(Topic ID: 92436)

John Popadiuk update thread……MAGIC GIRL, RAZA, AIW…..

By iceman44

5 years ago

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Topic index (key posts)

23 key posts have been marked in this topic, showing the first 20

Post #20523 Link to legal documents with allegations & responses Posted by DennisK (3 years ago)

Post #20526 Third amended complain document Posted by c508 (3 years ago)

Post #20532 Summary of complaints & responses in legal documents Posted by DennisK (3 years ago)

Post #20626 MG is now ready! Posted by TecumsehPlissken (2 years ago)

Post #20631 Scott Goldberg mail on MG completion Posted by TecumsehPlissken (2 years ago)

Post #21819 Information on webpage dedicated to Magic Girl Code Features. Posted by applejuice (2 years ago)

Post #22024 moderation notice Posted by Xerico (2 years ago)

Post #22304 Photos of every page of the Magic Girl manual. Posted by vidgameseller (2 years ago)

Post #22584 Lion Saw feature information. Posted by applejuice (2 years ago)

Post #22710 Very detailed review from a game owner Posted by ShinyNick (2 years ago)

Post #22817 Details on the origin of the driver board Posted by Borygard (2 years ago)

Post #22957 Comparison photos between a MG 'prototype' and another shipped MG Posted by spfxted (2 years ago)

Post #23045 Pinball News first look review. Posted by Pinballs (2 years ago)

Post #23392 Ebay Auction for NIB Magic Girl #007 Posted by fattrain (2 years ago)

Post #23611 Key posted, but no summary given Posted by dgarrett (2 years ago)

Post #23615 Interview with Linda Deal (artist), speaking about CV and TOM Posted by toyotaboy (2 years ago)

Post #23754 The Deeproot link. Posted by pin2d (2 years ago)

Post #23946 Result of civil suit against JPOP Posted by rommy (1 year 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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#804 5 years ago
Quoted from epthegeek:

How do you figure? Magic Girl is like 3 years in ... MMR was announced at last year's expo.

I think he's talking about the people that were waiting for wayne's promised MMR to materialize. I'm not sure that is valid, though, as it was a completely different entity.

2 weeks later
#1071 5 years ago
Quoted from hank527:

Id love to see a fully playable magic girl.

Quoted from iceman44:

Apparently we all will in Dec., rug and all, and from what I've seen, the little of it, and also heard about, it's beyond WOW, way beyond!

Did he explicitly promise a fully playable game in December, or just a "Lebowski style reveal"? If it was the latter, I would highly moderate your expectations.

#1075 5 years ago
Quoted from rai:

image-144.jpg 26 KB

I am basing my advice to moderate expectations just on common sense. I also think while people obviously have a tendency to read a bit of information and automatically assume the worst, the inverse is also true.

Most of us don't have access to the NDA protected blog, so I think it is important to get clarification on what he actually said. If not, you might be making promises to yourself the JPOP never intended. We've already seen an instance where his interpretation of a "Huge Reveal at expo" didn't align at all with the rest of the community's interpretation of that statement. I think it is equally plausible that his interpretation of a "Lebowski style reveal on the rug" might be different from our interpretation of that statement. Unless he explicitly stated that the game would be fully playable, I think it is wise to not expect that, and instead set your expectations to something along the lines of a full artwork reveal, or nearly complete non-operable game (both would be big leaps forward compared to what zidware has historically revealed). If you want JPOP to succeed, I would think this would be incredibly important, because it's much better for him if he exceeds expectations rather than falls short of what people promised themselves based on mis-reading the intention of his words.

It takes a LOT to get a machine fully working.

1 month later
#1988 5 years ago

12:08 CST. So come on, secret JPOP society, spill the deets on the full reveal!

#2070 5 years ago
Quoted from lllvjr:

He's showing things slowly. Doing video of a working game to present the buyers... But there's no need to panic yet. If he continues to avoid giving hard dates after he shows stuff then I guess there will be issues... He's saying he still going to hold stuff back

Yeah another 6 or 7 years of this shit and these guys are seriously gonna put their foot down.

#2540 5 years ago
Quoted from blimpey:

Just found a photo of three nicely populated MG p/f's on the artist's instagram.

Well we know, based on this instagram post, that the adobe shoot was 4 weeks ago. Based on JPOP time, that was practically yesterday. That means that in the very recent past, the 3 "Nearly Finished" MG prototypes still had hot glue gun created test ramps. Even the wavy ramp we see in the video is clearly a hot-glue-gun test ramp. While those kinds of ramps are a great way to test out your ideas and easily make changes to them, that is a LONG way from pre-production vacuum-formed test ramps, and an even longer way from final manufacturing ramps. From the looks of it, most of the upper playfield stuff is not even close to pre-production stage.

JPOP technically can get foam-core test games flipping, so it doesn't mean much to say that he has a flipping white wood as far as where in the design process he is. I would say that those 3 MG prototypes look like they are probably somewhere right in the middle between a foamcore test layout and an honest to god preproduction game. Real printed wood test playfields and mechs on the base layer, still conceptual stage with all the upper playfield stuff, which is where most of the custom manufactured parts will come in. And who knows if the art is signed off as complete (I loved how Jeremy laughed when JPOP suggested he's the one who will just lock a piece of art as finalized when the tinkering goes on too long).

Unless he feels the need to flip a switch, quit dicking around, and start locking in designs with honest to god pre-pro test parts, I really wouldn't be surprised with another 2 years to get these things to production (I am assuming the previous 4 years had a lot of distractions with the aborted BHZA path). And I still have zero idea about how he plans to produce these things. I guarantee he isn't going to hang up his designer hat so he can put on his Factory Supervisor hat full time for the duration of the build.

Based on the substance of what we've seen in this drawn-out "On the rug" reveal, I am convinced that JPOP thought the lesson to be learned from "The Lebowski Effect" was that he merely needed better marketing. Despite the fact that the adobe video came months earlier than he wanted, it appears, from the enthusiastic response from a lot of his formally disgruntled customers, that he was right.

#2553 5 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

To be fair there's a shot in the video (posted in this thread too) showing the wavy ramp with what looks like a real vacuum-formed ramp, not just hot glued foamcore.

