(Topic ID: 169477)

New Game Houdini? Just Announced by American Pinball.


By RickThorn

2 years ago



Topic Stats

  • 3,206 posts
  • 463 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by emkay
  • Topic is favorited by 74 Pinsiders

You

Linked Games

Topic Gallery

There have been 303 images uploaded to this topic. (View topic image gallery).

20170505_122504 (resized).jpg
20170506_201321 (resized).jpg
20170506_201325 (resized).jpg
20170506_201329 (resized).jpg
20170506_201334 (resized).jpg
20170506_201313 (resized).jpg
20170506_201339 (resized).jpg
20170506_172939 (resized).jpg
20170506_172921 (resized).jpg
tesla (resized).jpg
1m7dqw (resized).jpg
20170326_010217 (resized).jpg
20170326_010211 (resized).jpg
20170326_010205 (resized).jpg
20170326_010202 (resized).jpg
IMG_1099 (resized).JPG

Topic index (key posts)

10 key posts have been marked in this topic (Show topic index)

There are 3177 posts in this topic. You are on page 61 of 64.
#3001 2 years ago

Looks like possibly four speakers in the head. Two at the top and two at the bottom.

#3002 2 years ago

Someone posted a decent game play video. The video graphics and callouts are well done.

#3003 2 years ago
Quoted from emkay:

I sure hope one of these is at Allentown this year, looks fantastic!

It does! It was going to be between Elvira 3 and AFMr, but now Houdini is in the running. I hope it will be at Allentown as well….

#3004 2 years ago
Quoted from Mr68:

Looks like possibly four speakers in the head. Two at the top and two at the bottom.

Yes, no lower cabinet speaker pointing at the floor. Separates at the top of the head and two 4" acting as a cabinet speaker at the bottom of the head. Will use all four channels of my amp instead of just three.

#3005 2 years ago
Quoted from Mr68:

Looks like possibly four speakers in the head. Two at the top and two at the bottom.

You're correct in that's what it looked like in person

41
#3006 2 years ago

A few quick few answers, I'll read back through tomorrow for ones I may have missed.

We will certainly look at distributors on the other side of the pond. We just hired Jolly, the guy who will handle that, so he will start that process soon.

We will try to to take some good game footage in the next few of weeks. I'll try to some quick snippets of the toys in action sooner.

While not final, currently six speakers in the head, two on the bottom and four at the top, two on each side, one being a tweeter.

I want to thank all of you who came by the booth and played Houdini. Lines where long all day from start to finish and I know some folks never got to play. What amazed me was how many people came back and waited in lines multiple times to get to play it again, and that says a lot.

I really enjoyed talking with so many of you, which is really a big part of these shows. The feedback and reception was tremendous. It has been an amazing, crazy and exhausting four months, but seeing how everyone really enjoyed it makes it worthwhile.

Hopefull what I just wrote was coherent, haven't had more that five hours sleep any night in the last two weeks and last night only three, so a little punchy

I'll check back tomorrow to see what other questions get posted.

#3007 2 years ago

Who would have thought Houdini would be one of the highlights of TPF?

Game looks nice....Well done.

11
#3008 2 years ago

Played it at TPF. I think they will have no problem selling a lot of these. It looks good, shoots well, and seems well made.

We are living in a great time for pinball. Stern, JJP, Spooky, Heighway and now American Pinball and Chicago Gaming entering the market all with solid game offerings.

#3009 2 years ago

Yep, I will be on this while Stern sorts out all of their build/quality issues.

I really want an Aerosmith, but, from my perspective, Stern needs to address their issues publicly.

#3010 2 years ago
Quoted from rosh:

A few quick few answers, I'll read back through tomorrow for ones I may have missed.
We will certainly look at distributors on the other side of the pond. We just hired Jolly, the guy who will handle that, so he will start that process soon.
We will try to to take some good game footage in the next few of weeks. I'll try to some quick snippets of the toys in action sooner.
While not final, currently six speakers in the head, two on the bottom and four at the top, two on each side, one being a tweeter.
I want to thank all of you who came by the booth and played Houdini. Lines where long all day from start to finish and I know some folks never got to play. What amazed me was how many people came back and waited in lines multiple times to get to play it again, and that says a lot.
I really enjoyed talking with so many of you, which is really a big part of these shows. The feedback and reception was tremendous. It has been an amazing, crazy and exhausting four months, but seeing how everyone really enjoyed it makes it worthwhile.
Hopefull what I just wrote was coherent, haven't had more that five hours sleep any night in the last two weeks and last night only three, so a little punchy
I'll check back tomorrow to see what other questions get posted.

Rosh, will you be bringing one to MGC in April? Right in your back yard.

#3012 2 years ago

We are currently evaluating which shows we will be at and certainly looking at the ones that have been mentioned in this thread. MGC might be a touch too soon, but after we settle back in we will assess it.

#3013 2 years ago

Please come to Pintastic in Sturbridge, MA this July. I would love to be able to play this game.

