PINBALL EXPO 2000
As has been the case for several years now, there was a special Expo session called “The Internet Get-together”. During those sessions those Expo attendees who use computers to access the Internet (and in particular the “rec.games.pinball” online newsgroup – known informally as simply “r.g.p”) discuss appropriate topics. The moderator for those sessions has always been Internet guru David Marston from New Hampshire.
Dave began the session by telling everyone that the year 2000 is the 10th Anniversary year for the r.g.p newsgroup. He then told how the number of postings (messages to the group from participants) has greatly increased over the years, saying that last year the number of postings was approximately 180/day, and this has now increased to about 280/day! Dave then added that about 92 percent of those contain what he called “real content”.
Dave next introduced himself to the group saying he had participated in r.g.p since 1983, then telling us that these Expo get-togethers have been conducted each year starting with Pinball Expo ’92. At that point he had each of us in the room introduce themselves and tell of our participation on the Internet and in r.g.p. From this we found out that many areas of the country were represented, with even one gentleman from Australia being present. Dave then suggested we start discussing what topics should be discussed during the session.
After someone mentioned recent problems with the cross-country shipping of pinballs, a short discussion ensued, including mention of the newly formed group – The Association of Pinball Owners & Players” (APOP) – and how that organization had helped to try and solve that problem. The “Williams Crisis” (the ceasing in 1999 of pinball production by that company) was then mentioned. That led to some discussion of the amount of sales of Williams’ last series of games – the “Pinball 2000” series.
A discussion of what is the current definition of the term “New Old Stock” (NOS), considering outfits such as the newly formed company “Illinois Pin Ball” who now will possibly produce new parts for older games, then occurred. Dave then said that he was happy seeing on r.g.p in recent months some good discussions concerning that new company, commenting that’s why r.g.p is called a “newsgroup”, and adding that newsgroups could be considered “a new form of journalism”.
After next remarking that some people post to a newsgroup just to “attack someone” for the fun of it (a person like that sometimes being referred as a “troll”), a short discussion of non-U.S. participation in the group was held, exemplified by two attendees at the session, one from Argentina and another from Australia. The Australian guest then told of his plans to open a bar which would feature older pingames for it’s patrons to play.
Dave next told of a digital “header” connected with Usenet posts which could be used to direct certain posts only to particular countries where they would only be appropriate, adding this might be used in connection with “For Sale” posts. He next briefly mentioned some controversy that recently had occurred on r.g.p. over price differences for games in different countries.
At that point Dave again mentioned that the year 2000 was the 10th Anniversary of the r.g.p newsgroup, asking us if we had any suggestions as to what the group might do to celebrate the occasion? After one person laughingly suggested that there be “no flaming” for one day on the newsgroup, it was suggested that possibly an Internet website be created for r.g.p. Dave then asked how many in the room were involved in “pinball chat” on the Internet, only one person raising their hand.
The discussion then briefly turned to pinball related websites, someone remarking that there was a move afoot to revive the “PAPS” (Penny Arcade Preservation Society) website since it had not been updated for quite some time. Other pin-related sites were then mentioned (including The Internet Pinball Database) and also the “webring” known as “The Ring Of Pinball”. Other websites mentioned included: “I Love Pinball”, Mikey Burke’s site in Australia, the “Mr. Pinball” site, and the site hosted by Marvin’s Mechanical Museum, plus the sites of two coin-op trade magazines – Pinball News and Replay.
Back on the subject of r.g.p’s 10th Anniversary, someone suggested T-shirts to proclaim the event. When someone then remarked that it would be nice to be able to determine what games a particular designer designed when using the Internet Pinball Database (IPD), they were told all you have to do is “click” on the designer’s name to see such a list. When someone then suggested a website where people could download game sounds, it was pointed out that that would probably have “copyright problems”, citing the current Napster music download site controversy as a parallel situation.
After some more discussion of copyright issues regarding pinball artwork, etc. on the Internet, someone mentioned that they would like to see more pinball “technical information” on r.g.p. Then the putting up of pinball “rule sheets” on the Internet was briefly discussed.
