‘Evolution Pinball VR’ is the ’80s Style Pinball Showdown You Always Wanted as a Kid

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Pinball machines are a dying breed, but Evolution Pinball VR: The Summoning aims to put you back in touch with the arcade classic with the help of virtual reality.

Now in its first Steam Greenlight campaign, The Summoning promises to deliver physics based pinball-playing goodness along with a retro charm that puts you at the helm of a magical pinball machine where you summon (and battle) an entity from another dimension. All that’s missing is a training montage.

Although the multidimensional being hasn’t been revealed yet, the team tells me they’re keeping with the retro vibe by channeling a character like Zoltan, the iconic fortune telling machine alla the ’80s classic flick Big (1988). Of course, the soundtrack will be keeping in kind so you can lock into the epic ’80s-style battle scene that’s starting to feel very much like the impossibly fantastical Crossfire commercial.

Evolution Pinball VR currently supports keyboard, Xbox 360 and Xbox One gamepads, but the developers have been experimenting with a prototype controller of their own design— essentially the front third of a Pinball table complete with flipper buttons hooked up to an Arduino plugged into a PC.

Evolution Pinball VR The Summoning -Screenshot

“When we first tried it the controller was good enough for us to reach for the plunger to launch the ball (the controller doesn’t have a plunger). We intend to take this to consumer shows for people to try. It really is great fun and as close to playing a real Pinball table as you can get,” says developer Tim Ness.

Support ‘Evolution Pinball VR’ Greenlight Campaign

evolution pinball vr bumper
physics-based bumpers in ‘The Summoning’ table

There are a number of plans for DIY pinball table peripherals out there, and also a few older model production devices like the Philips made ‘Virtual Pinball’ controller released in the mid ’90s, but nothing that the developers feel directly comfortable with committing to without some input from the community first. Ness maintains that however “adding in additional controller functionality should not be a problem.”

Provided The Summoning drums up enough support on Steam, the game will be available for both HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.

  • marcuskscott3

    The OASIS is inevitable.

    • yag

      We can hope much better than OASIS.

  • realtrisk

    OK, I want to be interested, but after watching the video and reading the article, I still have no idea how the game plays or works in VR. How can I vote to Greenlight something this vague? Are you just standing over a VR pinball table that simulates real life? Are you shooting through the board in third person like the video? Who knows? Not a good campaign.

  • Evolution Pinball VR

    Hey realtrisk, the game can be played standing up or sitting down, mainly from the viewpoint of a normal Pinball table. We are considering adding motion controller support for the plunger and flipper buttons, but as we are in the Greenlight phase of development we cannot confirm this will be the case but it is highly likely. We appreciate your feedback and will take a look at how we are messaging the game, maybe the teaser trailer is a bit misleading and does not provide enough info about the actual game?

  • DiGiCT Ltd

    It’s a nice promotional video just like many others, always big promises but disappointed for what you get at the end as it does not show the game itself.
    It is better to show even an early working game instead of just talk about a great idea.
    I played those pinball machines a lot in the 80’s and know exactly how they work.
    It will not give you the real feeling in VR as the most important feature is still missing, shaking the table and not get a “Tilt” to give the ball just that little extra boost on the flip for example.
    The video posted is a render, not the game itself so no vote sorry.

    • Evolution Pinball VR

      Hey DiGiCT Ltd, the Greenlight page has a video of the game being played in an Oculus DK2 so you can get an idea of how the final game will look and play. We have provided a link to the Greenlight page below if you want to take a look.

      http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=617795618

      The promo video you refer to is in game footage captured from Unreal in real-time. We like that you think it is rendered :-)

      In respect to tilt we have built a controller to get as close to a real pinball table as possible. This controller is the front third of a Pinball table hooked up to an Arduino board, to USB, to the game PC. We have an accelerometer on the Arduino board and are trying out adding tilt to make the experience even closer to the real thing. This is experimental atm and probably will not make it to the final game as the majority of players will not have a bespoke controller. But we take tilt and the full Pinball experience as seriously as you. Ideally we would like to add it in if possible.

      We appreciate your feedback and are disappointed that you cannot support us :-(

      • DiGiCT Ltd

        Yes, i seen it on steam now the alpha version, it looks OK, of course Arduino board could do something about it to make it indeed more complete.
        For the art it looks fine how you guys made it, i would vote for that but i simply cant vote for the game as i don’t think it will be to experience in VR.
        It can’t be compared, its like telling a cd player can do what vinyl record player can do to a DJ for example.
        Although i think its a great game for people whom never had the opportunity play on a real pinball table as they cant compare the memories ;-)
        Some things are just unique and one of them is a pinball table.

        • jlschmugge

          I love real pinball, and no I wouldn’t think that a VR experience would exactly match an experience as the real thing, but this project has caught my interest, as I do not generally get the chance to play real pinball, and am getting an Oculus when they come out.

          A peripheral sounds pretty awesome to be able to pull a knob and hit the flipper buttons. I understand that production of that would be a tremendous undertaking. However, how about releasing schematics or plans for building your own?

          • Evolution Pinball VR

            Hey jlschmugge, we would be more than happy to post plans for the peripheral, with instructions for how to wire the arduino and install the correct software and build the cabinet. It is likely something that we would do a bit further on in development though.

            Pinball has a great community that is really innovative. We have already been informed that there are solutions for Pinball plungers that can be created at home with some technical knowledge. You are right to say that it is awesome to hit the flipper buttons :-) A keyboard or 360 pad is fine but having a specifically built controller is really cool.

  • ORParga

    Nice video… Are you sure that this is a video game? or a film?