(Topic ID: 130719)

Last non licensed original game


By Insane

4 years ago



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  • 99 posts
  • 54 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 4 years ago by mrgone
  • Topic is favorited by 3 Pinsiders

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    There are 99 posts in this topic. You are on page 2 of 2.
    #51 4 years ago
    Quoted from mof:

    If the first licensed theme is Wizard in 1975, how did pinball flourish all those years until then without licensed themes?

    Different market then. Things evolved and changed.

    LTG : )™

    #52 4 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    . A missed license (WWE) hurts, but an original game that gets ignored is probably way more painful.

    I actually wonder aboot that. Factoring in the noodling around phase maybe, but straight up same cost, I don't know (obviously I know nothing aboot development though). If they lost the Star Trek deal, and had the design worked out, how hard would it be to say "Ok this is High Speed 3 now, work it out?"

    #53 4 years ago
    Quoted from mof:

    If the first licensed theme is Wizard in 1975, how did pinball flourish all those years until then without licensed themes?
    The horror...
    -mof

    Wizard!
    You were close though.

    #54 4 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    I would be interested in a new non licensed western theme. Not so much a goofy one like CC, but real blood and guts like the early west was. They could do so much with that.

    I bet Rockstar Games would give Stern the license for Red Dead Redemption 2 for free if they asked them nicely since the game is being released this Fall/Winter! Rockstar spends so much money on advertising (billboards everywhere)and having a pinball machine would give them even more publicity.

    #55 4 years ago
    Quoted from mof:

    What was the first licensed theme?
    -mof

    I don't believe there was an actual license, but one of the earliest games was based on humor magazine of the same name: 'Ballyhoo'

    #56 4 years ago

    I think technically the last unlicensed game is Stern's Grand Prix (2005), which was the version of Nascar for the non-US market.

    #57 4 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    The real reality is that themes are themes. Some are great, some suck.

    minstrelman.jpg

    #58 4 years ago

    Would KISS LE sold out as fast as it did if it were unlicensed?

    #59 4 years ago

    Minstrel Man is cool.

    #60 4 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    Mystic [... is a] Beautiful game, I love it. But if you made a modern title with the same art you'd have to have so much more. Callouts. Characters. Animations. Tons more music and sounds. We have a lot of expectations now. And that all has to be created from scratch. There's no license to give you assets, ideas, and frameworks.

    That's a very good point, and something I think gets lost when people cite the "unlicensed era" - it's easy-ish to just draw some pretty pictures, plink a captivating bleep-bloop palette, and be done. When I imagine how Whirlwind might have looked if made in the DMD era, I'm not sure if the dots and animations I see in my head would translate well or not. And finding out if they would, takes talent and time!

    But, counterpoint: it can indeed be done! Games like MM and AFM have a cast of unique original characters all their own which are approachable and ultimately memorable even when they're first unknown. Sure, they play off stereotypes and well-known tropes which make them familiar from the onset. But even aside from that, they have music and dots which are fully cohesive - so originality is not impossible. And while you keep attesting to the challenge of distilling a known toolkit of licensed assets into the pinball formfactor, and I don't doubt you in the least, I surmise from a technical aspect, an original work would not be any more difficult. Licenses give you limits; originals give you freedom. Both have boundaries.

    The trick is creating an original work that feels familiar. As stated, MM and AFM are perfect examples of this. But even games like FH and WW, you can walk up and get an idea for what they're about: everyone knows about storms and carnivals. The execution gives those games a life and character all their own.

    Spooky followed the same path, using the "haunted ____" trope. It has a few excusable weak points but it's a noble step in the right direction, and fantastic for a new builder. It takes time to put the whole package together, and it's a risk. But it's not impossible.

    Also, remember this: every good license, was "original" once, somewhere.

    #61 4 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    Minstrel Man is cool.

    Not a bad game at all.

    #62 4 years ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    Not a bad game at all.

    First game with dropping targets I believe.

    #63 4 years ago

    I mean its really no different then anything else lately, How many of the recent movies are either sequels, or reboots. its a known commodity so the people plunking down the money will spend to see it. I mean look at Stern KISS. how long was it actually announced before it was for sale, I don't think very long. So maybe with an original, you might have to "sell" it longer before its available. Get people to buy into the idea of it. With a licensed theme, you really don't need that buy in period. But there are some great designers out there, that just having their name attached to a new game helps sell it to pinheads and possibly route owners (with a major manufacturer behind it). Hey XXX is designing this, he made say Creature from the black lagoon, or Circus Voltare. remember how much money you made on those...

