A Note from the Tour Group
deeproot Pinball opened its doors on Saturday to several pinball ambassadors including – in alphabetical order – Cary Hardy (Cary Hardy YouTube channel), Chris Chandler (deeproot correspondent for The Pinball Show), Colin MacAlpine (2017 Pinburgh Champion, top competitive player), Jeff Patterson (This Week in Pinball), Krystle Gemnich (Marco Specialties, Rip Tide Podcast), Lauren Gray (The Backbox Pinball Podcast). deeproot was planning to launch yesterday, but as you know that has been postponed.
We got to spend a lot of time with deeproot staff, including Steve Bowden and Quinn Johnson, and they were extremely gracious and earnest and helpful.
We all agree that deeproot’s platform and ecosystem and innovations are very ambitious and will be impressive and exciting when they are ready. Unfortunately, due to technical issues with Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland and other questions and concerns that were brought by the guests during and after the tour, it was clear that deeproot was not ready for launch. Robert Mueller has been very receptive to our thoughts, criticisms, and concerns, and we appreciate his open mind. The leaked pictures do not show the final cabinet features or the final “under the glass” features as they did not have all the parts yet in house. The bottom line is that they were overly optimistic and this planned launch was premature.
The group that was invited to tour the facilities do not know anything about the Zidware customers and those arrangements – please contact deeproot directly for those questions.
We look forward to and are hopeful that deeproot’s vision will materialize.
A Note from deeproot Pinball
This information is being provided to give perspective and context to illicitly leaked confidential information. All VIPs are released from the NDA about anything discussed in the article, which does not include things seen on the tour told to be off limits, or prices and edition features.
Platform, Pinbar, PinArmor
Cabinet and Backbox
deeproot cabinets will have dimensions similar to Williams Bally, and the general shape of the cabinet is “standard” with side and front art areas and a standard coin door. The cabinet will be built with high grade laminated Baltic birch and have reinforced joints with a proprietary hybrid dovetail and special adhesive process.
There are two types of cabinets:
- Arcade Edition: Cylon-style grill
- This cabinet looks more standard with the familiar hinge bar linking the backbox to the main cabinet. The backbox has a panoramic wrap backlit artwork.
- It contains a 24” ultrawide hi-res display in the Cylon-style grill.
- X Edition and Xtra Edition: Floating backbox
- The backlit panoramic wrap floats above a floating backbar, with two vertical support columns
- It contains a 24” ultrawide hi-res display.
All models feature a proprietary hinged, assisted lift and drop, glass frame and lockbar seal.
Inside the cabinet contains two power supplies, a PC and components, optional up-fired speakers (for 4.1 audio option – more on that later), a custom subwoofer and enclosure, an amp, and an optional shaker motor. deeproot also has shared they designed active airflow to minimize fan noise from the power supplies and PC CPU.
Toppers: all games and models will include a capped connector socket on the top of the backbox which allows drop-in topper attachments, providing electrical, data, audio, etc. The topper is kept in place via pre-drilled screw holes.
There are three options for the cabinet side panel art.
- The vinyl based wrap (common to most modern pinball machines) with an additional gloss coating.
- Direct print on the wood with PinArmor coating providing high gloss, hammer tested protection.
- Backlit double printed PETG lighted side art panels are featured on the Xtra limited edition games.
Some other available options:
- Standard glass or anti-reflective, fingerprint-resistant glass
- Additional GI lighting to the underneath of the glass frame for “variable, diffused lighting” of the playfield area.
- 4.1 audio option (more on this below)
The Tour Group saw some but not all of these features. The lifting glass top worked smoothly. We did not see the Cylon-style grill with the panoramic wrap backlit artwork, but did see the floating backbox with the panoramic wrap backlit artwork as pictured above. The Backlit side art panels that come on the Xtra model were due to arrive at deeproot this week, so the Xtra model that we saw had “placeholder” vinyl based wrap for the sides.
The most intriguing innovation on deeproot Pinball machines is The Pinbar. The Pinbar is a horizontal screen on the lockdown bar area of deeproot Pinball machines and comes standard on all deeproot machines, regardless of the title or model. The Pinbar displays a ton of resources and information about the game, including animations, timers, a shot log (more on that below), scores and multipliers, recommended next shots, and more. It also serves as the start button and the menu, where you can change gameplay settings, diagnose issues and log in under your deeproot account on any deeproot machine, whether it be in your home or on location.
