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  • Your favourite playfield toys, design ideas

    I would like to know what are your mostly liked toys and parts on pinball tables (not only Zen products), and why did you liked them. If you have original ideas, share them here! They could find their way into one of my next tables I am interested in your other suggestions about how can we make our tables even better.

  • #2
    Also, please tell me about the layout likes, and dislikes of yours. E.g.: How many ramps do you like on a table? How many flippers, sinkholes, mini playfields, levels, other elements. What is your dream layout looks like?

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    • #3
      The main dislike I have is when the table punishes you for something you are supposed to do, and/or even if you do nothing truly wrong.

      The Rocky and Bullwinkle table is the best example, as going for the BOXTOP targets is very dangerous, and the ball just simply hitting the slingshots usually results in a drain. I've also had the ball drain by it simply making it's way down from the top half of the table. The Empire table occasionally has that slingshot issue, and it's maddening.

      A couple lesser examples are the Warbound orbits and the Mission Gate in World World Hulk, and the SHIELD target on Iron Man. All targets you can hit perfectly and still (and if some cases, often) lose the ball.

      At least the infamous right ramp in Rome, while annoying, only hurts you when you botch the shot.
      Tables completed: Ms Splosion Man, Spiderman, BioLab, Captain America, Empire Strikes Back, The Avengers, Wolverine, World War Hulk, Sorcerer's Lair, Fantastic Four, Blade, X-Men, Thor, Moon Knight, Infinity Gauntlet, Super League Football, Starfighter Assault, Han Solo
      Billionaire's Club: Spider-Man, World War Hulk, The Avengers, Sorcerer's Lair, Empire Strikes Back, Captain America, Ms. Splosion Man, Han Solo

      Comment


      • #4
        Favorite Toy Gimmick - Demolition Man's toy cars (far left)! Instead of using a captured ball, the table uses 2 (or 4 depending to the operator) micro-machine like cars to hit the bullseye.

        Favorite Moving Part - Judge Dredd's Dead World spinner and Space Station arm. It would have been nice if it functioned like the original prototype (read the notes).

        Favorite Table Layout - Any table from Steve Ritchie, but if I had to choose one I would go with Rollergames. He really is the "king of flow".

        What I Really Like - Wicked lighting effects and General Illumination (GI) lighting. So far only the Blade and Sorcerer's Lair tables had really cool lighting effects. What I really like to see is real time multi-level GI lighting on your tables.

        What I Dislike The Most - Wonky ball saves! I really like the ball saves to follow the KISS rule. I'm not a big fan of unique ball saves where the ball comes out a robot's arm (Earth Defense) or shoots out between the flippers (Clone Wars) or goes into a vortex and I have wait for the character to pick it up (Fantastic 4). Keep the ball save simple and just have the ball launch from the plunger lane. The above examples either create unnecessary frustrating ball drains, game breaking bugs, or failed mission attempts because the timer ran out.
        Last edited by shogun00; 06-27-2013, 02:05 AM. Reason: Stupid typo

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        • #5
          Something to add: I don't know how practical it is, but I'd like to have an option to turn off the kickbacks or permanent ballsave on some multiball modes. It's one thing to use them up on a multiball that's part of a mission (like Hulk v. Dr Strange in World War Hulk), but annoying on an "optional" one (like losing your kickbacks and the Sabre Saver during the Jedi/Sith multiball on Empire).

          And to be clear so I'm not coming of as negative, I do think most of these tables are fantastic. I've gotten a lot more than I've expected from what was really a chance download, and I've made it a point to tell most people I know about this game.
          Tables completed: Ms Splosion Man, Spiderman, BioLab, Captain America, Empire Strikes Back, The Avengers, Wolverine, World War Hulk, Sorcerer's Lair, Fantastic Four, Blade, X-Men, Thor, Moon Knight, Infinity Gauntlet, Super League Football, Starfighter Assault, Han Solo
          Billionaire's Club: Spider-Man, World War Hulk, The Avengers, Sorcerer's Lair, Empire Strikes Back, Captain America, Ms. Splosion Man, Han Solo

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by shogun00 View Post
            Favorite Toy Gimmick - Demolition Man's toy cars (far left)! Instead of using a captured ball, the table uses 2 (or 4 depending to the operator) micro-machine like cars to hit the bullseye.

            Favorite Moving Part - Judge Dredd's Dead World spinner and Space Station arm. It would have be nice if it functioned like the original prototype (read the notes).

            Favorite Table Layout - Any table from Steve Ritchie, but if I had to choose one I would go with Rollergames. He really is the "king of flow".

            What I Really Like - Wicked lighting effects and General Illumination (GI) lighting. So far only the Blade and Sorcerer's Lair tables had really cool lighting effects. What I really like to see is real time multi-level GI lighting on your tables.

