Release: Sep. 7, 2013
The biggest hurdle any potential home pinball machine builder used to have to overcome was not finding a cool theme. Nor was it designing a killer playfield layout with interesting shots and ingenious toys. No, the hardest part - and this continues to affect commercial pinball manufacturers today too - used to be creating a control system to make everything work.
Getting flippers to flip and bumpers to bump may seem easy enough, but when you start adding complex lighting effects, display animations and deep rules, suddenly the task becomes far more complex. Complex enough to defeat many budding game builders.
But all that changed in 2009 when Pinball Controllers started selling the P-ROC board.
But if that wasn't exciting enough, the P-ROC could also take control of existing machines from Williams, Bally and Stern thanks to the multitude of connectors around the outer edges of the board.
Suddenly, everything other than the actual playfield layout was fair game for changing, because - let's face it - most games have room for improvement in one area or another.
So if you want better display animations, deeper rules, more interesting objectives, more balanced scoring, less-annoying quotes, funkier music, or even stereo sound, it was all possible by installing a P-ROC.
It still wasn't exactly a trivial task of course, since even rules or effects you wanted to keep from the original code had to be re-written for the P-ROC, and that's in addition to all the new features. But far more time could be spent developing the fun parts of the game, instead of working out how to design the basic framework of the underlying control system.
The pinball world really sat up and paid attention when Barry Driessen and Koen Heltzel revealed the work they had been doing to upgrade The Machine - Bride of Pinbot.
The most obvious feature was the addition of a dot matrix display to replace the original's alphanumeric variety, but below the surface they had completely rewritten the rules to make it less of a one-shot game, while adding amazing 3D animations to the display, numerous gameplay modes, and a brand new stereo soundtrack.
Several months later Dennis van de Pass began work on improving his Demolition Man, rectifying the deficiencies of the original rules by adding multiple modes, making the multiballs more varied, and adding a two-stage wizard mode.
Since then, many other game designers have either taken existing machines and re-themed them or built their own machines from scratch, using a P-ROC board to drive them.
To celebrate their achievements, this year's Pinball Expo will feature a special display of P-ROC-based games.
Gerry Stellenberg of Multimorphic (owner of Pinball Controllers) has arranged for eight custom games and their designers to come to Expo and display their machines on the Multimorphic stand alongside the company's P3 pinball platform which is also based on P-ROC technology.
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