I knoow what you are talking about, and I disagree. I wasn't even referring to the foamcore ramps, I was referring to the plastic ramps. To me, these look like strips of thin flexible plastic hot-glued together to make the basic shape, not a sturdy vacuum-formed ramp.

Totally not vacuum-formed

Same with the instagrammed straight ramps. Thin strips of plastic hotglued together for concept testing.

Also not vacuum-formed

I mean, it's possible that I am wrong, and that he's made vaccum-formed ramps in a way that has messy, right angle joints and looks really flimsy, but If I had to play around with ramps and needed to see how art would look through them, that's the way I would do it. Cut thin strips of clear plastic and hot glue them together while I work on the concept.

Everything about what we have seen with regards to the upper playfield seems very very unfinished.

#2562 5 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

Ah yeah, could be I guess. The plastic looks pretty thick though, I don't think that's really gonna be flexible to do that. It's hard to tell from that blurry shot what's really going on though. The straight ramps I would totally buy are done that way.

If you watch that video segment, you can see the messy glued joints on that ramp. You can also see how easily it flexes when he twists it. I think it looks thicker than it is because of the depth of field blur.

Here, I made a gif so you don't have to search for it again.


So as of a month ago, all of the upper playfield stuff was still in the Concept design stage.

#2565 5 years ago
Quoted from ChrisVW:

Once the ramp design is finalized it'll take a couple of weeks (Jpop time) to create a mold and vac new ones. The ramps are the least of my worries about this project.

Yeah if it were just the ramps, I think it would be silly to fixate on that one detail. But I point to the ramps because I feel they are indicative of the state of so much more of that machine. (also because people were mistakingly identifying the ramps as a problem that has been solved thanks to that 2 second clip in the video.)

Almost everything in the upper playfield section looks like it is in that same concept stage, i.e. one step past the foamcore stage using hot-glued plastic strips so he can see through it. My point is, if it took him 4 years to get to this point, how long will it take to get to an honest to god pre-production machine, and how much money will be left over at that point to start the manufacturing process or finish the other projects?

I could totally be wrong and he could have masterfully hidden his true progress from adobe (there was a lot of misdirection with his older foamcore models). But I found little in that video to be encouraging, except the fact that he has somehow managed to keep a very talented artist involved in the project for over 4 years and that he has tinkered with some neat ideas. Nothing in that video makes me think he is anywhere close to finishing the games and shipping them.

And from a development standpoint, having a finalized pre-production cabinet and playfield is only part of the story, as programming is the other half the game. I look at how long it has taken JJP to finish the WOZ code, and how even simpler projects like BOP 2.0 have taken forever, and I don't think that JPOP is gonna be the one to show them how to get the code done more quickly.

Also, with a full resolution monitor you now have to engage talented animators as well. I make my living as an animator and it is *not* cheap nor fast. He could easily show dynamite animations in the same way he has shown artwork and that would help show current and future customers that progress is happening. The fact that we have seen nothing in that regard makes me wonder if it has been engaged at all.

I would be really happy for you guys if JPOP started communicating clearly about the state of the project and proved me wrong. But watching the progress of this "On-the-rug" reveal, I don't think that is gonna happen.

#2601 5 years ago
Quoted from ChrisVW:

The same backglass art appears to be just reused on the playfield, I wouldn't expect a game with no less than 5 cabinet art designs to reuse the same art from the backglass in the center of the playfield.

Holy Shit. The ONLY thing he has going for himself at this point is artwork, and it's being copy and pasted onto the playfield?! Honestly, I do not blame Jeremy for getting tired of redrawing everything after endless revisions, but what the hell is he doing having him work on AIW if there are so many remaining issues with RAZA?

Honestly, I have heard from numerous reliable sources that JPOP doesn't pay for anything, so it wouldn't surprise me if the artist work was all being handled with deferred compensation. I honestly can't imagine how much money would be gone if he was paying real hourly rates for 3-4 years of endless revisions, but I also can't imagine how Jeremy would stay on this project if he wasn't getting compensated.

Nothing about this project makes any damn sense.

#2659 5 years ago
Quoted from Skins:

From john's Twitter feed. Seems like he embraces the similarities from topps to his artwork.

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I saw that. Nuts that he would post that. It even looks like the letter is gently telling him to change the art because it infringes. Seems to me like he just doesn't care.

#2681 5 years ago
Quoted from HighProtein:

I sent him this book because I thought he'd dig it.
The letter says thanks for the interview, it also let him know that
I now operate a World Cup Soccer in an arcade and to keep up the good work.
The letter does not gently tell him to change the art or anything else.

Thank you for the clarification. I could only read bits and pieces of it, but obviously I drew the wrong inferences from the text. I apologize for stating something that wasn't true, regardless of whatever disclaimers I used.

And I will add to it that, for all I know, he has worked up enough changes in the art that he feels confident that it doesn't infringe, and feels it is completely legal. I maintain that it only matters if he is prepared to fight it legally in court should topps take issue with his game. Intentions don't mean much if lawyers get involved, so taking licensing risks is only worth it if it can be easily changed (kahlua on TBL) or you have the wherewithal to fight it.

It still seems pretty brazen to post a pic of the book on his facebook page, but it makes more sense with a 100% positive letter and intent behind the gift. I was definitely wrong about the letter, and again I apologize.

And WCS might be my favorite game, so I am with you there.

#2866 5 years ago
Quoted from Jokercyclone:

Let's hope his New Years resolution is communicate better.

What year?

1 week later
#2892 5 years ago
Quoted from ChrisVW:

You are right. So I just requested a timeframe on when we might expect a response to the repeated requests for a project timeframe.
Probably won't even get the effort of any response at all but just to let him know I haven't forgotten.

Sorry, I couldn't help it.

Sorry, I shouldn't laugh. It's insane that he just refuses to respond.

#2899 5 years ago
Quoted from jwo825:

I'm afraid that if this is the kind of stuff that John is patenting, you can consider yourselves investors and this investment to be a total loss.

Investors get equity in exchange for risk. More like Patrons of the Arts.

1 week later
#3378 5 years ago
Quoted from ChrisVW:

He also just posted a MG pic to Facebook...I'm impressed.

image.jpg 52 KB

That looks just like what we saw in the Adobe video. That was shot 2 months ago.

