(Topic ID: 224963)

Joe Balcer confirms Oktoberfest as American Pinball's next pin.

By PismoArcade

1 year ago

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Topic index (key posts)

3 key posts have been marked in this topic

Post #928 Oktoberfest initial release pics and rule card pic Posted by PinballSTAR (1 year ago)

Post #1686 Updated (final?) Oktoberfest cabinet art Posted by HOOKED (9 months ago)

Post #1954 Link to 3/1/19 streaming video Posted by chuckwurt (7 months ago)

Topic indices are generated from key posts and maintained by Pinside Editors. For more information, or to become an editor yourself read this post!

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#155 1 year ago
Quoted from Msch:

Not exactly sure what you’re talking about, the first game bombed.

Where is your data for that bold claim? Compared to the other boutiques API has performed quite well.

#179 1 year ago
Quoted from FlashDaddy:

Also a lot of people are saying that "other people", not them of course, don't know what Oktoberfest is. Really? I thought every city in the US and Canada over 100k people had some kind of Oktoberfest celebration locally. I think Seattle has three including one that draws maybe 10 or 20k visitors over the course of the event. I think you might be selling "other people" short here. I think it's nearly as well known as Mardi Gras.

I could careless about another comic book or movie theme. There is a lot of love for Oktoberfest. This could be a great theme. Every city I've lived in has a big Oktoberfest event in the fall. American as hot dogs and apple pie. I feel good about an Oktoberfest theme - has unlimited potential for good or bad implementation. I'm rooting for API to knock this outta the park.

#180 1 year ago
Quoted from benheck:

That's not getting past a lot of wives. Good luck getting this in your basement married dudes.

Common, really. I bet what 95% of women read magazines, watch shows and commercials on TV that are 10x-20x worse (by any measure) than a pinball machine with some steins of high quality beer and some curvy, beer-serving women.

#183 1 year ago
Quoted from Msch:

How many games did they sell? I sure see a lot of stern pros on location...

You're the one claiming it was a bomb. By what real measure is Houdini a bomb?

Your Stern argument is a dumb argument. Stern owns the market and has been in business decades. Of course there is going to be more Stern Pros on location. Are you seriously comparing Stern sales to API, a company has only had 1 game out for 8 months?

2 weeks later
#489 1 year ago
Quoted from colonel_caverne:

Hi there,
Has API confirmed a date for revealing or not yet?

At the Pinball Expo in Oktober

2 weeks later
#595 1 year ago

For a crappy picture I think I like the vibe.

API - why would you allow this crappy picture to be released? I would release a high res picture immediately. Take control of your marketing messages for heavens sake!

#603 1 year ago
Quoted from BarryJ:

I do not believe it was supposed to be released.

Barry, I guessed that was probably the case.

My point was that a little damage control might be in order. We've seen this happen with every manufacturer. People go ape shit over a grainy image of an art package and that sets the mob mentality in motion. You only get once chance at a first impression of your game - which is already under a lot of scrutiny over the theme. Do you really want the dirndl-wearing serving girl to be the mom-jeans guy that now comes up in every conversation about Dialed In? I'm guessing that artwork looks great in real life - just release a high res image now. I bet Chris K is going to go ape shit when he sees that yet another company has had a low res image released - one of his top 10 pinball marketing missteps.

#677 1 year ago


I'm coming to expo for one day only on Thursday. Will there be Oktoberfests available to play on Thursday night after the reveal?

Thanks for the pics! Keep em coming.

#1179 1 year ago

Callling it “metal” is kind of a stretch. It more like hard driving guitar, video game music. Besides, Josh already stated that there are going to be 4 main themes and you only heard one theme. There’s music more to come.

#1345 12 months ago
Quoted from rosh:

Some of the animations I am happy with, some I am not, and some where clearly placeholders. Plenty of comments by critics in this thread on the animations and few who fully understand the dynamics around it.

I do understand the difficulty with animation within pinball. However, don't dismiss this important feedback from your customers that you (API) really should be listening to. The quality of the animation on Houdini is not even remotely on par with the year 2018, video games, cell phone games, and most importantly, other pinball manufacturers. It is terribly inconsistent, dated and doesn't represent the quality of the rest of the product.

