to cater to that market.

 

TWIP: Can you share if there is an upper or lower playfield in Alice Cooper?

 

BH: Ummm…I think you should wait for that surprise yourself.

 

TWIP: Ok, moving on to other topics…

 

BH: That was a good preview of Alice Cooper.  I don’t know if they’re going to have it in there because Alice Cooper hates it, but if you do really well he’ll say “You are worthy.”  I guess he hates the fact that everyone comes up and says that to him.

 

TWIP:  (laughing) Yeah I probably would too, that’s gotta get old at some point.

 

BH: (laughing) Yeah I think Chuck went to one of their – he does pinball tournaments for charity – and I think Chuck went to one and the first thing Alice Cooper said was “If y’all promise not to say I’m Not Worthy then I promise not to call you Pinball Wizards.”

 

TWIP: (laughing) That is good.

 

BH: That said – it would be fun if he did say that if you did really really well, so hopefully they put it in.  I think the script is supposed to be recorded pretty soon, I think they are trying to do it for Texas.

 

TWIP: I heard there were 47 pages.

 

BH: That’s not too bad.  I know Rob Zombie got pissed at how much we wrote for him and he only recorded like 2/3s of it but it worked out ok.  Americas Most Haunted had like 150 pages I want to say.

 

TWIP: I’d like to own an AMH someday.

 

BH: Well you’ll have to buy it used because there will NEVER be a Vault Edition (laughs).  I wish we were slimy and did a vault edition, that would put a really nice car in my driveway (laughs).

 

TWIP: Are you excited about Alice Cooper being revealed?

 

BH: No but I never get excited about anything.

 

TWIP: (laughs)

 

BH: I tell people that and they think its funny or awful but what can I say?  I just don’t have any emotion.  Actually, I was a little excited earlier today because I figured out how to do a subdomain on my Apache server.  That made me happy.

 

TWIP: Are you burned out on pinball right now?  I know you mentioned you got burned out on America’s Most Haunted…

 

BH: I was totally burned out on AMH.  If I like back divided what I made on that game after taxes, I probably should’ve just got a second job at a restaurant or something.

 

TWIP: But you made something great.

 

BH: It is the finest ghost related pinball machine ever made.

 

TWIP: Do you have plans to still do the Bible Adventures theme even though deeproot mentioned they are doing a similar theme?

 

BH: Ok, so that idea dates back a long long time.  We first started talking about that in like 2011, when we were doing our Lost game which we tore apart because it sucked @ss.  We were at lunch one day – this was before I did AMH…

 

TWIP: When you say “we”, who are you talking about?

 

BH: It was myself – Jason Jones who is sometimes on Pinside, Andrew who was a former employee at Spooky – anyway, we were joking about what would be the stupidest theme for a pinball.  Pretty quickly we came up with the Bible.  But it was one of those things – a lot of times if you’re in a creative environment you spend a lot of time talking things that aren’t what you’re working on, because you don’t want to talk about what you’re working on.  Like yesterday when we were filming the show – we were talking about the TV show Charmed for like two hours.  So ridiculous…anyway, in 2011, we were first prototyping what would become the PinHeck system we were joking about this Bible game.  And the more we joked about it and talked about it, we started to realize it would really make sense from a rules perspective.  Most people are familiar with it, they’ve heard it or they went to church as a kid.  And here’s the trick – everything is numbered.  There are 10 plagues, 40 years in the desert, 40 days on Noah’s Ark, 2 people in the Garden of Eden, 7 trips around Jericho, 7 dreams of Joseph.  Everything is numbered and it was like – this is perfect!  You don’t have to explain the rules – how many shots to start Exodus? 10 plagues,10 shots, Exodus multi-ball.  The more we talked about it, we were like – this is actually amazing.  So we talked about it in interviews and stuff and I guess people thought it was a joke.  People still think it is a joke but I’m dead serious.  So we discovered – around 2013 – John Popadiuk, you know how he was registering all those domains?  Like Pussycat Bowling and whatever.  There was creationpinball.com.  And I don’t know who found it but we realized it was Zidware and we were like son of a b*tch.  Because of course he had heard about it because I’d been talking about it to anyone and everyone.  And we’re like oh man is he going to try to do this?  And then as Robert from deeproot has mentioned, three years ago in 2015 he was in talks with Spooky to work on some things.  And that came up because we were spitballing ideas.  And he really liked it – but Chuck hates it – but Robert really liked that idea.  And I think even back then he wanted to call it Fire and Brimstone.  So I certainly knew he liked the idea, but I was a little surprised to hear he was going to design it himself.

 

TWIP: So were you bothered when you learned they were working on that theme?

 

BH: Of course I was.  It is like my dream theme, I know that sounds weird, but I really think it would make a great pinball machine.  I’ve been thinking about it for like 7 years now.  I guess this is kind of egotistical but I feel like I could do a pretty good job with it.  But we’ll see.  I used to be a graphic artist, then I became an engineer, so it isn’t my place to say a lawyer can’t design a game.  But I don’t know, I’ve just had it in my mind for quite a long time.  Actually one thing Chuck said or offered was – hey, why you don’t just make the game you’re working on an original theme?  Because at that point TNA was starting to sell really well.  But I was like Chuck you need to realize, we have some empirical data about original themes – they can work in pinball but they need about a year to gestate.  So you have to take them out there, take them to a bunch of shows, and then they’ll sell.  Even Dialed In!, it took quite a while for people to latch on to that even though it is a really cool game.  License is a short cut, I was like “I don’t think we have a year to grow this title”.  But yeah, you mentioned earlier that Futurama would be a really cool title.  I think people don’t necessarily think if a title lends itself to pinball or not.  Like Archer would be really good except that the license is out of date and Stern will never make it.  But again, that would be a perfect theme for pinball.

 

TWIP: What is your favorite part of pinball manufacturing?  Coding?  Designing the playfield?

 

BH: My favorite part is when it’s done.  Wait, that is a snarky answer.  Probably designing the playfield because that is kind of the fun part.  You kind of saw that with John Popadiuk – he loved designing plafields but then the really hard stuff, which is everything that comes after – he kind of skipped that part and therefore nothing got done.  It is kind of like you’re hanging out with your buddies and drinking beer and you come up with an idea for a movie or Bible Adventures, it is much more fun to talk about it or think about what could be in it than to actually do it.  Actually doing it is the really hard part.  I have a cool rotisserie at my shop and it is fun to get hot glue or pencils or screws or sticks – I have a shooting foam core rotisserie so I can actually play the game as I design it physically.  That part is pretty fun.  Then putting it in the computer, lining up everything, measuring everything and figuring out the angles, that sucks.  I wouldn’t say coding is the worst part.  The joke I told Chuck was I would program the machine for free but you have to pay me to troubleshoot it, that is the real b*tch.

 

TWIP: Have you been approached by any other manufacturers?

 

BH: I have not.  I honestly don’t think they would hire me.  Which is ok because most are located in Illinois and I’d never – to anyone reading this, I would never under any circumstances move to Illinois, so don’t even ask me.  I live in Wisconsin and Illinois is an awful and terrible place.  But it’s not as bad as Indiana.

 

TWIP: Hey now, come on, I’m in Indianapolis!

 

BH: Oh no, is that where you live?  Sorry about that.  Illinois is terrible.  It is like this flat boring state with nothing in it and ridiculous taxes.  At least New York and California are cool places to live with ridiculous taxes.  That’s why everyone in Illinois comes up to Wisconsin every weekend, because our state doesn’t suck.

 

TWIP: So am I right that you’re a filmmaker?

 

BH: Not really, but I’m trying to get back into it.  I used to do indie films for fun.

 

TWIP: Do you have plans for an upcoming film?

 

BH: Yes – myself and the guy that does the animations for Spooky, we’re putting something together.  It is supposed to shoot not too far in the future.  And it has nothing to do with pinball.  I don’t even think there is a pinball machine in the movie.

 

TWIP: What else is on the horizon for you after the Ben Heck Show and after Spooky Pinball?

 

BH: Honestly, right now that is kind of up in the air.  I mentioned the film thing.  We were talking about starting a production company where we could do all sorts of stuff including film.  I kind of want to get back into doing what I was doing before the show, which is to do more prototyping work for companies and people.  And there is a lot of stuff I’ve had to turn down because I haven’t had time to do it because of the show schedule.  So kind of that, reverting to pre-show stuff.  I’ve also been trying to cut back on conventions, I’m so burned out on conventions.  I could write a book about conventions.

 

TWIP: Ok – last question.  You are tremendously talented and a huge asset to the pinball community –

 

BH: – sometimes a huge ass!

 

TWIP: – Ok, I will add that in there – do you think we will see Ben Heck in the pinball industry in the future?

 

BH: Yeah, I mean, I just want to be free to do stuff and not worry so much about Spooky.  But there are definitely things I still want to do.  Parker – the guy who made the board set with me originally – we’re trying to make an even better board set that is even cheaper.  Like really cheap.  But for right now, my timeline just doesn’t really line up with what Spooky is doing.  And I guess we’ll see if – maybe if deeproot doesn’t make their Bible game, maybe I’ll need to make it.  I promise you, it will be awesome.  I was even designing the Red Sea mech last month.

 

 


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Open Letter to J.K. Rowling – Pleas for Harry Potter Pinball

Open Letter to J.K. Rowling – Pleas for Harry Potter Pinball

<takes a swig of Felix Felicis>

 

Dear Ms. Rowling,

 

First off, thank you for the amazing Harry Potter world you created.  You have brought so much joy to my life and so many lives across the world with your incredible writing, creativity, and imagination.  It is truly a gift to the world.  Thank you thank you thank you.

 

I’m sure you’ve heard a million stories from Harry Potter fans but I am going to share mine with you as well.  Rewind about 11 years, my wife had been talking to me about these “Harry Potter” books and that she thought I would like them.  I kept telling her I’m not into that type of book with the magic and fantasy-type genre.  We found out around that time that she had to have a surgery with significant recovery time.  I decided to start reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s (Sorcerer’s) Stone as a way to get her mind off things.  I talked to her about Diagon Alley, about how she would deserve a Nimbus 2000 after she recovered from the surgery, about Hogwarts, Hagrid, the Dursleys, everything Harry Potter, just “pretending to be interested”.

 

But then I accidentally started enjoying it.  I’m not sure when it happened, when I became a Potterhead, but I believe it was after reading this line in the first book:

“There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them.”

 

Then, here is the moment I knew I was hooked.  At the time I was playing shortstop for a softball team.  My wife said she was fine if I went to play the game that evening, even though she was still recovering from surgery.  I told her I’d stay with her…I wanted to be with her, but it was mainly because I wanted to finish the first book.  This is the first time I’ve admitted to this.  My brother, who played left field, will be texting me after reading this to say “I KNEW IT!”.

 

My name is Jeff and I run this website called This Week in Pinball.  I started the site because I love pinball almost as much as Harry Potter, and I want to help grow pinball.  I do the site just for the love of pinball.  I love pinball because it brings people together of all races, political affiliations, sexual orientations, genders.  Just like Harry Potter!