The caption said "just waiting on displays and Vac formed ramps" which makes it sound like those are the last 2 pieces of the puzzle. Who knows what timescale the phrase "waiting on" exists in.

#3443 5 years ago
Quoted from YKpinballer:

If he spends all his time at the studio and eats a bag lunch, he probably lives on 1/4 of what the rest of us spend.

I didn't realize I could cut my living expenses by 75% by just bringing a bagged lunch every day!

#3473 5 years ago
Quoted from YKpinballer:

I realize your comment is deliberately obtuse, but since you need people to spoon feed you information - if you spend 12+ hours a day at work you aren't spending money on personal costs of cable, cuts down electric, you're not going out to eat, going to bars or movies with friends/family, spending money on furniture, your house, travel or whatever.
The simple fact that he is always at the office cuts his personal expenses close to zero, not just bringing a bag lunch. Therefore he has no need for the 100k + that Tiger (and I guess obviously you?) seem to think he's paying himself.

1) I am from Houston, the land of large people. We need absolutely zero help in getting a spoon into our own mouths.
2) You and I plainly have different ideas about how much living cost you can save by spending all your time working and bringing sack lunches. As a generally frugal person myself, who often times works 12 hours a day 6-7 days a week, I am highly skeptical of your 1/4th living expenses estimate.
3) I, like John, have a family at home. Just because I spend all day at the office doesn't mean that they are at home living in a cave-like squalor. The cost of providing for a family is fairly fixed unless the circumstances require me to leave them wanting. Having 1 less person in the house for an extra 4 hours per day doesn't greatly impact the electric/food/cable/internet/gas/medical Bills. His living expenses are probably much closer to "Livable wage for a family of X" than "Close to zero" as you insist.
4) I haven't really said anything about what John is paying himself. I really don't care. I do creative work and I think creative people should be paid what they are worth. But time isn't free, and the burn has been going for 4 years now. If all expenses to date are kept within his estimated profit margin, and that profit margin is still solid when he goes into production, then great. 4 Years on, with 3 projects being sold and nothing shipped, I have my doubts, but who knows! Plenty of people here think the entire operation is doomed unless he can sell a whole bunch more $16K pins, so I am not alone. Perhaps we could all use some more of your helpful information spoonfeeding? I can tell by your tone that you think you are super good at it.

#3562 5 years ago

Don't worry about the Godzilla license. The final version will just change it's face to a sinister human skull and it will be free and clear of copyright claims.

#3630 5 years ago
Quoted from rai:

I think at this point I'd rather have AIW than RAZA since its less likely to become a collection of random ideas like RAZA seems to have become.

Question: Lets for a minute assume that there will be no problem with lawyers forcing John to remove the multiple problematic instances of "Borrowed" IP in the art (Because he changes them enough or whatever).

What if he just dropped the word "Zombie" from the name? If the game was reframed as a total "Greatest hits of sci-fi" package named "Retro-Atomic Adventureland", would that make the game's theme more coherent for you, and would that be preferable to the current strategy of holding onto the Zombie theme even though Zombies have been relegated to supporting characters at best at this point? Would you guys still go for it? I know you all bought a zombie game, but I think that ship has sailed. Regardless of what he names it, this ain't a zombie pin like BHZA was.

Sometimes something as simple as finding a more fitting name can alleviate the cognitive dissonance of a jumbled theme. Would finally abandoning the notion that this is a zombie theme without eliminating them from the game be preferable to giving top billing to background characters?

Just a thought.

#3633 5 years ago

As a buddy of mine says, Comic books probably come close to a million lines of ink and those start at $2.99. It is an odd focus for a selling point. More doesn't mean better.

2 weeks later
#3986 4 years ago

It really seems odd to have a newton ball in a stand-up slot. I can't think of any advantage this design would have over just drilling the holes needed for whatever posts you would use to secure it in place. Like Rotodave said, if it's just a peg with washers on both sides, it will move and probably end up jacking up the stand-ups next to it. So either John has redesigned the newton ball to require a slot for some reason, or the playfield was designed for 3 stand-ups, and the newton ball was added after the fact in some post-whitewood tinkering. I wouldn't be surprised by either, but if it is the latter, that's not what you want to be showing off in great detail on your "almost finished game" I would think. I still for the life of me can't think of any advantage a redesigned "Slot" newton-ball would have.

#3993 4 years ago
Quoted from Pinballmike217:

Not if it's an adjustable newton ball !!!!! Hmm, that would be an industry first. You can adjust outlane posts on any other game but there has never been an adjustable newton before.

I hadn't considered that. I guess a 3 position plate would lock it down and allow it to be moved, though I wonder what advantage of moving the Newton would add to gameplay, especially if there is a ball behind it.

1 month later
#5087 4 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

I can't think of how to say this without being really dickish, so just excuse my bluntness:
I think a lot (most?) of people kind of expected this one to fail. It was just too mad scientist, too weirdly limited, too expensive, too shrouded in secrecy.
I don't think a failure at this point, if that's indeed what we've reached, is really as big a disaster as what's going on with Skit-B and Predator. I mean, it sucks for everyone who paid Jpop for sure, but I don't see him dragging down boutique pinball. Just maybe the segment that's about hugely expensive and very limited projects.
Kevin's lies and deceit are much more evil. Larger scope, more modest goals, it was "pinball for the people", and now it looks like it's going down in flames, and badly.
I'd argue that's the more painful blow, in the bigger picture.

I personally don't see a huge difference in scale between 250 predators and 125-50-ish JPOP Games. Sure, JPOP's are more expensive, and thus has presumably a wealthier client list, but either company failing will be pretty devastating, and any one failing greatly increases the likelihood of the other to fail. I don't think it's a coincidence that after Kevin released his "Not the license I thought I had" letter and that thread turned 100X more pessimistic, that the recent optimism in this thread almost completely evaporated at the same time. You can't let a rabbit shit in your cocoa puffs and still expect to enjoy your breakfast (Eddie Schtulman excluded).

