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  • What about a collaboration with real life pinball designers

    I made this suggestion in another thread already but what about a collaboration between Zen and some real life pinball designers who made famous tables for Williams, Gottlieb, etc. like:

    - Steve Richie (High Speed, Black Knight, Star Trek TNG, etc.) or
    - Pat Lawlor (Fun House, Earthquake, Whirlwind, etc.) or
    - Larry DeMar (Fun House, Addams Family, etc.) or
    - Eugene Jarvis (Space Shuttle, High Speed, F14-Tomcat, etc)

    to create new marvelous Zen Tables.

  • #2
    Well, John Popadiuk (Theater of Magic, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Cirqus Voltaire) did post on here:

    http://forum.zenstudios.com/showthre...9450#post19450

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    • #3
      Wow, John Popadiuk also did "Star Wars Episode I" which already combines pinball and computer games. I definitely hope that things will work out on this cooperation.
      Last edited by katschunka; 01-07-2012, 08:35 AM.

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      • #4
        Every time I find a real pinball machine, new or old, I quickly come to the conclusion that the Zen designers are much, much, better at it than the non-digital pinball designers.

        Rephrase this question so it's the other way around, where the Zen designers help, say, Stern, do something that's 1) interesting, 2) indicative of game design concepts from the last decade and a half, and 3) doesn't look cheap and plastic enough to be purchased with skeeball tickets, and then I'm totally behind you.

        Yeah. Skeeball tickets. I just went there.

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        • #5
          Interesting. For me the zen desingers can still learn a lot from the machines released in the 90ies.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Thirdrail View Post
            Every time I find a real pinball machine, new or old, I quickly come to the conclusion that the Zen designers are much, much, better at it than the non-digital pinball designers.

            Rephrase this question so it's the other way around, where the Zen designers help, say, Stern, do something that's 1) interesting, 2) indicative of game design concepts from the last decade and a half, and 3) doesn't look cheap and plastic enough to be purchased with skeeball tickets, and then I'm totally behind you.

            Yeah. Skeeball tickets. I just went there.
            The LE version of Stern's upcoming AC/DC table looks pretty amazing. If I had room in my apartment...and a few thousand bucks sitting around...

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            • #7
              I would like to find the LE Transformers one and check that out. I'm going to buy myself a real table for Christmas this year, so I'm trying to locate and play as many real machines as possible. So far the most impressive/fun machine I've found in RL has been Ritchie's Indiana Jones table.

              I was in a showroom with Tron and Rolling Stones a few days ago, and they were just so cheap and boring. I didn't even take the free plays, I just felt insulted by Stern. (My plan had been to buy a new Stern table until I saw those two machines.)

              It reminded me of the way every toy used to be made of metal and then became plastic and then slowly the plastic got cheaper and cheaper until we reached the point we're at now, where 80% of Toys r' Us looks like prizes from a Happy Meal.

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              • #8
                ah but the happy meal toys have improved as well >.>
                Beat Ms Splosion-Man Wizard Mode on 12/15/2011
                Beat Sorcerer's Lair Wizard Mode on 12/17/2011

                Comment


                • #9
                  No I will not rephrase my question and I'm still waiting for an answer from ZEN. You are totally missing the point. It does not matter if real life tables look cheap. By the way that's a question of taste. And the indicative of game design concepts from the last decade and a half that ZEN does especially in the Marvel tables is because they copy from the old Williams tables for example the ramp layout of the Captain America table uses the one from Whirlwind and the Thor uses the the skillshot from Whirlwind, etc.
                  Compared to Zen Pinball Zen did improve their rules and game design in
                  Marvel Pinball. But still it would be nice to get some help from real life pinball designers.


                  Originally posted by Thirdrail View Post
                  Every time I find a real pinball machine, new or old, I quickly come to the conclusion that the Zen designers are much, much, better at it than the non-digital pinball designers.

                  Rephrase this question so it's the other way around, where the Zen designers help, say, Stern, do something that's 1) interesting, 2) indicative of game design concepts from the last decade and a half, and 3) doesn't look cheap and plastic enough to be purchased with skeeball tickets, and then I'm totally behind you.

                  Yeah. Skeeball tickets. I just went there.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    lol You guys get so used to calling things subjective, you don't even stop to think about what the word actually means anymore.

