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


That was the direction one of the production companies we were working with wanted to go.

Clock set to 5 minutes, games set to 10 balls each, 2 machines set up next to eachother (or 3, or 4) . . . anddddddd GO!


haha that will be hilarious in its own way, the new format “Street Pinball Fight”!


(Post-game inteview segment) So what were you thinking out there?

Player, eyes glazing over: shoot the castle. Shoot the castle. shoot the castle. shoot the castle, shoot the (mic cut off)


Then we need to find our pacing with when to be hype and when to be soft. Kind of like listening to hockey; there’s going to be moments to get excited about, like a huge save, hit, or goal. Then again, there’s times to just give the play-by-play. Since fighting game rounds take 1-2 minutes depending on your game of choice, they condense into a smaller time frame.The 10 games of Circuit Finals averaged 21-22 minutes each as an example, so we have a bit more time to talk.


Yes, the pacing would differ from fast-paced video games, at least for the typical tournaments. But, speaking of the two games set up side by side…

Since we’re talking about pinball viewing in general, and targeting casual observers, I think the idea of things like Pinball Done Quick offers this sort of route, where you could have a more head-to-head versus style. In fact, at ADGQ earlier this year they did this (within the limitations of what they had). One person on Star Trek Prem, one person on Stern Pinball Arcade’s version of Star Trek, head-to-head race to Kobayashi Maru. Playfields showing on the screen, side-by-side, with a commentator giving the play-by-play.

I thought it was a brilliant idea, especially given the expected audience of ADGQ viewers (who were watching a week’s worth of speedrun exhibitions in video games) switching away from a video game feed to the pinball feed. Not something most tournaments are going to be, of course, but if it comes to ideas about showcasing pinball and making it more spectator friendly, I think they were on the right path.


Like going to an advert break after everyone has played ball 1 :grinning: then again after ball 2.


The plus points I take from watching the feeds (either live or recorded)
The camera views are just about perfect.
Camera 1 The whole of the playfield
Camera 2 The DMD or backglass to show the current scores
Camera 3 The wide angle showing the player
A “Bob Cam” could be incorporated, showing the swinging tilt bob inside the cabinet. I know pinball_live on Twitch often has a bob cam on his feeds. Would be really interesting to both newbies and experts to be able to put a nudge, slide save etc. into context, and why players wait so long before stepping up to play after someone else has tilted.

The commentary can be great, or not so great. I’m not going to highlight any individuals, as that wouldn’t be right.
But they need to think about who they are commentating to/for. Is it for a newbie who has no idea who Josh or Zach is, or that they’re related, or where the camera is on Twilight Zone? Or is it for the more experienced player who wants more in depth analysis?
Commentators don’t need to be speaking non-stop. The next time your watching your favourite sport on TV just try and notice how LITTLE the commentator speaks. They only speak if they have something to add - not just to hear their own voice.
They also know the rules of the game they’re commentating on - not always the case with the pinball commentaries.
It would be fantastic to have a dedicated (sponsored?) commentator, who would be able to ask their co-commentator (pinball player) questions about the game, player, format, etc. To really show what a skill commentating is, and how difficult it is. At times now it sounds like a bunch of mates sitting around with a few beers.

Additional graphics:
Nothing too complicated,
The player who is playing should have their name, rank, origin, mini bio? on screen at all times
The current standings: In qualifying, total points and scrolling through table scores. In knockouts, group standings for both the game on screen and the other groups.

Ideally, although this would incur extra costs, the ability for the viewer to switch feeds to be able to track their favourite player or table.

It’s great that people all over the world are able to watch pinball comps, as well as tutorials, but think that with just a few extra tweaks it can be even more informative and enjoyable.


The one annoying aspect of watching some of the finals for me was that some commentators kept talking over each other. This is really bad to listen to, even though it’s normal in a group conversation. Things will come across way better if each commentator lets his co-commentator finish before saying something.

Listen to some cricket commentators if you get a chance. Usually there are two or three, and one of them takes the lead. He is the guy with the “first voice”. To stop things from getting out of control, he periodically invites the other commentators to contribute. “What do you make of that delivery, James?” or some such. So, all three commentators contribute, but they rarely, if ever, talk over each other.


This ^^^. All of us commentators need to get better at this.