#3014 2 years ago

I'm curious how close to locked are the games shown at TPF and what specific elements will or may change before production begins.

#3015 2 years ago
Quoted from blueberryjohnson:

I'm curious how close to locked are the games shown at TPF and what specific elements will or may change before production begins.

Balcer told me there were a few features he wants to add, but would not say anything about them, did not mention anything that would be removed. I know someone else mentioned the current chains were temporary and would be different but I think it was just cosmetic

#3016 2 years ago
Quoted from rosh:

We are currently evaluating which shows we will be at and certainly looking at the ones that have been mentioned in this thread. MGC might be a touch too soon, but after we settle back in we will assess it.

Thank you for taking the time to post from your Position, Rosh!

I wish nothing but the Best of Success!

Your Talent and Tenacity should result in a Superior Game!

#3017 2 years ago
Quoted from rosh:

We are currently evaluating which shows we will be at and certainly looking at the ones that have been mentioned in this thread. MGC might be a touch too soon, but after we settle back in we will assess it.

Hope you determine it as a YES after you evaluate. Happy to help if I can.

#3018 2 years ago
Quoted from rosh:

We are currently evaluating which shows we will be at and certainly looking at the ones that have been mentioned in this thread. MGC might be a touch too soon, but after we settle back in we will assess it.

MGC is in the "backyard", you guys need to be there with these.

#3019 2 years ago
Quoted from rosh:

We are currently evaluating which shows we will be at and certainly looking at the ones that have been mentioned in this thread. MGC might be a touch too soon, but after we settle back in we will assess it.

You've got to make it to IAAPA in Florida in November and Freeplay Florida convention is the weekend before so it makes a nice long week for a company showing off a game.
Stern and JJP do them yearly.

#3020 2 years ago
Quoted from blueberryjohnson:

I'm curious how close to locked are the games shown at TPF and what specific elements will or may change before production begins.

In their presentation they said there will be minor changes to artwork. In the booth one of the AP staff told me there will be minor tweaks to the shot geometry.

#3021 2 years ago
Quoted from oohlou:

We are living in a great time for pinball. Stern, JJP, Spooky, Heighway and now American Pinball and Chicago Gaming entering the market all with solid game offerings.

I wonder if one of them would like to buy a small Dutch company and finish building one of their games?

19
#3022 2 years ago

This was a really surprising game. I'd seen the game all weekend and just didn't want to stand in the long line to play it. Finally decided to invest the time this morning, and wow - glad I did. What a fun game and super fast! The inner loop super-tight shot feeding into the incredible ball launch was just too much fun. I don't like one ramp games, but this doesn't feel like its limited by the single ramp. The game played fast and smooth and the tight shots felt very rewarding when you nailed them.

I especially liked the "handwritten" mode explanations. When you start a mode, the game tells you exactly what you need to hit (in steps) to finish the mode. I found myself reading the sequence required, then keeping it rolling through my head as I tried to execute the shots. Its a really cool use of the display and makes it very clear what you need to do.

Lots of lanes and holes that you just happen upon as you play. This is really cool and fits the magic theme as the ball at times seems to disappear when you don't expect it. I also didn't expect the center-playfield magnets playing havoc with the ball. I nearly laughed out loud.

Houdini really felt polished and played very well. Sure flailing around gets you a clunk-fest, but hitting the shots is rewarding and fast. Loved it. Congratulations to American Pinball.

#3023 2 years ago

Wow... never min a million years would I have expected this would divert my attention from Alien... but boy has it ever...

#3024 2 years ago
Quoted from rosh:

We are currently evaluating which shows we will be at and certainly looking at the ones that have been mentioned in this thread. MGC might be a touch too soon, but after we settle back in we will assess it.

Please consider adding CAX and PAGG to that list. I'm pleasently surprised how well this came out.

Bonus kudos for shaking off the JPop stench.

#3025 2 years ago

The whole game looks much better than just the individual bits shown earlier, and I really want to try shooting that layout. I too like the display setup. Congrats on a good looking machine. Hope to catch one at a show soon!

#3026 2 years ago
Quoted from rosh:

We are currently evaluating which shows we will be at and certainly looking at the ones that have been mentioned in this thread. MGC might be a touch too soon, but after we settle back in we will assess it.

We'd love to have you at the Northwest Pinball & Arcade Show in Seattle in mid-June, it's our 10th show this year, we have a stellar speaker line up, 400+ games, love to debut new machines and we draw about 3,500 people.

#3027 2 years ago

I played the game all weekend in Texas. I actually like the game a lot. The layout is nice and the shots are fun and satisfying. Needs a few more toys for sure. Minimal code at this time. The cabinet is beautiful. Let's hope they can pull this together. They are not taking orders or deposits which is a good thing. I would not be comfortable paying anything upfront. They plan to sell only once the game is manufactured. May be tough to get. You will need to be at the right place at the right time.