    #64 4 years ago
    Quoted from Insane:

    Hey XXX is designing this, he made say Creature from the Black Lagoon, or Circus Voltare. remember how much money you made on those...

    I'm not so sure Circus Voltaire is too good an example to use here.

    #65 4 years ago
    Quoted from Insane:

    Circus Voltare

    Williams couldn't sell them. Closed them out. Dirt cheap if you bought a few.

    LTG : )™

    #66 4 years ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    I actually wonder aboot that. Factoring in the noodling around phase maybe, but straight up same cost, I don't know (obviously I know nothing aboot development though). If they lost the Star Trek deal, and had the design worked out, how hard would it be to say "Ok this is High Speed 3 now, work it out?"

    Apologies, I think I stated my point in an unclear way. I meant if the game was a market failure.

    Let's just say that WWE is a flop. We don't actually know that, but it does seem that way. Stern is out whatever up front money they gave WWE. And obviously all the design time etc. But in this case WWE provided the artwork (I think Stern actually said WWE did all the design for the cabinet and translite art in house actually, so more than provide assets). All the callouts and video (on the LE) and setups were there for the taking.

    Now obviously they don't want it to flop. But if that's the case it's not a HUGE waste of resources.

    Counter that with developing an original theme. Lots of time spent brainstorming, sketching, figuring out how it's going to work. Who are the protagonists? What does the game look like? Sound like. Blah blah. It's exciting work, it's the kind of thing I love doing. But it take a lot of time. And if the game flops you're out the same stuff as WWE, design time, parts, etc. But you're also having to flush all that time developing the theme from scratch. It's a bigger risk.

    That's not even taking into consideration the name recognition factor. Let's face it, Kiss LE sold out so fast because it's Kiss. People were ready with cash before they played it. An original game will struggle to meet that same kind of demand.

    I brought up Mystic earlier. Here's a great quote about that game:

    At the 2004 Texas Pinball Festival, O'Connor stated he got the idea for the artwork for this game, delivered to him as a blank whitewood, because he was interested in and dabbling with magic at the time.

    They just designed a cool layout, handed it to the artist, and said "make it look cool". You could get away with that back then. Games are too complicated now to pull off that same stunt.

    #67 4 years ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    Williams couldn't sell them. Closed them out. Dirt cheap if you bought a few.
    LTG : )™

    I believe they were $1300.00 at Expo that year. There were at least 6 NIB.

    #68 4 years ago
    Quoted from DennisDodel:

    I believe they were $1300.00 at Expo that year. There were at least 6 NIB.

    Wow...just Wow

    #69 4 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    I think licensing is choking the creativity out of pinball, it's full of too many compromises. Companies are more strict about what they'll allow now, brand management has changed since the 90s.

    I'm curious, Aurich. You owned a Stern Star Trek. Do you believe Paramount was overly strict with the license on that?

    They not only provided tons of audio lifts, they also approved all of the custom dots (including the racy, fun Match dots). They also approved all of Karl Urban's custom speech, including funny, goofy stuff like "Dammit, I'm a doctor not a pinball Wizard!" I think Paramount was quite generous.

    Same goes for Metallica, AC/DC, KISS.

    I'm not seeing a lot of compromises from the licenser lately....at least not on Stern titles.

    JJP apparently got rebuked on many of their Hobbit animations. I guess you could make an argument for Peter Jackson being too controlling....

    #70 4 years ago

    I love that mmr has 1,000 LEs. It's like when you go to Walmart and every dvd says it's a special collector's edition.

    #71 4 years ago
    Quoted from Captain_Kirk:

    I'm curious, Aurich. You owned a Stern Star Trek. Do you believe Paramount was overly strict with the license on that?

    Yeah, the art on Star Trek is blaaaahhh. Nothing worse than actor headshots all over the place, no thanks. Whole reason I made a new art package, I didn't want to stare at them. I love Greg Freres, designed some of my favorite pinball art packages, but Star Trek was a whiff. Licensed PR shots, lazy bevel/emboss grid, just not a looker at all, outside of the awesome light show. Premium/LE lighting was great. He was just getting his feet under him, and had to do 3 game packages, so I think he gets a pass. You'll notice that since he got settled there are a lot less differences between the art packs. Look at Kiss! Walking Dead Pro/LE used the same art for the translite/backglass, just tweaked.

    Karl Urban voice recordings was a good idea in theory, not the license fault it failed.

    As for the bands ... ACDC is unlovely at best. I own one, but not for the looks. I actually do like the stock Premium translite, I haven't swapped mine out for Helen. I really made that for other people though, I didn't even own the game when I did it.