Re: Horizontal vs. vertical aspect ratio

The majority of Twitch users are on desktop/TV (source), so horizontal is probably here to stay. That said, it does suck for mobile users. The best solution would be to have an alternate stream running in vertical aspect ratio, but I just don’t see this being feasible (one stream is hard enough). Also, it’s questionable whether the mobile apps even deal correctly with a vertical aspect ratio (I believe the Twitch app would scale down the video and show the chat when the phone is in portrait orientation…)

I think this will be less of a problem as stream resolutions get higher in the next few years – currently most streams are 1280x720, but playfield details should be visible even on a horizontal layout at 1080p+.


Agree that cycling in commentators should (though doesn’t always) result in more focused commentary and on-topic conversations. I’ve noticed, understandably, commentators on marathon streams more frequently ignoring the actual gameplay for long stretches and talking about whatever, presumably because they’ve grown bored, with either explaining similar things multiple times or maybe just watching that much pinball. A lot of times when they return their attention to the gameplay they’ll cop to not knowing who’s playing, what they’re doing, game state etc, or suggest the player should do something he or she just did.

Disinterested commentary promotes disinterested watching. Also, something important / impressive might be going on that is totally ignored which a casual viewer would have found exciting or compelling had the stakes been communicated. If you don’t treat your material like it matters others won’t either.

Note that this is just a little constructive feedback on ways to improve, not trashing the overall product. A post about what I like about the coverage world be 50x longer. Greatly appreciate those that invest their time and money into making pinball coverage happen, watch all the top-level stuff I can find, and still always wish there were even more.


You’re really going to make me go back and listen to those expo casts again aren’t you?!

I don’t remember sounding bored, but they were long days.


Not naming names! I actually think you’re one of the better commentators at staying focused, and enjoy the insider insights you share about the games being played that most others simply cannot.


The Jorian Star Trek Expo Marathon was one of my favorite commentating gigs of all time! The funniest part for me during the 12+ hours was watching the expressions from our intrepid producer, @mhs. It all started normal enough, but as the long games of Star Trek piled up, he seemed to visibly pass through all five stages of grief, and by the end, I’m pretty sure Steinman was blinking in Morse code like Jeremiah Denton (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremiah_Denton), lol. #BestStreamEver!


I don’t know if it’s an adage or anything, but yes, in pretty much all fiction, the characters are top priority–all the best stories ever written are stories with compelling and relatable characters. Same goes with nonfiction: Sports and reality television become a lot more popular when they cover the participants and who they are.

As it stands, since the streams kind of assume you know who everyone is, there’s no introduction to anyone, and to an outsider, everyone (except Escher) would come across as the same.

In addition, I’d like to see a “Favorite Table” too, which can change if the player’s preferences change. This seems to be very common in pinball surveys already.

[quote=“relwin, post:114, topic:982, full:true”]2) ever watch the International Dota2 online? And you thought pinball was confusing! You need a teenager next to you describing what you’re watching…

At least with Defense of the Ancients, once you get the gist of it, you can understand why players are doing what they do. Watch a competitive match of the Pokémon video games, and it’ll be like trying to understand grandmaster chess without having heard of chess before. What may seem illogical is actually because the players are thinking three or four turns ahead. Jack has Tapu Lele and Bob has Scizor. Bob decides to switch Scizor for Primarina. Why? Because Bob figures Jack will most likely switch Tapu Lele for Arcanine, and he’ll be ready with a type advantage that isn’t affected by the immediate Attack drop from Intimidate once Arcanine enters battle. Jack will have Primarina use Hidden Power Ground (which can now be done AND have a competitively-viable Pokémon thanks to Hyper Training, which was introduced in Generation VII) rather than Sparkling Aria or Oceanic Operetta because he knows Jack also has Magnezone ready, whose Steel/Electric typing gives it a x4 weakness to Ground-type moves. (Also, Sparkling Aria hits its partner in a double battle, which is what official tournaments run on.)

I got back into tournaments for Pokémon video games a couple of months ago, and I discovered they now do play-by-play commentary for it. I never figured out where the commentary was going though, and I was a participant myself so I didn’t have time to find out. For the record, said commentary is the quiet golf type, which is fitting considering how slow and methodical it all is. One of the commentators even had that classy British accent.

For the record, the commentators were watching through a live feed of the players’ Nintendo 3DS systems and were in a corner behind a dark blue screen. The players they were covering were across the room (they always talked about the match going on at Table 1 during the elimination rounds) and likely could not hear the commentators, but I was placed at the table right next to that corner during the second round and could hear everything.

