(written from a Production point of view)
The Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine was a pinball game created by Williams Electronic Games in 1993. A wide-body machine, the game prominently featured the USS Enterprise-D as well as original recordings from the eight main cast members of the TNG series.
Although the general aim of the game was to score as many points as possible, the machine featured a complex array of ramps, bumpers, and drops which allowed the player to complete a series of missions provided by the game.
One of the unique features of the Next Generation machine was the presence of two ball launchers mounted on either side of the playfield. These allowed an alternative method of feeding the ball into the playfield, and were used in some of the missions.
The mechanism that allowed the machine to feed balls to the launchers and other locations, developed for this table, was patented by Williams in the US as #5,350,174, granted on 27 September 1994. The launchers themselves were the subject of an earlier patent, #5,186,462.
Ball locking was a feature of the game, as with most pinball machines. As additional balls were locked, a storyline involving the large Rogue Borg ship mounted on the playfield advanced. Once three balls had been locked, the game entered multiball mode. In multiball mode, the left launcher is used to hit the Neutral Zone drop and award jackpot values. Once the drop is hit three times, or after the first miss, the three locked balls are returned to the playfield. The player must destroy the Borg ship by hitting the jackpot targets (the Start Mission drop and the Delta Quadrant ramp), before the Enterprise's shields are drained, and the Start Mission drop stops awarding jackpots. The spinner is used to "regenerate" the shields and reactivate the jackpot.
Missions are displayed on the playfield around the periphery of the Enterprise saucer section. Only one is lit at a time - hitting the Q target bumper changes which mission is lit, and the mission can be started by hitting the Start Mission drop. A mission can also be selected by hitting the Command Decision drop. Completing mission objectives earns one of four Artifacts: Singing Stone, Isolinear Chip, Duranium Sphere, and Dilithium Crystal. Each Artifact can be collected more than once.
- Time Rift
- Worm Hole
- Search The Galaxy
- The player must hit the 'Quadrant' ramps in order to complete the mission. Hitting any three ramps earns an Artifact. Hitting all three and the Neutral Zone drop, in the order given by Riker, earns a second Artifact.
- Battle Simulation
- The player must use the launchers to hit either the Neutral Zone or the Warp Speed drops. A 20-second timer is used to With the first miss, the ball returns to normal play, but the drops may still be hit to continue the mission. Each successful hit advances the simulation to the next level, with level six being the highest. Completing Level 5 earns an Artifact.
- Q's Challenge
- The player must hit the lit targets. Hitting a target, or hitting the Q target, lights another. Each lit target will time-out after fifteen seconds. The mission ends when all targets have timed-out. Hitting five targets earns an Artifact.
- Asteroid Threat
Once all seven missions have been completed, an additional mission commences:
- The Final Frontier
- A six-ball multiball mode (four from the multiball holders, two in the launchers), the mission begins with awarding bonuses for each Artifact earned, with additional bonuses for complete sets of four. Shots made during the mode are awarded points based on the number of Artifacts earned, up to 250 million per shot.
Virtual reconstruction Edit
On 1 June 2012, FarSight Studios announced that, as part of their Kickstarter project to digitise Williams' The Twilight Zone machine for their Pinball Arcade app, they would seek funds to purchase the license to the Next Generation table as a "stretch goal" . Although the target donation amount was not achieved in the alloted time, the response to the announcement resulted in FarSight launching a second Kickstarter on 17 August 2012, solely for the Next Generation table. $45,000 was the initial target, to cover the remaining fees required. At the end of the project, $52,137 had been donated. 
Game credits Edit
- Steve Ritchie, Design & Direction
- Dwight Sullivan & Matt Coriale, Software
- Carl Biagi, Mechanical
- Greg Freros, Art & Design
- Dan Forden, Sound & Music
- Scott Slomlany & Eugene Greer, Dot Matrix