Monday, March 2, 2020

Ben Heck teases new title

Some important news was made public on Spookys latest podcast : Spooky teams up with Ben Heck and CGC to make a new pinball machine.

Ben Heck has worked together with Spooky in the past and had plans to design a new game, but due to the success of TNA (and then the run of Alice Cooper and now the insta-sell out of Rick and Morty), Bens game just didn't fit into Spookys production planning.
So having Ben design his game in cooperation with Spooky, but outsourcing assembly to CGC (who already have a lot of experience assembling pinball machines) solves this problem.

There's some speculation about what the new theme will be. Not Godzilla, as that license was taken by Stern. I wonder if someone at Stern now regrets the decision of not letting Spooky get that license. It looks like the license they did get (Rick and Morty) is much more successful, and now Ben getting his new game (and helping CGC get more business), must somewhat cost Stern in sales.

Another company who won't be happy with this announcement must be Deeproot. Ben had worked together with John Popaduik in the past - the title they've shown in preview RAZA (Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland) started out as 'Ben Hecks Zombie Adventureland', almost 10 years ago when Ben worked together with John.. A whole era later, and John and what's left of that design is now at Deeproot pinball and they'll have a big release event planned within less than 30 days.

It's probably no coincidence Ben now starts to tease his new design.. as this will take a bit of thunder away of DR. People have limited pinball funds, and need to make decisions.. but something available now or wait and hold that money for something that's being teased and might be a lot better.. do you buy DR's RAZA zombie game that was hot 8 years ago but the interest in zombie games is over (and Stern made the excellent The Walking Dead game to fill up the gap when no other zombie pinball machine existed), based on a design Ben was involved but which was reworked and watered down (I remember something about Ben having plans for a rotating mini playfield) ?  or do you wait for the newest, hottest brand new design by Ben which may be a lot better and do have exciting new mechanisms ?  I'm sure some people will wait and see what Ben and CGC releases before they make a decision on what to buy..

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Receiving and unpacking a nib Spooky pinball machine

New article about how to set up a new spooky pinball machine.

I have some old articles in the pinball 101 section about opening a game, removing the glass, and so on.. this is a new article about setting up a new in box Spooky pinball machine.
It's especially for all those that are new to pinball and fortunate enough to buy a brand new game as their first machine.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Spooky released Rick and Morty

The biggest news of this week (and maybe of the whole month or even this year) is that Spooky pinball announced Rick and Morty as theme for their next game. And all 750 available games sold out in less than a day.

This is amazing and congratulations to Spooky for having such a successful launch.

This demand is in big contrast to their previous games - of their first games they made only 250 and these sold out (but prices for used games dropped, so there's not much more demand), Alice Cooper is this week finishing its production run of 500 but there are still a few available.. TNA, Scott Danesi's previous game, also had a run of over 500 machines (around 550 if I remember correct). So a run of 750 machines, the largest ever for Spooky, of which the presales sell out so fast, was really  unexpected.

Spooky did learn from the Alice Cooper release and didn't make the same mistakes. Whilst ACNC is an excellent game (and I am very happy to have one), the comments weren't very positive. It was shown with early code at shows, people could only play 1 ball to keep waiting lines short.. so the general impression was that there were bricked shots and it wasn't fun.

The ACNC playfield layout is quite difficult (all shots are tight),  you need to put a few games on it until growns on you. You really need to learn the shots and be able to an start a mode, before you enjoy how great the game is. If you miss a shot, the ball will often just bounce around a bit and eventually drain.. so lots of people couldn't learn the game and kept in thinking the early code was all that was in (a major release is still planned). Btw I intend to post a review of acnc soon.
Team Spooky would also tell people that ACNC wasn't for everyone and one should play it before ordering. Production was delayed (due to the success of TNA), only the last months production got up to speed and games went out to the public and people got to know this machine well.. People were selling their pre-order spot because they lost interest, life changed, .. All things that didn't give ACNC a good impression.

So now, Rick and Morty. Totally different approach. It was kept as a secret, Scott Danesi's next game had as working title Haunted House Party. Last week Spooky announced the theme, and people were excited as it's a popular show. Production will also start very soon, the first games will go to customers fast.

Some pictures were teased (bottom of playfield) and soon more pictures and video clips followed. At the same time Spooky launched their Fang Club and pre-order was open.

