(Topic ID: 184616)

Cirqus Voltaire prototype story and design changes


By noitbe1

2 years ago



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24
#1 2 years ago

Hello ,

I know that Magic Girl is the current really rare pin really desirable but wanted to share with another JPop rare bird
I'm lucky enough to own a CV prototype ( with red board and proto roms with the old Ringmaster voice! and unfinished software) and, as a pin enthousiast.
I wanted to share information regarding the story of developpment of this pin that I could find and also the differences on playfiled between prototype, sample and production.

Actually, I think really interresting to see the design changes on this pin so wanted to share.

Since I'm not part of developement team, and this is from 20 years ago, some infos could be lost but anyway I think it might/should be close from reality.
If some info are missing, incomplete or else, please feel free to share, it will be great.

a bit of story...:
The CV had same destiny as other pin with the fact that creativity made a lot of changed regarding the theme:
same as the TOM which was supposed to be different and related to David Copperfiled

The idea to create a pin with the circus theme went first. Then, 2 directions could have been taken but abandonned: circus with pirated and gladiators. I'm not sure how those could have been matched together
to create the magical and the attraction but it is was abandonned anyway.

Really interesting video is Jpop explaining the idea and concept (at 2:45):

Also... not sure how the event come through but export at this time was really important for Bally/williams (same for the sales) and seems like a major French operator asked for a pin
and the idea of Voltaire (a major french writer) came because of that. At the end it was kind of a tribute of the "bagatelle" play which is the pin ancestor even if I can't really say if there are fully related to each other.

Regarding the context of development, what is interresting is a lot of novelties were introduced in this pin, and others from this period of time. This fact came from that "Bally Williams" asked their team and moreover their designers to introduce/implement new things in order to save pinball and I think the company (branch).

->That is also maybe why the feeling of those 90s pins feel like there was a lot of new stuff to grab the interrest after each releases.
Context was different from today because the market was different with much more export and also sales, from which the market was mainly dictate from/for operators and not for personnal use if we compare with nowdays.

Regarding the prototype, it seems there were 18 prototype total, including 4 true protoype with 3 whitewood, 1 prototype with color. The 14 other prototype with colored playfield were with changes as prototype with no change.
Regardng those, they were probably used for slow build first: train and check the loading and assembly phase in a slow process to identify all the issues, mainly assemble and build at this phase.
Then couple of them were used for software developement, used for changes (cosmetic) and at the same time, and for cost saving, others went to some operators used as test game to identify issues.
Mine is one of those. I do believe that same process was used for other pin developpment In this period of time. (i could be wrong)

For those prototype games, it seems that at least 2 went to the people from the design team but it could be (probably) more.
Regarding the test games (prototype with no changes) Some of those games have been shipped outsea, probably only to europe, maybe one for each major countries and to their biggest operator at the time:
I would say Spain, France, Germany and Italy. Again this is conjecture, but since there was really few of those built and design team kept some for developement, I guess I should be close. Again export was really important and it was sort of a test as well. I think the "pinball circus" was never released because of bad return of this kind...
Probably the other went to some location in the US. Actually from what I've seen from other prototype pins from this period, I found one MM proto and one proto Totan export (Fist one France and other Germany) used for test games as well.
So, using prototpe as test games and those to be shipped out, was probably a recurring process for bally Williams.

Timeline:
Cirqus Voltaire Development Timeline (from the web)
Here are the developping phases (didn't put the software on purpose)

April 1996
16 - Playfield sketching begins

September 1996
03 - Artwork concepts begin
23 - Software development starts

October 1996
15 - ** Whitewood Number 1 **

December 1996
10 - Playfield artwork (including plastics) begin
20 - Cabinet artwork complete

January 1997
03 - ** Whitwood number 2 **

February 1997
15 - Playfield artwork complete
21 - Backglass artwork begins

March 1997
20 - ** Whitewood number 3 **

April 1997
30 - Backglass artwork complete

May 1997
05 - ** First prototype built for programmer **
09 - Date of manufacture of my prototype

June 1997
26 - ** First test game put on location **

September 1997
09 - ** Software version 0.1 released for sample games **

October 1997
08 - ** Software version 1.0 released for production games **

Ruleset:
Regarding the Ruleset of prototype, note that the ringmaster was supposed to be friendly and ring master activation needed a loop behind.

