Latest in the World of Pinball

Ghost Squad whitewood

So the big news is we scrapped “Lost” pinball. This was for a variety of reasons, the main being we spent so much time trying to cram things into it that we didn’t spend enough time making it play well. So it’s a beautiful game with boring loops and bad ball returns.

But, much like our independent film projects of the past, we took this as a learning experience of how NOT to build a pinball machine. Since then we’ve been working with John Popaduik who’s taught us a lot, and is even putting me in his Zombie game!

Our next pinball project is a custom game inspired by the 2011 Halloween episode of The Ben Heck Show… Ghost Squad! It started as a way to test our new system, but is developing into a game as well. Here’s why we picked this theme:

  • Easy-to-create assets. Like everyone else, our pinball is going video and our backbox is basically one big LCD. One issue with this is you need far more art assets than an old DMD game. With Ghost Squad we already have access to our characters and can easily film content in front of a green screen. Compare this to a hand-drawn game like “Tesla Vs Edison” where we’d have to create everything from scratch.
  • Unlicensed Theme: While Ghost Squad is obviously inspired by the 94,000 Ghost Hunting shows on cable, it’s an original theme which means we can build multiple copies and sell them.
  • Humor Potential: The theme is great for satire, we can’t really insult anyone with it, and since women love those kind of shows, it might even be The Pinball Machine Your Wife Likes Too. (holy grail of collectors)

We’re also trying to have more ball interaction toys than our previous efforts. Special features include:

  • Spooky Door. A plastic door than opens, closes, traps balls or can be bashed open. Has a VUK (vertical up-kicker) behind it for ball locks or flow interruption for mode start.
  • Hellavator. An elevator from Hell. Balls can enter from behind (“first floor”) or enter via a ramp shot (“second floor”) The Hellavator can change floors, release the ball and also lock it. The ball can also fall through into the Basement of Horrors.
  • Basement of Horrors: A tunnel under the playfield that leads from the Hellavator to the Basement Scoop. Balls can be blocks and collected in the basement.
  • Spirit Magnet: A moving magnet under the playfield, like in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Playfield art in that area will be a Spirit Board (Ouiji is copyrighted so we can’t call it that) so the ball “moves by itself” to answer questions from the dead!
  • Ball Jump: One shot is up a broken staircase to a balcony, and you have to actually jump the ball across a gap to get there. We’re working hard to make this shot around a 50/50 probability of success.

So keep on eye on this site, my YouTube page and of course the Ben Heck Show!


8 thoughts on “Latest in the World of Pinball”

  1. Not that you would want to do this to the Ghost Squad machine, but I thought it would be cool to have a 5 or 6 axis robotic arm pick up the ball from the top of a ramp, and drop it in other ramps depending on game conditions.

  2. That’s a bummer about LOST. Why don’t you try to strip it down and work out a better layout/trim sections that aren’t good and reuse whatever assets you can from the original. It’s sad to know that so much work went into it, but we’ll never see a finished product.

  3. Is there a plan for selling your pinball development board? I keep searching for it on the web/ this site but can’t seem to find it. Thanks!

  4. Hi ben. I posted a comment on one of your youtubes but I have no idea if you read those…

    So lemme ask about this. What about a ‘toy’ where there is a spinning disk that can be activated and will affect the direction the ball rolls. I don’t recall seeing this on a pinball b4 and don’t know how well it would work. Obviously it would be flush with the floor of the machine, it could spin both directions… For instance… Set up two gated skill-shots behind it and to either side. Once the spinner is activated the played would go for he first shot, then if successful it could then spin counter clockwise and the second gated skill shot door could open.

    Or, have two disks near each other spinning in opposite directions. I dunno I’m just spit balling here… Dunno how well/much it would even affect a ball traveling at high speed.

    Thanks man. Keep up the good work. I spent all last night watching your youtubes- fantastic!

  5. I was wondering the same as Adam… will de pinball development board be available to the public?

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