(Topic ID: 107222)

Thoughts on The Hobbit art and theme

By Aurich

7 years ago


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16
#1 7 years ago

I've been thinking about The Hobbit a lot since going to Expo. It's not really a secret that I've been disappointed with it, but at times I wasn't really able to pin down exactly why. What is it about it that didn't work for me when I saw it next to WOZ? And why did I break my rule about pre-ordering games to get in on TBL?

I've come to realize that it's really about the theme and presentation, and not about any real technical competence. JP really listened to our feedback and fixed things on the art that were bugging me. I think Smaug is fine for the most part. He's not epic like people hoped, but talking dragon is fine by me. Replace the ugly VUKs with the wireforms from the whitewood and move/fix the book and give the dragon some surroundings and I think it will do a lot for the game.

The thing is none of that can address what's bugging me now that I've pinned it down. The game is moody and dark looking, and there isn't a real story in it. I like dark as a concept, but I don't like it when it's drab. I want my skulls to be bright and with green slime, give me Greg Freres' Scared Stiff any day. It's not just that The Hobbit is "photoshopped art", but that it's just dreary. That's not pinball, to me at least.

Look at The Big Lebowski. It's got color! It's bright and graphic and bold, and I love it from all the way across the room. When I get closer though it's even better, not only in the detail in the art, but in the way that the whole playfield tells the story. The bowling, bashing the car, building the White Russian, everything is part of the movie in such a way that you see it all. Dutch Pinball said they didn't need a rule card, because if you know the film the shots will make sense.

Now look at WOZ. Same thing. Very colorful. Maybe too much for some, but you have to admit, it's gonna draw people in. And once again, the story is there. The spiral of the yellow brick road anchoring the center of the widebody game. The haunted forest, the flying monkey, the castle, the spinning house and Wicked Witch of the East, The Witch in the center, the ruby red flippers, the hot air balloon. You can trace the movie throughout the whole game. It really is a smart design.

Hobbit just doesn't do that. Sure, it has the dragon, and the barrels if you get the LE (but not on the standard) but it's very segmented and silo'd. Sure, popup bad guys, but they're all treated the same, there's no narrative to them. They don't own their own sections. All the dwarves are on there, but they're scattered and again in way way part of a story. It feels vast and empty.

Hobbit is a journey. I'm sure Keith will make that clear, I have faith in him, and it could still be an epic game. I really think it's too early to write it off. But it doesn't have that magic. And after WOZ we were all expecting it, and maybe not sure why it wasn't there. It's not the toys, though those help of course, it's the whole package and the story it needs to tell before you even press Start.

Look at this:

Click to enlarge, it's worth it! Art by http://breathing2004.deviantart.com

Oh man, if the playfield looked like that? I know, the license, wasn't gonna happen. But it's what I wished it could have been and I didn't realize it. Bold, colorful, and the whole story is there. Look at how you start on the left spiral and work to the right one. You can see the whole narrative laid out in front of you. I can see it in my head without hearing a sound effect, or seeing the LCD backglass play a movie clip.

And that's what makes great pinball. It should lay out the world and draw you in. If the playfield looked like stained glass, with trolls and dwarves and the inserts were doing the beautiful lighting effects that JJP is so good at? I'm seeing myself just watching it without even playing. I think we would have been lining up for it. That's how much these things matter.

I know it's too late for this particular vision. And everyone may not even agree with me. But I really think there's a lesson in here for anyone making a pin. Learn from this. And if the license is going to handcuff you so you can't do it? Find out ahead of time and walk away. There are lots of fish in the sea.

Best of luck to JJP with their game, and I hope Lawlor is making the kind of epic and captivating game that will bring that magic back.

#2 7 years ago

I agree with you and also picked up on the drab hobbit colors, its just to predominant. Look at the walking dead playfield dark theme, but the inserts still have a bright color bordering each insert like the "prison" inserts with the bright blue barb wire.