Note that my CV prototype manufactured date was the may 9th (a friday) and it began on monday the 5th. So the prototype build phase last probably a week with same date for all.

The oldest sample game Ive seen/found (still date of manufacture) to have been built was August the 8th. If someone own an older one please share a pic of the sticker, it would be interresting.
Anyway, during those 3 months; from May to August 1997, design team should have produced hard work on the developement aspect changing design, software and more of all fixing issues...
Final production games start on beginning of october so 6 months after the prototypes and 3 after the sample!

Note: One of the major changes was the skinny head. This has probably been implemented after the test games report but some of them are present in the early sample and not the others. Again probably for cost savings...

For much more infos regarding the dev and others, check this wonderful website:
https://www.planetarypinball.com/mm5/Williams/games/cirqus/bts_timeline.html

#2 2 years ago

Identified abandonned ideas:
Prototype phase means also changing and chosing options so and as far as I know, I've identified 2 main ideas abandonned on this game. I'm probably far from the reality.

Fist one was on the whitewood (whitewood 1, see picture) with central ramp with inserts for bulb lightening.
Second change was an eddy sensor insert under the menagerie. (Proto and sample have it)

Start of design:

Sketch 1 (can't say if it's the first... )

1-drawing1 (resized).JPG

#3 2 years ago

whitewood 1 including ramp with insert!

3-whitewood 1 (resized).JPG
2-whitewood 1-2 (resized).PNG

#4 2 years ago

whitewood 2
Note that green light boards on Prototype are carry over from other existing pin.

4-whitewood 2-b (resized).JPG
7-whitewood 2-b2 (resized).JPG
5-whitewood 2 (resized).PNG
6-whitewood 2-1 (resized).PNG

#5 2 years ago

sketch 2 circus letters and insert are there and final shape start taking form

8-drawing 2-5 (resized).JPG

#6 2 years ago

implemented center square proto

The 2nd proto much more advanced where we can see the overall shape coming together. What's interresting is the addition of the square of light whitewood prototyped separatly and added to whitewood 3

9-whitewood 2-11 (resized).PNG

#7 2 years ago

whitewood 3 almost final with drawing before same as first color Proto.

11-whitewood 3 (resized).PNG
12-whitewood 3-1 (resized).PNG

#8 2 years ago

abandonned idea of eddy sensor under playfield: (also present in the sample)

10-EddySensorProto (resized).png

#9 2 years ago

Here is the drawing with color of the playfiled as it was imagined. This is the same I have on my CV:

13-IMG_1146 (resized).PNG

#10 2 years ago

a pic of the CV proto playfield with color!

14-IMG_2151 - Copy (resized).JPG

#11 2 years ago

1st color prototype build with fading blue...

15-IMG_2227 (resized).JPG

IMG_2230 (resized).JPG
IMG_2231 (resized).JPG

#12 2 years ago

Here are the difference I've found (might be others). Some are small and some are important.
In Red difference with sample AND Production and in blue with production (same as sample playfiled)

