(Topic ID: 106728)

ALIEN PINBALL - Game Over, Man, Game Over


By HeighwayPinball

4 years ago



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  • Alien Heighway Pinball, 2017

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#15001 2 years ago
Quoted from Jvspin:

I'm not into motosports at all but think they work okay for a theme.

Obviously it's personal preference, I've just noticed over the years that motorsports games are often on the "won't even consider" list for people, regardless of actual gameplay.

I think starting off unlicensed is smart. Spooky did it with AMH before RZ, American Pinball is sort of doing it with Houdini, in that it's a name people know but they still have free reign, no studio looking over their shoulder etc.

But licenses sell. You simply can't argue that point. And that's why this is a really great observation:

Quoted from Jvspin:

For me, Heighway's misstep was announcing Aliens with such an aggressive production date before Full Throttle was even shipping. With their modular system it made more sense to buy Aliens first then add the less desirable Full Throttle kit after.

Hey, hindsight is 20/20, lot I wish I'd known 2 years ago that I do now.

#15002 2 years ago
Quoted from frolic:

Too early back then for money troubles.
Dennis in his own words:
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/dennis-nordman-leaves-heighway-pinball
I have to take Dennis at his word that he just didn't see it as possible in that tight time schedule, and turns out he was right.

Thanks for the reminder, good read 2 years after.
The most amazing quote in this thread comes from Andrew Heighway:
"Are we behind schedule at the moment? By approximately 1 1/2 weeks, yes."
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/dennis-nordman-leaves-heighway-pinball/page/2#post-2097101

#15003 2 years ago
Quoted from jlm33:

The most amazing quote in this thread comes from Andrew Heighway:
"Are we behind schedule at the moment? By approximately 1 1/2 weeks, yes."

yeah. I'm going to guess stuff like this, as more comes to light, is what made working behind the scenes so difficult, apparently.

#15004 2 years ago
Quoted from Pimp77:

LOL! I'd take a Full Throttle over that turd called RZ, and I'm no fan of Full Throttle.

I'm not going to gloss over RZ's problems... as it sits now, it's rather broken from a scoring/competitive standpoint. However, I've had no physical issues with my game; the glaring problems are all software related, and Spooky is working hard at rewriting the code. I'm confident the game will turn out to be great once they're done.

#15005 2 years ago
Quoted from frolic:

True. Alien was announced Oct 2014 at Expo, and I received the first Full Throttle August 2015.
Some of this is real head scratcher stuff, and why Heighway is in the shape its in. There's no question mistakes were made.

Not to mention, they expected Aliens to start production in April 2015 when it was first announced!

#15006 2 years ago

I vividly recall that Expo and the announcement, and I'm pretty certain there was no one in the world other than Andrew that believed the April date. Yet he doubled down on it every time he was asked.

#15007 2 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

I think starting off unlicensed is smart. Spooky did it with AMH before RZ, American Pinball is sort of doing it with Houdini, in that it's a name people know but they still have free reign, no studio looking over their shoulder etc.

I think one of the biggest problems with an unlicensed theme for a new company is that people have to play the game and the game has to be good before it sells. People will also be reluctant to buy from an unproven company, so the company has to be able to self finance and withstand this delay until money starts coming in.

From what I've seen, one exception to this is limited games which people may pre-purchase due to perceived collectibility or fear of missing out.

#15008 2 years ago
Quoted from metallik:

I'm not going to gloss over RZ's problems... as it sits now, it's rather broken from a scoring/competitive standpoint. However, I've had no physical issues with my game; the glaring problems are all software related, and Spooky is working hard at rewriting the code. I'm confident the game will turn out to be great once they're done.

And it has to be said the powder coating is beautiful on RZ. And a superb real backglass. The game doesn't look cheap.

Yes, the code is not that fun at the moment but here's the thing, it's not finished by a long way.

Ben Heck just spent 9 straight days helping David get V20 ready and there is more to come after that.

I think people will have a different opinion of this game when the code is finished.

Remember how MET and TWD went from duds to masterpieces, albeit it was Lyman on the code.

