(Topic ID: 256876)

Stern's playfield design is super disappointing


By pinballOsp

3 months ago



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  • Latest reply 3 months ago by legendpin
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    There are 122 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 3.
    #1 3 months ago

    Having put in a couple of days on Elvira I can't help to feel tired of the minimalist, boring designs coming from Stern -- Keith obviously excluded, proving that you CAN have an awesome design and the game doesn't have to cost $10K+.

    While the minimalist playfields made sense during the Big Buck Hunter Pro era everyone other pinball designer is putting out a pretty creative product out there -- and it's different every time.

    Stern is the same thing, over and over, different themes -- which seems to please the buyers.

    The programming is exceptional which I do believe is the only thing that makes these games actually stand out in any way. That seems to be one thing that other manufacturers (most notably JJP -- I can't tell what I am supposed to do in most of their games and I like complex rules) struggle with.

    It's disappointing honestly esp when LEs cost $10K. I also can't help to be befuddled that the designers wouldn't try something different out of sheer boredom alone.

    Oh well.

    #2 3 months ago

    But it's limited and a collectible so it must be worth it right?

    https://www.businessinsider.com/collectible-crazes-that-were-a-waste-of-money-2012-5

    #3 3 months ago

    I've been going to various barricades and trying all the new machines. I have to admit none of them made any lasting impression
    or had that "One more game" feel. It may be better if you actually own the machine and can hear the audio clearly.

    -24
    #4 3 months ago

    When you consider the footprint of a playfield 43 by 21 and the amount of time that space has been utilized 60+ years its hard to come up with new stuff to fill that space.

    22
    #5 3 months ago
    Quoted from pinballplusMN:

    When you consider the footprint of a playfield 43 by 21 and the amount of time that space has been utilized 60+ years its hard to come up with new stuff to fill that space.

    I don't buy that excuse for a second.

    #6 3 months ago
    Quoted from pinballplusMN:

    When you consider the footprint of a playfield 43 by 21 and the amount of time that space has been utilized 60+ years its hard to come up with new stuff to fill that space.

    Like OP said, Keith really did a great job on his two games. Very fresh in today's time. Also, having played a few home brews, there are still a lot of creative things that can be done. It's more of the "risk" factor with making a playfield design that is too unconventional. Stern knows that there is a certain formula that shoots well and feels good. They're the pop genre of pinball. They know that something works, and it makes them money, so they rinse and repeat, like what they play on Top 40 radio.

    #7 3 months ago
    Quoted from pipes:

    I don't buy that excuse for a second.

    go on (resized).png
    11
    #8 3 months ago
    Quoted from pinballplusMN:

    When you consider the footprint of a playfield 43 by 21 and the amount of time that space has been utilized 60+ years its hard to come up with new stuff to fill that space.

    Disagree to the n'th degree. Just because 2 flippers means you are going to get a "fan layout", doesn't mean it has to feel like one. Some of Sterns are a super similar (AS is an improved KISS, MET is a superior GOTG) and feel the same which takes out the uniqueness. Combine those with basic fan layouts they also pump out like Munsters, SW and BK make you wonder if they're rushed to get geometries quick and easy instead of coming up with something different.

    However, I also think titles like Deadpool and TWD which are both 2-flipper games don't feel like one. There are crossing shots, long shots, short shots, obstructions...etc. Those are the games I tend to gravitate to because the different feel brings you into the game more. My $0.02.

    #9 3 months ago

    crazylevi - Well AP, JJP and Spooky don't seem to be plagued by this for some reason.

    #10 3 months ago

    Literally had this argument with a stern coder the other day who visited our venue down here, he was a real stern fanboy about it which is understandable but i have the same opinion as you, besides keiths games proving being creative is still possible, other stern layout are just boring now.

    10
    #11 3 months ago
    Quoted from pipes:

    crazylevi - Well AP, JJP and Spooky don't seem to be plagued by this for some reason.

    True...and the majority of those playfields show why "innovation" isn't necessarily a good thing in pinball.

    There's only so much you can do with a multi-level playfield with modern flipper speeds and not have it turn into a clunky mess.

