"TWIP isn’t TWIP anymore" 😢

Plus Princess Bride, Haggis Reactions, a J6 Pin, Led Zep Tutorial & More

Highlighting a piece of feedback left by a former subscriber to discuss a few things.

We Value Your Feedback

I’ve been setting up more feedback systems within TWIP, starting with simple entrance/exit surveys. Good feedback is like oxygen for positive growth; receiving it helps me learn more about you and adapt the content and experience accordingly.

Starting with this edition, I’ll also be experimenting with a poll that seeks to understand if you enjoyed the content or not. While I’ll always strive for a 😍, a thoughtful 😡 can be just as illuminating, so if a particular edition makes you feel a way, let me know by clicking on the emoji that best fits the moment.

Over time, I’ll learn your likes and dislikes and hopefully give you more of the things that check the “like” box.

Check it out at the bottom of this newsletter, and let me know what you think!

Unpacking this Feedback

Stripped to its essence, all TWIP needs to be is a weekly publication about what’s going on in pinball. This remains true!

Everything else is up for debate and interpretation.

If TWIP, to you, is the (largely unsustainable) publication founded in 2017 and run by Jeff Patterson until he noped out of the whole thing a few years later, I guess that flavor of TWIP doesn’t exist anymore.

If TWIP, to you, is the (still unsustainable) publication admirably helmed and carried forward by Jeff’s successor, Will Oetting, until he too noped out, then I guess it’s no longer that either.

Honestly, the feedback doesn’t make much logical sense unless I start channeling a brand of existentialism I last considered during my freshman-year philosophy course.

What is the meaning of TWIP, really?

Which is to say that if you haven’t been able to tell by my stewardship of TWIP so far, things will feel different. If nothing else, I’m a different person with different aptitudes, motivations, and ideas. So, it would always be hard to move in precisely the same ways as Jeff and Will did as I am not a clone of Jeff or Will.

I also really, really enjoy experimentation (hence the feedback systems). Trying new things and seeing firsthand how they perform is how I learn best and stay creatively stimulated and engaged with my long-term projects.

So, particularly in these early days, I will try many different things and, hopefully, with these feedback mechanisms in place, learn what generally hits the mark and what doesn’t. As I’m fond of saying in creative work - not everything lands as intended, and that’s OK.

But that’s all window dressing. The raison d'être for TWIP, and the reason you’re probably here, a regular update on what’s going on in the world of pinball, isn’t changing all that much.

This brings us to This Week in Pinball.

Subscribe for free to see:

  • Song of the Week

  • Multimorphic’s Princess Bride Launch and Why The Marketing Was Good Actually

  • An Interview with Michael Sandler About His Pinball TEDx Talk

  • Reacting to the Haggis News (spoiler, it’s not great)

  • New Led Zeppelin Pinball Tutorial

  • A J6 Themed Pinball Machine

  • Pinball Degenerate Awards Recap

  • Poll of the Week

  • Creator Highlights of the Week

Pinball Expo returns for its 40th year this October 15-19th at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center in Schaumburg, IL. Tickets on sale now! 

If you’re interested in sponsoring an upcoming newsletter, send a note to [email protected], and we’ll get you sorted!

Song of the Week

The things you find on the Internet sometimes. Never ceases to amaze. I was looking for songs that were inspired by The Princess Bride (not songs from the soundtrack because that’s too easy) and I stumbled on a series of Princess Bride-inspired ditties from a project called Penny Bank. My life has been enriched by listening to this, so yours can as well.

Pinball News of the Week

Multimorphic Launches Princess Bride Pinball

See the article above for a classic TWIP-style roundup of Multimorphic’s Princess Bride pinball launch.

Separately, taking a step back from the substance of the launch, I wanted to give the Multimorphic team some kudos for their marketing approach.

  1. They created pre-launch hype by teasing the theme at a dedicated microsite, with a dedicated email list.

  2. They buttoned up most of their outstanding technical/support issues

  3. They communicated the hiring of Josh Kugler so that it wouldn’t be a surprise on launch

  4. They ran a lengthy “meet the games” campaign reminding buyers about the full breadth of the Multimorphic game catalog

  5. They communicated a specific reveal date and managed expectations around said reveal date

  6. They had several produced marketing assets ready to go on launch, including a few community content partnerships like this podcast with Pinball Profile, a reveal article with Pinball News, and an interview with Wormhole Pinball

All things considered, solid launch, Multimorphic team!

Michael Sandler Brings Pinball to TEDx

You might have seen Michael Sandler’s excellent TEDx talk making the rounds this week, but we had a chance to chat with him for an in-depth interview about his experience and deep dive into the pinball hobby. It’s a refreshing reminder about how some people get into the hobby and all the good that can come from it.

Haggis Downshifts

Here’s a letter Haggis Pinball founder Damian Hartin sent to customers recently.

I hope this message finds you well. I'm reaching out to share some important updates about Haggis Pinball and the status of your game order.

As I'm sure you have heard once or twice before, manufacturing Pinball Machines is hard. It is a multi-disciplined, multi-faceted endeavor, incorporating a wide and varied number of components and skills. Starting this endeavor from my garage in Australia at the onset of a global pandemic has proved to be extremely difficult. While we have been incredibly proud of the quality of the games we have produced and the innovation and creation of an industry that did not exist in this country, our throughput and ability to manufacture games in a timely manner has been our shortcoming.

