Rush general thread

Not to be confused with the rulesheet thread.

Stern unveiled Borg’s newest game today, as you likely know by now. It looks interesting - to me, a lot of its features are more utilitarian than something like Godzilla’s toys, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It seems less empty than Led Zeppelin Pro, at least, which is always good! I figure this will likely end up coming down to the coding and ruleset.

Also, I’m a little stunned at the sheer amount of Rush references in the artwork - each of the three backglasses alone incorporates a minimum of five allusions to their previous albums’ covers. I don’t mean to keep digging on Zeppelin but the difference is pretty stark. It certainly makes this seem much more like a passion project, which is rarely a bad sign. Another big reason why I get this impression is because every living band member provided callouts for it - and seemed to have a good time doing so, if this is any indication:

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snuck in a little of the prem/le at 2:32 in the pro video lol

Led Zeppelin seemed like it was a bit of a mess to produce; Steve Ritchie originally had big plans for the game, but things didn’t quite work out the way he wanted them to. The surviving members of the band felt they didn’t need to record audio - they still felt pinball machines were what they were in the 60s / 70s - and things kinda spiraled downhill from there. Would love to see his original vision for the game someday. I respect LZ as a testing ground for Tim Sexton’s coding abilities but it’s definitely not my favorite, though I know plenty of people who like that game.

My dad really likes Rush as a band while I know nothing about them, but from what I’ve gathered, some of their tracks are awesome and they’re well known for not taking themselves remotely seriously, which I have to admire. The layout is solid - takes elements from previous Borg games but that’s kinda his style - and judging by the Insider podcast excerpt, this game might be more on the long playing side compared to stuff like Aerosmith (screw those pop bumpers with a passion).

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As a huge lifelong Rush fan I am really looking forward to the game. I agree with @JamOn that the game seems to be filled with lots of fan-centric references, and I loved that video of them in the studio. They honestly seemed to be having fun with the project and goofing off each other. Layout looks fun, just have to see how the code comes out and how it plays. Haven’t been this excited for a game in a while.

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I’m getting Pro pinball Fantastic Journey vibes from the reveal… wonder if that game was used for any inspiration here? Looking forward to trying it out.

Dead Flip’s reveal stream is live right now!
https://www.twitch.tv/deadflip

UPDATE: Here’s the VOD.
https://www.twitch.tv/videos/1256374472

UPDATE 2: And here’s the YouTube mirror.

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I have to commend Tim Sexton & Raymond Davidson on making a game that’s easy to understand, but hard to master - like the best pinball machines are. “Collect records to light modes” is a simple start, and the complexity comes in with getting shots lit for 2x / 3x or choosing when to strategically start modes. Can’t wait to see how the code evolves over time.

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Here’s some tidbits from the two podcast episodes Stern put out on Insider Connected about the game. I imagine some people here might already know a few of these (especially since they’ve been out for a while now), but I like having them all in one place and there’s several that are new to me, at the very least.

Interview with Ed Robertson
  • Ed and John Borg are both massive Rush fans; ironically, though, the former had to dismantle the latter’s perception of them as “concept records and musicianship and serious[ness]” by convincing him that the band members were perfectly willing to be goofy and didn’t take themselves seriously.
  • Ed’s account of how he got involved with the game’s development:

I get a phone call from Jody Dankberg [Stern’s Senior Director of Licensing]. […] He goes “Hey, how well do you know the Rush guys?” And I said, “Well, I’m friendly with the guys. I’ve had the pleasure to play with them. I run into them at award shows and stuff. They know I’m a massive fan, but I’m not like having lunch with Geddy every couple weeks. Like, I know them, I love them, but I’m more of a fan.” He goes “Well, that’s interesting, because they want to do a pin with us - we’ve been pitching them, they wanna do it - but they’ve insisted that you kind of be the creative director on it.” I was like, “Excuse me?”
[…] Essentially, [Geddy and Alex] said “We’re excited about this, but we don’t know anything about pinball and we know that you know everything about pinball, so would you come on board with us and just help us make sure that we’re making a cool game and explain to us the things we don’t understand about pinball, reasons we have to clear certain things, or can you just be a part of the process?” I was like, “Yes. Yes, I can, Geddy Lee. Thank you for asking.”

