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Creator / Steve Ritchie

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The Master of Flownote 

"I get into how the ball moves. I make smooth-playing games. I like every shot to be smooth and fluid. Once you make a shot, it comes back to the flipper and you can make another shot; we call them combos."
Steve Ritchie summarizing his design philosophy in a making-of video for Star Wars (Stern), 2017

Steven Scott Ritchie (born February 13, 1950) is an American arcade game designer, an industry veteran who is most reknown for his Pinball games.

Ritchie joined Atari in 1974 as an electro-mechanical technician, but soon advanced to their fledgling pinball division and worked with Eugene Jarvis on Airborne Avenger and Superman. Before the latter was released, however, Ritchie moved to Chicago and joined the prominent pinball company Williams Electronics. There, he developed an extensive list of renown pinball machines, including Flash, Firepower, Black Knight, High Speed, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Ritchie has also helped in the development of many video games for Bally and Midway, and provided the voice of Shao Kahn in Mortal Kombat II and Mortal Kombat 3. During the Turn of the Millennium, he returned to the pinball industry to work for Stern Pinball, beginning with 2003's Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. He was initially a contractor with his own company (Steve Ritchie Pinball, or "SRP") before becoming a full-time employee of Stern. On August 2nd, 2021, Jersey Jack Pinball announced that he had joined the company.

Steve Ritchie is known as "The Master of Flow" by pinball enthusiasts, as his playfield designs heavily favor fast ball speeds, large loops, and associated combos. He is an avid fan of PC gaming, motocross racing, and street motorcycles. He is married to Dianne Ritchie, and is the older brother of fellow pinball designer Mark Ritchie.

Steve Ritchie's games include:

Tropes frequently appearing in Steve Ritchie's works include:

  • Context-Sensitive Button: Many of his Stern-published games feature a button in the center of the lockdown bar that performs different actions depending on what's currently happening. For example, in Star Wars, it can disable the multiplier to allow changing of which shots are affected by the multiplier and then re-enable it or be used in a Button Mashing minigame where you try to blow up as many TIE Fighters as possible.
  • Creator Backlash:
    • Ritchie is not pleased with his work on Stellar Wars, feeling it was rushed to production.
    • He also admits in hindsight that spelling A-I-R-B-O-R-N-E-A-V-E-N-G-E-R in Airborne Avenger was not a great idea.
  • Creator Cameo: Ritchie provides his own speech in many of his games, like the Black Knight in Black Knight, Black Knight 2000 and Black Knight: Sword of Rage, Car 504 in High Speed and The Getaway: High Speed II, General Yagov in F-14 Tomcat, the male announcer in Rollergames, and Skull the Bone Head in No Fear.
  • Guttural Growler: As noted above in Creator Cameo, Steve often uses his naturally deep voice for callouts in his games.
  • Promoted Fanboy: He became a pinball designer after creating Airborne Avenger in his off-hours for a year, then showing his design to Atari president Nolan Bushnell.
  • Rated M for Manly: Many of his games' themes are either about high-octane subjects, involve Excuse Plots with conflict built into them, or both. Examples include speeding on the highway and evading the police afterward (High Speed), battling an evil knight (Black Knight), fighting a Russian general and his aerial forces while piloting a Tomcat (F-14 Tomcat), and participating in extreme sports (No Fear: Dangerous Sports). In a 1992 promotional video for The Getaway: High Speed 2, Ritchie himself mentions this tendency:
    "My games are never subdued. They're always intense as intense we can make them. I'm not sure why that is, but I don't do cute."
  • Signature Style: Ritchie's tables tend to have the following:
    • An emphasis on combos and non-stop flowing shots.
    • A Combo shot: outer left loop shot to the upper right flipper, for a shot to an upper loop or side ramp.note 
    • A wide left outlane, with a kickback to shoot the ball back into play.
    • Two sets of three targets, just above the triangle bumpers.
    • A preference for adversarial themes, where it's the player vs. the Big Bad (Black Knight, F-14 Tomcat, Terminator 3). Star Trek: The Next Generation pits the player against three adversaries, and Spider-Man pits the player against four adversaries.
  • Trope Maker: First rollover lane change? Firepower. First progressive jackpot? High Speed. First autosave? F-14 Tomcat. First Wizard Mode? Black Knight 2000. First Video Mode? Terminator 2: Judgment Day. And that's just the gameplay tropes.
  • Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things: Ritchie used to discuss both current and upcoming projects exclusively on the Pinside Forums, but has now since dropped his presence there completely due to Pinside's notorious vitriol.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: He's the reason the Mortal Kombat does this with many elements in it, including its name, as it was his suggestion to go with the "K" instead of a "C".