#15009 2 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

And it has to be said the powder coating is beautiful on RZ. And a superb real backglass. The game doesn't look cheap.
Yes, the code is not that fun at the moment but here's the thing, it's not finished by a long way.
Ben Heck just spent 9 straight days helping David get V20 ready and there is more to come after that.
I think people will have a different opinion of this game when the code is finished.
Remember how MET and TWD went from duds to masterpieces, albeit it was Lyman on the code.

When's Ben gonna make the handheld version of RZ?

#15010 2 years ago

Ok, I'm out. Just got off the phone with my CC company and was able to get my most recent payment posted back to me. Still out original 1500.00 but will work on that at a future date. Too many unanswered questions for now. And like others have mentioned, if the game gets produced, I can always add one down the road. Such a shame. So excited for this title. Now I'm just angry as Andrew promised me on my last payment LE's being built and getting ready to ship.

#15011 2 years ago
Quoted from Agent_Hero:

When's Ben gonna make the handheld version of RZ?

Not sure, but one thing I am sure about: It will still have the same amount of shots.

#15012 2 years ago
Quoted from eggbert52:

Not sure, but one thing I am sure about: It will still have the same amount of shots.

I count at least 10 from memory, not including pops as shots and also ignoring the 2 lightning standups that are very hard to hit. That's not enough for you?

#15013 2 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

And it has to be said the powder coating is beautiful on RZ. And a superb real backglass. The game doesn't look cheap.

Best backglass since hell I don't even know. The artistic detail and quality of print are simply outstanding.

#15014 2 years ago
Quoted from eggbert52:

Not sure, but one thing I am sure about: It will still have the same amount of shots.

Quoted from snakesnsparklers:

I count at least 10 from memory, not including pops as shots and also ignoring the 2 lightning standups that are very hard to hit. That's not enough for you?

Plenty of shots in the game.. some very easy (ramp, murder ride), some hard (L/R orbits), some occluded (lightning standups). Hell, Nineball is built around a lock shot that's only possible off a rebound. RZ is similar.. use the pops to get the standups. Fortunately for Eggbert, Stern is quite adept at cranking out fan layouts...

#15015 2 years ago
Quoted from metallik:

I'm not going to gloss over RZ's problems... as it sits now, it's rather broken from a scoring/competitive standpoint. However, I've had no physical issues with my game; the glaring problems are all software related, and Spooky is working hard at rewriting the code. I'm confident the game will turn out to be great once they're done.

For me it's the layout and absolutely atrocious pf art...can't fix those. It's just not for me. That's ok, lots of people hate games I own. Different strokes.

#15016 2 years ago
Quoted from frolic:

In my "Hindsight is 20/20" glasses, I wonder if the critical misstep was announcing Alien when he did. They he was committed. If it had been worked on internally, and things weren't coming together as they wanted, they could have bumped its release for something else. Get game #2 out the door, Alien could be #3 or #4.

What would this have achieved?

They would have had the same exact kinds of problems with whatever game #2 was.. except possibly licensing dragging on.. but then he'd be in the same problem he had with FT.. a theme people didn't want.

His failing to ship a game on time was due to them producing game #2... not because it was 'Alien'.

#15017 2 years ago
Quoted from DCFAN:

I suspect having a factory was a big selling point to make the business attractive enough to the investors for both JJP and Heighway. Dutch does not have such a luxury.

I don't think so... Factories represent huge overhead and huge capital that is just depreciating. It's baggage. What it does represent though is 'path to completion' if the factory is proven complete and viable. If DP had a 'path to completion that is proven and viable' then not having a factory is actually more attractive. Their problem is... they don't have a partner lined up that is proven and viable.

You don't want a factory - you want a viable plan to build the games you have faith in. That's what DP lacks... and the fact their designs could be tied up in their manufacturing dispute makes it even worse.

In-house vs outsourced is not the issue here.

#15018 2 years ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

What would this have achieved?
They would have had the same exact kinds of problems with whatever game #2 was.. except possibly licensing dragging on.. but then he'd be in the same problem he had with FT.. a theme people didn't want.
His failing to ship a game on time was due to them producing game #2... not because it was 'Alien'.