Deeproot’s description of The Pinbar and its features is listed below:
“The PinbarTM is the most powerful, revolutionary innovation ever to be added to a Pinball machine. It takes the modern touch display used countless times a day on our smart phones, tablets, laptops, and kiosks, and creates a permanent blank canvas for us to expand pinball with infinite possibilities. It links the physical world to the digital. It opens doors to nearly endless new ways to interact with your pinball machine.”
We want to challenge the last few decades of pinball by changing from a habit of walking up to a deeproot machine and saying, “Where is the start button?”; to walking up to any non-deeproot machine and saying “Where’s the Pinbar?”
The Pinbar’s development took years, with methodical consideration of thousands of engineering and GUI design concerns to make sure if we were going to tie a touchscreen to a pinball machine that we would get it right the first time. Some of the considerations that follow show how much engineering has to go in to adding a touchscreen to a pinball machine:
- Aspect Ratio and Size must be perfect due to Hand Position and Apron
- Matching Aspect Ratio with Backbar to minimize photo and animation scaling
- Durability and impact analysis, and length of life of screen
- Ease of replacement without a technician
- Increasing ease of viewing screen information during Play, without having to look up and away at Backbar
- Keep existing expectations / habits of touch interactivity (from other devices)
- Keep screen content simple and uncluttered, with ability to add more for power players
- Ability to start a game almost as quick as a traditional Start button, but add extra flexibility and options
- Signal what to touch, how to touch it, and when not to touch … by preconceived expectations and visual intuition
So, why is the PinbarTM so Revolutionary? Here are couple of thought we have on the immediate impact the PinbarTM brings to the pinball experience:
- Visibility… Eyes are usually focused between the Slingshots (above the flippers) and looking up at a screen on the Backbox is inconvenient. Looking down (more like ‘glancing’ down) is much more natural and easier to quickly capture information and enjoy the beautiful deeproot HUD and animations.
- Aspect Ratio… Vertical display areas on the pinball machine are almost impossible without making it not pinball anymore. Most modern displays use horizontal real estate rather than vertical. Matching aspect ratios offer many benefits from a development perspective.
- Input… The decades old 3 or 4 button control behind the Coin Door is archaic, very difficult to use for simple testing, maintenance, or tasks; and offers no flexibility, complexity, or dynamic content
- Interactivity… Usually visual content or mini video-games can only be controlled by the existing flipper buttons (or adding an extra physical button) which substantially restricts interactivity, experiences, and features. A multi-touch hi-res screen provides unlimited and dynamic interactivity, just like your smartphone.
- Ruleset and Content… The existing system does not allow robust, on demand, and flexible updating and customization of ruleset and content. A touchscreen is the perfect input/output canvas for a framework that allows unlimited ways to add new content on the fly, and seamlessly change the digital rules of a physical game.
- Problem Solving… It is very difficult to diagnose and repair problems using the current pinball systems without having a prior extensive knowledge. The PinbarTM now allows more intuitive interaction to display and diagnose issues, as well as remote management and video chats
- Not Approachable… Current pinball machines are simply not approachable to most people who expect interactive audio-visual experiences, just like their smartphone or tablet.
- Innovative and Virtually Upgradeable… Because of the fixed, static ‘physical’ nature of existing pinball machines, there is no way to instantaneously and dynamically expand features or build upon the physical world. The PinbarTM changes that with interactive settings and upgradeable content using the unlimited virtual world.
Features of PINBAR:
- Unity based GUI framework
- Hi res ultra-wide hi-res screen almost doubles the available screen space
- 10 touch capable surface
- Durable & Easily replaceable
- Up to a 5 panel Play mode layout
- Role-based settings profiles
- Access hundreds of settings in a couple of taps
- Login / Saving /Loading of profiles, data, shot logs, scores (that rove with the player)
- Virtual keyboard for inputting of settings, profile information
- Virtual buttons that control Playfield components
- Make selections between or during gameplay
- Number of players
- Shop/Store concept
- Inventory Management
- Pause/Continue Gameplay
- What’s Next or Suggested shot genie
- Customizable Shot Log
- Score and Leaderboard
- News, Ads, Custom Content
- Setup and Install wizard
- Maintenance screens
- Support operations and tests
- Purchase games or additional content
- Remote operator access
- Remote operator audits
- Full interactive touch video modes
- Push updates
- Can change the mode or ruleset of the machine with a quick reboot
Future features of Pinbar:
- Unlock lockbar
- Virtual buttons for persons with disabilities
- Stop/Start of in-progress games on different machines
- Adjust difficulty level of ruleset
- Load Saved Game state
- Apply Language translations
- Social Media integration
- Play against a saved Shot Log
- Video support calls
- Multiplayer remote play
- Multiplayer video chat
Note that the seal and lockbar on the cabinet lock down into the cabinet and seals/protects the Pinbar from accidental liquid spills.
