(Topic ID: 234666)

Phoenix Retheme Project --- The Black Hole

By oliviarium

4 years ago

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  • 52 posts
  • 26 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 1 year ago by oliviarium
  • Topic is favorited by 23 Pinsiders


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There are 52 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
#1 4 years ago


In December of 2017, Kaydee and I added our first pinball machine to our collection of 37 arcade games, and we were hooked pretty quickly. Since then our pin collection has grown to 11, including a restoration of what probably should have been a parts machine Blackout. We are pretty good at fixing monitors and power supplies and the other things that go wrong on arcade machines, and were initially a bit intimated by the prospects of keeping pinball machines running, but once we got over that and jumped in head first -- we got over the initial unfounded worries and its just been growing.

Once we knew we could get a dead and neglected machine up and running -- of course we started thinking of making our own. Doesn't everybody?

The Candidate:

In March of 2018, we traded some monitor repair work for a Phoenix project. This game was in bad shape:
* No backbox - we had the light board, looking at the displays, we'd be lucky if one of them was in working order
* Incomplete boardset
* Harness had been cut off of the playfield
* Cabinet was warped such that the plunger could not be used
* Warped plastics

Restoring this machine would have likely cost many times what a Phoenix would cost on the open market -- and it really wasn't one we'd pick if we were out to add to our collection. So we chose a different path that would cost many times what a Phoenix would cost on the open market -- a total retheme with new software, hardware, and artwork!

The Theme:

Kaydee loved the movie "The Black Hole" as a kid and came up with that idea almost immediately, and we ran with it!

The Guts:

We went with the P3Roc boards from metamorphic and the Mission Pinball framework for software.

Where we are now:

As we await some final powdercoated pieces (which we expect today) and our translite (which USPS said we'd have 3 days go), we are ready to put the machine back together to start in-game playtesting of the "0.71 pre-alpha" version of our code. The code as it currently exists is a fully playable game with a reasonably coherent ruleset and 7 modes. I'll talk more about this in subsequent posts to this thread.

The Schedule:

We will be on our 0.8 alpha code by Saturday, February 23rd, when we host the Phoenix Belles and Chimes February event in our home arcade (Outpost Kodelia), which will feature a side tournament on our new machine! As a side note -- after the tournament, we'll keep the doors (to our home) open for an open arcade party -- any fellow collectors and enthusiasts are welcome to attend. PM me for details.

We will use data we collect from that for our next iteration, the plan is to have the machine at Starfighters (our local retro arcade) in April for a weekend, then our final 1.0 version of the code ready for May and the Zapcon show in Mesa, AZ.

I've included some of our "what we started with" photos here, and will be adding much more detail to this thread later today and over the weekend. Over the next few weeks we'll be sharing much more information about the game, typically on our Outpost Kodelia facebook page, but I will keep things updated here as well.

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#2 4 years ago

So, of course, the plastics were all warped, the inserts were all cupped... the playfield art wasn't horrible but in certain areas had certainly seen better days. We tore it all down, and took a rough scan of the playfield we could use for the MPF monitor in development of the code.

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#3 4 years ago

We wanted color changing LEDs for all of the lighting, including the GI, which meant different inserts. And wiring. So much wiring. Pretty sure we crimped over 1,000 wire ends before it was all said and done.

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#4 4 years ago

The guides for the drop targets were in bad shape -- also we wanted to be able to change the color of the lights in the pop bumpers. 3D Printing ensues. We've shared these designs on Thingverse.

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#5 4 years ago

We are both pretty good at dealing with hardware and software -- less good at artwork. So we came with with a strategy -- grab source from the movie, apply some "comic-bookish" type filters, and away we go. We used this technique extensively for the playfield art and the plastics.

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#6 4 years ago

Base colors applied to the sanded & initial cleared playfield with the airbrush and fisket technique....

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#7 4 years ago

...playfield art with waterslide decals, as per the limitations of our artistic skill set Note that we did correct the pixalization of the insert decals before final printing!

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#8 4 years ago

We were able to borrow a set of non-warped repro plastics to make our new ones -- reverse printed waterslide decals for the win!

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#9 4 years ago

Our fully assembled playfield!

