Greg Kmiec is a longtime designer of arcade pinball machines, an industry veteran with more than thirty titles to his credit in a career that spans over two decades.
Raised in Illinois, Kmiec first got hooked on pinball when he started working part-time for Bally/Midway in Chicago while still attending school. He graduated from college with credentials for teaching English, but after a brief stint in the classroom, Kmiec signed on with Bally full time. There, he worked his way through every department, and eventually taught himself enough about pinball to become one of Bally's two full-time designers.
At Bally, Kmiec designed numerous titles, many of which have become icons of the early solid-state years: Wizard!, Capt. Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy, Power Play, The Six Million Dollar Man, Harlem Globetrotters On Tour, Supersonic, and Xenon. Kmiec remained at Bally for over twenty years, refusing offers from competitors such as Atari and Williams Electronics. He eventually left the field in 1989 after Williams' acquisition of Bally, but eventually returned in 1995, designing Breakshot for Capcom in their short-lived foray into pinballs.
Though retired today, Kmiec remains active attending pinball and gaming conventions. He is a lifelong amateur radio enthusiast, and is a member of the Metro Amateur Radio Club and Chicago ARES . He also served as a volunteer member of the US Coast Guard Auxiliary as a Communications Staff Officer, and can be found on the airwaves with the call sign W9WIZ.
Pinball games designed by Greg Kmiec include:
- Bow and Arrow (Bally, 1974)
- Wizard! (Bally, 1975)
- Capt. Fantastic and The Brown Dirt Cowboy (Bally, 1976)
- Paragon (Bally, 1978)
- The Six Million Dollar Man (Bally, 1978)
- Harlem Globetrotters On Tour (Bally, 1979)
- Paragon (Bally, 1979)
- Supersonic (Bally, 1979)
- Xenon (Bally, 1980)
- Spy Hunter (Bally, 1984)
- Cybernaut (Bally, 1985)
- City Slicker (Bally, 1987)
- Transporter the Rescue (Bally, 1989)
- Breakshot (Capcom, 1996)
- Red Line Fever (Capcom, unreleased)
Greg Kmiec's life and works demonstrate the following tropes:
- Artifact Title: Greg Kmiec is sometimes referred to as "Gypsy", a nickname given to him by artist Dave Christensen during development of Wizard!. Kmiec was in the midst of moving at the time; Christensen jokingly called him "gypsy" due to the difficulty of finding him when key decisions had to be made.
- Censor Decoy: A non-censorship variation. During his Bally years, Kmiec always put in two new features in every game, one that he wanted along with a more expensive decoy. During review, Bally's design head Norm Clark would inevitably insist on removing the expensive feature, allowing Kmiec's preferred toy to remain.
- Creator Thumbprint / Easter Egg: Kmiec always includes a solid red post on his playfields. The tradition started in The '70s, when Bally refused to identify their designers for fear of competitors poaching their talent. Kmiec included a red post (at the time reserved for bingo games) as a way around the edict. Photos of Kmiec's red-post pinballs can be found here.
- Signature Style: Kmiec's philosophy of pinball design include:
- Self-explanatory gameplay.Kmiec: "If players have to pour over the instruction card, it's not good."
- Immediate gratification for player action.
- A core "action spot", typically around the bumpers, where action builds very quickly.
- A new twist to attract players and trump other manufacturers.
- Self-explanatory gameplay.