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Bubblehead's interview

tiltjlp

PN co-founder
1 When did you play your first game of pinball, and what game was it, if you remember? Your first game of VP/VPM?

My first game of pinball was Humpty Dumpty, on a machine located at the bowling alley where my fathers league bowled around 1969. I used to beg him for dimes to play it while he bowled. I was lucky that every time that he had to buy a round of beer, he would get a dime from the change and give it to me. That's the last machine I can remember by name that I played until I started bowling on a junior league sometime a year later. They had a Gottlieb Subway machine at our local bowling alley, and then a list of machines that came and went with the years: Bally Knockout, Bally Wizard, Kiss, 8 Ball, Paragon.

My first game of VP was Alien Reactor, of course.

2 When did you discover VP? Do you prefer VP or VPM tables? Are there any types of tables you don’t care for, and which era do you enjoy best, such as 20s-40s commercial coin-op, bagatelle, Ems, SS, modern VPM.

My sister turned me on to VP around November of 2001, (I still have the cd she burned for me with it.) I don't prefer one or the other, but there are way more VPM games than VP originals that I like to play. As far as what I don't like to play, I have to admit flipperless machines are what I tend to not play, since I am more of a flipper control freak than a nudge/luck player. As far as what era of machines I like to play the best, I would say late 90's to present, but I still like playing anything from around 1967 on. It all depends on the game. There are modern era pins that suck, and I don't play them, and there are EM's and SS's that I would play no matter where and no matter what condition they were in.

3 If you are an author, do you work along, or with partners? Which of your tables is your favorite, and why? Which of your tables do you feel is your best?

Well, I don't mind working on a team, but I usually came in on some of the machines I worked on at the end to make the toys work, so I would end up working kinda alone. I have never worked on team on a machine from the begining, but I would not mind it. If I disagree about something while working on a machine, that's ok, I keep my version and play it my way, and let the team release their version.

My favorite machine that I've created is Jackbot, since I did all the graphics, toys, and VPM conversion. But since I have only done two machines it's not that hard of a choice. I got started in the toy business doing Bride of Pinbot's head while doing the VPM conversion, and I have focused on the Pinbot themes because I own a real Pinbot and Bride pinball machines. I don't have room for a Jackbot, so that's why I worked on the VPM version.

So since my list of contributions are mostly toys, I have to say, my most favorite toy was the Wrecking ball from Junk Yard, but the saucer from AFM was alot of fun to do too. But then again, I create toys to complete the machine, since I think playing a VPM should be as close to playing the real thing. One of the effects that most dont know about is the rumbler on Jurrasic Park, which is just a sound byte of me going "Rrrrrr Rrrrrr Rrrrrr" into a microphone, and hooked up to the rumblers solenoid callback. I was kinda surprised at how much it added to the game play. But I must admit that I took a lot of encouragement from Dorsola, and his original solution to the Totan rotating lamp is what got me interested in doing toys. The methods that I have implemented to solve some of the hardest toy problems have been used by others to solve alot of VPM toy issues, but there are some toys that still need a lot of work, and if I had more time, would like to work on them in the future. I have this advice for the toy makers out there: writing you own mech handler based on the real physics of the world will solve the problem every time. Remember that the original software programmers had to deal with real life motors and such, and that motors coast when you turn them off, they have a RPM ramp up and ramp down, and sometimes you need to account for this in your handlers.

4 Do you agree or disagree that Originals are the future of VP? What is your favorite VPF forum, and why?

I feel that the future of pinball is somehow intertwined with VP or FP or some other simulation on a PC. I don't think that the game will continue to be manufactured and that eventually the only place to play pinball will be on a simulator or in the basement of a collector. Well, this question is kinda lame now, but I've most always been a VPF presence as than anywhere else.


5 What are your best table making skills? What if anything is the hardest part of table making for you?

Well, um Toys, but not just toys, no I'm good at figuring out how to do hard things with limited resources.... The hardest part of table making is getting a table done to a point that you are not ashamed to have your name associated with it... So I try to make tables that will live up to the test of time. But certainly, since I've allowed other releases based on my table (the update to Bride), I'm not without improvement. Pac-Dude continues to find ways of using all our bags of tricks from all the authors to continue the improvement of all the other VPM tables. I'm sure this will keep him and a lot of other skilled table authors busy for as long as there is an OS and a hardware platform to sustain it. I sincerly applaud Pac-Dude by name to be the most tenacious and dedicated author out there. I salute his developments to the art of table making along with all the other tricks, talents, and skills that we have all shared in this community. But certainly the best years of pinball simulation are ahead of us, as CPU and 3D graphic bandwidth increase, we will see vitual pinball that lets us view the table in real stereo 3D vision, tracking our heads as we look up and down the playfield.

