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(Topic ID: 183206)

American Pinball Houdini thread

By lllvjr

3 years ago

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Topic index (key posts)

33 key posts have been marked in this topic, showing the first 10 items.

Display key post list sorted by: Post date | Keypost summary | User name

Post #145 Houdini Pinball initial flyer Posted by HighProtein (3 years ago)

Post #184 Initial reveal at TPF Posted by SilverballNut (3 years ago)

Post #190 Introductory Price of Houdini Posted by 1iblind (3 years ago)

Post #198 Initial Pictures of Machine Posted by lllvjr (3 years ago)

Post #229 Playfield Close-Up Pics Posted by bigd1979 (3 years ago)

Post #284 Machine feature details Posted by rosh (3 years ago)

Post #312 More feature details Posted by rosh (3 years ago)

Post #385 Double switch lane picture Posted by pinballrockstar (3 years ago)

Post #420 Pinball show appearance schedule for Houdini Posted by rosh (3 years ago)

Post #434 Houdini pics from Allentown show Posted by PinballSTAR (3 years ago)

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#136 3 years ago
Quoted from vdojaq:

Interesting.....this is not the cabinet style I believe that is going to be used.

Definitely not the cabinet

#166 3 years ago

I hope to see many of you at our seminar on Friday night.

Here is a sneak peek

houdini-wrapped (resized).png

#243 3 years ago

When I have more time I'll respond to more items

There was no shooting anything until two weeks ago and no playfield with Leds until this past Monday. . Never had a wired whitewood.

Three magnets

Yes, chain not right look/color, what we could get for now

Yes, shots are tight, takes a few games to get the feel, can then be made regularly, some teams will be made, remember what I said above about how long we have been shooting it. the jail/magic shop hole requires banking a shot off the stage or stage rubber or some luck off the pops, by design.

1 week later
#260 3 years ago

catapult in action

#264 3 years ago

There will be settings to adjust power. We are in the process of doing testing around its performance under heavy use and over time. We also have tracking on the success rate, which at TPF was approaching 95% and that was on close to 500 throws. I've also added code that you still get credit for the lock (when that is the purpose of the throw), even if it misses.

#266 3 years ago

I'd say there is a decent chance Houdini will make a limited appearance at MGC on Saturday. If it does, it will be just one machine and we will have it on 2 ball play to try to give as many people as possible a chance to play. I'd like to avoid one ball play, since be a real bummer for someone to wait in line and get a house ball. Of course if we find ball/game times are too long, we will change that. I've considered adding code that if you first ball is more then X minutes, you don't get a second ball, but probably won't have time to do that and properly test it.

#274 3 years ago
Quoted from InfiniteLives:

it was 0 for 3 for me

One of the machines at TPF had a bad power supply, that ultimately crapped out and we replaced with a spare. That one was not consistent until after we replaced the power supply. It was making us crazy as to why one was hitting it nearly every time and the other could be great 10 in a row and then come up totally short or totally long. Never going to be 100%, but I think we will be happy if we are consistently over 90%.

Quoted from chadderack:

What about just a simple game-time limit? 5 minutes and then dead flippers & "Thanks for playing."

I'd hate for someone to be in a really cool mode and suddenly have the game crap out. But certainly an option we can look at.

I think that is a little too short, I want folks to get to see the catapult in action or the stage mechanism, which has a curtain that opens and closes and once inside the ball can disappear and/or appear. It is also where the primary modes get started, including straitjacket multiball (and for anyone who gets that at MGC or other shows we are at, you have to go for the hanging/inverted version).

Quoted from Pinballlew:

I agree, visually it did look good but who wants a pinball machine that looks good but plays like a Magic Girl?

Joe spent time looking at how to make the original playable, but ultimately decided it was best to just start over. There were parts of the original art I really liked and some parts no so much (like not really looking like Houdini). Ultimately, completely starting over on everything made a lot of sense, there was just too much baggage otherwise.

Quoted from CNKay:

Does anyone know the hardware the game is using?

Game is running on the multimorphic board set (e.g. p-roc), with all inserts being direct wired RGBs.

#277 3 years ago
Quoted from Topher5000:

How about if the game goes longer than 3 minutes, it ends when the ball drains?

That is what I had mentioned above, just not sure I have the time to implement and test before MGC, have a few other things higher on my list.

#284 3 years ago
Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

Hi Rosh,
I hope you dont mind an opinion.
It deals with timed play.
I love safecracker, and a Timed mode, with the ability perhaps to add time, fits right in.
Say, Water Torture Mode.....How Long Can you Hold your Breath?
This is a timed mode, where even players, like they did at shows, could toy with holding their own breath!
Straight Jacket, Handcuffs too.....Best Time to Escape Awards, Extra Time to Escape...
Just Brain farting.......

Always happy to hear opinions, ideas, thoughts. Nice thing is I get to decide what to do with them

I'm not really familiar with safecracker, so I'm not 100% sure what 'timed' means in this case vs a classic 'timed mode'. I'm guessing this is some sort of a 'do it or die (e.g. ball ends)'. Assuming so, I did want to do some of that, but there was a general sense that it would not necessarily be acceptable to many. Having said that, we do have two modes that are that way. These are both 'after outlane drain' modes, that can be earned/enabled during play, and then if you drain through an outlane that is enabled, you get a 'limited' mode, during which either you achieve the goal before the limit is reached, and continue your ball, or you don't and the ball officially ends.

The idea of holding your breath is interesting relative to how he would do that in his shows (although I have not confirmed he had actually done that or not), but not sure how you would really encourage a player to do that, but we can certainly suggest it to a player. Certainly the idea behind straitjacket multiball (reversed or reversed and inverted flippers), was that to play that effectively, you cross your arms like in a straitjacket.

There is already an 'award' for fastest jail escapes (meaning, fastest time across all five of the jail escapes (hurry ups). There are a couple of other awards that can earn you a 'high score' entry.

There are modes where you can earn more time to increase your chances of completing the illusion or extending it to score more points.

As I said, open to suggestions and ideas, thus the reason I posted a lot of detail on the rules. I've got a lot of ideas and a vision for the game, but, I'm always happy to 'borrow' the ideas of others.

#286 3 years ago
Quoted from mainelycoasters:

I hope you will bring this game to Pintastic new England.

We are working through our show schedule and that is certainly one we are looking at. Our goal is to do our best to get to the bigger shows in each region of the country and certainly down the road we would like to get Houdini to the other side of the pond.

#293 3 years ago
Quoted from Jamaster10:

HHHHMMMMMMM Who will be bringing it there?????????

Just some troublemaker we know, who is going to show up at our offices earlier than I would like

#294 3 years ago

At MGC will be set to one player, one ball, but if that ball is less that X seconds you will get a second ball. Have not decided on X yet.

#297 3 years ago
Quoted from rosh:

At MGC will be set to one player, one ball, but if that ball is less that X seconds you will get a second ball. Have not decided on X yet.

After a long discussion I was out voted, and it will be one player, two ball. We of course could change that based on what we see happening.

#299 3 years ago
Quoted from extraballingtmc:

Northwest pinball show in June please!


#312 3 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

I found the right side shots to just be too tight to be fun (maybe I just suck) and not a whole lot of shots.

I had to laugh to see that comment just two posts after the video clip that was posted, where the player hits that tight inner loop shot that feeds the catapult, twice in the first minute or two of play. One highlight of MGC, was watching a 10 year old, hit that shot three times on his first ball and start Trunk Multiball.

It is certainly a tight shot, but it is also certainly makable. What seems to happen is players will psych themselves out over how tight it is and it becomes a mental block even more than a skill thing. Like many machines, it takes a couple of games to get a feel for the shots. I know on EBD I will rarely ever have even a decent game when I first step up to it, but after two or three games I can finally get the feel for the shots (which is probably why it was a good earner on location back in the day). Houdini is a game with a challenging shots and that may not be for everyone. It is certainly not a game like LOTR or MM where most shots are easy to make and will typically feed right back to the flippers, nice and easy. At the same time, ball times are surprising long and a very large percentage of players get to seance multiball, so even a novice can have a fun time with it. Regardless, we will look at tweaking a few of the shots.

There are 9 primary shots, plus 6 very thin stand ups, between primary shots, that are directly facing the player and shootable from the flippers (and those 6 stand-ups get you to seance multiball), so plenty to shoot for. The left and right orbits and ramp, which are the easiest shots to make, currently, have minimal value, unless you are in a mode, which is where they get plenty of use and the modes are where the points are. I did adjust code during MGC to make it easier to start a mode. They are also involved in jackpots during two of the multiballs. I will be adding some additional value to those shots during non-mode game play. They are also key in extending the timer during modes.

#318 3 years ago
Quoted from mof:

How can you make this statement when you have two ez-mode spoon-feeding ramps right back into the inlanes?
How does this modern-style ball-return predictability help underscore the theme of escaping from impossible situations?

I'm saying that those games have a majority of shots that then feed the ball nicely right back to the flippers, in MM, almost every single shot will send the ball safely back, heck, even fall backs from the ramps are set up to be sure they feed back nicely, and I think the pops also do that, can't remember for sure. The only risky shots are the castle gate/draw bridge and the trolls.

The return that feeds the right inlane, comes into play in only a few situations as it is a return from the upper catapult and that is only used during a couple of modes, or a sneak in to the upper vuk when lock is not lit, it is not a classic shoot this ramp and feed back to the inlane. The main ramp will feed the inlane and the lower left loop, just above the sling, is a tricky shot to hit, but it will also feed the inlane (but must be followed by a shot to the ramp to have any value to the player). There are three shots, the orbits and right scoop, that will feed past the slings to the flipper.

My experience in playing the game, is that it is not the easy flow of a MM, LOTR, RS, etc. so not saying no shots flow back, but it is not the type of game where you can sit back and just let the ball come to you and flip, not if you want to make the key shots it is a game that will require flipper skills (bounce passes, drop catch, chill, catch and shoot, etc. ) to get deep into the game.

#319 3 years ago
Quoted from wcbrandes:

PAGG this year? PNW?

Right now we are we are trying to work through the logistics to be at both shows. Challenge is there are also a couple of east coast shows before or at the same time.

#325 3 years ago
Quoted from Manic:

Well the announcer does say "you stink" when you lose the ball early. So there's at least there's a nod to humor.

Right now game has quite a few insults thrown at the player, just because those were easy to come up with when I did the first round of voice calls -- or maybe that is just my sense of humour.

In all honesty coming up with the voice calls is in many ways harder than coming up with rules. That is one of the biggest downsides to an unlicensed theme. Not like I can sit back have a few shots of tequila and watch a movie over and over again to find great call outs. I don't have Harold Ramis or the Coen brothers writing for me.

#331 3 years ago
Quoted from chadderack:

I enjoyed the message you guys have in there saying "BALL SAVE -- Next time, try using the flippers" or whatever that was

As I said, lots of insults like that right now, but only when deserved and there are a few compliments as well. I think my favorite right now on a quick drain/ball save, is "Seriously?", maybe it is just the way he says it. But funny how a single word can carry so much weight. Although I also like "you've got to be kidding me"

Quoted from nwpinball:

The Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show is the same weekend and twice as big. You gotta go where the action is.

Every show thinks they are the best and/or the most important for us to be at. Which I think is great, shows the passion that is out there. As I've said, our goal is to get to each region of the country. Easier said then done, but then again, people said you could not get a machine from nothing to a playing prototype with full art in four months . . .

We are building some more prototypes and getting distributors on board, to help make it possible to be at as many of these shows as possible. I believe we have four shows tentatively planned over the next few months. Keep in mind, I used to live in Atlanta and have family there and Jolly our sales guy lives in northern California, so that may give you an indication of some of the shows we are looking at.

#335 3 years ago
Quoted from musketd:

So will you guys be at pinfest? It's one of the biggest shows on the east coast ?

Right now we are just trying to work through the next few. But since I head to Maine for a week or two each summer, I am pushing for it, since I can hopefully time it to do the show while I am already out that way.

Quoted from colonel_caverne:

i hope the code will be the main factor to play this one again and again, much more as been mildly insulted for playing badly! lol

I'm sure it will shock no one that my primary focus is on the ruleset and making fun for the novice, but provide a lot of breadth and depth for a player/collector. If you have read the basics of the rule set, posted in my record setting long post earlier in this thread, it will give you a sense of where I am going with it. Of course at shows, few if anyone can get a true feel for the ruleset, which is why I chuckle when I read comments about the rules coming out of a show, I'm thinking "dude, you barely scratched the surface, you have no clue what is in there". I've also had heated discussion here on rules "Rosh, the secret missions are way too complicated, needing to hit three specific shots in a row, it should be just one shot" and I'm responding "jail escapes are hurry-ups and are one shot, secret missions are combos, and yes if you want to complete that phase of the rule set, you will need to be able to make the combo". Now I do understand the concern, since you can start the first secret mission very quickly and easily at the start of the game (the combo then remains active, with inserts of a specific color guiding you, until it is completed, at which point you can start the next), so I can see the confusion that a player totally new to game, as everyone is at that point, thinks that should be there focus vs starting a 'stage mode', which would be more of the primary objective and those have a lot more variability (and points) to them. Secret Missions are there for depth and to give a player more things to think about, focus on and strategize, e.g. focus on a combo when you have gotten the playfield multiplier up to 2x/3x/4x. Secret missions also have a mini-magician mode as well, and is needed to earn a houdini letter). Certainly possible for shows we will change that up a little to help.

#365 3 years ago
Quoted from spfxted:

Hey Rosh....I know its waaaaay early, but is there a second game on the radar for you guys?

On the radar, sure, almost every day we talk about themes for our next game, both licensed and unlicensed. However, 99.23% of our focus is on getting Houdini to be a kick ass game and get production started. Oh, and getting it out to shows so more folks can experience the magic

#371 3 years ago

To be clear on this, American Pinball is NOT taking deposits and no deposits given to a distributor are flowing to American Pinball. We are not taking pre-orders and are not selling direct.

#377 3 years ago
Quoted from colonel_caverne:

Do you know when you will probably announce some European (and also worldwide) distributors?

We absolutely have plans to do so, and I have a few reach out to me, and I have directed them to Jolly who is handling distribution. Not surprisingly our first focus is first on North america, since there are also legal and regulatory issues we will have to work through going overseas. We certainly have some time before machines are rolling off the line to address this. We are very pleased to have so much interest in Houdini.

#378 3 years ago
Quoted from damageinc55:

You guys should burn one it at Level 257.

I suspect we will start doing some location testing after we get through the next set of shows.

#386 3 years ago
Quoted from pinballrockstar:

Smart to just put 2 switches overcomes this problem.

Often you can use an opto to handle that wide entrance, but given what else we have going on in that area, there was just no place to put it.

#399 3 years ago
Quoted from colonel_caverne:

I don't know if it has been said but what about the quality built

The build quality is of very high importance to us. No way the company will survive if the quality sucks. From what I have seen so far, the cabinet and playfield quality are excellent, and very much where we want them to be. The prototype playfields are showing more dimpling that i would expect after just a few thousands plays, but that is due to us having to go with a quick cure hard coat, given the time crunch we were under. I've been assured that the final playfields will be superior.

Quoted from Ricflair:

I would think they would do something to show that he discredited the spiritualists.