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#10 4 years ago

We obtained a Bally Playboy cabinet, empty, that had been restenciled, in purple for some reason, which we adapted to take our playfield, and modified the backbox to hold our speakers and LCD.

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#11 4 years ago

I'll be sharing much more later -- and probably going back to edit some of these posts with more detail, as well as some shout outs to those who helped us along the way, either directly or with various guides here. I'll also talk more about the gameplay and share some gameplay video in the coming weeks.

#12 4 years ago

Let me just say that is a gorgeous-looking build!

#13 4 years ago

Yup... this is way cool!

#14 4 years ago

Love that movie! Can't wait to see this thing in action.

I feel like you should make the speakers look like VINCENTs eyes!

#15 4 years ago

Wow. Very cool. I hope to get a chance to see it someday. Great job

#16 4 years ago

I too have a Phoenix in about the same condition (although complete and playable) for which I've been contemplating a re-theme for some time. What you have accomplished so far is awesome and I find your design ideas and simple workarounds very inspiring! Definitely looking forward to your project updates! Congrats and thanks for sharing!

#17 4 years ago

Well, what a fitting end to such a phoenix. True definition of the term!
Fantastic work, can't wait for more posts.

#18 4 years ago

Take this to TPF........please!

#19 4 years ago


#20 4 years ago

Wow, that looks great! It's a lot of work putting a game together like that, even starting with an existing playfield.

#21 4 years ago

Looks great! Hope to see it at a show.

#22 4 years ago

That's awesome! Love what how you tackled the artwork.

#23 4 years ago

Very nice!

#25 4 years ago

Powder coating of the coin door, side rails, lockbar, apron and shooter lane cover are complete. Still some graphics to add, but really happy with how they came out!

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#26 4 years ago

Amazing, love the theme....

#27 4 years ago

This is awesome!

#28 4 years ago

Thanks for sharing, that looks fantastic. I was wondering if you clearcoated over the playfield, and if not, aren't you concerned that the waterslide images will get damaged ?

#29 4 years ago

As you can tell from my avatar image, I'm all over this build! Subscribed!

I've always loved the Black Hole and have been waiting for years to hear that they're going to let Joseph Kosinski do a re-imagining of it. I thought for sure he was lobbying for it in Tron: Legacy when he showed it in Sam's house (18 seconds in:


#30 4 years ago
Quoted from GPinballer:

Thanks for sharing, that looks fantastic. I was wondering if you clearcoated over the playfield, and if not, aren't you concerned that the waterslide images will get damaged ?

Yes, the playfield was clearcoated and polished. The waterslide decals would likely be destroyed without that pretty quickly!

#31 4 years ago

Working on the backbox lighting -- but the translite is finally here!

Not the best photo in the world, but it'll show much nicer once its lit up!

It should have been here a week ago. Then the USPS tracking just stopped giving a date. I called them today. They opened a case. Then the local post office called me to say "well we see the same thing you do, its in transit". Sure it was. Funny thing, 90 minutes after I called, it went from "in transit" to "arrived at post office" with a delivery date of tomorrow. 90 minutes after that, it was at my doorstep. Tube must have rolled under a bin or something

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#32 4 years ago

Our initial pass at a ruleset is fully implemented at this time. The basic gameplay loop is to start a scene, do what it tells you to do/hit the lit shots, get points, qualify the next scene, do what it tells you for more points, keep doing this until you have qualified and are ready to tackle the last scene, build up a big "discovery bonus", collect it without draining, and repeat (you should be so lucky, haha).

It did take me 5 pages to explain all the nuance of that -- but we did try to pack quite a bit into a fairly simple playfield. If you read close you'll probably see some influences from other games -- namely little pieces of rule ideas from Genesis, ST:TNG, Flash Gordon, and Metallica.

This is what is currently implemented right now, and what we are going to go with for our Belles and Chimes side tournament on February 23 -- that will be our "field test"

The current rulesheet --

#33 4 years ago

Working through some checklist items as we approach our alpha release and the Belles & Chimes side tournament.

The Prusa i3 MK3 has been working overtime on our backbox light holders/baffles. We'll be running controlled lighting up there as well, and for now we've just lit up the title. Minor adjustments to the baffle still needed, and still some more printing to do, but the design work is all done. The photo made the lights look more yellowish (they don't look that way in person) and we managed to capture the screen mid-transition, we don't really display last game scores on top of the graphic

Of course we've been printing some other pretty fun things too -- but more on those when they are closer to completion

Start button is now on controlled lighting, and pulses on and off when you can still add players, or when the button is available for making selections.

