Pacific Pinball Museum Expo 2009

A couple weeks ago I went to the Pacific Pinball Expo, which was awesome as always.

I played a whole lot of pinball! There were some really tricky E/M era games there (pre-computer chip), the majority of which I think were from the private collections of the guys who run Lucky Juju.

A very cool feature was the lectures given by some of the pinball designers and artists who were guests of the expo.

Some of the more interesting machines I played:

  • Flip a card – a basic collect-the-targets game. EM, simple yet effective
  • Spectrum – very NOT simple – the playfield is covered with a giant grid of colored lights – hit the appropriate color target to be in time with the rotating lights. Apparently based on the logic board game “Mastermind.” Another cool feature: there are drains up-field near the top of the playfield – but if the ball goes in there, it gets shot out the bottom much faster than the ball would actually be able to travel. It’s an illusion called a “shell game” where another ball closer to the flippers has replaced the drained ball.
  • Theater of magic
  • Pinball magic – skill shot with hat, magnetic wand
  • Spirit has a spinning back glass and extra flippers for saving and little curly cue things that change the direction on the ball
  • Orbitor 1
  • Motordome
  • Black knight and Pharaoh have magna Save
  • The Machine: Bride of Pinbot – had a rotating upper board (her face) that one of the ramps drained to, also a plastic drain that used ridges to double as two drains depending on which entrance
  • Creature from the black lagoon has a vortex

I’ve recently been very interested in making my own pinball machine… surfing around, I found Future Pinball, which might be a good way to prototype it.

Some notes I took from the talk by John Trudeau:
Q: how do designers determine the angle and placement of ramps etc so that flipper hit will be likely to get there?

    A (liberally paraphrased):

  • mostly trial and error. We have a bunch of machines and we see where the ball goes for different angles of the flipper. We eyeball it.
  • The length of the playfield is standardized, and even the angle is standardized – it’s generally between 6.5 degrees and 8 degrees, as measured from the bottom of the machine, which is meant to be parallel to the floor.
  • the more tricky question is: when placing another flipper partway up the playfield, how does one place a “bonus” ramp so that new flipper is likely to get the ball in there? The answer is we use the same range of angles, but we just rotate with respect to the new flipper.

John showed us a model of an unproduced pinball, which he modeled in SolidWorks.

John Trudeau designed:

  • at …?
    • Rocky
    • Spirit
    • Striker
    • QBerts quest
    • Krull (three level)
  • Gameplan / Gottleib / Mylstar
    • Attila the Hun
    • Alien star
  • @ Premier technology
    • Rock
    • Raven (Rambo as a girl)
    • Hollywood heat
    • Genesis (reveals a robot)
    • Gold wings
    • Monte Carlo
    • Spring break
    • Tx sector – has a “shell game”
    • Victory
    • Silver slugger
    • Robo war (clone of sinbad)
    • Excalibur (another update)
    • Deadly weapon
  • @ Williams bally
    • Bugs bunny
    • Bride of pinbot
    • Black rose
    • Creature from the black lagoon
    • Judge dredd
    • Flintstones
    • Congo