Williams is dead. I moved from VA to work here, and it was a great
time. I'm glad to have had the chance to try and save the industry.
RFM may not have been the greatest thing, but we did wow a lot of
people. It was a blast to work on. Pinball was always a lot of fun and
dear to my heart, as anyone that has been on this group for the last 6-7
years knows. It is sad to see such a huge part of not just American
but world-wide culture go away. It is even more sad that games 3 and 4
will never see the light of day. They probably would have made a big
difference in the scheme of things, but upper management couldn't be
So mark your calendars. Good luck to Gary Stern. I'm sure there's a
market for his games, now he's got a monopoly. Too bad the Nicastros
Sad day indeed. Let's hope Gary Stern recognizes and recruits some of the
excellent talent at Williams.
> Williams is dead.
Bum da bum bum... the bell tolls.
Where now, Keefer? Come on back, we have well-maintained machines now! (if
I may say so myself ;) )
Lee Van Doren - Lucent Technologies, Hunt Valley, MD
Keith P. Johnson <kee...@tzone.logicalalt.com> wrote in message
It's no joke.
Keith is an employee of WMS...at least for the moment. He speaks the
I've often been accused of being tactless and abrasive, but even the above irks
People who poured their entire souls into this business have just been told
their efforts were not worth it, and have been let go. Just think about that.
I count many of those people as personal friends, and it upsets me that anyone
would take this horrible turn of events lightly. Never mind pinball - I am sad
for my friends, many of whom uprooted their entire lives to follow their love
for pinball and are now left out in the cold because pinball just wasn't
We are all to blame for this in one way or another. Think about all the people
now out of work and how you ragged on them for doing what they love.
I would just like to thank all the people at WMS for making the absolute best
pinball games of all time. Thanks, guys. Remember there are some people who
appreciate the blood and sweat you poured into it.
What's happening to the WMS/BLY assets Keefer?
> We are all to blame for this in one way or another. Think about all the people
> now out of work and how you ragged on them for doing what they love.
Sorry you somehow found interpretation that I was personally ragging on THEM..?
I think the simple fact is that the business right now cannot support two
manufacturers of pinball. I am actually happier now in that there will be one
solid, well-rooted, profitable pinball maker rather than two that are chronically
losing millions per year.
It would be nice if pinball machines sprouted up everywhere and we were swimming in
them, but there are plenty already to go around and we can treasure what does come
out now that much more.
All of the people at Williams are very talented individuals and I see no reason
that they will not be able to find jobs probably making much more than they are
making now in a losing business.
Let's not lament on the past and look forward to what can happen in the future....
More importantly, what is happening to the software building programs. The
Pin2k stuff would be excellent to have for customized machines. (maybe draw a
crowd by inserting the name of the establishment (where the pin is) right into the
Keith: Can someone finally answer the question "Is there a hidden breakout
game in ST:TNG?" for us?
PC HotShots, Inc.
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I heard a quote once that when filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch died, one of his
friends looked to another and said "Well, no more Lubitsch" and the other
said back, "Even worse, no more Lubitsch films" and thats about how I feel
now. No more Pat Lawlor games. No more George Gomez games. No more John
Popadiuk games. No more Pete Piotrowski games. No Scott Slomiany games at
all! Sorry man!
When Larry left I felt like a little bit of my soul had been torn out, I
had so many vivid and wonderful memories of playing his games. Hours spent
playing the first World Cup Soccer protos, those earnings reports must
have been fabulous because I'm not joking when I say I put enough in it to
buy one. And now it goes even farther, and I can only sit here and think
vabout my first LITZ, and my first Expo, and all the times I've met and
hung out and worked with these people and watched them pour every single
ounce of their being into these games which we all love so much, all
thrown away by short-sighted management which doesn't believe. Well
Karl, you got your wish.
