The last real innovator in pinball for me died a few years ago. Someone who was willing to take chances on changing the playfield mid game, but the implementation of the rules around it were not ready for the paradigm shift that BOP brought to the table. Python went places in the third dimension that Pat L. used to dream of going until reality and BOM’s finally squashed all the fun out of both of them. Pinball Circus was an interesting take on 3D pinball, one Pat tried his hand at in Banzi Run. And his machines since have tried to capture that same magic while being dogged by the realities of cost, development, and now, demanding production schedules, something we havent seen since the 90’s, really.
And I think the comment on WMS and them having R&D budget in the 90’s while B/W was having their hey day was true, but only from the standpoint that what they were developing for pinball was not necessarilly non-tranferable to other gaming machines, redemption, slots, video, gambling devices, etc... so a lot of that money was not thrown at pinball, but at “gaming electronics” and pinball just rode that wave as WMS became the leader in site based electronic gaming.
With the advent of a LOT of people having a LOT of discretionary cash to be spending and our increasing need for personal isolation from those who annoy us, does it surprise us pinball in the home is becoming more of a “thing” in this industry/hobby? The trend of purchasing for HUO has made a lot of us owners AND end users, where in the past this industry was more a career for introverts and people who really don’t like interacting with others, tend to like being their own boss, and never have to face their customers directly most of the time.
I can remember seeing my operators maybe once in a blue moon back in the day, and you never got anything out of the location owner but a grunt, a shrug, and if you pressed, maybe a phone number that would never pick up when you called.
And they never asked us “what do you want to see in a pinball machine?”, they just bought the latest title, put it on site and prayed it earned, swapped it out to every location on their route until it did, and ditched that bad boy if it didn’t turn a profit in 6 months to a year.
Now, here we are on Pinside, arguing over Ommpah Loompas, Flails, shields, and gobble holes, beer steins, ball-less monkeys, and whether line drawn artwork or dropped P-shop artwork is “good enough to match the curtains downstairs” or not.
Does anyone remember when the first place you saw a new title was actually at the arcade, bar, bowling alley, or roller rink? And your only big question was how many games you got for a quarter? I kind of miss those days.