At that point John Kirby, who provided technical information on the “System 80” electronic system used on early Gottlieb solid-state games on r.g.p, thanked everyone for their help. When someone next gave the address of the local Kinko’s copy store for anyone wishing to copy schematics, etc. during the Expo, the formal session began to break up into discussions among small groups of attendees.
Friday morning, as at past Expos, the Expo seminar session began with “Opening Remarks” by show co-producers, Rob Berk and Mike Pacak. Rob and Mike welcomed us to the 2000 edition of Pinball Expo, then telling of the various events at the show scheduled for the next three days. After that Rob introduced the speaker for the first seminar – “Reproducing Plastics and Decals Made Easy” – Roc Agwral.
Roc began by briefly mentioning the types of materials which are required to make the reproductions – clear plastic and clear inkjet printable film. He then began to briefly summarize the steps necessary to make a reproduction plastic. Roc then said you must of course first “acquire the image”
The next step, Roc went on, would be to “edit” the image, saying the software he uses is Adobe Photoshop (version 5.0 or higher). He then listed the equipment required to produce the plastics. This included: a computer (with good image editing software); a color inkjet printer; a flatbed scanner (optional); and tools to cut and sand plastic sheets.
Roc then started describing in detail the types of materials available and recommending the types he uses. He first said there are two materials which one would need – clear plastic and inkjet printable film. Roc then said that for the clear plastic he uses polycarbonate plastic which has 30 times the tensile strength of Acrylic, and a higher melting point than the other type of plastic known as “PET-G”. As for the printable film, he told us that information on that could be found on the “Plastic Reproduction Starter Page” on his website, adding that it is only sold in quantity.
The next subject Roc broached was “acquiring the image”. First, he said, if you have a friend who can provide you with a computer file of the image you can probably use that. But if not, and you have a “new old stock” (NOS) plastic (or know someone who does), you can scan the image using a flat-bed scanner at 600 dots per inch (dpi), saving the image in a “TIFF” format graphics file. Roc then mentioned the possibility of obtaining a graphics file via the Internet.
As for editing the graphics image, Roc suggested using Photoshop software, playing with contrast and brightness to get the best image. He then remarked that the image must be printed in “reverse” on the printable film. Roc then talked of printing the image, suggesting that it first be printed on paper before the final printing on film. He then told us you should use a printer capable of a 700 dpi print resolution, adding that 4-color ink is OK (but 6-color is even better), then warning us to “stay away from ‘generic’ inks”.
Roc next broached the subject of cutting the plastic. He said that you should use a plastic with a paper backing, and use a scroll saw to cut with. Roc then began outlining the steps involved with that process. First, he went on, you should “rough cut” the plastic, then peel off the backing and apply the printed film, being careful to keep air bubbles out by pressing down with a roller.
At that point Roc told us you should “finish cut” your plastic to within 1/16 inch of the sides, then use a belt sander to smooth the edges, next drilling out or routing any holes or slots that are needed. He then talked about some “finishing touches” that should be done. First he said you should spray paint the side with the decal with a coat of white primer (but not too thick as to keep light from showing through) and after waiting for it to dry, next removing the excess paint from the edges. He then told us you should spray over the primer with a coat of Varathane or a similar product.
Roc then said the next step is to remove the paper backing which has been protecting the top of the plastic. After that a final touch would be to smooth the edges of the plastic using an Exacto knife to scrape away any loose paint or ragged edges on the decal. Roc then gave a brief summary of the process he had just described. He then asked if anyone had any questions?
The first question asked was how you could make very long plastics which would not fit into your scanner? Roc answered that you could scan it in sections and use your editing software to piece the images together. When someone next asked Roc if he had ever created a plastic “from scratch”, he answered he had never tried that yet, adding that he could probably do it however.