I will say right now, after watching what happened here over the last two
years, that I have never in my life seen anything like the engineering
effort that went into Pin2K. It was nothing short of stunning. It is a
long tale which should at some point be told in more detail than it has to
this point, perhaps someone will write a book. But to see all that work
and sweat and hope and mad desire and pain and heartbreak to get the plug
pulled on them just when it looked like they were coming out of the
woods...its a sad sad day. I admire the work and talent and ability of
these people more than words can say, and it has been an honor and a
privilege to work amongst them, but alas, not with them. I only wish I
could give back to them as much as they have given to me, but all I can do
is say thanks for all the wonderful games and let them all know that they
made my life a better place to be during some awfully bad times along the
last few years.
You have come to the end of your journey, survival is everything...
> So mark your calendars. Good luck to Gary Stern. I'm sure there's a
> market for his games, now he's got a monopoly. Too bad the Nicastros
> through differently.
Hmmm.... I wonder if Stern was in the know!? It sure seems coincidental
that Stern took over Sega Pinball just in time!
"Keith P. Johnson" wrote:
> Hi, all.
> Williams is dead.
I'm so shocked I'm speechless!
>> No Scott Slomiany games at
>> all! Sorry man!
>We'll always have Monopoly...
I'll try and get the whitewood home. Even with that suckass ramp, in
our spare time, we'll make the Bestest Game Ever. %)
> >Hmmm.... I wonder if Stern was in the know!? It sure seems coincidental
> >that Stern took over Sega Pinball just in time!
> now you know why he smiling at the Expo!
That would be "Advance to Boardwalk, the Monopoly spinning reel slot
machine" Monopoly, right? Not "Rocky Horror Monopoly Pokemon Picture
Show, the pin" Monopoly...
Duncan, who also only got the t-shirt
I'm very sorry to hear that Keefer. That's the third company death noticed
posted to this group (Capcom, Gottlieb, and now Williams), and it's a sad
So, to you, Ted, Louis, Duncan, Pat, Larry, and the rest of the people
whose names I don't know, thank you and good luck with whatever comes next
|David Gersic dgersic_@_niu.edu |
|Systems Programmer Northern Illinois University |
| "I love you, you love me, I will eat your family." -- T. "Barney" Rex |
|I'm tired of receiving crap in my mailbox, so the E-mail address has been|
|munged to foil the junkmail bots. Humans will figure it out on their own.|
> I can't imagine what it must feel like to pour your heart and soul
> into an engineering miracle like Pinball 2000 only to have it aborted.
> Some of you may have been indifferent to it, but the the engineering
> that went into Revenge and Star Wars was American genius at it's best.
> I saw what they did and couldn't believe it. Now it's over.
Too bad, because pinball collections are rising again. Maybe if WMS was
privately held, it could have kept going. Who cares about profit when
there is a legacy at stake?
Evan R. Wessel, Mercury Amusement CO PA USA
Now, to an irreverent matter: Who gets the rights to "Big Bang Bar" now?
Wow. WMS *REALLY* gave PB2K a chance didn't they? It was making
money for them for the first time in YEARS and they ditched it.
Makes sense. Make pinball for years in the RED. Get to the black
and can the division.
Oh well. True WMS/Bally pinball died with Cactus Canyon in my
book.... darn shame. I guess it's either Pro Pinball (simulation)
or Sega from now on, or collect old machines. And how much harder
will it be to get parts?
kee...@tzone.logicalalt.com (Keith P. Johnson) wrote:
> Hi, all.
> Williams is dead. I moved from VA to work here, and it was a great
> time. I'm glad to have had the chance to try and save the industry.
> RFM may not have been the greatest thing, but we did wow a lot of
> people. It was a blast to work on. Pinball was always a lot of fun
> dear to my heart, as anyone that has been on this group for the last
> years knows. It is sad to see such a huge part of not just American
> but world-wide culture go away. It is even more sad that games 3 and
> will never see the light of day. They probably would have made a big
> difference in the scheme of things, but upper management couldn't be
> So mark your calendars. Good luck to Gary Stern. I'm sure there's a
> market for his games, now he's got a monopoly. Too bad the Nicastros
> through differently.