 

Fast forward 11 years to today.  My wife’s hobby is gardening.  Each spring, she starts listening to Harry Potter on audiobook.  I love many books and have tried to talk her into reading/listening to many other books.  But every year, it is Harry Potter for her.  If she finishes The Deathly Hallows, she just starts over again.

 

Each week on This Week in Pinball I include rumors of upcoming titles.  And each week I include a plea for a Harry Potter pinball machine – all of which can be found below.  Thank you for your incredible imagination and determination in writing the Harry Potter books, and please consider allowing a Harry Potter pinball machine.

 

Thanks,
Jeff

This Week in Pinball

 

2/5/18:TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to let Snape (Professor Snape) test Neville’s potion on me at the end of class if you approve this!

 

1/29/18: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be more aggressive about spreading the word about the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare (S.P.E.W) if you approve this!

 

1/22/18: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to ride the Knight Bus without taking dramamine if you approve this!

 

1/15/18: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to steal an egg from a Hungarian Horntail if you approve this!

 

1/8/18:TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to take a Bludger to the head if you approve this!

 

1/1/18: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to eat one of Hagrid’s rock cakes if you approve this!

 

12/18/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to take remedial potions with Professor Snape if you approve this!

 

12/11/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to give Dobby ALL my socks if you approve this!

 

12/4/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to listen to the life history of all of Mrs. Figg’s cats if you approve this!

 

11/27/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to share a stall with Moaning Myrtle if you approve this!

 

11/20/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to let Professor Lockhart fix my broken arm if you approve this!

 

11/13/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, if you approve this I’d be willing to teach Defense against the Dark Arts even though that position is cursed!

 

11/6/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d be willing to battle a case of spattergroit if you approve this!

 

10/30/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d do a stint in Azkaban if you approve this!

 

10/23/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I’d hang out with Lupin on the night of a full moon if you approve this!

 

10/16/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I would be willing to play fetch with Fluffy if you approve this!

 

10/9/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I would be willing to teach Grawp the English language if you approve this!

 

10/2/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I would be willing to pet-sit a Blast Ended Skrewt for a full month if you approve this!

 

9/25/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I would be willing to drink Crabbe or Goyle flavored polyjuice potion if you approve this!

 

9/18/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I would be willing to live with the Dursley’s for an entire year if you approve this!

 

9/11/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, when I look into the Mirror of Erised, I see myself playing a Harry Potter pinball machine – please approve this!

 

9/4/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, my boggart turns into a world without a Harry Potter pinball machine – please approve this!

 

8/28/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I am willing to walk into the forbidden forest – WITHOUT my wand – if you approve this!

 

8/21/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I am willing to subject myself to listening to mandrakes without earmuffs if you approve this!

 

8/14/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I am willing to subject myself to the Cruciatis curse if you approve this!

 

8/7/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, I will wear a Harry Potter shirt for 3 months straight if you approve this!

 

7/31/17: TWIP dreams of the day Harry Potter Pinball will be added to these rumors. Ms. Rowling, how can I help make that happen?

 


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deeproot Pinball: New Home, New Hires, 5 Days of deeproot, EXCLUSIVE Follow Up Interview

deeproot Pinball: New Home, New Hires, 5 Days of deeproot, EXCLUSIVE Follow Up Interview

This Week in Pinball previously released an interview, backstory, and general timeline of deeproot Pinball, a company that is looking to become a major pinball manufacturer:

Interview with deeproot – The Next Misadventure or a Pinball Revolution?

 

Timeline

Early 2015

deeproot Tech starts its pinball division – deeproot Pinball.  They contact several pinball designers and manufacturers.


Summer 2015

The deeproot team decides to shelve the pinball project until a later date.


October 2016

deeproot begins implementing their internal plan of action to become a pinball manufacturer.


Late 2016 – 2017

deeproot begins reaching out to several pinball designers.  After spending significant time weighing pros and cons, deeproot decides that pinball designer John Popadiuk (“JPop”) is the best option available.  They decided this knowing there would be backlash from some in the pinball community, and knowing they would need to address John’s past mistakes with Zidware. 


June 2017

deeproot begins to move forward with their plan to deal with JPop’s past and provide help to Zidware customers.


Early September 2017

Plaintiffs of the lawsuit and deeproot agree to terms on a settlement.  This settlement with the Plaintiffs will be essentially the same for all other former customers of Zidware.


September 14th, 2017

It is discovered on deeproot’s website that John Popadiuk is part of their team with the title Lead Game Development.  Confidential terms of the settlement are leaked to podcasters and others in the pinball community.  A thread is started on Pinside.com to inform many in the pinball community that JPop has resurfaced and is working with deeproot Pinball.  Podcasters released podcasts with harsh criticism of deeproot.  All of this, of course, caused severe negative reaction to deeproot since John Popadiuk still owed many Zidware customers refunds or machines.


September 18th, 2017

This Week in Pinball speaks to Robert Mueller, the man behind deeproot Tech, and posts A Conversation with Deeproot.


October 13th, 2017

deeproot retracts its settlement offer to the Plaintiffs.  For details and reasons for the retraction from deeproot, click here.


October 21st, 2017

Robert Mueller and Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti) speak for the first time.  Jeremy verbally agrees to sign over the rights to the games in exchange for undisclosed consideration.


November 30th, 2017

This Week in Pinball interviews deeproot Pinball (see here).  deeproot launches the website https://zidware.deeproottech.com/


**January 25th, 2018 – February 2nd, 2018

Zidware customers should visit https://zidware.deeproottech.com/ to ask any questions they have regarding the claims process with Zidware.

 

February 6th, 2018

Robert Mueller from deeproot will post a pre-recorded webinar on the Zidware page answering the submitted questions.

 

February 7th, 2018

The claims process will open to all non-Plaintiff Zidware customers.

 

February 11th, 2018

Robert Mueller from deeproot will join Dennis and Tony on the Eclectic Gamers Podcast.

 


DEEPROOT PINBALL UPDATES

 

New Home

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

 

The building that will house deeproot Pinball is located at:

12621 Silicon Drive

San Antonio, TX 78249

 

Robert shared some details about the building:

 

  • Silicon-Valley-esque industrial building
  • 41,752 square feet
  • Will house all of deeproot’s divisions
  • Sits on 3.46 acres which allows ample expansion room
  • Quad Assembly will be like no other ever used in pinball manufacturing, in an office type setting
  • No assembly line
  • Family center will be gutted and renovated to heavy manufacturing of raw materials
  • SCIF area will be repurposed for recording, stage set studios and for trade secret development
  • Approximate move-in is April

 


New Hires

 

deeproot Pinball has made many significant hires since our initial interview on November 30th of 2017.  Those include:

Mechanical Techs:

  • Juan Sotelo
  • Manuel Leal

Scenarist:

  • Quinn Johnson

Designers:

  • Barry Oursler (exclusive, in-house)
    • Junk Yard
    • Jack*Bot
    • Who Dunnit
    • Dirty Harry
    • Popeye Saves the Earth
    • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
    • Doctor Who
    • Hurricane
    • Harley Davidson
    • Bad Cats
    • Police Force
    • Cyclone
    • Jokerz!
    • Fire!
    • Space Station
    • Pinbot
    • Grand Lizard
    • Comet
    • Space Shuttle
    • Barracora
    • Gorgar
    • More…

 

  • Dennis Nordman (exclusive)
    • Lexy Lightspeed – Escape from Earth
    • Wheel of Fortune
    • Pirates of the Caribbean (Stern)
    • Scared Stiff
    • Indianapolis 500
    • Demolition Man
    • White Water
    • Party Zone
    • Dr. Dude
    • Elvira and the Party Monsters
    • Blackwater 100
    • Party Animal
    • Special Force

 

  • Jon Norris (exclusive)
    • High Roller Casino
    • Golden Cue
    • Brooks & Dunn
    • Barb Wire
    • Big Hurt
    • Star Gate
    • Waterworld
    • Mario Andretti
    • Freddy: A Nightmare on Elm Street
    • Rescue 911
    • World Challenge Soccer
    • Gladiators
    • Tee’d Off
    • Cactus Jack’s
    • Hot Shots
    • Lights…Camera…Action!
    • Robo-War
    • Bad Girls
    • More…

 

Other Designers (not new hires):

  • John Popadiuk (exclusive)
    • Magic Girl
    • Star Wars Episode I
    • Cirqus Voltaire
    • Tales of the Arabian Nights
    • Theatre of Magic
    • World Cup Soccer

 

  • Robert Mueller

Sound:

  • David Thiel
    • Pirates of the Caribbean (JJP)
    • Lexy Lightspeed – Escape from Earth
    • Lexy Lightspeed – Secret Agent Showdown
    • Dialed In
    • Alien
    • The Hobbit
    • Mustang
    • Star Trek
    • The Avengers
    • X-Men
    • AC/DC
    • Transformers
    • Tron: Legacy
    • The Rolling Stones
    • Avatar
    • Iron Man
    • more…

 


Resolutions

 

deeproot Pinball has come to a resolution/settlement with Jim Askey (Applejuice) in which both parties were happy with the outcome.  A deal is close to being finialized with Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti).

 


THE FIVE DAYS OF DEEPROOT

 

In the previous interview, Robert mentioned the 5 days of deeproot but did not give any specifics regarding what the event would entail.  It is scheduled to be a marketing event to show off deeproot Pinball and their ideas, and is expected to be held directly before deeproot Pinball’s official launch. Below is a tentative (and somewhat vague) schedule for the topics and events:

 

Day One: The deeproot Standard

Day Two: Design

Day Three: Immersion

Day Four: Culture

Day Five: Launch Event

 


**EXCLUSIVE FOLLOW UP INTERVIEW WITH DEEPROOT PINBALL**

 

This Week in Pinball:  In your last interview, some in the pinball community thought you came across as over-confident or arrogant, particularly with your comment about pinball being “easy”.  Do you have any comments regarding the last interview?

 

Robert Mueller: Every newbie or long-time fanatic we’ve shown our trade secrets to has not only been blown away, they have been overwhelmed with the sheer breadth of our project, and simultaneously endowed with a renewed passion for pinball and what can be done with the right vision and team.  If you consider what a current pinball company does in a year or two, people have forgotten that pinball doesn’t have to be hard, doesn’t have to drag on at a snail’s pace, and doesn’t have to be limited by pinball’s closed-minded echo chamber.  We are here to ruffle feathers.

 

TWIP: What is your plan for previous Zidware customers, do you still plan to do a webinar to answer their questions?

 

RM: We have been waiting to reach resolutions with all persons and entities that were involved with the development process of Zidware games.  We are announcing today the following Zidware Webinar and Claims schedule. From today until February 2nd, we invite Zidware customers to visit https://zidware.deeproottech.com to submit questions concerning the claims process.  On February 6th, we will publish a pre-recorded webinar on that same page where we will answer submitted questions. On February 7th, we will open the claims process to all non-plaintiff Zidware customers.  On February 11th, Robert will appear with Dennis and Tony on the Eclectic Gamers Podcast where he will likely be asked additional questions about the process.  With all of this, it is our sincerest intent to try to provide as much clarity and information as possible a Zidware customer would need to make a decision about whether to file a claim or not; and if a claim is filed, what options are available.

 

TWIP: Are there any updates in the Plaintiffs lawsuit against Zidware?

