Story dated 28th August, 2002.

Only a matter of days after the news that John Popadiuk Jr is set to return as a pinball game designer and manufacturer comes the revelation that yet another ex-WMS designer is about to make a comeback.

Steve Ritchie, renowned game creator of such classics as Black Knight, Terminator 2, Getaway and Star Trek - TNG is to design a game for Stern Pinball Inc.

Like Pat Lawlor, Ritchie has a devoted following of fans who love the long flowing gameplay of his designs along with the fast loop shots.

Ritchie left WMS in the mid-nineties to concentrate on video game, working for Atari in California designing California Speed before moving onto slot machines and other gambling devices. He had predicted the collapse of the pinball market and wanted to get out of the industry before the hard times arrived.

Now, seven years after No Fear - his last game - was released, he is to design a game for Stern in mid-late 2003.

It was known he had been in contact with Gary Stern but appeared less than enthusiastic about designing a game for him, He said:
"Actually, yes I called Gary Stern. He is a great guy, I like him and we get along. I called Gary and said "Do you want a pinball design?", we can talk about it and, well basically he said "sure, what have you got, bring it in", but I would never invest my time and energy on speculation. Not now, at least."

Well, now things have changed and with interesting timing, Stern have announced the deal. Gary says of the collaboration:
"Steve is at the top of the elite class of pinball designers and we are extremely happy to have him working with Stern. We know Steve will design another great game."

Lets hope Steve Ritchie has changed his mind from the time he said:
"I don't think there is much of a chance of Pinball ever coming back because, well I don't think it is a product of the 21st century....I mean there is no market for pinball. We all loved pinball so much, and believe me, if it made sense, we'd be doing it too."

With Steve back in the game, perhaps pinball makes a bit more sense.


Stern's full press release is shown below.


Stern Pinball is very excited to announce that former Williams' designer Steve Ritchie will be designing a new pinball machine for the company in the upcoming year.

Ritchie has a very distinguished place in pinball industry. He started making pinballs for Atari with AIRBORNE AVENGER and SUPERMAN. He then went to work for Williams in Chicago, Illinois in 1978 where he designed FLASH, STELLAR WARS, FIREPOWER, BLACK KNIGHT, HYPERBALL, HIGH SPEED, F-14 TOMCAT, BLACK KNIGHT 2000, ROLLERGAMES, TERMINATOR 2-JUDGEMENT DAY, THE GETAWAY, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, and NO FEAR/DANGEROUS SPORTS. In the late nineties, Ritchie returned to Atari and made CALIFORNIA SPEED, a linked-video driving game system. He is currently designing animated slot machines and gambling devices.

Steve Ritchie is not only known for his strong titles and gameplay, but also for his innovation, being named as one of the owners of many pinball patents.

Ritchie says, "I am excited to be back at my CAD station designing another pinball and working with Gary Stern, Dwight Sullivan, Ray Tanzer, and the rest of the people at Stern. It feels great to be working on a pinball design again and with this strong team of uniquely talented professionals. I think we can promise a very special game in the coming year."

Gary Stern says, "Steve is at the top of the elite class of pinball designers and we are extremely happy to have him working with Stern. We know Steve will design another great game."

You can read a detailed interview with Steve Ritchie at http://www.pinball.com.au/
which provides a number of insights into the pinball business.


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