Sent via Deja.com http://www.deja.com/
Before you buy.
Lee Van Doren <l...@removeme.lucent.com> wrote:
> "Keith P. Johnson" wrote:
> > So mark your calendars. Good luck to Gary Stern. I'm sure there's
> > market for his games, now he's got a monopoly. Too bad the
> > through differently.
> Hmmm.... I wonder if Stern was in the know!? It sure seems
> that Stern took over Sega Pinball just in time!
> Lee Van Doren - Lucent Technologies, Hunt Valley, MD
How do people figure games are worth more now? It's not as if Williams was
going to do another run of AF?
At 22,000 or so production run, they're not exactly rare (finding one in decent
shape may be).
>It is official. I am upset that they go through the entire Expo '99 and
> never mention the fact that they are closing the doors. That is
>bullshit. They say they are committed to the Pinball 2000 format?
>Looks like they aren't committed to shit. They made a killing on RFM,
>probably made too many though.
Well, we never mentioned it because we didn't know. Obviously the
decision was made way before expo, but I guarantee you 99% of
engineering that was at expo had no idea. Otherwise, we probably
would've been a LOT more down, people wouldn't have bothered doing that
cool-ass tournament stuff, etc.
To say that the people in engineering aren't committed to shit is to
slap the face with a metal gauntlet of every person who's devoted their
life to trying to give others enjoyment for the past x years.
Everyone that cared about pinball poured their heart and soul into
getting P2K off the ground in an AMAZINGLY short period of time.
Everyone that didn't care about pinball, however, are the people that
are actually in power. Never mind that gaming now exists because of
pinball. Never mind that they continued to exist through all of their
problems, lawsuit, etc. because of pinball. Now, when pinball is on the
verge of catching on again, they decide it's not worth it. It kinda
sucks, but that's how it is.
There are any number of things that could've been done to further
pinball's popularity. You guys are preaching to the choir when you tell
us "why don't advertise in mainstream?" etc. I wish I knew why we
didn't! Actually, I do know why. No one in power has ever understood
how to go out and actually sell a product.
I'll probably post a bit more later, but I thought I'd clear up some of
the misconceptions Mr. Pinballjon had.
Supply<Demand = Higher prices
> >How do people figure games are worth more now?
> Supply<Demand = Higher prices
Ahh, but the demand for TAFs are pretty much solely in the home market
(most operators will buy new games, and will have already bought a TAF a
long time ago). Therefore, the demand might go up a bit, but I doubt it
will go up enough to offset the natural decrease of the machine's price
as time passes. Demand has always exceeded supply of a good-condition
speciman of the game, due to its popularity
As for P2K machines, I do think that they will hold their price for a
lot longer than if WMS were still in business...
ObWMSNews: Stern, there are some HUGE talents that just became available
again. Do yourself a favor and make use of the situation and their
experience (hint, hint). Although not the best situation, one big
pinball company with a lot of experience is quite good.
To those who weren't at expo ... the WMS P2K guys -- in their spare time
and evenings -- threw together a complete TCP based etherneted pinball
package complete with card swipe readers allowing tournement players to
swipe their card, play their game, and the score was automatically
uploaed to a server.
As if *that* wasn't enough, they also created the ability to literally
telnet into a particular machine and, through its OS shell, diagnose
problems right from the server computer.
Absolutely amazing - and they did it all unpaid, after hours, and on their own.
These were guys devoted to pinball, devoted to their platform, and their
bosses essentially rewarded them with a pink slip.
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| Play Pinball !! | my own technology!" - LaForge
-----------------------------' "Thrills! Chills! Magic! Prizes!" - Hurricane
Roddenberry, Asimov, Henson, Dr. Seuss, Mel Blanc, Friz Freleng ... Sigh ...
Oh, jeez... that is so cool.
To the engineers: that's the coolest damned hacque I have heard of in a *long*
time. Hats off, man, that is truly awesome.