#3 7 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

I've been thinking about The Hobbit a lot since going to Expo. It's not really a secret that I've been disappointed with it, but at times I wasn't really able to pin down exactly why. What is it about it that didn't work for me when I saw it next to WOZ? And why did I break my rule about pre-ordering games to get in on TBL?
I've come to realize that it's really about the theme and presentation, and not about any real technical competence. JP really listened to our feedback and fixed things on the art that were bugging me. I think Smaug is fine for the most part. He's not epic like people hoped, but talking dragon is fine by me. Replace the ugly VUKs with the wireforms from the whitewood and move/fix the book and give the dragon some surroundings and I think it will do a lot for the game.
The thing is none of that can address what's bugging me now that I've pinned it down. The game is moody and dark looking, and there isn't a real story in it. I like dark as a concept, but I don't like it when it's drab. I want my skulls to be bright and with green slime, give me Greg Freres' Scared Stiff any day. It's not just that The Hobbit is "photoshopped art", but that it's just dreary. That's not pinball, to me at least.
Look at The Big Lebowski. It's got color! It's bright and graphic and bold, and I love it from all the way across the room. When I get closer though it's even better, not only in the detail in the art, but in the way that the whole playfield tells the story. The bowling, bashing the car, building the White Russian, everything is part of the movie in such a way that you see it all. Dutch Pinball said they didn't need a rule card, because if you know the film the shots will make sense.
Now look at WOZ. Same thing. Very colorful. Maybe too much for some, but you have to admit, it's gonna draw people in. And once again, the story is there. The spiral of the yellow brick road anchoring the center of the widebody game. The haunted forest, the flying monkey, the castle, the spinning house and Wicked Witch of the East, The Witch in the center, the ruby red flippers, the hot air balloon. You can trace the movie throughout the whole game. It really is a smart design.
Hobbit just doesn't do that. Sure, it has the dragon, and the barrels if you get the LE (but not on the standard) but it's very segmented and silo'd. Sure, popup bad guys, but they're all treated the same, there's no narrative to them. They don't own their own sections. All the dwarves are on there, but they're scattered and again in way way part of a story. It feels vast and empty.
Hobbit is a journey. I'm sure Keith will make that clear, I have faith in him, and it could still be an epic game. I really think it's too early to write it off. But it doesn't have that magic. And after WOZ we were all expecting it, and maybe not sure why it wasn't there. It's not the toys, though those help of course, it's the whole package and the story it needs to tell before you even press Start.
Look at this:
Click to enlarge, it's worth it! Art by http://breathing2004.deviantart.com
Oh man, if the playfield looked like that? I know, the license, wasn't gonna happen. But it's what I wished it could have been and I didn't realize it. Bold, colorful, and the whole story is there. Look at how you start on the left spiral and work to the right one. You can see the whole narrative laid out in front of you. I can see it in my head without hearing a sound effect, or seeing the LCD backglass play a movie clip.
And that's what makes great pinball. It should lay out the world and draw you in. If the playfield looked like stained glass, with trolls and dwarves and the inserts were doing the beautiful lighting effects that JJP is so good at? I'm seeing myself just watching it without even playing. I think we would have been lining up for it. That's how much these things matter.
I know it's too late for this particular vision. And everyone may not even agree with me. But I really think there's a lesson in here for anyone making a pin. Learn from this. And if the license is going to handcuff you so you can't do it? Find out ahead of time and walk away. There are lots of fish in the sea.
Best of luck to JJP with their game, and I hope Lawlor is making the kind of epic and captivating game that will bring that magic back.

a_long_long_adventure_with_hobbi... 278 KB

I don't always agree with you Aurich, but you are always worth reading and make some very compelling points. I personally don't mind the drab colors...inserts will have plenty of color. That "stained glass" picture ends at the end of the second movie. Wanted to see the Smaug slaying and battle...

#4 7 years ago

Good post. Had high hopes for TH. It could look so good between my LOTR and WOZLE.

Biggest problem for me is that it looks like pin by committee. Very uncoordinated and unattractive. Very unlike WOZ, which I have and love - play wise and looks wise. We light WOZ up around Christmas time and just leave it on it looks so good!

Second problem is Smaug. Everyone is so disappointed by it, even the fanboys have redefined success on Smaug. ( confession - I was mostly an annoying fanboy for WOZ, so I understand the mindset)

Haven't cancelled my order yet, but I am close. Might wait around to see what changes, but my goodness how much would have to change! Code alone cannot save this pin for me.

I do hope JJP sells enough of them to be profitable so they continue cranking out some amazing pins. I think they KILLED it on WOZ as their first pin, but I can't imagine this one being as popular as WOZ or popular at all.

#5 7 years ago

Licenses are two-sided coins. They give you instant appeal and recognizability, a built in audience, and lay out a host of assets and music and sounds and stories for you to instantly tap into.

They also come packed with a lot of baggage and expectations.

Witness the disappointment people have expressed over Walking Dead not using clips from the show for the sounds. The game has great dots, a winning team, and didn't hold back on the gore. It should have been everything people were asking for. But the story isn't there. No actors. The main zombie is recognizable, but doesn't seem particularly popular. (I've never watched the show, the well zombie isn't in the comic, I really don't know anything about it.)

It's not slam dunk right out the gate. Lyman is the man, my guess is it will end up a good game at least. But the chance to grab people and build the excitement from the beginning seems to have passed.

I dunno that it was really possible for me to love The Hobbit pin honestly. Because in my mind it should have had hand drawn art, it should have conjured up book covers and the Rankin Bass animated movie, and all this imagery that I've held in my head since I was a kid. I just don't love the new films. Jackson has larded them up to the point where rewatching them just isn't appealing, and I own the Blu-Rays.