With the previous games, existing Spooky customers had first option to buy a new release.
By now Spookys number of customers had gotten too large, so they couldn't keep this offer anymore. Therefor they started a club. Members are now able to pre-order a new game 2 weeks earlier before the regular public can order. Seems demand was much higher than expected, as hundreds of people joined the fan club just to order the Rick and Morty pinball machine, and it never got open to non-members (except for those who buy trough a dealer).

I have to admit I was not overly excited when the game was released. I am truly amazed by the huge demand.

OK Spooky is the popular manufacturer of the moment (and they deserve it - for example their customer support is great). Scott is also 'one of us', a pinball enthousiast who showed his home made game - and when demand became strong enough it went in production. And the rest of the team behind this title are also good, known people. So there is a lot of trust that they will deliver something good. That part I understand.

But still.. getting more than 750 people excited enough to pre-order, just by showing pictures and a few short video clips ?
FOMO must be strong nowadays.. (I have to admit I also ordered my ACNC as soon as it was released as I really wanted it, just based on the theme).

I guess Rick and Morty just isn't my cup of tea..
I know the show but I'm not a fan, I haven't watched a lot of episodes.

TNA also wasn't my thing - whilst gameplay may be challenging, for that kind of money I want more value. I appreciate what Scott created - and I'm very happy that in todays environment he can get his games produced and people want something different that they don't get with other manufacturers.

I'm more of the opinion that if I want a game that looks and plays like an older game, I'll just buy a cheap older game. If I spend a lot, I want it to have all bells and whistles and new things and as much as possible on it.
My Pinball Champ 82 is next to my Dialed In, and to be honest at the moment I enjoy PC82 more than DI. But that machine with the simple but addictive gameplay was also only a fraction of the cost of the complex machine with three screens and rgb lights and more complex mechanisms.

My very first impression after seeing the R&M teaser pictures, was that it's a cross between some 1980ies Gottlieb games and Data East Time Machine. It may be more complex, I hadn't studied everything in detail. But if I want to play that, then I'll buy these games (and have a few $1000 over).
I know I'm exagurating a bit - you can't really compare Rick and Morty to Time Machine (I hope.. ;) rules are very important, and you can't compare the gameplay and rulesheet of current games with a Data East of 1988.. but still, I want more physical value..

So I just don't get where all the excitement comes from, is it just the theme ? Am I really not the demographic for this game ? It doesn't matter, seems team Spooky has a winner in their hands and that's what matters.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Website layout finally changed for mobile

I finally found time and motivation to start working on the website again.

The last layout change was about 10 years ago. It was optimised for large computer screens, and the whole world has gone mobile since then..

Now I'm glad to say that the site has become more mobile friendly and will adapt on small screens.
Some changes may still be necessary in the coming weeks.

This means I plan to publish new articles again, I haven't posted anything in almost 3 years.. I have a lot of pictures and ideas ready.

I have decided not to update the dutch part of my website anymore. In the past I translated each article, but that's too much effort. I keep the dutch pages online but will not add anything new.

On the main page there's now also a widget showing my latest blog posts. That way this blog is a bit more integrated with my main site.
I will try to blog more regular. Expect Things tthat are not worthy of a fixed article, but more my opinion, what's going on in the pinball world, ..

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Help needed with Topwin6 / TOP2008 programmer

I used to burn eproms using my TOP2008 programmer that I had bought years ago on aliexpress.
The only problem with this version is that the software only worked on windows XP..

Not really an issue as on my old laptop I had windows7 and that had an option to run XP too.
But then it upgraded automatically to windows10 and XP was removed as virtual machine..
That was a few years ago but I didn't need my programmer.

Now I want to use it again.. but I can't get it running. I now have a new laptop (windows10 also).
I tried installing XP in a virtual machine but it doesn't recognise the USB - vm says the device is busy/invalid and can't connect it to the virtual machine..

I can't be alone, can I ?
Are there other users of the TOPWIN software, or users that have a TOP2008 (or even older TOP853 or the most recent TOP3000 and TOP3100 ?) for whom the software does not work under windows 10 / 64 bit ?

The programmer is really good it handles even older eprom types and has functionality to test/ verify certain ics..
I really want to start using it again..

Please let me know and comment..

Edit: found a version and install instructions for topwin8 but it seems that only works for recent programmers and not for the top2008..
Edit2: got it working on 32 bit Vista. Will write an article with more information about it later.