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Panda's interview


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

1. I cannot remember the first table I played being only about 8 years old at the time that area of brain cells are long dead (as are most of it's neighbours). Some tables I do remember from the early years are Sweethearts and Bank-a-Ball. Later on Kings and Queens then Outer Space (Gottlieb) were favourites as they kept me in Hamburgers, Pepsi and smokes by selling the free games I racked up on it. It was just too easy, money for jam. Of course there many others during that time, but none so vivid in my mind.

1b. My first game in VP was Jay Phillip's - Orbit (which is the 2 player version of Outer Space). It may seem over dramatic but it was almost a life changing moment. When I saw the table, I freaked. Then that first clunk sound of the reels resetting sent me back to my childhood, and I was hooked in that split second. Imagine, out of all the tables I could have downloaded it had to be that table that popped out of google (tm). I actually rang a workmate at 2am speaking incoherently about a pinball program. What do you think his reaction was. Did he swear and curse. He just laughed and said he had felt the same way and he had about 30 more tables for VP and something about VPM, which he gave me that weekend. I was desperate to know how it worked. And the bloody thing was locked!!

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, modern VPM bagatelle, EMs, or SS?

2. I prefer VP tables, especially the EM's. Leon, Bendigo, Eala and those guys excel. Every new one either brings back memories, or if I had never played it got my heart-rate going faster just to try it out. It's not that I dislike VPM tables, it's just different. There is no history (for me) with them, although there are quite a few I have come to really enjoy. I just don't get some of those tables from the eighties like (sorry Kristian) Black Night 2000, Cosmic Gunfight etc. I am no good at them and I lose interest quickly. I have the attention span of used postage-stamp with severe A.D.D.

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?
3. I have made one table so far, called Forum Follies as my tribute to the reprobates that were VPFF and I can say unequivocally it's my best table to date.

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

4. I think that originals are an important part of VP but I don't think they are YET the future of VP. For me the hook was a memory, an awakening of something from my past, better times ... even. An original table strikes me the same as the newer VPM tables. Absolutely fun to play, great to look at, sit in awe and marvel at the talent and dedication of the author, then .... next! (Remember the postage stamp?)

4b. My first port of call was always VPFF. I enjoyed it for what it was meant to be - an alternative perspective on pinball life and real life. Personally, like many others, I frequented VPFF, Shiva's and VPF and I held them all in high regard, they were just all different. Now my first port of call is Pinball Nirvana, although it is a little quiet at times.

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

5. I have no skills at table making. I blunder along. My biggest problem is I get sidetracked and start playing, and completely forget about construction. I get these spurts of 'creativity' and if I get interrupted I have to wait for the next one to arrive. It can take months sometimes. I am trying to clean up some of the older tables' playfields and learn how to use PaintShop Pro 8.

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, graphics, layout, playability, added sounds, or something else?

6. I wouldn't presume to tell authors anything. To me a table must first and foremost be visually brilliant to grab the attention, but to keep your attention it comes down to playability and atmosphere (sounds, motion etc.).

I am not one to quibble that a post is one unit out of place from the original, as long as it plays well. For those that are into VP for it's historical value, then of course it is an issue, and I see it's importance in that regard. I'm far too shallow to let it affect me one way or another.

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

7. My computer setup. OK the one I use is home made. It's in it's ninth re-generation.

Medium Tower Case (3 fans) with 450 watt power supply, Athlon 2.4 CPU, 512meg RAM (2 x 256), 80gig Maxtor and 60gig Maxtor HDD, LG DVD Rom, NEC 8x Dual Layer DVD Burner, Front Audio Station (with 2x USB 2.0, Mini Speakers, Line In, Phones), nVidia Geforce FX-5200 Graphics card (128meg), Round Colour-coded Drive Cables, Panasonic 3 1/2 inch floppy, Blueway Surround Speakers with Sub Woofer, Billion 7100 pro ADSL Modem/Router, Microsoft Optical Mouse and Internet Keyboard, Thrustmaster Firestorm Dual Power 3 Programmable Gamepad (for VP use only), Genius Graphics Tablet, Optimus Stereo Record Turntable, Canon i350 Printer, LG Studioworks 900B 19inch Monitor, 64meg USB key and about 300 computer mags with CD's or DVD's that came with them.

7b. I have a better than good working knowledge of computers. I started on a Tandy MC-10 Microcomputer and a Microbee in 1980.

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?

8a. I live in a Town called Forbes in the central west of New South Wales, Australia. pop. 8500; Temp range zero in winter up 46 degrees Celsius in summer. We are in our third year of drought although it has been a lot better in the last month. We will have our worst locust plague on record this year according to the experts. I moved here in 1985 from Sydney, Australia.

8b. I am now 49 years (too) old.

8c. I no longer work as I am physically knackered. I was put out to pasture in May of last year. But I'm pretty lucky as it is only pain - mainly. I have had many jobs/professions ranging from ( in no particular order ) storeman, earthmoving equipment operator, farmhand, private inquiry agent, pit maintenance crew in iron ore mine, air conditioning and morgue installer, computer repairs and troubleshooting business, computer software skills teacher for the unemployed, sand - soil - gravel and landscaping supplies delivery business, apprentice automotive engineer, Manager of Computer Dept., University Drop Out (Bach I.T.).

8d. Incredibly dashing and have a ‘first class’ mind (which may explain my somewhat infantile behaviour). I once went sunbaking at the beach and this crowd of people scooped me up and dragged me out to deep water and no matter how often I came back to shore they kept dragging me back out and shouting 'Save the Whale, Save the Whale'. Bloody do-gooders.

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

9. Most of Leo's tables are a must. They just keep getting better and better. I have a couple of VPM tables that I play a lot. Monster Bash (all versions), Medieval Madness and my absolute fave is Mars Attacks (all versions).

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?

10. I hadn't played a 'pinnie' for probably 20 years before VP. Now I will have a go whenever I can, but I am pretty hopeless as they are all the newer type. But at least I have a go, and it makes anyone watching feel sorry for me.

11 Any advice for a new VP 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?

11. Quite a few forum members act as though the very fabric of the time/space continuum depends on their point of view and will not or cannot understand that there are sometimes differing opinions. Get over it; and get on with life!

11b As stated before I was of a fan of VPFF when it was working properly. It's gone and I think it has left a gap. If enough people are visiting a forum to make it interesting for those members, then it's doing it's job.

11c. I visit them all. Original's only irregularly, though.

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?

12. Leon and Bendigo's EM's, Eala, Kurt (Scapino), Destruk, Kristian, Jive, PK, oh and did I mention PacDude.

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?

13. I think that this has been a great invasion of privacy and you should be ashamed of yourself for reading this.

Now go buy Pac a can of humility.

PS. How did you say you were paying for this John ??

Thanks for the interview.