When someone next asked if larger sheets of polycarbonate plastics were available, Roc answered “yes”. When Roc was then asked why he painted the back of his plastics, he answered “to reproduce the original parts which have dull backs”. The next question Roc was asked was if he plans to sell any of his reproduction plastics? He answered he does not presently do that due to copyright questions, and now only sells supplies. When then asked if his plastics ever got scratched from game action, Roc answered that polycarbonate can be scratched, but that Novus will remove the scratches.
Someone then asked Roc if he brought any of his supplies with him to sell, to which he answered “yes”. The final question asked was if he had ever reproduced target faces, Roc answering “no” That ended the session with Roc being given a good round of applause.
Rob Berk introduced the speaker for the next seminar, pinball designer John Trudeau, whose talk was aptly titled “My Design Experiences”, John then being given a good round of applause. He began by remarking that he didn’t expect such a large audience for his talk. He then began telling of his “history” in pinball design.
John began by telling us that his pinball design career began in 1979 when he went to work for Game Plan. He said when he told head designer Ed Cebula some of his pinball design ideas Ed invited him to join Engineering. John told us his first game design was PINBALL LIZARD in 1980, later followed by ATTILA THE HUN. At around that time he told us “the industry faded” and Game Plan stopped producing pingames.
After that, John continued, he next went to work for Gottlieb, commenting he was “sad to leave Game plan”. He then began naming the games he designed at Gottlieb beginning with ROCKY and SPIRIT in 1982. John then told of his 1983 design Q’BERT”S QUEST which he told us was “unusual”, adding that it was originally meant to be a “4-level” game, but ended up being “3-level”. Then next games John mentioned were THE GAMES, ALIEN STAR, and TOUCHDOWN, all from 1984.
At that point John started telling about some corporate changes the company underwent, beginning with it’s acquisition by Columbia Pictures, which itself was later acquired by Coca Cola. Shortly after Coke took over, John continued, they decided to change the company name to Mylstar Electronics. John next told us that when the name change was announced to the employees they were not thrilled with the new name, Ed Krynski even commenting that if you spell it backwards, it would be pronounced like “rat slime”.
John next commented that Coke’s ownership of the company didn’t last too long because that company was really not too interested in making games. He then told of Gil Pollack and some other investors buying the company in 1984, renaming it Premier Technology. We were told that the new company’s first game was EL DORADO – CITY OF GOLD which was designed by Ed Krynski.
The games following that which John worked on we were told were ICE FEVER, CHICAGO CUBS TRIPLE PLAY, THE TEAM and ROCK, all from 1985. Later games he told us he worked on included: RAVEN and HOLLYWOOD HEAT in 1986, SPRING BREAK and VICTROY in 1987, and ROBO WAR and EXCALIBUR in 1988.
After that, John told us he designed a couple cocktail games, CARIBEAN CRUISE and NIGHT MOVES which were released under the International Concepts name. The last Gottlieb game he did we were told was SILVER SLUGGER in 1990.
John then told us that in 1990 he went to work for Williams and worked with Python Angelo. Games he worked on at Williams he told us included: BRIDE OF PINBOT, BUGS BUNNY’S BIRTHDAY BALL, BLACK ROSE, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, JUDGE DREAD, and THE FLINTSTONES. He then asked for questions from the audience.
The first question asked was if Adolph Seitz helped with the design of THE GAMES, John answering “no, I did it”! When next asked if he currently owned any of the games he designed, he said that he had CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THE FLINTSTONES, and THE GAMES.
When someone then asked about “4-level” game designs, John explained how that idea was implemented. He was next asked if there were any names for games he wanted to use that were not used? John answered “not that I can remember, except for THE BEATLES (of which a small prototype was made) and AMERICAN BANDSTAND”. John was then asked if he were still designing games what would he want to do? He answered “go back to basic pinball”, bringing on a round of applause.
The next question for John was why KRULL was never produced, he answering “the economy”. When next asked if Jon Norris did the “rules” for any of his games, John answered that he did a lot of work with Jon. When someone then asked why Premier did not originally use the new CPU chip in their first systems, John answered that they “didn’t have it yet”.
