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Coin-op Collector from 1968

November 13, 2015

” Fred Fried was an extraordinary collector in New York City of carousels and carousel horses and pinball machines, and alarm clocks, and Carnival things. I hope you enjoy this piece of American history.”

Iron Throne Tournament Series Results

November 9, 2015

A big thanks goes out to GeneX (with help from Eric Wagonsonner) for running the Iron Throne Tournament series, and to Andreas Haugstrup Pedersen for his excellent match play software.  Also, thanks to STERN pinball for sponsoring the event with prizes.  The series consisted of three separate events with cumulative performance qualifying players for the Final Battle, which was held on 11/8 at Gestalt in SF.  As an added bonus, the Game of Thrones launch party was also held right before the Final Battle.  See the full results below.

Game of Thrones Launch Party and Battle for the Iron Throne Finals - Gestalt, SF, CA, USA

Game of Thrones Launch Party and Battle for the Iron Throne Finals – Gestalt, SF, CA, USA


Format for this was a straightforward one-and-done event.  I got about ten games of Game of Thrones on Friday night at Hi Life in Oakland but of course, the launch party machine was necessarily tougher.  I had a respectable game but nothing to cheer about.  Andrei Massenkoff went into ball 3 with only 9 million points but rallied to finish at around 350M, only around 50M short of the winner.

Now don’t get mad at me, internets, but I’ve never seen the show Game of Thrones, and still I think this game is awesome even with no attachment to the theme whatsoever.  It’s very satisfying in a lot of ways, combining a few tight and risky shots with a ton of really fast flow shots.  The sounds and light show are already good and with additional code I imagine will only get better.  I haven’t been wowed right out of the gate like this since TRON.

Pos. Name Points
1 Per Schwarzenberger 100 pts.
2 Ron Richards 99 pts.
3 Andrei Massenkoff 98 pts.
4 Darren Ensley 97 pts.
5 Ellen Frankel 96 pts.
6 Brian Madden 95 pts.
7 Jonathan Snyder 94 pts.
8 Josh Lehan 93 pts.
9 Jared Garvey 92 pts.
10 Gene X Hwang 91 pts.
11 David Joud 90 pts.
12 Jon Olkowski 89 pts.
13 Simon Anixter 88 pts.
14 Eric Wagensonner 87 pts.
15 Alex Pierson 86 pts.
16 Tony Good 85 pts.
17 Derek Pieper 84 pts.
18 Zac Wollons 83 pts.
19 Shon Dolcini 82 pts.
20 Ryan Blumenthal 81 pts.
21 Jessica Fernandes 80 pts.
22 Maura Devereux 79 pts.
23 Jeff Cleary 78 pts.
24 Chris Connelly 77 pts.
25 Rob Coli 76 pts.
26 Bob Albritton 75 pts.
27 Lisa Ramon 74 pts.
28 Jessie Reid 73 pts.
29 Jeremy Herrmann 72 pts.
30 Brian ONeill 71 pts.
31 Matt Willmarth 70 pts.
32 Jack Wasserman 69 pts.
33 Allison ONeill 68 pts.
Game of Thrones Launch Party and Battle for the Iron Throne Finals - Gestalt, SF, CA, USA

Game of Thrones Launch Party and Battle for the Iron Throne Finals – Gestalt, SF, CA, USA

On to the main event, the Final Battle.  24 players were eligible and 22 ended up competing.  The format was 3-strikes swiss pairings knockout.  I started out rough but not awful, but by round 4 I was already at 2-2 and on the verge of elimination.  This is now the fourth or fifth tournament where I’ve been in that situation and finally found my stride, so maybe it’s just something I have to live with.

I had to play David Joud in a late round on Tales of the Arabian Nights, and managed to score under a million on it in a previous match, so I wasn’t feeling confident.  To make matters worse, I’d seen David put up some pretty good scores on it. To add even more pressure, whoever won would win cash since they’d go on to the Final Four.  History repeated and I only managed 3 million, but some of my bad luck must have spread because David had an even worse time of it at 2.25 Million.  Sometimes you get the bad luck and sometimes you get the good kind.