Yeah, I’m kind of used to seeing statements like that over anything. You get a lot of trolls wherever there’s a lot of people, especially since Yahoo! doesn’t moderate the comments. You also get a lot of losers who get to feel big and important by putting other people down. “This kid’smade the news on Yahoo! when he was 13 years old. I need to find something I’m better at than him, or I’ll REALLY feel like a loser!”

A lot of those bitter comments come across to me as very similar to the classic jock putdowns directed at nerds and geeks.

And the Indians too.

That was a wonderful post! I’d like to point out, though, that competitive Tetris exists and is occasionally streamed, and that is arguably even taller and narrower than pinball (though it depends on the version being played). Falling-blocks puzzle games in Japan get quite competitive too, though in cases like Puyo Puyo or Puzzle League, they’re head-to-head so you don’t reallyhave to worry too much about their vertical nature.

[quote=“ScoutPilgrim, post:127, topic:982, full:true”]I would love to work on a series of pre-produced Pinball Corner (inspired by WPT’s Poker Corner) clips that describe various terms, skills, and phenomena that go on during pinball matches.

I think it’d be best if they’re shown between matches or if there were quick, one-sentence definitions that either the commentators talk about or is briefly displayed onscreen if the term ever comes up.

One example is if you’re playing Lord of the Rings and the display tells you to shoot the VUK. Only pinball fans know what a VUK is. That would be a great time to explain what VUK stands for (and it isn’t obvious it’s an acronym), what it does, and where it is on the table.

Which reminds me: Will there be any legal troubles if streaming gets more popular? I mean, it’s full of various licensed games.

I think that’s the single biggest problem currently: There isn’t much feedback from outsiders. I would love to hear what more outsiders say. Unfortunately, whenever I try it, they get completely lost in the jargon and trying to keep up with what they’re seeing.

(And the way I see it, I try not to ever forget what it was like to be a beginner at anything that I do, because once you forget the beginner’s experience, it becomes a lot harder to explain what you’re doing.)


Wow, so that’s how it works?! I totally understand this now!

Not that we are geeking out here, or anything… :slight_smile:

(For the record, I’ve never played Pokémon in earnest, so the above is complete Chinese to me :wink: )


I have felt that advancements in the playfield lighting would be a good start as in many cases it’s just so darn hard to see the ball. I have developed a lighting system to help at least with that aspect that eliminates glass glare and dark spots. It’s user controllable via an app so that the right quality, colors and brightness could be controlled. I would be interested in having someone use this specifically for an event to film. Here is some more info for anyone interested in reading more: www.pinstadium.com


I like the stadium lighting. Certainly would be nice to able to see the ball clearly in videos.

Another thing that comes to mind is to pay attention to reflections of room lights and the like on the playfield glass. I know that, depending on the venue, it may be next to impossible to avoid this. But, looking through some of the older competition videos on the Papa site, some of them suffer really badly because there is some monster reflection right across the playfield. For broadcasts, that doesn’t look very professional.



Thanks and glad you like them. I agree that the reflections are definitely an issue too. I found that by adding the Pin Stadium kits to the pinball and the fact they are under the glass (just slight below it on the sides of the cabinet) that they can make the playfield so bright and visible that the glare is minimized or reduced due to the relativity of the contrast. Also built in is an awning system that makes them invisible to the player and viewers (or camera) when playing.

A good example is that I have struggled with backglass/transite/DMD glare when playing and found that this helps to heavily reduce or even in many cases remove that. LED’s in the backglass or even by the flippers (those reflect on the DMD into my eyes), just makes matters worse. I’m guilty of doing these mods myself because they do look cool.

So your comment about this being an issue at tournaments I think is really accurate. This is why I would like to put these on a machine in a tournament and see what everyone thinks when viewing the stream. I think it will help solve this problem for the players and viewers.

Here are a couple of before and afters in my dark game room. I don’t have overhead lighting but you get the idea:


I really like that, and I bet that some of the players would too. I tend to get cranky when I’m playing in a tournament with poor lighting. It can make it really hard to see the ball, especially on machines like GoT, where the light show can be absolutely blinding. And, even on machines without blinding light effects, if the playfield is too dark, the ball is harder to see, especially when it’s moving fast.

No doubt, the stadium lighting would also reduce the impact of reflections on the playfield glass.

I think this idea has real merit!