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deeproot Pinball is looking to become a major pinball manufacturer.
This Week in Pinball previously released the following articles regarding deeproot Pinball, which include interviews, backstory, and general timeline of deeproot Pinball.
DEEPROOT PINBALL SUMMER 2018 UPDATE
The following is an update directly from deeproot Pinball regarding their new building in San Antonio, a creative studio located in Utah, a new Ruleset Designer, Licenses, and Claims.
New deeproot Building in San Antonio
“The deeproot family of companies is excited to announce the completion of its move to 12621 Silicon Dr, San Antonio, TX 78249. This facility will not only supplement deeproot’s financial, agricultural, mining, sports, retail, and real estate ventures, but also its manufacturing facility for its pinball tech project. While it will take several months to finish renovations and receive equipment, we fully plan to be up and ready to manufacture pinball machines very soon! In fact, we have received or are ordering all machinery needed to create nearly every component of a pinball machine in house.”
New deeproot CREATIVE STUDIO in Utah
“In conjunction with the move into our current facility, deeproot is excited to also announce the opening of a creative studio in Sandy, Utah. This deeproot Tech creative studio will focus on videogaming, concept and digital art and animation, and audio/video production. The studio will soon house tens of artists that have all worked on triple A games and are excited and passionate to pour their talents into our pinball project.”
New Hire – Steve Bowden: RULESET DESIGNER
“Steven Bowden will be moving to Texas and joining the deeproot pinball team as a Ruleset Designer and deeproot Ambassador. We are thrilled with Steve’s trust in deeproot’s vision, and his willingness to do some crazy things pinball has never seen before. We all look forward to benefiting from his infectious positive personality and award winning passion for pinball. As a deeproot Ambassador, Steve will continue to make appearances in pinball tournaments and events, as well as spearheading deeproot’s charitable outreach. Steve will continue updating his amazing blog at http://funwithbonus.com. More about Steve’s first pinball experiences here (http://funwithbonus.com/500-when-lit-my-first-time-playing-pinball/). Lastly, Steve will co-host an upcoming TWIP podcast and be able to talk about this transition in his life.”
“deeproot has obtained or is finalizing several high profile licenses in the movie, toy, and music industries. We plan on having a mix of licensed and unlicensed games at launch.”
Help offered to pre-order victims of Heighway Pinball and Dutch Pinball
“deeproot is committed to putting its money where its mouth is; and is equally committed to doing the right thing for pinball, even if it means giving up profits. deeproot has already committed six figures of capital to victimized Zidware customers. Earlier this year deeproot opened up a claims process wherein relief has already been granted to scores of Zidware customers that have filed and perfected claims. As deeproot is committed to helping as many Zidware customers as possible, we are extending the deadline to file & perfect a claim until December 31, 2018.
The pinball industry has experienced a number of other unfortunate projects that were not completed as promised. As a result many customers who provided capital to those projects were left without promises fulfilled or products delivered. deeproot’s position is two-fold: i) the ones who made the promises (or their successors) should be ultimately responsible for keeping and fully delivering on the promises; and ii) the ones who provided the capital should bear some of the decisional risk of providing the capital.
In private conversations with the owners of Pinball Bros. and Dutch Pinball, it is clear to deeproot that: i) the ones who made the promises (or their successors) are not going to keep or deliver on them, while profiting off the bargain; and ii) most of the ones who provided the capital will unfairly bear all the risk/loss. deeproot does not believe that that result is good for those individuals or the pinball industry.
It is not deeproot’s intent to excuse the questionable acts of the persons or entities behind these projects. Nor is it deeproot’s intent to absolve the customers living with the consequences of each’s (arguably) risky choices. Lastly, it is not deeproot’s intent to set a precedent to bail out everyone that has been (or will be) taken advantage of. We aren’t here to right every wrong. At the end of the day someone needs to step up, and deeproot has the capital, empathy, and ability to do something, rather than nothing.
From October 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018, we will offer some form of relief to those affected customers of Heighway/Pinball Bros and Dutch Pinball who have not received their promised game or other relief. While it won’t make up for the wrongs, it is the right thing to do, and we are sure will be appreciated by the hundreds of affected customers.”
EXCLUSIVE FOLLOW UP INTERVIEW WITH DEEPROOT PINBALL
This Week in Pinball: It made sense for deeproot to help Zidware customers after hiring John Popadiuk. Why on earth would deeproot help people that were affected by Heighway Pinball and/or Dutch Pinball? What is in it for deeproot?
Robert Mueller: I was disappointed with the responses from the above companies when I asked explicitly whether it was their sincere intention to make customers whole. So there is nothing in it for us other than doing the right thing. Most people have decided to weigh in, but not put money where their mouth is. That’s not how we deal with things at deeproot.
TWIP: Will the relief offered those affected by to Heighway and/or Dutch Pinball be similar to the Goodwill Terms offered to Zidware Customers?
RM: We still haven’t decided yet exactly what we want to do. It will be more than a ‘$5 off coupon’, but less than a free game. It might not even be towards a game, but rather travel or access. A poll would be helpful at some point to see what they really want.
TWIP: Why not devote all your current time and resources to making sure deeproot is successful?
RM: I guess that is the whole point. We don’t look at it like that. It is not a zero sum game where customers are expendable expenses. Success for deeproot Pinball is determined by the investments made internally, individually and collectively, as a corporate family, and how we better the hobby and our customers’ lives.
TWIP: So is this a “goodwill” type move for deeproot?
RM: I think it is whatever it is in the eye of the recipient.
