The Loafer's Interview


PN co-founder
This was my last scheduled interview, back in March of 2005, and should still be an interesting read.

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

A) That's a tricky question. My first real-life pin was played in a dingy old bar. I could see it from the street, and was in awe of the lights and I could just make out the bells/tones (and was juuusst the right size to try it out). So I sneaked in (I was 13 years old) and popped in a quarter and BANG! Instant love affair! So to answer the question, it was a brand new "Royal Flush" and it was quite fun. That bar never seemed to mind that an underage lad was popping in after school to play the pin.

B) My first game of VP/VPM? Well, I don't remember table I tried in VP (see next answer), but I do remember the first two tables I tried the second time: Black Knight 2000 and the Jetsons. First time I tried VPM, it didn't work very well for me, so it was on my second try that it hooked me solid. The table which I recall "hooked" me to the potential of VPM? Eight ball, which made me believe it’s possible, and Adams Family, which made me believe the impossible was possible. I mean, it emulate the DMD? Couldn't believe my frickin' eyes!

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 originally discovered Visual Pinball in August of 2001 and quickly discarded it because of poor performance and bad luck (the table I tried plain sucked!). However, that all changed in December of 2001. I tried it again (pushed by a buddy "come on Rob, give it another try" "but it sucks!" "no it doesn't, try it again ya bozo". Well, the conversation was something like that. Point is, he was right, you call me bozo! I gave it a whirl and my "deer in the headlight" look has yet to go away.

There isn't any type of tables I don't like, although there are some I prefer to others. I appreciate all types of pins, including some that aren't as popular such as flipperless, with Contact probably up in my top 10 for played tables. Difficult to pick between VP and VPM tables. Some VP tables such as Superman (my personal favorite) I'll still prefer over its VPM counterpart... at least until the VPM version can be finished (hello? Right exit lane? Anyone care to take it on?) (EDIT: Hey! Thanks Destruk for fixing it! J ). Thumbs up to Eala's. He’s the best at re-inventing/re-imagining rules/sounds for older pins. What it may lack in authenticity (because rules weren't known) is made up for in pure playability and creative use of sounds. Of course, it's also something else to play some of the newer tables with all the toys and all. Although years ago, I imagined myself playing classics like Sinbad on a PC, I never imagined some of the recreations with all the bells and whistles (ie: TOYS!) like Rudy with the moving mouth in Funhouse. When I saw that, I literally freaked!

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?

The least said about my own VP creations, the best said. I've never released a table and probably never will. Why? Because on my system, I've had lots of VP editor crashes which killed the fun out of creating tables... and mostly and truthfully, because I suck, plain and simple. I suck at art, I suck at scripting, I suck with layouts. Basically, in case you haven’t paid attention, I suck at VP table making.

But that's the cool thing. There are many ways one can contribute in our VP Community. So I rolled up my sleeves and helped with some beta testing, such as with RolandScholz's Inner City Life; with providing a bona-fide real-deal "WildFire" handheld to an author to make it more accurate; and also with cash, such as when I purchased a manual so that a VPM conversion could be made. There are many different ways to contribute, not just by creating a table. Heck, even helping out with an internet forum can be a contribution ;)

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

1 year ago, I would have said "originals are the future", for the simple reason of arithmetic. Now, I'm not so sure. Certainly, one must believe that at some point, most pins will be done, so originals will be all that's left to do. But really, although most of the VP/VPM tables are done, I'd say without hesitation that 75% of them may be very fun to play, but there is huge room for improvement in the visual department. New 3d modeling techniques give some of these classics back to life and to the forefront of peoples expectations. For an example of these, I challenge many to see Emkaah's Space Shuttle, Gottlieb's Daffy, Starman/Pincode's Fan-Tas-tic or any Scapino tables (and many more I'm certain I'm forgetting). For non pre-rendered tables, there are LOT'S of examples of tables that look as real as the real deal. Take a look at many of Kristian's graphic touches on Black Knight, or PacDude's attention to detail with Roadshow, or of any IRPinball team tables (which many include full redraws, since no good pics of the playfields exists). These are excellent examples of how VP is open to creativity, if people of talent put effort into it. Of course, looks aren't everything, playability is the most important, but the graphic-fest do draw a lot of attention, and I believe that there are many a table just waiting to be redone with justice.

