What technology can be used to improve the pinball viewing experience for the casual observer?


Definitely not questioning Trent’s strategic decision to pick the game he felt he had the most advantage on, for whatever reason. I’m just saying, if you want to build a dedicated audience of viewers, their experience should not be an afterthought by the organizers, as it clearly was in this tournament (regarding lighting/glare and not equipping all games with cameras).


Wasn’t till 5 min in that his coach told him to “trap up!” I remember Bob saying it was unsportsman like to trap up back then…


I think it’s wrong to say that the broadcast was “clearly an afterthought”. Lots of preparation, transport of equipment, pre-setup and many hours of volunteered time went into making a really great stream for us to enjoy. Minor snags such as glare are really difficult to avoid, especially considering where the tournament area is relegated to at Expo. Regarding the final game, they are limited with a number of cameras and it’s not exactly a simple process to move everything from one game to another, especially when everyone is exhausted and wants to wrap it up. I think they improvised well in the interest of time while still getting some of the action recorded.


I liked PAPA’s decision to only broadcast the last two rounds of pinburgh. After 2 hrs of watching the same people playing the same games at expo I pretty much tuned out. Hoping someday PAPA broadcasts the classics 3 finals. The games move quick and it’s easy to explain to the audience.


The pipe dream is that pinball can get to the level where we have such higher viewship that sponsorship money can help make the first P in PAPA actually mean something, right? :smiley:

There is potential return on investment here, if I’m going to be very optimistic. We are living in this strange golden age of gaming on the internet where teenagers are dropping out of school to yell loudly into a microphone while playing video games on twitch and youtube, making enough money on ad and donation revenue to move out of their parent’s basement. Pinball commentary sounds a lot more like golf than some of these youtube millionaires. Maybe we should yell more. :grin:

Money is a huge issue though @jdelz , and it’s a blessing that we have so many obsessed pinball fans who will volunteer their time to do what we currently have with the games and streaming. I’m interested in trying to implement some software stuff on my own time that has been suggested here and with other people I’ve brought this up to, such as the ability to track switch hits toward a goal, points per minute, live win estimation, multiball availability, etc.

The IFPA site, in my view, has been pinball’s best friend these past few years. It’s created enough of an incentive to have people put more events on it and given everyone a way to check out what events are coming up. I’d say it’s pretty much invaluable to have at this point a centralized hub for all ranked, public pinball events, since most pinball events are ranked.


I think you’re absolutely right, and I definitely don’t want it to seem like I don’t appreciate all of the volunteered effort that went into the stream (and everything else that went into making a really successful event).

I guess I’m just saying that if the goal is to get as many viewers as possible, things like glare and video quality/coverage should be a big priority is setting this all up. If the goal is to have an awesome tournament experience for those that are there, then those things are less important. If the goals are to have as much of both of those as possible within the realities of existing resources and logistics, then I think they did a fantastic job of using what they had to do what they did.

Anyways, I’m definitely not trying to be a dick. Just talking about what would make a better viewing experience in my fantasy world.


The crazier idea - velocity gauge when the machine is nudge. Like in formula 1 broadcast they show a meter when following a car on how many g’s the driver is currently experiencing. So when nudging you could see an indication of how hard the machine was pushed. Personally I think that would be more entertaining to follow than a tilt-cam.

The less crazy ideas - digitize the score display, instead of using a cam to display the scores pull the data and relay it in the stream. No more glare issues, no more cam angle issues. This should be within reason to do on dot machines, older would be a challenge.
Figure out what to do with “in between game” time. It’s hard to remain interested if there’s suddenly a 20 min break between two streamed games, or if the next player is taking a (very) long time to start the next ball. I know it can’t be done away with, but doing something in that times space would in my opinion make watching an even better experience.

Finally, hats of to anyone involved with getting streams out there. I can only imagine how much time, money and effort are going into this.


My feeling is that if you want to bring in a larger audience (i.e. non-pinball players or new players) the commentators should focus on the basic strategies for every game at the beginning, even if the machine has already been played. They generally do a pretty good job of this, but it’s hard for even myself to stay interested in watching if I don’t know what the players are shooting for. It’s unreasonable to expect people watching to know strategies for every game, even popular ones. I think a telestrator would be great here. Saying “shoot the bookcase and then lock it in the vault for multiball” doesn’t mean much to most people. Actually showing where the shots are would be great.

I also think slow-mo instant replay in between balls would be a really good time filler. You could also do replays in the middle of a long trap up or a repetitive strategy with a split screen so you don’t miss action.

Maybe little bios of each player in a round before it starts? Major victories, how long they’ve been playing, where they’re from. Are there any rivalries? People kind of love drama, and they want to pick someone to root for. Hometown heroes? Unexpected upsets? What does this mean in a bigger context, why is this tournament important? Build the hype up basically. The hardcore people already know most of this, but if you can’t get the average person to care about the match they’ll watch something else.