The Tour Group saw some of the features of the PinBar, but due to the technical issues that RAZA was experiencing, the PinBar interaction was glitchy. Steve Bowden showed many screenshots of planned features and displays and it looks like this could be an incredible new feature.
Playfields are built with Baltic birch ply and all playfields come standard deeproot’s PinArmor protection coating.
The bottom of each playfield will come with printed component information.
The Tour Group observed the demonstrations with the 16 oz hammer test and the huge 750 gram pinball drop, and those (along with the regular pinball) definitely left “dents” or craters on the “normal” clear coat and did not leave dents or craters on the PinArmor. However, the VIP group had concerns regarding the quality and look of the PinArmor coating as it is currently not smooth but more like an orange peel. Robert mentioned that this was an early version of the PinArmor. When you run your hand over the playfield it does not feel smooth like glass. During brief gameplay later in the evening on a playfield with PinArmor, the ball did seem to roll normally and act as it would on a normal playfield – there was no noticeable unusual changes in ball activity on PinArmor.
deeproot games come standard with a 2.1 audio system with speakers located in the back panel.
deeproot also offers an upgraded audio package, referred to as the Aural Envelope, which includes a full range 4.1 audio system (note: the 4.1 audio system is included standard with the Xtra Edition). The 4.1 audio configuration adds two “up fired mid-range” speakers on either side of the coin door which, according to deeproot, channels sound using the natural position of the player’s body to the ears.
Deeproot Pinball shared the following regarding their electrical system: deeproot’s electrical system is custom made to deliver power and data to a demanding innovative pinball machine. The power system starts with a custom power supply delivering 12V, 24V, and 48V rails, and a separate ATX power supply for the PC motherboard. The 48V rail is distributed to each of our control boards where a separate 12V and 5V regulator is used to provide additional power to individual high power MOSFET driver boards. This allows us to power outputs with 5V, 12V, or 48V on demand. Board placement is meant to be space efficient to allow for ease of serviceability. We use a system of distribution boards, cables, and assemblies to eliminate nearly all soldering required when assembling the machine. This also substantially reduces complexity in maintaining and diagnosing machine issues. In addition we tag most wires, and use printing on the underside of the playfield to identify key components and wiring schematics. Both the sub system and the PinOS run on a minimum 4 core CPU @ 3.6 GHz with 8 GB ram, and an embedded video card. While this provides ample power for RAZATM, each release will be spec’ed to accommodate Unity performance. The PinbarTM is a 19” cut panel with capacitive touch overlay that is driven by its own driver board. We offer dual WiFi dongles to deal with the demanding internet online connectivity needs of omnichannel worldwide access. Our pinball games are meant to be always on in order to take advantage of modern technology and online connectivity. Sleep mode when not in use (just like most other devices in your home) reduces electrical and power when not in use.
Other deeproot Platform Features
- One person setup
- Available for deeproot machines or in a universal retrofit – attaches to the bottom of the cabinet.
- Per deeproot: “Our one person setup convenience changes a safety issue into an easy safe way to set up or break down your machine. All deeproot machines come with the attachment plate already installed on the undercarriage of the cabinet. The attachment plate should be compatible with a majority of other standard body machines. Once attached to the attachment plate, the appliance can be extended to guide the lowering of the front of the machine (from the seated position), lifting the back of the machine to install and bolt the rear legs, and vice versa. Once done, the application can be stored underneath the machine, or removed.”
- This one person setup is expected to be demonstrated during the upcoming Virtual Pinball Expo.
- Assisted Leveling
- deeproot’s Assisted Leveling Guidance prompts you whether to raise or lower each of the four legs to put the playfield in the factory-preset 6.5 degree level position via the Pinbar.
- Special foot locks make adjusting the legs easy so you don’t have to use the “turtle” approach (climbing under and lifting the machine with your back to adjust the leg height).
- The PinPod is an optional reusable pinball storage and shipping container.
