P3: PRE-ORDERS &
Date: 8th August, 2012
Last month we broke the news of plans to manufacture the P3 pinball platform by the company Multimorphic. Now we are able to reveal more details about the machine's design and unique features, and also announce the opening of pre-orders for a special edition model.
While most of the attention has focused on the P3's LCD monitor and the ball-tracking technology, one of the many unique features of the P3 is the upper playfield, which has been described as having an infinite number of shot possibilities.
Multiple entrances and exits provide plenty of shot variation, but P3's modular design takes things one stage further. Instead of a fixed number of shots, the entire upper playfield can be removed and swapped for one with a completely different design and feature set.
Removing a large section of a pinball playfield is traditionally a job few would tackle unless it was really necessary, but the Multimorphic team have made it easy to swap upper playfields with just a couple of screws and connectors to undo.
Owners will be able to choose from a range of different designs or even create their own. Multimorphic are planning to produce a number of generic designs with themes such as "outer space" as well as several more specific themes. The P3's software automatically detects which upper playfield is installed and presents the player with a selection of pre-installed games which work with it.
Multimorphic's Gerry Stellenberg says changing the P3's upper playfield and game software is like transforming it into a totally new machine. "Each combination of the base P3 and an upper playfield is comparable to a complete single-themed machine from another manufacturer. One advantage with our system is we can and will create multiple, complete game apps for each playfield. Another is that the cost to own multiple upper playfields will be less expensive and require less floor space than owning multiple single-themed machines."
Another new feature of the P3 is the total lack of a switch matrix. Most modern pinballs use a 'matrix' arrangement, and scan the columns of switches to check for switch closures which connect the column to one or more rows.
Instead of a matrix, Multimorphic have developed a new serial switch board which connects upto to 16 switches and reports their status back to the main computer. Multiple boards can be daisy-chained, allowing the connection of as many switches as the game requires.
While this reduces the complexity of the under-playfield wiring, it also makes it easier to connect or disconnect additional groups of switches, such as those on an upper playfield. Connecting the switches to a local controller board also helps to isolate them in the case of an accidental short to a high power device such as a solenoid.
Another new driver board which is also about to be released helps manage single- or multi-colour LEDs. The LED driver board can drive either 84 single-colour LEDs or 28 RGB LEDs, with each output capable of being set to 1 of 256 brightness levels. In the case of RGB LEDs, that equates to 16.7 million colour combinations per device.
The LED driver board also includes some higher-level programming to make it easier for game writers to create dynamic multi-colour lighting effects without having to code them all individually.
And as if all these innovations are not enough, Multimorphic have redesigned some of the most basic elements which have been common to almost all pinball machines.
Rather than have a tilt bob, the game has an accelerometer to detect nudges, shakes and bumps. Sensitivity can be set through the software, with no danger of the tilt bob not being installed properly (or at all).
The built-in accelerometer also provides leveling information, allowing both the horizontal and vertical playfield angle to be measured and displayed, with audible feedback when the correct level is achieved, making it far easier to set the game up correctly and eliminating the need for a bubble level.
If all these advances have you reaching for your credit card, Pinball News can also reveal that pre-orders for the P3 will open this Wednesday, 8th August 2012, through the Multimorphic website.
The first P3s to go sale will be 250 special edition models at a price of $9,995, although this can be discounted by $1,000 if the full amount is pre-paid by 1st November, 2012.
For those who prefer a little more time, anyone ordering and paying in full by 1st January, 2013 will instead receive $1,000 in discount vouchers, worth 50% off a range of Multimorphic and PinballControllers.com products such as game apps, upper playfield modules, replacement parts and controller boards.
Anyone not taking advantage of either of these two incentives will be able to claim $500 of discount vouchers if they pay in full by 1st March, 2013.
Finally, if all 250 P3s are sold by 1st March, 2013 then one lucky buyer will be selected at random and receive their P3 for the princely sum of just $1.
The special edition model will include a number of unique items such as a signed certificate of authenticity, a special edition machine plaque, various unique animations and artwork, access to a private P3 discussion group and a special edition P3 T-shirt.
Special edition buyers will also get the opportunity to supply their own audio and video elements to be integrated into a mini-game which is unique to the special edition model.
Production is not expected to begin until the fourth quarter of 2013 but Gerry is adamant it will take that time to build the machine he and the team want to produce. "We're serious about building a high quality machine, and we're going to dedicate our resources to making sure that's what we do. Quality isn't just about making the physical machine feel solid and reliable, though that's a big part of it. It's also about delivering fun, complete, and well-tested software, and making the machine easier to set-up, test, clean, and maintain."
To help discourage any slippage in that production date, Multimorphic say they will give all buyers an additional $100 50%-off voucher for every month past 31st December, 2013 that it takes to start production.
© Pinball News 2012