No useful content here... just a very hearty congratulations for that work. I
wish I could have been there to see it.
And, in addition to all that, Cameron and others spent countless hours
making the swipe cards (had your name, picture, and a barcode to hold
When I realized what they had done with the system in a couple weeks in
spare time (and could do), I was amazed. And I used to do client/server
programming, so I can appreciate what was done). Nice "cool" factor
with a monitor showing instant standings by category. And if you were
playing a game and qualified, you got instant feedback on the monitor of
the game you were playing.
It's been said before, but it deserves saying again - the team in
pinball engineering gave everything they had to make Pinball 2000
succeed. It is unfortunate that others at Williams only teased them
with the opportunity to make a difference, and, IMHO, didn't give the
platform a fair chance to show if it would have brought enough life to
the pinball market.
I'm proud to own RFM, ready to buy a SW:E1 kit (game?) (if I can get
one), and couldn't wait for the opportunity to buy a P2K Pat Lawlor
Monopoly game. For a Monopoly pin, I wouldn't have even had to ask my
wife ... closest thing to a done deal I would have ever had. <g>
For what little it's worth - thanks again to the fantastic folks of
pinball engineering. You've brought us all countless hours of
entertainment and some great pinball over the years. Appreciation isn't
much, but it's all I'm able to offer.
Thanks. You may soon be gone, but never forgotten.
>Uh, if that was actually Ethernet and IP (the cords looked like "silver
>satin" cord - which won't support 10BaseT) then it is HIGHLY probable that
>Williams used QNX or RTOS for the operating system.
It was in fact Ethernet and IP. And neither of those products were
used, as fine as they are.
OS's such as QNX typically have a per-unit royalty which we were
unwilling to pay.
I won't totally disagree with your general sentiment about top
management being completely totally shortsighted. There are any number
of things that us lowly engineers know and understand that we can't
convince execs that they make sense. The biggest problems with Williams
is that it has been run on a quarterly basis for a long time now, and
pinball's problems typically last a little longer than a quarter.
Probably the only reason pinball was around as long as it was was to
appease the SEC after the Mideay/Williams split since gaming was too
young to stand on its own (wasn't 5 years old) without costing certain
people major tax $$$.
Pinball Plastics & Flyers collector : *** buy , trade or sell ***
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> To say that the people in engineering aren't committed to shit is to
> slap the face with a metal gauntlet of every person who's devoted
> their life to trying to give others enjoyment for the past x years.
Good thing I didn't say engineering. Could you be more defensive?
> Everyone that cared about pinball poured their heart and soul into
> getting P2K off the ground in an AMAZINGLY short period of time.
> Everyone that didn't care about pinball, however, are the people that
> are actually in power. Never mind that gaming now exists because of
> pinball. Never mind that they continued to exist through all of their
> problems, lawsuit, etc. because of pinball. Now, when pinball is on
> the verge of catching on again, they decide it's not worth it. It
> kinda sucks, but that's how it is.
I agree totally. I meant, although I didn't say it, *that Williams*
management turned their back on pinball. Excellent sales for RFM seemed
to make no difference. You guys designed an awesome new pinball format
and got exactly TWO new games out. Management didn't even f*cking wait
to see the results of SW:Episode 1. I commend the design group for
> I'll probably post a bit more later, but I thought I'd clear up some
of the misconceptions Mr. Pinballjon had.
I'd be glad to hear everything you're willing to tell. I don't blame
the design and engineering groups for this.
Uh, if that was actually Ethernet and IP (the cords looked like "silver
satin" cord - which won't support 10BaseT) then it is HIGHLY probable that
Williams used QNX or RTOS for the operating system.
This would also be consistent with the time they had the boxes in
development and the hardware platform; both also have a nice "C"
development system and IP stack.
If THAT is the case, then hacking on it to do interesting things may not
be out of the question AT ALL.
I'm working on getting a SW:E1; if I do obtain one I'll have to do some
poking around and see what kind of havoc I can raise.