Maybe...maybe not. Announcing Alien early might have killed off a lot of potential FT sales. Who wants FT when there is big licensed game right around the corner? So now they have a completed and fun game...but no sales and only some early "deposits on Alien" money coming in on a game that hasn't even been designed yet...killer.

#15019 2 years ago
Quoted from DerGoetz:

A) you will need the new computer unit
B) no inner sideblades for early adopters like you and me, we got the old style cabinets which are missing the inner pockets.
And this upsets me quite a bit. I was promised that I would be able to drop games in as they are released.
But even if I do spend the money on a new computer (and I have to as the one in my FullTh bricked my game) - I will have the sideblades missing which is unacceptable to me personally. All my games are tricked out, I turned my FullTh into the nicest one out there. To get the "too bad, so sad" from Heighway in regards to the sideblades and my cabinet sucks.
When I bought my FullTh i was told that the sideblades would be released shortly. I was even promised a free set as I was one of the few (only one?) who bought an LE - well....that never happened and now I know why. I was lied to at the time and that is that.

If you have the skills and tools you could modify your cabinet with a router to accept the side blades. Probably.

#15020 2 years ago
Quoted from sed6:

If you have the skills and tools you could modify your cabinet with a router to accept the side blades. Probably.

I'm guessing his point being he shouldn't have to do anything. They made early promises about compatibility and if they are going to change the cab then early adopters should have been given some sort of option to make it right.

#15021 2 years ago
Quoted from Astropin:

I'm guessing his point being he shouldn't have to do anything. They made early promises about compatibility and if they are going to change the cab then early adopters should have been given some sort of option to make it right.

How many times can you guys talk about the same fukkin thing? Over and over and over

#15022 2 years ago
Quoted from Dee-Bow:

How many times can you guys talk about the same fukkin thing? Over and over and over

How much time is there?

#15023 2 years ago

Alien will get built!!!! At least I hope. I really like the game and title!!!

#15024 2 years ago
Quoted from calprog:

Alien will get built!!!! At least I hope. I really like the game and title!!!

Wait...let me try:

Alien will get built!!! Maybe, maybe not , I'm not really sure but I want one, so I hope they get built...oh and shipped, yeah shipping would be good also...but they might not, but I hope they do becasue I like it...but it might not happen, and I wish that Astropin guy would quit trying to get me to wait before asking for a refund...what a broken record that guy is.

#15025 2 years ago
Quoted from Astropin:

Maybe...maybe not. Announcing Alien early might have killed off a lot of potential FT sales. Who wants FT when there is big licensed game right around the corner? So now they have a completed and fun game...but no sales and only some early "deposits on Alien" money coming in on a game that hasn't even been designed yet...killer.

If anything the pitch of the kit system would have helped diffuse that - but reality isno one wanted FT. I would get the argument if you said alien was game 1... but alien didnt sink game 2. Their inability to get two games shipping that people wanted (and generate steady income) is what sank them.

FT blocked FT... not alien

23
#15026 2 years ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

What would this have achieved?
They would have had the same exact kinds of problems with whatever game #2 was.. except possibly licensing dragging on.. but then he'd be in the same problem he had with FT.. a theme people didn't want.
His failing to ship a game on time was due to them producing game #2... not because it was 'Alien'.

I actually think Alien was too big of a title to tackle by a company not mature enough to handle it. Andrew and Heighway MADE machines...the Bacardi thing, Full Throttle, and got them out. Bacardi is big enough to swallow pinball whole, and am sure his confidence was high. Full Throttle wasn't popular, period. Alien was HIS grail as well...believe he grossly underestimated the development costs associated with a major, licensed theme. He new he had a winner, but Sucked the Well dry before it truly came to market. The attempts to generate excitement with false release dates ( cash flow) didn't work. People were already excited. In a strange way, I think he truly believed in what he was saying. Love can be blind, and he loved Alien.
Suspect internals started bleeding when the " Licensing" took forever....believe he was tapped at that point. It truly is sad....the pain he must be feeling, as his " baby" had to be given away. He will always get props in my book for engaging with the community, his genuine passion, and getting Alien to the finish line. Have you seen the game? It's absolutely a beautiful machine that plays amazingly ( even the proto I played at expo stole the show, imho).
Investors will find a way...we will wait for the facts ...and a side note, if you were part of the K*****da show while he was here, there was much wrong with him, and he wasn't " right" about anything, just an attention monger, period. I'm as far as you can get from a "thin skinned pile on". The guy has problems...no "facts" will ever be deemed viable coming from that circus.