Still, Originals do have a special place imho, as the final frontier of VP. Its one thing to recreate an existing table, but it's another when one has to factor in original table layout, rules, original graphic work, sound, etc. We aren't just talking about talent with the brush, but of imagination as well. Tables such as Starman's Rapid Vienna really show just what's possible with some time, effort and pure talent. Though it tends to be a bit easy to keep the ball in play, it's a work of art, period. Others such as many of Eala's originals, or the first professional quality original (Stein's Jetsons) may borrow graphic designs from the commercial world, but man, what imagination in recreating the "feel" of a real pin. ... and don't get me started with the pics of Eala's Card Sharks II. Wow! :)

My favorite VP Forums is I'm an admin there, so whatcha expect me to answer???

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

My best table making skills? Probably exiting the VP editor. :). See above for further explanation...

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?

Although I give much attention above to the graphic aspect of table making (it's the "hook" that draws attention to the table), there is nothing more important than playability. Playing a pretty table will make you play it once or twice. Playing a table with proper flipper speed/weight, good lanes and ramps, and properly placed bumpers will ensure people play the table AGAIN and AGAIN. But let me digress. Although playability is important, there has to be a balance for a table to be deemed good. After all, this isn't the c64 pinball construction set, so graphics and sound are an important factor.

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

I have a natural ability to work with computers (at a technical level). However, years of IT management is slowly dulling my sense of IT expertise and it ain't getting better. My PC box is a P4-2.4ghz, 512 megs of ram with a Geforce4 -TI4400 video card. You'd think this rig would run everything VP related perfect, but no. Fault? VP's a little outdated in the support of video cards, so because of that, my old banshee actually performed better. Still, I shouldn’t knock it. I mean, what? Maybe there’s 12 tables that aren’t perfectly smooth. So overall, very happy with the rig.

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 a small town, 30 minutes from Ottawa (capital of Canada). I work as an IT Manager in the Canadian Federal Government, and I like my job! Well, most of the time. I'm a 41 year old kid who's happily married with my ex-ex (we're back together) and am the proud father of two girls, aged 11 and 13. I don't live in an igloo; so contrary to popular belief there are standard bungalows in Canada. We also have indoor plumbing and electricity (which comes in handy for my PS2/Xbox/emulation hobby... the electricity, not the plumbing!). My first passion is emulation, which led me to VP/VPM. I've always loved videogaming from the early days of Pong, though I'm proud to say it NEVER takes precedence over my family. Of course, the fact that I typically need only 4 hours of sleep a night helps :). I'm presently afflicted with Sleep Apnea. Contrary to many opinions, this is not the reason why I sleep 4 hours a night (or less), but rather the reason why my brain feels like mush since I don't get a GOOD 4 hours. Ie: I wake up every 15 minutes of so because I stop breathing. This causes me to have headaches galore, but I live with it; there are worse people off then I. Some good news, I’m using a device to help me breath at night. Success is moderate at the moment, but still there’s hope.

Oh yeah! I almost forgot, I've been an admin at for a while, helping where I can. My forte is people skills and common sense. I bring a good healthy dosage of common sense to most situations, which has proven successful in most of my endeavors. Naturally, there may be a few members who disagree, but I do my best and am confident in my abilities. Well, except for eating too much. For some reason, common sense and proper diet just doesn't add up in my brain. At 320 lbs, I’m going the wrong way on the road of life.

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

Well, I've mentioned a few above, but some special attention has to go to Destruk, who's helped with the recreation of so many tables, I've lost count (and really can't find one table in particular as a fav!). Even though he was able to pop out so many in such a short time, it seems all of his tables are playable and fun, and as I said earlier, that's what it's all about. Other tables, Eala's VP version of Superman (did I mention it's my favourite? :) ), PD's Centaur, Kristian's Black Knight, Stein's Jetsons and Starman's Rapid Vienna.

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?

Unfortunately, I don't have much time to play real pins and there aren't any in my village, except for an Adams Family and it's falling apart and no longer playable (imho). I was traveling lots a year ago across our fair country, and did take the opportunity to try out the airport's pins (always available sad to say...). Didn't like the Pinball 2000 series, did like Monopoly. The only two tables I declared myself a "wizard" was Superman and Sinbad and their VP counterpart work really well, very much a similar feel to the real thing.

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 used to make it a habit of visiting several VP related forums. I feel most sites bring something unique to their members, which makes them worth visiting. However, my time being no longer what it was, I'm only able of late to visit one site, and it’s to do some work (darn!). The only advice that I can offer is one of common sense. With internet forums, it's easy to take things personal. Don't. Life is too important to waste negative energy on something that, at the end of the day, is not THAT important. Go outside, take a walk, hold someone's hand and tell them "honey, can we stop at the local arcade for just 5 minutes?" :)

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?