  • An interesting tidbit: Ed directly contrasts this with a story he’d heard about Led Zeppelin where the band was confused about why they’d want voices in the game, presuming that pinball was still using chimes and bells like in the late 1970s.
  • On the song list: in addition to making his own list, Ed requested that Geddy and Alex pick 20 songs from their oeuvre that would be “bangers” and immediately impress people when they began playing a pinball machine. There were 15 songs that appeared on all three lists, leading the trio to debate about which one would complete the 16-song target (Geddy wanted “YYZ” in, while Ed argued that “La Villa Strangiato” was a better instrumental with catchier hooks).
  • The band effectively gave artist Michael Barnard free rein to incorporate whatever imagery he wanted from their catalog of album artwork, with the only thing close to interference being Patrick (“who does a lot of their licensing stuff”) giving feedback about the effectiveness of certain images.
  • “Cygnus X-1” (which is considered one track for licensing purposes, even though it was released in two parts) and “2112” are their full, roughly 20-minute versions.
  • Ed loves Borg’s trademark shot through the pops, requesting it very early in development.
  • Tim Sexton “aimed super high” for the ruleset (as the 3 wizard modes and 6 multiballs indicate). He considered making some of the scoring correlate to songs’ time signatures early on.
  • Everyone involved in the callout recording session with Geddy and Alex enjoyed it (Jody said “I’ve worked with professional voice actors that are not nailing it as hard as those guys did all the time”).
    • One callout references the federation pilot that speaks near the conclusion of “2112.” On that record, the late Neil Peart provided the voiceover, and Ed asked the other band members who should record it. They insisted that he do it, since he has a similarly low voice, even as he objected that “Rush fans [will] kill me if I do that.” Kenny Luong, the engineer for the session, had some connections and managed to get in touch with Terry Brown (the producer of several Rush records, including 2112), who sent him the exact signal chain he used to filter Neil’s voice on that album.
  • “I always say pinball is rock and roll under glass. Even the non-rock games, pinball is rock and roll under glass. It’s energy, it’s lights, it’s sound, it’s motion, it’s a rock concert. […] That’s why the two go so well together.” - Ed
Panel discussion
  • When asked about how far along they are with implementing the ruleset, Tim Sexton said they have roughly 85% of it in the game at the time of recording. The lone holdouts are “maybe a few really big wizard modes” (the ones associated with “2112” and “Cygnus X-1”), since they’re elaborate and multi-stage.

That has to be done well, but it’s not going to be something you’re going to see the first time you walk up to a game when these games are on location the first time you get to play them or at a show. That’s stuff we tend to postpone to make sure the front of the game is really fun and polished so you want to come back when there are future updates.

  • Elliot Eismin (lead mechanical engineer) on the drum set clock toy:

Initially, we wanted something a little bit more elaborate and it turned into this really cool timepiece, which I think was a cool direction because we could play a lot of cool things with - it’s actually got a physical pointer on there. Then it’s also got a big whiteboard behind it that lights up each individual segment. You can do all sorts of cool Chase animations and all sorts of cool things with that. It’s just a really cool display thing.

  • Chuck Ernst (CG art director) was excited about being able to use video footage of the band (comparing it to Aerosmith, where they leaned on newly-made animation because they had no workable footage of the group that wasn’t 40 years old).
  • Elliot explains that the center button controls the diverter (which has a flasher dome indicating which direction the ball will go). He also mentions that they plan to implement a smart missile themed after “The Weapon,” though details are sparse and prone to changing since it’s in development.
  • Tim claims that the “Hoot Again” pun on the playfield was Ed Robertson’s idea.
  • The devs started with 10 songs before reaching the final list of 16.
  • Tim says that the game uses roughly 2 hours of concert footage altogether, with each song having a video clip that extends for its entire duration without looping. (He notes that this allows the player to understand the visual progression of the song better.)
  • The game pushes the limits of the SPIKE system, between the lights, toys, and display. Because of this, updates will take a long time to download.
  • Chuck tells a small story about how, when he first started working at Stern in 2015, he complained to John Borg that his games were excessively difficult (or “mean”). John simply replied “Well, that’s my signature. I make mean games.”
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Thanks for distilling all that info. Some great tidbits in there! And now I know who to blame for the absence of YYZ and the Hoot Again pun. Those are my only gripes with the game from what I’ve seen though. From my perspective as both a big fan of the band and obviously as a competitive player it looks incredible all around!