So maybe it just wasn't possible to please me. But still, WOZ shows that JJP knows how to lay a story out on the playfield. And somehow that just wasn't the prime mission here.

I'm guessing Keith will make a story appear, and they'll use movie clips to move it along. And that's fine I guess. I dunno, if you were at Expo you saw one of the early modes, "The Contract". And a looping clip of Bilbo walking around inside his house reading a piece of paper isn't exactly what I was hoping for.

Maybe the studio gimped everything. But I wish there were trolls on the playfield, and you had to hit the targets to run out the clock until the sun rose. The inserts could be blue and fade into oranges and yellows as you complete the shots, and turn them to stone.

Look at that stained glass art above. Every major scene of the story is there. On a widebody game there's room for every part to get represented. TBL and WOZ show you the story just sitting there in attract mode. I look at them and I can imagine playing through everything, without fishing out a quarter (or a dollar bill is more likely these days!) first.

I fear that this big screen that JJP has put on the game is going to end up having to be the substitute for it all. And we're going to literally see every movie scene cut together and looped up there as we play. Maybe it will be better than that, I hope so. But I want to hear the sounds and see the lights and have the story play out in my head as I play, not have it spoon fed to me by a big movie screen. That's not why I play pinball.

#6 7 years ago

JJP made newbie mistakes, explained by the seniors that left (Balcer, Freres, Nordman). Keith was probably made the lead, that would explain the lack of art direction.

#7 7 years ago

TH palette is 50 shades of brown

#8 7 years ago

But one thing is for sure, the lead who took over had no experience in this sort of thing. The table feels homegrown and amateur, right down to Matt's bad sculptures.

#9 7 years ago

Has anybody here seen the art of the packaging of the hobbit extended collector editions blurays?

Perhaps I should scan my in to show you how colorfull and beautiful Peter Jacksons Art can be.

ExtendetHobbit.jpg
#10 7 years ago

Great post! Narrative in a game is so important. In the best games the artwork, mechanical toys, display, sound and rules all work together to position the player in the world in which the story takes place and walk them through that world.

#11 7 years ago
Quoted from HunchbackHodler:

JJP made newbie mistakes, explained by the seniors that left (Balcer, Freres, Nordman). Keith was probably made the lead, that would explain the lack of art direction.

Yes, I wonder if this is the real issue... the abrupt and unspoken for disappearance of the original creators of the game...
Aurich, I hear you in many of your opinions, but heck this is the Hobbit... hairy bearded characters in brown clothes/Golumn/swamps/frigid/dark mountains all make for dreary scenery... LOTR has some green and orange colors, but it's still the same dark/green/muckey background..

WOZ is totally different, yellow brick roads/candy land colors/pink good witches/etc...

#12 7 years ago
Quoted from PBINTHESOUTH:

Yes, I wonder if this is the real issue... the abrupt and unspoken for disappearance of the original creators of the game...
Aurich, I hear you in many of your opinions, but heck this is the Hobbit... hairy bearded characters in brown clothes/Golumn/swamps/frigid/dark mountains all make for dreary scenery... LOTR has some green and orange colors, but it's still the same dark/green/muckey background..
WOZ is totally different, yellow brick roads/candy land colors/pink good witches/etc...

The Walking Dead is not exactly a cheery theme either ... but the upper pf looks fun!! And I know this isn't a fair pic of Hobbit and is blurry ... but you get the point.

compare_UP.jpg

#13 7 years ago
Quoted from OldPinster:

The Walking Dead is not exactly a cheery theme either ... but the upper pf looks fun!! And I know this isn't a fair pic of Hobbit and is blurry ... but you get the point.

compare_UP.jpg 94 KB

Gary?

#14 7 years ago

lol. No, Gordon (GOrD).

But seriously, maybe they could totally turn around that upper pf with some dramatic backlighting on the ramps (with cutouts in them), add some colorful plastics over the ramps (signs or small things form the movies), decals on the sides (improve the backboard decal), etc. Maybe even think like modders and add in some EL wire up there or something. That would be cool. It is just too dark/gray.

#15 7 years ago
Quoted from HunchbackHodler:

JJP made newbie mistakes, explained by the seniors that left (Balcer, Freres, Nordman). Keith was probably made the lead, that would explain the lack of art direction.

Didn't realize Balcer left JJP, who designed TH then?

