Immersive Pinball, Adam Sandler, and The Pinball Mountain

Immersive Pinball, Adam Sandler, and The Pinball Mountain
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Immersive Pinball, Adam Sandler, and The Pinball Mountain
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Immersive Pinball, Adam Sandler, and The Pinball Mountain
Published on
May 14, 2021
Updated on
May 14, 2021
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Immersive Pinball

With all the time “off”, “locked down”, “freaked out” or whatever you want to call it, I as the Horrorhouse Fest bro, Night Mutilator, decided to build a few games which have been simmering on the top of the brain for many years now. Having this crazy background of building promotional games for Adam Sandler and his company Happy Madison my mind has been constantly wired to either play or build games. Digital, physical, emotional…… errrr I mean, um. You get the point.

Immersion always comes to mind, but usually I’m thinking about what is happening outside of the digital immersed game. The set around the game. The distractions which may present themselves that had nothing to do with the game itself. The real world elements that change the way you might play… annnnnd along came the idea for Horrorhouse Fest. The immersive haunted house with a pinball tournament in it that I first conjured up waaaaaaaaay back in the olden years… 2013. A haunted house, with distractions aplenty, that all play into what is happening in the games themselves. An extension of the game experience. Not just a topper or undercarriage lights… but a full theatrical production working with, and against, the players and the games themselves. Immersive Pinball as I like to call it.

The Pinball Mountain Console Game

So what does one do when the chance to build such an experience is seriously hindered by an insane pandemic? Well, first you do a scaled back version locally…. Thennnnnnn you build a video game. So alas, I did just that. An idea I have been working on since about the same time as Horrorhouse Fest was this idea of turning a pinball machine into a full on world. Not in that you become a goofy pinball boy jumping about on the heads of enemies, but one where you merge the concept of real world and standard pinball. The goal being to get a huge high score in the fastest time possible, while not losing your ball… while also trying to make your way up a mountain to the victory flag!!

So I turned back on my dusty ole game development side of my brain to make it happen. Through many months of 3D modeling, programming, sound designing, animating and all the rest of the thousand things you need to execute while making a game, I arrived at a final beta! All hosted within the comfy confines of the dreams app on PS4. Something now fully accessible by other dreams users, and a huge accomplishment indeed for me. With 2 full levels completed, each with their own themes I had finally done it. I had made a console game!

Adam Sandler Games

But wait, didn’t I just say a few paragraphs back that I made games for Adam Sandler? But, I haven’t made a console game…. Confusing, yes. But once you dive back to what I did for Sandler, you’ll realize it was a flash world, with browsers being the main platform. One of my bosses at the time, a super cool dude named Jeff G. had an in with Adam Sandler, as his brother friggin produced his movies! I was in shock kinda, as my goal had been to be in the entertainment world since I was a kid, and this was an amazing “in” without having to leave my home city of Denver, Colorado. How amazingly convenient and lucky is that?! Having a degree from the Art Institute in Multimedia (yep, not a joke), and with a tad of web experience I landed the role at this super cool agency, and after many years of designing rave fliers I had now landed this role working with Jeff, helping make some truly legendary films/tv shows shine their light in the online world.

Starting with two Sandler related projects, I helped out with the Sandler website and then The Wedding Singer. Though not as crazy interactive at that phase, it truly became a day and night passion making those properties come to life with graphics, sound, animation and coded pizazz. Myself, not yet the Night Mutilator, and a team of creative dudes would burn the candle at both ends, staying up for what seemed like days before each site debut fine tuning and making magic come to life. I was probably the only one who graduated from my class who actually was in a “Multimedia” role. It was kinda crazy.

This madness was ongoing, and soon I also found myself working on the Freaks and Geeks website, a slew of Happy Madison projects, along with countless other non-entertainment, sports and music properties, such as interactive kiosks for the amazing Red Rocks venue, and ski resorts aplenty.

Then it all changed.

Jeff G. approached me with a question. “Hey, polishdog (that’s what he called me), could you make a game for this new Sandler movie? It’s got John Turturro in it.

Without thinking, and probably halfway through his sentence I exclaimed “yes, yes I can do that. I can make game. I can make lots of game.” And even though I had not really built a game before, I went for it. It doesn’t hurt that I had literally only 3 friends as a kid who would now help me in my journey… ColecoVision, Nintendo and Sega ;).

So there I was, making this Mr. Deeds game starring Mr. Turturro and falling in love with the process. Though I only had 2 weeks to complete my first game, I quickly turned on my “what the hell can I make in that timeframe” side of my brain and realized it had to be a game where he popped out from random spots on a picture, in which the player needed to catch him. Easy and done!

I was a game dude now! Heck yeah! Soon movie after movie script was sitting on my desk and I had to read through them to figure out how to not only help in the concept/executions of the sites, but also of 2-3 games per site, per movie! All with similar deadlines! Oh my gosh!!!!

After numerous blurry years making games for The Longest Yard, 50 First Dates, Click, Big Daddy, The Waterboy, Dickie Roberts, Grandmas Boy, Without a Paddle, Bad News Bears, Chuck and Larry and far too many others I’m blanking out on right now, I felt like I had lived out my career and could now retire. Too bad I was only 30 and not a Hollywood movie star, with associated salary.

The Pinball Mountain Physical Build

But to get back to present and what’s now relevant cause Flash don’t even exist sir, here I am with my new project… a video game called The Pinball Mountain. How the hell am I gonna sell this concept to someone I thought. Why did I spend 300+ hours making a game within a game? Well as I contemplated those answers I had another crazy twist of fate happen, and through one of my best buddies, who used to be my partner in game building at the ad agency, a contact emerged needing custom built games.

Viola! I thought, as instantly I thought why not build a physical version of The Pinball Mountain?! Totally the perfect step to take next with the overall concept. Why not take the fundamentals of the video game version and turn it into a game, that not only is a physical object in the room/cube you are playing in, but also a game that directly affects the environment around you? It’s like a self contained Horrorhouse Fest!! So I pitched it, got the funding from my contact, and looked for a game to re-skin and add to. A local pinball museum was closing and listed a pic of the game I would soon transform into the idea on the noggin… Cherry Bell! A super rare Spanish title, that is so rare, you most likely will never see one yourself.

But why would I pick this game? What motivated me? I can tell ya that as soon as I saw the middle of the playfield I knew it was the one. The center plastic had the shape of the top of a mountain! That’s all it took to decide, and now one of the most difficult journeys had begun!

To date I am near complete with the playfield! Quite a task on its own when painting it by hand, after countless hours prepping the machine to even be ready for the wild replacement art.

But the real work and joy to be had is making this thing control the room around it. Taking the idea of Horrorhouse Fest even that much further. It’s called Immersive Pinball, and now it’s in implementation phase. Once complete this will be unlike any other game and I for sure will stand by it like a proud mutilator daddy.

Once the final pieces are put in place, the plan is to debut it at Horrorhouse Fest in its own room. The planning phases are already underway for it’s debut appearance to be made this fall (maybe even sooner!), and once details are put in place, get ready to get your tickets to the wildest and most hilarious pinball “ride” imaginable at Horrorhouse Fest 2021. I’m excited to take the immersive pinball world by storm, and thanks to the amazing pinball community, and outstanding sites like thisweekinpinball, we can all share in the knowledge, creation and execution of cutting edge pinball ideas… and above all else, I’m super excited to be a part of that community!