A few years ago I built a Demolition Man 2000 and posted about it here. Basically I had set out to do a rules upgrade for Demolition Man, but found that other people had already started on the same project. In the quest to do something a bit more original (or just ambitious), I set out to convert my Demolition Man into a Pinball 2000 concept. The whole thing went over well and I had decided to search for my next personal project.
I wanted to do one final Pinball 2000 game, and what better game to do than Wizard Blocks? It was the final game on the drawing board at Williams, so I figured I'd give it a whack. All I had to go off of were some videos and decent sized photos scattered about the internet. So I cobbled a CAD file using a mixture of photos and parts with known sizes. I used standard inserts in the CAD file and standard mech layouts. Since I had both P2K games to take measurements from, it was a pretty sure bet that I could at least get the game to fit into the cabinet. I used the lower playfield dimensions from Addams family as it had the same design. Mostly everything lined up perfectly on my first whitewood.
Moving on, I had to figure out how to get juice to the coils and other playfield mechanisms, so I needed a control system! Thankfully the P2K driver board is driven over a parallel port and the protocols are documented. At first, I decided to use a realtime linux kernel to handle writes to the parallel port on a standard PC, but this was a bit outdated and RTLinux wasn't exactly trivial to set up, so I designed a hardware controller board that has an arduino microprocessor on it that handles everything realtime on the driver board and allows me to control things from a PC over a standard USB cable.
Once I got the interface board working (it could light lamps, read switches and fire coils on its own), I started working on the basic PC program that would run the "game code". I settled on using Unity3D because it is a great platform, accepts all sorts of 3D model formats and is just easy to work with. I had previously written some .NET code that could patch into Unity3D for another pinball design client, so I decided to use that code to get things going. Before you knew it, we had pictures and sound along with the ability to react to switch events! This was just the first of a thousand steps to come in terms of programming. This just got the thing to "turn on".
Next was the task of wiring up all of the solenoids so we could at least test the geometry of the playfield. Pinball Life and Titan Pinball have been excellent at supplying parts for the build and they have super knowledgeable staff that helped suggest parts that would work better than others given the scenario.
What you see in this video is the general play testing on the game as it currently stands:
There is a lot of work to come. Sorry for the camera angle and the GI flicker. The LEDs I am currently using really exaggerate the flicker that you actually see on the game, but I can modify the lamp matrix timing to tone it down. The camera angle was just a brain fart on my behalf. Future shots will be widescreen!
Next step is wiring in the RGB LED insert lamps and the switches. Then we'll progress to finishing up the mechanisms (up/down walls where the blocks sit, lifting ramp entrances, spinning flashers). Then its on to making wireforms and ramps!
For those coming to the Southern Fried Gameroom Expo in Atlanta in June, Wizard Blocks will be there in the free play area.
I guess I better get busy! I'd love any comments/feedback. Also, the state at which the game was left when WMS closed really didn't have a ton of the rules fleshed out. I've got a general guideline as far as what Pat has said previously about the game, but I'm always open to input from the community on rules ideas. There are some really creative things we can do with the blocks and the asymmetric layout!
More detailed updates with technical specifics is documented on my website at: http://86pixels.com/category/pinball/