(Topic ID: 141815)

Chicago Pinball Expo 2015: in review


By Whysnow

4 years ago



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  • Latest reply 4 years ago by vdojaq
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#1 4 years ago

Some enjoy a recap so here goes... Sharing my expo experience and some highlights (and lowlights?). A bit long and rambling after too much fun and not much sleep but wanted to share for those that enjoy this sort of thing.

My Expo weekend started this past wednesday with our monthly Pooley's tournament in Madison, which served as a nice warm up for expo weekend. Hung out with some great friends and I think I was over served (probably not a good thing to stay up too late and drink too much on N1 of pinball fun, but knew the excitement would keep me up anyway).

Drove down to expo on Thursday and dropped off Creech in the freeplay room (it was pre-arranged sale). Great guy/buyer and smooth straightforward transaction. Picked up 2 games and both sellers were easy to deal with a great transactions. Looking forward to unwrapping my games on Sunday and starting to fix/tweak in the coming weeks. I was happy to have arranged a few purchases in advance since the freeplay room was pretty sparse this year and no deals to be found (for what I am ISO).

Thursday night my buddy came in from the city and we hung out and capitalized on the lower crowd to do freeplay stuff. Some very nice playing games despite the reduced numbers. HUGE thanks to ALL that brought working games and some great titles. I spent a good deal of time on goin nuts, qbert, starlight, catacomb, and fireball. All fun times. Lots of other great condition games also! Buddy ditched out for a hot date and I headed over to the Hieghway party at twin peaks. First time I had been and the name twin peaks seems appropriate First time playing the newest version of fullT and enjoyed it very much. Solid player, QUALITY design and engineering, and some well thought out part design! I was never able to really hear the game all too well all weekend, but from what I could see IMO it needs more well thought out light use (constantly changing GI is blargh and frustrating and not very intuitive what to shoot for/ too many inserts always seem to be blinking). Game has solid play and is very fun to shoot! F L O W is the best way I could describe it. The geometry is different feeling but in a good way. The game feels foreign but the player quickly adjusts and figures out the shots and can start to explore. Highlight of Thursday goes to good times with free beers from Highway and fun playing a new to me game.

Not enough sleep on Thursday due to those damn free beers and 2nd night of drinking meant expobrawl was coming early. Friday I played in brawl with the host from the coast. In short our play was not good (we missed C division by 1? spot) but still lots of fun. The general format of brawl is team golf through 3, 9 hole (actually 8,8,7?) courses with very simple goals but stuff really flows well. They have gotten it down to a science and it was a blast to play in despite me pulling up as anchor for quite a few games. Goals are all point based but low enough that even crappy play means a few 1s to lift you up. First round was probably the most fun as we played along with GeneX and Anna? We had alot of fun cheering each other on and flipping off bad games or missed goals with the suspense of a bonus coutdown. Expogolf is a must IMO and I look forward to it next year again.

After expobrawl/golf I headed over to explosion with the Spindler gang. Amazing party as it always is! Thanks to Terry and the PBLife crew for putting it on! I love all the fun contraptions Banger and crew come up with. I never did see Jay, but props on the love tunnel even if the broken belt took it down earlier than hoped. Great free food, beers, sodas, and folks. Met Gryzzz and one hell of a good guy! Had me laughing my arse off for a good half hour. Hung out with Wally a bit also >>that dude needs to post more and share more of all the great projects he is working on! Truly amazing fellow and such great passion for his niche (making pretty much every A lister in the world from scratch) in our niche hobby! PLayed a bunch of 1 handed P3 and had a blast. That game has come a long way and is much more immersive that last year. Better response time and priority coding. Very interested to see what happens with this as it appears to be much closer to production. Would love to put one on route if I could afford it... Game is built like a beast and you can tell Gerry puts alot into the game! Only disappointment is that I was too late to win a free beer form the trilogy game.

Back to expo post the explosion for time in the Vendor area. Highlight for me is always the startups, new games, and 1 off games.
I spent alot of time on FullT, all the roc games, and the fast games. I played TBL and honest opinion is that it was worse than last year. If I had money on it I would be asking for it back. Bad vibes for me on how poor it was, the lack of any obvious improvements from last year, and the constant issues it seemed to have. All appeared to be same games that were stateside last year and many mechs had no improvements. I am not sure what they have been working on for the past year but there was a marked decline in the function of the games. Modes not working and pretty repetitive feel sadly.

