Message from discussion Thoughts on Stern
From: Sergio Johnson <du...@charm.net>
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Subject: Re: Thoughts on Stern
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Date: Sun, 07 Dec 2008 05:22:50 GMT
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Keith P. Johnson wrote:
> There are many problems with Stern. The biggest problem, by far, is
> that pinball machines do not earn enough money on location. Whatever
> the reasons for that (and there are a LOT), that is the problem that
> must be solved.
I think there's only one real solution to that and that's probably some
sort of cash/ticket payout. Look at the popularity of the fruit machines
in England, (every pub has one), and the popularity of the GT
tournaments here. The problem with the Tops style tournaments is that
everybody figures somebody is going to come in at the last second and
scoop. The payout needs to be based on your immediate performance. Free
games just don't cut it anymore as an effective reward. Have every 5
games contribute 50 cents towards a jackpot which maxes at say $5. Have
the game pay it out immediately. This would probably be very difficult
to make happen for all the obvious reasons, but I think it's the only
thing that could work and get pins back on the street. Who wouldn't
rather play some pin rather than pull a handle for a chance at some cash? :)
> There are several prevailing opinions held by the only people that
> Point 1 is certainly arguable. Frankly, though, I don't see how you
> have any clue about how much fun people are having unless you're at
> the location watching people play the game. Guess how often this
> Point 2 is probably actually a pretty good forumla in general. It
> would certainly be the one of the 4 I agree with the most. You'll
> still never get me to agree that the WPT plunger wasn't a complete
> waste of money though. But for all of these demands, it was never
> demanded that playfields have fewer shots and more pinball activity
> (or ball randomess). People play pinball to see the ball do stuff,
> not to hit posts between an assload of shots all day long.
Not sure if I agree or disagree here. I generally play to see if I can
make the ball do what I want it to and score well or accomplish a big
goal along the way. :) The game design sets some of the parameters on
how that can be best accomplished, but I'm not sure pops or manual
plungers are critical features. It's either fun or not, with or without
> Point 3 is asinine. If people can see every cool thing the game does
> every game, there's no carrot for them to want to try and see it
> again. The biggest example people always talk about is Thing coming
> out to grab the ball in TAF. Think that happened every game? I'd bet
> closer to one in every 3 or 4. Multiball in the 90s was also
> generally an average 33% achievement. IMNSHO, you have a far better
> chance of drawing repeat money from someone trying to get something
> than from someone who probably only would've played once anyway and
> has no interest in seeing the cool thing again.
Agreed, you have to have a carrot that lasts for a bit. OTOH, you can't
have a carrot that no one is ever going to get to either. TZ I think,
has a good balance of reachable carrots.
> Point 4 is just conceit. And irrelevant anyway if you're not watching
> Anyway, those are my views on what's wrong. Now, what needs to be
> Your best shot at making games earn more is tournament. For whatever
> reasons, ops just haven't taken to it.
I think it's just too much work for most and the games don't earn enough
to make them want to put the extra work in.
You'd be much better off with
> a newish product dedicated strictly to tournament (or at least
> primarily). People also complain that games last too long (this is
> mostly a byproduct of point 1 above and the fact that the gap between
> players of any skill (let alone good players) and casual players is
> gigantic). The natural solution to both of these problems is
> tournament bagatelle. I'm not even joking.
That's a huge problem. We run into this at league on a constant basis.
Our solution has been to go the other way and make the games more
difficult rather than easier, more from time constraints than anything.
The casual players don't seem to notice the difference that much.
> Ultimately, though, if you're going to pay people to work for you and
> do a good job and have good ideas, but then disregard them for your
> own prejudices, what's the point really?
> When the ship is going down, you have 2 options: repair the hole, or
> get a bigger bucket and bail faster. The problem with the latter is
> that eventually the bucket gets to be so big and so unwieldy that it's
> impossible to deal with anymore. And ultimately, that is where I
> personally feel Stern is at.
It's unfortunate, but I agree. I think that it's gone too far down this
path for any changes to be made that would create the sort of buzz or
radical turnaround that would be required for pinball to become viable
again. Maybe someone someday will have the throwaway cash required to
start up another company with a fresh approach, but I doubt it. After
Stern, I think the only outlet will be for somebody to approach a
company with a game out of their garage that gets produced a la Pat
Lawlor. The problem is that the institutional knowledge of what's
required and what works fades with every passing day....