Quoted from frolic:
I look at Heighway, how they build a game first virtually, and develop the software and rules early on, and then let it mature over the build process.
Look at the art updates Heighway went through... AT THE END, and this was all while they made changes to their game for reliability (turbo charger toy was 86'd, pop-up bumpers replaced by spinning discs). Stuff that only came about from ... you know... PLAYING THE GAME.
I was also pleased to see that Heighway's chief software guy won the IFPA state championships for Florida - a real pinball player. THAT is the experience we need for programmers, look at the value that Lyman and Keefer bring because they are top rated players and know what works and what doesn't.
Having just written the above, I don't see how this can possibly end well for us.
The difference between Heighway and JPop is experience.
H didn't have experience designing playfields (afaik) so had to learn from scratch what works and doesn't. Then you need a whitewood much more and will spend a lot of time in this phase.
I think John has enough experience to already have a good idea what works and what he wants on a playfield. And yes you still need to flip a whitewood and see if it actually flows like you thought, but it'll probably need smaller, easier to make modifications to fine-tune, and not drastic changes like leaving out complete toys or changing the whole layout.
And about software - I guess it depends on the liberty the developer would get ?
I have no idea how it works ie at Stern or how it was at WMS, how the creative process goes - maybe someone who knows can give me details as I'm interested to know ?
I guess the designer sits together a lot with the developer and they both come up with modes (and even names for modes ?) but once the whitewood is ready, the software developer has a lot of creativity himself and continues on the 'guidelines' the designer made.
You don't really need this - I get the impression JPop designs everything, the whole rulesheet is already in his head and he only wants to decide on it. He just needs someone who will implement what he wants. Then you don't need a developer who's also a good player.
Not that it's the best way to go - you probably get more creative designs when you combine the ideas from a large team, now you'll 'only' get what John will come up with. But that's what people signed up for, a custom game totally designed from scratch to finish by John.