Since then, an even larger second edition has been produced, a third is well on the way towards release, while Editor and Publisher Jonathan Joosten is also working on publishing a coffee-table book of artistic pinball photographs.
Interview by John Greatwich
When did you first play pinball?
Where are your favorite places to play pinball?
What types of pinball machines do you own (EM, solid-state, DMD)?
How many do you own now, and what are some of your favorites?
Do you still have any local commercial locations to play pinball?
Are there any restrictions on operating or playing pinball in your area?
Which shows do you attend?
We are seeing more pinball machines being developed by small companies other than Stern Pinball. What is your opinion on this new interest in the game?
The only thing I don't understand is why every boutique company seems to develop their own hard- and software. It would be so much easier for everybody if one or two companies would simply provide basic pinball hard- and/or software, so that not everybody has to invent the wheel themselves. Now you may have a great game designer somewhere who doesn't know how to program or understand electronics. someone like that could get a lot further when some basic tools would be around. This may actually be an interesting market for Multimorphic or Spooky Pinball. The same goes for manufacturing. Why build a factory of your own if you can source out the assembly of your games? The 'fabless' model suggested by Randy Perlow looks very interesting to me.
Where would you like to see the pinball machine technology go in the future?
The new talent isn’t stuck in old software developing tools like some of the current programmers. They think differently. They want to realise something and bring in software that wasn’t used for pinball so far, but it helps them to achieve what they're after in a faster way. I think that’s great.
Do you like mods for pinball machines?
How do you like new lighting technology?
What do you think the cost per play of new pins should be?
What annoys you the most about pinball on location?
How can we get more new people interested in playing pinball?
I think it would also help if launch parties for new games would not be held at pinball locations, but more at locations that fit the theme. I don't want to beat on my own drum, but when I organized a launch party for The Rolling Stones we went to the most well known rock cafe in the country. We had posters of the translite with just a date and a venue. People thought the Stones were doing a show, and that even made the newspaper. I don't recall any of the other rock band themed games were launched at Hard Rock Cafés, or similar locations, while that should actually generate interest outside the inner pinball circle. The pinball enthusiasts will show up anyway, so why not?
It's also very surprising to see that huge shows are being held, while the neighbors have no clue what's going on. With a bit of PR a lot more people could show up. It's a good thing that pinball seems to do very well at shows that focus on more than just pinball. That's also a good way to bring pinball back to peoples attention.
Do you think we need to return to simpler and easier to understand pinballs?
Stern seems to have a patent on starting multiballs where I really don’t know what I did to achieve it. That’s not good. That indicates the game isn’t telling me what I did, or what I should do. Half the time I don’t know the characters from these licenses anyway, so that may explain why I don’t get it, but there are plenty of examples of games where some of the objectives are easy to understand. Still beats me why they can’t get it right, when the wheel already has been invented.
How do you think pinball manufacturers can make a more playable and friendly game?
Personally I think a game like Harlem Globetrotters is a great example. On the right the’re are four inline drop targets. Behind them is a 50,000 points kickout hole. Anybody understand the objective: knock down the targets and get to the kickout hole. No ball saves. On every ball the targets reset, so you have to do it all in one ball. I think that’s a great feature.
On Fathom it was even further improved. You lock a ball, targets come up. In order to release the locked ball you have to knock down the targets. Easy to understand, but rather difficult to do. That’s what makes a game fun to me. It doesn’t mean we have to go back to simpler playfields, but it would help if the player would instantly understand what he has to do.
How annoyed do you get with missing balls or hang-ups on games?
Do you think pinball manufacturers should get smart and kick out another ball quickly if there is a ball missing or not scoring?
How do you rank yourself as a player, and do you play in tournaments?
The cost of new pinball ownership has increased greatly over the last few years. Does this stop you from buying new machines?
I do think that The Big Lebowski is very interesting on multiple levels, so that might be the next purchase. But I still want to play it first.
With the introduction of new technology, do you think pinball machines have become easier to service and more reliable?
Marsaplay made this New Canasta game that had no mechanical switches. Instead it had sensors in the playfield. They won’t break, but as a player I didn’t understand when I hit a target, or why I was awarded points. So the technique is good, but it made the game more confusing to me. That could easily be solved, but it’s disturbing they didn’t notice that themselves.
Soon new games will have wi-fi and send a text message or an email to the operator about possible malfunctions, earnings, or other data. That could be a good thing, but we’ll have to see how that will be implemented.
Pinballs machines are heavy objects to move around. Do you think they need to be lighter?
How do you like the warranty offered for new pinball machines and parts?
Does traditional mechanical pinball need more radical changes?
Some of the new technologies are mind blowing, but they haven’t resulted in fun games yet. That doesn’t mean we have to go back in time. We just have to figure out what we can do and how to make it fun. Nobody will buy a game just because it uses a new, or old, technology. You buy it because it’s fun, or because it makes you money on location.
Any other thoughts?
I think Roger Sharpe’s insights, which were published in Pinball Magazine No. 1, could help a lot of operators and pinball in general.
The lack of passion for pinball with some of the people working in the industry is probably killing it. Hopefully new talent will step up, take the ball and run with it to new heights.
Tell us a little about your publication.
Besides that I also publish new books on pinball. Pinball, a beautiful photobook by Argentinian photographer Santiago Ciuffo is coming up next month. The book will be available in 12 different languages. Pinball Magazine No. 3 is also in the works. That will have a cover story on the career of artist/designer Python Anghelo.
How do you promote your products?
Thanks for your time Jonathan.
© Pinball News 2014