Midnight came, and bunny_hugger got more anxious. We had hoped the tournament would be over by 11, or 11:30, and now it was midnight and we weren't yet done. We were down to a couple of the final players, but --- necessarily --- also the best ones, who could keep a game going forever. I started taking the longer games out of rotation, but that could limit things only a bit. bunny_hugger worried about not finishing before the bar closed. I was confident it wouldn't be that long. I shouldn't have been quite so confident. She also worried that tired people driving home after midnight are more likely to be in an accident ... which is an unanswerable worry, although as it happens nobody had any incidents getting home.
I did feel bad for CST, who'd hoped --- after getting bunny_hugger to start this tournament --- to get home early as soon as he saw everything was going well. But he also really, really wanted one of the trophies bunny_hugger had made, and as he didn't win in the side tournament his only chance was getting to at least #3 in the main, and that was taking more time. (He's an early bird. Left to his own devices he'll wake up at an hour when we're not yet gone to sleep. Also he left his kids with a babysitter.)
People did start drifting off, naturally enough. A small core of people hung around to see who'd make it to the finals. It got past 1 am and I started getting bunny_hugger's nervousness about finishing. CST indeed bowed out at #3. IT would turn into a contest, several games --- because they weren't already on three strikes --- between WVL and AJG. AJG's one of the east-side folks who had never been to Lansing before. He's also a regular first-place finisher in the tournaments and leagues he plays in: 21 of the 40 tournaments the International Flipper Pinball Association has recorded for him were first-place finishes. Six more are second- or third-place finishes. WVL's the local favorite, organizer of the Lansing league (and a MUD player from way back who still dabbles, if you can imagine). He doesn't travel to events, though, so in three years of competitive play has only got fourteen tournaments to his name. And, if put to it, we were rooting for WVL. He's the closer friend to us, and the bar is his home territory, and he's never won an individual trophy (he's shared for Zen tournaments, though).
WVL and AJG had never met before, to our surprise, not least because they were talking instantly like old friends. I mean they were insulting each other the way old comrades will. I did say folks coming were pre-adapted to be friends.
It got to be about 1:40. We got to the final match. I narrowed the game selection down to Junk Yard, Getaway, and The Addams Family, the quickest games. But I also really hoped it wouldn't pick Getaway because I knew WVL could make that go on forever, or at least twenty minutes. (Earlier, we had a player --- maybe it was AJG, come to think of it --- put up a 45-minute game of Lord of the Rings. But that's a long game.) He might do that with other games too, but we could at least get lucky and avoid a definite problem.
It picked Junk Yard, which is a fun game, and one that might not run forever because of a game glitch. The skill shot doesn't quite work, and that slows down the collecting of inventions needed to get the advanced modes. Plus everyone was playing a little tired, a little punchy. They put up fair but not world-beating scores on the first ball, with AJG ahead. On the second ball AJG extended his lead, but WVL --- the second player --- was catching up fast. The ball started to go toward the outlane, and to save it WVL gave the machine a perfectly fair little nudge to the right ---
Trivia: Pioneering arcade company Cinematronics had been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy for a year when it released Dragon's Lair in 1983. The game sold more than 16,000 units for an average price of $4,300. Source: The Ultimate History of Video Games, Steven L Kent.
Currently Reading: The Themed Space: Locating Culture, Nation, and Self, Editor Scott A Lukas.