That round with David proved to be a bloodbath for several and left only three players still standing. I was up against Gene X and Rob Coli for all the goods and we were playing Game of Thrones.  Both of them had one strike each while I had two.  If I didn’t finish first I was out, because in this three-handed game, only first place didn’t get a strike.

I got choice of order and opted for 3rd, though I briefly considered going first to try and put down some intimidation points.  Sometimes a big ball one score can throw players off their game, but I considered that Gene doesn’t really get rattled and Rob seems to step up even more when he’s in the pressure box, so I nixed the idea.  Gene and Rob drained rough and quick and my first ball went pretty well at around 170M, cashing in my first Blackwater Multiball for decent points.  My second ball added more damage and I was up around 290M while Gene and Rob were both struggling in the 1/2 player positions into ball 3 with sub-20M scores. That put me at a big advantage: even if they caught me I’d still have one more go and could tailor my strategy to get to their scores as safely as possible.  They had no choice but to go for big, risky, hail mary points to not only catch, but build a big enough lead to put the pressure back on me.  Gene didn’t make it and left it to Rob to knock me out.  Rob got some good flow going yet despite momentum he finished around 150.  I got the ball 3 walk-off.

Now all three of us were “marked men” and had two strikes apiece.  We played Game of Thrones once again.  This time whoever won the game won this four-event series, this culmination of a month’s pinball work, big pressure.  I had a weird flashback of Dirk Diggler, staring at himself in the mirror, pulling out his junk at the end of Boogie Nights and saying, “I’m a star, I’m a star, I’m a star.  I’m a big bright shining star.”  Whatever.  With Rob clearly getting the feel of the game a decent score was likely not going to do the job.  I went to work and put up a big ball 1 at around 400M, but kept the peddle to the floor and by the end of ball 2, put up the biggest score of the day at around 960M.  When the stars align and you can pull out your best game when you need it the most is a great feeling.

Gene and Rob played off for 2 and 3 and Gene came out on top of that one.  Alex Pierson rounded out the top 4.

Thanks again to Gene and Eric, and to everyone who came out and played.  See you at the next one!

Pos. Name
1 Jon Olkowski
2 Gene X Hwang
3 Rob Coli
4 Alex Pierson
David Joud
6 Darren Ensley
Ellen Frankel
Jared Garvey
9 Allison ONeill
Jonathan Snyder
Matt Willmarth
Zac Wollons
13 Chris Connelly
Eric Wagensonner
Per Schwarzenberger
16 Jack Wasserman
Maura Devereux
Ryan Blumenthal
Tony Good
20 Brian ONeill
Lisa Ramon
Shon Dolcini
Game of Thrones Launch Party and Battle for the Iron Throne Finals - Gestalt, SF, CA, USA

L-F: Alex Pierson, Rob Coli, Jonny O, GeneX – Game of Thrones Launch Party and Battle for the Iron Throne Finals – Gestalt, SF, CA, USA

Multi-pinball Attract Mode

November 6, 2015

I always thought something like this would be really cool, using rows of pinballs like equalizer bars.  Randy Elwin of Pinball 101 brings it to life!

Play Game of Thrones at Hi-Life Oakland

November 6, 2015


The new Game of Thrones Pinball just made it’s way to Hi-Life Pizza.  Additionally, the new Payrange system is installed on all the games.  Payrange lets you pay for pinball and other stuff using your smartphone and includes various incentives.  Buy 7 games and the 8th is free, for example.  The future is here, my friends! (Still no hoverboards…)

For tips and info, check out the STERN rulesheet here (pdf)

And here’s a rules discussion on Tilt Forums.

Bowen Kerins – Let’s Play Full Throttle

November 3, 2015

Multi-world champion Bowen Kerins teaches you to play Full Throttle, the new pinball from a brand new pinball manufacturer in England called Heighway Pinball.

The software is by Brian Dominy, a tournament player with over a decade of competitive experience so expect a deep, balanced ruleset.

I got a chance to play Full Throttle at the ReplayFX game show in July and was really impressed.  It’s fast and flowy, but also surprisingly intuitive. Chronicles Zidware Trainwreck

October 28, 2015

I was a bit surprised to see a referrer from assuming it was from the man himself, given all my posts on the subject are decidedly negative.  But nope.  Turns out someone who’s clearly pretty pissed off (and rightly so) registered the domain to provide a timeline of the Zidware fiasco and how John royally screwed hundreds of players out of an estimated million-plus bucks.  That’s an estimate because apparently John’s pinball-making abilities are only exceeded by his talents at bookkeeping, and lawd knows how much he really took in or where the money went.


Smart money says it went here

I followed the Zidware (Magic Girl, Retro-Atomic Zombie Adventure, Alice in Wonderland) and Skit-B (Predator) sagas closely but dropped out of the loop when their respective failures became certain and  entered the legal grind phase.  Imagine my surprise to learn that Jpop did an interview with the Coast2Coast Pinball Podcast.  Listen to it here, or don’t, because like everything else that comes out of Jpop’s mouth, it’s mostly a tour in excuse-making.  Here’s my quick and dirty paraphrased summary:

  1. “I didn’t realize building boutique pinballs was different than the deep-pocket resources I had at Williams.”
  2. “It took a year to design the cabinet.” (why reinvent the wheel?)
  3. “I was ignoring reality and just pursuing the American Dream.”
  4. Jpop, on realizing after eight months that Magic Girl could not make money or cover costs: “If we knew everything in the very beginning, do we just not move forward?”  (Answer: Yes. You go back to the drawing board)
  5. When asked if he could understand why a pre-order buyer would stop sending in scheduled payments after four years of waiting and no game, no communication, missed calls/emails: “Obviously, I can’t understand it because I’m not on the other side of the fence of it.”

He goes on to explain that a few of his customers came into his shop, sat him down and explained that since he’d taken customer money he had an obligation to deliver.  This, astoundingly, was something of a revelation to him.  “Obviously, I realize that today, but back then I needed more explanation.”  Yes, he actually said that.  A 50+ year-old grown-ass man needed it explained to him that if you take money to build something you need to actually deliver!

He talks about the difficulties building a custom OS for his platform, and again, it begs the facepalm-inducing question of why they didn’t go with an existing platform like the P-ROC, particularly for such a small run of games.

John rambles on with “nice-sounding” words which, taken together, make almost no sense or amount to total dodges of the question being asked.  What little can be deciphered from his word salad illustrates he not only has zero business sense, but is simultaneously oblivious of his ethical or legal obligation to give customers something in return for the money they paid him under contract.

He seems more concerned with the fact that “nobody likes me anymore.”  John says (paraphrasing): “I work, I pay my taxes, the only time I’ve ever gotten in trouble was a speeding ticket.”  In other words, he can’t understand why people are so upset, because in his eyes he’s had a pretty plain and vanilla track record and he’s an “alright dude who never set out to screw anyone.”  He just never planned to deliver anything for the thousands and thousands of dollars of money they sent him.  That’s not the same as stealing right?

At this point, even the former licensee (and customer), who wanted to effectively take over operations of Zidware, now publicly ridicules John:

“Its more like he needs someone or something to blame his incompetence on. Like I said this is a joke and not even worth debating. The game looked great, thanks to Yeti, but the game sucked and was no where close to 90% completion indicated to me. It was a giant waste of my time and money, end of story.” -WCBrandes


The cherry on top?  John makes sure to mention that he’s had to spend his own money on his legal defense.  Oh the humanity!  Well, by god, forget everything I said above.  I mean, the guy has had to suffer the insufferable burden of paying for his defense without, you know, like, money just given to him!

Read more at and here:

Naked on the Fence

October 23, 2015

Dutch film from 1973.


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