(Topic ID: 123359)

Whats your favorite four player em game

By gatordad

4 years ago

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  • Latest reply 4 years ago by VGC1612
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#34 4 years ago

>...outhole bonus ladder that was seldom used prior to 1970 but had a resurgence that never subsided starting with Gottlieb's 1970's 2-player Snow Derby and 4-player Snow Queen?

In my view, the end-of-ball bonus "as we now know it" began with Snow Queen/Derby. The prior implementations weren't as motivating for the player (and hence earnings). The impact on isolating one player's accomplishments from the other players was probably not a conscious decision (IMHO) but more like a change in the priorities for use of the limited number of coils. Drop targets really came on strong, displacing roto targets and most continuous-loop stepper units controlling a variable value. An interesting complication for Jay's idea can be seen in the continuous-loop stepper that controls the "target bonus" in Williams Swinger/Fun Fest. The variable value is displayed in the arc of lights in the lower playfield:
But the outhole bonus is the target bonus rather than the "ladder bonus" built up during play. Also, the loop steps ahead often enough that leaving a higher value for the next player is not a big deal.

As for Bally, they often provided carry-over in the form of trapped balls for multi-ball play. One player can trap a ball, drain the replacement ball, and thus set up the next player to initiate mutli-ball. As far as I know, Nip-It does this. It has an end-of-ball ladder bonus. I don't have the schematic readily available to check the details.

We should also mention that designers did occasionally try to provide isolated carry-overs for each player. Most often, this was done with additional score reels, as in Bally Wiggler:
...but it could be done with separate steppers for each player, as in Gottlieb Scuba:
So the blanket statement that EM multi-players have no intentional carry-over has exceptions. This could be interpreted to indicate that game designers preferred not to give players a way to steal scoring opportunities from other players in a multi-player game. If so, then the many examples Jay cites would be considered a necessary flaw. I think I've heard enough Wayne Neyens talks (and asked him detailed follow-up questions) to know that he, at least, would not view it in such simplistic terms. If anything, designers would like to have incentives for multi-player play.

Designers would be wary of setting up any "community" carry-over features in such a way that the players cooperate to win more free games than they could playing 1-player games. Police Force is one example of that behavior. But allowing one player to collect from the hard work of another might be accepted as valid for friendly (i.e., non-tournament) competition.
.................David Marston

#36 4 years ago

OK Jay, I'll join you in some rampant speculation. I haven't heard anything about the conscious attempt to encourage community scoring that Gordon refers to, but he may well have probed this area more deeply than I have. The notion of deliberately shooting for a gobble hole brings along another whole model of player motives.

Snow Derby was the first pinball I operated in revenue service (at a "street location" BTW). My impression at the time was that the primary cause of excitement was the scoring boost after draining. This effect also continued with the long-flipper games and their 10x inflated scores. For example, you drain on the last (5th) ball on Jack in the Box at 69,210 and then your end-of-ball bonus (non-ladder in this game) gets you past the 77,000 replay threshold. So you managed to pull out a win after draining the last ball. I don't recall any talk, whether directly from players or indirectly via other ops or distrib sales reps, about players wanting to earn their own scores. Keep in mind that the carry-over features could often be seen as one player stealing the work of another. In Fireball for example, Player 1 can do all the work of trapping 2 balls, then drain before starting multi-ball. Then Player 2 comes along and easily starts multi-ball without doing all the work of setting it up.

For Snow Queen/Derby, we must also bear in mind that it has very low scoring on the playfield; perhaps the smallest span of values (50, literally) of any pinball game in which the scoring system supports 4 significant figures. Further, it has playfield devices that light (excuse me, "lite") for higher value based on the ball-in-play rather than the player hitting at target to lite it. We know* that Gottlieb had a deliberate design guideline, for multi-player games only, of lighting up devices without a skill component. By contrast, single-player games would allow skill-based enhancement of the values of some devices, because these games with ball-to-ball feature build-up were the real skill showcases. The multi-player games were viewed as being more sociable. (*Source: answers to my question about this topic by Alvin Gottlieb and Wayne Neyens at Pinball Expo a couple years ago.)

The end-of-ball bonus in Snow Queen/Derby definitely impacted Krynski and Neyens through the feedback loop of higher revenues. I don't think they had a theology of community scoring, just sociability as described above. (It's still "more fun to compete" rather than "more fun to cooperate" and if cooperating were in the theology, why not just have a party of five play one ball each on a single-player game?) We're getting into territory where the earning of extra balls (same player shoots again) would also need to be factored in. We moved from the "boring" situation where that 100 point pop bumper will lite automatically on the 5th ball (e.g., Airport) for every player to an exciting situation where a player can hit enough targets in a single ball to earn an extra ball (e.g., Vulcan/Fire Queen).

To tie in some earlier posts in this thread: certainly Target Alpha/Solar City suffers the "boring" label relative to the single-player variant, El Dorado. If you've played both, you're probably going to prefer the game where you have multiple balls to get all 15 targets and get big payoffs for doing so. If you had never seen El Dorado (or its AAB siblings), you might think Target Alpha is sufficiently exciting.

For the record, I operated all the games I have mentioned in this thread so far. I have no recollection of any group of players deliberately playing in multi-player mode for purposes of community scoring.
.................David Marston

#40 4 years ago

Jay>Do we agree that we are NOT referring to any cooperation between players to "beat" the machine (earn awards, replays, etc.) through these carry-over features?

I'm not yet prepared to agree to that. I can think of instances where players would cooperate to figure out what the match number would be, so other conspiracies seem plausible. This is from the player's point of view, of course. The extent to which *designers* considered community features a good thing is what we are (mainly) discussing.

Jay>But, okay, perhaps it became any number of "deliberate design guidelines" as you put it. Such guidelines fit into this discussion and now I know at least one existed at Gottlieb for multi-player games. Did Alvin or Wayne elaborate on why that guideline came about, and when?

We didn't get into exactly when, but one could deduce it by finding control-bank relays actuated by the ball-in-play that enhance the values of some targets. As for why, the sociability aspect I mentioned was brought up as a factor. We didn't have time to go deeper, and it was a distant memory for them.
.................David Marston

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