1- Different plastic: the plastic shows a tower instead of a juggler
2- "Juggler" in blue instead of purple
3- Extra ball letters in white (instead of purple)
4- extra kit installed after building to prevent the ball to be stuck added after production started
4b missing ring master head (decal on sample ) also: The word 'Multiball' added to the RM multiball inserts.
5- different plastic drawing of thunder
6- Missing "Bally Hoo"
7- Volt letters without white
8- "Menagerie" in blue instead of purple
9- blue faded instead of a line to respect the orignal drawing idea that's the playfield itself is a drawing.
This has been abandonned because too complicated to implement on mass production and risk of scrap was high.
10- metallic braket to protect the screen display part of a kit implemented after star of production
11- mini playfiled is different with dark blue and fully filled (no wood on the side)
Added this comment from Coyotte: #11 - The RM head was thickened not because the ball got stuck behind, but because the thinner RM head, when lowering under playfield, would catch the ball and pull the ball down into the cabinet.
12- Skinny head prototype abandonned for a larger one to prevent the ball to get stuck behind. Some early sample have it too.
13- "Tickle the ringmaster" instead of "defeat". The Ringmaster was supposed to be friendly... that's why...
14- No "SPIN" letters
15- "Acrobat" has yellow insert instead of white
16- "Juggler" has yellow insert instead of white
For #15 and 16: the word 'Ready' was also added to the text.
17- missing thunder sticker on proto on neon ramp
18- some proto has bumper caps "orange" instead of red
19- "Visit Ring 3" instead of a Ringmaster. On sample, there is a sticker in this area but my playfield never had it.
20- "Crank" instead of "spin"
21- steaker upside down
And...
?22- spot marvel insert is different
?23- volts around baloon not highlighted

Also: - The sample version of the playfield had the insert in the Menagerie for the eddy sensor.

Really interresting comment from Coyotte (again) was to point out the kit near the RM was useless for skinny head (which is the case here) because the ball could not get stuck with skinny head but could with fatter production head.

Thanks Coyotte for the comment

16-playfield_differences (resized).png

#13 2 years ago

and other pictures to compare...
sample: there were around 200 for this pin

17-sample_IPDB (resized).jpg

#14 2 years ago

and finally production, around 2500

18-production (resized).jpg
19-prod (resized).jpg

#15 2 years ago

Thank you for this!

#16 2 years ago

and ... prototype with light !

Proto playfield (resized).jpg

prototype (resized).JPG

#17 2 years ago

Very cool information. Thank you for the post!

#18 2 years ago

Thanks for putting this together! Very cool!

#19 2 years ago

Very cool! It really only looks like the biggest difference between the prototype and sample is the fading artwork between the flippers. I have a sample with the prototype software running and the RM voice. It does have some other issues like missing sounds (ie: I can Juggle 3 of these) as well as few others. I have attached a little something that exists as well. It's actually pretty heavy, probably 5 lbs as it's machined from a solid block of plastic.

25090_424126303495_2485065_n (resized).jpg

#20 2 years ago

Yes thanks! I forgot to mention the scrolls. I don't know if my pin had one. I do own some but probably aftermarket.

Sounds neat on the frame.
For the rom the call out are different on mine with another voice and saying different things than on production and missing sounds as well... again this RM was supposed to be nice with the player and... they changed their mind

Here is the link on the other Proto in existence I know with additional pictures.
https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/just-in-cirqus-voltaire-pinball-machine-prototype-11

#21 2 years ago

Some notes on your notes -
#4, #10 - this was a 'kit' that was released AFTER production started, not changed between Sample and Production.
#11 - The RM head was thickened not because the ball got stuck behind, but because the thinner RM head, when lowering under playfield, would catch the ball and pull the ball down into the cabinet.

Some things not in your list -
#4b - The word 'Multiball' added to the RM multiball inserts.
#15 & #16 - As well as changing the insert colors, the word 'Ready' was added to the text.
#? - The sample version of the playfield had the insert in the Menagerie for the eddy sensor. (You mention it above, but not in the list.)

As far as I'm aware, there were three main runs of playfields - the first, prototype, then the second, samples.
The 'sample' run of playfields had the 'Visit Ring 3' in the center marvel, the 'Tickle' ringmaster quote, as well as the other mentioned changes. The art differences were covered up by mylar decals - the RM head between the RM multiball inserts, and the 'Defeated all RM' center marvel.