If Spooky can put together an amazing animation package then it is within your reach as well.

I was in attendance at the reveal with my son and we stopped by to congratulate you on the excellent work. In person, the art package looks really good. There are some things I would hope you could clean up and make it a much better package.

The music was awesome. I think the mix of rock to polka should be more like 60:40. I thought the transitions to the polka style music was well done and the driving guitar riffs definitely should drive the emotion and adrenaline.

#1396 12 months ago

Yeah, I like that overall art style of the slot machine. Stylistically, Oktoberfest (the pinball) is close in many respects but it's not too that level. The woman character in the slot is much nicer - not talking boobs here, just the look of Heidi is much more pleasant.

#1402 12 months ago
Quoted from BarryJ:

We will be working on alternative art.. Backglass as well as cabinet that would be available as an add on.

Brilliant. I love this out of the box thinking.

#1407 12 months ago
Quoted from pinballdork:

The ladies on the backglass would be good alternative to Heidi in the middle. (the brunette also)

Good example of the mis-match of styles on this game! I like the more realistic girls or style from the Bierhaus slot machine version of Heidi.

1 month later
#1620 10 months ago

I love the music. You're never going to satisfy everyone but I think it's a good balance between the traditional polka-style elements and a hard driving, video game-like soundtrack. I'm sure there is a lot of work left to be done to polish the soundtrack so be patient. I believe Houdini had like 4 main themes in the sound package but not every sound asset was being used in the early releases. Then tying all of it together with the callouts and sound effects is a huge effort.

My beef with Oktoberfest (and Houdini) is the animations. Sorry, but API needs someone else on board that is more talented in the animation department.

4 weeks later
#1705 9 months ago

I apologize for nitpicking but the shingles don't look good. I would rather see the blue/white patterned flags. Maybe it will look better in person but it's kind of icky looking in the picture. The back glass is way better now.

1 month later
#1893 7 months ago

You got my attention American Pinball. Like the changes I do.

Thanks Zach

#1909 7 months ago

I think the music is spot on. Hard driving accordion progressive rock! What's not to like. Animations are much better. Still not great but much, much improved.

#1917 7 months ago

Man, I'm really loving the whole package. The playfield art looks amazing. Great toys; Otto and his bar, the rollercoaster wireforms, the under the playfield magnets, the magnet above the upper flipper, the locking beer keg mech. Modes are very creative. Just polish up those animations and we're in business.

#1918 7 months ago
Quoted from Captain-Flint:

Irish punk rock music

What the heck are you talking about. It's a fusion of hard rock, a 2/4 um-pa-um-pa polka beat and a polka accordion for the main theme. There's nothing punk or Irish about the theme. It's an excellent mash up of polka and rock. Then there are several other straight up polka songs through in.

#1925 7 months ago
Quoted from Captain-Flint:

Nevermind, You missed the fact that I was responding to someone above that said they should incorporate more music like Dropkick murphys.

I like Oktoberfest's music so far. The stream is showing they really added a lot of music... all sounds great to me.

Sorry about that! The whiners get on my nerves.

#2075 7 months ago
Quoted from benheck:

Any well done dot game has far more artistry in it than OKF.

That’s silly. OKF has far better animations than any dots. If the opposite were true then you could just replicate dots on the LCD ala what Chicago Gaming does with the remakes. Be real here... no one would be happy with dots on a high res display. You’d all be screaming about that.

I’m not happy either. The bar is so much higher with better technology. If you are an animator you’re talent level becomes very obvious with more pixels and colors.

#2193 7 months ago
Quoted from arcadem:

The elimination of the bumper car figures is a classic case of stupid economics. In quantities, how much could they have cost? $5 each? As for buying "mods" later, the cost will be undoubtedly higher, a needless added cost to the consumer. The MOD guys are the winners here and the OKT buyers and AP? Not so much. This sure casts a new light on AP's mindset, It is as tight as JJP was in not including a print copy of the manual for the POTC LE. For $7000 for a plain OKT and $9500 for a POTC LE, such items previously shown/provided are not too much to expect. WTF, if margins are that tight, add $15 to the price of the game and do it right! Really poor behavior by a company that is trying to create a name and a niche for itself.