This Hobby is a closed ecosystem. You burn 125 or 250 buyers, that has repercussions throughout the entire hobby. You can't just burn up a million dollars of pinball pre-order money playing pretend pinball manufacturer and not cause lasting harm. How many other projects and companies will now suffer because no one wants to trust an indie anymore, even if they do finance development on their own dime? Will other pre-order projects that might make it experience a run on the bank after this? How many people will get fed up with this hobby and take their disposable income to some other hobby?

I agree with you, I think no new company going forward will be able to get away with the interest free financing afforded to these early boutiques, and I think that is a good thing. But in a scenario where JPOP implodes and SkitB's games somehow get made, I don't think the hobby is better off because only a supposedly richer customer base gets burned.

#5154 4 years ago
Quoted from lllvjr:

Wonder who's going to give jpop a job in the industry after this mess clears

I think that is kinda why he started his own pin company in the first place. I heard no one would hire him.

#5179 4 years ago
Quoted from YKpinballer:

After every phone call everything seems fine with John. Then you realize he just knows what to say to make you believe. Nothing has changed, it's been groundhog day for years. He's the same guy that blew you off and caused this shitstorm the last couple days, no phone call is changing that.

I never thought anyone could compare JPOP to Steve Jobs, but he has one hell of a reality distortion field.

#5587 4 years ago

All those videos were on a wide open Vimeo channel. I clicked on one and had links to all the rest. If you pay $199 per year, your Vimeo pro account lets you make your videos unlisted and only accessible with a link. Hell, even the plus and free accounts let you password protect your videos.

I just can't for the life of me understand getting pissed that someone shared links to your wide open public videos. But then again I don't understand a lot about how zidware works.

1 week later
#6094 4 years ago
Quoted from frolic:

It's 2012.... there is a video of that flipping whitewood on his facebook now. Everything is going to be ok!!!
The insane thing is he's been pretty clear in the past he only wants to show and be judged on the final work, so that is why he doesn't show the work in progress, but then after all this time, years later, when we know (and have seen) a much more finished version he trots out this old white wood.

He has to be reading this, because he's doing a huge Facebook dump today of whatever he can show.

My question is, if he's flipping an old white wood and not his "nearly completed" game, how much you want to bet that the white-wood is built on a working hardware platform that he rejected in favor of his own "re-designed" boards? It's the only reason I can think of for using an old white wood for his quick "flipping" video. If the new board set was working as StevenP claimed, why wouldn't you show a flipping game on one of the 3 "almost done" prototypes that were shown in the Adobe video? My guess is because he doesn't actually have a working board set or framework yet.

Looks like scrambling to me.

#6215 4 years ago
Quoted from iceman44:

Good point, that's why we still don't have them, they are still in process, trying to get the color separations right on the certificates.

Will the stock certificates feature a leopard saw?

#6447 4 years ago
Quoted from iceman44:

Btw, speaking of "intoxication", I will be there later tonight
I just arrived at the Master's for the tourney Sat and Sun, gonna have some fun while you guys try and figure out John.

That Jordan Spieth kid is something else. Hook 'em! \m/

#6686 4 years ago
Quoted from iceman44:

All John had to do was accept some help, communicate, and give people a clear financial picture.
This is what blows my mind. He seems resigned on failure and is just stalling for time. And when it's all over then he'll say "sorry guys, I worked 24/7, did everything I could, and it just didn't work out, have a nice life"

I think the most logical conclusion would be that if he showed anyone the clear financial picture, the gig would be up. Stall tactics are just buying time, putting off facing the inevitable for as long as he can in the hope that a miracle comes along. The longer this goes on, the more damage he is doing to his reputation in the field he loves, but I think most of that damage was going to happen anyway because of how he managed this venture.

In his last poor business decision, he is choosing to make this death as excruciating as possible.

I can only come to this conclusion, because he steadfastly refuses the transparency needed to prove that there is any hope left.

#6697 4 years ago
Quoted from ccotenj:

what possible shred of "positive reputation" could he have at this point?
also, even if by some miracle, games appear someday, are people saying "oh well, since we got a game, jpop is back to being a legend again"? really?

I had a whole lot written about how this community has responded to shitty treatment by so many pinball companies, but rather than start more flame wars by people defending their "Pinball-Sports-Team", I'll just say this...

It's amazing how forgetful and forgiving people in this community can be because they really want a game and hope still exists that they may get it.

#6701 4 years ago
Quoted from frolic:

I don't know about that. Predator is the first time this has really been put to the test (complete failure where people are out thousands).
Every other bad thing, was just huge delays (WOZ, BBB), and even the original MM remake, as far as I know anyone who requested got their money back?
So we are in a new era for pinball with real losses. I don't think those will be easily forgotten.

Well his original premise was that John found a miracle and was somehow able to ship all the games. At that point he would have fallen into the "long delays with really shitty treatment" category.

#6743 4 years ago

What's not to love about lengthy, non-skippable DMD animations?

1 week later
#7064 4 years ago
Quoted from gprotein:

Jpop just posted an email on RAZA blog.

about what?

#7069 4 years ago

Not just blaming, but those are some very thinly veiled threats of legal retaliation for "Great Harm" to his business.

Edit: Since he is obviously referencing StevenP with that last paragraph, I sure would love to hear his thoughts on suing JPOP's critics for damaging his business.

#7074 4 years ago

Also, who is the 1 person who got turned away from a tour? I'd love to hear from that guy!

#7087 4 years ago

I think it's interesting that while many of us viewed the efforts of the owner's groups to be trying to work with John for several months to try and find a path forward, he views is as "Battling" them. I guess you can stick a fork in any solution where John just hands the project off to someone else. It is clear to me that he will never let someone else take over the project, and is effectively saying he will spend every last dime of pre-order money he has left suing those who try to take it from him. The message is clear: "Come at me and I will burn this house down".

The line about the "long trail of development to refer to as record" seems to be a direct response to claims of fraud.

#7122 4 years ago
Quoted from PismoArcade:

Ugh. He called himself an "artist". What an inflated ego.
If you walked up to Steve Ritchie and called him an artist, he'd laugh at you.

It really pisses me off that he thinks being an "Artist" excuses the absolute bullshit he has pulled. Being an Artist doesn't force you to overpromise. Being an Artist doesn't force you to outright lie about the state of your projects. Being an Artist doesn't force you to run a ponzi scheme to make late customers pay for the projects of your first customers. And being an Artist doesn't excuse complete and utter incompetence when people gave you money in good faith because you assured them that you knew what you were doing.