6 Do you have any hints or tips for making tables that would be helpful to other authors? What do you feel is most important in table making, garphics, layout, playability, added sounds, or something else?

I think the biggest tip I can give is learn by example, create by experimentation. Got a crazy idea for a wrecking ball simulator? Don't give up on your first attempt... If the first thing didn't work, don't stop... be as tenacious as the best authors out there, and don't let someone see your attempts until it really works.... that way you can always be reguarded as a miracle worker. But hey even I have written script with bugs in it... The most aggrevating thing I can think of is developing a table that works on your setup just fine, but when published, you find a WHOLE BUNCH of people with systems that your table will not run on. Get people to beta you tables before springing them on the rest of the community.... Get some feedback and improve your tables. Use bullet proof code... Create systems, and debug that system, then reuse that system. I think for an original, the most important (and hardest) part of table making is all the "Shows" that have to be scripted, recorded, animated, and then implemented into a final set of rules so that a coherent and cohesive gameplay is achieved. I think Bally/Williams had the best luck in producing games that live up to that. A great pinball machine has all the factors that make medium table good, and a good table great. And as far as Pinball is concerned, sometimes I hate to say it, but the more cheesier it is, the better the pinball machine... but cheese has it's limits (insert here now the the evidence of any machine in the Dr. Dude theme).

7 What kind of computer set-up do you have? Are you a computer whiz or a computer nerd?

I didn't know there were any differences between a whiz or a nerd, but since you ask, I guess I would say one of the original nerdy whiz's. I have 4 machines networked together, a 2.7Ghz P4, 1.7Ghz P4, a 900Mhz P1, and a 400mhz Pentium Pro, running XP, 98Se (2), and Win95 OS respectively. The top two have Gforce video and the remainder have some form of nvidia flavor of the month. I've been programming since 1976 and I've owned a licence to Photoshop since 2.x.

8 Where do you live? How old are you? What kind of work do you do? Describe yourself. What are you hobbies and interests other than VP/VPM? Is there any other personal stuff you’re willing to share with me?

Dayton, Ohio. 42 (43 in March), I'm a software developer working for Accenture on a US Airforce Finacial software package for the entire US Air Force. I'm a big guy, 6'4", I collect pinball machines and largeTechnic Lego sets. I dabble in RC and all things gadgety.


9 What are some of your favorite VP/VPM tables done by someone other than you? Why?

Anything with a great working toy, and the more like playing a real pin, the better. But I cant single out any one pin, there are so many good ones to choose from. But why someone has not released a Scared Stiff with an animated, real looking spider wheel is beyond me.

10 Do you, and how often do you play real pins? What are some of your favorites? Any that you’re really good on that you simply don’t enjoy playing?

I play them as often as I can keep them running, but you get real used to playing your real pins, and once you get real good on the ones you own, you start to not play them as much. This helps in the long run, because every once in a while you'll go through streaks of intense game play, followed by long stretches of non-play and you get to suck until you work up your skills again. I have never enjoyed a game of Meteor (or any machine that has a bonus countdown as slow and as nerve grating as Meteor was).

11 Any advice for a new VPF member? Better yet, any advice for old, seasoned VPF members? Do you think there are too many VP forums? Do you visit any other than VPF?

I think I hit all the sites now and again and get caught up, but I dont read all of them daily. All members- my advice, teach your children how to play, and let them know there is more to life than Video games, and that includes VP! Find a real machine and let them play... someday, it may come back as strong as it has from the ashes of the past.

12 Who, if anyone, do you consider to be the movers and shakers in the VP community, or the superstars, and why? Is there one Author whose work you always download, even without seeing the SS or knowing anything other than the name of the table?

I hate to sound trite, but the movers and the shakers of this community are the community itself. I love how sometimes it becomes a real soap opera... and there are way more interesting people in these forums than most any other, but I use the forum name all inclusively as the pinball and VP forums community, no matter the actual forum name. And I guess I need to say any table by Stein or by Scapino.


13 Is there anything else you’d like to add? It doesn’t have to be about VP. Maybe a secret dream, or a joke, this is your last chance?

I hope that VP goes on way paste just VP as a program, but that we continue as a community supporting the pinball in one form or another. They say that immitation is the ultimate form of flattery, and the pinball simulation community has proven that. Peace.
 
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