been keeping up with our reports you'd have seen how Gary Stern
told us that Stern Pinball Inc was redesigning its game hardware.
Those are the electronic circuit boards and software which run
the game control, sound system and display animations.
since William's brought out Pinball 2000 has there been such
an opportunity to bring the pinball game much more up to date
by adding new features while enhancing older one.
system currently used is called the White Star Board System
and its use stretches back to Sega's Apollo 13, although there
are elements that far predate that game.
then we've had Golden Eye, Twister, Independence Day, Space
Jam, Star Wars Trilogy, The Lost World, X-Files, Starship Troopers,
Viper Night Drivin', Lost In Space, Godzilla, South Park, Harley
Davidson, Striker Xtreme, Sharkey's Shootout, High Roller Casino,
Austin Powers, Monopoly and Playboy.
given the chance to start again or to redesign the game systems,
where would you make the changes?
sound most in need of improvement? Although the BSMT-based sound
system produces stereo outputs the quality has always lagged
behind the Williams' DCS boards. Should the memory be increased?
More memory means more varied sounds and/or better quality but
remember - more sounds means more development time.
about the dot-matrix display? Is it time to move on the LCD
or TFT screens or are 3 shades of orange sufficient? Sega tried
larger screens in Maverick, BayWatch, Frankenstein and Batman
but decided the costs outweighed the benefits.
should Stern be looking to save money and increase the availability
of parts? Can cheap and ubiquitous PC parts be used? Larger
memory usage is now much more common, and the range of storage
options is much wider. Are hard disks suitable for a pinball
environment, and can sounds or display animations be recalled
can see, there are plenty of options and factors to consider.
us what you would like to see improved, and how.
Please consider the costs involved and the human effort required
too but apart from that go wild, be controversial and who knows....
one to kick things off. Difficulty levels.
When you start a video game you're usually given 3 or more starting
levels - novice, medium and experienced - and the rules change
accordingly. Now, pins have had a kind of difficulty level that
the operator can set and a guaranteed time play has been tried
too, but how about using the display to let the player choose
and then adjust the rules accordingly? Even better, add different
features for the different levels - some common to all, some
exclusive to the chosen difficulty. It would extend the playability
of the game on site and even more so at home.
what do you think?
us your comments here
From: Jonathan Joosten
there are 2 ways to look to this situation: Do you want to build
a technical advanced, state of the art pinball game, or do you
want to build a simple pinball game that doe not require extra
memory and so on, but is just fun to play?
If I look at the list of games above I am very sorry to say
that none of these games are one of my favourites. In most cases
one look at the (wide open) playfield tells me that it probably
has been wrapped together quickly in order to get the game on
the market while the theme movie was still 'hot'. Most of these
games are simply boring to play as the playfield is not very
challenging, artwork looks like crap (or like an easy Photoshop
job) and the sound quotes library is only a fraction of what
we are used to in WPC games. If the intention is to build a
hi tech game, then at least make sure is can compete with WPC
games. With more memory and technology available it is a pity
that this is not used, due to the use of an old hardware system.
Besides this I think the latest Stern games look too fragile,
compared to the more solid looking WPC games. If you play pinball
you do not want to risk you might break something. If the playfield
looks like you might easily break something, you don't enjoy
playing it that much and hold back.
I think we are talking a different story if games would not
be that complicated anymore. My own experience is that people
like to play pinball, but stay away from a game after playing
it once or twice as it is too difficult to understand the rules.
A simple clue like "shoot everything that blinks" makes the player look like a brain dead idiot who is too stupid
to understand the idea of the game. Recently I rented a pinball
game to a barbershop, so the waiting clients could play in order
to kill time. In stead of placing a recent WPC game, I brought
in a 1979 Harlem Globetrotters. It turned out to be a great
success, mainly because the game is so simple. Players try to
knock down 4 inline drop targets in order to get to the saucer
behind them. Just knocking down 3 and then draining makes them
want to try again and again. Besides that, the game does have
way less hardware problems, so I don't have to go there to fix
something every week.
Now, as Stern is in the market to sell pinball machines, maybe
they might want to find out what kind of game the average John
Doe would like to play. If it turns out that John Doe rather
plays a Eight Ball Deluxe than a High Roller casino, then there
is no need to upgrade the hardware. If John Doe rather plays
Addams Family or Arabian Nights then there is a need to upgrade
the hardware to a point where it can compete with those kind
of games. Besides that in both cases a good game design is required.
In my opinion I rather see a good game released that took a
little longer to develop than a rushed game that could have
been more but had to go out because the movie hit the street.
If Stern is up for an experiment I would like to see what would
happen if 2 games where released at the same time: 1 as they
are building them now, and 1 simple 'retro' game in the style
of HG, EBD, etc. I would not be surprised if the simple game
would sell better, and bring in more money, while it also would
cost less to develop and to manufacture.
From: Brian Jeanneret
Thank God someone is still making pinballs.
I have played the new Playboy. It was OK, but
I still like the first one better. My reasoning for this is
1. The Bally Playboy had hand drawn art.
2. The sound I feel was more fun with the old playboy Vs the
3. The original had a bank of Drop Targets that had a sturdier
feel to them, compared to the drop targets of today.
I think Stern is definitely capable of making
a fun inexpensive pinball. I still remember uncrating a Flight
2000 pinball that had awesome sound, cool art, a wide playfield,
spinning targets, and the only company that had the sweeping
drop target shot. This game was up against Williams Gorgar for
us at the time, and the Flight 2000 was the house favorite.
As far as the newer Stern product I give the nod
to Monopoly and Striker Extreme. I do feel pinballs are getting
too complicated for their own good, a nice return to a fun but
simple pinball would be a nice change.