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"Silver-Cue Pool" - Pinball My Way!

Like most pinheads I sometimes imagine what sort of game I would come up with if given free reign to do so. This page is a place for me to organize my thoughts on the matter. But if you're bored and want to read on, have at it!

I like the style of solid state games from the '70s and '80s so that's what I lean toward. And I like drop targets. Gotta have drop targets...

Targets and Theme

The main feature of my game would be what I'll call the non-resetting drop target bank. The drop targets would not reset as play passes from one player to the next. As far as I know, such a feature has never been implemented. Most drop target banks reset at the beginning of each ball. Some single-player games (like Gottlieb wedgheads) do not reset from one ball to the next. Some games have computer-controlled drop targets. Such games can remember the target status of each individual player. But to my knowledge there has never been a multi-player game where the drop target bank maintains its position from one player to the next.

The non-resetting drop target idea was hatched one day as I was playing some System-11 games and lamenting the downfall of physical ball locks. Physical ball locks are neat because players can steal locked balls from one another. In this way opponents are able to interact with each other instead of just passively competing for a high score. If you're going to lock a ball you better get multiball or you may well be helping your opponent. I thought this strategy should be applied to other game elements - like drop targets!

Individual drops targets typically score some low token number of points whereas big points are awarded for completing the bank. Let's say each drop target scores a measly 100 points whereas 5,000 points are earned for completing the bank. If player #1 knocks down all but one target, player #2 could step up and grab those 5,000 points even though player #1 did most of the work. So if you're going to start knocking down targets you better get them all or you're giving an advantage to your opponent.

Before continuing with this drop target discussion, I'll mention the game's theme. I was imagining one of the traditional classics like cards, billiards or science fiction. Then it occurred to me that billiards would be a perfect match for the non-resetting drop target bank. With billiards each player's goal is to run the table. If one player misses a shot then the other player takes over and tries to finish the game. Likewise each pinball player's goal is to complete the target bank (or banks). If player #1 loses his ball before completing the bank then player #2 tries to finish up. Each player strives to complete the bank because that's were the big rewards are collected.

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Gottlieb's Big Shot for some target and theme inspiration.

Combo Shots

To simulate billiard combo shots I'd have a three-target drop target bank enclosed in an isolated triangular area with a captive ball at the bottom. The captive ball would need to be struck at specific angles to hit each of the three targets.

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Combo shot captive ball.

Playfield Layout

I'm not an artist, but my attempt at sketching a playfield layout is shown below. The sketch is loosely based on Bally's Skateball. The lower playfield layout is a conventional arrangement of two outlanes, two inlanes, two flippers and two sling shots. The inlanes and outlanes are labeled POOL. There is a left ball gate, which can divert the ball from the left outlane to the left inlane. There's a right ball gate that can divert the ball from the right outlane to the shooter lane. And there's a small fixed center post between the flippers. I like that moment of indecision when faced by a ball headed SDTM. Should I nudge and flip or let the ball hit the post and hope it bounces back into play?

The left side of the playfield includes a five-target drop target bank, an orbit with spinner leading to the top arch and a three-target drop target bank.

The right side of the playfield has a three-target inline drop target bank. The inline drop target bank leads to a kickout saucer (the eight ball), which ejects the ball to the top arch.

The top of the playfield has four rollover lanes. The rollover lanes are labeled POOL and correspond to the same POOL letters associated with the inlanes and outlanes.

The middle of the playfield features two popbumpers and the aforementioned "Combo Shot" arrangement with a captive ball and a three-target drop target bank.

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Playfield Sketch. It isn't supposed to be a widebody. That's just my feeble drawing skills.

Rules

The main goal of the game would be to knock down all 14 targets, sink the eight ball and play multiball. As noted above, the targets would not reset as play passes from player to player and ball to ball. When all targets are down the eight ball kickout saucer would be lit for lock. The player who "sinks the eight ball" would be rewarded with a two-ball multiball. All targets would reset and all scores would double. Getting all 14 targets during multiball would award a Special. After both balls are lost the targets would again reset and play would continue with a new "rack". Note that it takes a gentle touch to sink the eight ball. Hard shots would skip over the kickout saucer and go right to the top arch.

Each of the four drop target banks would be associated with an individual award. If the three inline targets are down, but the eight ball is not yet lit, the kickout saucer would be available for some random award or points. The player who completes the five-target drop target bank would be rewarded with an open left ball gate. The player who completes the upper left three-target drop target bank would be rewarded with an open right ball gate. The player who completes the Combo Shot drop target bank would have their bonus multiplier advanced. The bonus multiplier would also be advanced with each completion of the POOL letters. The multiplier sequence would be 2X, 3X, 5X, Extra Ball and Special. The game would not have lane change. But the lit POOL letters would be shifted one position for each rotation of the spinner. There would be no auto launcher and no ball save. But the left and right ball gates would be open as a last ball consolation for those having a really poor game.

Art

The art would feature plenty of pool-playing hotties in the tradition of 1970s backglass babes. Gottlieb's "Pinball Pool" is a pretty good starting point. Gotta love the style of artist Gordon Morison with those big boobs and impossibly thin waist lines. But that robot thing is taking up valuable babe space. A traditionally screened mirrored backgalss would be a must.

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Gottlieb Pinball Pool backglass.

Title

Naming the game is tough. IPDB lists 72 entries under the theme of "Billiards". All the cool names have been taken. Again, Gottlieb hit the nail on the head with their "Pinball Pool" - simple and to the point. I have always liked the sound of Bally's "Silverball Mania". Perhaps I'll go with "Silver-Cue Pool". Gotta have that mirrored backglass!

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Silverball Mania, a cool-sounding title.

Sound and Speech

There would be the usual electronic sound effects and background music. But these sounds would be augmented by a real mechanical chime box. Chimes would sound for all the classic "pinballish" events like bumper and spinner hits. The game would have a real knocker. Speech would be words of encouragement (or taunting) from the bimbo backglass babes.

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Bally chime box.

Display

I guess I would concede to a DMD. But I miss those primitive yet corny and fun animations from the alphanumeric era. There would be no video modes.