Probably take a break from posting in this thread for a while....sad for Andrew, sad for the people who made a bad move by paying in full, and sad for Alien..the ultimate grail for me. Hoping my LE eventually finds its way to my game room.

#15027 2 years ago
Quoted from Astropin:

Maybe...maybe not. Announcing Alien early might have killed off a lot of potential FT sales. Who wants FT when there is big licensed game right around the corner? So now they have a completed and fun game...but no sales and only some early "deposits on Alien" money coming in on a game that hasn't even been designed yet...killer.

Plus, if they had had a booth at all conventions instead of a sparse few,
they could have sold a few more Full Throttles...

#15028 2 years ago
Quoted from MK6PIN:

I actually think Alien was too big of a title to tackle by a company not mature enough to handle it. Andrew and Heighway MADE machines...the Bacardi thing, Full Throttle, and got them out. Bacardi is big enough to swallow pinball whole, and am sure his confidence was high. Full Throttle wasn't popular, period. Alien was HIS grail as well...believe he grossly underestimated the development costs associated with a major, licensed theme. He new he had a winner, but Sucked the Well dry before it truly came to market. The attempts to generate excitement with false release dates ( cash flow) didn't work. People were already excited. In a strange way, I think he truly believed in what he was saying. Love can be blind, and he loved Alien.
Suspect internals started bleeding when the " Licensing" took forever....believe he was tapped at that point. It truly is sad....the pain he must be feeling, as his " baby" had to be given away. He will always get props in my book for engaging with the community, his genuine passion, and getting Alien to the finish line. Have you seen the game? It's absolutely a beautiful machine that plays amazingly ( even the proto I played at expo stole the show, imho).
Investors will find a way...we will wait for the facts ...and a side note, if you were part of the K*****da show while he was here, there was much wrong with him, and he wasn't " right" about anything, just an attention monger, period. I'm as far as you can get from a "thin skinned pile on". The guy has problems...no "facts" will ever be deemed viable coming from that circus.
Probably take a break from posting in this thread for a while....sad for Andrew, sad for the people who made a bad move by paying in full, and sad for Alien..the ultimate grail for me. Hoping my LE eventually finds its way to my game room.

+1

well said.

17
#15029 2 years ago
Quoted from MK6PIN:

Alien was HIS grail as well...believe he grossly underestimated the development costs associated with a major, licensed theme. He new he had a winner, but Sucked the Well dry before it truly came to market

Licensing didn't dictate the scope of the project - Heighway did. Certainly licensing held back their timelines... I'm sure it probably accounted for additional revisions to the design. But it's not the thing that bled him IMO. Maybe it was the straw that broke the camel's back.. but even if the game had NO art or media.. reality is they hadn't completed the mechanics, engineering, geometry, and rest of the game. The length of time wasn't always due to licensing delays. Remember when it was revealed they hadn't even MADE a LE art package yet, but somehow had been promising the game was nearly ready??

Quoted from MK6PIN:

Suspect internals started bleeding when the " Licensing" took forever....believe he was tapped at that point

I think that is just buying into the false narrative. The Licensing isn't the bogeyman here.

Andrew's labor and management issues were not tied to licensing delays - they are part of his package. The stories leaked here are not just 'disgruntled employees'.. when there is smoke, there is fire. That topic even predates Aliens.

The issues with not having completed games to have the development team work on were not due to licensing delays. They didn't have prototypes they could send or afford to build to send. And this is still AFTER getting the last round of money added in.

The issues with needing to change major assemblies (ramp, airlock, xeno) AFTER the reveal were not due to licensing - they were due to not having the time with a real prototype with enough cycles.

The issues with running out of money nearly a year and a half ago were not held back by late licensing... he couldn't sell what he had to sell. he didn't have a solid whitewood back then either.. the GAME itself wasn't ready. The big push to get the game to Expo was really about getting everything together 'really' for the first time and then calling it 'finished' and ready for production which was a bit of fantasy. It wasn't last minute licensing that caused the mad dash for the finish.

