NOTE: Since next Monday is Christmas Eve and next Tuesday is Christmas Day, there will be no TWIP next week! We’ll be back on 12/31!! 🙂
Our friends at the Special When Lit Pinball Podcast (website, Facebook) recently released an interview with the one and only, Brian Eddy! Designer of The Shadow, Attack from Mars, and Medieval Madness, and recent addition to the Stern Pinball team.
Here are just a few of the highlights…
SWL: So you were passionate about The Shadow Theme?
BE: Um, I was passionate about making a pinball [laughs]. I think when the Shadow came up, it was one of the licenses that they had…we did a lot of ones that were movies that were coming out, so you never know how that movie is going to turn out. Shadow – not the best movie in the end, but it was being pitched as the next Batman. And I actually remembered Shadow from the radio shows and I listened to them so I could get into it. I think for that movie and that theme, I think we did a really good pin for it. Unfortunately the movie wasn’t as big as everybody hoped.
SWL: So the Sanctum Lock magnet, in my opinion, is one of the coolest lock shots in pinball. The way it looks like the ball is going to fall, gets drawn back, then disappears. Was that something that was intentional, or was that something that – while you were programming, was a visual effect that just happened on its own?
BE: Completely intentional…it turned out great – even today, you watch it and it is cool to watch.
SWL: On Shadow, were there any major changes between the prototype and the production game, was there anything you had conceptualized that was on the pin originally but because of cost cutting measures or…was there anything that was taken off the pin that you would have liked to have kept on?
BE: Yeah, I think that happens with every game. We pour so much into them that we want to keep as much as we can. And back in the day, there was a little bit of the game of – put too much on because they’re going to make you take something off no matter what [laughs]…so we did stuff like that. But on Shadow there was one thing. There were those little Mongol statues that were on the side, you see a couple of those on the playfield. They were supposed to jump out from where they were, to be a target for a ball at times, And then pop back in when they were hit…
SWL: Like side trolls?
BE: Yeah, kind of like side trolls…
SWL: What was your design theory going into Shadow – was there anyone you wanted to emulate, anyone you looked up to, any machines you wanted to replicate? Because this was your first go as a designer…
BE: Yeah sure, I am a flow guy, and you can kind of tell some from my playfields, so Steve Ritchie was a huge influence, he is like the master of flow…as far as playing his games and learning from them, that was probably the biggest influence. I think modes also were just coming out around that time, and being able to expand and add depth the games….those two things were really influential.
SWL: Did you envision a third flipper right off the bat with that game? Is that something you knew you wanted to do?
BE: Yeah I always wanted a third flipper. I like a lot of different options for people playing, lots of different shots.
SWL: Did you own a Shadow at the time? It was your first game, did you take one home?
BE: Yep, I still have a Shadow…I think it is the photo shoot game…not a ton [of plays], a few hundred.
Attack from Mars
SWL: When you look at the playfield design, it is a fan layout on Attack From Mars, and it looks like a completely different design from Shadow. What was the inspiration for you to change design concepts? … Was it something you conceptualized before, that you were trying to implement into your second pin? Walk us through a little bit about the decisions on that design in comparison to Shadow?
BE: Each game to me starts with a blank sheet. You don’t really want to bring anything from the past one. I think designers over time have certain preferences, so you see certain styles…but I always start with a blank slate, and I did the same with Attack from Mars. And you want to do something a little different from your last one, you don’t want to do the same thing. So I tried to mix it up…one of the big things about Attack from Mars, why it is a fan the way it is and why it is so open at the bottom is because that flying saucer was supposed to be on a telescopic rod on a pivot on the back so it could move all around the front of the playfield. The mothership was supposed to move and come out to the playfield, and had a target hanging from it that could move anywhere on the playfield and you could hit it.
SWL: Did you guys ever try to make [an Attack from Mars with the mothership on a telescopic rod on a pivot on the back]?
BE: We did. We did. We had one prototype which kind of half worked. I think I still have it somewhere in my basement. It was pretty cool, if we would’ve had time to perfect the mech…it would have been a really cool toy.
SWL: Now you have a similar fan layout with Medieval Madness when you compare it to Attack from Mars. Was there any reason you didn’t go completely different on the third title, vs the differences between your first and second?
BE: Like I said, they all start with a blank sheet. Sometimes they just kind of flow toward that…you start placing down the toys…I don’t consciously do it or not do it. But I do like to try new things, even though it is kind of a fan layout, there are differences in the feel of some of the shots, and I think you always want some of that. But it kind of goes back to…if you try something completely different, you may hit it out of the park, or you may do a horrible mess of something. I think a balance is something in between the two.
SWL: It kind of has a Monty Python feel – are you a Monty Python fan at all?
BE: Not as big as you would think after I made that game [laughs]. I like Monty Python, but I wouldn’t say it was my inspiration for the pin.
SWL: What was the inspiration for Medieval Madness?
BE: I wanted to do a cool castle game.
SWL: So you did come up with the theme of that game?
BE: Yes, back in that era especially, we the designers got to choose their themes a lot. Not so much now…but [then] they gave us the freedom to choose the themes. We had to sell it to them and convince them it was going to be cool, but we had the freedom to do that.
SWL: In closing this interview, is there anything that you would like to say to the people that have been waiting for you to come back, and are excited that you’re back – is there anything that you want to tell them or share with them about Brian Eddy’s resurgence in pinball?
BE: I think the next couple of years in pinball are going to be the most exciting time in over two decades.
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