    The good news is, if the Stern playfields ain't doing it for ya, you can buy Oktoberfest, Houdini, Hobbit, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie, etc. Knock yourself out. And the SUPER good news is the masterpiece of innovative layout, RAZA, is on the horizon!

    Quoted from wisefwumyogwave:

    Literally had this argument with a stern coder the other day who visited our venue down here, he was a real stern fanboy about it

    A stern coder was a stern fanboy?!

    Tell us more.

    25
    #12 3 months ago
    Quoted from pinballplusMN:

    When you consider the footprint of a playfield 43 by 21 and the amount of time that space has been utilized 60+ years its hard to come up with new stuff to fill that space.

    I think Pat Lawlor proved that theory wrong with Dialed In. It helps when a designer isn't extremely limited due to budgets. To be fair future JJP titles starting first with Wonka have been scaled back a bit but it still has a unique playfield design. If Stern wants to charge $9k+ for their games that's fine but they need to include multiple 3D molds (not flat plastics...JP, BKSWOR), multiple interactive toys, and at least include metal habit rails for ball returns (no excuse not to use them on Elvira).

    I think Stern threw everything they could at Ghostbusters in terms of features and toys...sadly another Stern hasn't been as loaded since then. Just my opinion.

    DILE-playfield-close-LE (resized).png

    #13 3 months ago
    Quoted from FatPanda:

    It's more of the "risk" factor with making a playfield design that is too unconventional. Stern knows that there is a certain formula that shoots well and feels good. They're the pop genre of pinball. They know that something works, and it makes them money, so they rinse and repeat ...

    Yep. For the most part, Stern likes to play it safe. There have been a couple times where the designer really went for something different, and the games weren't well received at all (i.e. Avengers and Wrestlemania). It costs Stern a lot of money when a game doesn't sell well, which is why we see the same successful design elements being used over and over again.

    #14 3 months ago

    This shouldn't be directed at Stern. KME is a Stern employee and is being innovative. Other designers can be set in their ways, for sure.

    #15 3 months ago

    I think the biggest issue is that, as of late, Stern hasn’t had any incentive to not play it safe. Their products sell. Until that changes, you won’t see the pattern change.

    #16 3 months ago

    Have you played JP2 or Maiden? Both games are dynamite and always leave me with the "just one more game" feeling. I haven't played the new Elvira, but I wouldn't lump all new sterns together.

    16
    #17 3 months ago
    Quoted from PanzerFreak:

    I think Pat Lawlor proved that theory wrong with Dialed In. It helps when a designer isn't extremely limited due to budgets.

    Dialed in is a great game.

    It's also an immediately familiar layout to anybody who has played and enjoyed Pat Lawlor's games before. I don't understand using it as an example of "innovation" when in fact it's an endorsement of designers tweaking their comfortable layouts from their popular legacy works.

    NASCAR shows you what you get when guys like Lawlor try to "think outside the box," and it ain't pretty.

    #18 3 months ago

    Playfield design is just one thing that makes pinball fun. Code/rules, art, light show, sounds, etc. Having a different/unique layout doesn't always translate to fun. Not all Stern games are home runs but I find most of them pretty fun and shoot well. Plus, they still offer the cheapest nib experience with the pro. Biggest problem is code can take a long time to complete.

    #19 3 months ago

    Just played a few games on an Elvira LE last night. Brand new right out of the box. And although I agree with you that many games share a very similar design. I have to disagree and say that my uncle, son and myself all thoroughly enjoyed playing Elvira. I thought it played fast, had cool features, some of the best artwork ever, and multiball/code was killer. Gargoyals are amazing. Diverter inside the house kept the ball flow unique and interesting. Ramps were smooth as glass. Scoop was pleasant to shoot for. Everything just seemed to fit.

    Admittedly I have only played a few games. But I am impressed so far.

    Thanks
    Blake

    #20 3 months ago
    Quoted from gweempose:

    Yep. For the most part, Stern likes to play it safe. There have been a couple times where the designer really went for something different, and the games weren't well received at all (i.e. Avengers and Wrestlemania). It costs Stern a lot of money when a game doesn't sell well, which is why we see the same successful design elements being used over and over again.

