— This Week’s Top 5 Stories —
TEXAS PINBALL FESTIVAL PREVIEW – Details about Upcoming March Releases!
Interviews with deeproot Pinball, American Pinball, and Multimorphic regarding their upcoming releases!
TWIP: Interview with deeproot Pinball
The launch of deeproot Pinball is now just over two weeks away! This Week in Pinball reached out to Robert Mueller of deeproot Pinball to get some information on what to expect at the launch – check it out!
TWIP: How are things going at deeproot?
Robert Mueller: I’ve never heard of a launch where things weren’t crazy beforehand. I think we will all be very relieved to get the pressure off our shoulders and partially pull back the curtains of secrecy. I can honestly say that I work with the best, most passionate people in pinball. They come in every day and overcome insurmountable obstacles, and deliver the magic that has been asked of them. I am appreciative and grateful for each and every one of them. On this, I can only speak for myself… Launch won’t be the unrealistic daydreams I’ve had a million times since 2015, but it also won’t be disappointing either. Being humbled the hard way as you finally have to switch from tinkering to implementing has definitely given me some gray hairs and taken a few years off my life.
TWIP: After everything that has happened in this industry and at deeproot over the last few years, how are you feeling heading into the official launch?
Robert Mueller: First and foremost, we made our bed and we now have to put up or shut up. Along the way, some things have gone our way, and others have not. While we are not kidding ourselves about the difficulty of the path ahead, we do have some things to prove. That will take time and persistence. We have been up for the challenge thus far, and I am confident that we will be ready, prepared, and up to the challenges that come.
Second, I am eagerly looking forward to finally meeting a lot of the personalities and members of the community after being hyper-focused on getting us to launch. In a way, launch is the beginning of a very different, more exciting citizenship in the community.
And third, I think the community will be relieved from having to guess what we are about and doing. While most of the wild speculation has given us some chuckles, it is on us to define who we are and what to expect from deeproot’s vision of pinball.
TWIP: Will there be different editions of deeproot machines (ex: like Stern’s Pro, Premium, LE)?
Robert Mueller: I’m sure there will be a lot of comparisons between us and other pinball companies after our launch day. We’ve tried to pick a balanced approach to what is already working and what needs improvement in existing industry products and strategies. We never wanted to redefine pinball itself. Just redefine the expectations from pinball for the next century. As I’ve said many times… our core focus is value, and building in value at every level of development and production. I think some will scratch their heads at the details of what we plan to do. We can’t win over everyone, and don’t even want to try. In time, and with a 32,000 foot view, I am confident that our plan will be embraced by enough consumers for us to put a check in the ‘win’ column.
TWIP: What type of innovations can we expect to see during the launch?
Robert Mueller: We will be excited to show a portion of what we’ve been working on, on launch day. I’ve been told that reading the launch presentation script is like trying to sip from a fire hydrant. So even though we are only showing a portion (having taken years to develop), it will be more than enough for the community to digest at once. We are very serious about continuing to innovate. So the rest of the innovations will be released periodically when the time is right.
As for launch, we plan to show three types of innovations. The first will be core innovations that makes us stand out from the crowd. The second will be subtle innovations that are critical to our platform. The third and final will be innovations that we want(ed) to see in pinball.
TWIP: How do you think deeproot can change pinball?
Robert Mueller: The launch day itself is not only a product launch, but also a launch of our vision, our Standard, and platform. Our pinball project grew out of my frustrations with purchasing and owning pinball machines. We therefore have taken a problem-solving approach from the beginning. In other words, see a problem; then fix the problem. The more problems we solved, the more we found that needed solving. If we stay the course on this problem-solving approach, we are guaranteed to keep innovating, keep changing pinball…we would argue…for the better.
TWIP: Where do you see deeproot and the pinball industry in five years?
Robert Mueller: We can’t speak for others. We are about (and can only speak to) deeproot’s vision for the next century of pinball. As I am sitting here at my dining room table thinking of how to answer this very open, subjective question, I casually gazed over at a whiteboard that my wife and daughter use to leave motivational quotes for each other. The one currently up from Practical Magic talks about that ‘normal’ isn’t necessarily a good thing to aspire to. That “it rather denotes a lack of courage.” I think (in a pinball context) that concept sums up our journey. We’ll let everyone else be ‘normal’. I’ve bet a large amount of resources, the reputation of our company, and the loyalty of my staff, on my vision of pinball; that in doing so, the pinball consumer will reward us for the value, effort, and awesomeness we bring.
