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This Week in Pinball previously released an interview, backstory, and general timeline of deeproot Pinball, a company that is looking to become a major pinball manufacturer:
deeproot Tech starts its pinball division – deeproot Pinball. They contact several pinball designers and manufacturers.
The deeproot team decides to shelve the pinball project until a later date.
deeproot begins implementing their internal plan of action to become a pinball manufacturer.
Late 2016 – 2017
deeproot begins reaching out to several pinball designers. After spending significant time weighing pros and cons, deeproot decides that pinball designer John Popadiuk (“JPop”) is the best option available. They decided this knowing there would be backlash from some in the pinball community, and knowing they would need to address John’s past mistakes with Zidware.
deeproot begins to move forward with their plan to deal with JPop’s past and provide help to Zidware customers.
Early September 2017
Plaintiffs of the lawsuit and deeproot agree to terms on a settlement. This settlement with the Plaintiffs will be essentially the same for all other former customers of Zidware.
September 14th, 2017
It is discovered on deeproot’s website that John Popadiuk is part of their team with the title Lead Game Development. Confidential terms of the settlement are leaked to podcasters and others in the pinball community. A thread is started on Pinside.com to inform many in the pinball community that JPop has resurfaced and is working with deeproot Pinball. Podcasters released podcasts with harsh criticism of deeproot. All of this, of course, caused severe negative reaction to deeproot since John Popadiuk still owed many Zidware customers refunds or machines.
September 18th, 2017
This Week in Pinball speaks to Robert Mueller, the man behind deeproot Tech, and posts “A Conversation with Deeproot“.
October 13th, 2017
deeproot retracts its settlement offer to the Plaintiffs. For details and reasons for the retraction from deeproot, click here.
October 21st, 2017
Robert Mueller and Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti) speak for the first time. Jeremy verbally agrees to sign over the rights to the games in exchange for undisclosed consideration.
November 30th, 2017
**January 25th, 2018 – February 2nd, 2018
Zidware customers should visit https://zidware.deeproottech.com/ to ask any questions they have regarding the claims process with Zidware.
February 6th, 2018
Robert Mueller from deeproot will post a pre-recorded webinar on the Zidware page answering the submitted questions.
February 7th, 2018
The claims process will open to all non-Plaintiff Zidware customers.
February 11th, 2018
Robert Mueller from deeproot will join Dennis and Tony on the Eclectic Gamers Podcast.
DEEPROOT PINBALL UPDATES
The building that will house deeproot Pinball is located at:
12621 Silicon Drive
San Antonio, TX 78249
Robert shared some details about the building:
- Silicon-Valley-esque industrial building
- 41,752 square feet
- Will house all of deeproot’s divisions
- Sits on 3.46 acres which allows ample expansion room
- Quad Assembly will be like no other ever used in pinball manufacturing, in an office type setting
- No assembly line
- Family center will be gutted and renovated to heavy manufacturing of raw materials
- SCIF area will be repurposed for recording, stage set studios and for trade secret development
- Approximate move-in is April
deeproot Pinball has made many significant hires since our initial interview on November 30th of 2017. Those include:
- Juan Sotelo
- Manuel Leal
- Quinn Johnson
Barry Oursler (exclusive, in-house)
- Junk Yard
- Who Dunnit
- Dirty Harry
- Popeye Saves the Earth
- Bram Stoker’s Dracula
- Doctor Who
- Harley Davidson
- Bad Cats
- Police Force
- Space Station
- Grand Lizard
- Space Shuttle
Dennis Nordman (exclusive)
- Lexy Lightspeed – Escape from Earth
- Wheel of Fortune
- Pirates of the Caribbean (Stern)
- Scared Stiff
- Indianapolis 500
- Demolition Man
- White Water
- Party Zone
- Dr. Dude
- Elvira and the Party Monsters
- Blackwater 100
- Party Animal
- Special Force
Jon Norris (exclusive)
- High Roller Casino
- Golden Cue
- Brooks & Dunn
- Barb Wire
- Big Hurt
- Star Gate
- Mario Andretti
- Freddy: A Nightmare on Elm Street
- Rescue 911
- World Challenge Soccer
- Tee’d Off
- Cactus Jack’s
- Hot Shots
- Bad Girls
Other Designers (not new hires):
John Popadiuk (exclusive)
- Magic Girl
- Star Wars Episode I
- Cirqus Voltaire
- Tales of the Arabian Nights
- Theatre of Magic
- World Cup Soccer
- Pirates of the Caribbean (JJP)
- Lexy Lightspeed – Escape from Earth
- Lexy Lightspeed – Secret Agent Showdown
- Dialed In
- The Hobbit
- Star Trek
- The Avengers
- Tron: Legacy
- The Rolling Stones
- Iron Man
deeproot Pinball has come to a resolution/settlement with Jim Askey (Applejuice) in which both parties were happy with the outcome. A deal is close to being finialized with Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti).
THE FIVE DAYS OF DEEPROOT
In the previous interview, Robert mentioned the 5 days of deeproot but did not give any specifics regarding what the event would entail. It is scheduled to be a marketing event to show off deeproot Pinball and their ideas, and is expected to be held directly before deeproot Pinball’s official launch. Below is a tentative (and somewhat vague) schedule for the topics and events:
Day One: The deeproot Standard
Day Two: Design
Day Three: Immersion
Day Four: Culture
Day Five: Launch Event
EXCLUSIVE FOLLOW UP INTERVIEW WITH DEEPROOT PINBALL
This Week in Pinball: In your last interview, some in the pinball community thought you came across as over-confident or arrogant, particularly with your comment about pinball being “easy”. Do you have any comments regarding the last interview?
Robert Mueller: Every newbie or long-time fanatic we’ve shown our trade secrets to has not only been blown away, they have been overwhelmed with the sheer breadth of our project, and simultaneously endowed with a renewed passion for pinball and what can be done with the right vision and team. If you consider what a current pinball company does in a year or two, people have forgotten that pinball doesn’t have to be hard, doesn’t have to drag on at a snail’s pace, and doesn’t have to be limited by pinball’s closed-minded echo chamber. We are here to ruffle feathers.
TWIP: What is your plan for previous Zidware customers, do you still plan to do a webinar to answer their questions?
RM: We have been waiting to reach resolutions with all persons and entities that were involved with the development process of Zidware games. We are announcing today the following Zidware Webinar and Claims schedule. From today until February 2nd, we invite Zidware customers to visit https://zidware.deeproottech.com to submit questions concerning the claims process. On February 6th, we will publish a pre-recorded webinar on that same page where we will answer submitted questions. On February 7th, we will open the claims process to all non-plaintiff Zidware customers. On February 11th, Robert will appear with Dennis and Tony on the Eclectic Gamers Podcast where he will likely be asked additional questions about the process. With all of this, it is our sincerest intent to try to provide as much clarity and information as possible a Zidware customer would need to make a decision about whether to file a claim or not; and if a claim is filed, what options are available.
TWIP: Are there any updates in the Plaintiffs lawsuit against Zidware?
RM: Right around the time we announced the claims website, we offered the Plaintiffs a second opportunity to reach a settlement. They declined. As far as we know, the case is ongoing with trial set sometime in mid 2018.
TWIP: Are there any updates on deeproot coming to agreements with American Pinball?
RM: Our attorney and AP’s attorney have traded emails over the last few months. As of today, there has not been an agreement. On or about November 29, 2017, John Popadiuk elected to exercise a provision in his contract with American Pinball (‘AP’) permitting John to license all work performed for AP for $99. While much of the John’s (original) Houdini design occurred before his work with AP, the final touches while with AP were intentionally scrapped by AP in September 2016. It is fortunate AP provided John/Zidware with the ability to retain that amazing discarded work. Mr. Popadiuk/Zidware have since assigned the referenced licenses to deeproot Tech, LLC. deeproot is excited to add John’s (i.e. the original) Houdini design to its portfolio of games.
TWIP: What about Jeremy Packer (Zombie Yeti) and Jim Askey (Applejuice)?
RM: I’d like to thank Jeff @ TWIP for his instrumental effort in getting Jim and myself together to resolve our differences and reach an amicable agreement. I am still working with Jeremy to transfer his artwork to deeproot. We have been in agreement on the major terms since last Fall. But the volume of work is so large, it has taken time to make sure everything is included. An agreement could be finalized any day.
TWIP: That is quite a team that has been assembled in a short time frame. What does the rest of 2018 look like for deeproot Pinball?
RM: I am very grateful to have some of the best talent possible working on my vision for the next century of Pinball. However, we still are looking for additional talent to round-out our team. As we continue to work on internal milestones in 2018, I would encourage interested techs, homebrew designers, and (especially) artists to contact us.
TWIP: A position that is missing from the New Hires is a software person – who will be coding the deeproot machines?
RM: Turner Logic is providing most of the software. They designed our financial system. Like everything else with the project, nearly all of the innovations and designs are my own. In the case of software, Turner Logic has put their own spin on it for implementation.
TWIP: Does that mean that a non-pinball/gaming team of people will be coding the pinball machines?
RM: Anyone with basic knowledge of structured commands would be able to code the machine.
TWIP: Maybe for a very simple ruleset that is true, but most of the coders in pinball are also talented players so they see the code from a “players” perspective. How can someone with little pinball knowledge code a pinball machine? Or are you planning to have the code extremely basic or very similar for all deeproot machines?
RM: We’d like to give our programmers and the player more control over the code. So, no one will ever be able to rationally blame us for incomplete code.
TWIP: What does that mean?
RM: I can’t reveal more on that right now…
TWIP: Will games ship “code complete”?
RM: Is any code truly complete? We would like to make arguments about whether the code is ‘complete’ or ‘incomplete’ irrelevant.
TWIP: Can you explain what that means?
RM: I would love to, but it wouldn’t make any sense unless you understood the 5 days of deeproot. I am confident it is a long-overdue innovation that will be well received.
TWIP: How long did deeproot spend researching and/or considering pinball before making the decision to enter the pinball industry?
RM: Most of the foundational concepts came from a six month whirlwind ending in July of 2015, and then digesting and documenting them during a hiatus from the project until October 2016. Preliminary implementation occurred between October 2016 and April 2017. Full Implementation from April 2017.
TWIP: How much are you into the pinball hobby for business vs. passion for pinball?
RM: First, no pinball ‘company’ that has ever been started has gotten into the hobby solely for the passion. Pinball development and manufacturing is complex and expensive. It has to be run like a business to stay in business. Second, I don’t see the two motivations as mutually exclusive. Why not make money doing something you have a passion for? Lastly, it is humorous many have attributed motivations or attributes to me or the project, either saying they know me (us) when they do not, or by assigning whatever motivation/attribute fits their self-promoting narrative. Thus, I understand why those who can attest to my (and our) passion have chosen to remain silent during the last six months. My (our) passion will come out in the right way, at the right time.
TWIP: What has been the most challenging thing deeproot has faced so far while entering the pinball industry?
RM: While we throw around the term ‘industry’, bringing some order to the endemic dysfunction of the ‘hobby’ has been (and will continue to be) the most challenging goal for us.
TWIP: You mention no assembly line – can you expand on how the machines will be built without an assembly line?
RM: Quad Assembly will provide rapid and dynamic on-demand manufacturing abilities that current pinball manufacturers will have a hard time to match. We’ll be able to throttle and provide process fluctuations with flexible distribution. Following this concept allows for cross-functional staffing resulting in higher productivity and decreased manufacturing costs.
TWIP: Can you explain more about Quad Assembly and how it would work? Are there any difficulties you may face with this type of process as opposed to a typical assembly line?
RM: This is one of hundreds of trade secrets we are keeping to ourselves for now. Yes there will be growing pains with this type of assembly line at first. While pinball might be easy, manufacturing is not.
TWIP: So when you say “pinball is easy”, what are you referring to if not the manufacturing aspect?
RM: When boiled (or torn down) to its individual components, there is nothing hard or novel about pinball machines. The magic comes in balancing each of the individual components together to create a ‘production’ that is fun, engaging, and immersive. ‘Pinball is hard’ has become an excuse rather than a fact of development.