He was very much interested in the afterlife and was very much a believer in contact in the beyond, but he did spend a lot of time debunking and exposing fakes and phonies. The game features a 'seance multiball' that captures his interest in the afterlife, it features his Mother, which is whom he was hoping to connect with. So while the seance mode does not necessarily focus on the debunking aspect, he does fit in with that aspect of his life. With various aspects of his life we are taking some literary license, such as his time as a spy (which is not universally accepted). I'm sure some will find how we treat some aspects of his life, not up to their expectations.

#406 3 years ago
Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

I have zero understanding why AP changed their position on allowing distributors to accept preorders for anything, as that was not what was stated upfront.

American pinball is not taking pre-orders and not taking money. It would be basically impossible to keep distributors from compiling lists of interested customers and/or taking small deposits to confirm true interest, and I don't think we ever said we would not allow this, and we have chosen not to try to stop it. At some point distributors will need to decide how many they want to initially purchase, and I'm sure they would like some gauge of genuine interest. Most distributors will happily add you to a list without a deposit. Obviously there is a segment of the community that wants to be first in purchasing machines and it seems this helps them do that.

Personally, I would never buy a machine until I have played it and it is available, but that is me, and everyone here is a grown-up (well some don't act like it) and make their own choices. Of course I get to play Houdini every day and it is continues to challenge and entertain me. Just can't figure out how I still can't master the simple shot to the ramp after the lower left loop to increase the playfield multiplier, clearly I have a mental block about it, but at least hitting that tight right inner loop, has gotten pretty common for me.

#413 3 years ago
Quoted from pinballrockstar:

Is there a European distributor where i can buy Houdini?

Not yet, but there will be. Lots to work out with getting games overseas, dealing with regulations, etc.

Quoted from xTheBlackKnightx:

I know American Pinball is not taking pre orders directly.
I know AP is not "sanctioning" the process.

No money is flowing to American Pinball. AP is not requiring deposits or payments of any kind, nor are we telling distributors they should or should not be doing this. They are independent businesses and we have placed very few requirements on them at this time. It is certainly possible that will change in the future. Any deposits made are with that distributor. If you don't like a distributors terms, I am certain you can find one whose terms are acceptable to you. If we find a distributor is misleading customers and providing false information, they certainly could lose their right to distribute the game.

At this time is seems most folks are comfortable making deposits with distributors to hold their place in line vs sending money to a manufacturer, and given what was have seen the last few years, that certainly makes sense and it is one of the reason we decided to not be selling direct or taking pre-orders. If you are not comfortable with the terms of a distributer, I suggest finding one whose terms you are, or wait until games are ready to ship. As Larry indicated a few posts above, he does not require that, and that is certainly the case with other distributors as well. Obviously each distributor has different dynamics in their business.

I certainly understand the concerns people have with a new company, and I certainly don't take offense. We have tried to look at recent history and do things in a way that most folks will find acceptable. Obviously, like everything else in pinball, not everyone will be happy or agree with our decisions, whether it be our sales model, game design, rules, etc.

Now you will excuse me, the game's narrator just said "Magician three is now up"

#416 3 years ago

Gates of that nature create a whole new set of issues since they can be more prone to double switch hits as the gate swings back, and while that can be a challenge on a ramp, it is a far bigger challenge to manage with a loop. While the aesthetics of two switches may not be ideal, so far they seem to function quite well.

1 week later
#420 3 years ago

Quick update, below is a list of which shows Houdini will appear. We are looking at a couple of others, but these are the only ones confirmed at this time.

PinFest Allentown
Southern Fried
NW Pinball

For anyone who cares, as of now . . .

Joe Balcer and I will both be in Allentown
Joe and Jolly Backer will be at Northwest Pinball
I'll be at Southern Fried with Jim Thornton
Jim and Jolly will be at pin-a-go-go.

#424 3 years ago
Quoted from JIM_Z:

Bummer...I was hoping you would make Pintastic.

I'm still pushing for it, but so far we have not been able to work through logistics to make it work.

#442 3 years ago
Quoted from DaWezl:

I get the burn, but some of us have "Z" in our initials

Well, while it does not show it when entering high scores via the spirit board if you do go to where the Z would be you can choose it and it will display in high score. So we did not put any Zs in the game, you did plus I did that so terry from PBL would not get mad at me

#461 3 years ago

Posted this in the Allentown thread but wanted to post here as well.

What a great and exhausting show
want to thank all of you who came by to play Houdini. I know the line was often long, but I think most found it was well worth the wait. And clearly some of you did since you kept coming back to wait and play it again and again.

It has been a lot of work to get it to this point and seeing people's expressions when seeing the catapult throw the ball close to two feet in the air into the trunk or playing straitjacket multi-ball with both reversed and inverted flippers was quite rewarding. Joe balcer thought I was insane when I came up with reverse and inverted, but seems those "brave" enough to try it have really enjoyed it.

The grand champion score was set four times, the last time being the third to last game of the show, which was a great way to finish.

Was really impressed with a couple young kids who had skills better than 90% of the adults. One made four straight shots to the inner loop that some say is "too tight".

I want to thank Joe Newhart and the team from pinballStar. They did an amazing job in hosting us and did everything they could to make it a great show for Houdini -- well except for killing the power before I could pull off the final audiits, but I'll get them at some point. The last time I had looked the catapult throw was succcesful 94% of the time and there was around 450 games played (was set to two ball play play to help keep the line moving).

Was great meeting so many if you and thanks again for playing.


#482 3 years ago

Just landed back in the Windy City and were told 40 minutes until our gate is ready, the joy of travel.

As far as the right inner loop, I've pulled some data from the logs I was able to pull off before the machines was pre-maturely shut down, so I do have a pretty good chunk of Saturday's data. Tomorrow I will pull some numbers as best I can on the different shots and we can see how tough it really is. Keep in mind data on some shots is not as clean on others given things like falls backs on ramps, vuks, bounces on switches, and cleaning that is not worth the effort, but data in inner loop (getting past the bend) and standups is pretty clean, so be interesting to see, betting the numbers will be surprising to those who think it is so tough. Like I said before I saw a 10 year old make it four times in a row, I then told him he needed to re-light the lock, watched as he made perfect passes between flippers to then relilight and then made inner loop on next try, and immediately repeated that and got trunk multiball. Blew my mind. His dad was damn good too, and although his dad had a higher score the kid had a longer game. So, just saying.

Was also fun watching one guy's wife/girlfriend also get trunk multiball when he had a sub one minute game. Sounded like his whole day was goInc that way.

I did check catapult performance before shutdown and 93% of the time it was a successful throw into the trunk, which I'm pretty pleased with.

As far as blades, TBD, but we will be looking at that soon.

Again, thanks for all the play, suggestions and feedback, very helpful for me to see you guys play and to hear your thoughts and ideas. I got a lot of new ideas over the weekend, just wish I did not leave my notes in the hotel room , but I'll remember most of it.

Looks like they found us a gate earlier than expected.

#490 3 years ago
Quoted from JeffF:

Hmmmm... that could probably be a bunch of different couples but if it was this one...

I certainly saw more than a couple of women out play their man.

Whether it was you I referring, I won't say . Regardless, glad to hear she "thought it was fun and arcade worthy" and that you put down a deposit.

#505 3 years ago
Quoted from burningman:

I recently heard on a podcast that Houdini is going to be limited to 600 games.

we may limit it to 6,000, but certainly not 600

We have no limit planned at this time and hey, I'm not busting my ass creating a great rule set to be on that few number of games.

#510 3 years ago
Quoted from kvan99:

I don't know if it's been said here, but thank you for bringing back normalcy into the hobby, this LE, SLE business were never a good idea for the hobby, different codes and mechs and all.

Over the last 6 weeks I have been to three shows and talked to hundreds of pinball enthusiasts, and at least 75 times I have been asked a question such as 'is this the LE' or 'how many models will there be' and when I answer there is just the one, 100% of the time the response back was along the lines of 'good, I hate the multiple model thing'. So, from where I sit, it is clear that the market does not want it, but clearly some companies believe it is a good thing, at least for the bottom line.

As the person creating the rules and writing the code, I can't imagine having to do it for two or three versions of rules and mechs, and then keeping it all straight, let alone getting it completed (needless to say, but I'll say it, pinball code can be extremely complex).

I always thought the original intent of more than one model was to have a lower cost model, with less complex toys that would work well for operators vs collectors who wanted more. But even if that was the original intent, that does not seem to be where it has evolved to. But as we have seen with the airlines and other businesses different levels of service/product, obviously can have a benefit to the bottom line and often the customers have not real say in the matter.

Personally, I'd rather see some machines that are designed/geared for the street but still great at home and for collectors and vice versa, since there are plenty of LE games out on location, so clearly some operators what the full loaded games for their locations. We have seen some very basic games come out, that I would say were geared more towards the non-enthusiast market, that some collectors still wanted. Joe Balcer is very focused on making Houdini as reliable and street friendly as possible, for example, you would need to remove nothing from the playfield to give it a good cleaning. At the same time, I have been focused on making sure the game is fun for novices, enthusiasts, and the hard core skilled/strategy guys. Of course no game will ever make everyone happy.

I can understand how manufactures want to maximize profit and I can see a place for add-ons that provide the 'bling' or extras (invisiglass, toppers, etc.) or even certain features that are not core to the games functionality (e.g. shaker motors when not really critical to the game) that some folks want and others don't really care for, and if that kept fully functional and developed games at a more affordable price, then great.

I also don't get how those who are paying more for an LE often get their games after the standards/pros/etc. Seems if you are paying more, you should get yours first, but thats just me.

Obviously I don't make all the decisions here at American Pinball, and some of the comments above are my views and I'm not necessarily speaking on behalf of AP, but I think you have a sense of the things that I will continue to push for and be vocal about.

#513 3 years ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

If you ask people... they don't want it.. because they want their cake and eat it too.

I agree with most of what you said. As I said, businesses will do what ever is best for their bottom line and future success.

Id like a model where game functionality is not differentiated for the justification of having different versions.

Put forward a complete game that meets that definition for a majority of the marketplace and then provide the means for those who want more.

You certainly may lose part of the market, where your price point is too high to provide the complete game, and I'd rather see that than strip out a $100 part to justify two models and now it is a $2000 difference to get the complete game as created by the design team.

I guess I want the old school model a design team had a budget and a price. They created the best game they could within those constraints making the decisions that had to be made. They put forward that offering and the marketplace decided.

Provide add-ones to enhance games with the items the marketplace views as nice but not essential (and yes, obviously what is essential is not universal agreed).

I would argue that rails that protect the cabinet by the flipper is more important than blades, and you may see it the other way. But in either case they are not essential to game play so if it came with just one of those, which ever if us likes the other can get it as an add-on, but neither of us has lost game functionality.

With today's collector there is a desire by some for more aesthetics, but the one model should be what the majority find a complete game and if it that is the case the market should be receptive if priced accordingly.

This landscape is changing all the time, different companies approaching things the way hey think is best resulting in the marketplace getting more choices, and that's a good thing

1 week later
#523 3 years ago
Quoted from lllvjr:

but their going a diff direction for production....

We certainly appreciate all the help and effort from Pinnovators, unfortunately the Pinnovator board is optimized for the traditional pinball two speaker and subwoofer configuration which is not the right design for our six speaker sound system.

Quoted from wdpvideo:

Anyone have a clue when they will start shipping?

Our goal is to be shipping before end of year.

#535 3 years ago
Quoted from vireland:

Cracked me up at PAGG that I was trying to figure out where the ball counter was on the screen while waiting for a turn. After finally giving up and asking one of your guys, I found out that isn't in yet. Made me feel even dumber about what on the screen might be hinting at the current ball count since the answer is - nothing!

Actually, there is one. Must have been Jolly you were talking to, he does not know the game that well. To the right of the score is set of 5 'light bulbs', since the game at PAGG is on two ball play, the lower three would be broken/shattered bulbs. The image below would be ball one in a three ball game . . .

Roundcube Webmail _ Re_ Screenshot request (resized).png

#536 3 years ago
Quoted from Rascal_H:

Would love to see you guys at Pintastic New England this year. Dying to play some Houdini!

While I've been pushing for it, does not look like we will be there this year, with what we have going on at that time.

Quoted from wcbrandes:

Great first go AP and can't wait to see you at PNW meeting. Would be cool to see the next gen machine at this one to see the differences and directions you are taking it. Best of luck!

game at PNW will likely be the same machine. We are working through some changes to the ramp and playfield, but machines with the changes are not likely to be ready in time for PNW and SFGE.

#538 3 years ago
Quoted from AliciaC:

Thank you Rosh for bringing Houdini to PAGG. Really enjoyed playing it and my wife loved it as well(always a plus). I concur that the game went down as one of the balls in our game was stuck in the yuk to never return. I'm sure all of these little things will be worked out.
Houdini is a blast to play and the call outs are fantastic. And thanks for the t shirt! Great touch.

Quoted from PismoArcade:

I had the worst luck trying to play this at PAGG. Stood in line three seperate times, once for over a half hour, only to walk away disappointed because the game kept going down and being turned off. Glass was pulled every few minutes. It's a beautiful machine and once the bugs are worked out it's gonna be a wiiner.

Sorry for the issues, the game is still very much a toddler, and I think it has decided to misbehave since I am not there. I do know it has had a few hundred plays this weekend. It has been reported to me we had a bad opto in the subway that was causing some issues, a jammed trough right when Jim went to grab dinner, some ball hangups, as well as a blown fuse. Had not heard about a VUK issue, could be related to the opto or I've seen the ball go into the vuk, bounce up and get stuck on the edge of the subway. Normally a nudge will take care of it, but we have a fix in the works.

I appreciate all the feedback.

#549 3 years ago
Quoted from vireland:

I would suggest making the bulbs a little bigger. They're pretty insignificant relative to the busy background around them.

Once you know where it is, it is pretty easy to spot, but I may look at 'flashing' the current ball to help draw attention to it.

Quoted from fishbone:

What a nifty feature, I love it!

With the larger, color displays, I felt it made sense to do something a little more creative and that tied in with the steampunk vibe, but that was no so radical it would piss people off. Pinball people like evolutionary change, not revolutionary.

#555 3 years ago
Quoted from vidgameseller:

Please AP, leave that off and let one of the mod makers make it for those that like ugly

I was going to not comment on this, but . . .

Just like here in this thread, this concept is not universally loved here at AP. So, I'd say, despite what was said at PAGG, I would not consider this as a done deal as far as being included (improving playfield lighting will certainly happen). Personally, I am pushing it for being an add-on. If we went that route, I would still code for it, so it is interactive with the game, meaning dimmed during game play, turning yellow then red when a timer is running low, flashed when appropriate as part of a lightshow, etc. If it is included, we would certainly offer an option to disable it (e.g. always off, only in attract), it could also be easily replaced with other T-moulding.

#562 3 years ago
Quoted from Pinballlew:

please please do not widen it! I understand that it is being considered possibly.

Best story I heard from PAGG, was a guy played the game the first day and had a short game, struggled to hit the shots, came back the next day and a huge game (12 minutes he reported), easily and consistently hitting the inner loop, the ramps, etc. . So he turns to Jim and says, not sure what you changed last night but it is like a totally different game, I can make all shots . . . ', so Jim replies, nothing was changed. Obviously I play the game a lot (talk about a huge understatement), sometimes I can step up and hit that inner loop, ramp, etc. consistently and sometimes I can't hit anything. But that is what makes this a game you want to come back and play. It challenges you, where with some games, every shot is easy and flows and that can get monotonous and boring.