Yes there are character traits that come with being an Artist, but it's total assholes who hide their fuck-ups behind their "different wiring" that make life hard for the rest of us Artists who are actually honest professionals.

#7158 4 years ago
#7241 4 years ago
Quoted from StevenP:

And again, I'd like to make clear that I've only been helping John legally with respect to intellectual property matters (and a lease), and (as I have indicated to him as well) I am not and will not be part of any actions involving him and his customers, whether it be bankruptcy, contract/consumer disputes, whatever. Not my field of law and I didn't volunteer for that! Lawdog out!

Hey StevenP,

First of all, thank you for coming back to the thread. It is really nice to hear from someone who John choses to actually talk to.

Second, thank you for your assurances that you would not be any part of his threats.

Can you confirm that you were not his "advisor …(snip)... as a “very good” friend and legal guru since day one." that he referenced copying on that last letter?

If you were who he was referencing, it would make many people feel a lot better that his threats are completely empty. If you weren't, do you know who this "Legal Guru" is?

I seriously am not going on a witch-hunt here, I am just trying to get definitive proof of whether John's threats of legal retaliation are completely empty or not. For all I know, he could still have a lifelong friend who is willing to give him pro-bono help in suing his critics and customers. After all, you don't have to have any strong legal footing to sue anyone in this country, and make them deal with the pain and expense of defending themselves. Arron from Fast Pinball has stated that such threats have moderated his public opinions on this, so I know that I am not alone in picking up those threats.

If he is using his relationship with you to add credibility to his threats of legal retaliation in an attempt to silence his critics, I would love for you to clear the air about that.

Again, thank you for coming back to the thread. And I apologize if I was wrong in assuming he was referencing you in that last paragraph.

#7250 4 years ago
Quoted from Skins:

I put zero, I mean zero stock in his chicken shit threats of litigation. By doing so, he opens himself (and his books) up in court to **prove** his claim. It would be the all time most imbecilic move on his part. I truly believe he's twiddling his thumbs until someone forces his hand. I think he knows he's painted himself in a corner.

I agree, however, we are talking about someone who has proven to be a renaissance master at the art of imbecilic moves, especially when they are driven by his ego. It seems very clear to me that he is completely prepared to burn everything to the ground if he doesn't get to keep doing things his way, and I can totally see him trying to take down those who he thinks are really to blame in the process. Not that he has the legal logic or funds to do so, but real world constraints seem to have very little effect in the logic in Popadiuktopia.

#7282 4 years ago
Quoted from StevenP:

I came back to visit Pinside because someone told me about the latest controversy and that I may be referenced in it. I have not received (nor asked for) direct confirmation from the source (because I don't want to go there), but i do think I may well be the referenced "legal guru." (Although I do prefer Lawdog!) And I do not condone any implications that I would be initiating (nor even defending) any legal actions relating to Zidware. As i have reminded John several times, i'm only handling IP stuff, and I suggested he get a business/corporate/consumer/whatever lawyer if he needs representation for any legal disputes relating to Zidware. It is simply not my area of law, and I did not sign up for that!
I hope that clears the air sufficiently. I also don't think he is seriously contemplating legal action (my opinion). I think the negativity is getting to him and he's reacting badly. My advice to him (as friend and hobbyist who's somewhat aware of the current controversies) continues to be to show and explain everything he has and his plans for completing things, and do so publicly. And to communicate with customers and address their requests and questions.
Honestly, if someone were brought in to take charge of these projects, and the production runs expanded, I still believe these 2 titles could be completed and produced profitably (with MG priced like RAZA). And that they would be amazingly cool games. But getting there seems like a huge step.

Thank you for the clarification. It absolutely clears the air.

You are a good guy, StevenP, even if your zidware glasses are a little rosier tinted than most others these days. John needs to listen to you.

#7308 4 years ago
Quoted from zombieyeti:

The good news is he's paying attention? Actually I think someone here tipped him off that I posted tbh. But it got results - right?

I like everyone else here want to compliment you on your work, as it is the one thing everyone can definitively say is great about the games (because John won't/can't show much else).

I only caution you about considering what you have right now as "Results". We have seen time after time after time of good-intentioned, invested individuals reaching out to him offering him help, and being very excited about the initial conversations they had. Every. Single. One. followed the same path. Early excitement, participation by John, admission of his errors, agreeing with all their advice, promises to get them the bits of info they need to do their part, a small bit of public communication as a show of good faith. Then stalling, buying time, missing scheduled communications. Then finally complete and total radio silence with no progress being made. And now, coming out and blaming those who tried to help him for all the problems that the project has faced.

Every person who gets through to him has an excellent conversation and reports back that things are looking up, and then they all get burned.

He may be the nicest guy in the world when people are talking to him, but the guy has left a long trail of torched bridges behind him because of his business ethics. Do not settle for his word, because he has rendered it is worthless at this point.

#7309 4 years ago
Quoted from rai:

I would love it if John was reading this thread secretly. I be he does.

I have heard about numerous people who have gotten quick responses to things only mentioned in this thread. It could be that he has some silent loyalist sitting in this thread, reading all the evidence of his malfeasance, and passing on daily cliff notes of all that goes on here, but it is far more likely that he is keenly aware of this thread and all the valid concerns of his customers, and yet chooses to only address select people about specific issues he feels like answering.

Again, I keep hearing about how nice a guy JPOP is, but I personally cannot imagine what kind of moral compass it takes to take this amount of money from people, blow it this badly, and just ignore them.

#7411 4 years ago
Quoted from Wolfmarsh:

I eventually would love to do a community-built machine. I'd like to lead a project here on Pinside where everyone who wants to contribute does so, and we all collectively decide on theme, toys, shots, etc....

I seriously could not think of a worse experience than expanding the concept of "Design by Committee" to an entire internet forum. I'd sooner drag my scrote through 6 miles of glass, but good luck to you if you are serious about it. You'll need it!

#7449 4 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

I think we all know John's out of money now. Not paying Zombie Yeti has to be the final straw for that.