I spent a bit of time on GoT and the pro does nothing for me. It 'feels' like Stpro in relative flow, but wide open shots. The code feels to be more of an adventure (like LOTR?) but the combination is not enough for me. To put it simply the pro felt bald to me. It is missing too much and seems to be more built for a home buyer looking for a long player game (i.e. not good for route play or for people that like to accomplish something with some shorter ball times). The code appears like it could be cool once polished. Definitely a different code vibe to this one which is cool. Code may be better in a more intimate setting (where you can hear and see things easier) and as it gets polished but I do not think it can overcome poor art and a stripped back design for me? Time will tell but not purchasing anytime soon.

I was looking forward to actually seeing/playing the LE but it was far too packed to ever get a chance actually play it. I was kind of hoping the full featured version would show me that the prem was a model worth paying a little/lot more for. I quickly realized that the upper flippers appear to always be engaged (despite the ability to know state of ball and when it it entering/exiting the upper pf) and asked about plans to change this. In short I was lambasted by Jody Dankberg for even asking and told I should probably look towards buying something else as not every game is intended for route or in this case for my personal collection. I am truly amazed that Stern puts someone like him out in the public spotlight. He really has some issues and I have never been treated so poorly by someone that I assume is supposed to be attempting to sell me on the highlights of the game and acting as PR. I also saw him barking orders at Jared and other Stern employees throughout the night. Guy has no respect and hence deserves no respect. Really put a bad taste (I cant stand when someone in a higher position treats employees like shit and is so demeaning to them) in my mouth so I easily left their party and went back to play in the vendor hall and free play area for the rest of the night.

Expo for those that have not gone is so much about the social interaction and ability to hang out with industry people, meeting old friends, meeting new friends, putting faces to names and online names. What makes this hobby truly so amazing are all the great people that are part of it. I can list probably 50 of you that I had fun nerd out pinball conversations with and all were unique and enlightening, funny as hell, and just in general a joy! While doing all of the things above I was mainly hanging out and shooting the shit with many of you! Some good laughs and some good times; combined with some good pinball and a general care free experience. Expo was a lot of fun for me.

Next year they need to put more focus on the free play room. I heard from many people that they no longer bring games because "Mike is a jerk" I am not sure how they can get past this, but I assume ticket sales next year will be down due to the largely disjointed players that showed up with the main intent of playing in free play (saw posts on other social media sites telling other players to not bother with the trip down). To me expo is no longer so focused on free play (I go to MGC for that; and maybe TPF sometime?) Expo does some things well > vendor variety, Proc/Fast games, ROb Anthony room of great stuff!, explosion, expogolf, and seems like the big tourney is always a hit even though I never play in it (I dont care for the format), but if they dont get the freeplay room back into shape then they are missing the core of pinball (i.e. the actual games for people to play). I think it is possible for someone else to step in and create a competing event around the same time of year in the general region if they were so inclined. Last year seemed to be a 30th year rejuvenation. This year unfortunately did not maintain that trajectory. Still fun, but lacking the excitement and pizazz of last year; I think largely to the disappointment of many concerning the freeplay room.

#2 4 years ago

Sounds like you had some good times anyway...

For me... worst Expo ever....because I could not attend.... first time I've missed since I got into the hobby.

My life has been torn up the last week with water damage to my home. I've not slept well since Wednesday with all the fans/dehumidifiers/heaters. I had hopes for a FG when one came up... that's gone. So far I'm in for $3000...I don't expect the money pit has "dried up".

Water Damage is EVIL!

My 17 year old son has been going with me the last four years. We tried having a mini-Expo with my four machines around 6:00pm. I lasted for 30 min then had to drop... so tired.

faz

#3 4 years ago

Very nice meeting you! Looking forward to hearing what you think of Special Force. I always thought it was a better game than it gets credit for.

#4 4 years ago

So what about announcements and progress? Sounds like this years expo was light on news and new stuff

#5 4 years ago

Thanks for taking the time to do the write up, it was a good read!

Ugh about the water damage pinball_faz, it's amazing how bad shit can just hit out of the blue. Hang in there.

#6 4 years ago

I really wanted to attend. I am still new to the hobby and wanted to quiz people on my machines issues. I spent the last three days tearing off my roof, I just hope it does not rain. water damage is evil

#7 4 years ago

Bummer about the water issues pinball faz.

#8 4 years ago

Glad you can remember the details and write them out.
Saw lots of good folks , had tons of fun and re sparked my love of the games.
I did miss having more games to play just for goofing off and after last years energy from announcements and parties we could not ignore the lower tempo .