You are an idiot. I wish you would shut up and go away. I've been told to not
reply to you and thus not provide you with further fuel for your idiocy, but I
cannot help myself. You are so incredibly moronic you make Boag look like
I cannot believe you are second-guessing the very engineer staff who *wrote*
the OS from scratch. You are so incredibly useless it is beyond my
capibilities to describe it.
You are suffering (among other things) from the hammer syndrome. All you know
is a hammers, so everything you see is a nail. It's *not* QNX.
Anyway, I know it's useless to reply but it makes me feel better to do so.
> [killer description of PB2K machines networked w/card swipes for tournament
> play w/ a telnet'able login shell for remote diagnostics]
> Oh, jeez... that is so cool.
> To the engineers: that's the coolest damned hacque I have heard of in a *long*
> time. Hats off, man, that is truly awesome.
yep ... and their reward for all that work was, essentially, to get fired.
Still, for anyone who was at Expo, that hack is VERY much appreciated as well
as the extreme amount of time and effort involved in creating it.
It was extrememly impressive to see in action.
If they wrote the OS from scratch then IMHO Williams made the RIGHT corporate
decision to ash-can the entire project. I take back everything I said about
Williams corporate people being dunderheads - they woke up and did the right
There is NO REASON WHATSOEVER to EVER write a real-time OS from scratch
on these processor families. NONE WHATSOEVER. PERIOD.
Zero. Zip. Nada.
Ditto on the embedded systems Moto 68000 series chips, which are also an
excellent choice for embedded systems work.
I've BEEN through this discussion and debate with engineering in a company
before on a custom embedded product. THEY wanted to write (AGAIN) a custom
OS from scratch (the did it the first time, with DISASTEROUS results, before
I was there).
Their projected completion? Six months for something that "kinda worked",
and a year to have FCS V1 out the door.
I told them they were smoking crack and that the current code proved it -
they were a good three years into THAT software and STILL had problems with
it from time to time.
My best estimate was two full years before they had production-quality code
that I'd be reasonably happy with if they went this route.
SANER HEADS prevailed the second time around, and instead of taking nearly
TWO YEARS to produce something that was stable we had WORKING PROTOTYPE
PRODUCTS in THREE MONTHS. Products that you could NOT crash. Products
that WORKED, 100% of the time, every time, had REAL process protection,
REAL executive services and more performance than was anticipated by the
Why? Because all the software engineers had to write was APPLICATION CODE!
ALL of the low-level stuff - file system, real time executive services,
process scheduling, task preemption, interrupt handling, real-time clock,
all of it was ALREADY THERE. DONE.
ZERO EFFORT REQUIRED.
And yes, this WAS a real-time application that controlled radios and IR
devices along with a real-time display, card-reader, and other hardware
(anyone remember VideOcart?) You didn't SEE the second version of their
product 'cause they ran out of money. But some of us DID see it because
we were working on it, and it was slicker than snot, ran like a bat out
of hell and was done from concept to working code in three months. The
trade actually DID get one good look at it at the last FMI show at McCormick
before the company went belly-up.
All because we decided to do a SMART thing and put P-SOS in there as the
RT kernel and executive instead of writing our own.
>You are suffering (among other things) from the hammer syndrome. All you know
>is a hammers, so everything you see is a nail. It's *not* QNX.
Ok, P-SOS, RTOS, QNX, or any one of the others. There are a bunch of them,
and they're all quite nice as real-time executives. PSOS, by the way, also
had a stock IP stack available for it quite some time ago.
You're telling me they wrote a FULLY-CUSTOM OS on INTEL PC-style hardware?
You MUST be joking. That has to be the STUPIDEST decision I've EVER seen
for ANY industrial control product (and that, my friends, is EXACTLY what
a pinball machine is - an industrial-control product.)