In general, it did sound like you west coast guys had no issue hitting that inner loop shot, but some struggled with the ramp, seems the many of East coast players struggled with the inner loop but had no issue with the ramp. As I like to say, it is a mental thing, It is easy to psych yourself out on how narrow it is and just not be able to make it. Those who don't think about that, lie kids, have no issue hitting it.

Quoted from mof:

lower playfield is rather dark. Upper is pretty good

We will improve lighting in the lower half as well a some spots to better light the stage and the trunk. Not helping right now is that the inserts in the chain links are amber, not clear as they should be (we could not clear in time for the first prototypes), so that makes even those inserts darker then then they should be.

Quoted from mof:

sound: couldn't hear it since we were at a show, so no comment there

This six speaker sound system is great, you will really like it when you get to hear it in a better environment. That prototype also does not have the correct amp in it yet.

Quoted from mof:

stop and go is really tough on this pin,

Part of that is the factor of the mode nature, part of that is wanting to tie in the theme, regardless, some of the features already have a flipper escape or speed up (e.g. secret missions, jail escapes, bonus), and I'll be adding flipper escapes in most places.

Quoted from Pinballlew:

Forgot to mention, awesome code Rosh!

Thanks, I'm pretty pleased with the defined rule set, and considering the code is only 29.87% finished, it is playing pretty well.

Quoted from mof:

* score animation and such seemed very good especially for a prototype

Real happy with how the main score screen came out. Needs a few tweaks. Some of the animations are basically done, some are part way implemented and some are nothing more than place holders. Challenge is I have to design/storyboard all of this before the artist and animator can do it, and often I then have to do part of the animating. The large, high resolution screen really increases the amount of work vs a traditional DMD.

Quoted from mof:

ball launch into box is a very cool toy

Seen it a thousand times, does not seem to get old.

#566 3 years ago
Quoted from Buju:

when I wasn't crushing the posts

There are no posts, well, just 2, I think you meant stand-up targets But at least those get you to Seance Multiball

Quoted from Mike_M:

Well I was hoping for 29.91% but this is still very impressive for 29.87%.
My friend's roomate's cousin's sister was in the Buffalo Grove Lou Malnatis last night and overheard Gary Stern talking about the code in between slices. Apparently he sounded pretty worried. "AP's 30% code is our 110% code!"

code is now at 29.96%

Great Pizza at Lou's Maltnatis, (and not too far from Expo) but I typically get takeout

1 week later
#571 3 years ago
Quoted from Ericpinballfan:

Updates...we all love updates.

Things are quite busy. We have two shows this week so I have been squeezing in some new stuff and working through code issues. We have been adding staff to engineering and production teams, and are in the process of getting the factory re-worked. We have some more prototype games being finished and will soon start on a set of sample games. It is still our goal to have machines rolling off the line by end of year. That is obviously a huge challenge and an aggressive goal, but as the head coach of my favorite football team likes to say "if folks aren't laughing at your goals, they are not big enough!".

As far as how many games per day, there is an old saying in business forecasting, "give a date or give a number, never give both".

Hopefully I will see some of you in Atlanta this weekend. Joe Balcer will be up at the NWPinball show as well.

#576 3 years ago
Quoted from Pincrazy:

Will Joe have a game at the the NW pinball show?

Yes, which at this point is a well traveled machine, having been to Texas, Milwaukee, Allentown, Dixon and now NW. The plan is for it to get updated code, however, we will disable some modes for the show.

Quoted from murfe88:

Maybe this has already been covered but what is the price point going to be ? Are there limited numbers ?

No Limits, initial price is $6995

#578 3 years ago
Quoted from aeonblack:

any chance we could get a video where you can clearly hear the sounds in the game? Sound design is an important part of a machine for me, and I've yet to see any videos where you can clearly hear what it would be like to play the game in a home environment.

It is on our list to do, hopefully after these next couple of shows we can take some time to make some quality videos. Of course not even sure a video can properly capture the sound quality, but certainly better than a video shot at a show. I'm pretty happy with the audio so far, however, we are also far from getting the sound package fully implemented. Lots of cases were modes should have their own track, but are still using of the main tracks. Lots of missing sound effects, fanfares. flourishes and the timing and ducking on many of them that do exist need to be tweaked to get the right balance and timing. And we have still only done the first set of sound calls.

#583 3 years ago
Quoted from Frogman:

Other than the NW show, any other options this year?

Waiting to hear from Jolly, distribution guy, what the second half of the year will look like. Pretty confident we will be at expo.

#590 3 years ago
Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

I was just cleaning through some stuff, and found this Houdini Bumper Cap, Curly from Little Shop of Games
had was a Present.

That figure is an action figure made by a company called Accoutrements, who does all sorts of historical figures. They are pretty hard to find these days since they are a one time release, and can be a little pricey since they are a collectors item. I did find one that was not too expensive since it was in damaged packaging. I keep it on a shelf above my computer as inspiration and a reminder to do right by Harry.

houdini action figure (resized).jpg

Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

For me, one of the best Reads on Houdini, and I highly recommend it!

There are three new houdini movies in the works, one of which is based off of this book. Hopefully it will be more accurate than the others.

some info on the others here . . .

#592 3 years ago
Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

The company is called "ACCOUTREMENTS"?! This must be a pinside gag

As soon as I typed that, I had to double check the packaging to make sure it was not a subconscious thing, since I am considering using it for a topper (having him hanging upside down in front of the backglass). Was wondering how long it would take someone to pick up on that, looks like it took a whole 10 minutes.

#596 3 years ago
Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

And great idea for a topper!

Originally on the playfield where we have the planchette (the quija board pointer) we had thought of a having Houdini hanging in straitjacket over that scoop shot, but Matt from Back Alley convinced us that given how small he would be, he would look more like a caterpillar in a chrysalis. That is when I decided that a hanging Houdini would be a great topper. I do have to say I was surprised to find that there was a Houdini action figure.

#600 3 years ago
Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

Rosh, will there be a Topper from the Company,

It is something we have talked about, but have not made a decision on. More important things on the agenda right now.

Quoted from PinballManiac40:

Any chance you can have him swinging as you nudge the game? Top it off with it acting like a tilt bob and if he hits the side, he lights up

I think there is little doubt he will swing, but as you can tell from the unopened package I've not tried it yet. As far as a tilt, pretty funny idea, and would not shock me to see someone do as an after market thing, now that you have suggested it. Of course they would need to find or create houdini action figures first.

Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

A Visual Tilt...????....!!!!

Bangerjay had done a tilt bob helmet for his olympics. Where the tilt bob was suspended from a helmet a foot in front of your face, and you had to hold your head still to not tilt. I watched my buddy CraigC play a 10 minute game and never tilt, and I could not last 15 seconds (of course I was drinking tequila).

#609 3 years ago
Quoted from greenhornet:

if the entire bat itself is black rubber consider swapping them out for a lighter color.

We have moved to a purple for the flipper rubber here in the office. I'll mention it to Joe so if we a set he can bring a set out. Not sure that is the best color, but certainly provides more contrast.

Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

I always found his voice interesting.....spaced vocalization

It was like a 'carnival barker' kind of patter, which certainly fits with his early career and the way performances of this nature were done at the time. You will notice that when Houdini speaks in the game, we have replicated that patter of speech, and even added some static, to capture the feel. Houdini only talks when performing illusions, the rest of the time we have a 'narrator'. There are very, very few recordings of his voice.

Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

I have no doubt in my mind he was a "spy", but to the extant.....well, maybe romanced enough today
as the word gives sultry meanings.

although this is debated, my take is, if he was a spy, not like he wold have been talking about it. Accordingly, we have included this in the game as a set of 5 combo shots. You start a 'secret mission', and that combo remains active until you complete it, you can then start the next. Whatever the next shot in the sequence is, it is lit bright purple, it then resets to the first shot, once the combo sequence is broken).

Quoted from OLDPINGUY:

In those that played the game, since I havent seen the modes, can you share?
Any that are Magic Trick oriented, or any Video modes?

There are two sets of modes, there are 10 started at the stage, which are based on his illusions and escapes. One of these will be a video mode, tied to his ability to toss playing cards (known as 'scaling'). There are then 5 modes tied to his movie career, one for each of the movies he did. They are presented in Black and White, with an old film look to them, to help indicate it is a movie mode and to capture the feel for those old movies -- which all but one pretty much suck. Bit of trivia, Mastery Mystery featured 'Q the Automaton', which was the first robot to ever appear in a motion picture. The term robot was not coined until a year later.

Hopefully soon we will get around to do some video of game play, we just don't have the right setup yet.

Quoted from Ricflair:

I still don't like the "Spirit" board in the pin. He spent so much of his career dispelling the lie of conjuring up spirits. He wouldn't have spent one minute on a quija board. If you can't find anything better, at least putting an "X" thru the thing might make a statement that would reflect him truthfully, or write "FAKE" on it - that would be a real statement.

Obviously including his very strong belief in the after life, and his desire to contact those from the beyond as well as his debunking of those who he believed were fakes and conning people, had to be included in the game. We choose the spirit board as a way to capture that aspect, since it is a recognizable symbol of that arena. In addition, since it was a spirit board that led to the end of his friendship with Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle (which I assume everyone here knows wrote the sherlock holmes stories), it seemed an appropriate symbol. So, while I understand your point, I do think our use of it is appropriate in capturing that aspect of his life. We do plan to have some trivia screens in the attract mode, so we will provide some further background around this.

#611 3 years ago
Quoted from Ricflair:

Even in that voice link you sent, he goes to great lengths to explain that there "is nothing supernatural" in what he is about to do. That was SO important to him. Please do something about the "Spirit" board in the pin - maybe write "Fake" or "Exposed" across it.

To make one more comment on this, he was a very strong believer in the afterlife and spent a lot f time in hopes of being able to communicate to his mother in the great beyond. He also had a secret phrase he shared with his wife Bess, so that she would know it was really him if she tried to connect with him via a seance. Magicians gather every year, at his grave site, on the anniversary of is death (halloween), to performa a seance, so, it is an interesting thing that he was a strong believer, yet spent so much time debunking fakes.

#625 3 years ago

Want to thank all of you that came by to play Houdini at SFGE and PinballNW. I really enjoyed talking with so many of you at SFGE and appreciate all the kind words about Houdini, as well as ideas and suggestions. Also want to thank those that came to our seminar, and were willing to list to me talk for an hour (especially since its as dinner time), but hopefully you found the jeopardy style of our talk fun, and heck, free T-shirts are always great.

While there was always a line at SFGE, they were not so long that I'm pretty sure anyone who wanted to play, was able to get a chance with out too long a wait and I certainly saw many players coming back to play again and again. I want to think Flip N Out pinball for hosting us and the SFGE staff, who were great hosts as well. Also want to thank Marco specialities for giving me a nice comfy stool on Sunday so I could sit but still talk to those on line and while playing, since my legs had turned to jello by that point. Also want to thank Nitro for hosting Houdini, Joe, Jolly and Dhaval up at the NW show.

I only have the stats for SFGE, but there were over 450 games played when I left Sunday afternoon, and the catapult fired with 96% accuracy. I won't have data from the NW show until the machine makes it way back to us.

The great folks from pinball undesirables, did stream Houdini play for about 3 hours. They have given us a copy, and we will pull some sections of it and post it in the not too distant future, so those who have not seen Houdini in person can see some game play. We probably need to hide the faces of those playing to protect their identities, so will take a little bit of time until we convert the format, crop, edit, etc.

Now back to the code . . .

#629 3 years ago
Quoted from wcbrandes:

Joe thanks for the game

Joe only reads pinside when I point him at stuff, so I'll pass it along. I know he enjoyed talking with you and others out there in the pacific northwest. I heard you and a pretty good game when you played, and glad to hear you enjoyed it.

Quoted from Aurich:

I heard good things about the number of orders placed at the show, congrats!

As everyone knows orders are going to distributors and not us, but feedback I've heard from our distributors after each show has been great as far as what they are hearing from their customers and the numbers putting down deposits and/or putting their names on the list. That kind of feedback only further fuels our desire to make this a kick ass game.

While we obviously can't take every suggestion or idea and fold it into the game, I do get some great ideas from talking to folks, wether for modes, or features or voice calls, etc (often on ow to help make the objectives more clear). When you live and breathe the game all day, every day, and know it like the back of your hand, shows provide a great way to see the play of the game through the eyes of others. I think I had wrote down about three dozen ideas based on conversations or just watching game play relative to making things better. So, again, I want to thank those that took the time to talk and give me their thoughts. For those at the NW show, or at SFGE, who did not get a chance to talk with me, feel free to PM me with your thoughts.

#639 3 years ago
Quoted from flashinstinct:

Save yourself some trouble and put a sign beside or above the game on a banner that states that if people play they acknowledge that they can be filmed for promotiobal purposes and forfeit the right to compensation.

Footage was already taken, so too late for that. Of course, anyone playing it had to know it was being recorded/streamed, since not like you can miss the cameras. Regardless, we need to crop/edit it, so not a big deal, just a matter of when do I get around to it.

Quoted from flashinstinct:

Is there an eta for release?

We plan to be shipping games before the end of the year. So far we continue to be on track for that.

Quoted from Mr68:

I'm hoping Houdini will be using a P-Roc system much like TBL did for possible future needs. And if so, I'm also wondering if code will be open source.

Houdini will be using the P-roc system and unlike TBL which used the P-roc but then created their own driver boards, we are using the ones the 'P-roc' driver, switch and Led driver boards. Not sure if TBL is using P-roc or P3-Roc, which is slightly different.

While I continue to give back code to the pyprocgameHD-SkeletonGame, the foundation of the system and the same that TNA is using, we have not made a decision if the game code will be open source, but I would not bet on it.

#653 3 years ago
Quoted from Ricflair:

Where's the water torture figure? Wasn't that on there earlier?

You are probably thinking about the cheap piece of plastic on the jpop version of the playfield, that was scrapped. You will find the chinese water toture tank not he backglass, we looked at putting one not he playfield, but for a variety of reasons we chose not to.

Quoted from Mr68:

I do agree the water-torture feature is paramount for this game and I'd surprised if it were to be left off.
(Get on it Josh)

Started working on the water torture mode yesterday.

Quoted from transprtr4u:

Would love too see a under play field picture of this game!

Someday, but the underside of 'hand wired' prototypes are not something we would want to show off. Plenty of things still changing.

Quoted from Ricflair:

Why another playfield with a "phone-looking" device?

It is the marquee over the theater, and has a few uses, it shows next illusion/escape to be performed at the stage, the current status as far as which illusions/escapes have been performed and it is where the timer is displayed when performing an illusion/escape. It is possible it will go through some modifications.

Quoted from Mr68:

Fantastic video from what I saw of it. 2.5 hours is way too much video for me but I watched quite a bit of it.

The first or second player up has a pretty good game and hits on a good range of the features, so, if you got through the first 20 minutes or so, you probably got a good feel for the game as it stands now, with 36.47% of the code completed.

#674 3 years ago
Quoted from DS_Nadine:

I have a question rosh!
I've just seen the panel with Joe Balcer and noticed in the early skethces that there's a magnet area marked at Houdinis hands on the playfield.