#16 7 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

I've been thinking about The Hobbit a lot since going to Expo. It's not really a secret that I've been disappointed with it, but at times I wasn't really able to pin down exactly why. What is it about it that didn't work for me when I saw it next to WOZ? And why did I break my rule about pre-ordering games to get in on TBL?
I've come to realize that it's really about the theme and presentation, and not about any real technical competence. JP really listened to our feedback and fixed things on the art that were bugging me. I think Smaug is fine for the most part. He's not epic like people hoped, but talking dragon is fine by me. Replace the ugly VUKs with the wireforms from the whitewood and move/fix the book and give the dragon some surroundings and I think it will do a lot for the game.
The thing is none of that can address what's bugging me now that I've pinned it down. The game is moody and dark looking, and there isn't a real story in it. I like dark as a concept, but I don't like it when it's drab. I want my skulls to be bright and with green slime, give me Greg Freres' Scared Stiff any day. It's not just that The Hobbit is "photoshopped art", but that it's just dreary. That's not pinball, to me at least.
Look at The Big Lebowski. It's got color! It's bright and graphic and bold, and I love it from all the way across the room. When I get closer though it's even better, not only in the detail in the art, but in the way that the whole playfield tells the story. The bowling, bashing the car, building the White Russian, everything is part of the movie in such a way that you see it all. Dutch Pinball said they didn't need a rule card, because if you know the film the shots will make sense.
Now look at WOZ. Same thing. Very colorful. Maybe too much for some, but you have to admit, it's gonna draw people in. And once again, the story is there. The spiral of the yellow brick road anchoring the center of the widebody game. The haunted forest, the flying monkey, the castle, the spinning house and Wicked Witch of the East, The Witch in the center, the ruby red flippers, the hot air balloon. You can trace the movie throughout the whole game. It really is a smart design.
Hobbit just doesn't do that. Sure, it has the dragon, and the barrels if you get the LE (but not on the standard) but it's very segmented and silo'd. Sure, popup bad guys, but they're all treated the same, there's no narrative to them. They don't own their own sections. All the dwarves are on there, but they're scattered and again in way way part of a story. It feels vast and empty.
Hobbit is a journey. I'm sure Keith will make that clear, I have faith in him, and it could still be an epic game. I really think it's too early to write it off. But it doesn't have that magic. And after WOZ we were all expecting it, and maybe not sure why it wasn't there. It's not the toys, though those help of course, it's the whole package and the story it needs to tell before you even press Start.
Look at this:
Click to enlarge, it's worth it! Art by http://breathing2004.deviantart.com
Oh man, if the playfield looked like that? I know, the license, wasn't gonna happen. But it's what I wished it could have been and I didn't realize it. Bold, colorful, and the whole story is there. Look at how you start on the left spiral and work to the right one. You can see the whole narrative laid out in front of you. I can see it in my head without hearing a sound effect, or seeing the LCD backglass play a movie clip.
And that's what makes great pinball. It should lay out the world and draw you in. If the playfield looked like stained glass, with trolls and dwarves and the inserts were doing the beautiful lighting effects that JJP is so good at? I'm seeing myself just watching it without even playing. I think we would have been lining up for it. That's how much these things matter.
I know it's too late for this particular vision. And everyone may not even agree with me. But I really think there's a lesson in here for anyone making a pin. Learn from this. And if the license is going to handcuff you so you can't do it? Find out ahead of time and walk away. There are lots of fish in the sea.
Best of luck to JJP with their game, and I hope Lawlor is making the kind of epic and captivating game that will bring that magic back.

a_long_long_adventure_with_hobbi... 278 KB

Long post and you do a good job of specifying why you feel like you do about the art, and comparing it other work, but from my perspective it all comes down to just two words that you mention:

Drab and dreary

#17 7 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

Didn't realize Balcer left JJP, who designed TH then?

That's the big question, and I'm theorizing that it might be the last big kahuna that was left standing, Keith.

#18 7 years ago
Quoted from PinballMikeD:

Didn't realize Balcer left JJP, who designed TH then?

Balcer left JJP after the playfield design for TH was basically "complete".

#19 7 years ago
Quoted from RobT:

Drab and dreary

Frankly this is why I am not going to the SE edition. I like having Smaug on the cabinet, but have the same on both sides - no thanks. The reason I want to keep the LE cab art is the color! I need the color on the cab to get as much color as possible. This kind of color (greens and blues) is what needs to be translated into the PF.

#20 7 years ago

That hobbit playfield art is very weak to me overall, Im spoiled going to comicon every year and seeing the amazing art, not all comic related, those are real artists, not just photoshop experts, to me first off the playfield ought to be illustrated, DP knew this and succeeded greatly, if it is going to be photoshopped then it should be way better than it currently is. I think this is actually something that could be redone before release, If you've ever watched those commissioned artists work, they are extremely talented and fast, and that's hand drawn and digitally painted, I bet if the licensors were approached with an amazing piece that represented their IP they would not deny it. They really need to commission a real art piece for this.