A pinball machine lends itself VERY well to such an executive. You've got
a few different real-time tasks to run and a handful of less-time-sensitive
things to do (like hand off data to the DSP for voice and sound). None
of this stuff is hard, but having it all talk using defined OS-scheduled
interfaces and be unable to blow up another process makes debugging 100x
easier than it would otherwise be, modularizes the code to the point that
90% of the work is done for the SECOND pin when the first one's code is
written (can you say "state machine"?) and in general shortens development
time such that software is probably no longer the gating factor on getting
games done and out the door!
There is an argument for fully custom code on 6809s, especially when you
consider that the original WPC designs were out there before the good
multi-tasking executives were available. Hell, *I* wrote a multi-tasking
real-time executive for the frigging Z-80 back in 1981 and it made perfect
sense then! Why? Because I *HAD TO*! None existed that was worth a
damn and when you need something, you get out the assembler and code it.
It worked and your satellite TV probably goes through an amplifier on the
upbound side to the bird that still has one of those control boards in it.
(And oh, by the way, the "price" of being wrong in controlling those puppies
is either killing someone - literally - or doing roughly $25,000 worth of
damage to the amplifier, specifically the klystron tube)
But to do this on INTEL PC-style hardware at any time in the last five
years? That's purely and simply NUTS. Bananas. Insane.
It was nuts five years ago when I last was involved in exactly that decision
process and its just as nuts of a decision today.
Heh Gary Stern. Are you listening to this? I certainly hope so!
We really should talk about this stuff sometime; hell, I help you out
free of charge.
Gee that sounds even colder, let's all have fun at this tournament, pinball
expo, yeah, woo-hoo...next day it's "good luck, folks"!
Uh, was that at one time a pay-for OS with a company that went down a few
years ago? An OS that incidentally happens to run on Intel machines of
basically any reasonable vintage (including '286s)?
>The one thing you don't
>understand is all the things you advocate cost money, way more money
>than is easily made up with the production runs of the current market.
Hmmm.... Since I'm negotiating for a SW:E1 now I may get to poke around
some and see what's in there :-)
>OS's such as QNX typically have a per-unit royalty which we were
>unwilling to pay.
QNX is expensive, granted (probably too expensive).
But PSOS is not in an embedded application. It *does* have a per-unit
royalty but in an application like this its low tens of dollars in low
to moderate quantity (low thousands) and quite a bit cheaper as volume
goes up. That's not a lot of money for getting basically the entire RT
environment, plus file system, plus all kinds of other stuff.
PSOS is "modular" in its licensing; for a pinball you'd only need the kernel
and file system I'd think (they have an IP stack available, etc etc etc).
I know quite a bit about PSOS and its economics since that's what we settled
on at VideOcart 5 or so years ago for an embedded real-time application.
It was cheap enough to put in 100,000s of cart-units that had to be VERY
inexpensive to make (under $500 in quantity for the business model to work).
>I won't totally disagree with your general sentiment about top
>management being completely totally shortsighted. There are any number
>of things that us lowly engineers know and understand that we can't
>convince execs that they make sense. The biggest problems with Williams
>is that it has been run on a quarterly basis for a long time now, and
>pinball's problems typically last a little longer than a quarter.
All public companies are run on a quarterly basis these days. Welcome to
>Probably the only reason pinball was around as long as it was was to
>appease the SEC after the Mideay/Williams split since gaming was too
>young to stand on its own (wasn't 5 years old) without costing certain
>people major tax $$$.
Well, that's probably true.
I still think the decline of the market is as much related to servicability
(read: player satisfaction on first coin drop) and cost issues more than
anything else, and both of those are reasonably addressed with changes
in how manufacturing is done.
The law is such that they couldn't have provided advance notice to people.
Folks can go to jail for things like that.
An announcement that is scheduled to coincide with earnings had better not
get out early or the SEC gets VERY pissed off.
Public companies have a very different dynamic than small enterprises, very
different rules, and a set of requirements that many people find extremely
cold and callous. However, you can't fault Williams for not providing their
staff advance notice, because they simply couldn't.
>From: ka...@Genesis.Denninger.Net (Karl Denninger)
Good god, go away, man. Just go away.
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