Quoted from vireland:

There are magnets by the hands and his head that move the ball in SEANCE mode

We knew we needed magnets so we worked it out to that we could also design it into the art as far as putting the magnets in his hands, which enhances the effect as sometimes you will see the ball jump between hands during seance multiball. There are three magnets, and they are used at other times as well

#677 3 years ago
Quoted from DanQverymuch:

It would be easy, fun even, to program the curtains to swing naturally as they open or close. Just start with the top only moving, then a little more with the next iteration, etc. Then play with the step sizes until it looks realistic. It will be worth the effort.

in most cases, there is a quite a bit of movement within the curtain

4 weeks later
#713 3 years ago

gee, go away on vacation and the thread gets busy. Been gone for 11 days, and today was my first day back in the office. Walked into my office and it went from having one Houdini machine when I left, to now three, crammed in. They were getting the line set up when ownership decided to re-do the floors in the factory since they were looking pretty beat up, and it was either do it now or, well, never, so they had to clear out half the floor at a time so all available space was used to store stuff and some was just loaded on trucks and parked. Was good for me to not be around while they ground down the floors, patched them up and put on a new finish. Heard it was pretty nasty. Certainly looks a lot better as you can see. As soon as that is done they can start setting the line back up.

floor_before (resized).png

floor_after (resized).png

Quoted from vireland:

Last I heard they were putting themed theatrical-looking spotlights on it to illuminate the mid-playfield more.

Also upon my return, were the first prototypes of the 'spotlights' we will use to help light up the playfield. These will go through plenty of changes, but I'm pretty pleased with how this first iteration came out.

spotlight-1 (resized).png

spotlight-2 (resized).png

A few other tidbits . . .

Code continues to progress, now at 64.37% I did code up most of the video mode while I was on vacation Soon I will have to shift gears from working on 'game play' to 'infrastructure', things like coinage/pricing support, code updating, and audits so we can put machines out on test.

We have been expanding staff and that will continue.

We have still not set up distribution outside North America, but it is being worked on.

As far as some of the shows. We had to slow down on that for a couple of months, it is very hard to make progress when we are flying all over, and when you throw in vacations, there would have been just too much time away at a time that it is critical for us to be moving things forward. We have also reached a point where the prototype games are different enough from the various revisions of the physical machine that code is not going to be compatible much longer.

1 week later
#719 3 years ago
Quoted from jokerpoker:

do you know if Australian distributor talks have progressed. Will we end up with one or have to order direct?

Have not gotten an update, but our plan is to have a distributor in that part of the world. I hope that by expo we will have this figured out.

Quoted from PinballManiac40:

Any chance you and Joe can bring a game to the Houston Arcade Expo Oct 20-21st?

I know Joe has mentioned he would like to get to that show. We are starting to look at the fall schedule, only thing for certain right now is Expo. As we get test machines out to distributors that will make it easier to have Houdini at more shows. Probably more likely Joe can get to some shows in the fall than I can, they barely let me leave the office to go home at night (and that is only because they know I will still be coding when I get home), leaving the State, not sure they will let me do that for awhile


#721 3 years ago
Quoted from pinballrockstar:

That is also reason why the minion pinball only runs on 37.83% code.

Minions was far more about the journey, then the level of code completion, and always will be. One of the joys of doing a one off, the only guys you need to please are the three amigos.

3 weeks later
#743 3 years ago
Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

Got word they are done, shipping real machines in October. Still amazed by this whole story

Quoted from hassellcastle:

Yep production is underway.

Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

Anybody know how many games they (or say JJP for comparison) make in a week?

Quoted from Ericpinballfan:

Hope to have it for seance night on Halloween, nice tribute to Houdini.

Quoted from Ericpinballfan:

IMO there is no hurry. I hope for quality sake its 5 games a week. The games are coming, they will be made. Let them finish code, work out the bugs and ship solid machines with no problems. Quality or quantity anyday.

Done is a relative word and can mean lots of things. I can assure you the code is not done (if it was, I would not be sitting at my computer on a such a beautiful day), and we did have to make some minor changes, to meet the BOM target, and there are other minor things being worked through, but none of that is on the critical path to production, at least not yet.

I would not call it accurate to say production is underway, at least not by my definition, which is machines are being assembled and rolling off the line. If your definition is that parts are being ordered and/or made, well, then yes, underway.

We are still on track for games going out the door by end of year, which is what we have always said was our goal. However, if I was a betting man, which I am, I would bet we will see some games on location before the anniversary of Houdini's death (Halloween). Keep in mind there are hundreds if not thousands of things that need to come together, so there are plenty of opportunities for bumps in the road that could cause delays. However, we have a very experienced team (well, other than me) and they are very much on top of every little detail. I do remain optimistic that there will be a decent number of Houdini's home for the holidays.

quality over quantity -- absolutely and that is why you have never heard us ever say X per day or even give a specific date games will ship. We need to crawl before we can walk, and walk before we can run.

Oh, for you international guys, last week they were installing 220 volt lines/sockets in the final testing area, so, take that for what it is worth. Lots still to get into place before we will be ready for international, but, at least you know we are making plans.

#752 3 years ago

Removing any of the main toys, the Catapult, the Stage mech, the marquee monitor were never part of the conversation.

Changing the quality of the cabinet, backglass, playfield also never part of the conversation.

I suspect very few folks will notice the changes, since sometimes it just using a different metal on a mech where what was done was overkill, or it was removing something that we had hoped to do but had not even made its way into the game yet. Although we did change some things that are obvious, such as the ramp now being a wire form at the end, but that was not a cost driven thing.

#758 3 years ago
Quoted from Bond_Gadget_007:

Can you also add a call-out for crowd boo-ing when you drain the ball and a mode is running? Since the character is on stage performing and then screws up. Makes sense crowds from 1900's would Boo you!

A couple of weeks ago we did a sound session with a lot of folks to do audience sounds, and we did a variety of versions of booing and heckling. Likely hear some boos anytime you fail at an escape/illusion, not just when you drain, but may depend on how badly you failed and how easy/hard the mode/illusion was. I don't plan to have boos when doing one of the five movie modes, since I don't think you had a lot of audience booing during silent films, except maybe when a villain was on stage, and we focus on Houdini, who was always the hero.

#762 3 years ago
Quoted from vireland:

Why not just mix your own from audience FX sets from Hollywood Edge or Sound Ideas? You'll likely get better results and more control. They have one whole series that's JUST audience reactions and a bunch of related collections:

Thanks for these suggestion, I'll let my sound engineer figure it out and I'm sure he will use other sources like those, but, using folks in the office for part of the audience, lets them be 'in the machine'. Plus, I don't think we will find a pre-recorded clip of an audience chanting "hou-di-ni" or hecklers calling him out by name, etc.

On an unrelated note, we did just post some positions we are hiring for . . .

#768 3 years ago
Quoted from colonel_caverne:

Sorry for the questions but I was looking again at the pops area and I was wondering how some shots can be done like the hole Under the ramps "magic shop" shot, green standup targets. Are they random with pops bumpers?
This game is 2 flippers, correct? I can't see clearly all areas of the pf.
And why there are 2 switches side by side in the left loop?

the magic shop can be entered either by pop action or by rebounding it off the stage curtain or off the rubber to the left of the stage. In addition, shooting through 'stage alley' (the shot just to right of the left orbit), when the stage is closed, will typically rebound off the stage and into the magic shop hole. Shooting into an open stage, via stage alley, doubles the value of all scoring in that mode.

The three green standup targets are also hit via pop action, but, you can also complete those by hitting the white 'magic' standup targets located on both side on the lower playfield. Also, entering the magic shop/jail when escape is not lit, will add an escape letter.

As I said, the the magic targets will light the next ESCAPE letter and if all escape letters are lit, they will then light SEANCE letters and if all of those are lit, they will then light FILM letters, if all of those are lit, they will just award points (oh, and the magnets under the hands will mess with the ball any time magic targets are hit). The magic target insert lights in the color associated with which items it will currently help (green for escape, teal for seance, blue for film) Those magic standup targets are also active during most stage modes (red) and film/movie modes (blue), typically they will 'advance' you one step through the mode, but only once per mode.

The 2 switches in the left orbit are there to help insure you get credit for the shot given how wide it is, there is no room for an opto which would be what would typically be used across a wide opening.

#771 3 years ago
Quoted from Ericpinballfan:

We do need a organized list of Dealers that will offer these nationwide. A coast to coast list would be nice.
I dont think cointaker is on the Houdini list, i could be wrong.

We should be publishing a complete list of distributors soon. Some have announced here on the forum. I've not really kept up with who and who is not on the list, so I can't really comment on it.

2 weeks later
#797 3 years ago
Quoted from vireland:

They tried a few times, but their PR guy was run off.

Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

Lol! I forgot about that. I don't think JJP does much on here either, but I'm not sure. Heighway and Dutch Pinball used to... but uh.. yeah not sure what happened there. Gulp.

You are not exactly making a great case for me to continue to post updates Would not shock me if at some point I am asked to stop. Obviously it is a two way street, and if trolls turn things ugly, it is hard for a manufacturer to want to be participative in a public forum.

Quoted from Valorguy:

Looking for an update.... ROSH - any news for us (SUPER excited for this machine)?

Did come in this morning to find over 250 new voice calls waiting for me and a handful of new art elements for me to animate. I'm a little behind where I want to be on the code, primarily around the mini magician and the master magician modes. There are also a few other missing items that I've not gotten around to yet, things I consider lower priority right now, but will soon need to be addresses. Of course there rare going to be a lot of clean-up items (e.g. text formatting, etc.) and I'm sure as the machines start to get played more, various bugs will be uncovered. I should soon have a machine with one of the new playfields and new lamp boards, both of which are slightly different for the prototypes, and therefore will require some code changes.

Parts continue to arrive daily, unlike some companies our goal is not to build machines until we have all the parts. Stacking half built playfields against walls in hallways and bathrooms, does not help with a quality build (or so I am told by our production manager). Not sure how many more things we are waiting on, but the assembly line itself is looking great, as they are now doing the set up of workstations.

We have new staff joining us almost every day. Parking is starting to become an issue around here.

We are still very much on track for machines shipping this year.

#799 3 years ago
Quoted from Chippewa-Pin:

Any chance people could get a tour of the facility during Expo?

We have talked about this, and while I am not 100% ruling it out, I doubt it will happen this year.

#805 3 years ago
Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

How cool! I wonder why no pictures?

Because the place is under construction and a mess! More important is that we can't risk any secret stuff accidentally being captured in the background getting published. You know how you guys study photos looking for clues about stuff.

I promise you guys at some point in the not too distant future I will post some photos of the factory.

#816 3 years ago
Quoted from nipper2u:

When will there be updated vids of the game (or have I missed them?)? I have been looking forward to seeing some of the physical changes (such as lighting) and completed code game play. Thanks

We have not done any updated videos, and not sure we will before Expo. I will say the lighting is significantly improved and the art in the lower portion of the playfield was lightened up as well. In my opinion lighting is no longer a concern.

After expo, we will look to do some higher quality game play videos with the right setup that can really show game play, animations, etc.

#819 3 years ago

I do say I enjoy that thread has briefly detoured into Opera and the greatness of LTG.

While personally not a big Opera guy, one of my oldest friends, has written a couple, so it is nice to know that there are still fans out there.

1 week later
#829 3 years ago
Quoted from PinballSTAR:

Houdini there as the 2 prototypes are getting used to set up the production line

Reality is at this point the prototypes would not be 'playable' as code has changed to accommodate playfield and lamp board changes, so those games would have a variety of odd issues.

The ramps and subways came in late last week. I grabbed some photos before it got inventoried and put in the parts cage, so for those who like photos of parts . . .

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#834 3 years ago
Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

Did you block out other stuff there? Dont' tell us what you blocked, but what is that a photo of? the warehouse I guess?

Top secret stuff in the background, had to hide that. This is the shipping and receiving area of the factory, which naturally is is also where the parts cage and the burn-in areas are near.

#839 3 years ago
Quoted from cleland:

Looks like the left ramp will remain plastic? I thought there was talk of changing it to a wireform? No worries either way, the game is looking to be fantastic!

The last section will be a wire form, if you look the return portion it is half of what it was. We needed to keep the upper half plastic to still have the drop to the pops, and we also found if we made it a wire form where it crosses over the other wire form that feeds the catapult, there would not be enough clearance for the ball. This will transition to wire, right over the stand-up targets in that section, so it should be better aesthetically and should provide better visibility to the Stage Alley shot, which is the best way to start modes at the stage, since it doubles the value if you enter the stage via that shot.

#841 3 years ago

While not as exciting as ramps, grabbed a quick pick of this when walking through the factory.

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#849 3 years ago
Quoted from spfxted:

It is! When I saw that ball jump into the crate, I peed a little!

I have now seen it over 5000 times, and while I don't quite get the same thrill as I did the first 1000, I still watch it each time, just to see if it makes it, and there is still a little bit of a 'so cool' each and every time.

#851 3 years ago

Looks like the pop sub assembly station has completed quite a few pop mechs and those are ready to get moved to the station on the assembly line as needed.

Note that we are using lugless coils in most places which reduces risk of electrical issues and speeds up assembly on the line. All coils, except flippers, are 23-800

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#856 3 years ago
Quoted from Mike_M:

Can we get a code % complete update with 5 digits of fidelity?

running the calculations, stand by . . . .


#858 3 years ago

Was walking through the factory today, grabbed a couple of quick photos . . .

Given these bags of sand are half empty, the rest must be at the start of the line . . .

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These huge pallets of color displays were being delivered, glad I'm not the one who has to break these down and put them in the parts cage, although some will go right to the back box line where they are needed.

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#881 3 years ago

Sand inside a pinball machine would probably be a bad idea, although love the idea of the hourglass. Love all the guesses on the sand, none are correct. Although the actual use for the sand is far less interesting, I think I'll leave you guessing for now..

Quoted from Yelobird:

Sand would not age the chain more strip it to raw clean again. Plus I'm fairly certain its plastic chain which would remove the plating.

Plastic indeed, but no longer chrome as it was in the prototype, now a more appropriate aged look, although I am sure some will want it even more weathered then this. I happened to grab this photo today while I was at the office . . .

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Quoted from vireland:

Are you still aiming to ship these by the end of the year?

We are very much on track to be shipping machines this year.

Here are a few more photos I took today, legs, rails and some heads on the backbox line.

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#887 3 years ago
Quoted from Ericpinballfan:

Rosh, hard to tell. Is it the same powder coat color we saw on proto's on tour?

Yes same exact color as before for all armor (legs, lockdown bar, head brackets and lollypop side rails). For those who were at SFGE, those games had the wrong color legs, and wrong style of bolts.

There has been a change made to the legs and leg placement so that that game should be properly level when all leg levelers are fully in. Now this is a Balcer designed playfield, and Joe likes his games a touch shallower then many of you, so some of you will find that all the way in is not quite what you want.

#890 3 years ago
Quoted from flipnout1:

Darn it Josh! You weren't supposed to tell on me. One little mistake and you throw me under the bus. LOL Just kidding. I forgot to bring them so it was my fault and had to improvise.