#3028 2 years ago

The AP team really knocked it out of the park this weekend. It appears they are really taking feedback from the community seriously and producing a fantastic game.

18
#3029 2 years ago

Hmmm... snarky humor? In my Houdini? LOL

IMG_1099 (resized).JPG

#3030 2 years ago

Play better!

#3031 2 years ago

When I look at the backglass and see the elephant on the left, I think of Pinball Circus.
and BTW, that's a GOOD THING!!!

Very Very Impressive Looking Game!!! Can't wait to play one!!

Those Houdini eye inserts are downright spooky!!! Hard to not keep looking at those eyes watching you while playing I bet!!!

#3032 2 years ago

Congrats for your beautiful pinball !
Just wahouuuu !
some people was very lucky to played on it

When it will be possible to buy it and How ?
Distributors for Europeen Countries ?

I wish a lot of succes for you and your pinball ...

#3033 2 years ago

The glowing eyes are a bit creepy...but the pin looks great. Amazing what they have achieved in such a short period. Well done American Pinball!

#3034 2 years ago
Quoted from Jamaster10:

I have seen the development of this game over the last few months, and to have two shooting games built in less then a few weeks is epic. These guys spent 12-16 hours a day or more to get this ready for the TPF roll out. I have personally seen it from the start of the measurements, art work, design, and cad drawings ,on to the Toys from Back Alley Creations, Laser cut parts from laseriffic and others till now a flipping game. These guys hit this deep into center field over the wall with this one. Hats off to all involved @ American Pinball.
I was lucky enough to get to shoot this game for over 3 hours of testing and programming ( from Josh ) last Monday Evening, yes there are some tough shots on the game as well as easier ones, It's Pinball!, Tougher games aggravate you, make you a better player, and bring you back for more fun.
Pincades
Jesse T

Forgot to add a comment about the inverted reversed flipper mode is crazy!!!!! Nice job Rosh!

#3035 2 years ago
Quoted from PinSinner:

The glowing eyes are a bit creepy...but the pin looks great. Amazing what they have achieved in such a short period. Well done American Pinball!

I'm a fan of the LED eyes... reminds me of T2
Would be even cooler if they would change from blue to red or something in diff modes. But very happy they are there

#3036 2 years ago
Quoted from lllvjr:

I'm a fan of the LED eyes... reminds me of T2
Would be even cooler if they would change from blue to red or something in diff modes. But very happy they are there

Yeah, but they made sense on T2 because the terminator is a robot and has glowing eyes. Last I heard, Houdini was a human and his eyes didn't glow. Just nit picking. I can't wait to play it if one comes down under.

#3037 2 years ago

Looks cool, was there mention yet of who the distributors were going to be?

#3038 2 years ago

I thought it played really well but i only put up 2 games. Here are some pics i took
-Jeff

20170326_010202 (resized).jpg

20170326_010205 (resized).jpg

20170326_010211 (resized).jpg

20170326_010217 (resized).jpg

31
#3039 2 years ago

I took a self-imposed break from posting on here, but had to jump back in this thread when a few Pinsiders texted me pics from TPF this past weekend of Houdini.

I've been supporting American Pinball, and there were plenty of naysayers in the weeks leading up to TPF saying that they were a scam company, still associating them with Jpop, and saying that no way in hell would they have a playable Houdini at TPF. I'm glad all those people have now been punched in the balls. I think this game looks fantastic already and the art is great, and it still needs the code finished and some tweaks. The same people that bashed AP and the game, and said they wouldn't have one done by TPF seem to be the ones still bashing something (unfinished code, curtains not closing the way they would like, cab art, backbox shape, etc.) The same people that are the reason I took a break from posting.

I'd give a huge high-five and congrats to everyone at AP. Their persistence and perseverance is commendable. I love the backbox...it's different and unique. They kicked baggage that was holding them back, haven't asked for a dime from anyone and are probably out of pocket a ton of cheddar at this point, brought in a tremendous and competent staff, and showed up at TPF with two playable pins. I am beyond impressed. People can say whatever they want, but I'll definitely be grabbing a Houdini once they are out in the market.

#3040 2 years ago

Oh man, this game is beautiful! I do love the magic themes and will have to pick this up when available.

I'll be listing some games to have some cash ready for this beauty!

#3041 2 years ago
Quoted from blueberryjohnson:

I'm curious how close to locked are the games shown at TPF and what specific elements will or may change before production begins.

When I talked with Joe while playing the game he mentioned that the games didn't really get the Whitewood treatment and that what we saw was pretty much concept straight to prototype because of the accelerated schedule. My play impressions​ were that all the shots are able to be made, but with some shots easier than others. Joe said that the inner loop shot while tight, is in the position of a traditional ramp shot and that your playing instincts will help you learn it. I ended up getting one of the multiballs and the magnet effects were very fun with the amount of action they put on the balls returning back down the playfield. I think when you look at the art, cabinet, playfield, and backglass separately they feel a little awkward, but when you get them all together the full effect is seen and it becomes much more cohesive.