#21 7 years ago

I'm having the same thoughts and thanks to Aurich for starting a thread that I hope stays civil and concentrates on why this happened and what to do now. I went to look at a JM today at a pinsider's house who lives close to me and he had several pins that were in good shape. I've been looking for a Funhouse for a long time and he had one in real nice condition, I'm hoping he sells it to me at some point but I had a game it was amazing and The Hobbit all of a sudden came to mind, I'm not a WOZ fan but the there is no denying its beauty and I put money down on The Hobbit as its a much better theme for me and I figured I'm getting WOZ quality with a great theme how could anything go wrong, sadly it has and I'm trying to hold on but here's the point if that fella had said today give me $4000 for Funhouse I would have which would mean cancelling TH, my response should have been I have to pass I have this awesome game coming and need my cash for that. I really want to keep my pre-order but Jack needs to speak up a lot more than he has and I think waiting till next month is a mistake. Hopefully we are all going to be eating these words down the road but for now I need something, if TBL was a theme I enjoyed for pinball I would be out already.

#22 7 years ago
Quoted from Asael:

Has anybody here seen the art of the packaging of the hobbit extended collector editions blurays?
Perhaps I should scan my in to show you how colorfull and beautiful Peter Jacksons Art can be.

Eh, same issue really. All cool colors. Strictly earthen, almost muddy at parts. It's honestly not particularly compelling. And it has a whole lot less to do than a pinball. "You had one job."

It doesn't of course need to look like stained glass. But look at that image I posted again. It's unquestionably The Hobbit. And it's not gloomy and drab. You don't need to be so literal. TBL isn't a technicolor movie. Look at the pin. It wasn't designed by pasting screen grabs of the film onto the play field.

#23 7 years ago
Quoted from OldPinster:

The Walking Dead is not exactly a cheery theme either ... but the upper pf looks fun!! And I know this isn't a fair pic of Hobbit and is blurry ... but you get the point.

compare_UP.jpg 94 KB

It's not unfair... It's redicous to compare a "Mr Blurry Cam" shot in the worst possible light to a professionally done studio shot. And in fact I'm seeing this shot pop up like that witch comparison that "other guy" kept posting. Have you seen that one? As many times as it was posted was just Cra... Oh you know

#24 7 years ago
Quoted from John_I:

Balcer left JJP after the playfield design for TH was basically "complete".

According to Balcer's quotes, he intended to have a very interactive Smaug, which explains the layout. When it became clear Balcer's Smaug wasn't going to happen, he probably wanted to redesign the layout like any decent designer would want, and I'm wondering if Jack felt that too much time and money was already spent to go back to a new whitewood. We have no clarity on what made Balcer quit, but it must be Jack's choices that did it. And Freres/Nordman, they must have been a part of all this inner turmoil.

#25 7 years ago

I think the problem is the movies are not that closely linked to the book, and JJP's license is for the movies. The Hobbit book is a much lighter story in print than it is in the movies. In fact, I always thought Thorin and the dwarves were a bit comical in the book. The Hobbit movies just try too hard to recreate the LOTR movies, and get back to the Middle Earth created there. I think the LOTR trilogy was great, but I would have loved to see The Hobbit as a lighter movie without all of the bloat to stretch it into three movies.

#26 7 years ago
Quoted from PBINTHESOUTH:

Aurich, I hear you in many of your opinions, but heck this is the Hobbit... hairy bearded characters in brown clothes/Golumn/swamps/frigid/dark mountains all make for dreary scenery... LOTR has some green and orange colors, but it's still the same dark/green/muckey background..
WOZ is totally different, yellow brick roads/candy land colors/pink good witches/etc...

LotR has some nice colors on the playfield, along with some storytelling.

lotr_pf.jpg

And unlike TH, it has enough inserts to customize a colorful light job.

6823.jpg

#27 7 years ago

Nice toys too

#28 7 years ago
Quoted from HunchbackHodler:

LotR has some nice colors on the playfield.

And unlike TH, it has enough inserts to customize a colorful light job.

lotr_pf.jpg 217 KB

image_1.jpg 119 KB

I think LOTR is a bit dark too. Also, without the code and dots, I don't think it would tell the whole story either.

