Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dutch Pinball Magazine Interview Part 4

Sadly Stern let you go as a programmer. Did you already find a new job?
I did. I am currently back working at WMS Gaming, formerly known as Williams. I like it here and I feel like I am home again.

How do you see the future of Pinball? Do you think Stern will survive? Does a new manufacturer have a chance in today’s market? Is there a chance Stern might hire you for future projects?
I think the future of pinball is very bleak. It’s very hard to say whether or not Stern will survive. It also depends on how you define “Survive”. Any other manufacture would be out of their minds to attempt to get into the pinball business today! I really like where I am now and have no desire to return to Stern.

The last game you worked on at Stern is 24. What was you’re role in the design process?
24 is a theme I wanted to do for a long time. It made more sense back after the first couple seasons when the show was new and hot. But I was glad to be working on it because I was a fan of the show even though I knew it wasn’t a great license today.

Before I left, where the game was going was very much my design. Steve did what Steve does and made a fast flipping game with some toys. I had very little input with much of that. I did have input deciding what inserts were needed where, also where the ball needed to stop for presentations. Like the ramp. My core rules for 24 were going to be a bit different than normal pinball. I strongly felt they fit the theme and I was confident that I could present them well to the player. Then I brow-beat Steve into agreeing to my basic rule design.

Since Stern let both you and 24 designer Steve Ritchie go, the game was further developed by the remaining crew. Did the remaining crew keep in touch to make sure the game ends up like you and Steve intended or did they develop the game in another direction?
Both actually! Lonnie persuaded Gary to hire me back for a handful of hours just after laying me off. I tried to help brief them with the vision of the game and how far the game was in development. The ideas behind the software I had written and what I thought needed to be fixed.

Recently, I went over there to pay a visit and play the finished 24 for the first time. It is pretty different than my vision. They removed a couple key elements that I had in the game and changed how the game fundamentally unfolds.

I can not really blame them though. Everyone has to make a game their way. They made the game more mainstream and generic. Which is a safer bet with the time they had. Also, ironically how they changed the core rules was pretty much how Steve wanted to do the game from the beginning.

One thing I really do not understand is that when I played the game there was no clock and no “BEEP THUMP” sounds; two very signature items from the show. HOW CAN YOU MAKE A GAME ABOUT 24 AND NOT HAVE THOSE!?

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