I attended the Houston Expo and played RAZA on and off over 2 days (probably put ~30-40+ games in). Here is a $.02 perspective on top of the other comments already reported in this thread. TLDR: Skip down to "Overall".
Disclaimer: I am not a tournament player, nor a pinball historian, have no fanboi allegiance to any manufacturers/designers, and just a regular novice pin enthusiast.
I spoke with the DR crew about their goal of attending the event and about the pin itself. They confirmed the machines brought to the show were not the final PFs, cabinets, art package, sculpted toys, code, etc... (RM commented on this in his last podcast interview so really no surprises there).
These machines were specifically put together to test at the show to collect data and get initial impressions on some of the design aspects. The goal of bringing to a small event like Expo was to view real life players of all skills interact with the game, collect data on a subset of code, and see what people liked/didn't like. In short, I gathered they wanted feedback but didn't want to reveal everything ahead of their premier early next year.
I don't know if one should hypothesis that there will be changes from what was shown in the actual PF/Mechs but I would expect tweaks and more layers added to the code. The DR reps kept telling me we were not seeing all that is in the game, they pulled a lot for the show, and there will be more in the final build (interpret how you will).
It was apparent that aspects of the code were not complete in that it was lacking full story integration on goals/objectives, fully implemented call outs, all wizard modes, full on light integration, etc. The modes that worked had the animation running like Atomic Mode, Zombie Multi-Ball mode, Duck Hunt. Other items like Bowling Alley, Daredevil Ramp, Dizzie Dozzie sort of registered and displayed animation on the screen but I didn't see how they integrated into the game play story or value to the game objectives.
The DR team did have laptops directly wired into the backbox CPUs of both pins (pins OS run on Unity) collecting data, turning features on and off, rebooting, viewing stats, etc... For example, there were a few times when i saw the ball go into the Xenon ball lock and the CPU ball register would lose track. The game would just sit idle and not do a ball check. They would have to reboot the pin from the laptop. Upon rebooting, a ball check script would run, find the missing ball, eject it back into the game, and cleared the error. By the second day, they must have tweaked code b/c when I saw it happen they said wait (which usually took over a min) but eventually the ball check would kick in and automatically eject out the lost ball. Main difference was no forced reboot.
The rep did comment that they have been play testing extensively in their labs but the show was definitely providing value in that they are seeing some new behaviors/issues they had not run across during their testing.
I was told RAZA's toys were 3D printed and not the final sculptured versions. The Ferris wheel was a pure white plastic wheel and not decorated. The toys (Dizzie Doozie, Zombie Ned, Jet Rocket, UFO Ship, Atomic Shop) looked pretty rough up close to be honest but they represent what will be in place.
They addressed the PFs being dark. The PF lights were not fully implemented for the prototypes and there would be a brighter/better implemented light shows in the final product.
Cabinet art was just a place holder. The silver plate around the screen and speakers was also just a functional cover.
As others stated, the conference area lighting situation wasn't ideal. The game's color palate has a lot of green, purple and blue which combined with conf area lighting (plus lack of full in-game light integration) hurt what can be seen in the photos/videos (green haze). The color scheme does have a feel as if it's being setup for a black-light neon-glow option (speculating). Plus the glass was standard "visiglass" which meant views were blocked by lights/reflections bouncing off the glass.
Screen/Animation: I liked the length of the screen, it felt natural, and didn't distract from game play. Animation was smooth, buttery and professionally done. Want to see more of what's to come in the animation department and how it integrates into the back story. The players' scores, objectives and understanding the layout was pretty straight forward.
Sounds: From what I heard, well composed, professionally done, crisp, and fit well with the game play. Buzz Lightyear meets evil carnival integration is the best way to describe it.
Flow: This is not a fast flowing game. It's a lot of stop, aim, and shoot at your targets. At first when playing, it felt clunky. As I got better on ball control and knowing objectives of where to shoot, the game felt smoother. It is a low scoring game where breaking 1000 was an achievement for many. Towards the end I was averaging 5k-10k scoring games with a personal high of 24k.
JPOP factor: Yes, this is filled with a plethora of past JPOP design concepts, game mechanics and toys. Does one stand out above all the rest? None did for me. I felt like each brought a small uniqueness to the game and as a whole provided entertainment but not one item dominated the game.
Zed Target: Moving target under Zed sculpture. Shoot moving target under Ned to spell out Zombie. Activates Zombie Multiball. Very satisfying and if missed, can lead to SDTM plunges. Most obviously thing to do and focus on at start of the game.
Multipliers: 3x, 6x, 9x underneath left wing of Jet Rocket above the Ride the Coaster ramp. Important to have these hit (often via nudging) and activated before multi-balls. Absolute must to achieve high scores!
Ride the Coaster Ramp: The ramp has a skill factor. Hit it with enough speed, you drive the ball to the top and it can divert to a left or right exit ramp (which direction it takes I could not determine but a majority of the time it would exit down the right ramp). If you try to dead flip it up, you usually won't have enough momentum, it rolls backwards down the ramp and drops off behind the Atomic Shop (Ramp chute has part of it's side missing) into the central top play area near the Zed moving bullseye target. I was in the 30-40% range of making it to the top. Some games it seemed easy to do back to back. Others it was near impossible to get the momentum needed. Partly by design? Or partly due to weak flippers? Lots of cheers when people made it to the top of the ramp tho.
