Jack Guarnieri spoke at NW Pinball on 6/6/15. The session was titled "The Making of the Hobbit", but there was some talk about WOZ and JJP in general. I had a post in the Hobbit thread with some of these points, but I know some people don't read game specific threads so I wanted to make a specific post (and thought of a few more points during the night). I wasn't at the show, but watched the live feed on the web. Thanks to NW pinball for streaming the event. You can still watch it here: http://www.twitch.tv/nwpinballarcadeshow/b/666683896 and NW pinball said they would add it to their website next week as well.
Now onto the points:
* The presentation had three speakers - David Thiel (sound), Butch Peel (project manager maybe?) and Jack Guarnieri. David's portion was the most entertaining as he played many music samples and went into details about the sound development process. Butch mostly discussed the artwork progression. Jack talked about everything (well over an hour).
* The character of Gandalf will be making game specific call outs in TH - but they are awaiting studio approval on the voice actor (not Ian McKellen)....I think he said two or three weeks before they get the recordings done.
* "Two Steps From Hell" are doing some music tracks in the game (very cool if you've ever heard any of their stuff). David Thiel's stuff sounded incredible as well - I think TH will easily have the most sound (and maybe the best sound) of any pin to date. David mentioned that Pat Lawlor recruited him to work on the Hobbit and he's been working on it for well over a year!
* Spoke a bit about vendors which he referred to some of them as the Chicago Pinball Mafia. He obviously doesn't like getting pushed around by vendors and in many cases has found new ones which leads to delays. Some vendors he is forced to use and they work on parts for Stern and PPS, so they have a backlog of work. Also mentioned some QC issues - that picture of 500 backglasses last week for instance - most of them are delaminating already! They are having to send them back or get new ones made (on a side note - he said those glasses cost $48,000 + $2,000 shipping...so $100 looks to be cost on a JJP backglass).
* No ship dates on TH yet, but he did mention WOZs are on a 40 day backlog. (he didn't say if he was planning to hire more staff to build TH, but I think he has mentioned wanting to build TH 24/7 in other threads). If I had to guess personally from his comments and the JJP discussion group threads - I would say Q4 is when it will ship (but I hope I'm wrong and it ships Q3).
* They have created a redemption system coded by Keith Johnson that will be an option for both WOZ and TH. It's a timed game with objectives that rewards tickets (I think it's a great idea as the LCD could guide you on what the objectives are). He mentioned having to buy the ticket dispenser and a new "dongle" to make it work if you want this functionality. I *think* he said it could be done in the home without the ticket dispenser - but I wasn't clear if this would still require the purchase of a dongle (whatever that is). This new system is called "Pindemption".
* Misc TH facts: 1500-1600 sold so far and thinks another 1500 will sell once they start building. The game will have dedicated white GI LEDs in addition to the RGB inserts. There are 34 modes so far in TH (is that a record?). TH has 17 more drivers than WOZ on the I/O board. TH will weigh 40 lbs more than WOZ (OUCH!).
* Questions/comments from an audience member from Chile was entertaining. He was super pumped about his experience playing Hobbit which was exciting. He also tried to bash WWE, but Jack wouldn't let him (although it would be deserved).
* Jack threw a few jabs at Pinside - but also gave them some credit. Player's feedback on Pinside and Expo led to the removal of the 4th flipper and a change in the overall artwork.
* Mentioned that they want to evolve from game to game and make each one better. He said something to the effect that WOZ will be the worst game they ever make.
* JJP #3 (Pat Lawlors Game) - Jack said he does not want to do a multi-year payment plan like they have done on WOZ and TH (not clear if that means no pre-orders at all?). He said he wants to show the game complete instead of incremental reveals. He also said they are getting smarter about vendors, mgmt, etc and the timeline should be shorter as a result on game 3.
* Jack answers his phone if you call him at 800.473.jack. Says he gets calls all times of the day. (I can attest to the fact that he answers emails promptly too). Says he has had many wives thank him for WOZ.
* New code release coming for WOZ in the next couple of weeks.
Overall, I was excited about everything I saw - the LCD screens are so much more polished than WOZ. The sound clips were out of this world. I think it sucks that we have a little bit more to wait on TH, but I think it will be worth it in the end.