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Geddy was right here, “YYZ” is so much more iconic and well known.

This is so rad.

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Thank you @JamOn for posting that. Since I couldn’t/didn’t get to listen to those podcasts, this was a great read!

I was a huge Rush fan in the 80’s and 90’s. I got to see the Moving Pictures tour from the 3rd row in 1981. I will be leaning towards buying this game NIB but I have to play it first.

A few pics I took in 1981.




Enjoy!

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Thank you all in turn for the kind words! I’m not much of a podcast person myself and generally prefer written information when it comes to disseminating pinball news, so I certainly understand the desire for short summaries. (This is why I’m very grateful that Stern provides transcripts of these episodes, even if they’re not perfect.)

Also, it’s funny - the day after I belatedly post about these two podcast episodes, Stern announces that the Pro version is in full production and uploads another episode about Rush. This one has host Nate Shivers talking with John Borg about the game “post-release.” (I’m not sure if it’s really “released” yet, since I don’t think anyone’s gotten it in their homes or on location just yet, but that’s mere semantics.)

Tidbits from the new podcast
  • As mentioned before, John Borg is a longtime fan of Rush; they were his first concert in 1980 (during their Moving Pictures tour) and are still more or less his favorite band.
  • Originally, the central toy was a bass drum that the ball would get sucked into. John was insistent on having a drum in the game as a tribute to Neil Peart, even when Ed came up with the idea of making a time machine the centerpiece instead (born from a discussion about the band’s tours, specifically the Time Machine Tour).
    • He figured that the drum could be used in various ways throughout the game (including “dictat[ing] what jackpots were in multiball”).
  • John: “I usually try to plan some kind of a cool mechanical device that’s going to be the centerpiece of the game and build around that.”
    • He brings up Guardians of the Galaxy, where he kept a massive area in the middle of the playfield open for roughly the first two months of dev time because he wasn’t sure what the theme would be. (He mentions that “it could have been Eddie from Iron Maiden,” which tracks with earlier statements by Keith Elwin that he was originally going to do GOTG before eventually making Legacy of the Beast.) He ultimately put Groot there, then shoehorned the Rocket figurine and Orb elsewhere in the design.
    • John: “Right now, I’m working on a mechanism for my next game after Rush, and I’m not sure what the title is yet. We haven’t figured out what the next one’s going to be for me.”
  • The drop target bank that doubles as a locking mechanism took quite some time to conceptualize. Earlier concepts included having two scoops that shot balls to both flippers simultaneously when Far Cry Multiball started (one of which was where the leftmost pop bumper is in the final game) and “an up-down target bar, kind of similar to what’s in the center of Tron but a smaller one,” that had a ramp on top.

    You would bash that target [and] it would then lower the ramp to the playfield and then you could shoot the ball up the ramp into the time machine.

    • They ultimately moved the ramp itself.
  • Another thing changed during development: the back panel once hosted the clock mechanism (specifically a replica of Clockwork Angels’ cover), a motor attached to its back controlling the time it showed.
  • The devs apparently call the LE’s guitar-shaped side armor “guitarmor.”
  • Side note: during early development of X-Men, John and company were initially planning to use assets from the films, only to find that there weren’t many (to his surprise). This is part of why they decided to instead theme it around the original comics.
  • John notes that, when developing a new game, he tends to check if shots are workable on the first one built without actually powering it on (he “hold[s] the bottom of a flipper with [his] thumb”).
  • When Nate asks if/how Insider Connected affected development, John notes:

    We have to come up with the challenges, and then software has to be written for that. It made the work detail greater, especially for the programmer, of course. It’s nice that you’ll be able to walk up to a game, and I hear a lot of younger video game players, younger people are playing the challenges more, the challenges that they have in video games.

  • Nate: “Ed [Robertson] told me he wanted a Rush pinball machine many, many, many years ago.”

EDIT: I forgot to upload some of the pictures from Stern’s Facebook post.