Prepare to see the laziest pinball playfield art in history:
This isn't the whitewood - this is the final art for my new build, Holopin... well.. until you power up the machine.
Now here's the pin in action with a couple of test themes:
Holopin is a pinball machine that makes full use of projection mapping. If you've ever seen lightshows where different shapes and animations are projected on a building, you have an idea what this pin is all about.
With something this weird, I feel I have to explain myself. So if you're interested, here is why I built this machine:
I first got interested in projection-mapping years ago after I saw a video of a pool table using a projector and an xbox kinect to track the balls in play and play animations on the felt. I was going to build one, but didn't have the right space at home to mount a projector over a pool table.
This is what I'm talking about:
When I bit the bullet and made my first practice homebrew pin a couple of years ago, I remembered the projection-mapped pool table and thought it would be great to use on a pinball machine. So I decided that my next homebrew would be a projection-mapped pin.
I spent a lot of time planning how it would work and learning about projection mapping. Once I figured out the theory needed to do it properly, I spent a few months coming up with a suitable playfield layout in Visual Pinball.
I was pretty much ready to commit and build it. Then in January 2019, I saw that somebody beat me to it. This Aziz pinball thread showed a prototype of exactly what I was planning on building. I don't know why, but it completely drained my motivation. So I abandoned my plan and at the end of 2019 I decided to start my second (regular) pin, Kraken.
I was completely dedicated to focusing on Kraken and planned to finish it by the end of 2020, but then Stern released Stranger Things.
They used a projector in a way I never thought about, positioning it under the apron. I thought it was a great idea, but at the same time, I felt that it didn't take proper advantage of the projector.
One of the problems with the use of the projector in Stranger Things (in my opinion) is that you're fighting against the light from the inserts and GI, the light from the LCD, and ambient light. The tiny projector they use isn't powerful enough to fully overcome this, so the projected images become washed out any time a nearby insert lights up. You can't fully light up the playfield using something like pinstadium lights because it will completely wash out the projected image. So you're in a constant tug-of-war between having a dark playfield and washed out projections. I think they did a great job dealing with that limitation.
When I saw the first videos of Stranger Things, it re-fueled my urge to build a full-on projection-mapped pin. Not a hybrid that mixes a projector with traditional pinball inserts and lighting, but a pin that made full use of a projector. I was surprised to see that nothing happened with the Aziz prototype (at least no updates show up online), so it pumped me up to get started. I figured it would only be a matter of time until somebody made proper use of a projector on a pinball machine.
I struggled against the urge for a while as I worked on building Kraken. Eventually I gave in and started ordering parts. I started building Holopin at the start of March.
It took a long time for parts to arrive (I'm in Australia), but the build was pretty quick. Not having to deal with inserts or artwork was a big time-saver. It only took two months to build the physical machine. The software on the other hand will be a never-ending job.
The first theme I'm working on is based on the classic Windows pinball game, Space Cadet.
I downloaded Space Cadet, took a couple of screenshots, then imported them in photoshop.
The layout I built is obviously different, so I had to edit the Space Cadet playfield to match my playfield. So it's not quite the same, but close enough. If you played the original game, it's a nice hit of nostalgia seeing the artwork and hearing the sound effects on this pin. What you see in the video is very basic, as I haven't added many sound effects, scoring, or any rules.
But the great thing about this pin is that I can do anything with the playfield.
So I'm working on something completely different for the second game. The second game I'm working on is based on the video game Portal by Valve.
The idea behind the game if you haven't played it is that you're in a testing facility and use a portal gun to go through chambers solving tests. The game has a lot of humor, which is perfect for pinball. I felt it would be perfect theme to let me come up with something completely different.
The idea is I'll be able to change the playfield artwork to make it look like different chambers, each one with different goals and obstacles. I can draw clear arrows on the playfield showing what to shoot for, then completely change the playfield artwork to make it look like a completely different level. The plan is to create lasers that you need to align with different playfield objects to power them up, create virtual turrets to knock over, etc.
You can see in the video that it's still very early, but you get the idea how something like this opens up a lot of possibilities.
I already have about 10 different themes in mind I want to build for this machine including an acid-fueled psychedelic Hendrix theme. But the downside of this machine is that it takes a lot of time to create the animations and effects.
I'm figuring all of this as I go, so there's a lot of issues you can see in the video I need to figure out.
Here's some things you may or may not notice in the video:
* A subway with two entrances with a staging ball
* Special action buttons on both sides to manually control things like a magnet (see me use it at 2:58 in the video), opening the top right gate and a kickback
* Multimorphic long range optos that allow me to track the ball over the middle of the playfield. This means I can create animated virtual targets anywhere in that range and the ball can interact with them (such as turrets to knock over in Portal or the big rollover bars in Space Cadet)
The projector I use is really bright and the colors are far more vibrant than what shows in the video. While it looks best at night with a dark room, it works pretty well during the day.
If anybody is interested in seeing building progress photos or how projection mapping works, let me know. I hope you found this interesting (even if you hate the results) and I hope one day to see a projection mapped machine come out of one of the big players' factories (fat chance).
Let me know what you think or any ideas you have on what I should create with it.