What is the future of Mechanical Theme Integration?

(Topic ID: 237280)

What is the future of Mechanical Theme Integration?


By spinal

19 days ago



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    There are 87 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 2.
    #1 19 days ago

    At a certain point in the history of pinball, the most creative designers looked for ways to bring elements of a pinball theme to life in the physical pinball hardware itself - this is Mechanical Theme Integration (MTI).

    A good example of MTI is the spinning house in WOZ which spins like in the movie while incorporating the goal of continuing to shoot the pinball around the house in a tornado-like fashion. Going even further, the house landing on the wicked witch of the East is further put into hardware by having her legs actually pop out right before our eyes. MM and AFM are also good examples from the 90's.

    wozxtra4 (resized).jpg

    Now there are many different ways that a theme can come to life in a pinball machine, for example, it can be done in very simplified ways (object on spring) or on digital displays. But sadly, in recent years it seems like there is less attention given for actual mechanical theme integration.

    However, some of us still yearn for more mechanical theme integration in our new games and are waiting to see what the future will bring.

    Question 1: What do you think are the best examples of mechanical theme integration in pinball? (please attach a picture to your post if you can)

    Question 2: When it comes to mechanical theme integration, do you think the best days are behind us or are you optimistic about the future?

    #2 19 days ago

    Mechanical theme integration in Medieval Madness: Mechanical drawbridge over moat, mechanical gate, cannon shot bashing wall on left and finishing off with exploding castle.

    mmcastle (resized).jpg
    #3 19 days ago

    Attack from Mars:

    afm (resized).jpg
    -1
    #4 19 days ago

    id rather things that interact with the ball, i like MM for that
    the spinning house is just a complicated toy that can break

    but the future is more about magnets and less about moving parts that can fail

    #5 19 days ago

    Monster Bash

    mb (resized).jpg
    #6 19 days ago

    Twilight Zone gumball machine

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    #7 19 days ago

    The Simpsons Pinball Party: you enter the house through garage door and then lock balls on couch (and more!)

    tspp (resized).jpg
    11
    #9 19 days ago

    Funhouse (hah I was just posting)

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    #10 19 days ago

    World Cup Soccer

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    #11 19 days ago
    Quoted from PopBumperPete:

    id rather things that interact with the ball, i like MM for that
    the spinning house is just a complicated toy that can break
    but the future is more about magnets and less about moving parts that can fail

    I'll agree that mechanical theme integration is better if there is direct interaction with the ball so I'll give MM the nod here too. The interaction in WOZ is not as direct but there was thought put into it going around the house like a tornado. But for sure, smashing the castle with cannonballs is much more direct for sure.

    Maybe the future will have less moving parts and I know it's easier for operators but I'm looking at it from my perspective, from the pinball collector and hobbiest perspective, and I like more mechanical innovation and not less. There is no argument that removing all moving parts from a machine will make it more reliable, I'm just saying what the hell fun is that? For those of us (not all of us) that like mechanical innovation, this is a loss not a gain.

    #12 19 days ago

    Probably not Stern...

    #13 19 days ago

    Pinball magic the wand.

    #14 19 days ago

    NBA FB with the hoop on the pf. The shot clock. The hoop in the backbox.

    #15 19 days ago

    Interesting to me that (other than the rotating magic trunk and the spirit ring magnet) the magic tricks in ToM happen on the screen, whereas the magic tricks in Capcom PM are on the playfield and mechanical. I own ToM and like both (I ran out of space or I would have been looking for a Pinball Magic).

    #16 19 days ago

    I obviously can't speak for other manufacturers, but for us, it depends on the theme. If the theme calls for interactive mechnical toys (eg 8-ball locking spaceship in Lexy Lightspeed) then that's what will go into the game. For gravity-defying ball manipulation in outer space, like in Cosmic Cart Racing, magnets are the perfect implementation.

    Pinball is a physical game. Mechanical toys won't go away.

    - Gerry
    https://www.multimorphic.com

    #17 19 days ago

    In my opinion, one of the absolute best examples would be the blinders on Tommy. They are not only a cool mechanical toy that catches people completely by surprise, but they also perfectly fit the theme ...