Hey, I did not name, names, so you sorted or outed yourself But you do know I will never let you live it down, no matter how much moonshine I might absorb, well, I guess if you sell 500 Houdini's I'll let it go

#897 3 years ago
Quoted from Join_The_Cirqus:

looks like the LED Tmolding did not make the final cut?

There was very little support for it internally, I personally was not in favor of it, and the main proponent did not put up much of a fight. It would have been very hard to fit it into the BOM, and no way could I see doing that vs things we would have to drop. Could it come back as an add-on, possibly, but I doubt it.

Quoted from Join_The_Cirqus:

Will American Pinball be at IAAPA this year?

Not sure what are plans are, have not been paying attention, been focused on code

Here is some 'parts porn' for those who like that (Lower portion of trunk, part of the stage). . .

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Not "parts porn', but here is a photo some of you have been waiting for . . .

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#900 3 years ago

Here is where the sand ended up. This "sand box" will now head to the front of the line. I'm sure someone can figure it out now. If not you can ask me at expo!

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#903 3 years ago
Quoted from vireland:

Your floor is already so dimpled. I hope you put in a warranty claim.

Considering they just ground down the floor and resurfaced it, damn right we will

#907 3 years ago
Quoted from Rdoyle1978:

So... the sand is fill for the playfield shipping boxes?!


Quoted from greenhornet:

employees are allowed to bring their cats to work ?


Quoted from Phantomtracer:

Sand is used to polish parts?


As I said "Start of the Line"

#920 3 years ago
Quoted from jkleinnd:

Does anyone know what the starting item is on a pinball machine assembly line?

Someone is on the right track.

#928 3 years ago

While I would love that for tailgating, for playfields we use these . . .

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#929 3 years ago
Quoted from DennisDodel:

Pounding in T-Nuts?


The box of sand, sealed with a rubber top is used for hammering in T-nuts. While it helps protect the playfield, what is more important, is that it dampens the sound. Anyone who has hammered in T-Nuts knows it can be pretty loud and since on the line it is being done all day long, well, you can understand why reducing the sound is a good thing for everybody.

#949 3 years ago

Morning all, just a few quick thoughts before I head over to expo.

Magic glass is incredible, while I am no expert on the other products, they put a sheet on my machine one day and didn't tell me, I went to go do reach down to do something and smashed my hand into it, did not even realize it was there. One of the three games at the show has it so I am sure someone can give an unbiased assessment.

I'll post some of the photos from our expo presentation when at my laptop with decent internet., I think it may have been recorded, I'll find out.

#967 3 years ago

Quick answers…

Yes, these are final versions, one of three games has the side blades and magic glass add-ons (we also planning for a shaker motor).pricng not yet set for those items.

Not sure where the glass is being made.

I'll take some photos and post when I can.

#976 3 years ago

Shaker , blades and magic glass can be purchased individually.

#978 3 years ago

Here are some photos, as promised

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#984 3 years ago
Quoted from halflip87:

Was the playfield art changed at all or does it just look better because of the improve lighting?

Lower portion of playfield was lightened up, and more little details were added. We also added the spotlights

#1000 3 years ago
Quoted from Ericpinballfan:

ROSH- Is it a "Micro playfield "?

Mirco Playfield
Churchill Cabinet

Here are some photos that show the interior art, which as mentioned is one of a few add-ons. It reflects the inside of a theater and features art elements used elsewhere in the game (playfield, backglass, animations), as well as other period pieces and some, well, other interesting things. I don't think the photos do full justice to how it looks as a whole.

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#1006 3 years ago

Sorry for short replies, other than photos been using phone and hard to be verbose -- which is not a problem for the machine, which is way too verbose, I knew it was a little chatty, but that has been the primary negative feeeback on the game. But hey I sit in a room all day with just the machine, naturally I would make it chatty (and did recently add a bunch of verbose female voice calls)

DPO is on our radar, we are running a few weeks behind our schedule so not sure we will have a machine "bulletpoof" in time to ship. A couple of other shows in same situation.

Left side shots were tweaked slightly and flow better with less chatter. The narrow right side shot was also tweaked, if it is any wider it would be no the 1/16 of an inch. Whatever little tweaks Joe did really cleaned things up as far as now it shoots.

Well, time to drive back over to expo. I'll try to get some video, but no promosis, pretty busy with talking to those st the show..

#1014 3 years ago
Quoted from spfxted:

Hi! Is the glass made here or Germany?

Made in the US, and will be cheaper than what others are offering.

#1035 3 years ago
Quoted from greenhornet:

these were genuine concerns, having played one of the prototypes. new gameplay video will allow everyone an opportunity to assess how well things turned out.

Here are a couple of crappy videos, best I could do, have not really looked back at what I recorded to see what is in them, I think they were both during movie modes, put pretty sure there are a couple of catapult shots in them. Guessing these have me talking to someone while I was filming, so, sorry about that, and hopefully I did not say anything I should not have been saying.

I will try next week to get a decent video shot where you can also hear the sound.

Here is the first, second one seems to be stuck uploading

#1040 3 years ago

saw that the video already had 25 views and I had not yet posted it, but see that dts was one of those who found it. I'll try to get the other one posted soon, seems stuck on the upload, I'll try again shortly. Again, I'll try to get some better video shot in the next week.

First off, I want to thank all of you who came to expo and played Houdini and took the time to talk and give us feedback. The machines were played non-stop from open to close and there was always a line. We did have the game set up with 3 balls. I did not look at final audits, but the last time I had looked, over 1000 games had been played across the three machines, with an average game time round 3 minutes and an average score of 110,000. High score was around 1.6 million. 12 players had game times over 15 minutes, 17 players had games less than a minute.

Did get an email reading some catapult misses, so figured I would share the info here. One of the machines was dropped when being move to Expo, I didn't see it, but I guess fell off the hand trunk and landed hard on the back of the head. The mini display and backboard took it hard and had to be repaired on site. It appears that at some point during the show the switch that detects if the lid is open game loose and was not closing correctly. If the lower catapult does not see the lid open, it does a short throw to avoid throwing the ball over the trunk, etc. To be honest, I don't know if it is really a necessary feature, but, we did to be on the safe side. Once that was adjusted it was back to its normal high accuracy. Plenty of folks here can attest to how well it did.

We did have one major software bug that was causing us a lot of grief. And that led to a couple of more as I tried to track it down and fix it. The symptoms of the issue would not show themselves until long after the event that triggered it, so took me a long time to track it down. If a player started 'return from beyond', which is a mode that, if earned, starts if you drain out the left outlane. The mode puts the ball back in the shooter lane and gives you 30 flips to spell seance, do it, and you get to continue your ball, fail and your ball ends. It appears that if you fail, the at some point for the the next player, typically, the stage will then decide to ignore balls that enter it, and even if ball save would drop it out of the stage, the issue would continue. While I was not 100% able to correct the issue at the show, we were able to minimize to rarely occur, but that was not until Saturday. Normally it is harder to earn return from beyond than I had it set at the show, i wanted you guys to get to have fun with that mode, and that is probably why we and not seen this crop up before. Needless to say we will be doing a lot more play testing over the next few weeks to work through these kind of issues.

Houdini is chatty, no doubt about it. Keep in mind I sit in a room all day alone with Houdini, so, you can't blame me for wanting someone to talk to, heck, I even added a bunch of female callouts this week . While all stage modes and movie modes can be 'flipper escaped', I have not yet determined the best way to handle callouts in those situations as well as balancing them at other times. Rest assured I will be giving this more through both around a verbosity setting and how it behaves. Obviously everyone has an opinion on this, and I heard lots of them. At that same time, I don't think I had any other negative feedback the whole show, other than some thoughts on lamp flashing (which I believe was from the player in one of the videos, speaking of which, it looks like the other video finally uploaded . . .

Inserts are all RGB, GI is white. We did not have the right GI LEDs at the show, the ones we will use for the slings, etc. are frosted so less harsh on the eyes.

I and lots of folks ask how the backglass looks so great, with deep rich colors and balanced lighting. Not really sure how, it just does. It is a real backglass and has no 'white' backing layer, which I guess helps. There are just three led strips to the do lighting, but it just seems to work well, with how it is positioned with the monitor and its integration in the head. Obviously I am biased, but I do think it is the best integration of an LCD into a back box so far.

At this show I did not hear anyone complain about the low scoring of the game, seems with us and JJP doing that, on at least some of their games, everyone is getting accustomed to lower scores, that in reality help you know a good game or not. If you break 200K on Houdini, that is good game, 500K on Houdini that is a really good game, you break a 1,000,000 well that is a great game, I am sure at some point, after players learn how to maximize scoring, that someone will 'roll it over'. The main display is just 7 digits, but the smaller player displays can go up to, I believe, 9 digits.

Well, there is a cup of coffee and a bagel and lox calling my name. I'll check better later to see if there are any questions, etc.


#1046 3 years ago
Quoted from PBMAN:

Rosh, Game is beautiful. On list for one. May have already been answered but is this still planned to start shipping this month.

I think the game is beautiful too, and seems most people do. Having one artist do the cabinet, backglass, playfield and blades (as well as some of the art used in the animations) can really help give a cohesive look. He was also given a lot of leeway on what he could do, which let him really get passionate about it and was constantly looking at how to add little enhancements. There are a lot of interesting things in the art. As far as the logo, I can't say I love the white background on the logo on the speaker grill. That was just recently added, not sure if it will be changed, when it comes to the physical machine I have less control than I do with the rules.

When we did our reveal in Texas back in March, we said we would be shipping by end of year, and we are still expecting to meet that goal. I expect production to start in the next few weeks. We just got in first batch of playfields, I think we are waiting on some wire forms and a few other small items, so getting close to being able to flip the switch. We need to review some things from this past weekend to see if any additional tweaks/changes are needed (definitely a couple), which could have some minor impact on timelines. First machines will go to distributors for showrooms and some will go out on location for testing, then we would start on customer games.

Joe just celebrated his one year anniversary with the company this past week, and my one year comes up just over a month from now, so it would be nice to be boxing games by then.

So pulled some photos of factory, from our expo presentation, as I have promised. I do believe the seminar video will be available soon. Right now the production team is deciding on which work will be done at each station, they will then adjust once they can accurately determine total work time per station to get the right flow, which is critical to really get up to speed. Our team leading production all have industry experience having been at Williams and/or Stern, and have some strong feeling about what not to do.

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#1071 3 years ago

with levelers all the way in, the game will sit at 6 or 6.5 can't remember which insures on location it will be at least at that, which is not a bad level, but personally I like it a touch higher. Obviously if all the way in is 6, you can get this pretty damn steep. The bigger issue, especially on Thursday and part of Friday, was the flipper strength was turned down too low. Joe likes them softer than I do. He complains anytime he comes into my office that the flippers are too hot (which might a touch true) and he did the set, and this was when the hall was pretty quiet, as more machines powered on, etc. the power dropped and they were way too low. When the JJP presentation ended and you had a ton of folks come back into the hall (and more machines turned on), there was a drop. I increased strength on the different machines throughout the weekend, pretty much any time I played a game on it. You can change the strength of most coils via the settings, and I'm sure a few of you saw me doing it. I think they were at 18 at the start of the show and on Saturday I had them up around 25. I also had increased the pops and sling strength. I think it is important for the left sling to have sufficient power so you can the occasional hit up into the scoop, that is important with novices playing since it helps them start Seance. You also want enough pop action to get the ball into the jail/magic shop and the play off the upper stand-ups. Pops in this game are not just a place to banging around and do nothing, they are needed to advance through the game.

One thing to note, when you guys get these at home, is that the strength of the flippers and the pitch can impact rules, meaning stronger flippers are going to spin the spinner faster so for Magic Shop and Haldane of the Secret Service in particular, the settings may need to to be adjusted to not make it too easy/hard to complete haldane and in the case of the magic shop too frequent/infrequent.

#1072 3 years ago
Quoted from dirtbag66:

But I'm wondering how sturdy that chest is.

the box itself is a heavy steel, so that is plenty sturdy. I'm not sure what the decorative coverring is made of I have seen no damage on games where that have seen thousands of play.

The machine on the left side is the one that was dropped hard, I was told it rolled right off the hand truck as it was being set down with the head crashing down. At some point the Trunk Lid open switch was not registering, so the catapult was throwing short on purpose. Once the switch was fixed it was fine.

The catapult power was adjusted at one point when it was hitting the front or the front lip a little too often on its way into the box. My goal is 90% and we have been above that.

#1076 3 years ago

During the show someone said that one of the images on the left side blade, the guy with the goldfish in his mouth, is Mac King a well known magician. I did some checking with our artist on that, and he confirmed it is, and that Mac is a friend of his and has approved the use of his image. Mac is already in line to buy a game, and is sure a few of his Vegas magician friends are going to be ordering one as well.

Can't remember who brought it up, but if they are a pinsider, now they know.

#1079 3 years ago
Quoted from dirtbag66:

Not sure if anyone brought this up yet, but during a mode in which Houdini reaches into his magic hat to pull out a reward, he pulled out the logo for Total Nuclear Annihilation (TNA). He then says, "Whoops! This is Houdini!" and put the logo back in the hat to pull something else out. Thought that was a neat little thing they added.

Scott is a friend and he gave me the logo to use and I think a voice call or two, but we used out own voice calls to fit the flow (I've given him the voice calls we did for him to use as ring tones). There are a couple of different version of the voice call that goes with it.

We poke a little fun at each of the other companies and their current games. I'm sure others here saw some of the other items getting pulled out, including of course, a cow. I guess I'll now need to add a pirate joke.

#1084 3 years ago
Quoted from Yelobird:

Please don't start removing creative ideas and don't be swayed to take them away.

I can assure, no way in hell would I remove it. Most folks absolutely love it. The thing I don't get is those not willing to try inverted. Why not give it a try? There is a ball save at the end, not much to lose.

The thing with reversed, as long as you cross your arms, you brain just handles it for you, you pretty much play normally (well a slap save is probably harder). Inverted is a totally different thing, and does not take that long to hang of it, and it is is worth double.

As fair warning, I do plan to add a 'no chimping' feature for straitjacket multiball. So if the game detects that you are just hitting both flippers simultaneously all the time, it will warn you and if you continue it will reduce the jackpot value.

Quoted from Cobra:

Would look really nice if it was lined inside with a nice red or purple material velvet or something similar..

Purple would be the right choice, besides the fact our artist loves purple, in case you couldn't tell, when we show the trunk on screen it is purple. I don't see us adding that, but I'll mention it, and I have little doubt any kind of a fabric would get a wear spot where the ball hits. We do use a material on the front of the stage that is quite durable and can take a pounding, so that kind of a thing could work. If we don't do it, I'm sure someone else will.

#1091 3 years ago
Quoted from MRG:

No Chimping

We have animation very similar to that we will be using. I do have to give a shout to my old Chicago Pinball Mafia buddy Greg Golminas (not sure if he is on pinside and what is handle is), who first suggested a chimping warning, with the monkey with cymbals. Figured if we were going through the trouble to track for it, might as well take it one step further and punish the player for doing it.

Quoted from gweempose:

He's definitely one of my all time favorite magicians.

So yet another reason to buy Houdini

#1106 3 years ago

MRG = MR G. duh -- not enough sleep.

