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deeproot Pinball issued the following statement on their website last week:
In response to inquiries, we would like to expound upon our prior statement, “At a minimum, several RAZA prototypes will be available to play at the Houston Arcade Expo.” Two early prototypes of Retro Atomic Zombie Adventureland (RAZA) will be at the Houston Arcade Expo on November 15-16, 2019. These prototypes will not have final art, design, or code. Our primary goal is to collect real-world data. There will be a minimal deeproot staff presence only to monitor data and performance of the machine components.
We expect to complete engineering and launch early next year. A press release and media qualification form will be forthcoming. We also plan to release a teaser for our second title prior to the Houston Arcade Expo show. This teaser will showcase a level of cinematic animation never before seen with pinball, courtesy of deeproot Studios.
Other pinball manufacturers interested in licensing the deeproot package of innovations, or intending on attending the launch, should email us for more information or complimentary invitations.
Lastly, all parties interested in becoming distributors should email us with a Letter of Interest for consideration. The LOI should highlight: region served, regulatory costs and logistics (if outside the US), industry knowledge, technical competence, sales history summary, and average buyer base. Even if you have already contacted us prior, please re-submit your interest.
With the new update, This Week in Pinball reached out to Robert Mueller of deeproot Pinball and Robert granted an interview which you can read below:
TWIP: First off, how are things going at deeproot Pinball?
Robert Mueller: It is very stressful at times, fun at times. The last 10-20% is usually the hardest.
TWIP: What is involved in the last 10-20%?
RM: Tons of engineering documentation, testing, patent work, etc. It feels like one of the flipper/fix it up shows on HGTV. We got 1 day to finish the Renos, and things are crazy!
TWIP: You mention that the games at Houston Arcade Expo are prototypes and won’t have the final art, design, or code. Is this a “soft launch” of deeproot Pinball?
RM: No, this is not a launch at all. I specifically kept the announcement very vague so as to not signal a launch.
TWIP: What type of real-world data will you be collecting?
RM: In house, we have some multi-tier wear-and-tear rigs as well as an apocalypse rack for electrical boards. But we want to real world test what happens with moving the machine for a distance, harmonic vibration exposure, and pinheads pounding on them for a couple of days. In addition, we want to see how often mechs get hit and with what intensity so we can adjust default settings.
TWIP: What can we expect with the deeproot launch that you mention early next year? Are the Five Days of deeproot still in the plan?
RM: The five days of deeproot will still happen, but maybe not the way I first imagined them to be. We are finishing an in-house auditorium for the release, and making sure all the engineering can be ready to release for manufacturing. We plan to announce the launch date soon.
TWIP: Are you looking at before or after the Texas Pinball Festival?
RM: Not launching at TPF last year was a big hit for all of us. But the silver lining is that it was for the best. I don’t know if I can go through the suffering of another missed TPF…
TWIP: You mention the teaser for your second game “will showcase a level of cinematic animation never before seen with pinball”, can you expound on that?
RM: We plan to push the boundaries for animation when compared to movies, shows, and video games; let alone anything pinball has ever seen before. If the average pin animation quality is around 3/10, our second title is maybe a 6/10. We plan to push quality to 8 to 9 of 10 by middle next year as our three pipelines mature more. One title next year will be live action with CGI which will be another first we will bring to pinball.
TWIP: What are your three pipelines?
RM: Pre-render, live render, and live action.
TWIP: Can you dumb that down for me – what do you mean by a live action with CGI?
RM: Think most modern movies (LOTR, Marvel, Star Wars). Live action filming with screen tracking or rotoscoping special effects.
TWIP: Will the second game be a licensed theme?
RM: No, the first three games will be unlicensed; at least as to theme, art, and animation.
TWIP: Does that mean some portions of those themes may include licensed aspects – for example, the music?
RM: Yes, it could mean that.
TWIP: I’m confused about your statement when it says “Other pinball manufacturers interested in licensing the deeproot package of innovations” should email firstname.lastname@example.org. What is the deeproot package of innovations, and are you saying it could be utilized by other pinball manufacturers?