Over the last two and half years, we have produced three different titles and developed an immense capability, setting us up for ongoing future success. Our manufacturing methodology is based on Just-In-Time and Lean principles, which I still believe is the optimum strategy. However, this model has a very tight coupling and dependency on supply chain continuity and efficiencies. Any interruptions to the supply chain, of which we have faced many, have a flow-on effect that decreases our throughput and introduces ongoing delays and backlogs.

As we wind down the end of Fathom Revisited production and swing into Centaur Revisited, we have made the decision to adjust our manufacturing methodology to move away from such a tight dependency on the supply chain to support our forecasted throughput better. To support this change, we will need to further slow down production activities, recapitalize, and refocus our procurement strategies and partner offerings.

In the short term, what this will mean for those of you currently waiting on a game from us is that there will be further delays. Of this, I am incredibly sorry. Your patience and support, and the broader community's patience and support, has been tremendous and incredibly important to me and Haggis Pinball as a whole. We would not be able to do what we do without it. So it makes it even harder for me to deliver this news of further delays. However, I believe that for the ongoing continued success of the company, it is something we need to address now rather than repeat the experiences we have had over the production lifecycle of Fathom Revisited.

Just to clarify, we are still manufacturing, boxing, and shipping games, that has not changed.

So yes, once again, I will ask for your patience and support while we pivot and refocus to improve our ability to build the highest-quality games in the world. Thank you for being a part of our journey. We value your trust and support immensely.

Kind Regards,
Damian

Damian Hartin

I’ll preface this by saying that I want all of the pinball companies to succeed, particularly those who seem genuinely passionate about the game, but what’s happening now with Haggis does not inspire long-term confidence. While it's always possible they stage a successful turnaround (the best outcome is what Dutch Pinball is almost finished executing with The Big Lebowski), it’s not an outcome I’d personally wager on.

It’s the “recapitalization” necessity that is most alarming for me. What would an investor value in an operation like Haggis? You wouldn’t be buying into the growth potential, the existing customer base, the business IP, the manufacturing expertise, or any other material assets like parts or equipment. Australia is probably a big enough market to sustain at least one domestic manufacturer, but it seems that Haggis mostly targets American buyers.

For these reasons, it would seem to be an investment representing both high risk and limited upside, which seems like an odd choice for an investor to make, unless you believe strongly in Damian and his vision for the company.

Again, I do hope they turn it around but to borrow a phrase from the competitive circuit, this ticket feels like a bleeder.

New Led Zeppelin Pinball Tutorial

We’ve got a new game tutorial from James McFatter over on Kineticist, this time taking a look at Stern’s divisive but quietly fun Led Zeppelin game from 2020. I’m not sure I realized how bonkers some of the rules are until sitting down and editing this tutorial.

Degenerate Awards

The annual Pinball Degenerate Awards took place over the weekend, and it was everything we hoped for. It’s seriously tons of fun and I’d highly recommend watching the whole VOD if you haven’t already. Joe Ciaravino and crew do an excellent job putting this on every year, and we’re already looking forward to what’s in store for 2025.

Congrats to all the winners!

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Tournament Director: Howard Levine

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Meme: Pinball Rebel

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Victory: KiKi VonBleu

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Pet: Charles Martinez

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Fail: The SHARK from JAWS

  • Most Degenerate Pinjury: Rebecca Salam

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Vehicle: The TANK from Galactic Tank Force

  • Norma Jennings Memorial Award for Most Degenerate Pinball Streamer: Marc Patenaude

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Stance: Linus McPants & Kaite Martin

  • Most Pinball Degenerate Merchandise: Jen Ruper

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Score: Eric Stone

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Restoration: Kevin Grasley

  • Allen Cihak Memorial Award for Most Degenerate Pinball Operator: Douglas Polka 

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Event: Evan Bingham, Brian Shepherd, Deborah Tahlman, Trent Augenstein, Brianna Reynolds, John Geiger

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Couple: Virginia Hendricks and Petey Hendricks 

  • Most Degenerate Pinball Commentator: Greg Poverelli

  • Lyman F. Sheats Memorial award for: Pinball Degenerate of The Year: Nicky Kapow

There’s a January 6th Pinball Machine Because of Course There Is

Sigh. This is making the rounds after the game appeared at the recent CPAC conference in Washington D.C. and was covered in Kotaku, The Hill, and other places. I had tracked the creator of this game down last year after hearing about the game coming out of PorcFest in New Hampshire, but he went dark on me. I hate it, personally, but you should probably see it at least.

Poll of the Week

Which pinball manufacturer will be the first to incorporate large-scale generative AI into a production art package?

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Last Week’s Poll Results

Which pinball community meta trend is the most wackadoodle?

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨⬜️ The shark doesn't eat the ball (20)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 Pinball Machine vs Pinball Table (23)

I am an active part of the not-eat-the-ball backlash. Machine vs Table - whatever, I don't care, let's keep more people interested pinball and not be snobbish - remember 2000!

Anon reader

Creator Highlights of the Week

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