Quoted from Manimal:

I can deal with a lot in pinball, but the one thing I dislike the most is a mushy flipper,

I agree with the flippers, they need to snap and you should not feel like you need to fight with them to make a shot. Thing I need to remember to do at shows, is to play the machine every once and while to monitor the flipper strength. Funny thing is, just powered up the game in my office that was at the show, and flippers are way too strong, just shows the difference in power at the hotel.

Quoted from Manimal:

I appreciate your interaction here.

I'd rather be proactive on issues versus having false and inaccurate information spread, much harder to then get it corrected.

Anyone who has been paying attention knows that all pinball companies, even those that have been around for years have issues. I hope that we have learned from others mistakes so we don't repeat them, but naturally we will make some of our own. You will find I will be quick to acknowledge my mistakes or things that are not right. As we all know the cover-up is worse than the crime, not admitting issues is sort of the same thing. I will try to be as transparent as possible, obviously at times ownership my not agree with my approach on that. Naturally at times I will respectfully disagree with someone else is thinking or view (heck I do that to the folks here as well), and it was most of us do here on pinside (just some are not respectful or don't really try to understand the other persons viewpoint). Sometimes I won't say something when I think it is not going to result in a fruitful conversation.

I know a lot about pinball, having been playing since I was 9, but I certainly don't know it all and don't claim to be an expert on rules, history of games, etc. (I can be quite opinionated regardless). I know enough to be dangerous. I learn a lot at the shows from watching you guys play and talking to you. I learn at lot talking to others in the industry who are willing to share their knowledge and experience, even though they work for other companies. To be honest, I also learn a lot on pinside, if I stick to the right threads . Reading threads on likes an dislikes or 'best XYZ', helps me identify opportunities or come up with new ideas or, lets be honest, things I can 'borrow'. Hopefully I can then apply these things effectively to our theme and to make Houdini a great game to play and own. While pinside only represents a small portion of the pinball world, and can be overly negative at time, it is a snapshot of at least part of the pinball universe and there is some good stuff to be gleaned from it.

Quoted from taz:

Also, lower scoring is in fad. Not only JJP but also DP. My TBL is also low scoring, which seems to be the new trend amongst the new folks.

Scoring got out of control in the mid 90s (I've had Billion point end of ball bonuses on Roadshow) and started to go back down a little bit late in the wpc 95 era, when scores were back down to the millions. Of course it started when they put a fake zero on the end to make scoring 10 times higher. I guess that made sense when scoring was the primary and only 'measure' and 'objective', and big scores is what folks were focused on, and it probably helped draw players to a machine with higher scoring. But the numbers got so big they started to lose relevance, when you cant' remember if your scores was in the millions or billions that is a problem. If you score 500K on Houdini you know it was good game, break a million that is great game. I'm looking forward to seeing someone 'roll over' the main seven digit flip score display (the player display will go a few more digits, don't worry). Reminds me, I have not tested that in a long time.

Joe told me they did Woz scoring lower, given the time frame of the the WoZ theme, and we followed suit given the era Houdini lived. Does seem JJP has stuck with that, at least on some titles, so maybe it is fad. I do have to laugh when the skill shot on some games are higher scoring than a great score on Houdini. Ultimately what is important in scoring is proper balance in areas of the game, factoring in difficulty, risk/reward and limiting exploits (we will talk about 'Sharpe proofing it') . While I am not a top player by any means, nor do I really compete, I do spend time regularly revisiting scoring to get a good balance between modes and different objective areas. Risk and reward being a factor as well -- the starting the stage with the 2X shot is a good eample. Tougher/riskier shot to start a mode, but, doubles the value. My goals is that for most modes 'completing it successfully' should have similar total values, adjusted for risk (Milkcan escape, most valuable mode, really hard/risky to score). You won't find a STTNG style video mode, that with zero risk, and a known pattern, can give you more points than what you can typically get on any other mode in the game. Along those lines I tried to make sure our video mode would not be easy to master, can you learn to get good at it, absolutely, but you can't just memorize a pattern of flips or something like that.

Quoted from Yelobird:

Are we Really asking them to change their shirts, flyers, cards, art, stickers, Huge company sign marque on the building because we don't like their business logo?

As far as the logo. Can't say I totally love the logo, but I certainly don't hate it. Regardless, in my book that is not where I want us to put a lot of time and energy, at least not now. But you guys can feel free to draw new ones and I'll certainly share them with the team here. Joe just showed me a modified version of the white logo on the speaker panel, where it will now be cut tighter to the shape of the logo, which will reduce the amount of white material, and I think it will work better on the machine.

#1111 3 years ago
Quoted from transprtr4u:

As the shaker , side art and invisible glass have been generated as add-ons, does this mean that all wiring will be in place to add the shaker after if not included in build time ? Will distributors be selling these direct to consumer?

Yes, will be pre-wired and pre T-nutted (is that word?)

I believe you will be able to order them from your distributor when purchasing the game or direct from us after. If ordering Magic glass at time of order, it will likely ship on the machine, but could vary by distributor.

We are still working through some details, there is a chance that if purchasing all three, then they will all come pre-installed from the factory.

#1116 3 years ago
Quoted from konjurer:

I would like to see the Houdini animations cleaned-up, have more consistency and perhaps up the quality of the creative work. I'm not saying it's bad - it fact I think it's a lot better than what Stern is doing. Some of it looks great. However, JJP's animations are the standard. And it is being compared to POTC. Houdini's animation are the weak link in an otherwise beautiful game. Please don't take that as an insult! I know it's really hard work.

Quoted from rubberducks:

They can be improved over time. But if you expect JJP quality display and animations, I think you'll be disappointed.

I take everything as an insult!!! Of course if that was true this would be a much uglier thread, like another small company thread I can think of.

Glad to hear you think are better than Sterns and I'd agree they are not where JJPs are, and as rubberducks points out, if you expect them to be, you are likely to be disappointed. Keep in mind, there price point on the machine is a little different, like $2500+, so, they have room for more money to be spent on it. JP does an awesome job on the graphics for JJP, he is very talented and as gotten quite good at figuring out how to do it and how to work with the programmers to bring it all to life. While I did not love what they did on Woz, it was the first game using a large LCD, so, they were the first to try to figure it out, and they have learned from it and they get better and better each time. Hopefully we will also get better with each title.

Oh, and while some of the animations I consider 'done' most need at least some clean-up and some are still pretty rough. There are also some little things I'd like to do to make them better, time will tell if I have the time to do so.

I actually spend more time on animation then I do on anything else, and to be honest, that is not really how it should be, but that is the nature of the beast with large, color displays. I pretty much provide the vision for the art/animations, so I'll take both the compliments and the complaints (but if it is a complaint and I can point at the artist or animator I will -- well, probably not). A lot of what we do is not 'clips', but individual elements we move around to create a little more variety. It is also uncompressed images, so the quality is excellent.

We are also working with the limitation of an artist and animator working on part time basis, as well as a new platform that has its strengths and weaknesses. Given how long it took JJP to get their first game out and that was with two programmers and we also have the challenge of no existing assets to work with, I'm pretty pleased with what we have done, given how fast we have done it. And I have not heard anyone say they suck or are overly repetitive or . . . , to that is good.

Having said all of this, once I can get a decent recording rig and put up some more game footage, I will certainly read comments on which animations you guys like and which you don't and over time I will do my try to tweak and improve them. However, at some point I will have to say 'that is as good as it will get'. I'm curious to see if you guys see it as I do. Obviously there is some stuff I am really happy with and other stuff that I think is just Ok and a few things I hate (but a lot less of that then a few months ago). Obviously art/animations are subjective and not everyone is going to love them.

Quoted from dirtbag66:

I thought the JJP display and animations in WoZ were pretty awesome, and that was their first machine.
Why is it too much to ask API to do the same? Honest question. I'm actually amazed at how great of a job they did mechanically with Houdini, but I agree that the animations were a bit weak. Reminded me of Aerosmith's animations. Which isn't a good thing.

I guess this validates my last point above, tastes are subjective. As I said, I thought Woz stuff was just ok and I think what we have, while different in many ways, is on pace to be as good or better (and they took four years to do it). I certainly think it is better than Aerosmith which from what I have seen is a lot of repetition and having the same basic animation running on different backgrounds. Obviously Stern is also figuring out how to work with the large display and how to balance development time with it. What is there is very nice, just from what I have seen, just not much of it, but I can't say I have played or watched it very much, so I can't say I am an expert on it. Imho, our main score screen is better than anything in Aerosmith. But obviously I'm biased.

#1125 3 years ago
Quoted from delt31:

specifically the french call outs

Confused on this. The only time there is a 'french call out', is if you start the Paris hurry up, you get the Paris cop, speaking english but with a french accent. And you would then here one voice quote at the beginning and one if you succeed. Can you clarify? I did the jail escape hurry ups as Houdini visiting different cities, would get get the local police to throw him in jail, so he could escape and earn headlines to get folks to come see his shows. While I have tried to limit taking poetic license on the game, I did here, since there is London jail escape and he never did that that. The London cops were aware of his success in escaping jails, and did not want to be made foolish. I saw the jails escapes as a way to get a few different voices in the game. But unless you are a really good player, no way you here any specific cop more than once in a game, and at most three calls outs.

Having said that, I know the game is a little too chatty, some like that but a lot don't, and I'll be looking at some changes to that.

Quoted from VividPsychosis:

1. I am concerned about playfield wear around bumpers, slings etc. Will there be playfield mylar placed in those spots? and could you speak a bit more on it.

There is mylar by slings, pops, the scoop kick out and the drops to the inlanes.

Quoted from VividPsychosis:

2. You may have mentioned this earlier, but whenever you get an update about the upgrade costs for side art and shaker motor, will you please fill us in. I am on the side of wishing for the game to be shipped without needing to install anything

We are still working on it, we are also trying to see if we can just include the blades. I'm not optimistic since we have already gone over the BOM that was set, but looking to see if we can find a way. I agree having it all come pre-installed is optimal, which is why I am pushing that we do that if all three items are purchased. Concern here, and for distributors, is that you don't want to have too many different iterations in boxed games. If we do 'no add-on', 'glass add-on' and 'all add-ons', that is still three, but better than 8, which i seriously doubt would be liked by production or distribution.

Quoted from VividPsychosis:

I have owned a TFTC and the bumpers on data east were never very responsive. At times it would hit a few times and that's all, it would appear like the skirts were too thick and wouldn't really be as much action as you would hope. Have you found this to be an issue?

As Mr68 says, likely your spoons. True of pretty much any game. I believe we have a very experiended guy on the line who is responsible to check gapping on pops, slings and stuff.. In the ongoing battle between me and Joe on coil strength, I tend to like the pops a little hotter then he does to get more action and more play into the jail/magic shop. The flip side is if they are a little less sensitive the two shots through the pops can be a touch easier. Most coils on the game can be adjusted individually, but I will put some limits on it so you don't set them so high that you do damage.

Quoted from transprtr4u:

As I have not had the opportunity to play or see this game , can anybody explain the "feel" of this pin? Having owned Williams/Data East/Spooky/Capcom and Sega games would like an opinion on the build of the American Pinball Product?
Have one ordered and very much looking forward to receiving the final product...

I'm sure others will pipe in, but, personally I find it plays more like a Williams than a Stern in many ways. As a quick recap- Churchill cabinet, Mirco Playfields, real backglass, Williams style flippers, Stern style slings, DE style pops. Those provide the right mix of performance and production friendliness. All feature lamps are RGB, GI is white LED (wrong style was in machines at expo, my understanding is they will be a frosted style). Also traditional lockdown bar, playfield supports (no prop bar), rotation lock for head, let bolts are allen wrench style, using the same wrench as the head -- so when you get the game, the only tool you need to set it up comes in the box.

Okay, back to the code . . .

#1131 3 years ago
Quoted from transprtr4u:

Any chance of a playfield being shipped to Cliffy? Would love to install the best protectors for my new game!

I have previously asked the appropriate members of our team to look into that, not sure if they have reached out to him yet or not. Suspect they have had higher priorities leading into expo, but, it is on our radar.

#1142 3 years ago
Quoted from mbelofsky:

We spoke at Allentown, does this mean that the game will not include protectors? I was hoping for Cliffy protectors since he makes the best. As I said before, not having to take apart a new game would be much appreciated.
I would pay for the glass, shaker motor, blades, and Cliffy protectors (even a premium on the Cliffy protectors to ensure that Cliff gets to make them). I would love to get this in the box all ready to go. While we are at it, how about a plastic protector set and ramp entry protectors?

Game will have mylar in the pops, slings, inlane drop areas and the scoop kick out.

The ramps already have a protectors.

IMG_2772 (resized).JPG

The sling shot plastics will have plastic 'washers' on them as well.

IMG_2773 (resized).JPG

<history lesson? Back in the 60s and 70s you could have a car 'built to order', where you could choose all of the different options you wanted. This was one of the things that led to the quality issues in US cars and helped the Japanese, who were using a one or two upgrade package approach (driven form them being imports). </history lesson> The point being if each machine going down the line is different, it leads to mistakes, which is why doing something like pre-purchased cliffys installed at the factory an undesirable thing. As I have mentioned we are already over budget, so, including these was not an option.

I suspect the scoop is the only place really needing one, but I'm not the expert. It is possible that one protecting the ramp over the magic shop and some might want something for the magic shop hole. I don't think it is needed, but again, I typically don't worry about this.

Below is a some 'parts porn', for those that like that, I grabbed this photo this morning while someone was counting out sets to go on the line.

IMG_2771 (resized).JPG

#1146 3 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

Is there any dynamic scoring, by that I mean using multipliers to blow up jackpots and super jackpots?

Three things to note in this regard . . .
1) Starting a stage mode via Stage Alley doubles the value of the mode. Certainly harder to start it via the alley then a straight shot off the left flipper.

2) Milkcan Multiplier -- this is a playfield multiplier that goes 2x,3x,4x. It requires a two shot combo (lower left loop, followed by the ramp) to advance it and gives 20 seconds of multiplication. If your shoot the ramp quickly enough as second time, you can increase it two levels at once. I've considered doing all thew ay to 7X, but right now I feel that is too much, but, you never know.

3) Inverted Straitjacket multiball -- when you start straitjacket mulitball at the stage, you can choose reverse or reverse and inverted, reverse and inverted has double jackpots.

Quoted from Cobra:

Is mylar neccessary by the slings with a clearcoated playfield? I know it protects but i hate the look of them.
Will they be easily removable?

For operators they are certainly desirable and probably needed more at the pops then the slings, and I would agree less needed for home use. I do not know how easy they are to take off, I'll see if I can get more info on it. As Vividpsychosis points out, they are not very noticeable, as you can see in this photo. the curvy 'line' on the right side is the reflection from the underside of the sling shot the plastic.

IMG_2774 (resized).JPG

#1149 3 years ago
Quoted from Shapeshifter:

So, a 4x super jackpot is possible right now.

Those multipliers apply to everything, so a mode that might be worth 100K in total, if completed successfully, could become 400K, start it via 2X stage alley shot and you are talking 800K.

Having said all of this, the combo to increase the multiplier is not easy, which is why I may increase the length of time it is active or may go back to my original plan of making the 'add time' shots also work for the milkcan multiplier, when it gets low (plan was to first have to hit magic stand-ups, but I think that makes it a little too complex). Currently 'add time' works for any stage or movie mode, once you get under 10 seconds, the spinner can then be hit one or more times for a maximum increase in time of 10 seconds. Inserts light when it is active, but since you also get the 10 second countdown it is pretty obvious when the shot is active.