One thing to keep in mind is that they didn't come up with the term "Gettin JPOPed" in the last year, this has been a reputation a long time in the making. I heard about people not getting paid years ago. So unless he ran out of money very early on, it is very much just part of his business ethics to not pay people after he changes his mind on something, regardless of what was agreed to.

What I am saying is, it is possible that he is out of money given the amount of time that has lapsed, but it is also possible that he still as a significant amount of money (Insufficient to actually build these things or give full refunds as you can't go 5 years without spending something) but just CHOOSES not to pay people, because JPOP gonna JPOP, yo.

#7500 4 years ago
Quoted from GLModular:

What I'm reading here is enough money to have paid off a lot of vendors (or buy a lot more artwork).

Like I said, the "JPOP'd" meme didn't originate at the end of this 5 year long adventure, it's been a reputation building for years. He started suddenly and completely ignoring vendors and contractors, followed by his refusal to pay them, because he just decided he wanted to, not because he couldn't afford them. He has collected at least a million dollars from the sales of his 3 machines, and has left a long line of JPOP'd victims in his wake throughout the entire process.

I think it is entirely possible he still has a big stash of money. There's no way he can build the games he has sold with the money that is left (The economics of that were always impossible), but hopefully there is enough to see that everyone gets a part of their investment back. Assuming he doesn't spend whatever is left "Battling" his customers and critics.

#7682 4 years ago
Quoted from benheck:

You can't refund money that doesn't exist.
John's gambit was take pre-orders, make a bunch of pretty art and patents, and get bought out/hired before he actually had to produce anything.
Didn't work. And now any investor has to deal with 500-600k of unfunded liabilities (building games owed) on top of however much labor it would take to actually finish them.

Just curious. Is this a highly educated guess based on what you have seen, or were there actual conversations with John to suggest that this was, indeed, on his mind?

If the latter, wow. And wouldn't it be the case that if the plan had actually worked, whoever bought/hired him would have the same unfunded liabilities? There was never going to be a time when a bigger player could buy out and fulfill his current orders and still turn a profit without throwing his original contracts for limited runs out the window.

If this was really his plan all along, he HAD to know that his original contracts would have to be thrown out in order to get that to happen. That to me goes beyond naiveté into outright dishonesty.

#7739 4 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

I am of course generalizing. And I didn't mean to imply that losing money on this venture wouldn't sting. That sucks. I guess I just see people who were up for paying $17,000 for a super limited pinball that might takes years to make as being people who were pretty immune to standard market logic.
But I guess money is money, you're right, and so is anyone else. Money sent to Jpop is money that could have gone to other games. I guess I just don't really see Zidware as real competition for the players with factories who think about games by the thousands, instead of by the tens.

RAZA and AIW were $10k. I think RAZA buyers had about $4-5k in at this point, with about 100 of them. AIW deposits were what, $1500-$2k. That's all NIB money that could have gone elsewhere.

As for elite collectors, there are maybe 25 people affected by MG, but about a hundred RAZA buyers and a bunch of AIW buyers. I know a lot of people really considering AIW who are anything but elite collectors. They just thought they could sell a few games and save to finance their dream theme. And $10k is on the high side, but every Stern LE is getting closer to $8k, TBL is $9k, MMR is $8k, TH is $8.5k, and even the standard edition Alien is $7k USD before shipping ($8.5k for the LE). Like it or not, the pinball NIB mainstream, with the exception of Stern Pro models, is getting closer and closer to the $10k mark all the time.

I guess your point about the big guys not being competitors to the small guys stands, because of the volume differences, but anytime someone removes a million bucks from the hobby it is a pretty big deal. Lots of other companies could have thrived with that money, even the big players.

1 week later
#8233 4 years ago

Before anyone gets too excited about the announcement that plastic ramps are coming soon, they have been coming soon since January.

Any day now

#8257 4 years ago
Quoted from frolic:

Not the worst idea. Seeing how incomplete Magic Girl is, RAZA would be a complete nightmare, and Alice.... well..... there's some cardboard sitting in the shop.
I personally would move my raza deposit to a MG if offered, just to get off this shit train.

How would that work? I am assuming you would have to work out refunding the original MG owners to the tune of $6k each because there is no way you are converting 200+ RAZA and AIW spots to $16k games those people didn't ask for. Where's the money for that? that's an additional $100k on top of the money needed to code the game, pay vendors he is delinquent on, and to cover the mfg costs for all these games. Even if the math works out, and somehow the first 5 years of john's playtime could be fit into the category of game profit, someone else would have to finance this, because I don't see you pulling it off with more patient financing from your customer's outstanding payments.

Still, it's the best idea I have heard yet. I think most RAZA and AIW buyers would take a MG instead of nothing. I'm sure John's plan would be to use this plan to vindicate himself, and to try to start again with RAZA and AIW, but unless someone else finances them, good luck with that.

#8299 4 years ago
Quoted from iceman44:

It's frustrating only because it can be fixed. Most anything can if you are open to help.

Because John won't show anyone what the financial situation is, I think the only way you can say for certain that it can be fixed is if you assume the worst case scenario that all the money he has taken so far is gone, and from there you can still see a viable way to build the games. Any path that requires some of the money already collected will fail because he won't even tell you how much you have to work with, much less give any of it up if there is any left.

My guess is that, based on various reports from people here abut how much they are paid up on RAZA, at best you have about ~$4-5k per person left, so about $500k. Let's be generous and say all the AIW spots still owe The full $10k each, so $1m. $1.5m seems like a lot, but that's $6k per game at 250 games (and that is with generous assumptions about outstanding payments owed). It's hard to make regular games in well run pinball companies for 6k these days, much more so for complicated games with all this baggage and so many completely custom parts.

Going with the best idea on the table, converting everyone to MG, you first have to spend ~$100-$150k refunding $16k buyers back to the $10k price point, another ~$100k for a programmer, $??? For an animator for the screen graphics (this is my field, but I don't know the specs of what is needed so I can't price it), $??? for making JPOP'd Vendors whole, $??? For finishing the preproduction prototype to manufacturing specs, $??? For pre-manufacturing set-up and process training for your manufacturing partner, $??? For the BOM for ~225 games, $??? For your project manager, $??? For contingency and overages, and $??? For the mfg fees from your manufacturing partner.