#3042 2 years ago

I previously posted a congrats and made a comment that I was disappointed with the backglass art. After watching more of the videos I have to say that the backglass theater concept is brilliant. I'm getting more excited by this title.

#3043 2 years ago

Absolutely Fantastic! Congratulations American Pinball on all of your hard work coming to fruition and being enjoyed by the whole fest! I reallllly regret not going to TPF now. Please let us know if you will be at Allentown or Pintastic. I've been waiting for a couple of years to find something that would inspire me enough to warrant spending the kind of money NIB pins go for. I thought it was going to be the Hobbit but I think I just found my 1st NIB purchase! Good luck with all of your production!

#3044 2 years ago

yes my congrats has to go out to them as well. They did the right thing and created a beautiful machine in such a short time. I hope it plays and is coded as good as it looks, if so I'm a buyer.....sucker for magic

#3045 2 years ago

It's definitely tempting, hope it all comes together.

#3046 2 years ago

This looks great to me as well have they given any idea of when they will start shipping

#3047 2 years ago

i think the backglass looks perfect for the theme.
backbox is so different that i'm affraid it's going to look weird in a line up.

other than that i think it can only get better.

#3048 2 years ago

So TPF is over and back at work, but had to add another comment about Houdini. It was the unexpected highlight of the show for me, great theme, great art, some nice humor, toys were intesting/fun and it played pretty well. The integration of theme to game play shows a lot of promise and the code/graphics aren't anywhere near complete yet. Sure some of the shots are tight, but there seemed to be so many things to do while you were playing it. It's always hard to judge a game by only a few plays, but it impressed me.

I was one of those people that came back multiple times to play and brought my son and wife too. They thought it was one of the best looking and 'neat' games that were being showed off. I enjoyed it each time I played it and liked all the little details. American Pinball pulled off a great feat getting it to TPF. If they keep going the way they are I have a feeling they will be rewarded with plenty of sales when they are ready.

#3049 2 years ago
Quoted from tron1969:

This looks great to me as well have they given any idea of when they will start shipping

They mentioned maybe by year end, but they are more interested in it being right than having a specific date yet.

97
#3050 2 years ago

Good morning all. This will likely be a very, long post, as I hope to catch folks up on all things Houdini. I figured one long post was better than trying to respond to each question/post individually. So, you may want to refill your cup of coffee before continuing on. (edit: having now finished typing this, it is really, really, really long, you may have for refill your coffee half way through, is there an award for longest post ever on pinside?, heck I wonder if it will even let me post this)).

The last four months have been a wild ride, and to be honest, not something I would ever repeat. Everyone here knows the history of AP and Houdini, well maybe not accurate history, but enough to understand the challenges the company faced after first revealing themselves in Vegas and then at EXPO, where there was already changes happening (e.g. the move to Balcer from jpop). That 'history' was certainly something I gave serious thought to and after a few conversations with AP, I then met with Joe individually to really talk about it and to get comfortable with where things were and where they were going. I then decided to take the leap and started work a few days before Thanksgiving. At that point Joe was still working on the very first drawing of the layout and was anxious to get feedback.

The concept of the Stage and the Trunk were in those first drawings, but the design of those changed quite a bit. A pattern of what goes on with Joe and I. I come up with crazy ideas and ask for stuff I want in the game, he tells me not going to happen, either for technical or money reasons. I gently keep pushing or adjusting my requests, and in one case, actually did a little model to show what I wanted. Then Joe ultimately figures it out how to make it work. Even two weeks or so before TPF, when we were finally assembling a game, he walked into my office and said 'the right subway trough is not going to be there for TPF'. I told him he better find a way, too much code would need to change, it was too critical to how things work, and in typical Joe fashion, thirty minutes later he walked back in says "don't worry about it, I figured it out" and then within a day he was able to get our vendor to re-make a part to resolve the issue.

And I guess that is a great segue to one of the big questions that keeps being asked 'how did you guys do this in four months'. And it was not just you guys asking that but many industry veterans were beyond shocked and wanted to know the same. Let me say this, Joe Balcer and Jim Thornton are amazing guys, and it has been an honor and a pleasure to work with them on this incredible journey. These guys know how to get things done (I really wish we had Jim sooner than we did, I don't think he started with us until February and if we had had him a month or two earlier, things we would have been less stressful and further along). They both have such great relationships with people in the industry. When something is needed, they know who to call and they have known these guys for years, who want to help them out, who genuinely want us to succeed. I was consistently amazed how on custom parts, how quickly vendors would show up at our offices with samples. Seemed every day vendors were coming in to drop things off. I'd also like to thank them all for doing such a great job of not sharing info on what they may have seen. I was surprised how well we could keep things under wraps, seemed there were a couple of leaks and we were not happy about that, but overall, I think we were able to keep things secret and we clearly surprised the world of pinball.