Whoa dude. Chill. Everyone has their own little personal vendetta against API for leaving out or not spending money on this or that. Maybe they've saved the $5 and hired a better animator since everyone's bitching about animations.

Poor behavior? Really? That have to earn money at some point. Small features add up. Oktoberfest is already $400 over Houdini's MSRP and is almost priced higher that I can really afford for a NIB this year. APIs niche is a full featured game, packed with real toys. If you really need cheap plastic, non functional adornments at a premium price, go buy a Stern. I'd rather have cool mechanisms that really add to game play.

2 weeks later
#2347 7 months ago
Quoted from Edenecho:

You could invite Buffalo pinball

Please don’t. The one dude was a total douch bag on the Houdini review - he played one ball and walked away deciding it was terrible. Hardly a fair review of the game.

1 week later
#2390 6 months ago

I'm a Houdini owner and have been eagerly awaiting the final Oktoberfest to see if I wanted to go in on one. I even sold a machine to fund a potential Oktoberfest purchase. However, I'm disappointed in the lack of response from API on the animations. It's clearly is a big issue for many potential buyers and yet there is no indication that API is going to listen to the feedback. There's really no excuse for the poor quality animations. I hate to be one of those "I'm out" people but I think I'm out. There's simply too many options out there competing for my money.

#2398 6 months ago

I’m just frustrated by the tone deafness on the animations. API has gotten a ton of feedback going back to Houdini on the perceived deficiencies in the cohesiveness of the art and animation. I’m okay with the art but the animations are really terrible and yet there appears to be no recognition of the problem.

I can’t help but feel if Spooky can bring terrific animation to ACNC that it could be within the the development budget to contract with an up and coming animator to bring your animations into the modern era.

If you are going to put a large LCD screen on a pin you should be prepared to put something on it to make the game shine and bring the game to life. You’d be better off getting rid of the animations and focus on high quality still images otherwise they’re a distraction from the quality of the package. I’m being critical because I’m a fan of API and want to see you succeed. Everyone is bitching about the quality of the animations so listen.

#2410 6 months ago

No hate here Rosh. Nothing but love. For my rare criticism of the animation there are 10 posts from me singing the praises of API. I just want to see you guys be successful.

You say that I gave an unfair criticism but I don’t think Oktoberfest animations are better than Houdini. Perhaps they look better in person (although I did see them at Expo). Sorry but here’s the truth, if professional animators are telling you that the animations are good they are just being kind. Overall the art on the LCD is a hot mess. What’s frustrating is that really great, young animators are plentiful and cheap.

#2411 6 months ago
Quoted from flynnibus:

Do you really expect them to go back and junk the entire visual platform and all the media assets now?

The animations...Yes I do. They can do it iteratively. The reason I said they were "tone deaf" is because there is very little recognition by API that the animations are a problem area. Nothing to make me feel like they recognize the issue or that there is a plan in place to improve. They are not out there making the case for improved animations coming soon. Look, I really want to buy this game. Maybe I'll play it soon and it will blow me away but its hard to get past graphics.

#2462 6 months ago
Quoted from Ferret:

Heck, if you don't have access to a game, watch one of the streams and send a link and a timecode with your explanation. Even feedback that can't be incorporated into Oktoberfest can help advise the team for future games.

OK, thanks for listening!


It feels like you desperately need an art director or "executive producer" that takes Balcer's mechanical vision and creates an overall vision for the art and animation package. If you think you have someone today that fulfills that role I would challenge you as to whether you have the right person in that role. Your art director should have started early in the design cycle by requesting several concept art mockups from a couple different artists that have something in their portfolio that looks similar to the vision in your head. Get honest feedback on those conceptual designs.

What are the guidelines for your world? The color palettes, fonts, shading, lighting, mood, line thickness, stroke colors, perspectives should have been down selected from the multiple concepts. All characters in your world should look like they came from the same world; having the same proportion and physicality; then rendered or drawn with consistency.

The animations are extremely choppy. This gives you that feeling that we're in a 1990's era video game. I remember creating 8 frame sprite animations for video games back in the early 90s that looked better than the creepy-looking characters stalking the fairgrounds. This looks terribly dated.