#29 7 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

I've been thinking about The Hobbit a lot since going to Expo. It's not really a secret that I've been disappointed with it, but at times I wasn't really able to pin down exactly why. What is it about it that didn't work for me when I saw it next to WOZ? And why did I break my rule about pre-ordering games to get in on TBL?
I've come to realize that it's really about the theme and presentation, and not about any real technical competence. JP really listened to our feedback and fixed things on the art that were bugging me. I think Smaug is fine for the most part. He's not epic like people hoped, but talking dragon is fine by me. Replace the ugly VUKs with the wireforms from the whitewood and move/fix the book and give the dragon some surroundings and I think it will do a lot for the game.
The thing is none of that can address what's bugging me now that I've pinned it down. The game is moody and dark looking, and there isn't a real story in it. I like dark as a concept, but I don't like it when it's drab. I want my skulls to be bright and with green slime, give me Greg Freres' Scared Stiff any day. It's not just that The Hobbit is "photoshopped art", but that it's just dreary. That's not pinball, to me at least.
Look at The Big Lebowski. It's got color! It's bright and graphic and bold, and I love it from all the way across the room. When I get closer though it's even better, not only in the detail in the art, but in the way that the whole playfield tells the story. The bowling, bashing the car, building the White Russian, everything is part of the movie in such a way that you see it all. Dutch Pinball said they didn't need a rule card, because if you know the film the shots will make sense.
Now look at WOZ. Same thing. Very colorful. Maybe too much for some, but you have to admit, it's gonna draw people in. And once again, the story is there. The spiral of the yellow brick road anchoring the center of the widebody game. The haunted forest, the flying monkey, the castle, the spinning house and Wicked Witch of the East, The Witch in the center, the ruby red flippers, the hot air balloon. You can trace the movie throughout the whole game. It really is a smart design.
Hobbit just doesn't do that. Sure, it has the dragon, and the barrels if you get the LE (but not on the standard) but it's very segmented and silo'd. Sure, popup bad guys, but they're all treated the same, there's no narrative to them. They don't own their own sections. All the dwarves are on there, but they're scattered and again in way way part of a story. It feels vast and empty.
Hobbit is a journey. I'm sure Keith will make that clear, I have faith in him, and it could still be an epic game. I really think it's too early to write it off. But it doesn't have that magic. And after WOZ we were all expecting it, and maybe not sure why it wasn't there. It's not the toys, though those help of course, it's the whole package and the story it needs to tell before you even press Start.
Look at this:
Click to enlarge, it's worth it! Art by http://breathing2004.deviantart.com
Oh man, if the playfield looked like that? I know, the license, wasn't gonna happen. But it's what I wished it could have been and I didn't realize it. Bold, colorful, and the whole story is there. Look at how you start on the left spiral and work to the right one. You can see the whole narrative laid out in front of you. I can see it in my head without hearing a sound effect, or seeing the LCD backglass play a movie clip.
And that's what makes great pinball. It should lay out the world and draw you in. If the playfield looked like stained glass, with trolls and dwarves and the inserts were doing the beautiful lighting effects that JJP is so good at? I'm seeing myself just watching it without even playing. I think we would have been lining up for it. That's how much these things matter.
I know it's too late for this particular vision. And everyone may not even agree with me. But I really think there's a lesson in here for anyone making a pin. Learn from this. And if the license is going to handcuff you so you can't do it? Find out ahead of time and walk away. There are lots of fish in the sea.
Best of luck to JJP with their game, and I hope Lawlor is making the kind of epic and captivating game that will bring that magic back.

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I think what makes TBL art feel really good is it's reviving an old pinball art style. Something akin to demo man, t2, etc. Bold colors rounded rectangles not a lot of pixelated art. It's a bit retro which fits really well with the theme and the whole bowling thing. It just works. Even though LOTR is REALLY pixellated that art yells LOTR!! It just fits. You artists can probably quantify why it works so well. For us non-artists it's just a strong, good feeling.

-5
#30 7 years ago
Quoted from juanton:

I think LOTR is a bit dark too.

That can be fixed.

image_1.jpg 51633.jpg
#32 7 years ago
Quoted from HunchbackHodler:

That can be fixed.

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Lol. I'm not a fan of led's at all. By dark I mean the color scheme. I don't think it takes away from the game at all, I think the LOTR books and movies are darker themed. I think the colors fit the game perfectly. I would have like to have seen TH movie go a different direction though. Peter Jackson tried to create another LOTR trilogy out of one short book, and I don't think it works. If I had never read TH, I might have a different feeling about it. I first read TH as a kid, and then a few times through the years. I read it to my son as a bedtime story when he was in 2nd grade a few years ago. Needless to say, I didn't follow it up with the LOTR trilogy. It's just a different kind of vibe.

#33 7 years ago

It seems to me like there was no real 'director' for the game, as if the artist, designer, sculptor, rules guy, all were all in different places, and working in their own directions. Is this what happened? Was there anyone in charge of the project after Balcer left? Who knows, but honestly it is the only way I can imagine us getting what we have now. It is not bad, but it should be amazing. At this point I really should not care, but The Hobbit was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it just disappointing that what we are getting is so lackluster. None of the separate elements look 'bad' to me... the toys, the photoshop art, the playfield, cabinet design, etc... they just don't unite to make an impressive whole.

#34 7 years ago

It's funny, LOTR is nominally the same license, right? And yet there wasn't any of this "the Balrog isn't hit by a pinball in the movie!" nonsense. The translite is hand drawn art, not PR stills. Same with the cabinet. The printing on the playfield is awful, JJP trumps the quality of the printing, but it does a much better job at telling the story. The Balrog, the sword, of course the ring, the Path of the Dead, the tower, it's much more of a narrative-based layout.