#9 4 years ago
Quoted from Kkuoppamaki:

So what about announcements and progress? Sounds like this years expo was light on news and new stuff

Yeah, not much for announcements. I think the new heighway display and improved game features were the biggest thing. it is obvious to me that they are a real player. I spent some time under the hood and was VERY impressed with all I saw and many build quality features.

hobbit was VERY fun to play for me for the first time. BIG improvements since last year and last MGC! Immersive experience, good shooting, code getting there.

p3 is biggest improvement category for me and real news. If this thing makes it to production then i will need to find a way to get one. I think they need to show more of what the next top end game is going to be. very cool as it sits and plays right now but ill want a solid idea of what comes next and to see this is another new platform to jump in on. I saw under the hood and some great and novel ideas. Seriously check it out!

#10 4 years ago

What is p3..Post pic and details please!

#11 4 years ago

Was good to meet you at the GoT party man. I had a blast at Expo, but I do think it was a bit "down" compared to last year. That's okay, not every year can have epic announcements. I honestly played very little pinball, was too busy catching up with everyone and meeting new people.

My flight just landed. Time to catch up on some sleep!

#12 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

p3 is biggest improvement category for me and real news. If this thing makes it to production then i will need to find a way to get one. I think they need to show more of what the next top end game is going to be. very cool as it sits and plays right now but ill want a solid idea of what comes next and to see this is another new platform to jump in on. I saw under the hood and some great and novel ideas. Seriously check it out!

Would love to see more pics and video and any news about the P3. Maybe Gerry will post something after he has recovered from the show.

#13 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

Expo for those that have not gone is so much about the social interaction and ability to hang out with industry people, meeting old friends, meeting new friends, putting faces to names and online names.

This one hits home for me a bit as I made a few attempts to connect with Pinsiders I recognized and found it really difficult. In one case a fairly well known guy blew me off almost instantly after I introduced myself. It was really off-putting and put me in a funk for the rest of the show. So as a social event, for me it was more about meeting up with old friends rather than making new ones.

As far as the show itself, it's quite a bit different from the last time I went in 2000 when it was still at the Ramada - it's a much nicer hotel and the vendor area is much larger and diverse. I was able to pick up a lot of parts I couldn't get at other shows. Expo is still the go-to show.

#14 4 years ago
Quoted from jwilson:

In one case a fairly well known guy blew me off almost instantly after I introduced myself. It was really off-putting and put me in a funk for the rest of the show. So as a social event, for me it was more about meeting up with old friends rather than making new ones.

Lame! I don't think I met you, wish I had, was always happy to meet Pinsiders. And I met a lot. Honestly too many to keep track of so if I forget next year just remind me!

#15 4 years ago
Quoted from elcolonel:

What is p3..Post pic and details please!

Quoted from solarvalue:

Would love to see more pics and video and any news about the P3. Maybe Gerry will post something after he has recovered from the show.

https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/expo-lexi-video

#16 4 years ago
Quoted from jwilson:

This one hits home for me a bit as I made a few attempts to connect with Pinsiders I recognized and found it really difficult. In one case a fairly well known guy blew me off almost instantly after I introduced myself.

I hope it wasn't me. If it was, I sincerely apologize for being rude. I found that I was often getting pulled in so many directions that I wasn't able to hang out with a particular person for as long as I would have liked. There are a bunch of people I met this weekend that I would love to sit down with, have a beer, and shoot the shit. Unfortunately, this isn't always possible. There's just so much stuff going on at Expo and so many people there that it can be utterly chaotic.

#17 4 years ago

I agree, Jody is the absolute worst public relations guy Stern could have, an epic DB!

#18 4 years ago
Quoted from gweempose:

I found that I was often getting pulled in so many directions that I wasn't able to hang out with a particular person for as long as I would have liked.

I think that's a big part of it. There's so many people and so many things going on, and people don't *really* know each other, so you only meet in passing.

It would be nice to organize a real Pinside meet-up with food and drinks, maybe at Twin Peaks or something.

#19 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

In short I was lambasted by Jody Dankberg for even asking and told I should probably look towards buying something else as not every game is intended for route or in this case for my personal collection. I am truly amazed that Stern puts someone like him out in the public spotlight. He really has some issues and I have never been treated so poorly by someone that I assume is supposed to be attempting to sell me on the highlights of the game and acting as PR. I also saw him barking orders at Jared and other Stern employees throughout the night. Guy has no respect and hence deserves no respect. Really put a bad taste (I cant stand when someone in a higher position treats employees like shit and is so demeaning to them) in my mouth

. His public persona definitely is off-putting. I'm sure he's an asset to stern but as a public spokesman to pin collectors, he's a detriment imo.

