Pinball FX creator Zen Studios released a bundle this week featuring tables from Archer, Family Guy, Bob's Burgers and American Dad. The pack, called Balls of Glory, is available now across PS3, PS4, Vita, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows 10, Steam, Android and iOS (whew). And all of this exists because of a tweet, as Zen Studios VP of Publishing Mel Kirk explains.
Let's set the stage: It's 2012. How did the idea for an Archer table come about?
At the studio, we have a top-secret whiteboard that we use to scribble down names, shows, movies and crazy ideas of things that we'd love to do. If we're lucky, these scribbles can turn into pinball projects. Archer and Danger Zone were two such scribbles on the board, a potential dream project that the design team really wanted to do but hadn't yet been fully realized. Then, one day out of the blue, we suddenly received a ton of social media chatter around a possible Archer table that stirred our community into a frenzy. Floyd County (Archer creators) got wind of this as well, and we got in contact with them. So, long story short, all of this led to Archer pinball.
The Twitter community had an enormous impact on getting the Archer table greenlit from an idea and into production. Seeing the fan response and seeing the story get picked up in the media inspired a lot of confidence in us that an Archer table would be well-received. The team at Floyd County were very supportive, pushing the story up the chain at FX and Fox in an almost grassroots kind of way, up to the executive level, prompting serious consideration for a team-up. Ultimately, this led to, as Sterling himself would say, "Idiots doing idiot things, because they're idiots," paving the way for the Balls of Glory pack which also includes Family Guy, American Dad! and Bob's Burgers.
Why do you think there was such a response to this table idea in particular?
The acerbic, dark comedy of the show is one of the main things that fans really rally behind. As Archer is chock-full of great one-liners and innuendos, it's something that fans could very easily imagine in a pinball table. The characters and situations are very nuanced and layered, and the show itself features complex storylines and tons of personality that we were able to visualize and recreate on the table, with some examples being the alligator plunger (one of Sterling's greatest fears [Ed. note: alligators, not plungers]) and the fight on a moving train mission (one of Sterling's lifelong dreams). When you work with a property that has so many subtle in-jokes and gags, it makes it really fun to come up with ways of picturing them on a pinball table and present them to the fans who will pick up on them.
Did you work with Floyd County a lot? How was that?
Working with Floyd County was fantastic. We received ideas and feedback on a daily basis from them during all phases of production. It's always great to collaborate with such talented people and see what they bring to the table. Just when we thought we'd run out of cool pinball ideas, we get fresh perspective from creative geniuses.
What's the best part of the Archer table, in your eyes?
I think what we're most proud of is that the vibe of the show and the smart humor really shines through. There is a really cool shooting mini-game, and Archer's spy car actually drives onto the table and off a ramp. We're taking players to the Danger Zone!