I am the oldest grandkid out of 50+ grandkids. Yes, I was the first, I love my grandma and I'm pretty sure I am her favorite. There was a point in time when it was just me and 2 other grandkids, and my grandma's house was
my summer vacation every year. She had an inground pool, diving board, pinball machine (which was always broke), table tennis, and bumper pool. For some reason I "understand" bumper pool. Simple rules, simple physics. We'd swim outside
and turn toasty red, then come inside and play bumper pool. I ALWAYS wanted a bumper pool someday. Well I ended up with a pool table, and most people like that so I was OK with that. However, that didn't stop
my deep down desire. Enter...queue music...Craigslist. A bumper pool table which needed work, was the *right* price and was only 20 minutes away. I was the first contact, and the seller held it for me. The seller said
this bumper pool needed electrical work for its light up bumpers. What the? My grandmas bumper pool table didn't light up. So I thought I was picking up some 15-20 year old home version with new light up accessories.
The seller also told me it was in the basement and to bring help. UGGGG. Apparently every able bodied adult who owns large stuff sticks it in the basement and spontaneously gets back problems when its time to sell it. So I took
my teenager with me and drove to pick it up. What I saw surprised me. This wasn't a home version bumper pool. This was a coin op which accepted 2 dimes. Dimes instead of quarters? This thing was old, and the coin op nature intrigued me.
My 15 year old son helped me carry it out of the basement, and I even had him drive us home. After some research this was a Bally Pin Pool table, circa 1956. I even found a tax sticker on it from 1956 which confirmed the date. That's why it was a
light up, and that's why it ran on dimes. Well I had to make new legs for the game, rewire the whole table, and clean up a dizzying amount of cat hair and sunflower seed shells from
the inside. Finally I ordered and installed new rubber bumpers and lamps. A few lamps were burnt out and the rubber rings were old and hardened.
The final step was to get it into the arcade. I've been out of space, so this will be tricky. I finally come up with the right set up by moving the air hockey to the other end of the arcade and moving the red restaurant booth and bumper pool to the front
of the arcade. I had to move around a dozen games in the process. This 1956 coin operated bumper pool game is 58 years old, and is now the oldest piece I have in the arcade. Seriously, as if arcade games didn't help me relive my youth enough this bumper pool
certainly does. Click the pictures below to enlarge the photos. Stop by sometime and challenge me to a game of bumper pool. I double dare you.
This is for all you classic gamers out there. A year ago I shot the first Rock Dad video. This is now Episode 2: Spy Hunter Blues.
Playing video games, music, family and robots. It's a Rock Dad life.
This is good stuff. A programmer/artist who worked on Atari's Vapor TRX came across my website and reached out to me. I received her permission to repost the message.
The thoughts and insights are pretty amazing. Below is a picture of the pair of Vapor TRX's which now reside in my arcade. Click the picture for a larger image and enjoy the read!
My name is Lynne. I came across your website when I was looking up some reference for one of the games I am working on. Anyway, I read your blog and was pretty happy when
I saw you got yourself a Vapor TRX game. I worked on Vapor TRX in the 90’s in Palo Alto, California. We were a small company of about 15. Years later I had seen Vapor TRX once
in Vegas and once in an arcade museum (ugh!) near Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I always keep an eye out for it though. It was the only arcade game I worked on.
It was really cool to see your blog on how you got one, and how you fixed it to make it work! The owners of Blue Shift (originally the guys had worked at Atari but then started
their own company and worked with Atari) would be thrilled you are still playing it! That is super cool! The company broke off after about a year or so post Vapor. I quit for a new
opportunity just after Vapor.
I did the art on most of the levels of Vapor. I even put my niece in one of the games on a billboard. She has pigtails and is about 6 in the game. (She’s 22 now and graduating college in 2 months).
I think I pretended she was in her own movie- or something on that billboard. I also created the art for the body of the machine, and in the in-game I did the rocks, water, city buildings, you name it…
I probably worked on it. Everything but the vehicles. Now, mind you, this is when 3D was not at its peak like it is today. Programmers were still trying to figure out how to process so many polygons
in real time. Artists were trying to figure out how to make textures cheap while still making them visually effective. We also had to make sure vertices were merged in your 3D environment so there
wouldn’t be cracks in your ground or walls. That can cause crazy bugs, like your vehicle getting stuck in a mountain and snapping back and forth like a rat in a trap. That was considered a really
bad bug, and it happened all time back then. The 3D tools back then were horrible, laborious and ineffective! As artists we worked in a 3D program that crashed 20 times a day! It was called
‘MultiGen’. You would lose hours of production a day, I kid you not. It made me nuts. But when I look back now and remember it as kind of fun, you know? We didn’t know it at the time, but
we were cutting edge for our time. Creating things that haven’t been done before. Establishing practices for our collective game futures. Everyone in the game industry back then were doing that.
We were learning and creating as we were going. Establishing practices that are still in use today.
Things are so much easier now for game developers. The tech tools has finally caught up with us, and most are so deep that I will never master them. The art requirements are shared and borrowed
from game to game… things are much clearer in terms of the production process. Anyway, thanks for keeping it alive. I’m sure when I think about the game again, I’ll be reminded of your keen
interest in the old games that gather dust in my mind and in the closed arcades across America. It was pretty special to be on the tail end of the production line in Atari’s lifetime, and it was cool
of you to point that out. I never actually thought about that before. Never. Post Vapor I worked for 5 years for Lucas Arts. Maybe in another 10 years I’ll think back on that as historic too since
that company no longer exists either. I do know I worked on their last N64 game- it was called ‘Battle for Naboo- Episode 1’. It was on the very last of all the 64 bit Nintendo games! That one I
was the Art Director on though, so I didn’t do that much art. I’m doing more art now though… but that is another whole story.
Again, thank you Jeremy. I’m so happy you do what you do and share that enthusiasm with your kids! It makes my career choices so much more satisfying for me.
Long live your enthusiasm!
My website has been around for seven years. As such, the title
banner and image galleries ran on flash programming. Well, Iphones and other mobile devices aren't so flash friendly. I have redesigned the title banner and started to convert image galleries
to java lightboxes. Basically, smoother look, nicer title animation, more mobile friendly.
In celebration of the site change, I decided to pull some of my favorites photos from the past starting from 1997 all the way to the present.
I've made friends, travelled states, bought, sold and collected some of my favorite childhood games .
The video two of my favorite video clips shot in my arcade. Just mouse over and click the play button to play the videos.
Click on a photo below to start the image gallery and enjoy the show!
I owned 2 arcade machines. I now have 42.
Joshua has taken plenty of arcade pickup rides with me including some to Kansas City and even a trip to Louisville, Kentucky for a Xevious. He has held a mirror for me numerous times while I adjust monitors.
He has cleaned up new arcade pickups. And of course, THOROUGHLY tested out any new pickups that came my way. He has even been the reason I sold some games. That included Soul Edge which he *beat*
and Elevator Action, which he considered boring. All in all though, my son has been in the thick of my arcade collecting. I hope the memories he has of this arcade will last a lifetime, much like the memories I
have of visiting the arcades back in the 80's as a boy.
My son had a few friends over to spend the night when he turned 15 so of course they wanted some time in the arcade, and of course I obliged. He deserves it.
Now they aren't so much into the classics, but thats OK. There's a nice plethora of games in the arcade, a little something for everyone. All the boys had a good time. Thank you son for all you've done.