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Penquin66'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?

I probably played my first game of pinball in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s. My uncle had a wonderful game room in his house, and for the longest time, that is the only place where I was allowed that had pinball—after all, when I was growing up, good girls didn’t hang around with guys who played pool or pinball and we most certainly were not allowed to be seen in “those types of places” either. I can’t remember what table it was, probably because he would switch out the table occasionally. I’ve got great memories of this game room, as it is where my grandfather taught me to play pool. In fact, if I ever get enough time and money I’ll be converting my garage into a game room with a wet bar, a pool table, a dart board and as many pins and I can fit in the room.

My first game of VP/VPM would have to have been Creature from the Black Lagoon. I don’t know whether it was Lander’s version or Lio’s.

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?

Several years ago, a friend was telling me about MAME because I’d mentioned how much I enjoyed playing some arcade games from the ‘80s. They kept promising they’d bring over their discs so that I could see if I liked it, but they never did. I eventually got tired of waiting and did some web searches to see if I could find anything. One of the first sites I stumbled on was Randy’s. The thought of creating my own pinball table was appealing, but I was in the middle of trying to go to graduate school and teaching classes, so didn’t have enough time to investigate further.

About a year ago, I purchased the Williams pinball game 4-pack for my computer, and decided I liked pinball on the computer. My computer died, and when I got a new one, I couldn’t find the original disc (It’s probably still in a pile of stuff I need to go through, but that is another story…). I needed to get my pinball fix, so back on the web I went. I found Randy’s site again, but I was concerned because it hadn’t been updated for quite some time (And let me say that I’m glad Randy is working on the SP2 fix).
In August of last year, I decided I couldn’t stand the lack of pinball any more and went back to Randy’s site. From there I found VPF. Once I’d downloaded a few tables, I couldn’t get enough and started downloading as much as possible to learn what type of tables I liked.

In terms of what type of table I like, it is difficult to say. I enjoy VPM tables because that is what I first played. I also like original tables because it gives an author a chance to be as creative as they possibly can. I’m incredibly bad at flipperless tables, but I keep trying to get better. I don’t have a favorite era of table simply because I’m still in a learning mode and each era has so many unique features to offer.

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

I’m not an author yet, and I do stress the yet. I have several ideas
percolating in my head. I think once work and family starts to settle down a bit; I might start working on something. I’m not sure when that is going to be as I’m in the process of applying for a new job.

Since answering the initial questions, I have released my first table,
Penguin Bagatelle at Pinball Nirvana. I definitely have plans for
improvements on this one as well as ideas on a couple of other originals.

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

I do think that Originals are the future of VP for several reasons. First, I don’t see a large number of new table designs being commercially produced in the future—most places where we would hope to find pinball are going to video games that take up less space. Once everything that is out there has been recreated, there will still be a desire for something new and different. That is where the originals will come in. I can see authors still making improvements to VPM tables, but I really think that people are
starting to realize that originals can be as good if not better than

I think that the problem with the originals, and something that turns new people off, is that authors are releasing tables without enough testing, and then relying on the community as a whole to troubleshoot the table. Also, some of the tables released look like they were thrown together in less than an hour. I wish authors would spend the time to make sure their tables are working before releasing them. I really pity the people who are trying to download these tables when they are on a dialup. I do understand that you
can’t catch all the gremlins during testing, but I’ve seen tables that I can’t even start because of scripting errors!

Hmmm, asking a loaded question like what is my favorite VPF forum and why…First, let me say that I don’t like what I see happening at AJ’s and will only stop by very rarely—mainly to see what problems people are having with the current SP2 fix or the new VPinMame release. I’d say that I visit VPOriginals, Pinball Nirvana, ShivaSite and VPOH about equally. I also read the posts from each site equally. I like reading the humor, but I also like seeing the screenshots of wip, etc.

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

Since I haven’t made a table yet, I can’t say what my best skills would be. I think my problem is going to be that I tend to be a perfectionist, and will find it hard for me to make a table. I’m very detail minded, so it will also be difficult for me to make sure that I do all the research needed before I begin.

Since I've now made my first table, I can admit that I need to work on my scripting skills. The perfectionist started coming out with Penguin Bagatelle; I must have tried every photo I've ever taken before I was somewhat satisfied with the photos I used. I guess that is an excuse to go on vacation and take some more photos so I can find a better image.

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?

I think a combination of all items are important, but overall, if a table isn’t playable, it doesn’t matter what sort of graphics or sounds are there, people won’t enjoy it.

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

My main computer setup is a laptop with a 2.8GHz processor and 500MB RAM and an ATI Radeon IGP and a 40GB hard drive with a CD writer. It’s nice because I can sit in my recliner with the computer and cats for a quiet evening. Most people think I’m a computer whiz, but I think I’m not. Perhaps that is because some of my good friends are computer gurus. I guess that happens
when you work on a daily basis with network administrators and computer specialists.

My other computers are a home built system with a 2.4GHz processor, 1GB RAM, an ATI Radeon 9800, 2-160GB SATA hard drives and 1-120GB hard drive, a DVD/CD writer.

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?

I live in Albuquerque, New Mexico—Yes, I still hear the joke about taking that left turn at Albuquerque. I think the most common misconception that people have is that I don’t live in the United States. Yes, New Mexico is one of the 50 states; we are not a part of Mexico.

Physically, I’ve recently celebrated the 12th anniversary of my 29th
birthday—which means I’m 41 years old for those of you that don’t want to do math, although some mornings I feel like I’m about 141 since I’ve got tendonitis and arthritis. Mentally, I think I vary from about 3 to 12. I think I need a young attitude to work with a lot of college students.