I am assuming the fast guys filled in a lot of those question marks when they were trying to put together a plan, but I fail to see how any plan could work with the numbers we do know to even build out one machine, much less all three machines. Reasonable assumptions about all those numbers start to exceed $6k per machine real fast. If all the plans at this point worked on paper because they assumed John had x amount of money left, and would willingly hand it over, then I don't think those were very realistic. Unless I missed something and someone somewhere actually got some verification about how much money was left, and any real cooperation from John.

#8301 4 years ago
Quoted from frolic:

Yeah, I think that's where we're at... nothing makes sense on paper as a business.
I think Ben guessed the BOM at $6k/game, which is probably a fair guess, and may very well be low. Then you look at the work that is still left to do.
I don't invest in businesses without business plans. I don't know how anyone would invest in John if he can't provide numbers and a road map to success.
My first rule for business investment is "Is there a strong demand for this product or service?" and unfortunately for just about everything pinball related, that answer is "no", which has stopped me from getting involved in any pinball business. Let alone something set up as a zidware with extremely high costs and extremely limited revenues and extreme risk for my money.
Any investor will judge things the exact same way. The only "easy" money was by crowd funding and getting people to send money in who don't have the same criteria and had a desire to see the final product. There was no need for a regular investor, he had sidestepped that. Raising $1M is a big deal.
John unfortunately screwed that all up.

Well, on the plus side, PDXmonkey is still involved apparently, even despite him almost rage-quitting because John hired Kaneda as his PR guy. Maybe he has the combination of funding and John's cooperation to pull something off. I just hope whatever their solution is, JPOP'd vendors are made whole, and ALL zidware customers are taken care of. Nothing is solved if RAZA and AIW owners are left hanging while a few MG owners get their games, and any solution that involves converting existing customers into additional MG games needs to involve compensation for the original buyers.

#8376 4 years ago
Quoted from Ronnie1114:

There is a game.

I'm just taking a wild stab, but since both you and PDXmonkey are relatively close to one another geographically (and he definitely is still involved with the project based on both his and John's last posts), are you involved in the project as well at this point? If so, can you give the owners any update for the project to add some context to your vague positive statements? They heard ramps were coming back in January, along with countless other lies documented pretty well by Frolic. It would be nice to hear a truthful, informed state of the game from someone still in John's inner circle, since John is refusing to talk with anyone but those still in his good graces.

If I guessed wrong and you have no connection to the project, I apologize for assuming wrong.

#8665 4 years ago
Quoted from iceman44:

So StevenP is in the process today. As we speak, editing a letter from John with a major update on everything

Still no letter. Editing Letters is hard™.

All kidding aside, after seeing the last letter from John, I think editing him would be a nightmare. Forget the grammatical considerations, just removing all the rambling, blaming of everyone else, appeals to authority, and thinly veiled threats against critics would leave you with what, a few sentence fragments at the end of the day?

I will say this. It is obvious his last few communications were not edited at all. It is a step in the right direction letting it go through StevenP first. Hopefully all declarative statements promising changes will at least be met with a stern "Are you really really sure - pinky swear - that you are going to follow through with this?" from StevenP before they are committed to (digital) paper. The last thing anyone needs is Frolic's list of broken promises and lies to be extended by this new communication. StevenP seems like a stand-up guy, and I assume he will push John to be more truthful this time before signing off on it.

#8669 4 years ago
Quoted from Honch:

StevenP will make it PC, but at the end of the day it won't mean squat. If you're not getting your pins, who cares about some letter? A nicely worded letter isn't smoothing anything over at this point.

Well I assume the only thing to update people on at this point that will matter is the status of the current investors, and what their strategy for getting MG out the door will be, ie. What the new numbers are, what is being done to address RAZA and AIW buyers, etc.

Just saying he is talking to investors won't cut it. If they have an agreement locked down and a plan for going forward, then that is what matters. If not, then it's just more of the same, just cleaned up a bunch by StevenP.

Based on Iceman's "30 days" post, if this letter is just another stalling tactic, other wheels in motion are gonna run the clock out on John anyway, so it won't buy him much.

#8941 4 years ago
Quoted from BackFlipper:

The spikes are the leg bolts. They put a hole in your leg when you nudge (to remind you of all the pain in this project).
Edit- Found a pic (imagine accidentally bumping those suckers):


Forget about using a socket wrench to get your legs on and off.

#8958 4 years ago
Quoted from Concretehardt:

Ok seriously this is getting petty! Who gives a F$&k if you can't use a socket wrench to tighten the legs. As for things to slam JPOP about this doesn't even make the top 1000 list IMHO!

I didn't mean to be petty. I just thought that tradeoff wasn't worth the aesthetic look that he achieved, as I don't think spiked legbolts fit with the look of the game. I agree, it's not a huge deal, if you don't like em, just throw regular ones on, but I felt that it spoke to the bigger issue of him purposefully choosing custom, non-standard parts when they had little or no advantage over standard widely available parts.

#9098 4 years ago
Quoted from VacFink:

I wonder if there's an opportunity in exploring having Farsight Studio's buy rights to produce Pinball Arcade versions of these games, maybe as an Non-Season extra purchase.
That would provide potential income enough to complete one machine a prototype. Then maybe some portion of sales could be part of the deal and could provide the funding needed to complete the customer's physical machines.
It would seem the exclusivity of the games lost in scenario would be better than the possibility of losing everything.
It would be complicated, but his current games on Pinball Arcade are some of the best. I know I'd enjoy seeing these digital.

This would require code and video collateral to be complete, and a finished and complete cabinet and game to scan. I'm also not sure how easy it would be to port since its not based on any of the systems they have already ported. And the TZ license cost them $55k. I doubt John would get more than that, and it seems like his unfunded liabilities are much much greater than that amount.

Good idea, still a big hill to climb.

#9351 4 years ago

This new investor is a vulture. At least if they were buying the assets in bankruptcy court those funds would be split among all of the creditors and they would have taken a real risk. This plan has them assuming zero risk. The only obligation they are accepting is the obligation to deliver 25 prepaid MG's, the rest of their guaranteed pre-sales are profitable from the start, and they get all that Jpop'd vendor product and labor for free.