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    #18 19 days ago

    Probably have to look to JJP. Stern, as of late, are happy to throw on a bash toy, a magnet, and call it a day. While I love Xmen and TWD, I'd like to see more creativity from Stern going forward. I was very disappointed with Munsters. Fan layout, bash toy, and a magnet. The mini playfield is interesting, but it's been done, too.

    JJP Pirates is pretty cool. The mini playfield rocking back and forth like a ship is cool. And it loads a cannon to shoot the ball at the other ship.

    #19 19 days ago

    Some of my favorite mechanical features that have not been mentioned yet are from Mary Shelley Frankenstein when Frankenstein grabs your ball and throws it. Another awesome toy is from lost world Jurassic park when the snagger comes down to grab and lock your ball. Also the first Jurassic park pin has the awesome t rex eating your ball.

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    #20 19 days ago

    What about the hammer and snake on met premium. Or going old school the balligator on nip it.

    #21 19 days ago

    Thing is the king of mechanical toys. I would play TAF just to see the hand come out and “grab” the ball.

    #22 19 days ago

    Stargate glider and pyramid.
    Freddy on Nightmare on Elm St.

    #23 19 days ago

    So are we supossed ot say what we think the future is or just keep listing previous ones?

    #24 19 days ago
    Quoted from TheLaw:

    So are we supossed ot say what we think the future is or just keep listing previous ones?

    Just keep talking about ones we like because there is no one here that can see into the future.

    #25 19 days ago

    I’m thankful for all the posts because I have not yet played all these games so keep them coming!

    #26 19 days ago

    New stuff way out of the box would be great.
    Thinking of the first shaker in Earthshaker and the blowing fan topper on Whirlwind.

    #27 19 days ago

    I thought that The Big Lebowski looked promising. But I haven’t followed that games development since well before the stuff fell apart.

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    #28 19 days ago

    The mouse traps on Mousin' Around might be among my favorite locks in pinball, and they fit the theme perfectly. The coolest lock though, imho, has to be the prototype lock on Judge Dredd. That thing is really cool to see in action, and I can't think of a more unique ball lock. Oh, and I love the Time Expander on Doctor Who as well! That game was created with an original story centered around the Time Expander, so theme integration is superb in that game.

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    #29 19 days ago

    I can tell you my future

    I will not buy another pin that does not fully integrate the mechanical aspect.

    Goidbye Stern where it's all art and movie clips.
    Im not following them down that road.
    Love my Sterns of the past 10 years, but the last half dozen or so was a pitiful cash grab.

    #30 19 days ago

    Flying car ramp for repo man

    #31 18 days ago
    Quoted from bangerjay:

    Flying car ramp for repo man

    Ahhh.... So that's what people mean by a dream theme. Thought would do it for me.

    #32 18 days ago

    FYI, I was listening to Episode 81 of Head to Head Pinball and this topic was being discussed as well - recommend listening! I know I'm not the only one noticing the lack of innovation in some recent titles.

    #33 18 days ago
    Quoted from spinal:

    I know I'm not the only one noticing the lack of innovation in some recent titles.

    Um yeah this isn't breaking news.

    17
    #34 18 days ago

    The moving / interactive ship playfield in JJP's POTC is pretty impressive and very mechanical in nature. There's a lot of interaction with the toy when you also factor in using the lockdown bar button to fire a ball in the ship's cannon across the playfield into another ship.
    potc_upperpf_gif.gif

    #35 18 days ago

    One thing I'm surprised we haven't seen are motorized outlane posts. These could be used to:

    1) Allow the operator to adjust difficulty much more easily - or even have the game adjust based on auto-percentaging.

    2) Allow in-game variation through:
    a) modes in which they are more or less open or closed, or where the posts oscillate
    b) earning of closed posts through awards

    3) Allow unique competitive scenarios where:
    a) Handicapped positions based on player strength in a multi-player game
    b) Ensure remote games connected online have equal post settings

    #36 18 days ago

    Most of this stuff harkens back to the Nickelodeon Era, merely being electrified rather than powered by springs and weights. I see a future without it as Manufacturers begin to resist development of new devices. Frankly, its expensive compared to digital simulations and has only held on in the coin op world because of novelty.

    All of pinball will eventually go virtual reality, I know many don't believe that.

