A handful of people complain about DMD... but really, you dont spend much time actually looking at the display. (and if you do... then the game is not well designed)
If animations are done with good artists, and high quality.. then it can be a really nice addition. However, it can also become a real annoyance...if its just some cheesy generic looping video footage.
The cool thing about DMD animations, is that they are original artistic interpretations. Not generic stock footage. Its cool to see hand drawn animations, specific to the games modes.
It will probably bump the cost up, to produce the footage. (and or get the rights to the footage + audio)
An On-line mode, is a decent feature. Not sure how easy it would be to run an actual tournament online though.
The interface has to be Intuitive, easy, quick, and well polished.
The machine would probably have to check for cheating:
- Game Settings Matchup check (Making sure all games are using the same agreed upon settings)
- Glass removal sensor
- Tilt bob sensitivity awareness sensor (or digital gyro?)
- Table slope and level sensor.
- Error Report checks (stuck switches, broken features...)
- Stuck ball ramifications: allowing one to unstick the ball, if the machine is not able to find ball, after a while of searching.
- Drop Outs: If someone has to leave unexpectedly ... need a means of taking a person out of play, with fair ease.
- Power outage / voltage issues (Able to recall last known auto-saved events, and can reboot into a "re-do" mode)
- Possible web-cam recording.. or use of some kind of inferred ball pathway tracking system, to make sure a registered point is valid. (IE: if ball is at the far left of the table, a target on the right should not be registering. If so, it will auto adjust, removing those points from the fault switch / cheat mechanism)
- Handicapped options, and multi-skill-level bracketed Tournaments. (Beginner, Average, Pro. - or - Level: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 etc)
- Scores saved and able to be looked up online.
All of that said... if the games are duds... nobody will want to buy and or play them. Doesnt matter what features are added.
They should also make replacement board upgrades for existing lines of machines... possibly with support for non stern machines.
That would generate sales from CPU boards, and give the possible additions of new features that the original games did not have...
such as the said tournament stuff, and possibly new modes, bug fixes, sound effects, music, and video / animations.
Ability for a user to design and add their own content, done as smooth as something like Super Mario Maker... would be a hot seller,
I think the future of Pinball.. is the DIY route. Where people can create their own unrestricted designs, or recreate kits of pre-existing machines. This would create a good constant demand for ordered parts, boards, custom routed fields, artwork printing, etc.
If a custom machine is built that is really popular... the owner could have his works sold as a kit, and or Stern could offer to make a production run of them, giving the designer(s), a percentage of sales.
The other great thing about custom Pins... is that you are buying the stuff over a long period of time, rather than all at once. Someone might not be able to afford a brand new machine... but over the course of a few years... may have been able to gather the funds little by little. Some limited creations, could be recycled into larger and more advanced creations... as funds / parts inventory increases.
Pinball is pretty much for home use only these days. As even the best Pins, are still too unfriendly & costly, to an Operator (those few whom exist) The mechanics are too prone to failure and breakage, leveling can be problematic, and cleaning and repairing them can be a real nightmare... and time-extensive process.
(Some tricks can be done to solve some of this... such as using some t-molding, affixing a towel to it.. using it as a snake to push and pull through the ramps and underpasses. Use of Formula 21 instead of Wax is also highly recommended: It produces Far less friction, greater protection, and its easier to keep the machine ultra slick and glossy clean)