They are also REALLY stupid about the pinball market if they think 199 of these things will sell at that price. Actually, they aren't stupid. They know 199 wouldn't sell at that price. So they are basically hoping to force 199 pre-orderers to accept a shit-sandwich deal because they have them bent over a barrel. The price they know these games will work out profitably at is ~$10k, and they are basically trying to get an additional $8-10K out of every RAZA and AIW buyer by threatening them with getting nothing. It's more pre-order lock-in bullshit.

And honestly, they have zero pinball manufactuting experience as well, just "restructuring companies". In this environment, no one gets the benefit of the doubt anymore, as "Pinball is hard". Though, if this plan does work, they will have close to $2m in locked in pre-order payments to work with for that first run of 199, so they will have every advantage. But so did JPOP… And you know the new corporation will be set up right, so when you sue them in 4 years for non delivery of the game, everyone behind it will be protected and won't have to pay back a dime.

These aren't pinball fans. These aren't community members. Hell this isn't even risk takers. These are vultures.

Screw all of them.

#9362 4 years ago
Quoted from jackofdiamonds:

Does anybody really believe there is an investor?
Who is this licensee ?
This is a classic don't sue me move!!!
I smell shit

Several pinsiders have expressed first hand knowledge of who is behind this move. So he exists. Sure would be nice if they would show their face and explain to us how they aren't a vulture. I would love to hear that explanation.

#9388 4 years ago
Quoted from Purpledrilmonkey:

gweempose said:
Is it too late to take pdxmonkey up on his 50 cents on the dollar offer?

I believe JPOP is offering the same 2 conversion. Bring on a bidding war!

The difference is that JPOP is offering you his 50% in Certified JPOPBucks™ good towards the purchase of a machine by his new Mystery Friends®! If you claim it now, they might even tell you who they are!

Then Again, I am not convinced that PDXMonkey isn't one of the Mystery Friends®, so his offer might have been for JPOPBucks™ also. But, also, he is just buying MG spots, not RAZA/AIW spots. MG preowners are the only ones who don't have to pay any extra, and are at the very front of the line. So while everyone else is getting $14-16k MG standard editions, he would be getting an $8k MG LE at the very front of the line. Seems pretty shrewd, almost as shrewd as offering to take over a pinball company with zero risk and zero obligation to hundreds of buyers, vendors, and contractors that covered the first 4 years of development...

#9421 4 years ago
Quoted from RobT:

My least favorite part of the letter is how he threatens owners to take one of the new deals offered, otherwise you won't get shit!
This is the letter that StevenP helped him with??

Quoted from StevenP:

It's not vaporware and there is no cash crunch--far from it.

#10435 4 years ago
Quoted from iceman44:

Well then you might be surprised Rob. I believe getting the vendors made whole is part of Bill's plan.
He's putting significant $$ in up front to give us all a chance
The other option is he could steal it out of bankruptcy for nothing and tell us to go F ourselves
I told him that's exactly what he should do after reading some of the nonsense but he's not going to let the BS wear him down

I really don't understand any of this. Pintasia has already said that they are taking on zero of zidware's liabilities, yet they are trying to work out a credit deal for existing owners for the love of pinball. If they can do that for the love of pinball, why can't they do it for the JPOP'd vendors as well explicitly?

Also, why couldn't they do exactly all of that by bidding on the assets through bankruptcy court? At least that way, their "License Fee" would be split among the creditors and not go to JPOP, and they would be in the exact same situation where they owned zero of Zidware's liabilities. They could still offer credits and whatever for the love of pinball, they could have secret plans to repay vendors still, everything would look like it was above board.

That first offer looked like nothing more than financing the original 25 MG owners on the backs of screwed RAZA and AIW owners and JPOP'd vendors, with the hope of a profitable backend down the road. The 4 day deadline and 4 year don't sue clause in addition to it coming from JPOP's cheerful voice about his new paying gig just made the whole thing toxic. Some good changes have happened, but the reasoning behind it still seems confusing to me.

So I ask again. What is it about buying the assets through bankruptcy liquidation that would prevent them from doing something exactly like this "for the love of pinball? If it's a cheap as everyone keeps saying it is, they could probably still afford to work a plan for 1 credits if they wanted to, and JPOP wouldn't benefit or be involved anymore. How is that worse than the current "we own zero Zidware liabilities" scenario that might be undone by a single lawsuit anyway?

#10447 4 years ago
Quoted from iceman44:

Call him and he can explain it to you
Maybe you can convince him to do it your way

It would be inappropriate for a non-owner to call, and if you believe that disqualifies me from asking skeptical questions in this forum, then we'll have to agree to disagree. Lots of negative commentary by the uninvolved is unhelpful, but not all, and I feel my question is valid and hadn't been asked before. In times like these, I think we need less private conversations and asking to trust someone, and more public disclosure and scrutiny.

That being said, it is a very good sign that Bill and Pintasia are very open to personal and public communication. But JPOP was great about that too in the contract signing/money collecting stages. Public communication can be scrutinized, and that is a good thing.

1 week later
#12607 4 years ago
Quoted from TecumsehPlissken:

from what I understand the center swirly ramp will be for looks only in its NW show incarnation ..... they said its in there but no time for diverters to be installed & sorted out & they are not even sure yet how said ramp was supposed to function exactly

Holy cow. How can this be true? Were those hot glued foamcore and plastic ramps just for show? How could we get to this point without anyone ever shooting them? Isn't the whole point of doing things up in Nordmanite so that you can tweak it easily if the geometry isn't quite working? Hell PDXMonkey played it a mere few weeks before this thing went nuclear, and reportedly paid for the ramps to be made himself, so he had to have seen the concept working, right?

I gotta believe that this isn't true, because Pintasia is betting everything on this show. I'm not sure how anyone could flip it with the only ramp (and main central feature) blocked off and walk away with a good impression of the game beyond saying "it's pretty". That isn't going to save the project. You can evaluate a game with anemic code (see TBL, Woz at early shows, etc), but how do you even evaluate the basics of how a game shoots if one of the main features isn't shootable?

#12762 4 years ago

Man, I have been looking for a safe, secure place to store all these dong pics online. Guess I know a few people's inboxes where they will be totally secure, you know, because of ethics.

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