There is a lack of consistency in art styles between cartoonish and realism. Select a style, stick to it and make sure you have the right talent that can pull it off.

I think your strongest element that ties the Oktoberfest world together is the wood look on the transition. For example, the mode select gates that open and the player score area - that's something to build from.



At the 25:11 mark, take a look at the wood pallettes between A. the frame, B. the player score area and C scoring number tiles. They look to be from different color palettes - it is things like that make me want to pull my hair out. Why are the score numbers even on tiles? It makes the player scores bar too busy looking.

At the 24.54, the mode timer looks to be made up of 4 wooden blocks that had sex with a 7 segment LED display - yuck! Probably sounded like a cool idea to someone but it looks weird. Again, a completely different color wood palette in play here. Maybe a more traditional Barvarian clock or even a simple timer using the German font would look better. Even stealing the Houdini mode timer might look better.

At 8:34, the BALL SAVED screen is really, really nice. Use more of that style throughout. The burst pattern clearly ties to the burst pattern to the playfield. The bubble texture on the font is nice; use more of that technique but maybe with a bratwurst as the image. One minor adjustment... the gradient green that surrounds the text needs to be feathered more...too stark of a transition between the green and the burst pattern. That burst pattern style as a backdrop for text should be repeated more often. Place a version behind the Ready Player screen instead of the black, empty screen (see 9:06).

Remember, if anything is paid attention to by the player it will be between balls and between player turns so make those transitions great. They are really weak at the moment.

At 9:01, the Closing Time should be bigger with perhaps the same burst pattern text effects as the BALL SAVED. On the video, the blue stroke over the mauve/red text is hard to read. People perceive blue to be blurry.

11:47, animate some motion of the liquid in the beer stein during the drinking contest and add some movement to the woman's arms and braids. Overall the concept is clever but way too static looking. There is nothing about the animation that looks like you or her are making progress.

17:25, when the juggling tent opens, the image of the crowd is bad; really bad. I would kindly urge you to replace that image as soon as possible.


If API hired me to be the art director today understanding that that game is about to ship, and with a small budget to improve the display art package, here's what I would do:

- get consistency on the color palettes; especially the wood elements that frame the LCD experience. The strength of the existing design is the wood theme on the "tent select." Carry those thematic elements of that artwork throughout more of the screens. Rework the play score ribbon to remove the tiled look.

- 3:02, completely redo, from scratch, the fairgrounds scene. The concept is solid from a gameplay standpoint but artistically, the execution doesn't "stick the landing" at all. This is perhaps the worst screen at giving Oktoberfest the 1990's, early PC game reputation. The rollercoaster Oktoberfest in the background is really too cheesy.

- You're right... it is too late to do pre-production design on a machine that is ready to ship. Going forward, I would revisit your approach to developing animations. They are uninspired, dated looking, and the number of frames per animated sequence is ridiculously low. Going forward, I would think about moving to a more 3D rendered environment and artist.

Thanks for listening and good luck going forward.

#2573 6 months ago

I thought the animations in BKSR were incredible - the best ever I've seen in pinball from both a quality and integration point of view. And yet people were complaining about the animations as being terrible and old looking! WTF??!! It does highlight that expectations for what goes on the screen is really high. Especially in a $5,800 machine.

#2626 6 months ago

I may be in the minority but I think the music is killer. Matt Kern is an amazing composer. Now the animations... not so much but I've already beat the horse dead.

#2670 6 months ago

Oktoberfest is the perfect game for a bar or barcade. As a theme, I think it has broad appeal. There are certainly a lot of people that just don't get it as a theme. However there are a lot of people that would walk into a bar and connect with it more than a Marvel super hero game. I think the carnival game aspect is also very clever. Non-pinheads will have fun with those mini games like duck hunting and beer chugging.

It's also a great man-cave theme. I think people in pinside think they are the only ones buying pinball machines. For someone looking for something fun to put in their mancave then Oktoberfest is a great theme. I would also dispel the idea that because it didn't ship in October that API has somehow missed it's sales window. I cringe at the stupidity of comments like that.

What I will say is that if API is going to do original themes then the overall look and feel of the art and animation package better improve. You're trying to sell people on your original IP and the concept realized better knock it out of the park.