Got some instruction cards printed up, we might go with something different later. Still need to design some apron art.

With Feb 23 rapidly approaching, we are at the phase where we need to decide what is important for the .8, .9 and 1.0 releases Feb 23, April 6th, and May 4th. Making good progress though! Its really starting to come together, and its really rewarding to get to the point where you can actually play the game -- we see things we want to adjust each time through of course -- but the game itself is fully playable, the modes do the things they are supposed to do, etc.

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2 weeks later
#34 4 years ago

Apron art is done!

And yes we have new glass to install

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#35 4 years ago

A quick video of the backbox lighting, starting to look allot like a real pinball machine


1 month later
#36 4 years ago

A quick update....

* We had our alpha-testing event, including a Belles & Chimes side tournament and semi-public party at our home in Feb which was a success! Only a couple of reboots were required and we believe we have found and corrected the cause for the beta event.

* We will be at Starfighters Arcade in Mesa, AZ this weekend for our beta test event and our first public access to the game before Zapcon in May.

I expect we'll have more photos and videos that will come out of that event!

#37 4 years ago

Very cool project!

1 month later
#38 4 years ago

I am so behind on sharing updates, but will share some more photos soon!

We had a very successful Zapcon and won the voting for Fan Favorite in the Pinball category, and added a really neat feature to the backbox

We still have side art to do, better integration of the topper lighting with modes, and general overall polish of the UI, but I feel good about the ruleset and the feedback we got at the show.

More updates in a few weeks


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#39 4 years ago

Great job on the project and congrats on the award. I have an MPF project that I have not touched in many months, but need to get back to it.

Having done an overlay (that I did myself in AutoCAD), waterslide, clearcoat job on one of my EMs I know how much of a process just that part is. The total package of a game like this is a ton of work and looks like it was a great adventure.

-The guy who took the Zapcon Women's Semifinal picture so Tracy could actually be in the pic

#40 4 years ago

I was really impressed with this when I saw it at ZapCon over the weekend.
Well done you two.

#41 4 years ago

Played this machine at Zapcon. Fantastic work!

2 years later
#42 1 year ago

Awesome work. Any new videos to share. I’m in awe and working on my Phoenix machine. Very inspiring.

#43 1 year ago

No new videos lately. Game is in our new Upper Deck right now, kids play on their computers in their rooms now, and the "play room" was mainly a trash can, so we cleaned everything out and took it over. We do want to revisit the code at some point, could use some polish, but currently working on another custom project for a friend. We'll probably share some details on pinside before too long*, but for now little pieces of what we are doing are on our Outpost Kodelia facebook page.

* for certain values of "too long"

#44 1 year ago

You both did an amazing job what an amazing machine!

#45 1 year ago

We will probably revisit this one after our current project. Trying to up our game a bit.

Its another custom retheme with a few minor playfield changes and all custom code. Its not our theme, and not our machine. We didn't do the artwork either, but we are doing all of the assembly, coding, making things actually work, etc.

#46 1 year ago

So much detail and amazing the games rules and modes you added.

2 weeks later
#47 1 year ago

Did you encounter issues with your kickers double kicking the ball due to the dual switches ?

#48 1 year ago

Curious about revere printed water slides for the plastics- did you print a white layer and apply under the art to diffuse light better?

#49 1 year ago

We didn't run into problems with the slingshots double kicking. I think we wired the two switches together so they behave as one... if we had wired the switches individually, I could see where that might be an issue if you have them both setup to direct fire the coil.

For the waterslides, we printed the detail on clear, and added white waterslide paper with no printing under that for light diffusion.

#50 1 year ago

Just saw this thread for the first time. Awesome job!!!!!

Quoted from oliviarium:

We are both pretty good at dealing with hardware and software -- less good at artwork. So we came with with a strategy -- grab source from the movie, apply some "comic-bookish" type filters, and away we go. We used this technique extensively for the playfield art and the plastics.
[quoted image][quoted image][quoted image][quoted image]

Can you please describe your filtering technique a bit more? What software did you use?


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