Pinball needs a shot of courage right about now. And if what we are about to unleash isn’t considered courageous, I’m not sure what is. Or that which will keep pinball going strong five years (or more) from now.
The wait is almost over – stay tuned!!
TWIP: Interview with American Pinball
We are getting close to seeing American Pinball’s next creation which will be revealed at the Texas Pinball Festival! The next title is heavily rumored to be Hot Wheels, and American Pinball didn’t do anything to quell those rumors as they released the following teaser last week:
American Pinball also recently announced a new hire – Michael Grant, their new Sales & Marketing Manager! This Week in Pinball reached out to Michael to get some insight into what is happening American Pinball and what to expect with the new title – check it out!
TWIP: How is the move to the new facility going?
Michael Grant: The move is a process taking place in stages, but the new facility is incredible. It’s 52,000 sq ft and everything is state of the art with ample room for future growth. We are planning for an official Grand Opening celebration, probably in the next month or so when the Chicago weather settles, to invite all our distributors and dealers as well as players to take the tour. We are also discussing the possibility of a special tournament, but it’s still too early for any additional information. Suffice it to say, very exciting times here at American Pinball.
TWIP: Jim Patla recently shared on another podcast that American Pinball had listened to feedback on the first two machines regarding shots, artwork, rule design, etc. Can you elaborate any more what people can expect in regards to changes in those areas?
Michael Grant: I think, and hope, that the entire pinball community will enjoy what the next game provides in terms of game layout and rules. There has been some wonderful feedback from so many folks, and the entire design team has taken that to heart for a game that is much more straightforward and intuitive, not only for rules– but also the overall playfield layout. The flow and geometry are really very special and I can’t wait for everyone to experience what has been created.
TWIP: How different has it been working with a license for this game as opposed to unlicensed games for the first two games?
Michael Grant: It has been an incredible collaboration from all involved, since the process has been going on long before I arrived on the scene. And the next two games, which are currently in development, are proving to be no less amazing. I can’t reveal if there are licenses involved in the next two games, but I will say American Pinball is going to surprise everyone with what is coming up.
TWIP: Everyone is looking forward to playing the game at the Texas Pinball Festival. How quickly do you expect to get the production line up and running at the new facility after the announcement of game #3? How soon after TPF do you expect it to be for sale for consumers?
Michael Grant: Great question. Actually, the line is currently up and running at the Streamwood facility with games being built now. The transition to the new factory is going to be seamless, since that line is already getting set. There will actually be an overlap between both factories in completing, testing and boxing machines. As for when games will be available for sale—we will be taking orders at TPF and shipping out the first week of April.
We’ll keep you updated here at TWIP as we learn more!!
TWIP: Interview with Multimorphic
Multimorphic is set to show off their newest game for the P3 Platform at the Texas Pinball Festival!! This Week in Pinball reached out to Gerry Stellenberg, the Founder of Multimorphic, Inc., the P3 Pinball Platform, and the P-Roc Control System, to ask what we can expect to see in a few weeks with new release – check it out!
TWIP: How are things going at Multimorphic?
Gerry Stellenberg: Hi Jeff. Things are super busy! Our control system boards (P-ROC / P3-ROC) are powering an increasing number of new machines, and our P3 business is poised to move to the next level. The development team is working on some really cool new games and features, and we brought in Patrick Patla to help with sales and marketing.
TWIP: Back in May of 2019 you did an interview with Kaneda’s Pinball Podcast where you shared that the next game your developing “will have the most versatile physical mechanical device ever developed in a pinball machine… It is the most versatile physical pinball mechanism ever developed. Write it down, mark my words, you’ll say the same thing when you see it.” Can you share any more or elaborate on this as you get closer to launch? Is this a mechanism that interacts with the pinball itself?
Gerry Stellenberg: Great job underpromising, right? When I made that comment, we had working conceptual prototypes. Now we have fully engineered devices finalized for production, and the mech is even better than I predicted. That said, while this game has some incredible physical features, they’re just a small part of the full package… story, theme integration, artwork, gameplay, mechs, A/V, everything. The team poured their heart, soul, and pretty much all of their free time into this game, and we’re all super proud of it.
… and yes, everything I call a mech interacts with the pinball. This one has a big personality.
TWIP: Recently Pinball News shared on their podcast that there is a mechanism that goes further down the playfield than other games you’ve released on the P3 platform – is this the same mech that you’re talking about in the Kaneda interview?