I'll be continuing to adjust the super jackpots values. Earning the super jackpot in seance requires tremendous skill and needs to be worth a lot more than a super jackpot in Trunk Multiball or Straitjacket multiball, which are far more attainable. I have yet to get the super jackpot in seance, it pretty much requires cradling one or two balls and playing with just one ball and even then hitting the six super-mini standups in order is pretty damn hard.

Quoted from spfxted:

Please let us know as soon as you find out how much Houdini Glass is going to cost. (It's magic)!

Will be cheaper than competing products, and I will let you know once the price is finalized.

#1156 3 years ago

I will share all of your thoughts with the team. This conversation on mylar does remind me of the words from the poet John Lydgate, later used by Abraham Lincoln and others (I first heard them in a Bob Dylan song). . .

"You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time"

I would certainly want the mylar in the pops and the scoop, but maybe not the slings

#1173 3 years ago
Quoted from Manimal:

Rosh, if you need a Beta-Tester, ship my game early....I am just down the street! lol Excited to see production on these ramp up soon.

Not sure I can get yours shipped early, but I do plan to have some 'play testing' events, over the next few weeks, here at our offices, I'll keep you mind

Other than the one big bug at expo, games ran well, but I've been around the block enough times to know there are more bugs that will show themselves. We also found three new ball hang up at spots at expo that are being addressed. Bottom line, the more play the better.

Quoted from Sinestro:

Might meet you up there.
How about it, Rosh? We'll bring the booze for a tour?

As I said above, always looking for more play testing, and Tequila would be the drink of choice Recently learned it has many health benefits.

Quoted from Tuna_Delight:

He was definitely a very dedicated entertainer, talented artist, and interesting man.

Yes he was, and we have really tried to capture that in the machine, vs a magic pin with his name slapped on it.

#1187 3 years ago
Quoted from VividPsychosis:

can we get an update on code % and any idea on when the first production games will ship?

I don't recall exactly what I said at expo, and since then it is has gone down a little, as I added some new things to the to-do list around sound calls, and potentially feature lamp behavior as wells the stage bug, and then back up to about that same level, 86.392%. The outstanding things remaining are more/better light shows, sound effects, music (I think 5 modes don't have their unique music yet), animation clean-up and improvements, bug fixes, service mode/adjustments/statistics cleanup and additions, and then the Magician modes. I'm not too concerned with last being in place before we are shipping, so those are lower on the priority list than some of the other items (plus need to give the early owners something to look forward to)

As mentioned previously, Houdini is a little chatty, well not Houdini himself, since he only talks at the start of stage modes. There are 9 settings to control various aspects of voice calls (see below). As a reminder all of the 10 stage modes and all of the five movie modes, as well as Jail Escape hurry ups, Seance Multiball and Secret Mission (combos), can be flipper escaped during their intros.

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 9.02.05 AM (resized).png

We are in the process of getting a decent webcam so I can do some decent videos of game play, so that is on the horizon. It will take some time to get the right setup.

As far as production, we are getting close to pulling the trigger on the line, we have a couple of parts that are delayed. We also need the new parts to kill off the couple of ball traps we found at Expo, but those are not holding things up, yet. I guess technically you can say we have started, as we are moving playfields through the first couple of stations where we do have the needed parts. But to me, despite what others might stay, production is when the first machine rolls off the line and goes to final testing AND the line behind it is filled with playfields being assembled (vs when we did a few sample games). There are some other minor issues we are working through, things like changing connector styles, wiring routing, etc. to be more reliable, easier to service or to make manufacturing easier.

Quoted from DngrWillRobinson:

Rosh, I’m nearby as well if you need more testers.

I will post something here when I have a date or two setup to see who would like to come by and play test. Obviously there will be a limit on the number of folks for each testing event. Nothing agains anyone here, but I am looking to get in some of the better players I know (I'm looking at you Yancy, Jay, Robot)

Quoted from bigd1979:

Even then lots of things are found in home use and then fixed on later runs.... look at di as it was tested a extreme amount for a long time but still needed many fixes that were found in home use by early orders. But i guess someone has to be first lol.

Back when I was running call centers with 300+ agents, anytime IT would want to roll out new systems, I would want to be first or last. When first you typically get an extra level of service and in some cases are able to get changes made to your liking, otherwise last to give time for the issues to be worked out.

Along those lines, over the last couple of weeks and weekends we have been doing extensive burn-in on the production samples to identify any issues. This is an addition to life testing we have done on some of the key mechs. We did find a couple of minor issues, basically mechs that come to us assembled that will need to have some screws "loctite'd". First machines will go to distributors for their showrooms, so that will also help identify issues. However, pinball machines are pretty complex, as you all know, so I would be lying if I said "there will be no issues when games ship". I do feel bad for the guys who work in the lab where the burn-in is happening, having to listen to the machine fire through all of the coils twice every minute all day long must get to be quite annoying. Normally we would do it in the burn-in area, but right now that is pretty crowded with parts being quality checked. Normal burn-in would be just overnight for production machines, but obviously we want to do as much of it as we can right now to shake out (pun intended) any issues.

#1196 3 years ago
Quoted from Yelobird:

Give us the money now and we will let you know when we are done. Or Not done!

It is a funny thing about that, I tend to believe that when you are not working with other peoples money (e.g customers), you have a greater sense of urgency to get things done since you have no money flowing in until you ship games. Of course a sense of urgency means I work 11,12 hour days, and often on weekends, which does wear on you.

It also has the benefit of less stress with customers, since when people have given you money, they feel entitled to know what is going on. You can sense the different tone in this thread when folks ask for updates, there is not that tone of demanding or entitlement. Which I understand, since there is the old adage when people don't know what you are doing, the assume you are doing nothing. Ultimately there is a balance to the level and frequency of communication. The plus side is there is a lot of appreciation for the updates we do provide. I hope it can continue this way, time will tell.

Quoted from Yelobird:

Yes, there are several distributors and not to take from any but I personally would recommend you visit Joe and Pinball Star in PA. He would rub your back while you play to keep his customers happy.

We have several great distributors, and Joe is certainly one of them. He does have a great crew, really nice guys, that handle deliveries and support, which is one of the reasons he was one of the first distributors who we signed up. Hmm, I've gotten hugs from Joe, but not sure I have gotten back rubs. Cointaker is certainly another great distributor, trying to remember if I have gotten hugs or back rubs from them.

Quoted from BubbaBeast:

It sounds like I'll wait a few months after shipping starts and then pull the trigger.

All of our distributors have quite a few people on their lists already, so odds are it would be a couple of months regardless. You can always get on the list to reserve a spot and then when you get to the front of the line, you can always tell whomever your distributor is you want to wait a little longer. The next person in line won't mind. Odds are by the time you get to the top there will be a good sense in the community as to any issues that might be a concern to you.

Most of the companies are doing code updates as described above, sometimes how you start the update is a little different (we are still debating two approaches). A lot easier then the old days when you had to get ROM chips to do updates. I guess the downside to this is in the old days, code would ship pretty much complete, since updating was not so easy to do. Of course the software in machines today is far more complex and robust -- a blessing and a curse.

#1210 3 years ago

Okay, so to move us off the discussion of KY, although it certainly did provide for a good chuckle, here is a photo of one of the playfield test stations. This is where all the switches, LEDs, GI, coils, stage mech, etc. get tested before the playfield gets put into a cabinet. Issues can be fixed here, or if necessary can be routed back to the station in question. You will notice there is box with all of the needed buttons, that has a magnetic back, so it can either be held or moved to the front and attached to the rotisserie for easier access. As I think I have mentioned previously there is only a half dozen or so wires that need to go from the playfield to the backbox or cabinet, so hooking it up for testing just takes a few seconds.

IMG_2800a (resized).jpg

#1232 3 years ago

I'm sure there are others, but here is one, although I guess a little too late . . .

This years Houdini Seance will be held Halloween, October 31st, starting at 11:30AM at The Sojourn Restauant on E 79 Street, in NYC, Houdini's first New York home as a child.

There should also be one tonight at his gravesite, which is also in NYC.

Unlike Beetlejuice you only need to say my name once or just time it right for when I am looking at piniside.

Quoted from rubberducks:

It's not licensed. They can build them as long as there is demand for them.

This is certainly true, at the same time, the BOM is built based on costs that are often tied to large quantities. You are not getting a fully loaded machine like Houdini if we were buying parts for just a couple of hundred games, our costs would be significantly higher, so either there would be less in it or a higher sticker price. So, if there is demand we will keep building, but not like we would order custom game specific parts for just 100 machines, the costs would get way out of whack. So at some point is do we think we can sell X more machines, and if so, go for it, if not, start setting up for the next title.

Here is a holloween treat, some photos of assembly stations being loaded up with parts. I believe these are being stocked for 20 games at a time.

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#1238 3 years ago
Quoted from per3per3:

We really need a quality gameplay video highlighting the various features, shots, etc.. With JJP's Pirates (and Dialed In for that matter) and Stern's Guardians of the Galaxy coming out, a high quality video would go a long way in selling these machines. From everything I could gather from Expo, the verdict on the machine was a bit of a mixed bag due to what sounds like annoying power issues. I definitely expected better info, mainly gameplay vids, to come out of expo. I'm holding strong with my preorder spot but there seems to be some potentially solid competition for my money. Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly excited for this game but need to have something to be truly excited about.
Rosh - Give the pinball world what they crave and get us some sweet video action!

I'm in the process of getting the right stuff to be able to shoot decent video. As far as the power, don't worry about it, the game has power to spare, big time. Expo was off due to the power issues in the building and Joe setting things a little too low at the start and that was also done before many games int he hall were power up.

Quoted from rubberducks:

I think there will be viable demand long beyond the initial 1000 units you said you'd legislated or ordered for.
. . . Also all the more reason for you to try to get a couple of machines to DPO Expo in 10 days time.

We certainly hope to do more than 1000. We had planned to get a game to DPO, but due to some vendors missing commitment dates, does not look like it is going to happen. I'm not happy about it, but, was somewhat out of our control.

#1240 3 years ago
Quoted from DS_Nadine:

Put an existing one in a suitcase and fly over.

Unfortunately my passport has recently expired and I need to get it renewed. Plus I don't have a suitcase big enough.

#1249 3 years ago
Quoted from DS_Nadine:

Whatever happened to the seminar video of American Pinball? Still coming?

I got it pushed up today. Two clips, one of the presentation one of the Q&A. Probably only worth watching if you need a sleep aid.

#1251 3 years ago
Quoted from VividPsychosis:

Hey rosh, hope you had a nice Halloween. I had a few questions about the game I hope you could help answer. 1. Do the lights inside the chains near the mid/bottom portion of the playfield represent anything related to the gameplay or your journey through the game, or are they just for aesthetics? 2. What is the function of the second catapult? Lastly, and related to a different topic, the shop on your website appears to not be functioning correctly. I attempted to purchase a Houdini shirt, but no size option was available and after it showed 1 in the cart, when I went to check out it just says nothing is in the cart...

1) those lights track your progress on the 5 movies, 5 jail escapes (hurry ups) and 5 secret missions (combos). Each of those will have a magician mode if you can complete all five (well, for movies you just need to start all 5). They appear in a faint version of the color associated with that aspect of the game and then turn full on when you have completed one of those items. There is a lock at end of each segment that will then light when you have complete/started the five, indicating that next 'start' of the associate feature will give you the magician mode. There are also bonus points tied to the number of chain links completed. There are also settings to enable extra balls, and to set how many links are needed, for each of the those segments. For an average player, you might choose to enable those to increase your ability to get to the Master Magician Mode. Pretty sure those will default to 'off'.

2) The second catapult is used to throw the ball back to the right inlane. It actually is used very rarely, since it is only used in a couple of modes or if you somehow you get to the lower catapult when the lock is not lit, in which case the ball will not go through the trunk to the subway, but will go through and be diverted to the upper catapult and then get sent back. Be nice to use it more, but, I did not want to have too many things require making the left inner loop shot.

3) We are working on a new website. Send an email to and someone will get back to you on and provide assistance.

#1294 3 years ago
Quoted from beatmaster:

i'm curious does distribution will start everywhere at the same time, meaning europe, canada, usa.

North America first, then Europe and Australia. We have to work through CE and the like before we can start shipping overseas. It is my understanding we are in the process of finalizing things with distributors and adding some more. We do plan to get some sample games overseas as soon as we can.

Quoted from spfxted:

Any update on the Magical Houdini Glass? When will it be available? Price?

Quoted from konjurer:

And the side blades and shaker motor...price, availability?? Will they be available to be installed at the factory?

No updates on these at the moment, I'll share info as soon as I have it.

Quoted from Ericc123:

I know that Rosh had said that he's trying to get a better camera for some game play footage, but if they are shooting for shipping in the next few weeks (per the interview on the K-Man podcast) aren't they running out of time? The game looks great and I think some good video of it being played is only going to help with orders.

While I want to get the videos taken care of, right now we have more than enough orders to keep the line busy for a while, so not impacting sales in the short term. Hopefully in the next day or so I'll have what I need to do some video, but for some of you, you may not have to wait . . .

I'll be hosting a Houdini play testing event here at the American Pinball offices in Streamwood this Saturday from 11:00 AM until 7:00 PM (or maybe later if folks still want to play). If you are interested please send me a PM with an approximate time you want to stop by, just want to be sure we don't have too many folks here at one time. I'm not overly that concerned about it, since we should have three games set up for play, but opening it up here on pinside, one never knows.

Oh, and for those who can't make it, here is a photo you might enjoy. I will still not say production has started, since machines are not yet rolling off the end of the line (still waiting on a few parts), but they have started down it.

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#1300 3 years ago
Quoted from pinballwil:

this is a better one.

Take note of the image that is being displayed in that thumbnail, that is his mother, who he desperately tried to contact in the great beyond, when you next play the game or watch video of game play, see if you can . . .

#1322 3 years ago

Want to thank all of you were able to stop by and play Houdini. It is always great for me to watch people enjoy the game and I learn a lot each time, whether it is spotting issues with animations, rules that should be tweaked, items that maybe should have settings to control, missing call outs, bad call outs, etc. We had one issue with the left lock, that seemed fine after it was adjusted and there is clearly an issue with the bullet catch mode leaving a mess behind that causes issues, which I'll be digging into today (TheKorn got bit by this bug, and he was having some really good games). Always great to get feedback.

Quoted from VividPsychosis:

Did anyone take videos?

I did have the machine in my office set up to record game play, unfortunately early in the day someone must of bumped the tripod so the footage is not really usable, well other than for me to look at some game play. But now that I have it set up, I'll get some more game play posted, but, given the lighting in my office, it will note be great, but hopefully will make some of you happy.

Quoted from c508:

Overall, the only negative thing I have to say is that the prospect of making the "Milk Can" shot three times in a row strikes me as a sick joke,

You don't have to do it a row per se, but to complete that escape you do need to hit three times within the 40 seconds or so. That is one of the most lucrative modes in the game, since not only does it score nice size points, but it is also increasing the playfield multiplier. Plus for one of the three, you just need to hit the magic stand-up target (in almost all modes, hitting either magic stand-up will advance you one step through the mode/objective). In normal play that shot, followed by a ramp shot, will increase playfield multiplier (and a second quick shot back up the ramp can take it up two steps). When I was first looking at the sketch of the layout, I knew that would be a tricky shot, which is why pretty early on I decided it would be tied to the playfield multiplier. If you want to get the points up, you need to hit the tough shots.

