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Starman's interview


PN co-founder
Since Jon fixed the posting glitch, I'm now posting Starman's interview here.

1 When did you play your first game of pinball, and what game was it, if you remember?

My first pinball? Guess it was about 15 years ago. I'm not quite sure which pin it was. But I remember one of the first was Williams' Rollergames.

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.

I remember I bought a PC game magazine in December 2002, which had as its gimmick had 500 games on an included DVD. The only game which was from interest to me: VP. I was enthusiastic about the included editor. You can play your own game. Wow! Two flies, one beat. ;) Before I discovered VP I had no idea about scripting. So I thought: 'What a pity'.

I was confident, that I was able to design a table, but the scripting part d puzzled me. Then I discovered automatically the big VP-community and ...after a short while, I was part of it. I prefer VP-only tables, but I'm also open to Mame supported tables. My first VPM table was 'Rollergames', I played that table in real a lot and as a matter of course this has to be tested. BTW: That VPM table plays almost like the real one.

I play modern pins in real life, but I think VP has some problems with those most overloaded tables with many toys and ramps. VP is great, but I think in fact its rendering limitations drawing far away objects, it is not really qualified to simulate such modern pins. For the time being I prefer EMs, as those are more open and clearer than overloaded modern pins, of course I'm still talking about VP. Now and then I try a bagatelle, but to be honest - I prefer more action than you get with those machines.

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?

Working in a team or solo doesn't matter for me. The main point is having fun creating something from scratch. My favorite own table is still "Rapid Vienna", of course. It was my first release and its popularity and innovative game design go hand-in-hand I think. My best pin, hmm... Fan-Tas-Tic, as a result of quality teamwork together with Pincode.

Interviewer’s note: Starman has probably had the best first three tables any new author has debuted with. Rapid Vienna rivals any modern table with moving soccer players and some very unique scoring and game tracking statictics. He nad Pincode teamed up for a recreation of Williams Fan Tas Tic, and gave us a beautiful game, easily on par with Scapino’s wonderful work.

But my favorite of Walter’s tables is Jigglebox, a flipperless game which can make even VPM players gain a new appreciation for flipperless. With the use of kickers and bumpers, as well as some interestingly placed slingshots, the ball movement is lively and fast. A central launcher lets you aim the ball right or left, and eight targets against the upper wall offer the player the chance of some nice bonus points, but those targets aren’t easy to zero in on, you can be sure. And be sure to download the optional music pack for Jigglebox, it completes a near perfect game.

I hope that Starman is busy at work on a new masterpiece, but even if he never releases another table, Walter has made his mark as one of VP’s most gifted authors. Starman hasn’t been around the forums much lately, and his friendly good humor is missed. While he isn’t among the missing, I sure do wish he would spend more time with his VP pals.

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

I do agree partially that VP's future is more up to Originals. In fact most of popular tables are already recreated. But I think, that there are many already recreated tables which could use a visual update or would better be (re)recreated. Actually I don't have any favorite VPF forum, I orientate more from the forums home, looking for the last activities. But in fact I most interested in the WIP and release threads.

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

I'm patient and persevering. And I think I'm pretty good, if it's finding alternate methods to get to the result I wish. Working with VP means living with compromises the whole time you work with it. The better the table quality should be, the more bars are coming up and mostly you can find a solution. But sometimes you must give up and make a bow and VP wins. Also the scripting part will always be my weakest point, although I learned a lot in these two years. But the most annoying "part" are those crashes, even on XP, but meanwhile I can live with that.

6 Do you have any hints or tips for making tables that would be helpful to other authors?

Sometimes it could happen that you can't click on a specific object without crashing VP. Everytime you open the table and click on the same object, VP crashes. If this happens - at least it worked for me, several times - just save the table again but with another name. Load the table with the new name and now you should have no problem to "touch" the object. Take your time and try to be exact. If you made only tables for yourself do what you like the best. But if you also want to give it to the world, try to be more exact and test the table intensively, before releasing it.

Sometimes it helps to avoid crashes, when you open a second table. I get some helpful hints from scapino: When you decide to use a big (fullscreen) decal as for the backglass you should never use it together with VP-lights. Instead of, it would be better using drop walls or reels for the lights. People will "thank" you for lower load times. Yeah, I know "Rapid Vienna" is a "fat" long loader... ;)

There are a lot of strange things that could happen using the VP editor. i.e. during creating "Rapid Vienna" I noticed that after I added a wall, that ramps which are should white or at least bright colored, suddenly turned into black. I had that situation several times, but I'm not quite sure if that is just because of a graphic driver issue or whatever... Or when you use more decal layers it could happen that the layers can't be ordered to bring to the front. I had that problem while creating "Nova Shake" on the backglass. But after (several!) closings and reloadings it works correctly in the end. Save as often as you can and use different names. This way it should be easier to
continue after a crash or whatever your troubles might be.

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

PC i2800, 512MB, HD Seagate 120 GB, graphiccard MSI 4200Ti64MB, XP pro. I think I have an average general knowledge about computers. My first computers were both classics: ATARI 1040ST and Amiga 500 - I still have them, although not anymore in action. The Atari was for my music...and the Amiga only for playing games.

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?

Born and live in Vienna, Austria, 29 years old, office businessman, Vienna City Hall. Music and painting are my hobbies. I use to play trumpet after work in a forwarding agency. Playing in an empty hall makes pretty good sounds. I made and still make paintings from time to time, portraits of people and pets from photos to get a seperate income.

9 Is there anything else you'd like to add? It doesn't have to be about VP.

I wished some people would not be too political in the forums. Also I wished some people would keep their oppinions to themself to prevent from being too personal to someone. It's ok to say what you think, but sometimes it's wiser to be quiet.

Now a few extras.Do you have much trouble understanding posts at VPF? I have a problem at all understanding you.

Of course some posts, mostly when those are large ones, Pacude is a candidate ;)) I have troubles to follow sometimes. But I can live with that.

You seem to have a great sense of humor, how did you get it? Were you a funny

I don't "were" a funny youngster, I am! Well, actually not anymore a youngster. ;)

"Have you ever noticed that women get a place to sleep. I wonder why that s?"
"Well, I suppose it's because they're the weaker sex."
"I don't believe that. I believe they're stronger."
"And do you know why? Because they get enough sleep, that's why."
- Cary Grant / Corporal sentry - from the movie "I was a male warbride"

"Alright. Now say Terrify."
"Now say Tissue."
"Now say them both fast together."
"Terrify tissue?"
- Cary Grant/ Marilyn Monroe - from the movie "Monkey business"

You see, I'm a big Cary Grant fan.

Last, but not least, I'd like to say a big thanks to Randy and Black for the revolutionary gem "Visual Pinball". I thank also all VP developers and table (re)creators, I learned a lot from them... and still do!

Thanks for the interview.

You're welcome...I have to thank you, John!

I did very little editing, just enough for clarity. I’d like to thanks Walter for the interview. Besides giving us so many wonderful table to enjoy, VP has given us all a chance to meet some very nice and talented people from around the world. And Walter, you are one of the best I’ve gotten to know.