    I completely agree with this but i think its starting to come around the other way, for instance Guardians of the Galaxy was an awesome theme for me but has the same layout as Metallica which I already own I don't care if it's a "completely different game" code wise it shoots the same, so my point is the tried and true layouts are diminishing their sales in my case.

    #21 3 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    I've been going to various barricades and trying all the new machines. I have to admit none of them made any lasting impression
    or had that "One more game" feel. It may be better if you actually own the machine and can hear the audio clearly.

    No offense but from someone who owns only 30 and 40 year old pins, it’s hard to take serious your opinion. It’s like someone likes how baseball or basketball was played 40-50 years ago and saying these new players are just flash and can’t hold a candle to the old timers. Like pinball or cars for example have the same basic structure as 40 years ago but they are different doesn’t mean the old ones are better.

    But the fact is the newer games might be more barren not a million toys but they have unbelievable rules (some cases).

    I just bought SW premium which only has 2 ramps, 2 orbits and one horseshoe loop. But there is a so much more than just a basic 5-6 shot layout would lead you to think.

    20
    #22 3 months ago

    Deadpool feels pretty fresh imo

    #23 3 months ago
    Quoted from fisherdaman:

    Have you played JP2 or Maiden? Both games are dynamite and always leave me with the "just one more game" feeling. I haven't played the new Elvira, but I wouldn't lump all new sterns together.

    They are.

    Code plus design is AAA.

    It would be nice to get really innovative playfield mechs but can't see that happening.

    Can we just start by having the on/off switch under the cabinet again??

    #24 3 months ago

    I'm not a Stern fanboy, but I feel like Stern is still in a really good place. They easily have my favorite combination of designer, coder, and artist in Keith Elwin, Layman Sheats, and Zombie Yeti. They have eight of the top twenty rated games, with the oldest of those being from 2003. Three of them are from the past two years...granted there seems to be a lot of weight on Keith Elwin.

    #25 3 months ago

    anyway to me I’d rather have a design that works than one that is fresh but shoots like poo.

    I realize Maiden shoots and is a newer type, maybe DP too. But regular pins like SM, ST, AccDc just shoot great and I can have a good time rather than a new design RZ which is different.

    Maybe I call it comfort pinball.

    #26 3 months ago

    Stern needed a breath of fresh air that KME has provided with his released games. The rest of stern's line up as of late is uninspired, the exception Deadpool.

    #27 3 months ago
    Quoted from GravitaR:

    Stern needed a breath of fresh air that KME has provided with his released games. The rest of stern's line up as of late is uninspired, the exception Deadpool.

    It just seems like we are making a lot of exceptions. We've voted 50% of their games in the last two years in the top-10, yet we dismiss those games. I would also argue that Black Knight and The Beatles don't feel like cookie cutter fan layouts. Basically some people just don't seems to like Munsters and Elvira.

    #28 3 months ago

    For me, a fun game starts with more than 2 flippers, more than 1 ramp, and a subway. A lot of games these days don't satisfy any of those 3 criteria let alone all of them.

    #29 3 months ago

    I don’t know. Take a game like AFM top 3 on most ratings. So you make a pin like that today and it’s called barren or no toys. It’s fine on AFM, nothing else can be like this now?

    #30 3 months ago

    Gosh, I love all the games I have here.
    Not everyone I have had has been a winner, Nor has every game made.
    I keep what I like, sell or dont buy what I dont.

    Couldnt be happier that there are still soooo many choices to never feel disappointed!
    Thats just me......

    21
    #31 3 months ago
    Quoted from tilted81:

    Deadpool feels pretty fresh imo

    So did Ghostbusters, Walking Dead, Maiden, JP, even Beatles!

    Stern tries new stuff all the time, and they put out about 5 games a year.

    The OP doesn't like Elvira so he declares all Stern layouts are the same. It's silly. The name of the thread should be "Elvira's playfield design is disappointing," and it shouldn't even exist as it's a statement that could easily be articulated in one of the many Elvira threads.

    So don't buy Elvira, get one of the "innovative" Stern playfield games. Or wait 3 months for the next one to be revealed and see if you like that. Or buy the latest clunker from one of the "boutiques," there's plenty of options here that doesn't involving whining and pretending that every Stern layout is the same as Elvira.