TWIP: Will deeproot Pinball machines be standard sizes and “normal” pinball machines that the community is used to?
RM: Correct, based on the standard Williams/Bally dimensions. But with our own unique take. Sizzle without the zizzle.
TWIP: What will the displays look like on deeproot machines?
RM: We want to enhance a player’s experience with a display rather than confuse or distract. More content, more accessible to the eye.
TWIP: More accessible to the eye? Will the display be in a different location, on the apron or playfield?
RM: We want to do more with the backbox screen.
TWIP: Has deeproot built a “test” pinball machine?
TWIP: How can you say pinball is “easy” if you haven’t built a machine?
RM: At the current time, we don’t anticipate making any of our prototypes public prior to sale. So there is no need to bother with test machines. That way the whitewood is more of a final. At least that is the general plan.
TWIP: Without test machines and having the whitewood as “more of a final” machine, are there concerns as to how deeproot machines will hold up over time in people’s homes and/or on location?
RM: That we are aware of, no pinball machine ever manufactured has been truly “safe” or “suitable” for a home environment; while improving upon the needs of operators. So it is a low bar to measure up to. The deeproot Standard will define us apart from any pinball machine ever before conceived.
TWIP: What do you mean when you say no pinball machine has been truly safe or suitable for a home environment?
RM: This will be addressed on days 1, 2, & 4 of the 5 days of deeproot.
TWIP: About a year ago on Pinside, Ben Heck was discussing Bible Adventures and you mentioned “Already spoken for, friend”. Do you plan to make a Bible Adventures theme?
RM: So back in mid 2015 when I was working with Ben and Charlie, Ben wanted to do a Bible Adventures game and Charlie was like…no. So Ben and I started talking about ideas and it became clear that we had two very different takes on the theme. I have not spoken to Ben since. About a year ago, I started designing Fire & Brimstone layout, mechs, and rulesets. It will be the first religious pinball of its kind. We have partnered with Kingstone for the artwork and collaborative Christian marketing. We wanted a grittier take on the Old Testament stories that Kingstone has done so well with. We intend for Fire & Brimstone to be enjoyed by people of all denominations or faiths (Christian, Non-Denominational, Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, LDS), or no faith at all.
TWIP: Will Fire and Brimstone be deeproot’s first title?
RM: We won’t have a ‘first’ title in that sense. Our primary priority is making great games internally, then taking care of the Zidware customers, then launch.
TWIP: You are the designer?
RM: I came up with and have spearheaded the design, but a lot of elements have been very collaborative. I have intentionally enforced a very collaborative environment here. I don’t want the old secretive, cutthroat WB dysfunction in our organization.
TWIP: Is it a “mode based” game, playing through different stories from the Old Testament?
RM: I hope everyone will be able to play it in the way that most satisfies them.
RM: Yes. We have already come up with some similar elements, and many more. I look forward to seeing what Ben can do with his version. He’s a brilliant and talented guy.
TWIP: Do you plan to have more than one title available at launch?
TWIP: How many titles do you plan to have at launch?
RM: …And ruin the surprise?
TWIP: How soon after launch do you plan to start shipping machines?
RM: Since we will not sell any game we can’t ship within 2 weeks, we anticipate a slow roll-out after the 5 days of deeproot using inventory manufactured prior to the announcement.
TWIP: Has deeproot obtained any license for a theme for a pinball machine?
RM: Some of our titles will require licenses. While we have mentioned the Kingstone license, we are under NDA’s regarding other licenses and are unable to comment further. I will say that we are interested in breaking into new and exciting markets that no other pinball company has really catered to before. Like the religious market, we also (without providing further details) are working on other new markets, such as a culture-specific game.
TWIP: Are you concerned about over-promising and under-delivering?
RM: LOL! No. Not at all. The bar is so low right now I think the bigger issue (for us) will be to continue to raise it after our launch.
TWIP: Will deeproot be attending the Texas Pinball Festival in March?
RM: Yes. The whole team will be there. But just as pinball fans and supporters of a great pinball event.
TWIP: When can the pinball community expect the 5 days of deeproot, and can you give any more information about that?
RM: When the masterpiece is ready, we will let everyone know.