            What I Dislike The Most - Wonky ball saves! I really like the ball saves to follow the KISS rule. I'm not a big fan of unique ball saves where the ball comes out a robot's arm (Earth Defense) or shoots out between the flippers (Clone Wars) or goes into a vortex and I have wait for the character to pick it up (Fantastic 4). Keep the ball save simple and just have the ball launch from the plunger lane. The above examples either create unnecessary frustrating ball drains, game breaking bugs, or failed mission attempts because the timer ran out.
            The Demolition Man cars are indeed a good idea, I was planning to use this, could be on my next table
            I like Steve's works, all are great tables but a bit simple. John Popadiuk is my favorite
            The light effects are one of the most important things of a pinball table. Sadly our graphics engine is limited in this area, some real time lights would be awesome. Maybe on nextgen consoles
            About ball saves: I promise not to design any more like Fantastic 4

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by OriginalEther View Post
              The main dislike I have is when the table punishes you for something you are supposed to do, and/or even if you do nothing truly wrong.

              The Rocky and Bullwinkle table is the best example, as going for the BOXTOP targets is very dangerous, and the ball just simply hitting the slingshots usually results in a drain. I've also had the ball drain by it simply making it's way down from the top half of the table. The Empire table occasionally has that slingshot issue, and it's maddening.

              A couple lesser examples are the Warbound orbits and the Mission Gate in World World Hulk, and the SHIELD target on Iron Man. All targets you can hit perfectly and still (and if some cases, often) lose the ball.

              At least the infamous right ramp in Rome, while annoying, only hurts you when you botch the shot.
              Well, yeah the slingshots can be a bit rough sometimes, but hey...thats what they do after all I don't like if they just nudge the ball slightly, some early Zen table does that and its so unrealistic. However its safe

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm a big drop target fan - nothing more satisfying to me!
                I also like to hit my targets using an unusually orientated upper flipper (eg Black Knight), or lower playfield (Black Hole).

                I tend to favour the real life tables from the 80's, the pre-dmd more open playfield tables where accuracy of shot counted more and game times were shorter.

                My biggest pinball hate - ill thought out and excessive multiball modes that are accessed too easily or without intent.

                I work as a CAD draughtsman, and have been playing with some layouts of my own recently , using Autodesk Inventor Pro's dynamic simulation suite for mockup.
                I've been playing with some non conventional ball plunge positions and am tweaking one where the ball is plunged from a flipper central location which is aimable by the player to make specific launch targets. Also this layout doesn't have the traditional outer orbit loop.

                Theme wise - I'm fairly open, but like where a ball can be tied to the theme (eg Medieval Madness's cannon). I don't like where the theme is just a loose tie in with no relevance to a rolling ball.

                I'm not a big fan of blindly copying existing real table layouts and features and rebranding them (Rocky and Bulwinkle - Sorcerer etc... ).
                I love creation and innovation like in Fear Itself's Circle Lane.

                Toywise - I love Excalibur. Believable (ie could almost be a real table) but with an extra twist of non-real mechanical world required reliability.

                Hope some of that makes sense - and helps or inspires.
                Looking forward to your future work.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nik Barbour View Post
                  I'm not a big fan of blindly copying existing real table layouts and features and rebranding them (Rocky and Bulwinkle - Sorcerer etc...).
                  You don't have to worry about that one. They only did that when they were first starting off (first six tables on PFX1). Street Fighter 2 and everything after was of their own design.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just remembered another playfield toy idea I tried out years ago. I modelled it up in CAD but never did anything with it.

                    It was a centrally located ramp. The lower half was fixed in the 12 o clock orientation, but the centre had a snaking hinge and the upper half of the ramp was motorised and steerable.
                    The steering was to be done via, pressing and holding a button, which would temporarily disable the flipper coils, and allow the upper half of the ramp to be steered using the left/right flipper buttons (whilst the ball was in play up the table).
                    You could combine this with a central located fixed manual plunger (so shot strength could be varied) and have an in game sinkhole to access the plunger, whilst also making the ramp accessible from left or right flipper shots.

                    The ramp could then used for anything from 3d target hitting, to accessing mini playfields, or hitting a character in varying locations (similar to Champion Pub).
                    I had a non-themed CAD simulation working really nicely with this ramp a few years back.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by shogun00 View Post
                      What I Really Like - Wicked lighting effects and General Illumination (GI) lighting. So far only the Blade and Sorcerer's Lair tables had really cool lighting effects. What I really like to see is real time multi-level GI lighting on your tables.
                      Firstly, I have to say I love this thread! How lucky are we to be communicating with actual game designers of a game we all love??

                      Secondly, shogun has already mentioned my personal number one most important feature of any pinball: lighting effects. It doesn't matter if it's a real table or a simulation, a great light show can make or break a table for me. I've played The Addams family, Theatre of Magic and Twilight Zone, they all put on a fantastic light show and especially when you earn multi-ball which really ramps up the excitement.

                      That brings me on to my next point: real-life pinball tables seem much better at making the player aware something big is about to happen, like multi-ball. A pause in the action with some flashing lights followed by a manic mission/multi-ball is why I love pinball. That and combos. Which brings me onto my next point...

                      I love a combo. Earth Defense and Sorcerers Lair had some great rewards for hitting a tricky combo. Actually, Clone Wars' toughest mission 'Weapons Factory' was great fun as hitting those initial combos was really testing yet satisfying. I Also love hitting sink-holes to end a multi-ball mission, that can be satisfying too.