Of course the real reason the game was done in four months, is Joe, Jim and I put in the hours that would be equivalent to 7 months. 11 to 12 hour days, 6 days a week, morphed into 14 hour days, 7 days a week the last three to four weeks. We can all wear multiple hats, which was key to getting this done. We really wanted to make TPF and we set that has a challenge. No better way to reveal the game that had a major show. Many who know that was our goal thought we were crazy, but to paraphrase Jim Harbaugh, if folks are not laughing at your goals, then your goals are not big enough.

Speaking of wearing many hats, we are looking to expand the team. We are looking for an EE, ME and I believe a production manager. If you have interest, feel free to send your resume to joe@american-pinball.com.

A week or so before TPF our marketing guy put out we would have a game there. At that point, despite false reports here on pinside, we did not have a flipping game, no whitewood, no nothing. Needless to say I was not happy with the marketing guy. From the day I started, Joe and I agreed on a two things, first, we would not take a flashing box of lights to TPF, it was a flipping game or bust. Based on where things were at one point, we joked about bringing something that could flip and have no lights and no balls (as some of you know, we actually did forget to bring balls for the game). The second, we would do whatever we could to convince ownership that we should not do pre-orders or take deposits until games were going down the production line. Here we were a week or so before games would need to ship and we had not much more than a great looking empty cabinet, and an unwired playfield with a few mechs and flat rails on it. We did finally get a flipping machine with no lights, about 10 days before TPF, although a good chunk of each day it was being worked on as more switches were added, mechas etc. The game finally had lamps, last Monday, about 2AM, and the second machine, which was totally untested, was finished on Tuesday, while the truck was waiting to pick it up. Btw, thanks to Chris from kingpin games, who got our machines there for us, and patiently waited while we finished hooking things up and packing them up, etc. As some saw, we used black shrink wrap (no, it was not garbage bags), since we wanted to keep eyes off until the reveal. Was pretty cool, that Houdini traveled to TPF with Spooky's games (Jetsons, Rob Zombie) and JJPs Dialed In (there may have also been BM66), which I guess made that truck the United Nations of pinball. Good thing it got there.

Let me shift to some aspects of the game and the show. First, there was an 'alternative fact' in this or the other thread. Despite what someone said, the playfield was NEVER lifted during the show. Actually, Saturday night at around 1AM, Ed Robertson was playing and he somehow got the flipper button to come flying off the cabinet, we did lift the playfield up on the supports to put it back on, oh and Ben Heck was at the ready to peak inside -- yes Ben, I saw that . Having said that, we did take one of the machines off the floor twice. Once on Friday night, when we had a power supply issue, I guess that is what happens when you don't have time to test a machine, fortunately we had a spare and the machine was back on the floor later. That same machine was taken off the floor on Saturday to repair a bad switch in a VUK. It's return to the floor was slightly delayed as we gave a few vendors/friends a chance to play it before bringing it back on the floor. We did have to partially remove the glass a few times for ball traps. Both Saturday and Sunday morning when we got there, we had the glass off so we could clean the playfield, tweak a few things and test new code. We did push a few bits of code to try fix some things, like the display not properly showing scores for some players (although it would show them at end of game). There were a few other things we fixed, that probably nobody even noticed were wrong.

Although I have to laugh, that there was a bug that ever single player saw and not one person caught. As some did notice, among the end of ball bonus items was 'No Lighting Bolts Bonus' that was worth 1,000 points, and it turns out, these bonus point were not being added to players scores (although some could argue that not "delivering" the points was appropriate for the category (yes, I went there)). We also has an issue with the ball trough that sometimes led to a ball not getting put back into play, part code and part mechanical. Very frustrating to me, since if I had had the machine for another day or so, those issues with have been seen and addressed. But everyone was great about it and we even started doing some magic tricks when it happened to lighten the mood. We did have a handful of crashes, surprisingly few, but, as those who attended the seminar know, I apologized ahead of time As far as 'lighting bolts', there are none of those in the machine, nor will your find a 'Z', even in the 'spirit board' high score entry screen. The lack of a was not taken well by a particular parts guy with a Z in his name. It was pointed out, that even though you can see it, you can still enter it. So if you see a Z, its as not done by us Again, as a reminder, nothing that was done by John was kept, we started over from scratch, keeping nothing but the name.

BTW, the eyes do not 'glow' as bright as they do in the photos most have you seen, cameras seem to exaggerate it. For the most part the eyes remain a blue color, which was the color of Houdini's eyes. They do glow through a range of 'greens' when in seance mode. I may choose to turn them yellow and red as an indicator when a timer is getting close to expiring. Since i had no lamps until a week ago, there was no time to do fancy light shows and the like. Overall it seemed most folks like the eyes lighting up.