I work for the University of New Mexico in the Center for High Technology Materials. I manage a large research laboratory and occasionally will be asked to teach lab classes in semiconductor processing. I’m in the process of applying for another position at the University. It would be a promotion, so would be something interesting to consider. I doubt that anything will come close to happening until sometime in early 2005.

I’ve been married for 15 years. I don’t have any children unless you count the 4-legged ones. I’ve currently got 2 cats, one 3 years old and the other 5 years old. My first cat, Little Guy, recently passed away at 13 years old.

I've recently added a third cat to the mix. Casper is a flame point Siamese mix and is a little over 4 months old. Casper was my Christmas gift and I must admit that he was a wonderful gift. Anyone wanting to see photos of my babies can see the photos at Pinball Nirvana.

I’ve been collecting penguins for over 20 years, so that explains part of my screen name. The 66 comes from 2 different things—first, Albuquerque is on Route 66, and I’ve lived within a couple of miles of Route 66 for about 25 years. I also like ice hockey and one of my favorite hockey players, Mario Lemieux wears #66. Also, my older cat, Lilith, is a black and white cat that people say is a penguin cat.

I have a lot of hobbies and interests. I love to read, but don’t have much time for it any more. I like to watch movies, and especially like action movies. I’ve been told by some that I am a gourmet cook, but I think I cook food that I’d like to eat. I like to bowl, and have just started again after having to take 2 years off for tendonitis. I like to do a lot of crafts as well. I do counted cross-stitch, knit, crochet, make soap and lotion. In general, if something takes creativity, I like it—I might not be good at it, but I like it.

I tend to be a bit of a home-body. My husband had kidney cancer a little over 6 years ago and is now on kidney dialysis while waiting for a transplant. He’s away from home so much that any time we can spend together we just want to sit at home and relax. Plus, his medical bills can get rather large at times, so we tend to stay home a lot to save money.

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

It would be very difficult for me to pick even several favorite tables done by the talented authors. I’ve been downloading and playing a lot of different tables—some of my favorite authors are PacDude, Scapino, Kristian, Bob, and Wrenchien.

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 don’t get out very much, so don’t get the opportunity to play real pins. In fact, there is only one place that I can think of that has one real pin, and that is a pizza joint down the street—they have South Park, but it looks like it is in very bad shape. Probably is in bad shape too, given the way I saw a kid beating on it the last time I was there. We used to be able to find pins at the bowling alley I go to, but they have been gone for a couple of years now. I asked the manager why they got rid of their pins, and they said that they were taking up too much room and they could put more video games in their place.

I’ve never been any good at any games because I’ve got lousy hand-eye co-ordination. I guess that is why I like craft things. I can do stuff with my hands that doesn’t always require the best of hand-eye coordination.

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 there are 2 pieces of advice I can give to a new VPF member. First is to ask questions about things you don’t understand. But this leads to the second piece of advice—do your research first. Don’t ask a question and expect someone to give you the answer if it has already been discussed in the forums. Search the forums because you might find your answers and a lot
of other interesting things there.

I think that I’d advise the seasoned VPF members to remember that we were all newbies at one time—don’t be too rough on all the new people because they are trying to learn. By encouraging the newbies to ask questions you might be giving the next great table author a valuable piece of information.

Are there too many VP forums—when I first read that question, I thought that there were too many. After thinking about it a bit more, I don’t think that we have too many. Unfortunately, we have duplication of effort at times. I understand that there are a lot of people who want to have things “their way” and no other way or they can’t get along with this person or that person. So off they go to create the site they want, but no one comes. It amazes me the number of “VP forums” that are on the web. If you look closely, some of these so-called forums haven’t been active in months. I
think the inactive forums out there are driving away people. I can only come up with a handful of active forums, and I think if some of these forums were combined, we’d end up doing nothing but arguing because of people that don’t work and play well together.

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 do think that one of the people doing a lot to increase activity in the VP community is Sunspot. His idea of VPOH is a great idea. I think that will bring some added interest to VP tables.

Some of my favorite authors are PacDude, Scapino, Kristian, Bob, and Wrenchien. I’m not very selective about which tables I download. I’ll try most of them.

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 think everyone should remember that this isn’t an audition for life, it is the real thing. Make every day count and don’t sweat the little things. Be thankful for what you’ve got because there are a lot of people out there that would like to have even a small portion of what you have.

Thanks for the interview

Thanks for asking me. I enjoy reading your interviews of other people


Add-a-ball specialist
Site Supporters

That Penguin66 is such a nice person :wave:


Pinball Wizard
You know, I had a dream the other night where everyone was in a big convention hall with thousands of pins--anything and everything, including originals and even better, none of them needed credits to play! Everyone from the forums was walking around, having a wonderful time playing pins. We all knew each other because our faces were our avatars.


PN co-founder
That's interesting, Penquin. That's not too different than a dream I had a few years ago. You can read about it, called A Most Wonderful Pinball Dream, in the Reviews section. Never have had a similar dream since. So did I speak English or meow?



Pinball Wizard
I can't tell you if you were talking or meowing because just about the time someone would have started speaking, the alarm clock went off.

Also, if people still want interviews, I will be happy to continue them when you have finished.


PN co-founder
That's wonderful Penquin. Good luck getting folks to answer your questions, that's the hardest part for some reason. In fact I had started to do new interviews with folks I'd profiled in the past. Feel free to use any of my questions you want, since most of them are fairly generic anyway.

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