Also. Shout out to all the streamers and commentators who do this stuff. Kind of a thankless job but it’s really appreciated. You guys rock!


I think that BoP2.0 has a bunch of stats that can be shared online (general stats: http://www.dutchpinball.com/bop2/live/ Player stats: http://www.dutchpinball.com/bop2/live/cheddars/profile/CHD ). I like the idea of getting data directly from the machine since obviously it’s tracking things for audits, etc. Maybe if something is more open source someone could create a relay to get that info and post it. I know folks have built things w/Raspberry Pi or other tools that let you tweet out high scores etc.

Maybe Big Lebowski will have some of this when it is released!


Tournament had one more game than there were cameras available, and the team running the broadcast felt it made sense to cover one of the two Game of Thrones machines instead of missing another game altogether. Players can select whatever game they want to play on, and as a player, it’s not Trent’s responsibility to pick a game for broadcast.

When you say things about the broadcast like “botched” and “I was pretty angry” and “there absolutely has to be ___” it does not come off well. The broadcast team puts in a ridiculous number of hours in setup, casting, and takedown. I realize you are a fan of the broadcasts but these comments don’t sound like things a fan would say.


Based on what you are suggesting, you don’t want PAPAtv to cover the Chicago Expo again. The PAPAtv team doesn’t have any control over the location of the tournament, and it’s unlikely to move. The broadcast was about as good as it’s going to get under Expo Glare conditions.


Mmmm, HDMI feed distances…

Agree with @jdelz that the broadcast was not an afterthought from the PAPAtv team. If you’re suggesting the tournament be relocated by the facility (Expo), it’s been in that Glare Zone every year it’s been at the current location (6 years?).


Definitely agree with all of this. I made a commitment in my last few times as commentator to ban the phrase “as we’ve said before” because there are plenty of people who want to hear the basic info about players, locations, histories, and basic game strategies. :slight_smile:


Josh needs to learn the rules to xmen before overruling Bryan on papatv :wink:


Keith needs to learn the rules to Out of Sight before . . . well . . .that’s all I got as a retort :slight_smile:


I’d much rather have any coverage than no coverage. Hopefully my comment didn’t make me seem ungrateful for what we have because that was not remotely my intention.


The broadcast was literally an afterthought of the organiser: the tournament structure, game choice, and so on were designed without considering the broadcast implications. Yes, there’s nothing that can be done about the glare, but spectator-friendly and competitor-friendly choices are not always the same thing. The PAPAtv team did yeoman’s work working around the preëxisting structure, but they didn’t have any primacy in the decisions made.

But if the TO thought that the PAPAtv broadcast was sufficiently important, the rules would be adjusted in some way as to prevent the climax of the tournament being off-camera. It would not be hard, seeing that one game of duplicates had no camera, to institute a rule that the no-camera game couldn’t be chosen under conditions X, Y, or Z. Trent-as-player is perfectly correct to chose the game that gives him the best chance of winning, but Trent-as-organiser shouldn’t have put Trent, and the PAPAtv crew, in that position if he thought that PAPAtv was important.


I guess I’m suggesting you would rather have PAPAtv cover a different event than this one, because the event conditions are unlikely to change. I can’t speak for Trent but I doubt he prefers the tournament to be in Glare Town USA. As for adjusting rules to suit the broadcast, that is difficult; in general a tournament director should not make changes to the rules close to or during an event, unless it’s absolutely necessary.


While I appreciate your enthusiasm, the hobby isn’t big enough to grow by video alone. The best way we can grow the hobby is to play with new players regularly. At home, in league, at the local pizza parlor, wherever.

One of the best things about pinball is its lack of technology. Steel ball, gravity, etc. It’s easy to show noobs how fun pinball is. Much easier to lure them in with the actual thing rather than a video. Put a pin in front of your house for Halloween and see how many people you can recruit. Video’s got nothing on the real thing.

I think the broadcasts are just fine as is. I like that they’re not polished ESPN-like broadcasts. Reading here and elsewhere, I worry that people are getting a little too hooked on the videos. That kinda defeats the purpose. Maybe future broadcasts should include intermissions (drop outs) every 30 minutes that say: GO PLAY YOUR GAMES NOW! d;^)

I once felt my bonus points in my blood.

Penicillin cleared it right up.


Not related to any technology, but I feel the right to pick the game played (e.g. by the top qualifier) results in the same games being played over and over again (boring to watch) and in longer tournaments (if the top seed must have a full selection to pick from). The casual observer is likely to doze off after Jorian picks Star Trek for the 100th time in a row.

This practice is much more uncommon here in Europe: the machines are picked randomly and usually the highest seed just picks position for the first game in a series (with the winner starting the next game).

A true champion should be able to excel in any game, right? :smile: