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KISS Pinball Launch Partty Tomorrow 6/27

June 26, 2015

Tom Collins will be hosting a KISS pinball launch party in Oakland.

There will be a KISS cover band.  Doors open at 5 PM!

2519 San Pablo Ave, Oakland

kisslaunchparty

kisslaunchparty2

And Spooky Pinball’s Next Game is…

June 16, 2015

This year there’s been a lot of action and drama coming out of the boutique pinball market. The notable ones are:

Zidware and Skit-B have collapsed altogether, and the lawsuits are starting to fly.  Zidware is particularly nasty, with some in it for over $20,000!

Heighway Pinball and Dutch Pinball are still afloat, but have not yet actually shipped games.

Planetary Pinball and Spooky Pinball have both shipped games. Planetary produced the Medieval Madness remake and Spooky produced America’s Most Haunted.

There are other boutique makers out there but not much news has come out of them recently, good or bad.   At any rate, it’s very impressive that Spooky got a game out the door given the current body count in the boutique market.

So, what does a pinball company do after making a pinball game?  They make another pinball game, of course.  Spooky’s next game will be ROB ZOMBIE!

Pinbox!

June 16, 2015

Haven’t they heard pre-order pinball is dead? :-)

Kickstarter here.

It’s Official – Magic Girl, RAZA, AIW Bailout Abandoned

June 10, 2015

gameover

William Brandes, the head of the “bailout” group for John Popadiuk’s Zidware games, just published this statement on Pinside:

“First and foremost, I would like to express my deep gratitude to everyone who dedicated their time and effort to help bring Magic Girl to light. Without everyone’s effort this would not have been possible.

I would also like to personally thank everyone who believed and supported me in this endeavor.

After working and speaking with a lot of you, who know pinball development inside and out, and finally getting an opportunity to see how far along Magic Girl really is, I have decided that it is not worth my effort or finances to move this to completion.

Despite the fact that I’m not going to continue with MG, I do not regret the investment I have made as I hold the friendships cultivated at a much higher value.

Thanks again for all your support and patience.

Best regards,
Bill”

official

With the failure of the bailout group to “Pet Sematary” these games back to life, this seems to be the final nail in the coffins of Magic Girl, Retro-Atomic Zombie Adventureland and Alice in Wonderland.

Recently, a crash-effort was made to get Magic Girl “flippable” for the Northwest Pinball and Gameroom show.  It was on display but failed to win over players.  The art is very impressive but the game itself has poor geometry and terrible gameplay. The code is still at a very early stage, partly because many of the toys, ramps and other assemblies either don’t exist or were never integrated.  Partly because John Popadiuk simply stopped paying the software developer.

It became obvious to all that a lot more work was needed for the design, programming and hardware to get Magic Girl to the point of a fully working, completed prototype. Exacerbating all this was John Popadiuk’s decision to use all custom hardware and a custom pinball operating system. If the work so far had been done on the P-ROC, it’s possible the code could have been made public and opened the possibility for a “fan-completed” game.

And all of this before the massive task of manufacturing and post-sales could even begin.  Put another way, where John Popadiuk ended is not even where Predator began.  All after four years and an estimated one million dollars in pre-order money!  What was he doing all that time?

So what’s next?  Most obviously: lawsuits.  There can be little doubt that Zidware will be sued into bankruptcy and legal action is already underway.  John Popadiuk has not been forthcoming with what money is left, but the courts will no doubt get to the bottom of it.

It’s also certain that John Popadiuk’s legacy is obliterated. Once revered as the designer of Williams titles such as Cirqus Voltaire, World Cup Soccer and Tales of the Arabian Nights, at best he’s now considered a complete flake – the stereotypical aloof artist who can’t focus and see anything to the finish line unless surrounded by a support team and managers.

At worst, a con artist, a thief and a liar who repeatedly lied about the status of the project and continued to accept pre-order money even when the project was in serious jeopardy.

Some pre-order customers have over $20,000 with Zidware, and a total loss, or pennies on the dollar, are unfortunately the most likely outcomes.  It’s an unbelievable financial loss and I feel horrible for everyone involved.

So with that, 2015 has seen two boutique manufacturers ship games (Spooky Pinball and Planetary Pinball) and two other boutique manufacturers (Zidware and Skit-B) crash and burn.  And the year is only half over.  There may yet be more dominoes to fall.  If anything can said to have come of these messes it’s that a higher standard of transparency and credibility will be expected going forward, but at an unfortunately incredible price.

Custom Goonies Pinball

June 10, 2015

Converted Gottlieb Hollywood Heat becomes custom Goonies Pinball game.  Yes, I can’t stop staring at his mustache either.

$1000 per year pinball license

June 8, 2015

license

Article here.

In 1947 it cost $100 per year for an operator to get a pinball license.  Running that through an inflation calculator, that’s $1,060.98 in today’s dollars!

Toledo had 1100 pinball licensed machines throughout the city with an approximate population of 290,000.  That’s about twice as many as in the entire greater bay area, which includes over 60 cities and a population of over 6 million.  That’s about forty times more pinball games per person.