Early on when we were looking at ideas for the backglass, most of which featured Houdini (someone here posted that would be their preference), but when Joe and I saw the sketch with the stage, we really like that and how we could tie that in with the display. The idea of having parts of the curtain and the audience overlap the display we really liked. I did give our artist a lot of grief in Texas. When we had gotten the first rendition, I told him the heads were too high and blocking too much. He then changed that and it was much better. At some point he must have accidentally reverted to an earlier version and his big head is now too high, something we will adjust. It is a real backglass and I think it looks great when lighted (whether you like the art or not), it really has more richness then most translites.

As far as the art, like every machine ever made, some are going to love it and some are going to hate it. One of the challenges we had was taking a victorian era figure and making it into a pinball machine that needs some edge. it was our artist, Jeff Busch, who suggested going with a steampunk vibe. I was not all that familiar with steampunk, but after a one quick google, its was clear it was a perfect choice. We also asked our sound guy, Matt Kern, do incorporate the steampunk feel into the music. And I think the steampunk look also comes across in our display, most notably with the main score display that features turning gears and a 'flipping' style of the numbers.

One thing I've picked up on, is that there are very different relationships between designers and programers. Some designers have very strong feelings around the objectives and rules for their games and want to define and control those, some, it is the opposite, they want to focus on the design, geometry, etc and let the programmer figure out the rules, etc. In our case, it is the latter, Joe had the concept for the stage, and other than that had just a couple of 'demands' of the game, he expected me to handle the rest.

I did joke around quite a bit, that while we were building this machine, we had no chance to play it much before TPF and they were trusting that I knew what I was doing and could deliver. I know they were genuinely shocked as to how much of the rule set was implemented, it was far greater than what they had expected. I was pleased it was as stable as it was, since working with out the mechs and lamps is pretty challenging and it will be nice to finally have a machine to work with. At one point we were joking how I would only have six weeks with the machine and that would be challenging and then it was well, maybe a month, and when the joke became oh, well, 16 days, and at that point it was not so funny, ultimately it was less than a week, but, it was what it was and we did what we needed to to make it work.

Although this is an unlicensed theme, it is a very specific theme, e.g. not generic like 'fishing' or 'whitewater rafting', so in some ways it is the worst of both, you have a theme you have a responsibility to live up to and to be true to, but you don't have a pre-existing set of assets to really leverage. All of the sounds, callout, images, animations have to be done from scratch. Although I have always loved magic, like so many of you, and knew of Houdini, I did not really know the details of his life. I spent a lot of time researching and reading about him, so I could do him justice and keep to reality, vs what many have seen in the movies about him. I ultimately tried to create rules that would capture the different aspects of his life. As a result some of the prompts and screens are a little wordy, but we will work through that.

When i sat down to develop the rules, I first thought about the different types of players. At one end are novices, those who barely know what pinball is, but get a chance to play one, whether in a collectors home or on the street. These are folks who don't even realize pinball has rules, goals and objectives but I wanted to be sure they would have a fun experience. Then you have 'enthusiasts', who know rules and enjoy playing but are a little different then the third group, who are the hard core guys, focused on challenging shots, deep rules and lots of strategy. I then tried to create rules and features that would give each group enough to make them happy, not an easy task, but I feel I'm doing okay well with it.

Anyone who has seen the game, knows this is a shooters game, like many of Joe's games. It has challenging and some pretty tight shots. I will say, that after you play a few games, the shots are not as tight as they look. The tightest shot, the right inner loop, that can feed the catapult as well as start movie modes, is, as Terry from Pinball life immediately picked up on, right in the sweet spot of the flipper (where often is a ramp shot), so once you get over "freaking out" over how tight it is, you can start to make it. Saw plenty of players and obvious novices, hit it consistely. But they are tight shots, but at the same time, there are almost no posts in this game, and we do have what are very likely the thinnest stand-up targets ever used in a machine, there are not much thicker then a post, but they are targets and have value, so this gets back to my earlier comment, if you suck at pinball, and can't make shots, you are going to hit those targets and when you hit all six, which most will do, it lights up Seance Multiball, which uses three magnets under the playfield to create a really fun and surprising experience, that a novice will just love. The magnets sit one under each hand and one behind his head. It was great watching the surprise on folks faces when magnets kicked in and started doing crazy stuff.

The game will have more then enough depth for those who want it, and I feel confident that the guys who really like strategy and well as the challenge of making shots will be happy as well. So, a not so quick overview of the rules.

The goal is to spell HOUDINI, which will get you to the ultimate Magicians Mode, which is a seven ball MB (e.g. one for each letter). Earning a Houdini letter requires . . .

1) Scoring a jackpot on Seance Multiball, which Like Seance itself, is pretty easy to achieve without much skill, other then just keeping the balls in play long enough to hit the seance stand-up targets, off course once in multiball, you suddenly start making the shots, and not hitting the stand-ups.