 

RM: Right around the time we announced the claims website, we offered the Plaintiffs a second opportunity to reach a settlement.  They declined.  As far as we know, the case is ongoing with trial set sometime in mid 2018.

 

TWIP: Are there any updates on deeproot coming to agreements with American Pinball?

 

RM: Our attorney and AP’s attorney have traded emails over the last few months.  As of today, there has not been an agreement.  On or about November 29, 2017, John Popadiuk elected to exercise a provision in his contract with American Pinball (‘AP’) permitting John to license all work performed for AP for $99.  While much of the John’s (original) Houdini design occurred before his work with AP, the final touches while with AP were intentionally scrapped by AP in September 2016.  It is fortunate AP provided John/Zidware with the ability to retain that amazing discarded work.  Mr. Popadiuk/Zidware have since assigned the referenced licenses to deeproot Tech, LLC.  deeproot is excited to add John’s (i.e. the original) Houdini design to its portfolio of games.

 

TWIP: What about Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti) and Jim Askey (Applejuice)?

 

RM: I’d like to thank Jeff @ TWIP for his instrumental effort in getting Jim and myself together to resolve our differences and reach an amicable agreement.  I am still working with Jeremy to transfer his artwork to deeproot.  We have been in agreement on the major terms since last Fall.  But the volume of work is so large, it has taken time to make sure everything is included.  An agreement could be finalized any day.

 

TWIP: That is quite a team that has been assembled in a short time frame.  What does the rest of 2018 look like for deeproot Pinball?

 

RM: I am very grateful to have some of the best talent possible working on my vision for the next century of Pinball.  However, we still are looking for additional talent to round-out our team.  As we continue to work on internal milestones in 2018, I would encourage interested techs, homebrew designers, and (especially) artists to contact us.

 

TWIP: A position that is missing from the New Hires is a software person – who will be coding the deeproot machines?

 

RM: Turner Logic is providing most of the software.  They designed our financial system.  Like everything else with the project, nearly all of the innovations and designs are my own. In the case of software, Turner Logic has put their own spin on it for implementation.

 

TWIP: Does that mean that a non-pinball/gaming team of people will be coding the pinball machines?

 

RM: Anyone with basic knowledge of structured commands would be able to code the machine.

 

TWIP: Maybe for a very simple ruleset that is true, but most of the coders in pinball are also talented players so they see the code from a “players” perspective.  How can someone with little pinball knowledge code a pinball machine?  Or are you planning to have the code extremely basic or very similar for all deeproot machines?

 

RM: We’d like to give our programmers and the player more control over the code.  So, no one will ever be able to rationally blame us for incomplete code.

 

TWIP: What does that mean? 

 

RM: I can’t reveal more on that right now…

 

TWIP: Will games ship “code complete”?  

 

RM: Is any code truly complete?  We would like to make arguments about whether the code is ‘complete’ or ‘incomplete’ irrelevant.

 

TWIP: Can you explain what that means?

 

RM: I would love to, but it wouldn’t make any sense unless you understood the 5 days of deeproot.  I am confident it is a long-overdue innovation that will be well received.

 

TWIP: How long did deeproot spend researching and/or considering pinball before making the decision to enter the pinball industry?

 

RM: Most of the foundational concepts came from a six month whirlwind ending in July of 2015, and then digesting and documenting them during a hiatus from the project until October 2016.  Preliminary implementation occurred between October 2016 and April 2017.  Full Implementation from April 2017.

 

TWIP: How much are you into the pinball hobby for business vs. passion for pinball?

 

RM: First, no pinball ‘company’ that has ever been started has gotten into the hobby solely for the passion. Pinball development and manufacturing is complex and expensive.  It has to be run like a business to stay in business.  Second, I don’t see the two motivations as mutually exclusive.  Why not make money doing something you have a passion for? Lastly, it is humorous many have attributed motivations or attributes to me or the project, either saying they know me (us) when they do not, or by assigning whatever motivation/attribute fits their self-promoting narrative.  Thus, I understand why those who can attest to my (and our) passion have chosen to remain silent during the last six months.  My (our) passion will come out in the right way, at the right time.

 

TWIP: What has been the most challenging thing deeproot has faced so far while entering the pinball industry?

 

RM: While we throw around the term ‘industry’, bringing some order to the endemic dysfunction of the ‘hobby’ has been (and will continue to be) the most challenging goal for us.

 

TWIP: You mention no assembly line – can you expand on how the machines will be built without an assembly line?

 

RM: Quad Assembly will provide rapid and dynamic on-demand manufacturing abilities that current pinball manufacturers will have a hard time to match. We’ll be able to throttle and provide process fluctuations with flexible distribution.  Following this concept allows for cross-functional staffing resulting in higher productivity and decreased manufacturing costs.

 

TWIP: Can you explain more about Quad Assembly and how it would work?  Are there any difficulties you may face with this type of process as opposed to a typical assembly line?

 

RM: This is one of hundreds of trade secrets we are keeping to ourselves for now.  Yes there will be growing pains with this type of assembly line at first.  While pinball might be easy, manufacturing is not. 

 

TWIP: So when you say “pinball is easy”, what are you referring to if not the manufacturing aspect?

 

RM: When boiled (or torn down) to its individual components, there is nothing hard or novel about pinball machines.  The magic comes in balancing each of the individual components together to create a ‘production’ that is fun, engaging, and immersive.  ‘Pinball is hard’ has become an excuse rather than a fact of development.

 

TWIP: Will deeproot Pinball machines be standard sizes and “normal” pinball machines that the community is used to?

 

RM: Correct, based on the standard Williams/Bally dimensions.  But with our own unique take.  Sizzle without the zizzle.

 

TWIP: What will the displays look like on deeproot machines?

 

RM: We want to enhance a player’s experience with a display rather than confuse or distract.  More content, more accessible to the eye.

 

TWIP: More accessible to the eye?  Will the display be in a different location, on the apron or playfield?

 

RM: We want to do more with the backbox screen.

 

TWIP: Has deeproot built a “test” pinball machine?

 

RM: No.

 

TWIP: How can you say pinball is “easy” if you haven’t built a machine?

 

RM: At the current time, we don’t anticipate making any of our prototypes public prior to sale. So there is no need to bother with test machines. That way the whitewood is more of a final. At least that is the general plan.

 

TWIP: Without test machines and having the whitewood as “more of a final” machine, are there concerns as to how deeproot machines will hold up over time in people’s homes and/or on location?

 

RM: That we are aware of, no pinball machine ever manufactured has been truly “safe” or “suitable” for a home environment; while improving upon the needs of operators.  So it is a low bar to measure up to.  The deeproot Standard will define us apart from any pinball machine ever before conceived.

 

TWIP: What do you mean when you say no pinball machine has been truly safe or suitable for a home environment?

 

RM: This will be addressed on days 1, 2, & 4 of the 5 days of deeproot.

 

TWIP: About a year ago on Pinside, Ben Heck was discussing Bible Adventures and you mentioned “Already spoken for, friend”.  Do you plan to make a Bible Adventures theme?

 

RM: So back in mid 2015 when I was working with Ben and Charlie, Ben wanted to do a Bible Adventures game and Charlie was like…no.  So Ben and I started talking about ideas and it became clear that we had two very different takes on the theme.  I have not spoken to Ben since.  About a year ago, I started designing Fire & Brimstone layout, mechs, and rulesets.  It will be the first religious pinball of its kind.  We have partnered with Kingstone for the artwork and collaborative Christian marketing.  We wanted a grittier take on the Old Testament stories that Kingstone has done so well with.  We intend for Fire & Brimstone to be enjoyed by people of all denominations or faiths (Christian, Non-Denominational, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, LDS), or no faith at all.

 

TWIP: Will Fire and Brimstone be deeproot’s first title?

 

RM: We won’t have a ‘first’ title in that sense.  Our primary priority is making great games internally, then taking care of the Zidware customers, then launch.

 

TWIP: You are the designer?

 

RM: I came up with and have spearheaded the design, but a lot of elements have been very collaborative.  I have intentionally enforced a very collaborative environment here.  I don’t want the old secretive, cutthroat WB dysfunction in our organization.

 

TWIP: Is it a “mode based” game, playing through different stories from the Old Testament?

 

RM: I hope everyone will be able to play it in the way that most satisfies them. 

 

TWIP: Did you see the recent picture Ben Heck posted in the Pinside Bible Adventures Pinball Discussion thread of a foam core with a rotating scoop?

 

RM: Yes.  We have already come up with some similar elements, and many more.  I look forward to seeing what Ben can do with his version.  He’s a brilliant and talented guy.

 

TWIP: Do you plan to have more than one title available at launch?

 

RM: Yes.

 

TWIP: How many titles do you plan to have at launch?

 

RM: …And ruin the surprise?

 

TWIP: How soon after launch do you plan to start shipping machines?

 

RM: Since we will not sell any game we can’t ship within 2 weeks, we anticipate a slow roll-out after the 5 days of deeproot using inventory manufactured prior to the announcement.

 

TWIP: Has deeproot obtained any license for a theme for a pinball machine?

 

RM: Some of our titles will require licenses.  While we have mentioned the Kingstone license, we are under NDA’s regarding other licenses and are unable to comment further.  I will say that we are interested in breaking into new and exciting markets that no other pinball company has really catered to before.  Like the religious market, we also (without providing further details) are working on other new markets, such as a culture-specific game.

 

TWIP: Are you concerned about over-promising and under-delivering?

 

RM: LOL! No. Not at all.  The bar is so low right now I think the bigger issue (for us) will be to continue to raise it after our launch.

 

TWIP: Will deeproot be attending the Texas Pinball Festival in March?

 

RM: Yes. The whole team will be there. But just as pinball fans and supporters of a great pinball event.

 

TWIP: When can the pinball community expect the 5 days of deeproot, and can you give any more information about that?

 

RM: When the masterpiece is ready, we will let everyone know.

 


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2018 Pinball Preview and Predictions

2018 Pinball Preview and Predictions

What can we expect in 2018?

 

Do you know when the first pinball machine of 2017 was announced?  January 4th – exactly one year ago today!  It was Stern’s Aerosmith.  We got a sneak peak of it at Expo at the end of 2016, but the official pics were released by Stern on January 4th.  So we shouldn’t waste any time, lets get to our preview and predictions and a post that probably won’t age well!!

 

2018 appears to be shaping up to be another great year for pinball.  We should be seeing over 10 new pinball machines announced!  This Week in Pinball reached out to most of the manufacturers, but (not) surprisingly, none would share which titles they’re releasing and when they’ll be released.  Disappointing.  So we’re going to have to do all guess work!

Ready to speculate??  Ok here we go!

 

From Stern Pinball:

 

Let’s look at 2017:

 

  • Aerosmith was announced in January
  • AC/DC Vault Edition was announced in mid-May
  • Star Wars was announced at the end of May
  • Guardians of the Galaxy was announced at the end of October

 

What to expect in 2018?  We can probably expect three new titles from Stern, plus a new Ka-Pow title and maybe a Vault Edition – so TWIP will predict five new machines manufactured by Stern in 2018.  Which ones and when will they be announced?  Some current rumors are Deadpool, The Munsters, Iron Maiden, Pulp Fiction…  We know Keith Elwin is working on a game, as is Steve Ritchie.  **EDIT: Forgot to include the Elvira 3 pin, oops!  A new Elvira pin was confirmed last year at the Texas Pinball Festival.  There are rumors that it may be ready in 4Q of 2018, but Stern has been tight-lipped about the title since the announcement.

