WHY CREATE, WHEN IT'S SO MUCH FUN TO DESTROY!

The pinball ruleset degree program by Michi Henning

I was on SLAM TILT podcast recently talking about rulesets and how some games can be separated into educational levels.

We had named examples of games that could be called elementary level, high school, college and Ph. D. depending on how complex the rules were.

Then I saw this response post on TILTForums. It is glorious. Become a member of TILTForums to find many insightful posts like this one.

From the post of TILTForums by michi:

Hi Ron, Bruce!

Thank you for another outstanding and entertaining episode!

Personally, I think it is most excellent that JJP and other manufacturers keep creating more and more complicated machines because it opens up entirely new business opportunities. For example, I expect plenty of demand for my pinball college degree program, leading to a Bachelor of Pinbology, with the option of proceeding to an honours degree and, eventually, a Ph.D and post-doctoral fellowship. I estimate that it will be possible to offer the undergraduate degree course for $8000, which is a bargain: less than the price of a NIB!

The institution will be known as the “Advanced College for the Study of Pinball Rules, Rules, and More Rules”. Ph.D. candidates, after successful defense of their thesis, will be entitled to place the letters “Dr P.R.R.MR3.” after their name.

Preliminary syllabus:

Year 1:

  • RS (Ruleset) 101: Cabaret, Trident, Stingray
  • RS 102: Whirlwind, Funhouse
  • RS 103: Total Nuclear Annihilation (part-time afternoon course)
    These introductory courses (offered mostly for nostalgic reasons) provide a gentle introduction to the era when pinball was fun, and anyone with average mental faculties was able to play and understand most games while having a good time.

Year 2:

  • RS 201: Addam’s Family, Creature from the Black Lagoon
  • RS 202: Indiana Jones, Attack from Mars
    Both courses place particular emphasis on the importance of modes, as well as advanced multi-ball strategies. Students of average intelligence will be able to complete these courses successfully if they apply themselves and show an appropriate level of commitment. Completion of at least one wizard mode is a prerequisite for entry to year 3. Students will have access to the RS 203 elective course “Multi-track Attention, Concurrent Thinking, and How to Simultaneously Observe the DMD and Six Balls”.

Year 3:

  • RS 301: Mustang, Star Trek
  • RS 302: Metallica, The Walking Dead
    These courses are demanding and require many weeks of study for each title. Advanced topics, such as creative use of playfield multipliers in combination with shot multipliers will be discussed, in addition to sophisticated multi-ball stacking strategies with emphasis on add-a-ball moves and their interaction with ball-save timers and grace periods.

The under-graduate degree can be completed in three years, although exceptional students may be able to deal with the workload in 2.5 years (with the assistance of a personal counsellor and anti-depressant drugs).

Post-graduate program:

  • HRS (Honors Ruleset) 401: Ghostbusters, Batman 66
  • HRS 402: Game of Thrones, Star Wars (Note: only available to the top 15% of graduates of HRS 401 after passing a psychological assessment. We care about our students and aim to keep the suicide rate as low as possible.)
  • Optional elective: HRS 409: Dialed In!
    The courses focus extensively on incomprehensible and surprising exponential scoring, and explore the concept of alternate reality in depth, with special attention given to the disappearing relationship between ball time and score. A number of assignments will challenge students to explain how it is possible that a player can keep a ball alive for ten minutes (including a number of heroic saves) and score less than 100 million, while another player can score more than a billion points in less than two minutes. The courses also cover pro topics, such as exploiting playfield validation for fun and profit, how to use a video mode to win a game without doing anything else, and how to get a guaranteed 10% added to the score on every ball without any risk whatsoever.
    HRS 402 in particular covers health and safety issues, such as the importance of eye protection (with a discussion of relevant UV rating standards and safe exposure levels), and how to deal with sensory overload because everything flashes all at once (including the ball save insert). Student are required to practice first aid measures to assist with epileptic seizures and must attend all lab sessions for Advanced Anger Management.
    Note: Practical assessment on Ghostbusters requires students to wear hearing protection certified to comply with ANSI/ASSE A10.46-2013 “Hearing Loss Prevention for Construction and Demolition Workers”.

Students who can prove the Extended Elwin Hypothesis (1.7 Billion on Game of Thrones with one shot) are guaranteed entry into the doctorate program. Alternatively, students can choose to prove Kerins’s Lemma regarding Quantum Theatre Uncertainty and the Double Drain Experiment.

Doctorate program:

  • PHDRS 1: Wizard of Oz, The Hobbit
    Due to the extreme complexity of the subject matter, only the top 10% of honours graduates are eligible to enter. Students are expected, in consultation with their supervisor, to pick an appropriate sub-section of the ruleset to research. (It is essential to not lose focus in a field of study as wide as this.) For The Hobbit, students must not be older than 45 years; we do want them to have a chance to understand the rules within their natural life span.
    Two limited research projects are available for candidates over 45: “Advanced Theorems on Random Pop-Bumper Awards and Inexplicably High Video Mode Levels” and “Interactions Between Apollo 13 and Black Hole—Pinball Degeneracy Pressure and the Schwarzschild Radius”.

Post-doctorate research fellowships are accessible upon successful completion of the Ph.D. program with the potential for tenure and a chair.

The goal of the post-doctorate research program is to reach a more complete understanding of the JJP Pirates of the Caribbean ruleset, within the limitations imposed by quantum uncertainty and general relativity. Applicants are required to hold a degree in astrophysics or advanced mathematics. (Applicants with both degrees will be given preference; an additional degree in aerospace engineering is considered desirable.) The College is currently negotiating with DARPA regarding a scholarship for research on a topic of national interest: “Positioning of Concentric Disks to the Accuracy of the Planck Length”.

Due to its nature, the Pirates of the Caribbean research program is necessarily open ended, and it is understood that full exploration of the ruleset may be impossible to achieve before the universe reaches maximum entropy.


Fun With Bonus is the home of the semi-coherent, misguided ramblings of professional and amateur pinball players.

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Author: SSB

You will find me at a pinball tournament, and sometimes behind a microphone for some reason. Have more fun! Play more pinball! Support the hobby on twitter by using #pinball. Currently: Attacking Mars. BAO!

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