Quoted from Whysnow:

I heard from many people that they no longer bring games because "Mike is a jerk" I am not sure how they can get past this, but I assume ticket sales next year will be down

I had a run-in with Mike and if I decide to not return, he will be a major factor in my decision.

#20 4 years ago

any one have good links for show photos....

#21 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

and told I should probably look towards buying something else as not every game is intended for route

He couldn't possibly be going around saying stuff like that...could he? AFAIK more than half of their sales are to operators.

I was pretty surprised to see that the upper playfield flippers are active when the ball isn't up there.

#22 4 years ago
Quoted from ryanwanger:

He couldn't possibly be going around saying stuff like that...could he? AFAIK more than half of their sales are to operators.
I was pretty surprised to see that the upper playfield flippers are active when the ball isn't up there.

Yeah, i honestly could not believe what he was saying as he was saying it. I was amazed! Makes it much easier to look at other options when a business is telling a collector and operator to look elsewhere to spend their money when deciding what games to feature on route. I was asking a legit question and voicing a legit concern as both a collector and operator in a very nice way but he had no desire for any feedback or questions about the game that were not glazed over with asskissing it seemed. He then walked away and ended the conversation so myself and 2 other operators discussed how we will be seriously looking at heighway for each of our next purchases.

Jody also said operators have no business buying premiums or les to use on route. 2 operators told him they like to put out premiums and he told them they were doing it wrong. We all laughed at how he wanted to tell us how we were going about things wrong while we were trying to evaluate his current game for purchase. Mind blowing ego from him that was pretty disgusting how unaware he was that he was pissing off multiple repeat customers.

#23 4 years ago

Great to meet you, Hilton. I will always remember your four from six successful run of death saves on FullT.

#24 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

Jody also said operators have no business buying premiums or les to use on route.

Lame. Ops (or anyone) can do whatever they want imo. When I see ops that put prem/le's on route I try and go out of my way to thank them. It's like her - this person kinda gets it and loves pinball.

#25 4 years ago
Quoted from TimeBandit:

Great to meet you, Hilton. I will always remember your four from six successful run of death saves on FullT.

Great meeting you also. Lol they probably had the tilt a little loose on that one. I was just evaluating for science if death saves could be done

#26 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

Jody also said operators have no business buying premiums or les to use on route. 2 operators told him they like to put out premiums and he told them they were doing it wrong.

Very disappointing. As someone who is considering doing exactly that, I'd love to hear from some other folks at Stern regarding this matter.

#27 4 years ago
Quoted from ryanwanger:

Very disappointing. As someone who is considering doing exactly that, I'd love to hear from some other folks at Stern regarding this matter.

Jody does not have a clue regarding operator business and what we "should" buy. After watching both pro and le for GoT we are looking at other options. Pro is too stripped for the price. Prem lacks the flow. I predict neither will earn well on route due to very long ball times. May do well if you have a small spot that you just want to keep people in the bar.

That is like lotr where i can play the local one for 4hrs on a single buck. Got seems similar imho.

#28 4 years ago

Can someone educate me.....who is jody in relationship to stern?

#29 4 years ago
Quoted from jewboyflowerhead:

Can someone educate me.....who is jody in relationship to stern?

I believe he's the director of marketing.

#30 4 years ago

Tale of Two Trips. On one hand, it didn't compare to last year. On the other hand, it ended up being super fantastic Not getting into town early enough for Pinball Life Explosion didn't help. Got to the Westin too late, although the side trip to Al's Beef in Park Ridge is not regretted. Family wasn't really into it by the time we made it the game room, which offered nowhere near the selection of machines compared to last year. Best games were in a crowded (good thing) vendor hall, which was still very busy when they shut things down at 12. Two big thumbs up to Chris Gray and the http://dsmpinball.com/ guys. Color DMD really shined. Sold me on the value of this upgrade.
Major thumbs down to the Westin for the whole Decaf coffee only in the rooms thing. In a "business class" hotel? Really??? Other than that the rooms were very nice. Not laid out the best for a family, but that probably really isn't their sort of thing.
The super fantastic part? My Iowa Hawkeyes football team plain flat out BEAT the Northwestern Wildcats 40-10 at Ryan Field the next morning to move to 7-0 with the bottom half of the B1G10 West to face the rest of the season. So......it was good karma to come to the show again this year!!!
Next year, gotta come solo on Thursday night so I can have the whole Friday experience. Might be willing to pull my youngest out of school for a day his senior year in 2019. Wife and oldest were pretty "meh" about the whole thing. They were impressed by the scope and the obvious hardcore depth of passion so many have for these machines and how the game has evolved, so I'm glad they came along at least once.