#2699 6 months ago

That picture of Munich is super cool. Wouldn't it be so much nicer to see a 3D animated fly in over the festival. The zoom down the main thoroughfare and stop at different rides, tents and food stands? Maybe in place of the current fairground screen. Just an idea.

#2738 6 months ago

Josh - thanks for going on Kaneda to talk about The Fest. Highly enjoyable podcast. It does make me want to find one some to play. Sounds like there is a lot of innovative rules going on and a lot to explore in the game.

#2755 6 months ago

I posted over in my Oktoberfest thread about my experience with Fest this week at the Texas Pinball Museum. I was really impressed with the game play. Lots of fun shots. It’s an easier game, more flowy game than Houdini. The ramps are hard to make although the magnab makes the keg lock shot much easier.

The art package looks amazing in person. Animations are better in person but still some cringe worthy stuff still in there and it looks like that’s not going to change. I really hope they clean up at least a few of the really awful images. I know it took several months to clean up th Houdini images and animations after release so perhaps there’s still hope.

One of the nice surprises was the skill shot. The bar opens and closes so you have to time it right but it’s pretty easy to make and you get to choose your stein power up. That bar/Otto toy is really cool.

Overall kudos to the API team for an excellent 2nd game.

#2759 6 months ago
Quoted from Ferret:

Which are what?

I already made a post detailing specific improvements that I would recommend.


Additionally, the rollercoaster with the three cars leaving the station is not good; to state it kindly. Thanks Ferrett for listening. Hopefully you can see that I’ve said a lot more positive about Oktoberfest than my disappointments on the quality animations.

3 weeks later
#2895 5 months ago

Nice review Delt. I agree with most of what you said except I think the music and callouts are excellent but that's more of a subjective thing.

3 weeks later
#3043 4 months ago
Quoted from SuperPinball:

I wonder if there is a way to order the original "controversial" backglass as well. Might be a cool conversation piece.

I believe you can order the Houdini back glass with the monkey doing his little inappropriate thing.

1 month later
#3218 3 months ago

I’m still on the fence with Oktoberfest. I love it but there are so many other choices. Art and what’s on the LCD do matter to me in my purchasing decisions.

#3220 3 months ago
Quoted from GrandFireball1:

I’d encourage you to go with Oktoberfest. What other titles are you considering anyway?

Considering BKSOR Pro, Monster Bash SE and Oktoberfest. Already own a Houdini so I'm rooting for Oktoberfest but I was really hoping they would up their game in the animation department. Also worried about the difficulty of hitting the ramps. I played Oktoberfest for an hour and I don't think I got up a ramp once. I'm leaning heavily towards MB with the new screen and improved, colored dots is way cool and it's a joy to play.

#3222 3 months ago

That's good to know Ferret. I'll withhold my purchase decision until I get a chance to hop back on Oktoberfest. I wish there was one local for me to play. I had to travel to Texas to play it the first time.

#3253 3 months ago

I just heard on Kaneda's podcast that Oktoberfest was on sale at 10% off on July 4th. Why am I just hearing about this? You would think that Houdini owners would have gotten an email with that promotional offer.

#3258 3 months ago
Quoted from BarryJ:

Make sure you register your game... this is the only way we grab your email address.

Yes, I am registered. Thanks.

#3259 3 months ago

I guess that sounded too good to be true! Kaneda was speculating that sales were slow and therefore the Fest was being discounted.

#3264 3 months ago

Kaneda's my favorite podcast. He can be a complete ass at times, gets things wrong and inconsistent but he owns it. I’ve listened to most of his podcasts and I can’t recall him ever being a shill for Jpop.

He’s been slightly kinder to API lately but I’m sure he wants to be proven right that Oktoberfest is a terrible theme. I happen to disagree but sales will be the final judge. It’s a great man cave theme and the perfect bar, brewery, or barcade theme.

#3266 3 months ago
Quoted from Roostking:

Whatever, your time to waste.

You're right, it's my time to waste.

#3269 3 months ago

This thread is getting way off track. So when are we going to see a stream of the new code?

1 month later
#3425 55 days ago

The screen art is looking much better. Are there any streams of the latest code?

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