Gerry Stellenberg: I’m not sure, actually. He could be talking about one of a couple of mechs. This game delivers physical experience over a large majority of the playfield. People who thought interesting gameplay in P3 games was restricted to the back 3rd of the playfield are in for a pleasant surprise.
TWIP: Can you share more about the theme of the game? Is it a licensed theme?
Gerry Stellenberg: In my opinion, the best pinball games of all time are based on unlicensed themes. Yes, licenses create an immediate draw for fans of the theme, but many implementations don’t deliver the experience the theme deserves. This game is the best of both worlds. The theme is unlicensed, but it’s also super well known and highly entertaining. The game’s creative director, Stephen Silver, created an amazing story and layout that integrates the theme perfectly. When you hit the start button, you’re immediately immersed in the world he built for you, and gameplay keeps you immersed until your final drain.
TWIP: You also mention in the Kaneda interview last year “When you see the machine, when we show it to you, you’ll be able to buy P3s with this game or add this game to your existing P3, we’ll ship them that week.” During the Pinball News podcast Martin shared this would be revealed at the Texas Pinball Festival – do you plan to have the new game available for sale at TPF or shortly thereafter?
Gerry Stellenberg: Let’s put it this way… if you’re coming to TPF with your heart set on buying a specific machine, keep your mind open. You might just leave with a different one.
Remember that the P3 is a pinball platform; one machine / many games. If you prefer individual cabinets for all of your game kits, no problem; we can ship a machine with any game kit you want. If you’re short on floor space or want to drastically reduce the price of buying new games, get one P3 and swap games whenever you want.
Physical playfield swaps take under 2 minutes and require no tools, and the library of games keeps growing. With games like Lexy Lightspeed, Cosmic Cart Racing (Arcade mode), Cannon Lagoon, ROCs, Barnyard, Grand Slam Rally, Hoopin’ It Up, and Heads Up!, the P3 already delivers something for everybody, and while we’ll continue exploring new concepts and outside the box thinking, we’re also getting back to our roots and delivering the traditional pinball experiences that we all know and love. Cosmic Cart Racing 2.0 is a forthcoming (and free) software update for the Cosmic Cart Racing playfield module. It couples the high-speed, flowing, tech-heavy playfield layout with an outer space adventure story in a traditional, 3-ball, mode-based ruleset. Then there’s this new game, which is quite literally the best pinball game I’ve ever played. Hmm… there I go underpromising again.
We’ll be presenting a seminar at TPF at 3pm on Friday (3/27). That’s before the gameroom officially opens and well before dinner time. See you there!
Keep an eye out for the reveal of this game very soon!!
Spooky Pinball, Chicago Gaming Company Team Up for New Ben Heck Game
First off, a HUGE CONGRATS to the Spooky Pinball Podcast as they celebrate 10 YEARS of podcasting!! The Spooky Pinball Podcast has had the craziest ride of any pinball podcast – a few years in, the host decided to START a pinball manufacturing company. If you’ve never heard his announcement of this on the podcast, you should check it out here! Congrats to the Spooky Pinball Team.
On the latest Spooky Pinball Podcast released March 1st, Bug and Charlie were joined by Doug Duba, the President of Chicago Gaming Company. In a surprise announcement, they shared that Spooky and CGC would join forces to create a new pinball machine designed by Ben Heck! Check out the exchange here:
“We’ve decided to work on a project together. Chicago Gaming, Spooky, with the addition of Mr. Ben Heck…it is something I’m very excited about…I think it was almost five months ago, it has taken us this long to get the license we wanted, to get the plan together we wanted…collectively we’re going to make something that is special…”
“I really think when people see what is in the works – and we’re not going to throw any time frames on this, we’re just going to let you speculate…but when people see what it is and what Ben has done and what we know the engineering skills at CGC are – kind of taking us up a bit of a notch. The biggest thing with Spooky is that we love being this little boutique company of 500 games a year and that is our operation schedule and what we like to do and how we like to handle everything. But at the same time we understand that we need to grow the company. But how do you do that without taking on bigger risks and buying a bigger building and hiring a ton more people and stuff? This is how you do it.”
“Obviously Spooky’s design team has been pretty damn good, we’re kind of on a roll. And we’re really excited to get Ben back, and it has been great planning and working with him again. And I think when people see what he’s done – I think when people see the layout and the coolness that Ben has come up with, it is pretty amazing.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a project at this stage that I’ve been more excited about. And that is sincere.”
“I agree. [Ben] is one of the most creative individuals I’ve ever met and I love working with him.”
“And this won’t be a Rick and Morty scenario, it wont be 750 units…if you want a game…it’ll be out there.”