#31 4 years ago

Since we're talking about water damage , I had some in my basement as well . Bad news is that it is a ton of work for me , good news is that my redesign of my basement will give me one more suited to me and be much nicer than what was there . As for expo I ended up not making it out there this year , was planning on it but plans got changed . Oh well I met almost everyone I wanted to meet up with at the pinball life explosion (sorry to those I missed) . Really wanted to check out the custom games , that was the highlight of expo for me last year . Hilton sorry you missed out on the beer from the trilogy game but you know you can come have some here in December in the newly finished basement.

#32 4 years ago
Quoted from trilogybeer:

Oh well I met almost everyone I wanted to meet up with at the pinball life explosion (sorry to those I missed)

Glad I wasn't on the missed list!

I didn't talk to Jody at Expo, but I did get to hang with Jared, and as I told him, his energy is infectious. Love the positive vibes.

I don't see why you'd want to even say "no" to someone like that at a show. Even a "I don't know what the team wants to do, it's their decision, but thanks for the input, we appreciate hearing from our customers" would work. No one likes being blown off. Keep Expo fun!

#33 4 years ago
Quoted from trilogybeer:

Hilton sorry you missed out on the beer from the trilogy game but you know you can come have some here in December in the newly finished basement.

done and looking forward to the new basement! I am nearing completion of my kitchen remodel which means life can shift back to pinball projects (I have WAY too many that need to get running). I am hoping to get crap in gear and finally host a party in the spring...

#34 4 years ago

sounds like every other show Ive ever been too.With the exception of PPE which was great.no tournaments,vintage and rare pristine examples of games,and a bar. Good Times,Low Stress.

#35 4 years ago

What about the bourbon for beer exchange?!

#36 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

That is like lotr where i can play the local one for 4hrs on a single buck. Got seems similar imho.

OK, so I am not the only one who feels this way about LOTR

#37 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

Prem lacks the flow

You played a premium?

#38 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

despite me pulling up as anchor for quite a few games.

But you are top 300 in the world, how is this even possible?

#39 4 years ago
Quoted from TheFamilyArcade:

What about the bourbon for beer exchange?!

only had a beer for beer exchange which was tasty!

#40 4 years ago

Did anyone here attend "Dinner with Jody Dankberg"?

#41 4 years ago
Quoted from centerflank:

You played a premium?

sorry, LE/Prem package. They had the LE there but I would only consider purchase of the prem, hence referred to it as prem.

#42 4 years ago
Quoted from centerflank:

But you are top 300 in the world, how is this even possible?

I know you think I am perfect, but only somedays.

#43 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

I know you think I am perfect, but only somedays.

Bring your A game dude, can't have you looking like a slacker as a representative of Wisconsin. You didn't hit a parked car did ya?

17
#44 4 years ago
Quoted from BillySastard:

Did anyone here attend "Dinner with Jody Dankberg"?

I heard it was just him as he blocked everyone

#45 4 years ago

sorry, I was overserved on Thursday night

Nope, no hitting of parked cars. What happened? whose car got hit?

#46 4 years ago

From now on when I get too drunk I'm going with the "I was over served defense" as well and not blame my lack of self control

11
#47 4 years ago

Really enjoyed expo it was my first time. Got to meet the designer of my favorite game at the stern tour. Played a bunch of games I've never played before and grabbed alot of good priced parts.20151015_114234.jpg

#48 4 years ago
Quoted from Whysnow:

sorry, I was overserved on Thursday night
Nope, no hitting of parked cars. What happened? whose car got hit?

My 4runner got dinged in the Westin parking lot at night not too too bad but not the point

#49 4 years ago
Quoted from Mitch:

My 4runner got dinged in the Westin parking lot at night not too too bad but not the point

that sucks! I was on foot so was not me.

My overserved is different that others. I had 4 beers on thursday which for me is a lot as it means I wont sleep at night and then am beat the following day.

#50 4 years ago
Quoted from Mitch:

My 4runner got dinged in the Westin parking lot at night not too too bad but not the point

Sorry to hear about that. Was that what all the police were here for at around midnight last night? Was visiting some local relatives for dinner and returned to see 3 marked cars leaving the hotel.

The Westin parking lot seems to be a dangerous place. On Thursday night, I was walking to see if Subway was open and heard a crash. Looked over and a car had run up on the median between the entrance and exit. He or she had run into one of the flag poles which made most of the noise. I hope that the driver was just confused and not drunk. But, they backed off and left before I could get close enough to see the car or clearly.

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