Licensing didn't make a Xeno mech that doesn't work well yet

The months since Expo.. it's not licensing that was holding them back from shipping Standards.

Remember when AFTER expo they finally admitted they didn't even HAVE a complete LE package to submit for licensing? Yet kept saying their new UK based licensing contact would make sure there wouldn't be the same kinds of delays.. But the Standard was already approved, if they had a game to actually sell that is 8 months earlier they could have been selling standards. But they couldn't... why? Not because of licensing, but the because the game wasn't ready and they couldn't afford to make samples and shake the game down before that point.

Truth is... regardless of licensed content - the game was not complete until recently, and he couldn't afford to build the design he did have 'complete'.

The project has been in this precarious state for more than a year.

I'm sure the external license hindered them and probably prevented some other crazy ideas... but reality is.. the game itself wasn't done. The game still isn't really done... because STILL... the development team doesn't have hands on complete stuff.

The BS on the plans about prototypes, then samples, then production quality games were all lies - and at that time they knew it. These failures are not due to an overbearing licensee, approval delays... they are shortcomings of management.

The good news is... the game is at a state that many people think it can be made into a great game, and believe it enough to put their money behind that idea.

We all want perfect games... but development is not about achieving perfection.

14
#15030 2 years ago

Andrew has asked me to remove my concept Alien artwork from this thread. After 24 hours, I can't edit my post to remove the image, so please, everyone....look at the image below...."you will forget you ever saw the Alien LE concept artwork"...

2012_men_in_black_3_021 (resized).jpg

#15031 2 years ago
Quoted from SLAMT1LT:

Andrew has asked me to remove my concept Alien artwork from this thread. After 24 hours, I can't edit my post to remove the image, so please, everyone....look at the image below...."you will forget you ever saw the Alien LE concept artwork"...

I can remove it for you. What post number is it? (I'm on my phone and can't navigate easily).

#15032 2 years ago
Quoted from SLAMT1LT:

Andrew has asked me to remove my concept Alien artwork from this thread. After 24 hours, I can't edit my post to remove the image, so please, everyone....look at the image below...."you will forget you ever saw the Alien LE concept artwork"...

already downloaded for posterity )

#15034 2 years ago

We played some Alien Pinball at the YEGPIN Expo exactly a month ago, and we had decided back then that we were not going to release a video on it because of a few issues on the game at the time. We figured there was still some value in showing our footage so people can see some of the modes and sounds, and know that we will be doing a follow-up video soon, as it sounds like the issues we identified in our video are being addressed. Enjoy!

#15035 2 years ago
Quoted from JoshODBrown:

We played some Alien Pinball at the YEGPIN Expo exactly a month ago, and we had decided back then that we were not going to release a video on it because of a few issues on the game at the time.

#15036 2 years ago

Getting into Pinball look:

image (resized).jpeg

#15037 2 years ago

In the pinball look:

image (resized).jpeg

30
#15038 2 years ago

You gotta feel for Andrew
No matter the situation he sure tried and gave it all ( I think)

Best of luck guy!!

#15039 2 years ago

i just filtered the thread and read all of just heighwaypinball posts from beginning to end.
interesting insight.

also funny to see jared & kaneda on the first pages.

#15040 2 years ago
Quoted from Dee-Bow:

We need more alien threads!

Thumbs up. A thread such as the Alien Owners club so readers can see what's going on without weeding it out.

#15041 2 years ago

Not sure if this has already been posted? was at the end of the email I got, so thought to share:

"Now to the exciting part – the production and time line moving forwards.
We are currently ordering loads of parts (there is stock from before so not all parts need to be ordered) from our suppliers to build 175 games until the end of August. That is our fixed target. The number comes from a short, but slower, start-up period starting second half of June where we need to adjust the production line accordingly, before hitting approximately 100 games a month from August and onwards. The production rate will then increase gradually to full capacity later in the year. This means that some of you will get your game before the end of August, but some will have to wait longer. If you have paid a deposit or partly paid your game you will be asked to pay in full prior to shipment, but not until we have a confirmed delivery week for your machine in place. The investor group will attend the factory on a daily basis from now on, but please let us remind you that is not us who actually build your games. Even though there have been changes in the management of the company, and yes new leadership is important no doubt about that, it is the team in Wales/US that truly makes this come true. The manufacturing team in Wales have built games for a long time by now and they are the true heroes when it comes to bringing your game to your door. We will continue to keep you posted about the progress so stay tuned!"