Edit to add - both sample games I've owned had the above; the games were identical as far as the changes go. (And both had skinny RM. The post behind the target on the left of the RM that was in the fix 'kit' is needed BECAUSE of the fatter head - if you had the thin head on it, the ball could escape fine. In a home environment, I was (still am!) against installing the kit, as the number of times I lost a ball into the cabinet from the RM pulling it down was very very rare - though it DID happen..)

Of course, don't forget the backbox, too!

#22 2 years ago

Thanks so much for this. I ll edit the posts !

#23 2 years ago

Ad shows early sample. See "crank" decal and skinny head

IMG_1170 (resized).JPG

#24 2 years ago

Here is another difference between my two games I noticed. Linda Deal signature on the production backglass and not present on the sample version.

IMG_20170327_211451 (resized).jpg

IMG_20170327_211510 (resized).jpg

#25 2 years ago

good catch, never noticed this one. I confirm the proto doesn't have it.

signProto (resized).png

#26 2 years ago

Regarding the backbox, I ve found an interresting story regarding the bell:

Yes there was a Bell in the original game. It was painted a dull red color and was dropped for cost. It wasn’t very loud so a bell sound was added to the program along with this Faux Bell Decal:

bell1 (resized).png

bell2 (resized).png

#27 2 years ago

The major differences in the Early design include a Pinwheel with 6 arms (final version has 5). Every ball exited same path down to pinwheel after passing through a rollover switch. After going through rollover switch ball would hit one of 2 posts and bounce over onto the Pinwheel. Extra balls shown in drawing indicated intended ball travel not multi-ball feature.

Early design also had a metal bell and what looks like a coil driven sounding devise located in lower right corner of bell. Final design let the ball bounce around a little more and would sometimes pass through a rollover switch. Metal Bell is missing along with whatever noise device that was under the bell. Now… Pin-logic has added some changes that include a Chrome Metal Bell with a Metal Clapper and Solid Plastic Ball. The Metal Bell by itself is a great addition while the Clapper and Solid Blue Plastic Ball provide both sound and action.

ref from here:
http://pin-logic.com/cv%20bell.htm

earlyBB (resized).png

finalBB (resized).png

metalBel (resized).png

#28 2 years ago

However, the backbox change came really early and was abandonned (whitewood 1?). This picture shows whitewood 2 prototype with already the production backbox....

7-whitewood 2-b2 (resized).JPG

#29 2 years ago

Thanks for all the documentation on this.

#30 2 years ago

Wow, this is really interesting! I didn't even know there was a different voice for the ringmaster. Is there any video of that? I can't seem to find one.

#31 2 years ago
Quoted from mystman12:

Wow, this is really interesting! I didn't even know there was a different voice for the ringmaster. Is there any video of that? I can't seem to find one.

Thanks for your comment. The voice is actually really different. The thing is, I was running the sound ROM with the CPU 2.0 and a lot of quotes seems to be missing and sound stops time to time which was not great during gameplay so I swithed to the last one (1.0 I think). The old voice feel like the ringmaster is friendly with the player and ask to not hit him and complain a bit. I'll swith back the sound ROM and record a video at some point and post if to this topic

#32 2 years ago

I've got the old RM voice running in mine. I can record some game play of him talking later today.

#33 2 years ago
Quoted from schudel5:

I've got the old RM voice running in mine. I can record some game play of him talking later today.

great!

#34 2 years ago
Quoted from schudel5:

I've got the old RM voice running in mine. I can record some game play of him talking later today.

Would like to hear it also!
While I had two early sample games, I never had the early software to mess with.

10
#35 2 years ago

As promised...

#36 2 years ago
Quoted from schudel5:

As promised...
» YouTube video

Thanks for posting!

Holy cow, that's horrid.

#37 2 years ago

Sounds like Pee-wee Herman. Really interesting stuff.

#38 2 years ago
Quoted from schudel5:

As promised...
» YouTube video

Thanks for the video!! I m not sure but i think I have another voice (maybe a 3rd one !?!) I need to check that out.
I think this voice was cool though.