    Mechanical devices for amusement will fade into another Period and a time when building something to last meant something, now built in obsolescence is desired to increase profit. People used to repair things, now they are scrapped for metal price. What current 15 year old is studying to become an coin-op amusements Tech? OK, your Nephew because you exposed him to it, answer, not many.

    #37 18 days ago

    Why I created this thread...

    My point was to first clarify what "mechanical theme integration" is since I'm finding that people often use "theme integration" in the most general sense which leads to discussions that go around in circles. For example, Munsters has a very high level of theme integration yet has very little if any mechanical theme integration.

    Second, although I hear some grumblings from some, I fear that many collectors don't give a sh*t about or don't even know the difference (perhaps for lack of exposure to other titles). Certainly Stern is getting the message that less is more is fine with most collectors so why should they even try to innovate more. So if you feel there is something lacking, then why not say something about it? If you don't care and are fine without any novel hardware in all your new titles, then share that here as well. I'm not saying one is better than the other, I'm just saying I miss it and I'm wondering if others miss it too.

    Third, what is your opinion on whether this trend will continue or will we see some real hardware love given to future titles. In the nineties, almost every title's design started with a search for really novel and compelling hardware that would complement the theme of the game. Today almost nothing of the sort. At the very least it's something interesting to discuss isn't it? Will Deeproot change this? Will JJP finally hit a home run again when the theme and game design planets finally align? Will today's games from Stern be sought after by collectors 10 years from now because of their cool and unique innovation?

    #38 18 days ago

    The near future is JJP and Deeproot (I hope) innovating with new interesting and mechanical features and Stern doubling down on art, video, and theme.

    Stern toys have devolved into:
    1) Toy swallows ball and then spits it out the way it came in
    2) Ball bounces off of toy the way it came in
    3) Ball is held by magnet and released the way it came in
    4) Ball is held behind drops and released the way it came in

    See a theme?

    #39 18 days ago

    I have not played The Munsters yet, what are you thoughts on Mechanical Theme Integration on this title? Should a lower playfield count for something or not really?

    musters (resized).jpg

    #40 18 days ago

    Mechanical devices used in Amusement / Coin-op was the forerunner of Robotics and now its stepchild. As Robotics gains dominance the limitations of mechanical devices run by a program have been apparent for 20 years. This is why you hear so many Futurist dream of integrating a cloned human body with AI.
    Perhaps pinball could benefit from the outdated technological advances from the robotics industry in to a new chapter, somehow, I doubt it.

    #41 18 days ago

    I agree I wish there was more mechanical toys in pinball. My last favorite toy coming from Stern was the Jacky in the Box on AS. Jacky looking like an evil Jack in the box toy, with you having to load the balls (representing different toys) in his toy chest. Starting multiball while Aerosmith plays "Toys in the Attic" is a pure adrenaline rush and fits perfectly with the theme.

    I love my Munster Pro, but I kinda wish Herman did more than just shake and hold the ball. I was hoping he would interact a little bit like the Hulk does in the Avengers pin, maybe pounding his fists on the playfield going "Darn Darn Darn" whenever you took too long to hit a shot, or something.

    #42 18 days ago

    Yes, let's give a point to Aerosmith for the Jack in the box: +1
    As well another +1 for balls that are loaded into the box by being thrown in the air (they didn't have to do this).

    as (resized).jpg

    #43 18 days ago
    Quoted from Indypin:

    I agree I wish there was more mechanical toys in pinball. My last favorite toy coming from Stern was the Jacky in the Box on AS. Jacky looking like an evil Jack in the box toy, with you having to load the balls (representing different toys) in his toy chest. Starting multiball while Aerosmith plays "Toys in the Attic" is a pure adrenaline rush and fits perfectly with the theme.
    I love my Munster Pro, but I kinda wish Herman did more than just shake and hold the ball. I was hoping he would interact a little bit like the Hulk does in the Avengers pin, maybe pounding his fists on the playfield going "Darn Darn Darn" whenever you took too long to hit a shot, or something.

    That's a great example, the toy chest in Aerosmtih is a great mechnical toy.

    Physical ball locks are mechanical in nature but sadly are being used less often on games (likely to reduce cost). The toy chest in Aerosmith is one of my favorite physical ball locks. Ghostbusters premium / LE has a cool physical ball lock especially when you consider its integrated with a ramp that drops under the playfield and eject scoop.