Sounds very promising, but I hope any current known issues with the game are already addressed because they want to start production in only a couple of weeks.

-1
#15042 2 years ago

Another "100 games per month, coming soon" prediction. I hope they are very sure about that.

#15043 2 years ago

Yeah I was with them up until the '100 per month in August' part. How about they start putting out 20 games a month *first*, rather than the 20 games in ~3 months they have done so far.

#15044 2 years ago
Quoted from insx:

Another "100 games per month, coming soon" prediction.

Stating the obvious here, but things to think about:
1. 100 games per month at 30 hours per game (my estimate) = 3000 man hours. There are 167 work hours per month so that is 18 employees. That's a lot of training.
2. It's easier to build 100 games per month than sell 100 games per month.
3. Unless game #3 is ready within the year that's a LOT of Alien games.

#15045 2 years ago

Even if they do magically start producing 100/month, how long is it going to be before your workforce is going to have nothing to do except stand around with their thumb up their arse? 3 months? 4 months?

Sounds very unrealistic to me :\

#15046 2 years ago

They learned from the master.

#15047 2 years ago
Quoted from Sonny_Jim:

Even if they do magically start producing 100/month, how long is it going to be before your workforce is going to have nothing to do except stand around with their thumb up their arse? 3 months? 4 months?
Sounds very unrealistic to me :\

How so? 100 a month is 1200 a year. If it works like it should and they provide support I think they can sell LOT more than 1200 Alien pinball machines. We are talking worldwide here. I think a fully operational and supported Alien could approach the numbers of some of the better selling modern games (2004+). Stern sells popular games for many years....so does JJP.

#15048 2 years ago

My point is right now no one is going to be placing orders with them due to the negative image they've got. Stern sells games because they've got a good working relationship with their distributors and have been the heads of the pinball industry for over a decade now. JJP has a network of distributors and experienced industry professionals working for them.

HP has none of these (well, apart from David Thiel), hell they haven't even got an Australian distributor sorted yet, a surprisingly large market given the amount of people who live there. They aren't even close to being at the same scale or industry presence as Stern right now and I think it's going to take more than a few months for that to change.

Quoted from Astropin:

If it works like it should and they provide support

FTH has been out for what, 2 years? It still doesn't have a manual. Operators who buy in big numbers like manuals.

#15049 2 years ago
Quoted from Sonny_Jim:

Even if they do magically start producing 100/month, how long is it going to be before your workforce is going to have nothing to do except stand around with their thumb up their arse? 3 months? 4 months?
Sounds very unrealistic to me :\

Group 1 focuses on building Alien game... you aspire to sell 500-1,000+ games. That's probably a year's worth of work+ right there.
Group 2 focuses on completing design #3 - you hope you can finish it in the coming year, so it's ready for the line when Alien demand is slowing

It's no different than every other pinball company... you hope to keep the line busy selling your current game, and have the next game in the pipeline.

Of course if Alien sells like FT... you lose because you don't have a game ready before you have to furlough the production lines. Then you go into burn rate and figure out if you can survive until you start selling the next game and with the higher hits in cost for revamping the lines again when the game is ready.

I don't understand the skeptism here.. it's 'business as usual' in this regard.. it's only a question of "Can they sell Alien games" - and sentiment there is generally more positive than not.

#15050 2 years ago
Quoted from Sonny_Jim:

My point is right now no one is going to be placing orders with them due to the negative image they've got

Solution is you provide a product to buy, not an promise. If they produce, people will consider buying. People who can't let the company move on because they won't look at the present and future because they are stuck in the past... well you don't lose sleep over them and focus on convincing other buyers by DELIVERING what they need.

TL:DR - Money talks, bullshit walks.

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