    Metallica and Kiss are excellent examples of how having a license with more freedom helps. Metallica especially. Kiss is pretty predicable. Giant Gene head, reprise of the old art (though it's a clever nod, I give Stern credit for it). But Metallica has original ideas. Sparky is a great toy, has a ton of personality. Sure, it's just an opto bash, but he talks back to you, he animates when you fry him, and he has awesome DMD animations all over the place. Battery CIU for example.

    I haven't seen even a sneak peek of the Rob Zombie art yet, but I'm confident it's going to be awesome. It's a great license really, it's why I pitched the Rob Zombie idea a while ago. Lot of good art opportunities, and I'm hoping his callouts will rule.

    #73 4 years ago

    Lexy LightSpeed, Escape from Earth?

    #74 4 years ago
    Quoted from o-din:

    I'm not so sure Circus Voltaire is too good an example to use here.

    Sorry, was sitting at work, and that was one that came to mind.

    #75 4 years ago

    Maybe the designer of that one is looking for work?

    #76 4 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    Yeah, the art on Star Trek is blaaaahhh. Nothing worse than actor headshots all over the place, no thanks.

    Premium only has actors on the translite, and that will be replaced with yours soon.

    Quoted from Aurich:

    I love Greg Freres, designed some of my favorite pinball art packages, but Star Trek was a whiff. Licensed PR shots, lazy bevel/emboss grid, just not a looker at all, outside of the awesome light show. Premium/LE lighting was great. He was just getting his feet under him, and had to do 3 game packages, so I think he gets a pass. You'll notice that since he got settled there are a lot less differences between the art packs. Look at Kiss! Walking Dead Pro/LE used the same art for the translite/backglass, just tweaked.

    None of that is Paramount's fault. I don't see this as a problem with licensed themes, or corporations putting the "shackles" on the designers.

    Quoted from Aurich:

    Y
    Karl Urban voice recordings was a good idea in theory, not the license fault it failed.

    I don't think his call-outs are a failure. They sounded odd when I first watched videos of them, but they are completely natural now. Most people that play my game laugh (in the good way) at his call-outs.

    I'm just having trouble seeing where a licensed pin is being squashed by corporate policy. Except maybe Peter Jackson and the Hobbit.

    #77 4 years ago

    Unfortunately there are only a dozen or so jobs for someone with such a highly specialized skill set, or so I hear.

    Edit: o-din's post did not quote.

    #78 4 years ago

    Stern are incapable of making a profitable original theme for two reasons:
    1. They don't innovate, and
    2. They don't finish the code before they ship.

    As Aurich said, pinball machines need something to attract players, and a licence is the easiest way to do it. Another way to get people's attention is to give the game new and interesting features- imagine WOZ as an original theme. The LCD screen, colour changing LEDs, outlane features etc would sell the game. Stern's games have few obvious features that weren't around twenty years ago. Even new Sterns don't have anything that screams "This is a modern, innovative game!".

    Then there's code. Play a couple of games of Medieval Madness and you quickly get an understanding of what's going on. Even though the characters and concept are unfamiliar the point of the game quickly becomes obvious- because the code is complete. If some modes didn't work, callouts and animations were missing, scoring was unbalanced etc, location players would soon walk away in confusion, and collectors would be reluctant to buy an incomprehensible game. Hopefully JJP will be smart enough to only ship Pat Lawlor's game when it's actually finished.

    #79 4 years ago

    Alvin G.
    Didn't have licensed themes ?
    & what happened ?

    #80 4 years ago

    For anyone who's interested, I did a fairly loose analysis of whether licensed titles did better than unlicensed ones in the 1990s here:

    http://pavlovpinball.com/does-pinball-licencing-work/

    If you take out the Addams Family, which is a bit of an outlier in terms of the number of units made, the results are quite surprising. (Things have obviously changed since the 1990s, but it's still interesting though I say so myself...

    #81 4 years ago
    Quoted from mfresh:

    For anyone who's interested, I did a fairly loose analysis of whether licensed titles did better than unlicensed ones in the 1990s here:
    http://pavlovpinball.com/does-pinball-licencing-work/
    If you take out the Addams Family, which is a bit of an outlier in terms of the number of units made, the results are quite surprising. (Things have obviously changed since the 1990s, but it's still interesting though I say so myself...

    Great article...lots of good points.