                    Cheap isn't subjective. Plastic is inexpensive. Metal and wood aren't. Some types of plastic are less expensive than others, and so are some kinds of wood and metal. An object constructed with lots of less expensive parts, as opposed to more expensive parts, is cheap. Go stand with Stern's Tron table, and then look at the old Terminator table. One has lots of metal parts and high quality materials, the other simply does not. It's like comparing a Cadillac to a Ford Focus. I guess I shouldn't have used the word "look". That's seems to have confused you. Subjective applies to things that don't have a mathematical foundation. Like prices expressed in numbers. Math is not subjective. Manufacturing costs and material quality aren't subjective.

                    And my comment on modernized game design had nothing to do with who originally decided on the placement of ramps and spinners. Outlanes, for example (and they are only one example), were designed for a world where pinball ran on quarters and arcades needed to make money to pay rent. Random "death" makes sense in that context. The machine has to make a certain amount of money to be a viable use of space and time within the business it resides in. That time/money/space model has no relevance whatsoever to a game you buy for your Xbox. Zen makes more money (and can thus design more pinball tables) if Call of Duty players like their game enough to stop and play it between rounds of Search and Destroy, and 6 million Angry Birds fanatics love their work enough to shell out $2, not by clinging to outdated design concepts that make a few traditional pinballers happy. If you were playing Skyrim, and something randomly and consistently killed your character without you doing anything, you'd uninstall it. By 2012 game design standards, a predatory outlane isn't a design element. It's just a glitch.

                    If hardcore pinball players and their beloved old designers knew something Zen didn't, pinball machines wouldn't be an endangered species. Reality itself has proven, quite clearly, that the old, core, pinball community can barely keep pinball alive. Old school pinball designers were in charge for 50 years. The result - everyone went out of business, pinball became largely irrelevant to this planet, and there is now one little company left in the whole world making RL pinball machines. The gang at Zen is literally saving you from the pinball apocalypse you and those designers helped create.

                    The part where I said "interesting"... there's no good mathematical way to determine if something is interesting to a specific person or not. That's what subjective means.

                    The tables Zen produces are amazing pieces of digital artwork, capable of producing a whole new sense of wonder, and appealing to a generation that has otherwise abandoned pinball. You really do have it backwards as to who needs help from whom.

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                    • #11
                      @Thirdrail:

                      So you do not want Zen to have a collaboration with some of the experienced Pinball designers. Well that is your own opinion. I think it would really be a good idea if that collaboration would happen. The design of the Zen Tables did improve with Marvel pinball but there are still some flaws for example that "impossible extra ball" of the iron man table. I guess such problems could have been avoided if somebody with real life experience was part of the design team.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I've now seen the implication twice now, by separate users, that pinball would still be a profitable industry had game design been different.

                        It's very difficult to argue that pinball table design killed the pinball industry. I understand the need to defend the product of this board, but I find it ironic that on the day Epic Quest launches I've seen so many reviews with a similiar statement:

                        "I love pinball, but the regular tables were feeling a bit stale as each new one was just another table but with a new theme. "

                        That's not an indictment on Zen, but evidence against the argument of the strict implication that had real pinball tables been designed closer to Zens virtual offerings that they'd still be around as the argument depends on the idea that Zens offerings are clearly superior to those of the physical machine. Yet, these sentiments (certainly not exclusive to Zen or any other studio) represent the idea that there is no design element intrinsic to these tables that isolates them from the same behavioral tendencies that affect others.

                        It is also contrary that virtual pinball has never caught on with the masses. While some of the (now defunct) manufacturers of real life tables had 50 years of success, none of the virtual producers of tables have had a long, successful history. If quality alone is to be the judge, then why did the Pro Pinball series die off? Pro Pinball: Timeshock in particular is regarded by many to be the greatest virtual pinball title ever made. 15 years later, it still amazes people how that game was made in the era it was made, and it easily holds up with any of the rather limited selection of titles that came since. Yet, when we look at developers of virtual pinball simulations we see only isolated success in rather short time frames, with the end result of many producers being the same as their physical brethren, both in endeavors based on real machines and those that are not. We can look at many separate examples in the field, and while we can find success, we find success based upon the constraints we define it under.

                        There's clearly something else. Pinball found itself in a quickly changing world. Arcade machines dealt pinball a serious blow, just as the home market dealt them a blow. We now live in a world where even the physical distribution of that same home market is now threatened.