    Although it doesn't lock multiple balls the upper left castle playfield on WOZ is very mechanical in nature when you factor in the motorized monkey toy grabbing a ball from a magnet, the ball being placed in a physical ball lock, and the playfield feature two opening and closing doors.

    #44 18 days ago

    And a +1 for the Aerosmith elevator - this represents some real effort made here. Now whether this is really fun or effective is another matter but let's give credit where credit is due.

    aselevator (resized).jpg

    #45 18 days ago

    Great topic, this is what I appreciate most about pinball. The little devices under glass. My all-time favorite mech is the trunk from ToM. I wish more games innovated in this space. To me a bash toy as the main MTI, as you call it, is underwhelming. TSPP, MM, very well done there as has been mentioned. Honorable mention would also go to Who Dunnit, for the upper/ramp/elevator concept

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    #46 18 days ago
    Quoted from westofrome:Stern toys have devolved into:
    1) Toy swallows ball and then spits it out the way it came in
    2) Ball bounces off of toy the way it came in
    3) Ball is held by magnet and released the way it came in
    4) Ball is held behind drops and released the way it came in

    if stern makes a zeppelin pin, perhaps they can reverse that trend.

    zeppelin01 (resized).jpg
    #47 18 days ago

    Stewie Pinball on Family Guy.

    #48 18 days ago

    Alien. The Xeno grabs and eats the ball for the start of ambush multiball. The machine goes dark for a second, and Hudson says "what do you mean they cut the power?" Too bad only a couple hundred were made before Heighway went belly up.

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    #49 18 days ago
    Quoted from jarozi:

    Great topic, this is what I appreciate most about pinball. The little devices under glass. My all-time favorite mech is the trunk from ToM. I wish more games innovated in this space. To me a bash toy as the main MTI, as you call it, is underwhelming. TSPP, MM, very well done there as has been mentioned. Honorable mention would also go to Who Dunnit, for the upper/ramp/elevator concept
    [quoted image]

    Yes, agree the trunk in TOM definitely deserves credit!

    Thinking about what you wrote, I have to say this is one of the elements of pinball I enjoy the most as well, when the mechanical theme integration hits the bulls eye. Back to MM as a great example, look at all the elements here and how they interact with each other in interesting ways:

    1. Castle has moat so shots initially have to jump moat to count.
    2. A hit to left of castle goes through wall and damages castle just like a catapult hit would.
    3. Initial hits to center of castle lower drawbridge
    4. Then hits to castle gate eventually raise gate
    5. After gate is raised, pinball goes inside castle and blows up castle
    6. Interaction of trolls which, when raised, blocks shots to castle (just like on backglass and giving troll bombs)

    Why MM is one of the best pinball machines ever made is simply in all the interesting ways that all these mechanical theme integrations INTERACT TOGETHER (not to mention how they are all tied into the rest of the game like dots and sounds etc.) It's just simply fun to watch the drawbridge lower, see the gate raise and to watch the castle blow and all these elements form a progression of hardware accomplishments that are just really satisfying to progress through. This progression aspect with multiple layers of accomplishment toward a singular goal is another thing we don't see as much of anymore.

    This mechanical theme integration juiciness is what I personally want to see a lot more of in new games released these days. If they could do it in the '90s, it can be done today!
    mm2 (resized).jpg

    #50 18 days ago

    These days we often hear that we can't have innovation like we see in MM because it's just too complicated and it will break down etc. We're told that surely it's best for us (whether operator or home buyer) to have little or no moving parts at all because they will just break down right?

    I call bullsh*t on this line of thinking and argue that if it can be done in MM, it can be done today. It's not like the rules of physics have changed in the last 20 years!

    The difference is that it requires laborious and expensive iterations in engineering these more complex systems to get them to work reliably. But it's not the space shuttle for heaven's sake! Instead of companies admitting that it's just too expensive or too hard for them to pull off (or requires too much time = money), they try to sell to us the line that we're better off without innovation at all.

    In any case, just stating here for the record that there is nothing wrong with us wanting more hardware innovation in new pinball games, the onus is rather on the manufacturers to engineer these systems to be robust enough. Again, they did it in the 90s and it can be done again today. May the future spoils go to those who can pull this off and not those who try to cop out and try to convince us we're wrong for wanting more.

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