Date: 17th - 20th October, 2018
Location: Westin Chicago North Shore, 601 North Milwaukee Avenue, Wheeling, IL 60090, USA

Saturday is the last official day of Pinball Expo, although the tournaments continue into Sunday.

We are back in the Seminars Hall for a full day of talks. The first seminar was by Mirco Stefan from Mirco Playfields.

Mirco Stefan
Mirco Stefan

He talked about how he first got into making fully-licensed pinball playfields, with the first being Attack from Mars.  That router was pretty basic requiring manual changing of the cutting tool, so it wasn’t long before he expanded and developed his own multi-tool router.

Now he has a fully-robotic system doing everything from playfield cutting, insert placement and gluing, direct digital printing and clearcoating.

He said they have a visual robot for the inserts which can sort through an assortment of inserts, detect the colour and shape of them and sort them so they can be inserted into the appropriate holes.

He said they have a new digital printer which can print onto all kinds of different materials using the same printing method to ensure consistency of quality and colour.

Mirco said they don’t really have a minimum production run, as long as they have the CAD file and the artwork they can do individual or custom playfields.

Next to the stage was Will Russo who was talking about the league scene in Chicago.

Will Russo
Will Russo

He explained what the requirements are for a location to be used for league play.  He showed a map of ten bars in the Chicagoland area they use and the format of the league meetings and matches.

He said coaching is both allowed and encouraged, and players are encouraged to visit the locations and practice ahead of the next league night.

Jack Danger was the next speaker in the Seminars Hall.

Jack Danger
Jack Danger

Jack ran an animation studio in Chicago and explained how he first got into pinball by purchasing one for his studio.  He and his friends got into local league play and wanted to find out everything about the games they were playing.  He also wanted to record their games at the studio so he could go back an analyse them later.

He then worked out how to move their equipment out of the studio and into bar locations using a portable rig.  He took that to Pinball Expo one year and was invited by Stern Pinball to stream the launch party for The Walking Dead.

Jack has since given up the animation work and streaming is now his primary job.  He is also building his own custom pinball which he is documenting and hopes it will inspire others to do the same.

A draw then took place for the prize raffle to win a World Poker Tour machine to benefit Project Pinball.  Daniel Spolar joined Jack on the stage to make the draw.

Daniel with Jack
Daniel with Jack

Following that, a draw was made for a streaming rig with cameras, microphones, stands and more.

There was then a pause in the action as the autograph session took place in the confines of the Birch Room.

The autograph signing session
The autograph signing session
The autograph signing session
The autograph signing session
The autograph signing session
The autograph signing session
The autograph signing session
The autograph signing session

We then popped into the first of the two Games Halls.  This one was in the usual position behind the vendor hall and across from Rob Anthony’s room.

In the first Games Hall
In the first Games Hall
There are quite a few videos in here too
There are quite a few videos in here too
More videos
More videos
It is mostly pinball though
It is mostly pinball though
More pinballs in the first Games Hall
More pinballs in the first Games Hall
More pinballs in the first Games Hall
More pinballs in the first Games Hall
More pinballs in the first Games Hall
More pinballs in the first Games Hall
More pinballs in the first Games Hall
More pinballs in the first Games Hall

Then, at 3pm, the seminars resumed with Scott Danesi.  Scott was joined by Charlie Emery from Spooky Pinball.

Scott Danesi
Scott Danesi
Charlie Emery
Charlie Emery

After introducing themselves, Scott described his Total Nuclear Annihilation game, how he created it and what he wanted to achieve with it.  He showed a sample of the Python programming language from the game to illustrate how readable it is, before moving on to the development of the artwork.  Scott explained the meaning of some of the hidden elements in the backglass artwork.

Scott then spoke about his second game, titled Haunted House Party!, which Scott said is planned to be the next Spooky Pinball game after Alice Cooper’s Nightmare Castle.  For the second game, Scott will do the designing, prototyping and engineering, while the rules, software, storyboarding, animations and audio will be done by others – mostly at Spooky.

Scott and Charlie then did a Q&A session with the audience covering how easy it was to make tapes of the music in the game, whether using Python introduces any limitations, what the ‘butter’ cabinets are, who is buying TNA, and how the earnings have been so far.

Keith Elwin was the next speaker with his The Road to Game Design seminar.

Keith Elwin
Keith Elwin

Keith began by showing a South Park game he and a friend made, which was his first foray into game design.

Keith kept hounding his brother Randy to make a custom pinball together , and eventually he relented and they started on their Archer game.  Keith showed pictures from its development, from playfield drawing to prototype, illustrating how they made their own ramps, changed a number of playfield components, and wired the playfield.

Finally, Keith took questions from the audience about how his tournament experience influenced the development of Iron Maiden, if he prefers to have more than two flippers in his games, why Iron Maiden doesn’t have an action button on the lock bar, and his experience working with Steve Ritchie.

Speaking of Steve Ritchie, he was the next speaker on the stage.

Steve Ritchie
Steve Ritchie

Steve held his pinball confessional where members of the audience came up to the stage to confess to their pinball sins.

Steve takes confessional
Steve takes confessional

Steve concluded by bringing back all the sinners to participate in a pirate song.

The final seminar of the day and of the show was from George Gomez who was talking about his Deadpool pinball design.

George Gomez
George Gomez

George began by premiering the promotional video for Deadpool before starting with the earliest ideas and inspirations for the game’s design.  He showed the Solidworks model of the playfield, the storyboarding they did for key scenes in the game, the video animations for various characters, and the design and building of the  Lil’ Deadpool model.

The Deadpool game in Solidworks
The Deadpool game in Solidworks

George then showed a mix of pictures from the Stern Pinball offices, showing the individuals and the teams who worked on the game.  He also announced V1.0 updates coming soon for Deadpool, Batman 66 and another update for Iron Maiden and Kiss.  He said updates to Ghostbusters have been delayed because the original coder does the updates and if they are tied up with other projects, the update has to wait.

After George’s seminar it was time to clear away the seating and start Stern-O-Rama – the chance to play the latest Deadpool machine, meet the design team, drink free beer and play some competitive pinball, all the the music from a professional DJ.

The seating is cleared ahead of the start of Stern-O-Rama
The seating is cleared ahead of the start of Stern-O-Rama
The Deadpool team from Stern Pinball
The Deadpool team from Stern Pinball
The Deadpool team from Stern Pinball
The Deadpool team from Stern Pinball
The Deadpool team from Stern Pinball
The Deadpool team from Stern Pinball
Mutliple Deadpool machines were set up in the room
Mutliple Deadpool machines were set up in the room
A Two-Minute Tournament saw who could score the most in 120 seconds
A Two-Minute Tournament saw who could score the most in 120 seconds
Free beer, with a cash bar for other drinks
Free beer, with a cash bar for other drinks
Music from our local DJ
Music from our local DJ

Stern-O-Rama closed the official schedule of events at Pinball Expo 2018, although the tournaments continued into Sunday.  We’ll cover the finals of those and look at the Games Halls and the Vendor Hall in the concluding part of our Pinball News coverage.

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One Comment

  1. Vincent Stagliano

    21st October, 2018 at 5:42pm

    Hi where is the conference live coverage from Saturday specifically Scott Denise seminar

    Reply

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