                        If the hypothesis that pinball design is the causal link is to be true, then we'd expect other similiar coin-op devices to still be popular enterprises. However, that is clearly not the case. Arcade machines are only barely more common than pinball machines. Billiard halls are closing at a rapid pace. You can pretty much pick your amusement device of choice and find it not only at drastically reduced levels in comparison to its peak, but in many cases near extinction.

                        The world changed. We live in a world where we can nearly instantly download anything we want. Games are almost as much removed from home to our pocket as they once were from the arcade to home. Physical apparatus, distribution, and even control interfaces are being phased out for virtual ones. That's the clear trend in entertainment. 2 man arcade units were replaced by splitscreen TV setups who have now been replaced by online connections. As computing power increasingly becomes smaller, the devices become more and more mobile. What once took a standalone machine to do, we can no mulch-task in our pocket.

                        I ask anyone, how is a large mechanical device to survive in a world where the common man now has more processing power in his pocket than he did on his home PC only a decade ago?

                        I applaud Zen Studios, Farsight and others for helping to keep pinball an activity. Virtual pinball, whether a commercial or hobbyist venture has been vital to keeping pinball relevant. However, just as the arcade owner needed quarters to survive, these commercial ventures are businesses dependent on their revenue streams to survive. Table design and business model remain components to the end user experience. But just as in any business, one should careful in attempting to arbitrarily isolate one variable as the causal variable in all conditions. Sometimes a product or idea simply makes it or doesn't make it because it isn't the right time. One of the things that happens far, far too often in the gaming industry is to blame the design developers for problems that either they did not create or that others had a hand in creating for them. One could go to any popular gaming forum on the net and find 'the devs' held responsible for marketing or distribution decisions, many times decisions outside the principle studio. Sometimes it is understood that the end user is using it as a catch all phrase, but in almost all cases, it is simply a matter of convenience rather than accuracy.

                        The end result in a commercial venture is to make money, but the steps towards that goal need not be ignored simply because one recognizes that goal. Virtual pinball lives on because enough people, at some point, enjoyed playing on physical machines enough to carry on its legacy. Part of commercial gaming is to provide enjoyment so that the customer will continue to pop those quarters and download those tables. Part of gaming is the random experiences. Those outlanes may seem unfair and random, but that randomness is a key component of the experience. Games have included randomness for centuries (including many video games where the end user would swear the game is, by their own definition, 'pure skill'). Pinball, whether on a virtual or physical backdrop has randomness as a design characteristic. How one weighs various variables in that equation certainly varies depending on the environment. One should not fall for the false dichotomy popular in such forums to label one approach 'best' over the other, but simply recognize the needs of varying environments and the existence of personal preference.
                        Last edited by brophog; 02-15-2012, 09:32 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Popadiuk for zen!

                          Originally posted by HardcorePinballGamer4Life View Post
                          Well, John Popadiuk (Theater of Magic, Tales of the Arabian Nights, Cirqus Voltaire) did post on here:

                          http://forum.zenstudios.com/showthre...9450#post19450
                          really? i just read that thread, which member is he?

                          Zen itself said they'd consider employing whoever did Theater of Magic. Guess who that was?

                          The exciting thing is that John is creating his own custom tables with Ben Heck (a zombie themed one) and another magic-related table for his own company. Unfortunately these are very limited editions - less than 20 made for about $17000 each.

                          Which sucks because he is one of the best designers ever and I'll never get to play them.

                          UNLESS say Zen were to approach him and licence it for release digitally. Everybody wins. John makes some more moolah, that keeps him in the game doing great stuff, Zen gets an awesome design and publicity, we get to play a brand new Popadiuk table.

                          The only ppl who might be put out are the owners of the actual tables, but even then pinball is a gift to the world, and your table can only be more prestigious the more ppl who know about it.

                          John is a fan of Zen, there's even a link on his facebook page, so the doors should be wide open for this to happen. And I hope Zen do it before Pinball Arcade or someone else do it poorly.

                          I'm going to cross-post around the sub-forums to drum up support and make sure Zen know it's something they should be looking into.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Evolve or die View Post
                            really? i just read that thread, which member is he?
                            jpop = John Popadiuk

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                            • #15
                              Besides John Popadiuk, I'd love to see Zen Studios collaborate with Brain Eddy (Medieval Madness), Pat Lawlor (The Addams Family), and John Trudeau (Creature from the Black Lagoon). That would be one awesome group for Zen Studios to recruit. The majority of those guys tables have great layouts, rules, and charm.

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