- Per deeproot: “Our PinPodTM is the perfect storage and moving protective cocoon for your prized deeproot Pinball machine. It is made of strong wood ply, water resistant, collapsible, truckable, and forkable. Its metal latches provide vertical and horizontal strength to falls, tips, and items resting on top.”
The Tour Group did not see the one person setup or the assisted leveling. We did see the PinPod and it worked well overall and seemed like a heavy duty way to safely move a pinball machine.
- Some future features deeproot is planning:
- 2021 Audio/Visual Upgrades:
- First, the AE system is expected to be enabled for all machines equipped with the deeproot Full Range 4.1 Audio System which will auto mix audio channels in loud and quiet environments to ensure that the most important sounds reach the ear.
- Second, we will add ambient light auto adjusting to all new games providing an auto balancing of light above and on the playfield, as well as all other backlit cabinet pieces to the environmental ambient light.
- Third we will add haptic feedback around the lockbar palm area for games in 2021 to provide even more important feel during gameplay.
- 2021 Audio/Visual Upgrades:
deeproot describes their software and operating system in the following way:
- Our PinRDE (Pinball Rapid Development Engine) is a point and click device to rapidly develop the core framework of a pinball title. All playfield assets, light animations, and script definitions can be rapidly developed or edited. Our PinOS is a multi-threaded framework engine that serves as a communications hub between our proprietary game engine script, Unity frontend, and our FMOD audio engine. All animations, sound, and interactivity on the PinBarTM are served by calls to and from the Unity engine. Updates and boot recovery software are served by Linux and lower level code. So what does all of this mean? It means that we could develop and code a game in mere weeks, rather than months or years.
- We capture, record, and timestamp nearly every event that happens under the glass. This allows us volumes of data to enhance online offerings like shot log and scoring. It also assists with diagnosing or anticipating issues with the pinball machine.
- With our worldwide omnichannel access, users can log in to any deeproot machine whether or not it is connected to the internet. Personal games preferences and/or saved game data can be loaded and scoring can be saved. We also have the ability to push updates by the minute, hour, day if we choose to, allowing you a hassle-free way to make sure your machine is always up to date.
- We currently offer a simple admin and end-user security system. Access to machine settings requires a two-step authentication process. First is physical security by requiring the physical key and coin door are open. Second that a four-digit PIN is known and entered. Admins can also change the ‘Environment’ setting to Home Use (Private) or Event or Location Use (Public) that applies pre-set settings to protect your game. These affect access to settings and elements of log in and log out.
Omnichannel allows you to access your scores on deeproot machines and log in to any deeproot machine anywhere in the world, even if it is not connected to the internet.
- PinAccess is a web and mobile offering by deeproot that brings scores, leaderboards, and other community features to deeproot Owners and players.
As described by deeproot:
“Our mobile iOS application, PinAccess, adds a mobile and easy way to take the deeproot experience with you, everywhere in the world! Not only can you log in to deeproot Games, but you can edit and view community profiles, and view leaderboards, scores, achievements, and ratings. PinAccess also is a handy way to review FAQ and Support materials, and Help Videos. And to order a deeproot game too!”
Shot log, Scoring Features
deeproot machines track your shots during gameplay so you can learn how to play and how to score. Here are some of the features as described by deeproot:
- Recording of entire shot log for each game saved
- Can comment on, rate, and note conditions of a machine
- Can tie a shot log to a machine’s historical condition
- Study shot logs to learn rulesets and improve play and score
- Can compare and contrast multiple shot logs with close scores
- Using analytics and data analysis, can compare and contrast shot logs and scores amongst all recorded or saved shot logs
- Instant or custom Leaderboards over multiple metrics, not just a score.
- Compete against any recorded shot log in real time Progress tracking and Achievement-based play (think mobile gaming)
- Allows more challenges and play options without changing the ruleset
Three Model System
Per deeproot: “deeproot is also announcing the three editions that will continue for all deeproot games over the next few years. The familiar package known as the Arcade Edition (Ae) is our budget version… The X Edition introduces our floating backbar aesthetic with upgrades over the Ae. The XtraTM is just that. It’s a limited run, numerically sequenced, X Edition offering with all the extra luxury addons for a flat fee. With these editions, we are focused on making customizing your pinball machine unlike any other pinball buying experience. Customization is easy and allows you to have power over your purchase and cost. Games may have one version, two versions, or all three versions available. Customization is easy and allows the customer to have power over their purchase and cost.”