I really liked playing Total Nuclear Annihilation at Chicago Pinball Expo 2017. That is a fresh take on pinball, while staying true to the genre. It started me thinking on what I want to see in pinball for the future. I want some new rules. Here are some of my thoughts on how rules could change to shake things up.
Why do scores always seem to only increase?
Scores go up. That's sort of the thing in pinball. It sure isn't true in life. Anyone with a 401(k) or a mortgage knows this. How could we reflect this in pinball.
Consider modes that activate if you mess something up, and then start counting down. It's like a painful version of a hurry up mode. In a typical hurry up mode, you have to make a shot to collect a jackpot. Let's flip that and make it hurt if you don't make it. Let's take something away if you miss it.
What if multiball was a bad thing?
We often spend a lot of time working through the items required to earn a multiball. Multiball gets everyone's adrenaline pumping. So, let's do more of that, but with a twist.
What if a multiball happens frequently, but removes points from your score, stops scoring, or has another adverse effect. Consider a machine that stops bonus accumulation during multiball. What if you had to dispose of the extra balls in one or more scoops to get back to normal scoring, lighting, or avoid some other hindrance?
I think of this as, "putting the kids to bed." When you get all of them down, one gets up, and you have to put that kid back to bed. Then the other one wakes up again. That's would match with a lot of common themes, where criminals break out, you catch them, and then pop them into jail. Keith Johnson got close with some of the "Lights Out" and "Weak Flipper" modes in Wizard of Oz, but that is hardware-based hindrances.
What if a quick game was better?
Have you ever got your ass kicked by Roger Sharpe, Steve Epstein, or Koi Morris? I have. It's an amazing experience, but it takes a really long time to get an as whooping from guys like this.
The high score, long ball thing is terrible for new players. You can't get better without time. So, how about a machine that rewards the speed and/or order in which you complete objectives? The better players would sit down faster, and the new ones would learn to find their shots.
I love the energy and excitement in the hobby at the moment. There are a lot of innovations that seem interesting, but not game changing. Most of the innovation is in technology. Don't get me wrong, I love that stuff.
I like the Danesi lock. I love Lyman Sheats's coding. I love Eric Meunier's attention to serviceability in his design. I love Barry Driessen's homage to 90's style with some new twists. But, I would love to see the game change a bit. Let's try some non-linear scoring. How about a punitive mode every now and then. Life isn't linear. While I am not a religious man, I am reminded that "the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away." Put some of that fire and brimstone into the rulesets!