TWIP: You mention that you’ve had private conversations with Pinball Bros. and Dutch Pinball, and that it is clear to deeproot that they will not deliver on their promises while profiting off the bargain. Can you explain what you mean by that?
RM: That was what was conveyed to me. And I don’t think that that revelation is going to be a surprise to anyone. While I don’t know what is in their heart, (in both conversations) when asked if they would let deeproot take over the obligation without profiting themselves, both said they would not. I wasn’t ok with it during the conversation, and I am not ok with it now. I hope both companies reverse course, but it might be that neither have the financial ability or motivation to do so.
TWIP: So did Pinball Bros. and/or Dutch Pinball approach deeproot to build The Big Lebowski and/or Alien?
RM: Barry made the introduction to Pinball Bros on my behalf because I was interested in grabbing Queen and Barry’s unlicensed game. Very little of the conversation was about Alien other than seeing if it was even on the table. I was told it was not. Dutch Pinball reached out to me and we did discuss various pros and cons of building TBL. DP guys are in a tough place, but it is what it is.
TWIP: Your new facility will be housing many different ventures of deeproot. Can you give us an idea on the size and scale of deeproot’s pinball division as compared to the other ventures?
RM: All of the ventures are very different in size and scope. Most of them I am generally overseeing others in charge of those projects. But pinball is my baby and passion. I have 100% control and daily oversight. It is the fulfillment of my vision. I am honored to have so many talented people working hard to share my experience/vision with the world. I think people will be surprised how little we’ve spent on this project (in comparison to other pinball manufacturers).
TWIP: What is your vision?
RM: If you mean ‘for pinball’: The 5 Days of deeproot, of course.
TWIP: I have to ask about the playfield in the background of the photo above. You mentioned on Pinside that was a foam core of Ghostbusters, which was used as an example of “what not to do” in pinball, along with three other games. What in Ghostbusters you were using as an example of what not to do?
RM: Well, to clarify it wasn’t to say that these machines were ‘bad’. After all, I spent real $ to buy them and we have all played them a lot. But rather that each of the four games have material differences in the build type, design concept, construction, and materials/equipment used. It was much easier for my team to see (and play) those differences, than for me to just tell them.
TWIP: Can you share what the other three games were and what you were using in those as an example of what not to do?
RM: Here are the four and generally why I selected them. Ghostbusters (modern Stern build – at the time), America’s Most Haunted (boutique), The Hobbit (overkill), and No Good Gofers (classic WB)
TWIP: Can you expand on those examples and what you mean by Stern build, boutique, overkill, and classic WB?
RM: I wanted four traditional, but different, examples for the team to understand how drastically different my vision was. The above ‘descriptors’ were just to highlight the reason why I chose those games. For example, we assessed that the Hobbit COGS which we estimate to be around $6,750.00 would have cost us less than half of that for a similar build using our standard but with JJP’s specs. Even cheaper if we built it from scratch using our standard alone. It’s been a great teaching tool.
TWIP: COGS meaning Cost of Goods Sold. Can you explain that vs. BOM (Bill of Materials), and why you think deeproot could manufacture a machine at less than half the COGS that you estimate JJP manufactured the Hobbit?
RM: Well COGS includes labor and other costs like taxes and discounts. BOM and COGS can be used differently to look at aspects of cost, pricing, etc. We know what the range of our individual and aggregate BOM is in low and high volumes. We also know the amount of time it takes a new employee to take a pinball game from raw materials to a finished RC state. Assuming a single employee. And then an experienced. So we can estimate labor cost. Shipping and taxes are irrelevant. Then you do some statistical magic to take into account other administrative, environmental, vendor problems, waste, and risk costs.
TWIP: The Utah Creative Studio will focus on “videogaming, concept and digital art and animation, and audio/video production.” Can you explain more on how will those focuses be incorporated into the deeproot pinball machines?
RM: Just like the other manufacturers, we need to fill those hi-res LCD’s with some content.
TWIP: Will there be a “video game aspect” to deeproot pinball machines?
RM: There has always been some video game aspect to pinball. They inspired the very first video games in many ways. I instituted a specific internal guiding principle when it comes to the division of pinball development from video game development. Everyone has understood it and have embraced it.
TWIP: You had previously stated that Turner Logic would be doing the software for deeproot machines. Will Steve Bowden be working with Turner Logic?
RM: Steve will be working with Quinn & Blake, and the programmers at Turner Logic, as well as the creative studio.
TWIP: We’ve seen Stern recently hiring a number of well known competitive pinball players and enthusiasts to design or help code games. How important was it to have an elite competitive player like Steve Bowden join deeproot?
RM: It wasn’t important in the same way. In the end, we loved Steve, and Steve loved us. We are proud and excited to have him. He ‘gets’ our vision, has the passion, and will make a revolutionary impact on the future of pinball.
TWIP: You mention Steve’s “willingness to do some crazy things pinball has never seen before”. Can you elaborate?
RM: I’ve mentioned in previous interviews some of the goals we have for revolutionizing code and rules. Steve instantly recognized the opportunities that are possible with our standard.
TWIP: You share that you plan to have a mix of licensed and unlicensed games at launch. How many different pinball themes do you expect to have ready at launch?
RM: We’ve promised the Zidware claimants at least three.
TWIP: How long after launch will deeproot machines be ready to manufacture and ship?
RM: If we don’t have games ready to ship, then we don’t launch.
TWIP: Is deeproot still on track to launch at the Texas Pinball Festival next year?
RM: Sure, maybe even before. Stay tuned!