RM: It would take at least 5 years and tens of millions in capital for other manufacturers to catch up with nearly 200 innovations we are planning at launch (unless they choose to flat out copy what we are doing). We are more than happy to share and license some or all of the deeproot package we will show off at launch. We also want to support smaller or boutique manufacturers in being able to get access to economies of scale to increase the quality of their games while lowering the price.
TWIP: This does not sound like former rhetoric from deeproot. You mention copying – are there any repercussions for a company copying the innovations you are planning? With your statement about boutique companies, does that mean you’re more likely to share your innovations with a smaller manufacturers rather than Stern? Which companies do you consider to be “smaller or boutique manufacturers”?
RM: I would rather not discuss legal strategies. I just hope that wouldn’t happen. As for your second question: yes, if Stern came asking, I would listen. Third, JJP, Spooky, AP, Cosmic, etc. but not P3. Gerry let that boat sail years ago.
TWIP: Based on your last paragraph about distributorship, does that mean that deeproot is planning on using current pinball distributors to sell deeproot machines? Will this be done in the same way that Stern and JJP sell through distributors?
RM: Our distribution will be different (at least as I understand how other companies are doing theirs). We want to keep support and returns in house, and don’t want to deal with lots of distributors. Typically in sales, the majority of receipts are attributable to only 10-15% of the distribution channel. We have some thoughts about how to get the best of all worlds.
TWIP: On Kaneda’s Pinball Podcast, you released a statement saying: “In my personal opinion as a purchaser of pinball machines and what I’ve personally experienced as the principal of a pinball company, craters, pits, dimples, ghosting, puddles, cracking, or other similar flaws by a standard-weight pinball, or attached hardware, to the surface of a playfield, whether in the course of play or not, is a known and preventable material defect in the engineering and manufacturing process. We know historically that these flaws were rare. I have 20-30 year old machines that have little to no visible signs of playfield damage after thousands of plays. We also know that over time, there can be some degradation of the protective coatings, that should not be present on newly manufactured machines. While variations and tolerances inherent in the manufacturing process are expected, they should be rare and nominal. Thus, it is expected that a very small percentage of playfields would statistically exhibit some or all of these flaws. However, every manufacturer that I have purchased a game from since 2015, and every modern game I have played on location, also almost uniformly exhibit some of these flaws. Since Stern, JJP, and Spooky have all benefited from thousands of dollars of my personal money in return for poorly designed playfield surfaces, it is my personal opinion that these companies either intentionally or negligently refused or failed to adequately engineer and manufacture playfield surfaces and coatings to prevent, and statistically minimize, these known and preventable conditions. I personally reject any statement from any other pinball company to the contrary. I will hold myself and my pinball company to the very same standard I expect from these other companies.” It sounds like deeproot is hoping to make playfields that have almost no defects, like ghosting, puddling, chipping, or dimpling. Does deeproot plan to make their own playfields?
RM: All the Stern, JJP and Spooky machines I have purchased were sold in a defective and unacceptable condition. While I am appreciative of Chuck’s desire to keep trying to improve, Stern and JJP should be held liable for their reckless refusal to properly engineer their products to expected customer use. Pinball purchasers deserve better. And they will finally have deeproot on their side when we launch with an unprecedented 10 year warranty on PF wear and tear (which includes dimples). And yes, I will be using a #hammer live at launch.
TWIP: The manufacturing of the machines in a timely manner is always a huge hurdle for new pinball manufacturers. What is the plan for manufacturing at deeproot?
RM: We’ve spent millions on the manufacturing process. Our goal isn’t to produce X number of games a day just to say we can beat a competitor claiming Y number of games a day. We’d rather wow customers with the highest quality, most advanced, super fun pinball machines available on the market. In the end, I think they’d rather have that than saying, “they said they could make X number of games a day…so where’s my machine?”
TWIP: At one point you had mentioned deeproot would plan to ship a game to the consumer within two weeks of their order. Is that still the case?