Movers and shakers? Well, Destruk for all his work to the community via authoring tables or helping at VPforums. The guy’s a machine, an alien super being amongst us earthlings. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating, but the fact is, he may not be perfect, but neither are we, and a VP community with Destruk is a way better community than without. I think there are many other members who are movers and shakers and those aren't limited to VPForums, but the obvious that come to mind would be in no particular order): Scapino, PacDude, Kristian, AJ, Gaston, Shiva, tiltjlp, Starman, Bob, Lio, MrHide, JonPurpleHaze, StevOz and many, many more I know I’m surely forgetting. Honorable mentions for past contributions to: Apoc, Sven, Alex, BJ, Black, Randy, Sellenoff, Kinsey and Stein

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 dream of winning the lottery. There ya go, if admitting that doesn't jinx it, then nothing will. When we first communicated, I also dreamed of Randy returning. I said there was more chanced of winning the lottery. Dang it, I was wrong (welcome back Randy). So I guess the lotto’s completely out of the question, huh?

Now for a few extras. BTW, I think you’re the perfect front man for VPF.

Thanks :)

Has running VPF been as difficult as you expected?

That depends. Right now, it's very difficult because of my lack of availability. 18 months ago, it was very difficult because of the level of mistrust many members (and non-members) have/had towards the staff. I feel I helped in some capacity to restore some of the trust, so the headaches that came with the job were worth it. Typically though, it's an easy job that's not stressful at all. There are always these "full moon" moments that has me scratching my head every now and then, but what in life doesn't? If it was easy, it probably wouldn't be worth it :). I guess the only difficult item that makes the job frustrating is the repetitive issues, especially the resistance to a “family friendly” atmosphere. I respect why people don’t agree, that’s cool, but it’s frustrating to have to say the same thing over and over. Naturally, there’s a balance here, I’m sure some members are tired of some of my own rhetoric. Eternal balance I suppose :)

Don’t forget though, I’m not alone and IMHO, the VPF staff deserve kudos. It’s not hard work, but any person who’s “hobby” means they spend their personal time doing menial tasks and giving of themselves for others enjoyment, instead of having fun playing a vp pin, deserves thanks, imho.

Do you feel there are a few members who are trying to stir up trouble, or are they just odd balls?

A) members who try to stir up trouble: Nonsense. Everyone's passionate about their own POV, and some lack patience and understanding of the other point of view, but no one gets up in the morning with the intent "how can I screw up this site?". At least, I really don’t think there are any petty members. I do wish people would put in the effort to see the other side, other POV. We can't all agree with each other, but at the end of the day, we are all part of this fun community, so we should learn to respect what we don't necessarily believe in.

B) Odd balls? Hello? It's me, The Loafer, proud owner of the "new doo" thread and fan of BJ. Need I say more?

If you had the power, what one VPF rules would you eliminate?

When asked this question before, I told you “requirement to request posting privs” and how it was worth the shot of trying to do without it...

... ... ...

Dang it, whatcha know? It’s done! Requirement to request posting privileges were removed a little while ago and we’re still afloat. :) Now that this rule is removed, I really don’t know? There’s no rule presently in place that prevents anyone from joining our forum/community. Let me put that question back towards you (and the reader). Let me know which rules you feel don’t belong. I can’t promise will remove them, but we can discuss as adults and see the merits of the new proposal and we’ll see what we can do.

So, how much longer are you willing to run VPF? Is there a point when you feel you’ll need to escape?

I never feel the need to escape but the reality is that I’m a busy man with a full time family/work and truthfully, some duties do get tiresome. Taking into account my recent reconciliation with my ex-wife, and the fact that I can’t access VPForums from work, it’s probably a good idea to look at a future without admin duties. We’ll see what the future holds.

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Add-a-ball specialist
Site Supporters
Wow, congratulations Loaf on getting back with the wife! That's good news!


Pinball Wizard
Good interview. Thanks for speaking so nicely about my work.

Lio & Loafer are the best possible admins for VP Forums. Normal, common sense people who don't pretend to "above" the members.
I hope you have time to continue as an admin.


PN co-founder
I still think it's time for another HairDoLoaf thread somewhere. And yes, he really is a nice fellow, isn't he?

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