 

And what about the new Ka-Pow title?  Last year (or possibly the year before last), Ka-Pow created an online survey to ask which title people want to see.  While we do not have the results from that poll, the same poll was posted on Pinside called “What Game Do You Want Ka-Pow to Make?” and the results are as follows:

 

  • Willy Wonka (18%)
  • Something Else (18%)
  • The Munsters (17%)
  • The Beatles (10%)
  • A Christmas Story (6%)
  • Three Stooges (6%)
  • Young Frankenstein (5%)
  • The Beverly Hillbillies (2%)

 

There are rumors that Jersey Jack landed the Willy Wonka license, but who knows.  And from the poll, The Munsters may be the next Ka-Pow title, not a Stern title.  The Beatles possibly?  A Christmas Story?

 

What about a Vault Edition?  The top rumors on the next Vault Edition are probably Tron and The Walking Dead.

 

Timing wise, during the banquet at Expo last fall there was a pre-filmed video from Ka-Pow pinball and Joe Kaminkow.  During that video it was announced that the next Ka-Pow title would be announced at Expo 2018.  So we can plan on the Ka-Pow title at Expo in October.  As far as other reveals, we would guess that one game would be revealed before Texas Pinball Festival, one over the summer, one at Expo, and…one mixed in somewhere else (how’s that for a prediction?).

 

From Chicago Gaming/Planetary Pinball:

Chicago Gaming already announced game #3 will be revealed at the Texas Pinball Festival in March.  They also shared the following games would likely be remade at some point:

 

  • Monster Bash
  • Cactus Canyon
  • Big Bang Bar
  • Theatre of Magic

 

So which one to expect at TPF?  Hmmm…Big Bang Bar seems least likely.  Most rumors are saying either Monster Bash or Cactus Canyon – our guess is Monster Bash at this point.

 

From Jersey Jack Pinball:

The last two years, Jersey Jack has revealed a machine at Expo in October.  Two years ago it was Dialed In!, last year it was Pirates of the Caribbean.  Their next title is rumored to be Toy Story, so the natural prediction would be Toy Story announced at Expo.  But we’re going to go out on a limb here and say that their next title will be announced BEFORE Expo.

 

From Spooky Pinball:

Spooky has announced they plan to bring Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle to the Texas Pinball Festival in March.  (They’ll also be bringing a Total Nuclear Annihilation standard and a TnA in a butter cabinet.)  It would not be surprising to see some further ACNC teases from Spooky leading up to TPF.  Will we hear an announcement of their next title in 2018?  Between TnA and ACNC, it seems like Spooky manufacturing will be quite busy in 2018, but it wouldn’t surprise us to get some teasers of a future title.

 

From American Pinball:

American Pinball will be busy in 2018 shipping Houdini’s to customers.  During our interview with Joe Balcer, he mentioned a tentative plan to make a splash at Expo 2018 with their second title, which will be unlicensed.  The timing of the announcement for the second title will be dependent on sales of Houdini, so we will see.

 

From Heighway Pinball:

Heighway Pinball is a tough one to predict.  They are shipping Alien’s currently, and have announced that Barry Oursler is working on three new themes – two licensed and one unlicensed.  One of the licensed ones is rumored to be Queen, and was expected to be announced at Texas Pinball Festival in March.  But we’ll have to see if that actually happens.

 

From Multimorphic (P3):

Multimorphic’s P3 started shipping in 2017 with Lexy Lightspeed – Escape From Earth, along with Cannon Lagoon, ROCs, Barnyard, and Lexy Lightspeed – Secret Agent Showdown.  They will likely be busy in 2017 shipping more units and we hope to see many more videos and exposure of the P3 platform in 2018.

 

From Homepin:

Homepin has announced they plan to ship Thunderbirds in 2018 and that it will be the first of many titles, so we can probably expect some type of announcement of a second game sometime in 2018.

 

From Dutch Pinball:

They just need to build and ship The Big Lebowski!

 

From Circus Maximus:

Circus Maximus is working on Python’s Pinball Circus along with a second title, which is rumored to be a Kingpin remake.  Can we expect to see at least one of these two titles shown in 2018?  Prediction is…yes.

 

From deeproot Pinball:

deeproot Pinball made quite a splash into the pinball community, and now have a long road ahead to become a pinball manufacturer.  Will we hear more news about deeproot in 2018?  Prediction is yes.  Will we see a game reveal from deeproot Pinball in 2018?  Prediction is…no.

 


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EXCLUSIVE Interview with Joe Balcer, Playfield Designer for Houdini – The Desire to Create

EXCLUSIVE Interview with Joe Balcer, Playfield Designer for Houdini – The Desire to Create

THE DESIRE TO CREATE – INTERVIEW WITH JOE BALCER, PLAYFIELD DESIGNER FOR HOUDINI PINBALL

 

 

This Week in Pinball:  When did you join American Pinball?

 

Joe Balcer: I joined American Pinball October of 2016.  So it’s been just over a year that I’ve been here.

 

TWIP:  Before joining American Pinball, you designed Wizard of Oz and The Hobbit with Jersey Jack Pinball, and then The Simpsons Pinball Party with Stern.  Is there a significant difference for a designer working with different companies, or does the design process stay pretty much the same?

 

JB:  It is definitely different with each company.  Coming in to Data East, Stern or Sega, they had design concepts and a protocol on how things got done.  When I came into JJP or when I came into American Pinball, there has been no protocol set.  So in my mind I have the same procedure, same type of thing on attacking a design that comes from how I see it working.

 

TWIP:  As far working with Wizard of Oz and Hobbit (being licensed themes), how much different is it working with an unlicensed theme like Houdini?

 

JB:  Licensed themes carry their own weight.  You get a script and you get all kinds of elements and IP (Intellectual Property) and things that go along with the game.  So it kind of makes it in a way easier to get a game design together, but then the difficulty comes at the end because you have to get approvals.  So what you might think is something good and cool and special that is going to work, the licensor is going to say “I don’t think so”.  So you may have to change a whole part of the game or part of the artwork that you don’t have to do with non-licensed themes.  Non-licensed themes, it is really an easier way to go when it comes down to design, but it can take a lot more time because you have to create it.  Everything that goes up on the screen, all of your graphics, everything that goes on the playfield, all the art, has to be created as opposed to going to a website and pick what you need.  There are plusses and minuses to both sides.  I prefer the non-licensed, kind of a “pseudo license” that you have a license/design/concept that everybody knows but it isn’t tied to a licensing fee.

 

TWIP:  I think a lot of people are surprised that Houdini is unlicensed.

 

JB:  I was too.  When I first came in, I said “Is this covered, really?”  But I guess Houdini had no children so there was nothing passed on, and there was a statement made during his life that he wanted his legacy out there for the public to be into forever.  With all the magic games out there, you would think that Houdini would’ve been pursued a lot sooner than we did.

 

TWIP:  There was some speculation as to the reasons you left Jersey Jack Pinball, can you expand on that all?

 

JB:  I’m limited on what I want I want to say.  But it was kind of a difference on company direction and my part I felt there were false promises made.  It wasn’t fun anymore, you kind of lost that fun part of being in pinball for me, so I pulled away from the whole industry for a few years.  I used what I knew with assembly and running an assembly plan and it was a good experience for me, but there was always that pull back to pinball.  I’ve been in it for a long time and I can support my family with it and have a lot of fun while I’m doing it.  I have the desire to create, and it is fun to be able to do it in this industry because it is a small industry and I have a pretty good feel for what people like to shoot, how they like to shoot, what they like to shoot at.  It is kind of a work smarter not harder kind of thing – make it your own and people enjoy it.  It is great to see people having fun on something you put together.

 

TWIP: To make sure I have the timeline right, American Pinball first introduced Houdini at Expo in fall of 2016 around the time you joined AP, then you went on to completely redesign Houdini and have a flippable game at Texas Pinball Festival in March of 2017? 

 

JB: Right.

 

TWIP:  That seems like quite a feat, what was that time at American Pinball like?

 

JB:  One thing I’ve learned over the years, working for Gary Stern, you would turn playfield designs over in a short amount of time.  You had to make the right decisions – design is not what it looks like, it is a design of how it works.  So you have to make the right decisions. There are a bunch of decisions along the way to get to a design fairly quickly.  When it was decided – in November is when I had a piece of paper (the design of Houdini).  So Houdini was a piece of paper in November of 2016.  I was allowed to put a team together – kind of a difficult task because most of the guys that are very knowledgable, guys that I know, are hired at Stern or at JJP.  Guys you can’t just go and get.  Friends of mine, guys that I know are really talented.  So you find the best that is out there.  I was allowed to put together a team of the best guys I could find – guys that had worked in pinball, guys that had a desire to get back into pinball.  So that piece of paper in November was when I got together the team and got my artist and got a programmer which was Josh who wasn’t hired at the time.  Got an animator, got guys together to create a team.  Picked up a mechanical guy here and there on contract to do the mechs we had in mind.  When I got them all together and said “Ok guys, here’s what we’re going to do, we’re going to put this game together from this piece of paper I have right here.  And we’re going to go to Texas in March with a game finished.”

 

I probably didn’t hear too many people laugh as hard as they laughed – at the time they thought I was out of my mind.  In time that started to take root.  I was more on this path of saying “Look, the pinball industry has shown over the last 5-6-7 years that it takes 2 or 3 or 4 years to bring a design out.  Some of these new companies were 2-4 years before they really felt like they could ship.  For whatever reason, I had in my head that we could get this game to Texas.  It’s a four month window but we’ve got the best of the best here and we’re going to make this happen.  I got vendors I’d worked with for years on board.  We had guys bringing parts to us at 8 or 9:00 at night two or three days after they were designed, and helping us out in a big way.  Guys that were staying here until all hours of the night helping us build or helping us work through getting past a white wood that we basically never really built.  We tried some parts on it but kind of skipped the white wood process.  That was another big issue – we’ve got a white wood to play for several weeks, and we decided not to do that.  So we decided to skip the whitewood – we were confident in the shots.  And everything just kind of fell together.  It was amazing to see at the time and for us to get to Texas.  We wanting to bring three games which was completely out of the ball park.  But we got there with two games.  The last game we put together as the truck was waiting for us for a couple hours in our dock to get the second game on the truck.  It was just sheer want.  Everybody on board just really wanted to make this happen in that time frame.  And for us to show up in Texas with a different game, a different cabinet, a different design, different artwork, different sound, different code, from what everyone had seen as a box of lights at Expo in October – that was what kicked off the company.

 

TWIP:  I think the pinball community was floored that you had were able to get that finished.