“There are going to be some announcements on some other team members before too long and I think that will build some excitement too…the goal is to make the best pinball ever. We’ll see how close we get to that.”
“Always the goal. I can tell you I’ve never been exposed to a whitewood that made me feel happier. It is just cool. And that is saying a lot because I’m thrilled with what I did on Alice Cooper, I’m thrilled beyond belief with what Scott did with [Total Nuclear Annihilation] and Rick and Morty. So I don’t say that lightly. For Ben to put together what he did – it is amazing.”
In addition to the major announcement above, Doug Duba also talked about how he got into pinball, his fascinating journey in pinball and working with Churchill Cabinets, talks about the Medieval Madness Remake and how that all came together (and that they sold through the first thousand units within three hours of announcing it), talks about the goal of making a remake each year at CGC, and much more. It is also interesting to hear Doug and Charlie discuss the challenges of pinball manufacturing – check out the full podcast here!
More Details on Ben Heck’s Design
So let’s do some detective work to see if we can figure out any additional details about this new game!
Back on February 14th of 2018, Ben Heck and Spooky Pinball announced they were parting ways:
More news: I’m parting ways with Spooky Pinball due to my 2nd game being delayed beyond my liking and the usual “creative differences”. The whitewood I designed may get turned into something by them down the road however.— Ben Heckendorn (@benheck) February 14, 2018
As you can see, Ben teased that the whitewood he had designed (that was going on the back burner) could be used down the road. TWIP interviewed Ben a few days later and he shared more about leaving Spooky and the possibility of Spooky using the whitewood design at a later date.
After the recent announcement of the collaboration between Spooky and CGC, Ben shared the following on this Pinside post:
It’s a re-theme of the game I designed for Spooky back in 2017. (and it’s not Bible Adventures)
I am acting as game designer and will also be doing the code. My goal is to have a very mechanically satisfying game under the glass that will excite location players but also have a deep rule set to please those in home environments.
Ben Heck on the game design for the CGC/Spooky game
It wouldn’t be a reach to assume the re-theme Ben referred to last week is the same design that was put on the back burner back in February of 2018. So do we know anything more about that game?
Keep in mind that on the Spooky podcast last week, Doug Duba said “…I think it was almost five months ago, it has taken us this long to get the license we wanted…”. That makes it sound pretty certain that the license has been changed and is no longer Evil Dead. However, as alluded to above, the design itself is a re-theme of what was to be the Evil Dead machine.
Still with me?? All of that is to get to this post that Ben shared on Pinside back in May of last year that hints of possible features of the design:
Hypothetically speaking, if I were to design an Evil Dead game it would have:
1) Deadite toys that springs out of a grave Sam Raimi style and has limbs and head you can blow off (they hide behind body) Oh and a little hidden fan to blow the hair around for no reason, again like a Raimi film.
2) Deep satisfying shot at the back with a mechanized trap door leading to a lower PF basement. Combo loops in basement to rev up chainsaw jackpot which you collect on main PF during MB. Trap door could sync to speech to taunt you during play.
3) “Broken Bridge Jump” shooter lane habitrail, with the ability to use the gap to load a ball back into shooter lane for Double Barrel Ball Launch.
4) A Newton ball lock so you hit the shot to release for quick 2 ball MB (friend capture MB save me Ash!)
5) Small tape recorder toy near flippers that rotates reels and lights up when mode prompts are being spoken to give you a visual clue to listen up.
6) A scoop eject that’s positioned better than the one in AMH.
Yup, would have been cool all right.
Ben Heck on “hypothetical” features in his whitewood
Following that trail seems to make sense! Or…maybe we’re way off base. Either way it is fun to speculate and we’ll keep you posted as we learn more about this collaboration!
Team Pinball: The Mafia
Circus Maximus: Kingpin, Python’s Pinball Circus
Homepin: Thunderbirds, Chinese Zombies
Suncoast Pinball: Cosmic Carnival
Great Lakes Pinball: Exposé
Haggis Pinball: Wraith, Celts
Pinball Brothers: Alien?, Queen?, Barry Oursler’s Original Theme?, Playboy?
Dutch Pinball: Bride of Pinbot 2.0, Bride of Pinbot 3.0 (on hold), The Big Lebowski (production/legal issues)
Silver Castle Pinball: Timeshock
Phénix Pinball: Goblin Contest
Pinball Adventures: Punny Factory, Sushi-Mania, Ninja Mania, First Class, Canada Eh!