Magic Girl Finally Makes Public Debut, Predator Update

June 6, 2015

I’ve been closely following the twin utter debacles of both Skit-B and Zidware, two boutique manufacturers that have hit the mat in a bad way.  Before checking out their websites, know that Skit-B long ago scrubbed any reference to its Predator pinball game, and Zidware removed its entire site, replacing it with a static front page that simply says Zidware is ‘reloading’.  In addition, John Popadiuk’s two facebook identities (The Pinball Inventor and John Popadiuk) have apparently been removed or gone private.

zidware

zidware’s homepage

Strange things have occurred on both fronts.  First, for Skit-B, the latest news is some victims have received refunds via Paypal, ostensibly initiated directly from Skit-B (as opposed to credit card charge-backs, which is the only way anyone had received a refund prior).  These refunds seemed to signal that Skit-B was finally coming through with refunds they’d promised a few months ago, but then went silent on.  However, a few people contacted Skit-B/Kevin Kulek’s lawyer and he denies that Skit-B initiated any refunds and doesn’t know anything about it!  He maintains Skit-B is still pursuing a legitimate license from Fox and the plan is still to produce the games!  Adding to this head-scratching turn of events is that not everyone has been refunded in this manner, only a few, and none who paid via check.

On to Zidware.  And this story just can’t get much weirder.  As I mentioned in my last post, a 3rd party named Pintasia has stepped up to license the Zidware intellectual property, and initially the legal terms for victims to stay in the project were ludicrous and bound for failure.  The initiator of the purchase has come on to Pinside to state the new agreement was somewhat premature and will be revised, as will the pricing, after jaws dropped at the $16,000 price tag.

Another question about the Pintasia/Zidware partnership is what are the terms of the licensing.  So far, Pintasia has ignored this question, but unsurprisingly, pre-order victims are insisting on complete transparency if they’re going to gamble new money with this company.  Additionally, most pre-order customers appear opposed to John making even one more thin dime at this point, so if the agreement results in his personal profit, they’re adamantly opposed to it.  In the thread on Pinside, Pintasia have been asked for this information over a dozen times and continue to ignore it.

Then a bombshell was dropped.  Some sleuthy sleutherson did a bit of detective work and learned one of the principals on the Pintasia team, their head of Finance, Sabrina Wei, was (or is – last video was posted on May 10) associated with several Ponzi and high-yield investment program (HYIP) scams.

I swear, you cannot make this stuff up.

The evidence is pretty overwhelming, and when the head of Pintasia, William Brandes, was asked about it, he downplayed it and basically said he didn’t know much about her past.  Also, this post as a response to questions about Sabrina is certainly suspect, neither identifying the author of the post nor categorically denying the allegations, about Sabrina, and then jumping into victim mode at the end.  All of these are common tactics of persuasion I’ve seen related to various scams and frauds.

Folks, I don’t know about you, but if I found out the head of Finance has a ponzi/HYIP scheme pedigree, that would be it for me.  I’d be out.  Do not pass ‘Go’.  And that’s what’s especially perplexing.  By and large the outrage and shock from the community on this point has been surprisingly minimal.  I don’t know what to make of it.  Maybe in this story, filled with so many missed promises, u-turns and disappointments, what’s a little ponzi scheme cherry on top, right?  All we need now is a Scientology connection and this thing is a Hollywood screen-play.

Some Zidware customers aren’t waiting to see how this crazy story ends and have already joined a class-action lawsuit.  This has to a certain degree split the community down the middle of some endorsing the hail-mary effort of Pintasia to somehow, someway get the games built, and insisting suing Zidware is pointless because there’s no money to recoup anyway. The other side seems convinced the Pintasia effort will not only lead to no games, but possibly victims being duped into handing even more money over to an unproven entity with an extremely questionable back-story.  Even with slim chances of economic return, they see suing Zidware into the dirt represents at least some amount of justice and closure.

But let’s set aside the lack of disclosures, ridiculous legal agreements, class-actions and ponzi schemes for a second.

The first milestone for the game on the Pintasia front is to get it out in the public eye to gauge whether or not there’s even interest in seeing it completed.  No one has ever even played a beta test of the game.  Are the shots satisfying?  Does the lights, sound and art package come together?  This weekend we’ll finally see as the game debuts at the Northwest Pinball and Arcade Show in Seattle.  And it was no small effort to get it there.

First, despite apparent assurances from John Popadiuk to the new IP-licensees that the game would be ready for the NW show, it wasn’t.  A couple of local pinballers went to John’s shop and worked for nearly two days straight to get the game into flipping condition.  This also required a fabrication company to custom-fab the vacuum formed center ramp assembly pro-bono.  Finally, the game was driven 30 hours non-stop to the show by a player supposedly on three hours of sleep over two days.

In other related news, the artist for the games goes by ZombieYeti on Pinside.  That’s correct, John Popadiuk didn’t do the art for Magic Girl, Retro-Atomic Zombie Adventure and Alice in Worderland.  Of course, for a long time the art was presented as being done by John, and no one questioned it. After all, his Williams-era games were known for their distinctive look and art.  It wasn’t until ZombieYeti came on Pinside and identified himself as the artist, and that he hadn’t been paid for some of his work, that people realized the truth.  Oh, and if I forgot to mention, he’s just one of several who haven’t been paid.  Cointaker and the Hardware/Software Programming companies have also come forward and stated the same.

To recoup some losses, ZombieYeti offered a limited edition (50) print of the Alice in Wonderland backglass art.  They sold out in a hour but I was lucky enough to snag two.  One will go in the auction at Pin a Go Go next year.  It’s quite possible that ZombieYeti might offer additional limited prints, but if they sell out anything like the first, you’ll need to keep a close eye on the pinside thread to have a shot at one.

aiw

So, was this ‘Quest for Fire’ effort worth it to finally get Magic Girl in front of players?  Have a look and judge for yourself.  Pinball News has some high-quality shots of the game.  Check them out here.

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