    #32 3 months ago

    There have been some fresh feeling ones recently, but some not so fresh.

    It does seem to me like there were some really creative designs in the 80s, with weird flippers, strange layouts, completely separate sections of the playfield (or upper/lower PFs)...however VERY few (if any) of those games are well regarded by modern standards for gameplay. They're seen as gimmicky, and rarely used in tournaments. On location, people would give them a few plays, but wouldn't be dumping quarters into them like they would with the more well regarded games in terms of gameplay and rules, which are generally the more standard layouts.

    Might be a coincidence. Might not.

    #33 3 months ago

    What is the time frame here? What are we calling newer (within the last year or two)? I think Stern, in general, is doing a good job in the layout and code categories (could progress the timeline a bit faster). I think BKSOR is a really good shooter with a slightly different layout and the code seems pretty easy to figure out but deep. I didn't care for Munster but some have. I liked Maiden, but JP is only a bar game for me. I don't want to take that one home. I don't expect to like every game they come out with because that means they are only catering to one type of person.

    #34 3 months ago
    Quoted from ryanwanger:

    ...however VERY few (if any) of those games are well regarded by modern standards for gameplay.

    I'm defending Stern in this thread, but I would also defend those 80s games. A good number of those games are great and people dismiss them simply because they have a bad ranking on Pinside.

    #35 3 months ago
    Quoted from wisefwumyogwave:

    I completely agree with this but i think its starting to come around the other way, for instance Guardians of the Galaxy was an awesome theme for me but has the same layout as Metallica which I already own I don't care if it's a "completely different game" code wise it shoots the same, so my point is the tried and true layouts are diminishing their sales in my case.

    Out of all the designers, Borg is the biggest abuser of recycled playfield elements. Tron, Metallica, KISS, Aerosmith, GOTG and even Munsters all feel so similar. He's a great designer, but I wish he would take more risks. TWD and X-Men are two of my favorite games by him, and they are both quite different than his typical designs.

    #36 3 months ago
    Quoted from ryanwanger:

    ...however VERY few (if any) of those games are well regarded by modern standards for gameplay.

    I'm defending Stern in this thread, but I would also defend those 80s games. A good number of those games are great and people dismiss them simply because they have a bad ranking on Pinside.

    Quoted from gweempose:

    Out of all the designers, Borg is the biggest abuser of recycled playfield elements.

    It's hard to blame them, because when they are done right fan layouts can be super fun to shoot. The issue I see is many tend to have the Top-10 as their dream lineup. Many of them play similarly, so that ends up feeling a bit dull.

    PS: I'm a bit guilty of that myself. Some purchase opportunities presented themselves and I made the purchases. Now I feel my lineup is a bit too heavy on fan layouts, so I'm looking to make a trade.

    #37 3 months ago
    Quoted from gweempose:

    Out of all the designers, Borg is the biggest abuser of recycled playfield elements. Tron, Metallica, KISS, Aerosmith, GOTG and even Munsters all feel so similar. He's a great designer, but I wish he would take more risks. TWD and X-Men are two of my favorite games by him, and they are both quite different than his typical designs.

    Couldn't agree any more. I also happen to own both TWD Pro and XMLE and they feel completely different to each other, both layout-wise and physicality-wise. I do like how Borg games feel though, but not compelled enough by any of them to own any of his recent designs. They all definitely feel same-y.

    I think Stern provides enough variation from the fan layout to keep things interesting for those that want something new, but also provides enough for players that like how a fan layout feels. I wish it leaned more to one side vs the other, but they have their reasons for recycling similar layout. It's hard to fault them for it if they are selling games.

    #38 3 months ago
    Quoted from lpeters82:

    I'm defending Stern in this thread, but I would also defend those 80s games. A good number of those games are great and people dismiss them simply because they have a bad ranking on Pinside.

    I don't generally go by Pinside rankings, but...

    Maybe what I meant is that they generally don't have the same lastability? If I'm thinking about location play and tournaments, most of the games with bizarre and unique layouts are rarely seen.

    I love Title Fight, but I suspect it's only because I play like 3 games on it per year, if that. I have no desire to own one...but maybe it would be fun long term.