It's not my favorite game, visually speaking, but I think it did accomplish what it needed to. The art is definitely hamstrung by the shit print quality.

#35 7 years ago

The fact that LORT's really is a fantastic pinball machine is not helping. Those pictures are making me miss mine a lot. I hope Stern makes a VE, at the very least I probably will have one again.

#36 7 years ago
Quoted from chessiv:

I think what makes TBL art feel really good is it's reviving an old pinball art style. Something akin to demo man, t2, etc. Bold colors rounded rectangles not a lot of pixelated art. It's a bit retro which fits really well with the theme and the whole bowling thing. It just works.

Yeah, definitely. A lot of people at Expo were saying "it feels like a 90s pin", but in a complimentary way. Like a return to a more magical period where the games were still commercial products, but more hand crafted.

Nothing wrong with Photoshop, it's my tool of choice, been using it myself for the last 23 years. And photorealism has its place. But there are definitely lazy ways to use both. And I mean that in a lot of ways. Like you can be a lazy designer with it for sure. But it also makes people like movie studios lazy, because they can just say "here, take this PR folder, use the images in here, and that's it, so we don't have approve new shit."

Some people may know the story of the Demolition Man translite, and how it got hamstrung, which is why it looks so lame now. Doug Watson did 10 detailed, hand drawn sketches before they finally figured out Snipes was a dick and messing everything up. It wasn't "here's the DVD cover, use this". Like Avengers.

But you can also do amazing things with these modern tools. No need to be lazy. Dutch Pinball used studio assets where they had to, it's why the faces on the playfield are photos, but they found smart work around for the other parts. Use icons, draw things that are original, the studio can't control everything if you're smart. And DP is smart, and that's why I'm giving them my money.

#37 7 years ago

TBL looks like it's going to be great. Congrats. Personally, I could never sit through the whole movie, so I'm definitely not in for it.

#38 7 years ago
Quoted from juanton:

Lol. I'm not a fan of led's at all.

The second image I posted to you seems pretty warm to my eye.

Quoted from Hazoff:

The fact that LORT's really is a fantastic pinball machine is not helping. Those pictures are making me miss mine a lot. I hope Stern makes a VE, at the very least I probably will have one again.

If Stern released a LotR VE in late december, Jack would cry

#39 7 years ago
Quoted from HunchbackHodler:

If Stern released a LotR VE in late december, Jack would cry

I don't think it would matter. One of the reasons we ordered TH was to sit next to LOTR. I personally don't want TH to be another LOTR. I want TH to be a different pin altogether. I still think it will be a great pin before we ever get it. If I didn't, I would cancel my order tomorrow.

#40 7 years ago

I like the LOTR movies, but fast forward though the bits with Hobbits
Then they came up with a Hobit movie, watched part 1 and was bored

Boring movie = boring pinball
Not helped by the fact that it took me four months to get into the LOTR pinball machine

Then there is the drab playfield art

#41 7 years ago

I don't have a single led in my LOTR. The warm incandescent light is perfect for the theme. So we're all mentioning lotr, look at how inexpensive that pin was compared to POTC or other sterns in that era. It also proves you don't have to have a ton of crap to have a fun pin.

#42 7 years ago
Quoted from juanton:

I don't think it would matter. One of the reasons we ordered TH was to sit next to LOTR. I personally don't want TH to be another LOTR. I want TH to be a different pin altogether. I still think it will be a great pin before we ever get it. If I didn't, I would cancel my order tomorrow.

uhm, no. I don't think most buyers of TH are OCD'ing. And there are many who still want a nib LotR and a TH, but only have the need for one Middle-Earth game.

#43 7 years ago
Quoted from HunchbackHodler:

uhm, no. I don't think most buyers of TH are OCD'ing. And there are many who still want a nib LotR and a TH, but only have the need for one Middle-Earth game, check Hazoff's post above.

Of course. Who doesn't want a NIB LOTR? I have a perfect LOTR and I would consider buying one. That wouldn't stop me from buying TH also though. I guess it's a matter of what you want to spend your money on. If a person can only afford one NIB, they should definitely buy the one they are going to be happiest with, not the one that everyone else tells them is best.

#44 7 years ago
Quoted from HunchbackHodler:

LotR has some nice colors on the playfield, along with some storytelling.

And unlike TH, it has enough inserts to customize a colorful light job.

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Yikes...skittles in middle earth? Blasphemy!

-1
#45 7 years ago

the lighting should be like this
51633.jpg

#46 7 years ago
Quoted from Aurich:

The thing is none of that can address what's bugging me now that I've pinned it down. The game is moody and dark looking, and there isn't a real story in it. I like dark as a concept, but I don't like it when it's drab.

