Gerry Stellenberg is the Founder of Multimorphic, Inc., the P3 Pinball Platform, and the P-Roc Control System.
The Start Button: How did you first get into pinball?
It was in my junior year of college at the student center. A bunch of friends and I played pool there almost every night, and some of them were also into pinball. I thought they were wasting their money playing what I thought were luck-based games, but then a friend left me three free credits on Theatre of Magic. I played all three games in probably a minute per game and was left wondering how my friends would play for so long, and I lost all three games so quickly. As somebody who loves challenges and self-improvement, I was hooked. Within a year I was getting to wizard modes on most of the machines at the student center (ToM, AFM, WD, CV, JY, MM), and I already had plans to build a custom machine.
The Plunge: What was the first pinball machine you bought?
I bought ToM and AFM together two years after college. I guess I never quite left the college student center emotionally.
The Skill Shot: What is your best pinball achievement or favorite pinball moment?
Double dirty pool on AFM! I’ve never heard of anybody else doing it. During multiball, I had two balls cradled on the right flipper and one ball on the left. I used the left flipper to finish off the saucer, and with one flip, I got both balls from the right flipper trapped behind the rising shield of the saucer. Two shots into the shield raised later, I’d destroyed 3 saucers in 4 shots.
Good Shots, Bad Bounces: What is your favorite and least favorite pinball machine?
To this day, I still love AFM. My next favorite is probably The Getaway. I love the feeling of hitting a long sequence of repeated upper flipper loop shots, shifting gears, and lighting red line mania.
I don’t have a single least favorite machine. I’m just generally a fan of high-speed flowing games.
The Wizard Mode: What is your dream theme you’d like to see made into a pinball machine?
Sometimes it feels like I’m the only one in community who feels this way, but I love gameplay, regardless of theme. If they layout and rules appeal to me, and if the sound effects, callouts, and lightshows combine to create an immersive and exciting experience, the theme doesn’t make a difference to me at all.
That said, if I had to choose one, I think The Incredibles could be a great game.
The Tilt: What is the dumbest mistake you’ve made in pinball (mishap moving a machine, messing up trying to fix a machine, etc.)?
That would either be starting a pinball company in this industry where opinions and interests vary so widely or not starting a pinball company sooner. Luckily I tend to thrive on challenges, and it’s a huge (and fun) challenge to bring new technology to an industry that’s based on some very traditional concepts.
The High Score: Describe the pinball hobby in one word.
Match – Next Game: Where do you see the pinball hobby in 5-10 years?
Honestly, I can’t wait to find out. With so many new people making new machines and introducing new ideas, I’m excited to see what sticks. I expect some attrition and perhaps some consolidation with pinball manufacturers, but I also expect our platform model to grow strong roots. When the P3 customer base and game library hit critical mass, the ecosystem will snowball, and the true value of a pinball platform will be realized. People will likely continue buying whatever theme speaks to them the most; so single-themed machines will always have a market, but we’ll also see more big name designers developing new P3 games with popular themes.