    #39 3 months ago
    Quoted from CrazyLevi:

    NASCAR shows you what you get when guys like Lawlor try to "think outside the box," and it ain't pretty.

    NASCAR was Lawlor doing a fan layout on a mid 00's Stern budget. It's an acquired taste for sure but it's a good shooter.

    Rollercoaster Tycoon, there's a real Lawlor POS.

    #40 3 months ago
    Quoted from lpeters82:

    I'm defending Stern in this thread, but I would also defend those 80s games. A good number of those games are great and people dismiss them simply because they have a bad ranking on Pinside.

    I won't have time to post much more in this thread today, but I'd love to come up with a list of some of these crazy/unique 80s layouts, and then debate if the games are good or not.

    #41 3 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    I've been going to various barricades and trying all the new machines. I have to admit none of them made any lasting impression
    or had that "One more game" feel. It may be better if you actually own the machine and can hear the audio clearly.

    Agree with this. Especially on newer pins where audio/video are a much larger part of the game. I've felt this way about many Sterns since the early 2000's. The majority just don't hold my interest...I can't really explain why. However, they continue to sell, even with half finished code, so it really is just a matter of preference.

    However, if you look at games that do things differently, such as Houdini, and the hate that game gets (because omg flow), you start to realize that the vocal people really don't want anything new.

    #42 3 months ago
    Quoted from rai:

    No offense but from someone who owns only 30 and 40 year old pins, it’s hard to take serious your opinion. It’s like someone likes how baseball or basketball was played 40-50 years ago and saying these new players are just flash and can’t hold a candle to the old timers. Like pinball or cars for example have the same basic structure as 40 years ago but they are different doesn’t mean the old ones are better.
    But the fact is the newer games might be more barren not a million toys but they have unbelievable rules (some cases).
    I just bought SW premium which only has 2 ramps, 2 orbits and one horseshoe loop. But there is a so much more than just a basic 5-6 shot layout would lead you to think.

    I wouldn't look at a persons Posted collection and make any assumptions. The majority of the pins I appreciate are solid state but honestly Stern Titles are not among them. Cookie-cutter comes to mind. Again, perhaps they are better in a intimate setting rather than a loud crowded setting.
    Thanks for the lecture though, it is good to meet superior,refined Owner/Players that can set cretins straight.

    #43 3 months ago
    Quoted from ryanwanger:

    I won't have time to post much more in this thread today, but I'd love to come up with a list of some of these crazy/unique 80s layouts, and then debate if the games are good or not.

    If I had room for more games, I'd for sure add more 80s games. I currently have Hardbody in my 80s spot and I don't see it ever going anywhere.

    #44 3 months ago
    Quoted from phil-lee:

    I wouldn't look at a persons Posted collection and make any assumptions. The majority of the pins I appreciate are solid state but honestly Stern Titles are not among them. Cookie-cutter comes to mind. Again, perhaps they are better in a intimate setting rather than a loud crowded setting.
    Thanks for the lecture though, it is good to meet superior,refined Owner/Players that can set cretins straight.

    LoL

    #45 3 months ago

    Stern has repeatedly ruined my life.

    #47 3 months ago

    Gotta hand it to Levi, every time there's a Stern bashing thread, he grabs that lunchpail and gets to work.

    #48 3 months ago
    Quoted from Multiballmaniac1:

    Stern has repeatedly ruined my life.

    Not a fan of living the Stern lifestyle?

    #49 3 months ago
    Quoted from loneacer:

    For me, a fun game starts with more than 2 flippers, more than 1 ramp, and a subway.

    I've never understood the subway fetish. Ball goes somewhere I can't see then comes out somewhere else? Ho-hum. Always felt like lazy design to me, like they couldn't figure out a good ball path on the topside, and "cheated" on the bottom.

    #50 3 months ago
    Quoted from yancy:

    Gotta hand it to Levi, every time there's a Stern bashing thread, he grabs that lunchpail and gets to work.

    It's almost like I'm trying to get a job with lower pay, 6 weeks fewer time off, and a forced move to a City I'd hate to live in!

    I get a lot of shit of this unfairly. You see me picking on idiots' arguments all over Pinside but people latch solely on to the Stern stuff!

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