2) secret missions. It is alleged Houdini was a spy, so we incorporated that with secret missions delivered via morse code (don't worry we translate for you). Secret missions are combo shots, you have one active at a time, and once it is completed, you can then hit the needed shot to start the next. The next shot needed in the combo is always brightly lit with a bright pink/purple indicator (color subject to change, now that we can actually see the colors), that will reset, once you hit a shot that ends the combo and puts you back to the start. At TPF this was a little harder then it should be, since I had yet to yet refine which switch hits could kill the combo and force you back to shot 1. Each combo gets a little harder, and you do have to restart the current mission on each ball, but something I may change. Complete all five and get a mini-magician mode.

3) Jail Escapes. One of the ways Houdini marketed/promoted himself was to have the local police chain, handcuff and throw him in a jail cell, from which he would escape. These jail escapes are now a set of five hurry ups. You spell escape via a set of stand-up targets, you then shoot the jail to start the hurry up, these start easy and get harder, and the values go up accordingly. After you have attempted all five, you go back through the ones you have not yet completed. Oh, each hurry up takes place in a different city and I did take a liberty in including London, even though the London police never allowed it, they did not want to be publicly embarrassed. Complete all five and you get a mini-magican mode.

4) The Main Stage -- this is where the primary modes get started. I have plans for 10 modes that start at the stage. These represent his most famous tricks, illusions and escapes. Four of the modes were available at TPF, including Straitjacket multiball. When I was thinking about what kind of a mode to do for straightjacket, it was clear from looking at him in one, that it has to be reversed flippers, since most folks play reversed by crossing their arms, just like in a straitjacket, But since it was him doing it dangling upside down from a rope that drew attention to his skill in doing so, I needed to incorporate that, and that is how my thinking evolved into given the player the choice between normal (reversed flippers), and 'hanging' which has both reverse and inverted flippers. I think everyone here knows what reversed flippers are, inverted is when the flippers are normally up, and you drop them down by hitting the flipper buttons, so you have to play it by holding the buttons in, and then releasing to shoot. I believe Epthegeek was the first to do this 'inverted flipper' thing, via one of his party modes on CCC, so I want to thank Eric for the idea, as it works so well with our theme. Since I've given Eric help with his projects, I felt okay 'borrowing' it from him. You need to start all 10 modes to get a letter (although chance I'll change that to only require a portion of them, but making doing the mall have value).

The main stage is opened by hitting the 'key target' once cleanly, through 'Key Lane', which is a shot through the bumpers, you can also open it by hitting that target a couple of times off the pops (which typically happens if you get a slow roller that exits the ramp half way). or you can just bang the front of the stage a few times to open it. The stage has a curtain that opens to the side, and once the ball is shot on to the stage, the curtain can close and we can make the ball disappear and even reappear. If you enter the stage via 'stage alley' a different shot through the pops than Key Lane, the illusion/escape at the stage will double in value. The two shots through the bumpers are things we will be tweaking, since they are not flowing as intended. I am not going to talk through all 10 modes, but i will say one will be a video mode, with such a nice display, how do we not do one (it was also one of just a few requests Joe had, and you got to keep the designer happy).

5) Movie modes -- Houdini has a star on the hollywood walk of fame, not for being an escape artist or illusionist but for being a movie star during the days of silent movies. Now I will say, that of the five movies he did, only one is worth watching and that is The Grim Game, which up until a few years ago it was thought lost, but Turner Classic Movies found a copy in a private collection and restored it. Anyhow, we will have a mode for each of his five movies, one of which was on the machine at TPF (although with really crappy temporary animations). that mode features 'Q the automaton', which was the first robot to ever appear in a motion picture. The term robot, did not yet exist, and came along about a year later. You need to 'experience' all five movies to earn a letter. I also plan a mini-magician mode associated with doing all five. Oh, you light movie modes by completing FILM at the flipper lanes.

6) Trunk Multiball -- Lock three balls in the trunk and off you go. Pretty basic rules within the multiball , but does include needing to get a ball back in the trunk to get the super jackpot. This is really the type of thing you would want to use to stack with other modes, since it is fed off that tight shot, so makes it easier to get a mode going before starting it (although then tricky to actually quickly hit the shot to start it). Trunk multiball does have a great feature relative to how you lock the lock balls in the trunk, which is done via a catapult that throws the ball over 20 inches in the air, with no wire form, etc. I have now seen it happen a couple of hundred times, and I still feel a thrill every time I see it. I don't think I saw it miss more than once at TPF. Watching the reaction of awe and disbelief when folks witnessed it was great. What is kind of cool is you first have to enable it, then a diverter feeds a vuk that feeds the catapult, which then opens the trunk before firing, so there is this great anticipation as the rube goldberg like sequence plays out. Sometimes the ball will lock, and sometimes it feeds a second catapult that will throw the ball back to the player via wireform, or in some modes, it will just hold it there for later use. If it would miss, it would just fall back into play and he lock would remain lit.

7) The magic shop -- this is your classic mystery award. Hit the spinner enough times and the shop opens, go inside to get your award, collect enough and get a Houdini letter.