As far as the tight left loop shot. At least two players commented how they could make that shot all day with the backhand, and at he same time, I watched one of them make it forehand three times in a row. As I have always said, it is not as tight as your mind wants you to think it is. Regardless, it is the 'money shot', so can't be too easy.

Quoted from DngrWillRobinson:

I will say that I didn’t see the second catapult used the entire day. That’s the one that throws the ball into the wireform/habitrail that returns the ball to the right flipper.

The upper catapult only gets reached in a few scenarios and typically won't be reached if the lock is lit, since in that case the ball goes into the trunk and disappears. It is during a couple of modes (bullet catch and metamorphosis) where it gets used or if you get a 'slow roller' into the upper VUK. Only option would have it not have the ball go down into the subway on a lock, and can't say I like that. I might look at using the upper catapult if a movie mode is going to be started as well as the lock, so bringing it there for the movie intro vs letting it go to the subway.

Again, thanks to all those who came out. I'm pretty sure everyone enjoyed the chance to play and to see 'where the magic happens'.

#1328 3 years ago

some new photos for you . . . a couple of dozen more cabinets arrived yesterday, and more playfields going through the line. Still waiting on a couple of parts, but they are building these as far as they can in the meantime.

Have not forgotten about game play video, going to try to see if I can shoot a little bit today while testing some new code. Added an adjustment yesterday to control the level of magnet activity (off, low, med, high) when hitting the magic stand-up targets, as well as an optional ball save. There is no adjustment for magnet control during Seance Multiball, you can't control the spirit world.

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#1337 3 years ago
Quoted from Yelobird:

Way crazy thought but wouldn't it be cool if pinball companies offered a Museum type delivery option similar to when you buy a new Corvette! See your game go down the line, you put in the last screw, and they box it and roll it out to the lobby for it's maiden voyage home.... Just crazy talk as I know they have to test but it would be kind of interesting to have a photo documentary of the birth of your game.

Be a long day AND night, since games go through an overnight "burn-in" for 15+ hours after they are built.

Plus you do get to put in the last 'screw', it's called a leg bolt.

#1357 3 years ago
Quoted from konjurer:

I'm hoping that this Houdini media blackout means that the production line is rolling and Josh is too busy getting the final software build ready to load on the first machines off the assembly line.

'Final' is a relative term, but we will be putting machines out on location shortly, so I am cleaning up things for this first 'release'. This will be pretty close to what will be in the first machines that ship. I would anticipate pretty frequent code updates the first couple of months. Updating code on your machines will be quick and easy.

The assembly line is quite active, while we are waiting on a couple of things, we are taking playfields down the line and assembling them with what we can. I'd guess a few dozen will be 'jump started' this way.

I did shoot a game play video last week, first crack with the new cameras, so, I need to figure out how to best adjust them to get the lighting better, positioning, focus, etc., but since I won't have much time for that this week, figured I would share what I have. Right now I have the second camera showing the upper play field as well as the display, so you can see the mini-display and the front view of the trunk. Figure that was better than just a giant view of the main display. Seems quality drops quite a bit when going up to youtube, but, it is what it is . . .

Also, our marketing guy has had a few items created that some of you may be interested in. First there is a High Quality Miniature Playfield Print. These are a 12x24 miniature print of the art of the Houdini Playfield. It is printed on high gloss quality paper and is perfect for framing and showcasing the art behind Houdini.

We are also offering the Houdini Translite which is a unique art piece that utilizes the eye-catching art from our backglass, and showcases some of the characters on the stage getting ready to open the curtain on the API Grand stage for Houdini to appear.

The high gloss mini-print of the play field art (12x24 inches in size) is $35 and the translite version of the backglass, with the monitor area filled in, is $85, both include shipping within the contiguous US. if interested, you can email

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#1364 3 years ago
Quoted from Manic:

that odd little giggle that plays constantly seems pretty irritating.

Last week I was feeling the same, at some point I will likely add a setting to choose from a few different sounds for the sling shots, including 'None'

Quoted from pin2d:

What a light show! Thanks for sharing.

Lightshows need work, more so around adding more, but some of the ones in there now are pretty pedestrian. Those will get added and improved over time. The key is that each of the major objectives has its own color, so when you see the playfield flash a color, you will know what has happened. For example, a blue lightshow, means you just opened the movie theatre (completed lower lanes) or completed a shot for the current running movie mode. Green, means jail escape is open or was completed, Turquiose = Trunk Multiball, Teal = Seance, Red = Stage, Yellow = magic shop, orange = milkcan multiplier, Pink = secret missions (the next shot in current secret mission combo with flash pink, if you hit that shot the next in sequence will light, break the sequence and it goes back to the first shot).

I am still working with and changing how some of the insert flashing is being done. At times there is too much flashing so hard to know which is really the important shots at the time, even if they are color coded, so, that will change a little bit from what is in there today.

Quoted from lodgingdolphin:

I was able to select 720p in the youtube settings.

had not tried that setting, definitely looks much better when set to 720p.

Quoted from Manic:

Love the way everything is explained before each mode - pretty rare these days.

You can flipper escape out of the intros for all stage and movie movies, and there are now almost a dozen settings for audio verbosity. You can start off with everything on and then turn off items as you get to know the game and/or find it too chatty. You can also control if flipper escape cuts off the verbal instructions or continues even as the ball is put into play. Most stage and movie modes will put the 'next shot' on the mini display briefly after you make the current shot, it will then reappear on that screen every 10 seconds or so (in between it is showing the timer), but might increase the frequency of that.

#1372 3 years ago
Quoted from VividPsychosis:

I never noticed the sling show giggling until now

Actually it has been there from the first time it was shown in public. Could be just the way the mic is picking up the sounds.

Quoted from MightyGrave:

Also i hope the right "ramp" that feeds the inlane is more used.

I've recently changed some code to get some more use of that wire form. If you shoot the trunk, when the movie mode is lit, it will now route to the upper catapult instead of going down to the subway lock. It will play the movie intro and then fire the ball back from there.

Also, a quick update on those playfield prints, when I got the info on those it included a photo, but I did not post it, since it was clearly an out of date image. However, I've just been told that what is currently for sale, are playfield prints of the prototype art, not the final playfield art (so it was the correct image). Sounds like there are just 40 of these prints that were made, and at least 15 have already sold.

Here is the image of the prototype art . . .

Quoted from MightyGrave:

Maybe the translites will availible at a european dealer? Or should we do a bulk order for germany ?

I believe some distributors will be buying/stocking these. You can certainly email sales@ to get more info.

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#1374 3 years ago
Quoted from rubberducks:

IMO, the verbal explanations are a little long-winded for pinball. You could cut half the words out and still convey the same meaning.
Animations look like they could use some polish.
However, the game itself appears to be shooting really well now. It looks smooth.

No doubt they are verbose, but the options should give you plenty of control. I can see for most collectors (and operators), that after a few weeks, I would have 'next act', 'Houdini intro', and 'next shot' active, but disable 'stage open' and 'narrator rules'. Same basic options for movie modes as well. I would also have the flipper escape cut off sound calls. I have not yet decided what will be factory defaults.

Animations will get some more attention. However, there is a limited budget, and I went with an approach of greater variety vs fancier animations (although these are all uncompressed high res images). As I have said before, I spend way, way way too much time on animations relative to other aspects of the game, given they have far less value to the player then pretty much everything else (voice calls, sound effects, music, lights, rules, etc.). Having said that, as you know, I am always open to suggestions and input.

#1377 3 years ago
Quoted from rubberducks:

That would certainly not be time consuming or expensive, relatively speaking. Since they're typically sliders and tick boxes in a software package.

The display system is not an off the shelf package, so there is no easy 'tick box'. It was built primarily by Michael Ocean (MOcean) and myself for the pyprocgameHD/Skeleton Game framework (TNA uses the same basic display system), although at this point there are a lot of Houdini specific enhancements done to it. While I have built quite a few transitions, the flow of information to screen is not as 'orderly' as you might think, making it harder to implement some of that, when different subsystems are queuing up messages to display or waiting to have display priority. Within a mode, it is more feasible to do that, and you will see that with some of the mode intros (in that game play video, you will see this with the movie mode intros, and return from beyond). Obviously traditional DMD is almost all abrupt changes. As the overall flow of the game/modes and animations is settling in, opportunities for smoothing transitions may appear.

#1384 3 years ago
Quoted from Yelobird:

I am certain as Rosh (in person) seems like a perfectionist they will refine this to perfection.

"Perfectionist", no. First off, I don't believe any pinball machine can be perfect, and even if it was possible, and I strived for perfection, you would likely never get your games (see Jpop). There is always going to be something I would have liked to have done different/better. My job is about balance, and that applies to many things. I have to balance the needs of the timelines, budgets with my vision for the game. I have to balance the rules to be good for novices, enthusiasts and wizards. I have to balance my efforts around rules vs lights vs animations vs sounds. My goal is to minimize the sacrifices I have to make within the decisions, to try to get as much of what I want in the machine, into the machine. Fight the good fight. There are always tradeoffs and things you have to give up. There are always things that are not quite right, but, are determined to be 'good enough' since there are bigger issues/needs elsewhere.

Quoted from konjurer:

I cringe when I see the magic shop animation.

I have to laugh since this is the second version of it, the first, which was done by the animator, was felt to be too cartoony by the artist. So he did the current one, and I think it does to a better job of capturing more of that time period feel (regardless, you have to like my animated barber pole on the building). While I get your point on the look, not sure it is 'cringe worthy' (if you said that about the original, I would buy it). I will share your feedback with the artist.

Quoted from konjurer:

Not a fan of the top hat with the hand. The top hat and cape have become a caricature of a bad magician. Houdini and his contemporaries didn't wear or use top hats during performances. Instead, how about rising card from a wine glass ... would have been a classic trick from that period.

I debated quite a bit about the hat, original we talked about a 'box', but the animator went with the hat, partially due to lending it self better for pulling out the 'awards' (e.g. the clear wine glass would not quite do that sine it is a lot more than cards that get pulled out -- during my brief dalliance with Magic, I used to do the rising card trick). Keep in mind, it is not Houdini at the magic shop (although he did own one that still exists today), and if you go into most magic shops, you are going to see tricks based on the pulling something out of a hat or box or bag. So at the end of the day, it is a well know magical element, and it seemed a good fit for the mystery award, which is why I felt it worked. There is a long list of suggestions from folks here where I totally crapped on them for not being true or honorable to 'Houdini'. But you do have to make some compromises or take literary license to make things work.

Quoted from konjurer:

One last thing that sticks out is the wide variety of fonts used. The overuse of different fonts looks yucky.

hmm, there are only four maybe five fonts total used in the game, and 90% of what is on screen for dynamic text is the same font. There are a couple of animations that are still place holders (I think there was one during bullet catch), that use "Impact" but those will eventually go away. I guess one place you are seeing that is the different 'panels' that rise up on the main score screen, since some of the panels use a font to match that section of the game. A couple use our 'alternative' font, which is narrower than the primary font that is used. The movie theatre marquee, I think has the original 'houdini' font we were using, but that one was just too wide and went to a narrower one, so, there probably is a mixed font on those screens. The one that is part of the image and the dynamic text, so, that one will likely get adjusted. There are some other animations/screens with non dynamic text, that are non-standard fonts, done by the artist or animator to match the feel for the animation that follows. Well, I guess in some cases it was me, with some of the stage intro animations before we settled in on the primary font -- so some of those could get changed (typically those are the sans-serif fonts). But typically there is no other fonts on the page, e.g. the 'magic shop' sign on the building, the FILM letters, the SEANCE letters, the intro screen for Needles, etc. I'll have to keep an eye out for any animations that have a mix of more than 2 fonts or screens done early with what is now a non-standard font. You do want some variation for the sections to help you quickly know what info you are looking at, e.g. Seance vs Film vs Escape. Again, typically single font. So talking through it, probably a touch more than I remembered/realized, but still not a ton, regardless, I'll keep an eye out.

Quoted from 3pinballs:

I agree on the giggles.....although if they could code it so the giggles are different then I don't think it would be a big deal

Funny story, I am sitting in my office one day, and I keep hearing giggles, that sound like they are coming from the hallway. I'm first thinking it is our receptionist chatting with someone, but I keep hearing it. Finally I realize that I must have turned on attract sounds, and the giggle had been thrown in there as a place holder months earlier. Since the machine sits parallel to my desk, the sounds were bouncing off the glass door to my office, given it the sense it was from outside the office.

Different giggles might help, but still might just be annoying. Coming up with sound effects for things like slings, loops, attract, etc. and have them fit the theme, not too easy. You can only use chain and lock sounds so many times. Meeting with my sound guy tomorrow, so he and I will brainstorm though some other sounds. But if you have suggestions . . .

#1396 3 years ago
Quoted from konjurer:

Not a fan of the top hat with the hand. The top hat and cape have become a caricature of a bad magician.

As I mentioned, Houdini was once the owner of the Martinka magic shop, that opened shortly after the civil war. One of the subsequent owners was Al Flosso, who owned it from 1939 to 1976. Flosso was a well known magician in the time, having made appearance on many of the early variety shows on TV. Below is a photo of Al in the magic shop, note what he is wearing on this head . Almost every photo I have seen of Flosso has him wearing a top hat, and while he was certainly not the first to pull a rabbit out of a hat (allegedly Louis Comte was the first in 1814), I have to wonder if his appearances on TV helped popularize the top hat for magicians.

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#1407 3 years ago
Quoted from flashinstinct:

Watched the last video yesterday and really liked what i was seeing. My only beef was with the instructions for the modes...they felt like a mouthful. shoot this, then shoot that, then shoot that followed by a shot here , here and here." For the sake of being constructive...wouldnt it be less annoying to point the player to the next shot upon completition of a shot if a player hasnt hit the shot after 10 seconds. That way players that know the rules dont have to sit through the lecture everytime and novice player get calloutl pl hints if they dont achieve the shot after x amount of time. Apart from that game looks really nice and polished.

There are lots of settings to control the level of verbosity, see the snippets below from previous posts, also check out the image link which is a screen shot of some of the sound settings . . .

Quoted from rosh:

You can flipper escape out of the intros for all stage and movie movies, and there are now almost a dozen settings for audio verbosity. You can start off with everything on and then turn off items as you get to know the game and/or find it too chatty. You can also control if flipper escape cuts off the verbal instructions or continues even as the ball is put into play. Most stage and movie modes will put the 'next shot' on the mini display briefly after you make the current shot, it will then reappear on that screen every 10 seconds or so (in between it is showing the timer), but might increase the frequency of that.

Quoted from rosh:

No doubt they are verbose, but the options should give you plenty of control. I can see for most collectors (and operators), that after a few weeks, I would have 'next act', 'Houdini intro', and 'next shot' active, but disable 'stage open' and 'narrator rules'. Same basic options for movie modes as well. I would also have the flipper escape cut off sound calls. I have not yet decided what will be factory defaults.