#39 2 years ago

Ok. I just replaced the sound roms to the originals.
Here is the prototype ringmaster voice I have (another one!)
You can here a dog and a cow sometimes...
Another music after the win...

#40 2 years ago

Sound version (with error...)

IMG_2321 (resized).JPG

#41 2 years ago
Quoted from noitbe1:

Ok. I replace the rom
Here is the prototype ringmaster voice I have (another one!)
You can here a dog and a cow sometimes...
Another music aftern the win...
» YouTube video

Interesting. Still really dislike that voice, but I DO like that music before starting Frenzie and Razz..

#42 2 years ago
Quoted from Coyote:

Interesting. Still really dislike that voice, but I DO like that music before starting Frenzie and Razz..

Yes right. Funny thing is nice sound affects are no longer in other sound versions.
I don't know if this voice was just for testing because there is not a lot of quotes.

Here is a video with the final production voice to compare. Final voice have changed... a lot.

#43 2 years ago

Wow, thanks for the videos guys! I definitely think the final voice suits his appearance more, but I wonder why they revised the voice. I guess it's probably safe to assume the old voice was for testing, maybe to see if a more friendly ringmaster would work better than the final version. Just guessing though.

#44 2 years ago
Quoted from mystman12:

Wow, thanks for the videos guys! I definitely think the final voice suits his appearance more, but I wonder why they revised the voice. I guess it's probably safe to assume the old voice was for testing, maybe to see if a more friendly ringmaster would work better than the final version. Just guessing though.

Fist sample were produced in beginning of August 97 and according by the timing below, previous voice was there: either for testing only either was planned for production. Seems like the was not liked at some point by the team and changed aftewards... or maybe from bad feedback from games tested at that time ouside Williams... It's a part of an interresting change because it seems that the quotes have been changed as well and... the personality of the RM itself.

RMvoicedate (resized).png

#45 2 years ago

Here are infos from the Ringmaster (called Jack ??) design developpment -

-> The first Ringmaster mechanism (November 1996) was given to the programmer on this fixture so the driver could be written.
-> This mechanism wasn't installed on a playfield until Whitewood #2
-> The first Ringmaster mechanism on Whitewood #2. The cylinder was just a place holder until the molded head was ready. (January 1997)

source from (again!)
https://www.planetarypinball.com/mm5/Williams/games/cirqus/bts_rmearly.html

RM1 (resized).png

RM2 (resized).png

RM3 (resized).png

RM4 (resized).png

#46 2 years ago

-> See pic with The very first Ringmaster heads ... Artwork concept for Ringmaster and WOW area (January 1997)
-> The first Ringmaster, hand-painted by Linda Deal.

12-whitewood 3-1 (resized).PNG

#47 2 years ago

what color should the eyes be? (May 1997) On mine eyes are green. Seemed to be blue(?) in the afterwarket part.

RM5 (resized).png

RM6 (resized).png

#48 2 years ago

Ringmaster difference before with skinny head and mean face... and production:

RM8 (resized).png

RM7 (resized).png

#49 2 years ago

Super cool. Wish there was this much in depth information and photos for all games!

#50 2 years ago

The Cow in CV and secret code to activate sounds!:

-> Sound of a cow appears sometimes in the some sound versions and is one of the final juge of the game.
The cow since it appears in several bally williams games.
Here are some infos I've found regardng that cow thing: story of the cow comes in many different versions.

-> Having cows appearing in pinball games started as an internal joke for the people at Williams/Bally. The first game to include a cow was The Machine: Bride of Pinbot (see below) and the man responsible was programmer Brian Eddy (designer of The Shadow, Attack From Mars and Medieval Madness).
-> On the question why he replied: "Why breathe? Why Eat? Why live without cows in pinball machines?"