 

JB:  Yes, a lot of naysayers.  And the more naysayers there were on Pinside or online that said these guys are just BSing their way, they’re trying to take your money, all the negative things that came out – we opened up the company in March by not taking any pre-orders, by showing what was then considered a pretty complete game even though we knew there was a lot of work to be done.  But it was a shooting game that people were really knocked off of their chair about wondering how’d they do this? And that is kind of what we wanted.  My vision was to make the pinball industry say “how’d they do that?  What’d they do to make that happen?”  So we got to that point and it was a good feeling for all of us.  It was huge.

 

TWIP: What major tweaks have you needed to make after showing the game at TPF up until now with the production game?

 

JB:  Mostly it was to open up some of the shots and to get some of the feature shots more reliable.  The whole thing ever since Texas has been to tweak the shots, open them up as best we could to still make them make-able shots that felt good.  I always like to keep a shooter in mind.  I like a pinball game that is a little more challenging than really wide open shots that you just can’t miss.  I’d rather build a game or design a game to give some of the novice players that – just by flipping – they’re going to make some shots.  But the important shots I want a shooter to feel good that he/she made the shot.  Maybe it looks small but once you feel it and you get that spot on the flipper, you’re going to hit that shot all day.

 

TWIP: Backing up a little bit, what is the first thing you do as a designer when you’re presented with a new project or theme?

 

JB: To form a team if you don’t have a team in place.  Rely on that input to get the best out of the title.  So you take a title like Houdini and you have everybody give input.  You have things like escape from shackles or stomach punch or rabbit out of the hat, card tricks, traveling magic show, disappearing elephant.  Everybody comes up with these different aspects of Houdini’s life and at some point you narrow that down to what can we make mechanical – what is going to be a feature on the game?  And go from there.  So then you fit that into a layout.  In my opinion that is the best way to do it.  I’m not the kind of guy to say “that is the shot, that’s the layout, that’s how it is going to be” because there are too many unknowns.  I could come up to a game I designed and miss every shot 15 times row because pinball is just that way.  But in the back of my mind I know I can make all those shots because I’ve done them.  I try to get that fine line between this is too hard to let me shoot this a few times, I know I can make that shot.  It has a lot to do with input from the team.  That is where I get a charge from: “now I need to make the team happy” – we’ve got these four things that are critical to this game – give me a week or two and we’ll meet again and I’ll show you what I’m thinking.  It is a pretty good percentage that at that point I’m on my way.

 

TWIP:  Would you say that you were trying to make a difficult game?

 

JB:  No, not really.  Keeping in mind what Houdini is…it is across the board, men, women, kids – it is a magic theme.  I wasn’t trying to make a difficult game but I was trying to make a challenging game.  I’m going to give you the loops and give you the ramp shots.  You can close your eyes and hit those shots.  But some of the shots – to lock a ball to get to the catapult, to get to seance multi-ball – it is out at the end of the flipper.  There has to be some difficulty to a pinball.  A super easy pinball is not an earning pinball, it isn’t something that people want to come back and play.

 

TWIP:  I read online that the stand up targets are smaller than standard size?

 

JB:  Yes – stand up targets at some point need to evolve.  It is a leaf switch with a target on it.  The blade of a leaf switch is 3/8″ wide.  To be safe the smallest target was 1/2″ wide.  So we said lets not be “safe” anymore.  Lets machine down the 1/2″ target a 1/16″ on each side and make it the exact same size as the blade and that should open up the shots.  And that is exactly what happened.  So it kind of evolved – here is the thinnest stand up target we could get at a 1/2″, how much smaller can we go?  The blade is 3/8″, lets make the target 3/8″.  I’ve got tight shots on the game so it helped open up the shots in a big way.

 

TWIP:  How much time was spent researching Houdini the person and his life?

 

JB:  That happened right after we got the team together.  There was a lot of multi-tasking for me where I’m working on a layout but I’m also doing a lot of research on Houdini.  What it did was it made me change directions on a couple ideas just because I don’t think they were as prominent in his life and his legacy as we all thought.  This guy is a magician, he does magic – well it is a lot more than that.  He did a lot of things that really blew people’s minds.  To shoot a ball on one side of the game and it comes out the other side of the game almost instantly – that came from more research.  We said we just have to make this thing trickier.  We have to trick the player a little bit without losing control.

 

TWIP: And how does that work because when you’re playing it, it does feel like the you go into a certain spot and suddenly the ball seems to appear from an unexpected area?

 

JB: That is the slight of hand that magicians or illusionists do – that is what we tried to do with the game.  So instead of having your standard six ball trough at the player, we have a three ball lock under the playfield on the right side and a three ball lock on top of the playfield on the left side.  Josh has a commanding position where he can load and unload balls from either side of the playfield at any given time.  So once he starts to load up the right side, the next time you shoot to the left side he can release a ball from the right side.  It is a balance of where he can load balls during gameplay and fool the player.  You think the next ball is going to be kicked out into the shooter lane and it comes out of the left side of the playfield.  It gives you that feel we were looking for.  It was a successful thing by spreading out the ball locks on the game.

 

TWIP: For the magnets that are under each hand near Houdini’s mouth, were those planned from the beginning?

 

JB:  Being a magic game, magnets have to come into play.  Programmers can do some crazy things with magnets.  Sometimes they can plan it, sometimes they can’t plan it.  Sometimes by pulsing those magnets the ball does some crazy things that they’ll never be able to duplicate.  Once we got the preliminary art package done by Jeff, and he wanted to go with the open hands – it was a natural thing at that point to drop the magnets under the hands.  The targets worked out well right by the hands.  So every time you hit those targets, it fires that magnet so the ball does some tricky stuff.  Sometimes it will catch it and spin it around, in multiball it will catch two balls and spin them around.  All sorts of chaotic stuff goes on and people have a big “wow” when they see that.  Everyone knows what it is but when you’re playing a game it takes precedent and you say “Wow, that was amazing”.

 

TWIP:  At what point did you know you wanted to add a stage and a catapult lock shot?

 

JB:  That came from the original design and concept.  We refined what the original layout was – originally there was a catapult in the game but there was nothing there to assure the shot was going to work.  You go to the games that use catapults, you fire the ball and it catches on a wire ramp almost immediately.  I was intrigued by just taking a catapult and firing it, how far it went.  As we were messing around with the pulsing on it, I taped up a little square on a back panel to see – almost like you’re pitching – seeing where you’re throwing the ball at all times.  And I was seeing some pretty concise hits where they were hitting within 1/2″ of each other once you got the pulse regulated.  The catapult shot became the big shot on the game.  Using the second catapult was just an after thought.

 

TWIP:  The second catapult is the one that feeds the wireform that goes down to the right flipper?

 

JB:  Yes, it lofts it into that wire ramp, and that is very safe.  The one that we’re throwing in the air approximately 22 or 23 inches – its unheard of.  It is definitely a first of a ball flying that distance.  And it is pretty controlled.  We’re getting 95-96%+ accuracy.  Once it is set up on location or in your home, you’re not going to see a lot of failures.  If it does miss for whatever reason, you still get the lock even though the ball falls back into play.  So you won’t lose what you achieved. 

 

TWIP: When was it decided for the stage display to change from a vertical screen to a horizontal screen?

 

JB:  It was always in my mind that it was intended to be horizontal.  Initially we put it up there vertically just to put something out there that once it changed people would understand why it changed.  We were in a prototype situation so we had an opportunity to do that.  I think in the long run the way I saw the display being used was in that marquee type of style that you see on the front of a theater.  So for us to go from our sample game which was vertically mounted to production games which is horizontally mounted like a marquee – I think that was a big plus for our customers.  I think they felt like it was a nice change that was done.  Whether or not it was intentional, it definitely fits the theme better.  It was almost a slight of hand we pulled from sample to production.

 

TWIP:  There are two shots through the pop bumpers – when I typically think of shots through pop bumpers I think of them going into a loop or something similar.  This one has a shot that goes through and hits a target, and a second shot that goes through and feeds to the theater entrance.  Can you explain the thought behind that?  It seemed very unique when I was playing it. 

 

JB: It evolved – I’ve done a couple of games where you shot the ball through the pops and I like the challenge to make that shot.  Its always big enough to make the shot but seven or eight times out of ten you’re going to hit the pops.  But the ones that go through feel really clean and it is a feel good shot.  It evolved as the layout was coming together.  Not only can I shoot straight up through the pops, I think I can cut one over and divert a ball to hit the stage.  It’s not a 100% shot – the spin of the ball and speed of the ball effects it.  But when you hit it and hit it clean, it goes right to the stage.  More or less, again, just a feel good shot.  People may not even see it there until they actually make it.  We reward them in the rules by – if you make the stage shot through the pop bumpers it advances and opens the stage immediately instead of having to shoot it three or four times.  Same thing as shooting through the pops all the way up to the upper target – it will start a mode that is instant as opposed to having to shoot X amount of shots.

 

TWIP: The pop bumpers are also interesting in that they can kick the ball into the magic shot or into the theater, so I’m paying more attention than normal hoping the pops can complete a shot for me.

 

JB: Yes, because to get into the Magic Shop there is no clean shot from the flippers.  We found as we played the game we were getting a lot of bounce backs.  There were actually different post configurations in that area to keep the ball in the pop bumpers, but as time went on those posts were removed.  We saw the chaos coming out of the pop bumper area is going to help you advance by going into the Magic Shop.  Once you play the game and the Magic Shop is lit, you know to loft the ball up in that area and chances are you’re going to get in there off the pops or a bounce off of the stage.  So balls drop in there a lot more than you think.

 

TWIP: Can you explain the unique head shape on the game?

 

JB: Early on, when we first did the cabinet design, we had a design here from the engineering group to put marquee lights on the head, and being that Houdini did most of his magic on stage, we wanted to bring out the marquee lights.  We weren’t going for the multi-colored crazy chasing lights.  It was more of a marquee light – that kind of yellowish white that you can get out of LEDs and just have them chase up and down.  And putting the curves in the sides of the box made the lights come out at you and then disappear under the box.  It looked cool, it was one of the things we didn’t get in the game.  I really wanted to see that happen but under the time frame and everything else, we couldn’t put our attention to that as much as I had hoped.  The design look of it stayed the same, and it actually has provisions in the head to add chase lights at any given point.  There may be an upgrade down the road.  I would think that you might see that on another game we do.  At least it is designed in.  When we did have it working it was a cool effect and if you put 20 games on a wall and turn on all the games, your eyes would go immediately to Houdini just for that aspect.  It was more of a “get your attention” aspect but I think we could’ve worked it into gameplay.  But the time and effort and cost to make it happen put the skids on it for now.

 

TWIP: Do you think that could be something that a pinball mod company could do down the road?

 

JB: Absolutely.  It’s on our list as something to get to, to make it available.  It is just something we haven’t gotten to.

 

TWIP:  Were there any other features you wanted to include but had to be cut for time reasons or budget reasons?

