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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THIS PROJECT from the producer, Greg Maletic:

For a couple of years, I'd had a Williams Revenge From Mars pinball machine sitting in my office at my company, Zero G Software. I'd become enamored with this particular game when I first discovered it in a Paris cafe in 1999, and it wasn't long after then that I'd tracked down a brand new one on eBay and started playing it voraciously. Revenge From Mars was one of Williams' intriguing "Pinball 2000" machines that used a reflected video monitor to paint "virtual targets" on the pinball playfield. It was real pinball—with steel balls, flippers, etc.—but it utilized the video in a very clever way, to enhance rather than distract from the pinball experience. After a couple decades of video game playing, it got me interested in pinball again.

The Revenge From Mars publicity flyer.
(Copyright WMS Industries, Inc.)

I became exceedingly protective of my Revenge From Mars machine, knowing that I harbored what was now an endangered species: after producing this incredible machine in 1999, Williams shut down its pinball division for good. Not a surprise, I guess. Hadn't pinball been suffering for decades? The number of players was dwindling, of course, and there was no way pinball could possibly hold anyone's interest as flashier videogames took over the market. Right?

Then a strange thing happened. I knew I loved pinball, but I wasn't expecting that the other Zero G employees (none of whom were die-hard pinball players) would become as obsessed with playing Revenge From Mars as I was. So much for lack of interest in pinball. And after some research, I found that the conventional wisdom claiming pinball had been dying for years was mistaken as well. Pinball's strongest sales year ever was in 1993, long after video games had made their debut. This led me to could this amazing thing have failed?

With this realization, I knew I had found the subject for a great documentary: the story of Pinball 2000, the pinball machine designed by arguably the greatest pinball manufacturer in the world—Williams Electronic Games of Chicago, Illinois—in an effort to save the pinball industry from extinction.

TILT represents the flip-side of recent arcade documentaries like The King of Kong. Rather than focusing on the players, this is a film about a remarkably different group: the brilliant designers who build the games, people talented enough to have worked at the top of any industry, yet dedicated to this peculiar form of mechanical entertainment. This story, about the last days of Williams pinball, is a particularly special one that I hope you'll enjoy.

After nearly five years of effort (not full-time, thank god...), the film is finished. It's been a great project, and I hope that people are surprised and enthused by what the Williams engineers created, and by this incredibly interesting story of technology innovation.

For more recent thoughts from the producer,
check out the TILT blog...

...or find out more about the pinball legends appearing in TILT!