One key feature not tied to a Houdini letter, is the 'milkcan multiplier'. The milkcan shot is a challenging shot to the lower left side, that is a small loop that feeds right back to the left inlane. A pretty cool shot. Shooting that and then immediately shooting the ramp, will advance the playfield multiplier up to as much as 4X. When making the shot, if you can hit the ramp quickly enough a second time, you can move up two levels off the one shot to the milkcan. There is a separate timer on screen to show how much time you have left at that multiplier level and there will be a way to add more time, but of course you can alway do the sequence again to move up a level. If you combing this 4x, with the 2x method of starting a mode, you can see how you can really generate big points.

oh, speaking of points, given the timeframe when Houdini lived, we felt lower scoring was in order. I decide that the BS of a digit that is never anything that zero and was done to make players feel like the were better than before, needed to go away for this machine, so this games brings back changes to that first digit (I know EM guys are rejoicing). I did have one person at TPF say they really like the zero, even though they understand it is meaningless, it is about relative scoring. I did joke that I would add an option to make it a zero, not change scoring, just take away up to the 9 points that digit could represent. Houdini scoring will be low, but, not as low as what was seen at TPF (although score would have been higher if more folks started modes at the stage). Now that I can play the game, I will be a in a better position to set the scoring and get it to the right levels and right balance. I actually change a few things during TPF. Regardless, scoring in the millions will be a considered a great score. I do plan to show you how your score ranked among the last 100 games played, so you will always have a good sense at the end of how you did. I already show how long your game actually was.

The game does have a subway, that has multiple entrance points, that then exits at the far right scoop. There is also a three ball lock on the left side. I believe there are eight places I can either hold or make a ball disappear, and the ball can come back into play from a few different places as well. Where the ball comes from is not easily predictable, and that is of course a big part of magic, the element of misdirection and surprise.

That is not quite everything, but that should answer the question about the depth and style of the game. I'd ask for thoughts, but not like I really need to ask, do I? I'm sure some of you are going to be drooling at the mouth and others are thinking "I'd rather just hit the same shot over and over again to get a multiball". So, like every other game, not everyone will love this game, but there will plenty who will.

Shows -- we want to get the machine out to shows. Joe and I talked quite a bit about that on our way home yesterday. Our goal is to get the game out to different parts of the country and we hope as we sign on distributors, that will be easier to make happen. As we figure this out, we will let you guys know. It was not something we have given a tremendous amount of thought and planning to, given what our priorities are.

Distributors -- we just signed on Jolly, the guy who will handle distribution. So, while I know many, many distributors are interested, we have not signed on any at this time and I can't speak to what the plans are. I had never met Jolly before, but I've heard from many sources, he is a great guy and is well know among distributors. We will not be selling direct, or taking pre-orders or pre-order money (obviously distributors may be taking deposits, etc when the time comes). However, if you want to been kept in the loop and get updates around that, you can to go our website (I've been told) to give us your info. We will certainly be looking at having distributors in different parts of the world. Houdini was known around the world, and we would like to see the whole word enjoy it. However, right now I anticipate there will be very little support for languages other than English.

Versions, there will be only one version of Houdini, but there could be a few optional 'add-on' features. I don't see how you can remove key features of the game to create a different model, but there is certainly some 'bling' things that not everyone wants, for example toppers, so I anticipate there would be a handful of optional add-ons -- but these are not things that change game play. We do not have any kind of a list of what these things might be. I have to say that one of the things that surprised me, was when I was frequently asked the question of how many models there would be, and when I responded 'one', that I then got the same response, pretty much every time, something along the lines of "thats great, I don't like this multiple model stuff". Having said all of this, it would not surprise me if down the road if we design a machine that is heard more towards operators than collectors.

Well, this post certainly turned out to be longer than I intended, but since I have been unable to share, well anything, up until now, I guess it turned in to a big brain dump, and I know <sarcasm>how most of you don't like getting all these kind of details and info </sarcasm>. Hopefully, I don't get into trouble with the boss. As you know, some manufactures no longer post on pinside. I hope to be able too, but obviously that relationship has to be one that works for both sides, so, keep that in mind.

Since I am spending the day, still in my pajamas, recovering, I should be able to check back for questions. Although I can probably wait an hour, since it will take the long to read this.

Again, thanks to our vendors and supporters, thanks to all of you who waited in long lines at TPF to play, thanks for all the feedback and thanks to the couple who actually asked me to autograph our flyer, that was certainly a first.

Rosh

Promoted items from the Pinside Marketplace
$ 32.25
Playfield - Toys/Add-ons
The MOD Couple
$ 25.00
Playfield - Decals
Flashinstinct
$ 6,995.00
Pinball Machine
Gulf Coast Pinball, LLC
There are 3177 posts in this topic. You are on page 61 of 64.

Hey there! Got a moment?

Great to see you're enjoying Pinside! Did you know Pinside is able to run thanks to donations from our visitors? Please donate to Pinside, support the site and get anext to your username to show for it! Donate to Pinside