    #82 4 years ago

    Wait.... Didn't we buy all these games based on theme alone and sell out Stern in a matter of a couple day in some instances
    Transformers (sold like hot cakes)
    TRON
    TWD
    Star Trek
    Kiss
    Metallica
    ACDC

    Others
    WOZ
    Predator
    Hobbit

    let's be real
    TRON is a big hit, but if it was the exact same game, but titled Arnies Arcade, and the artwork changed, and you collected tokens instead of light cycles......it would not have sold out or reran.

    Transformers.....Change to Go bots....still licensed never would have sold out so quick

    Why didn't Mustang sell out? Don't blame it on game play.....most sell out based on theme, those theme didn't stick

    #83 4 years ago
    Quoted from mfresh:

    For anyone who's interested, I did a fairly loose analysis of whether licensed titles did better than unlicensed ones in the 1990s here:
    http://pavlovpinball.com/does-pinball-licencing-work/
    If you take out the Addams Family, which is a bit of an outlier in terms of the number of units made, the results are quite surprising. (Things have obviously changed since the 1990s, but it's still interesting though I say so myself...

    Nice work ...I especially appreciate how you were able to write an article, and raise a few points without telling us what WE want. Remarkable.

    -mof

    #84 4 years ago

    I don't think it has been mentioned, but one advantage of the licensed theme, is that you have a huge jump start on assets to work with from day one. Whether it is music, call outs, sounds, art or animation, there is source material to draw from, on an unlicensed theme you are starting with nothing. Obviously that provides its own advantages relative to not be artificially constrained or influenced, but the value of the assets compared to the cost of the license (which is far less than one most people think), is a huge benefit, on top of all of the pre-sales, etc. that have been discussed.

    #85 4 years ago
    Quoted from erak:

    The actual last unlicenced mass produced game was Revenge From Mars. 6878 made.
    But there is MMr, 1000 LE units. And the possibility of more.

    Sorry, but MMr is a licensed theme. MM was an unlicensed theme from Williams, PPS had to get the license from Williams to make MMr.

    #86 4 years ago
    Quoted from Taxman:

    Sorry, but MMr is a licensed theme. MM was an unlicensed theme from Williams, PPS had to get the license from Williams to make MMr.

    LOL, sure -- but for the sake of this discussion it is NOT a licensed theme. It was not an idea/brand licensed from a (Movie, Band, or TV show.)
    -mof

    #87 4 years ago
    Quoted from mof:

    LOL, sure -- but for the sake of this discussion it is NOT a licensed theme. It was not an idea/brand licensed from a (Movie, Band, or TV show.)
    -mof

    I disagree. When PPS decided to remake MM it had already gotten name recognition. It was considered one of the best if not the best pinball machine of all time. When MM was released it meant nothing. What is the purpose of buying a license? You're paying for something known that people could relate to.

    #88 4 years ago
    Quoted from rosh:

    I don't think it has been mentioned, but one advantage of the licensed theme, is that you have a huge jump start on assets to work with from day one. Whether it is music, call outs, sounds, art or animation, there is source material to draw from, on an unlicensed theme you are starting with nothing.

    No one reads my wall of text posts.

    Dead on though, it's really a huge factor. It's ultimately cheaper/faster to license a ready made theme package vs rolling your own.

    #89 4 years ago
    Quoted from Aurich:

    It's ultimately cheaper/faster to license a ready made theme package vs rolling your own.

    The reason for the dumbing down of America.

    The lazy make the quick buck method of "Creating something"

    Put a good spook house themed pin against any License and ask if the average person waking by couldn't relate to it.

    Nah we all want to be spoon fed as what should be made ,How it should look ,How it should sound etc

    I also believe a licensed theme can backfire from across a Location floor as if you don't like the particular license you won't go near the machine as you already have an opinion due to the license. Star Wars Ugh I hate that movie!

    A non-licensed machine will make a person at least walk over to the machine just out of curiosity if nothing else.

    If the back glass is inviting enough Themed or Licensed it will draw you over and thats the idea.

    An example being (for arguments sake) Across a room there are 3 pins with backglasses visible WWE, Ford Mustang and Magic Girl.

    Which would make you come over to look ? Which would be a curiosity both to Men and Women? Which theme is the greater?

    The bottom line is that its gameplay that will keep you there.

    Think Im talking out of my A_ ?

    At Modern I would say that most games first chosen by first time players are NOT licensed machine.

    They come to play a Pinball machine with a Pinball machine created title that can only be found on that particular machine giving it is own personality from the beginning.

    If I can talk the owners into having an exit poll I think we can find out for sure

    Aurich I used your quote my post wasn't towards you its towards the modern American work ethic.

