In an industry not exactly known for its embrace of proper web content, Stern Pinball has, in striking contrast, continually churned out top-tier content for a good, long time now. That winning streak continues with last week’s upload: “The Making of Stranger Things Pinball!”
The program is the latest in Stern’s “Making of” series in which they…well, run through the process of making that video’s titular pin. If you haven’t already guessed, this particular segment documents none other than Stranger Things pinball, Stern’s latest in a slew of hit, licensed tables.
“The Making of Stranger Things Pinball!” features rich interviews with lead game designer Brian Eddy, associate game developer Mike Vinikour, and lead programmer Lonnie Ropp, as well as high-energy gameplay footage interspersed throughout. Listening to these three guys speak, I could tell that they truly cared about faithfully adapting the television license for pinball.
“When we started this project—Brian, Lonnie, and myself—we all sat down, and we made separate lists of, like, memorable scenes from the show that we would like in the game or somehow incorporated into a mode,” Vinikour said.
The trio makes it abundantly clear that, above all, they wanted to produce a fun and unique pin.
“This game has a lot of things that have never been done,” Eddy said. “The star of it, of course, is the Demogorgon [Stranger Things monster] and the screen ramp and the drop targets. These are all kind of combined into one unit.”
The video also includes footage and explanation of some of the more in-depth, technical aspects that fans will surely enjoy, such as the telekinesis ball-lock device.
“That whole lock mechanism is magic,” Ropp said. “The ball goes up there, and it grabs the ball. You’re like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t expect that. I want to see it again.’ So you shoot the ball up there. This time, not only does it catch the ball, it hangs from the first one. ‘Whoa, these two balls are hanging out together. That looks pretty cool.’ Right? Let’s do it a third time. You put the ball up there, sometimes it’ll hang like a triangle.”
Even though I personally couldn’t care less about the Stranger Things property—I generally hate any and all Netflix original series—I can’t help but appreciate the sheer passion this development team brought to the (literal) table. Hearing their creative vision genuinely compels me to try the game, regardless of my feelings on the license itself.
On top of that, I absolutely adore Stern’s dedication to quality video output. Whereas the rest of the industry will upload unedited 30-second attract modes to YouTube and call it day, Stern is cultivating an online presence and sense of community unlike any other. Highly personal interviews such as these harken back to the days of arcade industry promotional tapes—and I love it.
“I know the values the company has and the people I’m working with, and we’re not putting out that we’re not proud of,” Ropp said.
To continue the Stranger Things pinball discussion, reach out to me on Twitter or join my Discord server. And as always—keep it real, ya sweaty nerds.