This is the "truth about the cow" according to Mark Penacho:

-> "The cow in Fire (gravy) had nothing to do with the cows that appeared all over later on. One person (who shall remain nameless, BRE) started putting cows in the games he worked on, and eventually people started copying (there's also cow stuff all over his house). It kind of got out of hand after that.
-> The fact that one person at the time (SS) did all the dot matrix effects for all games did nothing to curb that trend.
I did hear at one time that the Sega people assumed this was some kind of jab at pinball designer Joe Kaminkow (which it wasn't, talk about vanity)."

-> Some of the obstacles in the Video mode are cows and at rare occasions a "3" is one of the obstacles.
- One of the judges in the bonus sequence is a cow and another judge is called DOHO.
- Sometimes when you hit the Ringmaster, a moo is heard.
- A cow sometimes fly away as debree in the DMD animation for hitting the Ringmaster. Other debrees are bolts and pigeons.
- There´s a cow on the backglass, above the acrobat to the right.
- The Attract mode sound is a moo.
- Enter MOO for initials in the high score table and the Ringmaster will pop up and say "moo!". (Game ROM rev. 2.0 home)
- Sometimes the pie that hits the clown in the match animation is replaced with a cow, similar to the ones that Rooney jumps over in the Video mode.
- Sometimes the 1´s digit on the display flips to a skull, a cow, a frog from Scared Stiff or a Tommy Ticket (from Ticket Tac Toe).
- In the Attract mode´s history of the circus, a cow is mentioned in two places.
also... John Popadiuk can be seen as the Fabio-looking acrobat on the backglass.

-> Here are some secret code of the games! (seems it was really like video games spirit like...)

In Attract mode, press one of these codes:
B, 3L, 10R, 19L, 1R (that spells CJS)
B, 16L, 1R, 2L, 1R (PAB)
B, 13L, 15R, 15L, 1R (MOO) Start a game directly after entering this code and the sound effect for hitting the first Ringmaster will be "moo".
B, 18L, 3R, 19L, 1R (RCS)
B, 7L, 7R, 3L, 1R (GGC)
B, 6L, 18R, 14L, 1R (FRN) Will perform a system reboot.
B, 13L, 1R, 2L, 1R (MAB, works only on 2.0 ROMs)
B, 3L, 19R, 19L, 1R (CSS, works only on 2.0 ROMs)

CV 2.0H:
20 + 15 + 4 + 4 ; f.e. try: 20L + 15R + 4L + 4R + 1L ; test diagnostic (attract mode)
6 + 18 + 14 ; Reset game!! (attract mode)
3 + 10 + 19 ; Hello Cameron, ... (attract mode)
13 + 15 + 15 ; "MOO" + sound (attract mode)
7 + 7 + 3 ; Credits (attract mode)
10 + 1 + 2 ; Hi Justin! (attract mode)
16 + 1 + 2 ; Hi Parker! (attract mode)
2 + 7 + 4 + 8 ; "16" (attract mode)
2 + 1 + 10 ; Ray Boot JAB-8/97 (attract mode)
9 + 9 + 9 + 9 ; Dear Miruna, ... (attract mode)
7 + 11 ; Canadian Pinballers / greets (attract mode)
8 + 2 + 4 ; Big Hello / greets (attract mode)
14 + 5 + 15 + 14
18 + 3 + 19 ; Hi Robert! (attract mode)
1 + 6 + 2 ; Hi Amy! (attract mode)
4 + 6 + 2 ; Hi Duncan! (attract mode)
13 + 1 + 5 ; Hi Matt! (attract mode)
13 + 1 + 2 ; Hi Michael! (attract mode)
13 + 1 + 18 + 2 ; Hi Michael! (attract mode)
13 + 1 + 18 ; Hi Michael! (attract mode)
3 + 19 + 19 ; Hi Corey! (attract mode)
10 + 10 + 6 ; Hi Justin! (attract mode)
13 + 18 + 19 ; Hi Matt! (attract mode)
2 + 5 + 11 ; Hi Bowen! (attract mode)

link:
http://hem.bredband.net/b257182/Cows&Easter.htm#4059

the_cow (resized).png

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