    #90 4 years ago
    Quoted from Chuck_Sherman:

    Stern tried to make unlicensed games, Bally didn't approve
    Well, the circuit boards anyway

    I see what you did there lol

    #91 4 years ago
    Quoted from Eddie:

    ...
    An example being (for arguments sake) Across a room there are 3 pins with backglasses visible WWE, Ford Mustang and Magic Girl.
    ...

    Trick question. There is no Magic Girl

    #92 4 years ago
    Quoted from Taxman:

    Trick question. There is no Magic Girl

    Yes there is.. Although in very rough prototype form. I've seen it.

    #93 4 years ago
    Quoted from Circus_Animal:

    Stern are incapable of making a profitable original theme for two reasons:
    1. They don't innovate

    Yup. No innovation on SAM or SPIKE systems.

    #94 4 years ago

    Cost reduction != innovate

    It doesn't take 20 years to come up with Ethernet based addressing on io boards etc. stern didn't do it to be innovative... But it certainly is better than the systems that were effectively designed in 1978 and only slightly modified up to 1998. All companies used/borrowed the same architecture

    #95 4 years ago
    Quoted from Brehon:

    Alvin G.
    Didn't have licensed themes ?
    & what happened ?

    Sadly, even with the best licenses they wouldn't have gotten much farther. They existed in times where there were still plenty of unlicensed games selling WAY more units than their games, so that certainly wasn't the sole cause of their downfall. Alvin G's biggest problems were having their parts vendors and distributors being bullied big time by Williams.

    Williams even saw potential in what would've been their next unlicensed title: Slam-N-Jam. They bought the rights to it very quickly when Alvin G closed up. Granted, they never ended up making it themselves, but they apparently thought that it could be a money maker in their hands if it did go into production....

    #96 4 years ago
    Quoted from Eddie:

    I also believe a licensed theme can backfire from across a Location floor as if you don't like the particular license you won't go near the machine as you already have an opinion due to the license. Star Wars Ugh I hate that movie!
    A non-licensed machine will make a person at least walk over to the machine just out of curiosity if nothing else.
    If the back glass is inviting enough Themed or Licensed it will draw you over and thats the idea.

    Hah, that's a GREAT point: speaking from my own experience and perspective as a relative newbie, I didn't even think to cite it. When I downloaded an eye-patch version of Pinball Arcade to sample all the tables for comparison, and feel out different game designs and concepts, you know which ones I played first? The ones I never heard of outside that cloistered pinball universe: original themes! The last ones I played were licensed, and in fact I still don't think I've played Terminator.

    Same in real life: at the Louisville Expo this year I never lined up for Last Action Hero, Starship Troopers, or (again, oops) Terminator. At Zanzibar in Louisville, the very last machine I tried was Walking Dead... I even tried Champion Pub first despite previously learning it in the app and hearing it's a dud in real life (which I found to be true FWIW). Also tried RFM. And replayed MM and AFM... all before giving Walking Dead a shot.

    Even the first time I sampled a home arcade, which ultimately spawned this pin adventure, it was the same: "Addams Family? Meh, saw the movie 20 years ago. NASCAR sucks now. Hmm... what heck is Funhouse, that seems interesting...."

    Now maybe I'm an outlier: my thinking is, given a selection of pins, I'll gravitate to experience the unique properties only available in pinball, before rehashing something I've seen elsewhere in another medium. And if a movie or band or whatever has no appeal to me, it'll be a tough sell to get me to pay to try it out.

    That said, I don't mind being proven wrong: I don't much care for AC/DC and so that was one of the last pins I tried at Louisville Expo... only to wish I'd done so earlier And when I finally tried The Walking Dead, I ended up GC'ing it! But I think the "wisdom" that "people need a license to coax a try-out from them" is flawed.

    #97 4 years ago

    Lots of valid points both ways. I agree that a known commodity gives you a leg up on the starting point. But i also think that like hollywood, NO-ONE is making anything new/original. Not that i don't love the avengers movies, and will go see the next Star Wars and James Bond. Its also nice to see a new idea occasionally.

    #98 4 years ago
    Quoted from Captain_Kirk:

    Yup. No innovation on SAM or SPIKE systems.

    The average person walking past a pinball machine neither knows nor cares what's in the backbox. I'm talking about innovative gameplay features that actually get people's attention and make them want to play the game. Stern has done virtually nothing in this area in the last 15 years.

    #99 4 years ago

    The short answer to the question of why no original themed games any more.
    Today, too many people can not think for themselves. They need to be told what to like and what is cool. Flame away kids. You know I'm right.

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