My collaborator and good friend Ryan Claytor and I were discussing ideas for games one day. After a period of time, the ruleset for Robo-Frenzy emerged.
Robo-Frenzy is a scratch built electro-mechanical (E.M.) arcade game. It features two player simultaneous competitive play, with multiple bells, custom player controls, score reel, and backlit backglass animation.
The game can be played in single or multi-player modes. When playing as a single player, only the left controls function. On game start, the backlit timer at the upper center of the backglass will reset, and score reels will all turn to zero.
The player appears as a backlit animation. It can be in one of eight positions while descending a hill. At the bottom of the hill is a minecart full of gears. When the player is at the cart, a backlit gear will appear above the player image. When the player brings the gear to the top of the hill, a robot will be constructed. Six individual components must be brought before the robot is fully formed. Each component is worth one point, and the fully constructed robot earns an extra point before resetting. Each point strikes a bell and increments the score reels. There are two reels per player, so the maximum score is 99.
The player controls the game using handwheel. Spinning this wheel changes the player's position on the backglass through one of eight spots.
While the player is trying to acquire parts, there is a giant robotic octopus in the center of the backglass. Each player must contend with four tentacles. The tentacles can extend in four different positions. Once the third position is reached, the game will choose (seemingly at random) the final positon of the tentacle. If a player occupies the same space as a tentacle, they will drop a gear if they are holding it, and will be unable to acquire another gear until a few seconds pass.
Each game lasts for about 60 seconds (currently). There is no extend the player's game.
The cabinet dimensions were chosen based on the dimensions of Williams "Penny Pitch", which is an upright cabinet that uses handwheel controls (it is two player alternating).
With help from my father-in-law, the cabinet was cut, and I assembled. The game uses many components - four trip banks, four score reels, a score motor (used for timing as well as scoring and reset), several step switches, and well over a hundred controlled lamps.
Each lamp is driven by switches on various relays, step switches, or directly (what is known as "general illumination" or GI).
I started this project as I have so many, by drawing a schematic and planning the physical placement of units. I then wired according to the schematic, making note of changes needed. 16 wire colors were used to aid in troubleshooting.
The handwheels and artwork are still in process. The final unit will likely have slightly rounded gears as the interface for the handwheels (to prevent fingers from getting caught), and the artwork will be a combination of stenciled cabinet (in multiple colors) and the large backglass
The game is currently playable, but only to me. No one else knows what the different lamps mean!
To prevent backflow from lighting inappropriate arms for the octopus, I added diodes in each segment of the tentacles. While diodes were available in the E.M. era, they were not frequently employed.
There will be a total of two games made. Ryan and I will have very different models. Mine will adhere to the design restrictions of a pure electro-mechanical game, while Ryan's will use some solid state control. I've written the initial "code" for Ryan's version, but await artwork before I can wire and test in the cabinet.
I plan to finish this game once the artwork is complete. I will then begin on Ryan's cabinet and wiring. Finally, I will bring this game to every pinball show I attend, to share with as many people as possible.
Since a fairly limited audience will get to experience this game, I've decided to make an open source version for the Commodore Vic-20, which can be freely downloaded and emulated.