 

JB:  Not really.  I think the lit backbox was pretty much the only thing we didn’t get to.  Everything else evolved into what it is.  Obviously as a designer you want more of everything.  As a first game for a company, we didn’t want to build a monster.  We didn’t want to build something that is difficult to clean or service.  I love building big games.  Having no restraints on putting together Wizard of Oz from day one – a three playfield, multi-level, multiple flippers, all kinds of stuff and the kitchen sink in that game.  That was the philosophy of that company.  Thats the way the company wanted to come out of the box, as bigger and better.  I think our philosophy here coming out of the box is “lets give them as much as we can”, “lets keep the price down”, “lets make it an easier serviceable game”, so instead of going into the basement or game rooms of collectors, this game has a better possibility of hitting the streets.  The operators are not going to look at you like you’re out of your mind wondering how to clean it.  Some of the basic stuff we kept in mind – it is a design to more “keep it simple”.  It has one ramp so it has to be interesting on the single level to make the ramp shot that much more important.  You look at the game as an operator and I’ve talked to a lot of operators, and they’re giving us kudos that they can take a rag and wipe down every lane, I can change a light bulb without any big issues.

 

TWIP: A lot of stuff in it but still relatively easy to maintain.

 

JB:  Yeah.  At least to keep it clean.  One of the bigger problems you have with games on the street is that you come up to them and they’re filthy.  And it’s because maybe 60-70% of the game you can’t even get to without removing units and playfields.  So this has a little more of an advantage as a street game and I hope that takes root when we start shipping.

 

TWIP: When did the LCD in the back box and the idea of the curtain and the crowd and the LCD being a stage come about?

 

JB:  Once we came up with the concept of the stage mechanism, which went through three or four different ideas and designs to come up with the design we used – once we got the curtain moving, Jeff Busch, who is our artist, took it and ran with it.  Next thing I knew I got a phone call that said “what if we move the display up, lets get it off the bottom and integrate it into the art to make it look like its one piece”.  Instead of having a big 27″ display, we pulled this off with a 15.6″ display, and it looks like a larger display because it is integrated into the art on the back glass.  It is definitely something we’ll keep in mind on each model and try to integrate that into the art design – whether or not it is curtains or just phasing in and out – keeping some of the elements of the art in the backglass along with it to make it look like a bigger and better display than really what it is.

 

TWIP: What has been the most difficult part of the design process with Houdini as compared to past projects?

 

JB:  Taking a chance on throwing a pinball 20″+ and expecting the same result each time was the big challenge.  There was no plan b.  If it didn’t work, we probably would’ve lost a couple of months redesigning a different way to do it.  I go back to the night where we were close to getting everything wired and running and I had to go.  It was late, it was after midnight and a couple of the guys were hanging around.  It was either that night or the following day when I started to get pictures and a little video of the mechanism working.  And it was banging off the plastic ramp and slamming in to the side of the cabinet.  It was doing everything we didn’t want it to do.  It was a matter of trimming the plastic ramp down, making sure we were lined up just right – and the next thing you know this thing started hitting.  So the catapult shot – shooting a ball 20″ inches and keeping it under the glass which was the biggest challenge.  I could take a catapult and launch it and it would go 6″ over the glass and drop in every time.  But to get it set right and get the launch angle set right – that was the challenge.  And if it didn’t work we probably wouldn’t be talking today on shipping games this month because we would’ve lost some time doing something different.  It was a learning curve.  I took a shot and said this thing was going to work.  And by enough prayers and hoping it really works well.

 

TWIP:  What have you learned from the test machine at Level 257 so far? 

 

JB:  We picked up on a couple really crazy ball traps.  Something you wouldn’t think would happen.  We didn’t see certain ball traps until we got there so we’re able to cover those for production, which is great.  The coil strengths – we get to see the differences with the power we have at the office versus the power we have on location.  With our electronics we’re able to find out how to dial this in and make it easier for the end user.  It isn’t going to be factory set and then it gets to your house and you’re going to plug in and you do that first catapult and it’s going to be perfect.  It may come up 2″ short or an inch long – it may not be perfect.  So there are simple adjustments to dial it in for location.  You do have to adjust it.  Some of the code issues you don’t find when you’re doing in house testing.  You’re looking for specifics, whereas in the field you’ll see stuff you never even thought of.  Being on location has been a big help to Josh.

 

TWIP:  Why did American Pinball choose to do just one model instead of the Limited Edition and Premium, etc.?

 

JBIt was a lot of potential customer input.  We wanted to do it the right way.  I’ve been in this a long time and back in the day there was one model, one price.  And that’s what pinball was.  Obviously it’s evolved.  It has evolved into three models, three price ranges which can fluctuate.  Or you come out with a Super LE that trumps them all.  I have a friend in pinball that owns a company in pinball and his saying for pinball is something I’ve said a million times is “pinball is hard”.  You look at the game, you play the game, and you think this is nothing.  But then you open it up and see everything that is involved to make the ball do what it does – it is a gigantic project.  Our way is that it narrows down to one game, one price, and it takes all that other stuff away at least for now.  Will we end up doing an LE someday?  I’m not going to say we’re not.  Can we come back in a few years and do a limited edition Houdini game?  Yeah, why not?  But our plan is to put a game out at one price.  I think as we evolve it will be more a la carte – where if you want blades, or magic glass, or a topper, or a shaker motor, you could customize the game as it leaves the factory.  The bottom line would be one game one price.  You’ll get a full blown pinball.  There are no extras, everything else would be cosmetic if you want it.  Other than that I’m not going to add a playfield and make it an LE.  I’m not going to have different code.  I’m not staffed for that which is another thing – we have a very small engineering staff.  The big guys have 20-30 people in engineering.  We’re back to old school where we have one team that is going to hit each game.  Obviously as we grow, the hope is that that grows and we can have a couple teams working on each game.  You don’t want to have the same designer and same team doing each game.  It doesn’t have the variability from team to team.  As we grow and start to sell Houdini and get into our next game I’m sure the company will grow with it.

 

TWIP: Is there a specific goal for sales of Houdini, or a success mark that needs to be met to go onto the second game?

 

JB: We have lofty numbers in house that we want to see.  This is our first game.  We have to deliver a sound product and support that product.  We have to have distributors that are on board with us and customers that work well with us.  I don’t think there is a lofty number out there or was even a number etched when we started.  But to get an initial release of Houdini of 1,000 units would be very comfortable for the company.  And we’re hoping that doubles because really that was based on U.S. sales, and we haven’t really tapped western Europe, Australia, etc.  Once the game starts to ship there we hope our numbers will grow.

 

TWIP:  I noticed American Pinball is one of the few companies that manages to have constructive conversation with online forums like Pinside – how much have you guys listened to feedback from the pinball community? 

 

JB:  I learned a lot working at JJP – at the time, owners had their own forum that when you bought a machine you got your password to get onto a forum.  Pinside can be informative, Pinside can be destructive, Pinside is Pinside.  I’m not a regular reader, I usually don’t have input.  Josh Kugler came from the home-brew type guys and Pinside is a part of their deal, so he’s tried to communicate what he can.  He is kind of our voice on Pinside.  I take it for what it’s worth.  If something hits home with me, maybe its something I’ve been thinking about – maybe a shot is not working that well or an aspect of the game could be better.  I read that and maybe its on the same wave length that I’m thinking.  Obviously we’ll take that into consideration.  You get more of a public opinion.  Like I said, I like to design with input so it is important.  It’s a different world, it’s 2017, its social media, everything is done online, so it is viable – I can’t say I don’t listen to it, I don’t read it, and I don’t care.  That would be the wrong approach.

 

TWIP: And you’re not going to please everybody no matter what you do.  It seems like Josh has done a pretty good job on the forums.

 

JB: Yes, he likes to communicate that way.  For myself, a lot of these guys that do complain a lot or have a lot to say – you know what, I don’t see your name on an application to be a designer or to be a programmer – put your name in here.  If you think you know, come and be a part of it.  Don’t sit behind your computer and bash everything you see, be a part of it.  See how difficult and fulfilling doing a pinball is.  It is a small market.  It is a tiny grain of sand in all the companies in the world, but it is a fun industry and a tight industry and you have to listen.  You know when somebody is just out there slamming you or maybe had a few too many and got ticked off at a game he played.  But you have to be able to figure that out.  I welcome it, I think it is great stuff and I think Josh does a great job of communicating and giving people something to go on.

 

TWIP: I know there has been talk of when shipping will start – is the plan still to start shipping before the end of 2017?

 

JB: Our promise from Texas still holds true.  I joked about it at a couple shows and said “Hey, we’re not lying if we at least put a game in a box by December 31st.  To be truthful, we have 25-30 play fields on the line right now in rotisseries, 75% built.  We’re putting cables on now.  We have a game in our lab that is basically the first production model that just came off the floor that we’re going through with a fine toothed comb.  Making sure we’re using the proper hardware, making sure we’re sticking to the bill of material.  I have all the confidence in the world we will ship a few games before the end of this year.  I don’t know what that number is.  But if we don’t it is not the end of the world, I hope people understand that.  We’re doing everything in our power with a small staff to make this happen.  We’re right there.  I see a beautiful game being put together.  We’ve brought in some people that have experience in pinball that have a lot of input and know how to build good games.  We’re ahead of this thing, we’ve got our cartons printed, we’re ready to go, our distributors are itching to get those first ones.  We don’t want to let people down, and its not our culture here to say something and not do it.  I wish I could say we’re going to ship 100 games before the end of the year, but it is December 19th so I can’t put that kind of quantity on there.  All the little things you think are going right just don’t go right.  I’ll never put a blame on a vendor or vendors or the system or how we did it.  It is all collectively one thing.  Until this thing is really rolling, something is going to effect shipping, it is just going to happen.  I have a lot of pride in what I do, and our staff here have a lot of pride in what we do collectively.  We’re not going to ship games just to ship them.  They have to be right.  I don’t want someone unboxing a game and this is missing or that isn’t strapped.  That is worse than to not ship games before the end of the year.  There is a line in the sand – we’re not going to be that company that says we’re going to do this and not do it.  There have been companies that said the exact same thing and didn’t ship for three or four years.  We are not that company.  If people are expecting big things in this short about of time, hold that thought because big things are coming.  It is not going to be as fluid and easy, like some people like to say that “pinball is easy”, it’s not.  There are so many variables you’ll rip your hair out trying to figure out “how did that happen?”  You’ve got all the paper work done and all the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted and you’re waiting for those parts and here they come and…then there not there.  Or you fix something in the code and it caused five other issues.  We’ve got a handle on this.  Josh is trying to make it deep in the rules and give it some depth.  But we all know one thing effects others and we have to catch those things before the end user gets them.  I am confident we’re in a good place here.  Obviously we have a production facility built. We’re not relying on a contract manufacturer to build our games.  We’re not relying on other peoples money.  We’re not taking preorders.  The last part of the puzzle is to ship it and service it.  It feels good to be where we are.

 

TWIP: When production is in full swing, how many machines do you expect to be able to produce each week?

 

JB: This facility we have here is pretty small, it is about a 15,000 square foot building – take away offices and take away the lab, you probably have 10 or 12 thousand square feet.  Our goal is to get to 10 games a day which would be 50 a week, with knowing we can do 20-25 a day.  Once this thing is figured out, work stations are moved around, the timing is done correctly, we’re not sitting on a playfield at one station for 10 minutes when the next guy can get done in 5 minutes causing a bottleneck…could we get to 100 games a week?  That is our ultimate goal, to get to 20-25 games a day which in this facility would be a pretty remarkable thing to do.  We’re not sitting on a lot of square footage.  Our offices are small, we’re sharing offices.  Luckily everyone here likes each other.  Josh said one time early on something I didn’t think about – between him, myself and Jim Thornton, and some of the other guys that were involved early on, we were here for 12, 15, 18 hour days and one of the things Josh brought up was it was a good thing we like each other.  We were all after one goal, to get to Texas.  None of us punched someone else in the face because they didn’t do their job or didn’t come through.  To say that it is basically the company itself is the same way, we’re small, we’re walking on top of each other.  All it takes is one or two to mess that flow up which would kick us back a bit.  We’ve been blessed with that, the people we have and the contributions everyone makes is all for that end game. That’s who we are.