                      One last thing I love: magnets. Whether they are under the playfield or over I've always loved the way they can be used to move the pinball. Addams family really uses these to great effect and some Zen tables have too. Probably my favourite of any mission out of ALL the tables is 'Chain Reaction' on Tesla. I love lining up each shot and the realistic way the balls react to the magnets followed by sending the four balls flying when you successfully complete it. Magic stuff.

                      I think that will do for now, I'll save my pet hates and ideas for table toys and layouts etc. for another post...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My favourite toy on an actual pinball were the slingshot cannons on STNG. They worked well and added to the gameplay.

                        My favourite gimmick was the Mist multiball from Dracula: having to knock the floating ball to activate it was a cool idea. I also liked the manual ramp diverters on the Shadow ramps.

                        I'm a fan of fast, smooth games that flow well, offering plenty of ramps, loops and orbits that allow for continuous combo shots and am a fan of scoring mechanisms like the combos in Demo man and Vengeance from Shadow.

                        The ability to stack multiball modes is always welcome, and I really like the way Dracula handled this. With one MB activated, jackpots were 10mil. With 2 MB modes activated they were 20mil. With 3 MB modes activated they were 30mil. It wasn't easy to stack all 3 modes, but if you did, it really paid off.

                        I always find myself leaning to tables that have at least 3 flippers (rather than the standard 2) and prefer a playfield that has plenty of shots available, but is not overly cluttered. Mini playfields can be fun but a pet hate of mine are larger sized mini-playfields (or any other feature for that matter) that obscure too much of the main playfield.

                        Though I have only tried the demos on most of the Zen tables, I've played a lot of ESB, and I'm really enjoying it. There's plenty of sweet-spot shots available and the game rules force the player to use the whole playfield. Plenty of variety, numerous ways to obtain good scores, and I really like the balance factor in the Sith/Jedi super jackpot scoring. Compared to what I have seen from the other tables, ESB is definitely going in the right direction... so more like this please :-)

                        What I'd really like to see Zen explore is a new spin on the Hotseat multiplayer concept. Have the opponents spawn inside the playfield, standing a little higher than the ball, and make them real life moving targets. Provide them objectives such as blocking and or shutting down lit shots and jackpots, all the while themselves being prime high-scoring targets for the hotseat player. Imagine how scary multiball would be!

                        Throw in some AI based characters (unlocked with modes) that target the guys running around the playfield, you could really have fun with this concept. :-)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I liked the upside down flipper on Paranormal. That shot through the gate was very satisfying.

                          Also liked the adamantium mode on wolverine where you have to lock 2 balls in separate sinkholes in a short period of time. Always a nice challenge.

                          I quite like magnet games as well (pasha, fear itself).

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                          • #14
                            Thanks for the posts guys! Good to have your opinions and ideas. I am making notes what to and not to do on future tables, so keep them coming!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Great thread.

                              I agree with others. Better lighting would be great with an adjustable setting to change the ambient lighting and more light effects when starting up or defeating important modes. Pro Pinball has a cool lighting simulator for their Timeshock pinball table. You can find it here for the pc, mac, ios and android http://www.pro-pinball.com/. It's just a tech demo but it would be cool if zen could one day implement something similar.

                              Favorite Toys: A great table doesn't necessarily need any toys. But my favorite playfield toy is definitely Rudy in Funhouse. He taunts you and I know I get a lot of satisfaction when I smack in the mouth. I also like the idea of a rotating toy that has different features like the magic box in Theater of Magic. One side has a sinkhole, another has spot or drop targets. In regards to Zen tables, I don't think there are many interactive toys but I like the giant robot in Earth defense and the catapult in Excalibur. Toys I hate are the cannons on STTNG and the giant lamp spinner in TOTAN. They always lead wild uncontrollable balls.

                              Layout: My favorite tables seem to have around 3 ramps and 3 flippers and the 3rd flipper is used to hit the 3rd ramp with a cross shot. I like tables that use the upper flipper for combo shots and the upper flipper has two things you can hit like a ramp and a sinkhole like STTNG. STTNG has the Picard Maneuver combo that you can hit with the upper flipper as well as a sinkhole (Command decision?). But with video pinball it is important to have a good view of the upper flipper and above it to time the shot. I would also like to see drop targets. Zen barely uses drop targets at all. I have been playing a lot of Pinball Arcade recently and I really like the drop targets in Centaur, Firepower, and Gorgar. The layouts for these tables are fairly simple with no ramps but I really like the challenge and accurate drop target shots are key to getting good scores.

                              Mini-playfields/Mini games: Some are good and some are crap. The powerfield on TZ is cool (but you already made that a minigame on IG). I hate the mini playfield on The Shadow. I think mini games on Zen are hit and miss. The Dark Asgard mini game on FI gets boring pretty quick.

                              I would like to see Easter Eggs/Cows thrown into Zen games like poker with Riker on STTNG.
                              Last edited by surf1der; 06-16-2013, 11:42 PM.

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