When someone next asked about the design of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, John gave some of the details, including information on it’s holograms, as well as the music used. When then asked why the Gottlieb game GOIN’ NUTS wasn’t put into production, John said for essentially the same reason as KRULL – “money”.
John was then asked about the unusual idea behind the pingame Q’BERT’S QUEST, to which he replied that it was “a battle of the flippers – left versus right”. He was then asked how he could “recover” when one of his designs was not put into production? John replied that there was some satisfaction even if only ten games were produced, adding that he was “sorry that people didn’t get to enjoy them however”.
The next question to John was which of his games had the highest number produced, he answering that it was probably either CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, or JUDGE DREAD. John was then asked for his thoughts on the current state of pinball? He replied that it was sad to see how things were, but said he thinks there is “space for pinballs out there”, and hopefully they will come back in the future.
John was next asked if there was any competition between the designers at Gottlieb? He replied there was “friendly competition”, adding that all the designers “wanted to do good games”. He also commented that there was a little “borrowing” of ideas, but “no actual spying”. When next asked who his favorite designers were, John replied that he liked the designs of Pat Lawlor, Ed Krynski, and Steve Ritchie.
The final question John was asked was if Gottlieb ever accepted designs form outside the company, he sighting BLACK HOLE as an example. John then thanked us for attending his presentation drawing a round of applause.
HOW TO DISPLAY BACKGLASSES/TRANSLITES
Rob Berk then introduced the next speaker, Mark Bakula and his seminar “How To Display Backglasses/Translites” drawing a round of applause. Mark then began by thanking Rob and his Expo co-producer Mike Pacak, and also his associates who helped him prepare the slides for his presentation. He then told us that after his formal presentation he will let us have some “fun”.
Mark then began to tell of the tools and equipment that are required to make the display boxes, warning us to use good safety practices when using power tools. The tools he said you need include: a table or radial arm saw, tape measure, carpenter’s square, corner clamps, hand saw, drill and bits, and a screwdriver. He then told us that he will be showing us one way to do the job.
The first step, Mark then told us, was to pick the glass or translite you want to display. The next step, he went on, was to cut a cardboard template to the exact size of the glass. After that Mark told us you should cut the back for your box out of ¼ inch Masonite or plywood using a saw and taking proper safety precautions.
Next Mark told of (also showing slides) cutting the perimeter pieces from wood using either 1 by 3 or 1 by 4 inch stock, then showing putting the grooves in these pieces to hold the glass. After that he showed and discussed joining the side pieces together, pointing out the pros and cons of the two types of joints – “miter joints” and “lap joints”.
After telling of putting the four boards in a “squaring fixture”, Mark told of gluing adjacent corners and then nailing them. The next step he said was to paint the sides and allow them to dry before sliding in the translite or glass. After that, Mark went on, you should groove and finish nail the fourth side.
At that point Mark started describing making up the light panel using large bulbs (similar to Christmas tree lights) on a plywood back panel. He then said you could use small bulbs instead on a Masonite panel. Mark then described the methods for hanging the box on the wall.
After telling us to use “eye hooks” for hanging the box, Mark said that if your box used the large bulbs you must leave a space behind it to accommodate “air flow”. Mark then commented that you could also make a similar fixture for hanging playfields, saying he uses a sheet of amber Mylar behind the field to cover the holes.
After showing slides of the games he had in his home, Mark described the rare VIPER game hw owned. He then said it was time for the “fun” he had promised us when he began his presentation.
Mark then asked everyone in the audience to look under their chairs for a piece of paper taped there, and if you have one to come up to the front. Each “winner” had the name of a prize (a tool) on the paper and each one was given that item. Mark then told of designing a special screwdriver for Snap-On Tools, briefly describing that project.
The presentation then ended with Mark describing the large pinball collection of Michael Henley in Canada who he said had 70 games on legs, 50 of which were running. After that Mark was given a good round of applause.