 

TWIP: Being a new manufacturer with the first machine about to go into production right now, what is the overall feel at American Pinball right now?  Nervousness?  Excitement?  A bit of both?

 

JB: It is all that – anxious, anger, happiness, hour to hour it changes.  You can have a great morning that turns into a really bad afternoon or vice versa.  At least after every day, I think we have made a step forward no matter how many steps back we did that day.  That has to happen especially in a small company.  Every day is filled with something new.  Once we get that first game in a box on the truck, I think we’ve finally hit that milestone we’ve been looking for.

 

TWIP: Is there going to be some champaign that day? 

 

JB:  Yeah, we’ve hit a thousand milestones to that point but we haven’t shipped.  We have to ship.  I think the industry, the customer base, everyone takes a big deep breath after that.  A sigh of relief to say “look what they did”.  This isn’t 2021, it’s 2017 still.  And we’re here, and that is what I want to be able to say.  That we did that.  We made it to Texas in four months.  We make it to production in eight months.  Under a year from the piece of paper.  Our company will take off in a big way when we hit that milestone, and I don’t see us turning back after that.

 

TWIP:  Is there any concern as to the timing of the release of Houdini with how many machines have been released in the last year or so?

 

JB:  Coming from me, and I’m definitely biased, but no, not at all.  I thought it was a solid theme.  And the layout once we tweaked it, we’ve got a solid layout and solid theme.  You can have a great theme and a garbage playfield and the game goes nowhere.  Or a garbage theme and great playfield and the game goes nowhere.  But when you put those two together, all of that equals success.  And I think that is where we’re at.  To get something that felt good when you finger shot the whitewood.  We knew there were tight shots but we knew there were open shots.  There was definitely no fear going against the biggest title out there. People are going to jump on this thing and see it and wonder if it is the LE.  No, that is the model, one game, one price.  

 

TWIP:  Are you working on a second game?  Do you plan to stick with unlicensed themes?

 

JB:  Absolutely we’re working on a second game.  We’ve got a title.  We’re going to stick with the unlicensed titles at this point.   We’re trying to find those “pseudo” titles for lack of a better word…

 

TWIP:  The ones that “feel” licensed but aren’t?

 

JB:  Yes, something that is known worldwide.  We talked a little earlier about – the creative side is a bigger side, but the actual work involved to make it a finished product is more. I would rather do that balancing act than try to make some guy in Hollywood happy that his face looks good. I want to be able to design around a team, build it up the way we see it, and put it out there the way we see it.  All of us here have a desire to create.  There is a saying that design is intelligence made visible.  That is the fun thing about pinball.  You’ve got to have smart people doing it.  I’m not the smartest guy on the planet but I love laying out a pinball machine and putting it together with a good programmer and a good artist. 

 

TWIP:  Will you the designer for game #2 after Houdini?

 

JB:  Right now game #2 is mine, and we’re going to open it up after game #2.  We’ve got some ideas for games three and four, and we’re definitely open for new designs and new designers.  We need to start shipping games.  Our company is an income based company.  American Pinball hasn’t seen an income now for a few years and it’s time.  We have to grow and we have to be competitive.  I feel that we need to step up and support our people too, we need to take care of the people that are here.  We bring people in and say “hey change your life and come here and work” – we need to come through. Its a big obligation.  I’m a big people person and I like to have those relationships and want to be truthful and say – “look – number two is going to be better than number one”.

 

TWIP:  As far as long term goals with American Pinball and releasing machines, is the goal one game a year?  Or one game every 18 months?

 

JB:  Right now our goal is a model per year.  Obviously not all models and not all themes are going to be as good as the last one or the next one.  We don’t know when to talk about game 2 yet because there is a phenomenon that happens when a game starts to ship.  People have waited and finally it starts to ship and people are getting it in their homes and it is showing at barcades – and there a soaking time as the games starts to ship that adds to the quantity.  People start to buy in more – everything has been pictures and shows up to that point.  But then people see it on the street or a friend of theirs has a game, and you’re going to get more orders.  We’ll watch how this scales up and when it starts to plateau with sales, we’ll come out with game number 2.  We don’t want to do it too soon or too late.  It is a balancing act with sales of Houdini.  If Houdini takes off and does some crazy numbers, there is no reason to talk about game two.  Are we going to have a game two?  Absolutely!  I want to retire here.  We’ve all left other jobs and came here to come back in the industry or to come over to this company, and we want this to carry us through.  Obviously game 2 has to be as big or bigger than game 1, and game 3 has to be the same with game 2, and that is the hard part.  I think once we start to ship and this thing does some numbers on the street, I’m hoping that opens the door for more experienced talent, guys and ladies that are out there that second guessed who American Pinball is, get a better feeling for who we are and maybe come knocking on our door.  

 

TWIP:  Last question – I know you just mentioned that you need to wait and see with Houdini before you have a time frame before announcing game 2 – do you have a “latest date” for announcing it or is it purely wait and see?

 

JB:  If all goes as we think it will and this carries us through the first half of next year, when we still have orders or we’re still building, I think we’ll want to make a big splash at Expo next year.  That would be tentatively where we’ll announce game 2.  If we see things sliding before that, there are plenty of shows during the summer months that we could plan the first show of the new game.  I think we thought that Texas would be our kick off each year.  But with the start up of the first year, I don’t know if that is real anymore.  So if I was to show game 2 at Texas in March, I think popular consensus is that it was kill Houdini sales.  People are going to say – oh wait a minute, I kind of like this one a little better, or someone is on the fence about another magic game and lets see what else they come out with and maybe game 2 is something more up their alley.  We don’t want to hurt sales and we don’t want Houdini to not get max life.  So it will be an internal call on when we’re ready.  I can’t say I’d have ready in March but – guess what – we did it last year didn’t we?  It is December and the game is on paper – could we pull it off and actually be in Texas?  We’ve done it before I’m sure we could do it again, but right now that isn’t on the list of things to do. We’ll just leave it at that.

 


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EXCLUSIVE Interview with deeproot – The Next Misadventure or a Pinball Revolution?

EXCLUSIVE Interview with deeproot – The Next Misadventure or a Pinball Revolution?


deeproot Pinball has been quietly making progress on their path and plan to become a major pinball manufacturing company.  They have been in licensing talks for several major pinball titles.  They are currently looking to hire a Pinball Game Designer and a Game Writer (click here for the openings and descriptions including salary).  They are hoping to have their manufacturing facility finalized in the next 2-3 weeks.


Before we explore where deeproot is currently and what their plans are going forward, let’s first take a step back and look at deeproot’s timeline.

Early 2015

deeproot Tech starts its pinball division – deeproot Pinball.  They contact several pinball designers and manufacturers.


Summer 2015

The deeproot team decides to shelve the pinball project until a later date.


October 2016

deeproot begins implementing their internal plan of action to become a pinball manufacturer.


Late 2016 – 2017

deeproot begins reaching out to several pinball designers.  After spending significant time weighing pros and cons, deeproot decides that pinball designer John Popadiuk (“JPop”) is the best option available.  They decided this knowing there would be backlash from some in the pinball community, and knowing they would need to address John’s past mistakes with Zidware.


  • John Popadiuk’s backstory and timeline

    • Here is the short-ish version (apologies for skipping over a lot of details):  A few years back, Popadiuk owned a company called Zidware, and planned to build three titles in limited quantities: Magic Girl, Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland (RAZA), and Alice in Wonderland (AIW).  (Note: Magic Girl was to be limited to 26 machines, and RAZA limited to 124 machines.)  Zidware customers paid in part or in full for machines that had not been built yet (the “pre-order” model).  Popadiuk ran out of funds before any games were delivered.
    • American Pinball later built the Magic Girl machines and they were shipped to customers, however, despite the efforts of American Pinball, the game was incomplete.
    • Pre-order customers of RAZA and AIW have yet to receive a refund or a machine.
    • For more details on the timeline of JPop from July 2011 through 2017, click here.  You can also read 23,500+ posts on this Pinside thread.
  • John does not have money to refund Zidware customers or the means to build the Zidware machines, so any form of restitution would have to come with significant financial and manufacturing help of an outside source.

  • More Info


June 2017

deeproot begins to move forward with their plan to deal with JPop’s past and provide help to Zidware customers.


Early September 2017

Plaintiffs of the lawsuit and deeproot agree to terms on a settlement.  This settlement with the Plaintiffs will be essentially the same for all other former customers of Zidware.


September 14th, 2017

It is discovered on deeproot’s website that John Popadiuk is part of their team with the title Lead Game Development.  Confidential terms of the settlement are leaked to podcasters and others in the pinball community.  A thread is started on Pinside.com to inform many in the pinball community that JPop has resurfaced and is working with deeproot Pinball.  Notably, Jeremy Packer (aka Zombie Yeti) makes a post which includes: “I have been asked to sign over all copyrights free and clear as if I was fully compensated. I simply refuse.”  Podcasters released podcasts with harsh criticism of deeproot.  All of this, of course, caused severe negative reaction to deeproot since John Popadiuk still owed many Zidware customers refunds or machines.


September 18th, 2017

This Week in Pinball speaks to Robert Mueller, the man behind deeproot Tech, and posts A Conversation with Deeproot.  Robert shares:

  • deeproot plans to make Zidware customers whole
  • Robert: “Jpop is someone who needs to be managed”
  • deeproot does not plan to take any pre-order money or deposits for their machines
  • deeproot may change the title or tweak the layout of John’s already designed games
  • Robert believes he can build machines in a different and better way than other current manufacturers
  • deeproot hopes to make a public announcement in the coming weeks, then go dark for a long time until everything is ready


October 13th, 2017

deeproot retracts its settlement offer to the Plaintiffs.  For details and reasons for the retraction, click here.


October 21st, 2017

Robert Mueller and Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti) speak for the first time.  Jeremy verbally agrees to sign over the rights to the games in exchange for undisclosed consideration.


What is Happening Now

  • The deeproot web page launches TODAY (see below).
  • Zidware and deeproot are attempting to settle claims with American Pinball.
  • John Popadiuk’s title has been changed from Lead Game Developer to Game Designer.
  • deeproot started their AV Department with a Visualization Artist.
  • In addition to the two current job listings, in the coming months deeproot also plans to hire:
    • At least three new Mechanical Techs
    • Another Game Designer or two
    • A Scenarist (AV Dept)
    • A Sound Engineer (AV Dept)
    • Two Graphic Artists (AV Dept) or Animators
  • deeproot plans to contract out their Illustrators.