I don't think it's too late for this to be a stunningly beautiful game. TH playfield artwork is far from drab. I don't think that's the issue here. Looking at the Expo videos, I notice 2 things: 1) the lighting in that hall was really bad. Way too bright, flat and overpowering… but more importantly 2) the game lighting as implemented was very, very basic.

The inserts are all displaying static colors and doing nothing fancy. Also, the GI lighting is your basic, cool white, which is doing the PF artwork no favors. Remember, these are full RGB LEDs that can render any color in the rainbow, with smooth transitions. WOZ lighting is nothing short of stunning, and IMO set a new high bar. Have you seen what they did with Fireball Frenzy? TH doesn't have the sheer number of inserts, but the GI has been redesigned and looks to be plenty powerful to throw light. Lots of opportunity there.

I actually really like the look of the Hobbit films. The sets are all beautifully lit, and the landscapes are very colorful despite the predominance of earth tones. There is plenty of opportunity for the dev team to translate that vision and inject color into this game via the software. They just need more time to do it. I remain hopeful we will see something amazing.

#47 7 years ago
Quoted from fuko:

I don't think it's too late for this to be a stunningly beautiful game. TH playfield artwork is far from drab. I don't think that's the issue here. Looking at the Expo videos, I notice 2 things: 1) the lighting in that hall was really bad. Way too bright, flat and overpowering… but more importantly 2) the game lighting as implemented was very, very basic.
The inserts are all displaying static colors and doing nothing fancy. Also, the GI lighting is your basic, cool white, which is doing the PF artwork no favors. Remember, these are full RGB LEDs that can render any color in the rainbow, with smooth transitions. WOZ lighting is nothing short of stunning, and IMO set a new high bar. Have you seen what they did with Fireball Frenzy? TH doesn't have the sheer number of inserts, but the GI has been redesigned and looks to be plenty powerful to throw light. Lots of opportunity there.
I actually really like the look of the Hobbit films. The sets are all beautifully lit, and the landscapes are very colorful despite the predominance of earth tones. There is plenty of opportunity for the dev team to translate that vision and inject color into this game via the software. They just need more time to do it. I remain hopeful we will see something amazing.

FYI...the GI in Hobbit is only white. They're not RGB LEDs.

#48 7 years ago
Quoted from Pimp77:

FYI...the GI in Hobbit is only white. They're not RGB LEDs.

Are you certain? Source? If so, that's a big disappointment

#49 7 years ago
Quoted from fuko:

I actually really like the look of the Hobbit films. The sets are all beautifully lit, and the landscapes are very colorful despite the predominance of earth tones.

Ya the Hobbit movies are more colorful then the Rings movies.

#50 7 years ago

Hi. I am a simple person and simply a Pinside neophyte. Take my opinion for whatever little value it is worth, but here is my observation. For the purpose of full disclosure, I own LOTR with the latest code, and I am paid in full for THSE. LOTR is number 6 on the pinside 100 list. I played a LOTR yesterday, built in 2003, without any code updates. It was a real privilege and eye opener. Imagine if JJP had released that same LOTR at Chicago last week. What would the pinball faithful say....................?????

-nice game with decent cabinet art and a great theme, though some of the playfield print is kind of fuzzy (good so far)
-lots of ramp shots and a complex, deep code (still good)
-truly theme based, with great integration of game, play, and theme (actually, very nice)
- disappointing Paths of the Dead nudge field, which really should have been a mini play field with its own flipper like some of the subsequent Stern games (oh well, nothing in life is absolutely perfect)
-Balrog bash toy which lights up and roars when you hit it. It DOES NOT TALK OR EAT YOURBALL. but it is still cool because the Balrog was cool in the movie (really??? How about more animation? We expected more).
-Baradur tower kind of buzzes electronically, particularly at the end of the Destroy the Ring sequence. (Was this intended, or is it simply an electrical short?)
-Palantir with an exposed drill hole and poor back lighting. THIS MUST BE A PLACEHOLDER FOR SOMETHING ELSE.
-Poor code with disruptions of game flow and some stupid play situations like when the Balrog blocks the center ramp to the ring when the Start Mode light is on.(there is more wrong than just the code).
-if you angle the game a bit higher, play will be faster and better(that's the down side of producing a game with so many ramps and not enough (rapid return) drop targets.)
-fun game, but how many times do I need to hear Gimli to say "the path of the dead" before I vomit???
-with the depth of this story and all of the possibilities for this theme, could the brilliant pinball gurus not come up with something better??? I think I will cancel my order and buy RCT by Pat Lawler when it comes out instead (truly, no offence Pat).

SOUND FAMILIAR????????? Give JJP and TH a chance. They still have a superior, game changing product with superior clear coated cabinetry, superior lighting with with RGB LED's, superior wide body design, and a great theme. Oh, and an LCD screen with true video, not a little DMD. Wake up people, the DMD went out with the pager and the typewriter. Sent from my I-pad. Cheers!

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