Dizzie Dozzie: This is the spin toy (~TOTAN Lamp) on the left side which was pretty stiff on spinning. Spin it and get points. When I made the comment how it slowed down play, the engineer commented they've tried it where it spins much looser/faster. They tweaked it for the show to try it in the other direction. Most comments from players were that it got in the way, spins too slow, sort of useless, and slowed down play but I did see that it helped redirect the ball often in a positive manner to prevent SDTM. It's location sort of makes the left orbit difficult to hit and can get in the way of the Atomic Shop if the Dizzie Doozie bar is oriented in a blocking pattern of ball flow.
Daredevil ramp: I didn't understand the joy of it. Hit it just right and the ball jumps up an inch off the PF, hits a target, drops down behind the ramp, and pushes the ramp up to roll ball back into play. Code wasn't really integrated to show its value from what I saw.
Twister Spins: Spinning black disk which I saw activate 2x but had no idea why it activated. Just flung the ball in a random direction across PF. Injects risk but no major wow factor for me.
Bowling Alley: Three X's up along the right orbit have targets that call out spares/strikes when hit. They worked but again not fully implemented in how they are part of the game.
Atomic Shop: Hit drop target in front of shop to open the shop. Enter shop before drop target pops back up to activate a mode. I.E House of Mirrors, Duck Hunt,... Pretty straight forward. Noted that Dizzie Doozie's orientation often gets in the way.
Ferris Wheel: Soft right orbit shot I believe will get you a seat on the wheel which just slow spins and drops ball back into play. Not sure the value or if it was fully integrated into game play yet.
Duck Hunt: To the left of Dizzie Doozie is a carnival spin wheel with 3 duck targets that rotates. Hard to hit but one of the modes I believe from Atomic Shop.
Atomic Shot: Shoot left orbit to spell Atomic Shot. Activates modes. Can't recall which.
Xenon Tube: Just to the right of Zed moving target, locks balls for multi-ball mode.
MagnaSave: Above the right lane letter "D", there is a silver magnet that can be activated by a second button below the right flipper button. Press and Hold (as long as you like) and the ball will get pulled to the magnet. Release the button and it drops down the D lane. Great when you see the ball wobbling toward the "E" drain lane. For the show (at least on the second day), the magnasave was always available and never timed out. They said very few people tried using it. I found it invaluable. I assume in final code you will have to earn this function and it will only be on for a limited time.
Carnival Tickets: Throughout the game you collect carnival tickets for achieving actions. How you get to spend these to collect prizes or activate features was not explained or how to use. May be tied with Skill Shot Select item below but wasn't implemented.
Skill Shot Select: Before each plunge, you can choose with your flippers on the screen from 6 (I recall) skill shot targets to hit. You spend different points to select. Maybe this is where you spend tickets? The more points you spend, the greater reward if you hit selected target. For the Expo, it didn't seem to matter if you had points or not, you could select any skill shot to attempt. Maybe I just misunderstood the objectives of this skill shot part of the game. It seemed no matter what you picked, all the skill shots lit up to target. Someone else can correct me on this. There were blips in the code where a skill shot would auto select as you switched players and it ran out your save ball plunge timer before you had a chance to shoot.
Skill Gate: Upon plunging the ball, it sends the ball up a short ramp and dumps it right to your flippers every time. I assume this is aligned to coordinate with the Skill Shot you select.
Wizard Modes: Battle 1, 2, 3, 4, Save the Earth. I don't believe these were active or available.
Hurry Up/Get Ready: Above the R on the far left drain, when lit, actually shoots drained ball up to windy clear plastic trail and drops back to left flipper. Everytime I thought my ball was going to drain I was excited to have this kick in. Small gimmick but an enjoyable one.
Overall: There was a fun factor and challenge to RAZA. I kept going back to play more. I told the reps my curiosity was piqued, it had a lot of potential, definitely needs tweaks (PF mechs/Code), but I wouldn't buy it today in its current state. There has to be a deeper level of code play with objectives and wizard modes (which obviously weren't available for the expo) for me to see and play before I would purchase one.
The discussions on DR innovations under the hood and PF are interesting for long term support/maintenance/cost savings but obviously they were not available in this cabinet build to be shown at Houston Expo.
RAZA has the components to be fun but as a whole I wasn't sure they were fully implemented with code yet. If this is close to final form, then they may have problems with long term play-ability, attracting players, and selling large volumes of machines. As a prototype, this was a pretty solid showing. It definitely has created a spectrum of opinions on PS.
End message is that I am curious to see more and where this goes. They have a good foundation to build and tweak (layout, toys, code, animation). Can they deliver a "Wow-Factor" game in its final form and hit a price range that will draw in the limited dollars from potential pin buyers next year?
To be continued in 2020...