**EXCLUSIVE RELEASE – The deeproot Web Page**

 

As of today, the deeproot web page is now public:

https://zidware.deeproottech.com/

It includes the background of their pinball division, Goodwill Terms for non-Plaintiff Claimants, details of the attempted settlement between deeproot and the Plaintiffs of the lawsuit against Zidware, and over twenty FAQs.


**EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH DEEPROOT PINBALL**

 

This Week in Pinball:  Hiring John Popadiuk meant deeproot would either have to attempt to help the Zidware customers or face backlash from some in the pinball community.  Why start in pinball with that burden, why not go with a different designer?

 

deeproot: Other established pinball manufacturers had the opportunity to make the Zidware customers whole but declined.  deeproot is about doing things thought to be impossible.  deeproot will prove that it is possible to do impossible things, even in pinball.  We did try to work with multiple designers.  It is often overlooked that most of the designers (past or present) have been retained by other pinball companies.

 

TWIP:  Which other designers did you try to work with, and why didn’t those situations work out?

 

dr:  I appreciate the follow up question but I have to honor confidential negotiations. I also have to respect requests that some of these guys could get fired if it became public.

 

TWIP:  Were you surprised by the backlash of hiring JPop?

 

dr:  No.

 

TWIP:  If you could go back, would you still choose to work with JPop instead of a different designer?

 

dr:  John Popadiuk was the right decision at the right time.  It would have been nice to have had a little better luck with timing and PR, but it doesn’t change the decision being the right one.

 

TWIP:  Were there any considerations to hire a designer that was not established or did not have previous experience designing pinball machines?

 

dr:  Yes. For example, we reached out to Scott Danesi not realizing he had already signed on with Spooky. Most of the newer designers aren’t real established and it is hard to determine their ability to fit into a ‘structured R&D’ process or what their long term performance might be.  We are hoping our job posting will encourage some newer blood with limited design experience to step up.

 

TWIP: Why was John’s title changed?  Was he demoted?

 

dr:  John was not demoted.  With John still residing in Illinois, it quickly became clear that we needed a full time in house designer to tackle the work load while John is between his visits.

 

TWIP:  Why were the settlement terms with the Plaintiffs in the lawsuit retracted?

 

dr:  We addressed the reasons why the settlement failed on the website.

 

TWIP:  What is the current situation in the lawsuit against John Popadiuk and Zidware?

 

dr:  The Plaintiffs chose to continue to pursue litigation rather than accept deeproot’s reasonable settlement terms.

 

TWIP:  Is there any chance of a settlement with the Plaintiffs at this point?

 

dr:  The Plaintiffs had the power to accept or refuse the offer. If given a second chance, we do not know what they would choose.

 

TWIP:  Similar settlement terms would still apply to Zidware customers that were NOT involved in the lawsuit though, correct?

 

dr:  That is the objective, but we don’t know how many actually want to be made whole.

 

TWIP: Why do you think some may not want to be made whole? 

 

dr: We have been contacted by more people interested in buying the machines than are Zidware customers. We are not confident about how many of the Zidware customers will actually file a claim or not.

 

TWIP:  Has Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti) been paid in full for his work with Zidware?  Is he owed a Magic Girl game?

 

dr:  Jeremy and I agreed to not discuss these issues in public while the negotiations were ongoing.

 

TWIP:  Has pinsider Applejuice been paid in full for his work with Zidware?  Is he owed a Magic Girl game?

 

dr:  We have not heard from Applejuice.  According to Zidware records that we have seen, Applejuice was paid over $100k, and has been in material breach of several terms of his agreement with Zidware for some time.

 

TWIP: In breach of what terms of his agreement with Zidware?

 

dr:  At this point it is up to Zidware to enforce its own contract with this vendor. We will address this situation in the appropriate manner if this vendor continues to be defamatory or Zidware’s contractual rights are transferred to us.

 

TWIP: When we spoke in September, you said your first priority with deeproot was to “take care” of Zidware customers.  Can you give an update on these plans?

 

dr: The plans have been in place since June-July.  The reasons for the delay in announcing the plans were to give time to reach agreements with Jeremy, American Pinball, and the Plaintiffs.  We felt that it is the right time to release the plans, but will wait for those agreements to be resolved before taking claims.

 

TWIP:  Is there a general time frame for when agreements will be met with Jeremy, American Pinball, and the Plaintiffs?

 

dr:  I think these parties would be better able to answer that question. We have tried to be reasonable, but the ball is ultimately in their court.

 

TWIP:  What claims still need to be settled with American Pinball?

 

dr:  The arrangements between Zidware and American Pinball were a convoluted mess. To our knowledge, only a few people really know what happened.  Zidware and deeproot have both attempted to reach a settlement with American Pinball for months.  Dhaval has refused to negotiate or has stonewalled an amicable resolution.  We are discussing with our counsel how best to proceed.

 

TWIP:  What options are on the table?

 

dr:  In the many years I worked as an attorney, I found it hard to reason or negotiate with people who don’t know what they don’t know.  According to Dhaval, their attorney has been looking at our proposed documents for three months now.  We would prefer they sign the reasonable docs and go about their business selling Houdini’s to their hearts content without a disruption of their business with injunctive action.

 

TWIP: Is it possible that deeproot could delay Houdini manufacturing?

 

dr: We wish American Pinball the best in their pinball efforts. However unresolved legal issues they helped create need to be addressed and resolved. Right now their arguments have no apparent contractual or legal basis.  They put themselves in this position and have the power to take themselves out of it.  There is little to nothing they can blame John for, though I’m sure they will try.

 

TWIP: It appears that deeproot is involved in many different ventures.  Why choose pinball as a new venture?

 

dr:  We wanted to do something in the tech arena, and pinball was a passion that made sense.  Plus we figured we could be a fresh voice of reason in a small, very dysfunctional industry.

 

TWIP:  Why do you describe the pinball industry as dysfunctional? 

 

dr:  There is ample evidence of the amount of drama that this industry experienced over recent years. It is hard to believe that any current participant in this industry would be able to thrive in a more mature or competitive industry. I’ve built businesses and competed in multiple industries much more crowded and cutthroat than the pinball industry.  That’s what makes doing pinball so easy for us.

 

TWIP: Do you have the capability, expertise, experience, and financial resources to manufacture pinball machines in large quantities?

 

dr:  Sure.  Why not?

 

TWIP:  I ask this question because, as you know, in the last few years, this community has had several start up pinball companies not delivered what was promised, and several other startups that are having significant struggles in trying to manufacture pinball machines.  It seems like nearly every company that has started since 2011 has had significant hurdles, significant delays, and in many cases had to be bailed out by bringing in additional investors.  What makes deeproot different from the other startups? 

 

dr: Unlike everyone else in the industry who shows off something shiny and then does the immediate take away, we simply are not going to tell everyone what we’re doing.  When the masterpiece is ready, we will unveil it for everyone to enjoy. It is hard to believe that we (who arguably have more capitalization then all the other pinball participants combined and having accomplished the impossible in other industries) would not be able to find a way to do something as easy as pinball.

 

TWIP: That is twice you’ve said pinball is “easy”.  Do you think manufacturing pinball machines will be easy?

 

dr: I’ll let people decide for themselves when they can see what we’ve done.

 

TWIP: Do you think deeproot can be the largest pinball manufacturer at some point in the future?

 

dr: That would infer that we intend to compete as the market currently dictates. We think our end product will speak for itself.

 

TWIP: What do you mean when you refer to “the masterpiece”?

 

dr: Our technology, standards, and products at launch.

 

TWIP:  Do you still plan to not take ANY preorder money from customers?

 

dr:  I think we were very clear that that will never happen.

 

TWIP: In our previous conversation you mentioned deeproot would manufacture pinball machines “in a different way” than anyone.  How so?

 

dr:  Unfortunately this will be something that will make the most sense when we launch…

 

TWIP:  Looking at the Goodwill Terms on the new web page – will new deeproot pinball machines cost less than $5,000?

 

dr:  Each of the major pinball manufacturers have a different cost/profit/quality profile.  We will have our own as well. We will weigh the retail price of each machine based on its own profile. The market will have a strong influence on determining retail prices as well.

 

TWIP: Do you plan for the quality and depth of the machines to be similar to, for example, a Stern Pinball machine, Spooky Pinball machine, or Jersey Jack Pinball machine?

 

dr:  We intend for our final games to be better quality than what currently exists, more profitably made.  We will not be selling more than one model for each title which will simplify a lot of things behind the scenes.

 

TWIP:  Better quality machines than any other current manufacturers, including Stern and Jersey Jack? 

 

dr:  Quality is subjective. People typically don’t judge a Ferrari by the gas cap it uses. It’s equally difficult to judge a pinball manufacturer by a particular title. Or a range of titles. Each manufacturer will have its own style and product profile. While some people might currently think that JJP is better quality than Stern, it wasn’t always the case. Our view is this… what’s the point of making a Ferrari with Ferrari prices and Ferrari costs. Ferrari already does that. We would love to make a Ferrari with KIA prices and KIA costs. No offense to Ferrari or KIA in this example. At the end of the day it would be hard to imagine any existing pinball manufacturer able to compete with us on the deeproot perfect blend of product line, price, costs, and quality.

 

TWIP:  So going with the car analogy, you’re planning to make Ferrari-quality machines, and sell them at a discount “KIA” cost?  That seems unrealistic, how would that be possible?

 

dr:  Two responses. First, I was using the example as an analogy or metaphor (take your pick) to the current pinball industry players. Second, it is easy for the pessimists to dismiss this as aspirational silly talk.  We are ok with this. We aren’t holding our breath for apologies when we prove the pessimists wrong.

 

TWIP: Who is your target market for deeproot pinball machines?

 

dr: We think our goal is to epitomize our company motto, “Every family needs a pinball, every pinball needs a family”.

 

TWIP:  Does that mean everyone will be the target market, from hardcore pinheads to very casual pinball fans? 

 

dr:  Even that is too restrictive.

 

TWIP: What does that mean – are you looking at creating a “new” market?

 

dr: People will understand this more in time after the 5 days of deeproot.

 

TWIP: What is the 5 days of deeproot? 

 

dr: 🙂

 

TWIP: Is deeproot looking to be a type of “disruptor” in the pinball industry, similar to Uber in the automotive transportation industry?

 

dr: We don’t like the fad, overused ‘disrupt’ determiner.  We intend to launch with the “5 days of deeproot” when everything is ready to go.  We will leave it to the market whether to regard our entrance into the pinball industry as a “disruption”, “revolution”, or something else.

 

TWIP: If you settle with American Pinball and secure rights for the artwork from Zombie Yeti, do you plan to produce Magic Girl, Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland, and Alice in Wonderland? 

 

dr: That would make sense. I personally think all three of these titles are amazing and should be enjoyed by people all over the world.

 

TWIP: Can you share anything about any other titles or licenses you are pursuing? 

 

dr:  No. For many reasons we’re not going to discuss titles prior to launch.

 

TWIP:  As part of the Goodwill Terms on the web page, you state “deeproot Tech will deliver elected game(s) no later than June 30, 2019″.  Is that when we can expect to see a deeproot pinball machine for sale?

 

dr:  When the masterpiece is ready, we will let everyone know. By the very terms, that would be the latest date permitted.


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